serene – 2, part 11c

ectified one problem with the signal light, the bulb is too greedy, it eats up a lot of electricity and could potentially burn up the reed switch (I’ve noticed the reed switch has malfunctioned sometimes due to the high current). So I replace the bulb with 8 small white LEDs (1 Watt each). Some more soldering work, but finally it’s done, equally bright, but less power consumed, and safer for the switch.

Today, I installed and tested the rudder system. First is the two cable lines used to pull the rudder up and down. The 2 lines run back to the cockpit and are attached to 2 small wooden balls, with a short segment of bungee cord. Third image: the wooden balls and bungee cord. The bungee serves as a shock cord, in case the rudder should collide with some thing and kicked back, so that no damage would be done to the whole system.

One simple rule to operate the pull up / down lines: grab the ball that is further from the cockpit and pull it. Well, it sounds pretty simple, but useful enough, when in action, you just don’t have to think over and over again: which line is up, and which line is down! 🙂 The two rudder control lines run back to inside the cockpit where they’re attached to the pedals via 2 small wooden jam cleats to adjust the lines’ tension.

All works well, but the pedal motions are not really smooth, because the bungee cords are not strong enough to pull the pedals back (once one pedal is kicked, I would just have to kick the other pedal to balance the rudder). But I would just leave them as they are for now, as they’re working already, would consider replacing the bungees with stronger ones (or revise the design a bit) later on.

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 11b

he hull is painted with 2 layers of transparent PU paint. In this tropical weather, paint dries so fast, after about 3 or 4 hours, I can start the various deck fittings: mounting the forward hatch with compass on top (and compass light). The electric wires (housing inside a plastic tube) supplying power to the compass light also serves as a holding line, just in the rare case that the hatch could fall out.

The signal light is done the same way, connect the electric wires, seal them inside tube with silicone glue, test if the reed switch work. Until now, all 3 reed switches works well, I shouldn’t worry much about them, as reed switches, though tiny in size (less than 3 mm in diameter), are in fact very durable (rated at 100 000 times of turning on / off). In the silent night, I can hear the click, click sound of them turning on / off 🙂 .

Fitting the bungee cords is quite straight forward. The anchor points (made from wood) work well enough, I just pull a thread through easily, don’t have to “prime” with a small steel wire like before. The forward bungee cords also run through 2 wooden blocks (see the third image), each house a magnet inside. I use the NdFeB (rare earth) magnets, which are really strong, they could turn on the reed switch 2 or 3 cm away.

Next, I would fit the rudder pedals, run the rudder control lines and see how all things works. Then comes the bilge pump, with the water hose, then the solar panel. The ugly thing is that you just don’t know how much power left in your battery, or if the solar panel is doing its job. So I ordered a “12V battery fuel gauge” from Amazon to read out the current capacity of my SLA battery. Below: a short video to show how the reed switches work!

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 11a

fter joining the hull and deck, the hull receives its final bottom glassing. The fiber fabric would overlap the deck about an inch, to better seal the joint. One little trick to make a clean, tidy line at the painting (or epoxy) boundary: mask the area to paint (or to fill with epoxy) with duct tape. Prior to applying (colored) paint or epoxy, brush the duct tape with a very thin layer of transparent paint (or epoxy).

Wait for the paint (or epoxy) to cure, than apply the (colored) paint (or epoxy). That way, the colored paint (or epoxy) won’t leak through the duct tape, cause no matter how good the duct tape is, paint (or epoxy) would leak through, causing a blurry, untidy line. Second image: masking with duct tape, prepare for glassing the hull. I run out of my fiberglass fabric roll after this task, also use up the last drop of epoxy! 🙂

The hull glassing receives an additional layer of fill coat, then another layer of epoxy at the 3 seams, then a slight sanding. I don’t sand much, just at some rough places. The color scheme for this kayak is also brown / yellow like my previous two boats, but this time, the colors would be much lighter. Next would goes in the vinyl decal decorations, then varnishing the whole hull and deck with transparent PU paint.

Since the deck’s space is used up for the 3 hatches, the bungee cords, the signal light and solar panel, and other accessories, all decorations would go to port and starboard sides: the boat eyes, boat name, and owner’s information! There’re many many other unnamed tasks required still to finish the boat, so I won’t hope to complete it until next week. However, the kayak would see water and start its trial paddling very soon!

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 10c

t’s time to join the hull and deck, and now the boat takes its final shape 🙂 !!! The gunwales are bevelled differently along their length to better accommodate the deck, paste some putty on the bevelled edges, then I press the hull and deck together, like the two halves of a peanut shell. 🙂 Everything goes on quite smoothly, the bow and aft parts fit very well, just use some duct tapes to press them together.

