How We Build A Kevlar Boat

We begin with a highly polished mold which was cast from one of our wooden guideboats. This is probably the 5th or the 8th generation of this mold.... we can only build 300 or 400 boats from each ...then the mold begins to degrade and produce less than perfect boats.

Behind Justin and Ian are rolls of fiberglass cloth (in white) and Kevlar, (in yellow.) Each roll of fiberglass costs $1,000. The Kevlar goes for $2,000 per roll.

This photo shows the first layer of fiberglass being placed into the mold for our Vermont Fishing Dory. Behind the dory mold is our guideboat mold, to the left is a partially finished boat in the mold for our Vermont Packboat.

Once the cloth is dry-fitted to the mold, polyester resin is rolled into the cloth...this is actually the exterior of this black boat. The black art to this task (pun un-intended) is can't see the exterior while you are working on it. The resin soaks through the cloth and obtains its glossy finish from the highly-polished surface of the mold. This is called the 'skin coat process.'

While this is a black boat, once the two layers of Kevlar have been added to the skin coat, the boat appears yellow. The interior will now be painted with a tan-colored gel coat.

Dan is fiberglassing the seat-cleats to the boat's hull. In addition, he is installing a flotation air tank.

The interior has now been completely painted, the seat cleats are installed, as have the air tanks.

Now the hull needs to be removed from the mold. Ian is using a high-pressure air hose and working the boat free.

Once free, Ian and Dan are now lifting the boat with padded vice-grips.

The next photos are lifting the boat further out of the mold and carrying it from the molding room. It is astonishing how light and flimsy the hull is at this point. When the gunwales are attached the boat assumes its full rigidity.

Dan is now attaching the gunwales to the hull.

He is now bringing the gunwales together and attaching them to the deck.

We use hundreds of clamps in building our boats. Here the deck and gunwales are being clamped, epoxied and screwed together.

Tape has been carefully applied to define the area to be black-coated. The Kevlar skid plates have already been bonded to the hull.

Black-coat is now being applied to both the bottom of the hull and to the Kevlar skid plates.

The floorboards have been installed and the seats are now being pre-fitted.

Murray Snap-Apart hinges are being attached to the seat and seatback. (We import these hinges from New Zealand.)

Why, you ask?

Because that is the only place they are made.

And, voilà. There's your boat.

And there's our crew.

Happy Rowing.