Matunuck Kayak Construction I spent almost five months mostly after hours constructing this ripper surf kayak. I opted out from having the 4mm marine plywood parts professionally cut out. Admittedly it took me nearly a week to do it myself but with the care I took all parts were nearly perfect. I used jig saw, small sharp hand plane followed by belt sander. The highlight side strip was stained at this stage with water based timber stain. Stich and glue method is very efficient and easy way to bring all large and narrow parts together. Fibre glassing the inner of the hull and the deck went smoothly but joining the two halves was problematic. Pulling the two nose halves was almost impossible. I was sold 8oz fibre glass cloth instead of the recommended 6oz from our local dealer and combined with a generous amount of filled I used in the hull joins may have made it too stiff to bend. During my sweat and frustration my wife suggested to heat it up. It worked a treat. Glassing the exterior went smoothly. I used the West System epoxy which had a reasonable pot life. The installation of the cockpit collar and lip was finicky and required a lot of clamps. If you intend to install fins the fin boxes should be cut out and inserted prior glassing the hull to get best finish. I used the Futures fin boxes with small John John thrusters. I fitted the side fin fronts in line with my hips. Initially I surfed with all three fins which made the kayak too stiff. I removed the centre fin which was much better. Still not quite right I made my own fins about third smaller than the John Johns which made the kayak more nimble. I also filled part of the inner front and all of the inner stern full of expansion buoyancy. This ensures that even when full of water it will not sink and at worse I can still get in and paddle to shore. However, in this configuration I am able to empty 97% of the water without needing to go to shallow waters and still get back in again. Sanding is time consuming but the smoother the surface prior final clear coats the better looking the finish. For the seat I made a crude frame, filled it with the buoyance expansion foam, shaped it and fibre glassed it. I attached the seat with two 2” strips of Velcro inside the kayak. To make it comfortable I lined it with 6mm sheet of rubber. Prior this I have been surfing on commercial WaveMaster 2.4 sit on surf ski. The Matunuck is much better in small waves than the WaveMaster and it holds the rail on the faces as well as the WaveMaster. It seems to cut through the waves better than the WaveMaster when paddling out. So far I have really enjoyed surfing in it. On the Chesapeake website the Matunuck is listed requiring intermediate skill to make it. I would almost say it requires advance skills to complete this project. It certainly challenged me on many levels despite having lot of woodworking experience. However, having said that building the Matunuck has been one of the most rewarding projects I have done. Not only does she look great but is also so usable.
Built it from plans using Okuome plywood. Very intricate parts with the assembly sensitive to errors in cutting out the parts, but ultimately nothing that wood thickened epoxy and cloth can't cover over. pulling it all together was an exercise in slow, careful manipulation. One glued and glassed, the lines are quite beautiful. Any other flaws are covered by multi-colored exterior house paint job. The sand rubs it off and I put more on, so it is an evolving work of art.
For us bigger folks, the buoyancy in the rear of the boat is light, and the stern is almost immersed. Taking a set of plans and enlarging it by 8-10% would probably solve that. I saw one on-line that was enlarged in this way. On waves, though, it rides nicely and is sized fine.
I am now adding fins to the boat, as without fins the boat is perfectly willing to point and track in different directions.
Very fun boat, and for my son it will be a 9-10 rating when he grows into it.
A unique aspect of the design is the gentle hollow that is created halfway down the hull from the nose when the hull and deck are stitched together. Kayak surfers in the know tell me that this hollow helps keep the boat stuck to the wave as you surf. I would agree.
This boat feels like it is glued to the wave face as you surf if the hull is kept reasonably flat to the water. Flick your hips a little to unglue the hull and you can carve around and have a blast. With enough speed you can rocket back over the wave face and get a little air. WILD!
This boat is quite similar in appearance to the Valley Sneaker. I might venture to say its better because its cheaper to build, lighter and has that way cool hollow in the hull. Like a mini-mal surfboard this boat is very forgiving and easy to use well. You won't be winning many comps with it but that isn't its intended purpose. Fun and forgiving the Matunuck will allow you to get into the world of surf kayaking without having to drop $2000 plus on a high performance surf kayak. For the occasional surf kayaker, as most of us are, its what you need.
This weekend the learning curve flattened out and I really gelled well with my turquoise painted Matunuck. I surfed long and hard Sat & Sun in the small but intense lineup off Tybee Island, GA. I could easily thread my way out through the friendly board surfers and swimmers, grab a wave and paddle back out through the breakers and go again. At times it seemed too easy. I like the easy button.
This kayak is just long enough with adequate volume to allow getting back out through moderate surf to be a pleasure. Pick your wave, stay relaxed and you will find it hard to put down the reigns and take a break. I never thought I could be this relaxed on a wave in a kayak. The designer should have called it the Valium. The only thing it leaves wanting is your desire to get back out there and do it again. It's tempting to call it the LazyBoy of surf kayaks.