In the middle part, there are some small gaps (about 3, 4 millimeters), so I need to fasten them with some cables. The bulkheads fit really well, firmly holding the deck and hull. To maximize the boat waterproof capability, I carefully fill the internal seams with some more putty at places which are still accessible by my arms. The whole thing is left overnight for the putty to set, permanently forming the boat shape!

The next morning, I carefully trim the deck part. Since the deck is cut oversized, it’s slightly larger than the hull, it need to be trimmed down to match the hull, apply some more putty here and there to fill some remaining gaps, then round the seams (the external sides) in preparation for glassing the hull. Months of preparation, consideration and hard works has finally “culminated” into a seeable, touchable object! 🙂

It seems that, at this point, the boat would be able to see water in no time. But actually, there’re lots of works ahead: glassing the hull, install the rudder, rudder control lines and pedals, fitting the bilge pump and signal light, sticking the vinyl decorations (text and boat eyes), fitting the compass and all those bungee cords, various other accessories, etc… and finally varnishing the whole thing with transparent PU paint.

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 10b

inished all electrical wiring and device testing. It looks simple, but actually, for me, there were lots of works. First is to figure out how the relay pins work. First image: I noted down the wiring diagram of a relay, the 2 pins on the right, one is NO (normally opened) and one is NC (normally closed). The middle pin on the left (the common pin) supplies power to the targeted devices (here is the compass light, just for testing).

The two other pins supply power to the relay itself, when powered on (decided by the reed switch), the relay switches from NC to NO position, hence supplying power to the compass light. All wirings runs back to a central point: the plastic waterproof wiring box, which houses the battery, the solar charge controller, the relay… It took me some times to install all in the box, connect the correct wires, check if everything works!

The PowerFilm solar panel shipped with a long water proof detachable cable, so I run the cable from the central compartment to further aft where the solar panel would be located. This cable runs through a cable gland to exit the deck, ended with a waterproof connecter. It’s not very nice to always have this connector on deck, but it’s convenient to disconnect the solar panel and stored away when it’s not in need.

There would be another waterproof box (connected to this wiring box which would be rarely opened) which houses the 12V – to – USB and the 12V – to – AA charger, which could be usually opened to put your various devices in for charging (iPhone, VHF radio…) But that would be in another later phase of the project. It now time to joint the hull and deck parts together to form the final boat shape! 🙂

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 10a

ext is running the electric wires. I want them to be completely waterproof, so every wire running is placed inside plastic tubes for additional protection. First image: I solder 3 reed switches with wires, place them inside the small wooden bar, seal it completely with epoxy, and glue them under deck inside the cockpit. The letters C, P, L mark the positions of the switches for: compass, pump and light.

All wiring runs back to the day hatch, where a central box housing the main battery. I just use a LOCK & LOCK plastic box, it’s pretty much very watertight, if you close it properly. All wiring tubes would be connected to the box through cable glands with silicone glue. Another issue solved is the relay, it took me an hour to figure out how the PCB relay wiring works! Luckily, I haven’t forgotten all electric knowledges learnt in college! 🙂

Since the reed switch is so tiny, it usually can’t stand the amplitude of the current required by the bilge pump. So the reed switch is used to activate another switch (the relay), which can handle the current (it’s so good a feeling to hear a small ‘click, click’ sound when the relay is activated / deactivated) 🙂 The electrical, electronic parts of the project is not as hard as I’ve expected, all is done quite neatly!

Today, most equipments I ordered from Amazon has arrived: the PowerFilm 7W rollable solar panel, the SunGuard 4.5 Amp solar charge controller, the Rule 500 GPH (gallon per hour) bilge pump, a marine signal light, one Stohlquist “high – back” PFD… and some other things. I was feeling very good, as this phase of the project could be completed soon, and the boat is already somewhat quite near its completion!

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 9c

ow working on the electrical parts of the project. From other renowned sea kayakers, I’ve long learnt about their electrical and electronic system. And my own experiences pointed out that, the need for a battery system to run a bilge pump (and to power various other devices) is very urgent and obvious. From the very early phases of this project, I’ve been thinking over and over again about it.

The system would have a solar panel, to charge into a SLD (sealed lead acid) battery. The battery is used to power the bilge pump, its primary purpose. But since now I have a 12V DC electric system onboard, I could use it to: illuminate the boat’s compass, power the signal light, and to charge various electronic devices: the iPhone, the VHF radio, the Garmin, cameras, etc… Basically, I want an independent system that power all.

