Canoe Style Boat Kit
The Classic Cajun Pirogue
Frequently Asked Questions

How much load will a Pirogue carry?
My Pirogue is 14' long and according to the USCG formula will safely carry a load of 336 pounds. The Coast Guard formula to compute the safe load of a home built boat is as follows. Determine the amount of weight it takes to "sink" your boat. Put the boat in the water and fill it with water counting the number of gallons it takes for the gunwales to be even with the water.  Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. Multiply the number of gallons by eight and you will know the total amount of weight it takes to "sink" your boat. The boat will not actually sink because wood is buoyant. The Coast Guard then recommends multiplying the total weight by a factor of .3 to determine the "maximum safe load". My boat is 14' long, it takes 140 gallons of water to reach the gunwales, 140 gallons x 8 (pounds per gallon) = 1120 pounds x .3 = 336 pounds "safe load". The safe load of your boat will be determined by the length you build. 

What is included in the kit?
The kit includes the two stems, three rib sets, and building plans. The stems and ribs are precut from cypress and are sanded.

What do I need to purchase in addition to the kit?
In addition to the kit you will need two sheets of 4'x8' plywood, one 1"x 4" piece of clear lumber for the rub rails, glue, screws, brads or small nails, one quart of paint and fiberglass materials.

What tools do I need?
Because the stems and rib sets are precut to the proper angles, the boat can be built with the minimum of tools. It is possible to build the boat using only hand tools.

What experience in wood working do I  need?
Our kit has been designed to be constructed by individuals who have little or no woodworking experience. If you can build a box, you can build our boat.

What experience in fiberglassing do I need?
None, Larry Steeves, owner of RAKA INC, a supplier of Epoxy, Fiberglass and associated products has built our pirogue kit and knows exactly what you need. His site is located at When you call  Larry (772-489-4070) and tell him you are building our kit, he will explain the options and supply the materials and instructions you need. If you ask for the "Uncle John's Discount", Larry will give you a 5% discount.

Can I get support?
Yes. We are happy to provide full support either via e-mail or telephone,

Does the same kit build the different lengths?
Yes. The length of the finished boat is determined by the length of the sideboards. Using two sheets of 4'x8'x1/4" plywood  a boat can be built from 12' to 15'-8". We do not recommend less than 12'.

What size is best?
The "best" size will differ with the individual and usage. A 12' will offer a small, light, easy to carry boat for one adult or two children. A 15'-8" will offer the greatest capacity. A 14'-6" offers the best of both. Make your decision based on your needs, the amount of weight you want to carry. The longer your boat is the greater the capacity.

How much does the finished boat weigh?
A 12' model without paint or fiberglass weighs approximately 32 pounds, a 15'-8" model approximately 40 pounds.  The actual weight will vary with the amount of fiberglass and the number of coats of paint used.

Can I add a transom?  
Yes, first build the kit and then fit a 3/4" plywood transom. Cut off the end of the boat flush with the transom. Caution should be exercised when using a motor. An electric trolling motor is more than adequate to propel a craft of this size.

What kind of plywood?
The basic difference between marine plywood and exterior plywood: marine plywood does not contain voids (edge voids are easily filled with wood putty). Taping the seams and edges with fiberglass will effectively seal exposed edge voids.  Both marine and exterior plywood contain essentially the same glues.  Because boats of this nature are not left in the water for extended periods of time and the difficulty in obtaining marine plywood, we feel that exterior plywood offers distinct advantages. Exterior plywood is considerably more economical and is a standard stock item at most lumber yards.  We have had good results with both fir and pine. The choice is determined by comparing quality and local availability.

How is plywood joined to make longer lengths?
Plywood is easily joined using a scarf joint, overlapping the separate pieces. See "Scarf joint"

What kind of glue?
There are numerous waterproof and water resistant glues on the market.  For the most part, glues, nails and screws hold the structure together prior to tapeing the seams with fiberglass.  Once the seams are taped, the fiberglass will provide a strong waterproof joint. For this reason, the type of glue is of less importance than tapeing the seams with fiberglass.

We have used both brass and stainless steel with good results.  Both are rust and corrosion resistant. Stainless is harder and is usually somewhat more economical than brass.

Epoxy needs to be protected from sunlight. A good marine varnish will protect epoxy and show the beauty of the wood, but this method requires more careful selection of wood and more careful and time consuming building. Painting is easy and durable. Common exterior house paintworks well, 100% acrylic exterior latex (water based) paint, found at any building supplies store.  Water based paints adhere well to epoxy where some solvent and oil based paints have adhesion problems.

If you wish to stain your boat, you should use water or alcohol and not oil based.   Allow the stain to dry thoroughly  before applying the resin.

 How much  time is required to complete the pirogue?
Actual construction time in general is 10 to 12 hours for the average novice. As a weekend project, on Friday the ribs would be glued and the sideboards and bottom would be sized and scarfed.  On Saturday the boat would be assembled and the seams fiberglassed. On Sunday the assembled boat would be sanded and painted. The time required is determined as much by the time necessary for the glue, fiberglass, and paint to dry between steps.

What is the total cost of building the Pirogue Kit?
Your total cost including the kit should be apx. $125.00. The actual cost will be determined by the the quality of paint and the amount of fiberglass used. We recommend tapeing the seams inside and out, some builders choose to glass the entire bottom, some the entire boat.

  Additional questions or need support?