First is the compass light, some white LED sources to illuminate the compass in case of paddling at night. I could just buy a compass with built – in lighting, but those such compasses are not readily available in the local market, and usually they’re a bit oversized for a tiny boat like Serene – 2. So I decided to modify my current compass to accommodate 4 white LED bulbs, the result is beautiful (1st & 2nd image)! 🙂

The most special thing in my electrical system is… the reed switch, a sealed electric switch which could be activated by a small piece of magnet (3rd image). That way, the switches could be hide and sealed inside the hull, completely covered in epoxy to protect them from water, and they could be turned on / off by the presence of some small pieces of magnet outside of the hull. I’ve found the idea… simply brilliant! 🙂

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 9b

he deck is stained in a light – yellow color, compared to my previous boats, this kayak would receive a much lighter color scheme. Light, bright color would reveal more the defects on plywood and my building mistakes, but I don’t really care about that anymore, as soon as the faults are not too obvious. Then a thin layer of glass throughout the deck (first image). Next comes various deck fittings.

First are the cleats used to tie down the hatches’ lids. These wooden cleats are glued on, then bolted down with 2 small bolts for each cleats. I carefully fill the bolts’ holes with epoxy, then paint the internal side with some epoxy to prevent water leaking in. Tying down the hatches’ lids with lines is not a very handy way, but it’s simple and very secured, compared to other complex locking mechanisms.

Last image: the rudder control lines’ tubes exit the deck near the stern, secured by 2 small wooden blocks, and protected by 2 cable glands to make the deck completely watertight. On the other ends of the tubes are similar cable glands inside the cockpit. I also made 2 “double – ended” wooden cleats to micro – adjust the rudder control lines’ tension. Various other wooden parts are also fitted on the deck.

The progress slows down as I approach one of the last major phase of the project: electricity. This is a complex issue, the kayak would have a 7W solar panel, which charges into a 2.2 Amph SLD (Sealed Lead Acid) battery. The battery is used primarily is for powering the boat’s bilge pump, and secondarily, to charge various electronics devices: the iPhone, Garmin, VHF radio GoPro, camera, the compass’ and signal lights, etc…

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 9a

irst image: the 6 – mm diameter plastic cable glands, with a cigarette lighter for size compare. These cable glands are used at various places on my Serene – 2 kayak, but primarily used for running tubes, cables through hull. With proper installation, they should be waterproof, with the extra help of some silicone glue. Second image: the rudder control lines’ tubes, running through 4 cable glands each all the way from the cockpit.

All electric cables on my boat would be placed inside plastic tubes, to maximize their waterproof capability. So they would also need some cable glands to run through the bulkheads. But that would be the next step of the project. Now, just all things rudder related 🙂 ! Third image: the rudder pedals, simple pieces of wood that could be rotated around hinges. Since all these parts are quite near the compass…

So the hinges, the screws… are all made of brass. I had a hard time finding these brass parts, cause most available on the local market is actually made of steel, just copper plated. It’s quite weird carrying a piece of magnet around the shops, to verify that they’re actually non – ferromagnetic, but I have to really make sure about that! 🙂 For the compass, I would just used the same type as in my previous boat.

Though a simple and cheap compass, it has been verified (in my last 9 days trip) to work correctly and reliably. Before installing other parts, I slightly sanded the deck, applied some colored – thinned epoxy (for color staining, this time, the deck also has a yellow color like my previous boats, but much a lighter shade). Next would be glassing the external side of the deck, before fitting many other parts onto it.

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3




serene – 2, part 8c

here’re quite a lot of works required on the deck. First, I need to make various small wooden parts: the bungee cords’ anchor points (14 of them), the cleats (6) used to tie the hatches down, the rudder post, wooden balls for line pulling, etc… all is very “small” wood working, you would need to work on parts that a just a few centimeters in size, an ugly type of work which I don’t like, since I don’t really have skillful hands for that.

Second image: various wooden parts. First image: cut half – curve grooves for making the bungee lines’ anchor point using my router. The bungee would loop through that grooves, going from the external side, through the deck, then back to the external side again. There’re 14 anchor points like that to be installed, 8 around the cockpit, 4 on the aft deck, and 2 on the fore deck. Here, I learn to cut with the router following a template.

Third image: fitting the cockpit anchor points, the installation is quite simple and straightforward, the wooden blocks are glued on, with steel wire fastening through the holes, later some little putty would be filled in the jointing edges, and maybe some glassing too. This way, the bungee cords’ anchor points are made so simple, easier to implement, not the same nasty, clumsy way as in all of my previous boats.

Next in installing the rudder control lines’ tubes. Those are 6 – mm diameter (4 – mm internally) plastic tubes that run from the cockpit, through the day – compartment and aft compartment to near the stern, running through 4 cable glands on the way for each tube. The installation is quite messy, as I was using too much silicone glue, in an anxiety to assure that these cable glands would be completely waterproof.

Serene – 2 photo albums
part 1, part 2, part 3