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PostPosted: September 20th, 2021, 10:03 am 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Jfpaddler wrote:
I’ve seen your work on a few forums now, and I’m curious about what you look for in your tandem kayak to decked canoe conversions. I’m interested in the idea of converting one myself and any advice you have on selecting the right candidate boat all the way to modification advice would be greatly appreciated


So this doesn’t get lost in the gel coat discussion I’m posting a response as a new thread.

JF, you have done it now. Converting a ‘70’s style “European-style tandem touring kayak” to a solo decked tripper is shop tinkering time near and dear to my heart. Most of our current fleet of 6 such conversions were bought used, mostly in the $100 range, and a two were battered freebies. With a couple hundred dollars in parts and pieces they make very functional open water tripping and sailing canoes. Fun day sailers too.

As far as a good candidate hull to convert to a solo decked tripper I would look for something that approximates the lines and expansive cockpit of a Sawyer Loon or Mad River Monarch, both Kruger designs.

MRC Monarch, page 8
https://web.archive.org/web/20130604032 ... ocused.pdf

For lack of better order I’ll present some in the order in which I converted them.

Old Town Sockeye
16' 5' x 31 1/2"

Link at the bottom of the page
https://adirondack.pastperfectonline.co ... 3539293670

Pros: Very deep (15 1/4") , all the way to the both stems, where most ‘70’s tandems are quite shallow at the stern. A heavy load gear hauler, friends call it the Winnebago, I named it “The Sea Wimp”. It is the best sailing hull we own, even with too much sail aloft (photo courtesy of Charlie Wilson)

ImageMike M Sailing 01 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Cons: Ours is from 1971, heavy as hell woven roving. No cockpit coaming for a skirt or storage cover, just a smooth rounded transition; Cooke Custom Sewing made a snap on cover for it. I have seen a total of two in 30 years.

Poke/Phoenix Vagabond
16’ 5” x 29”

Pros: Most often found used in a glass & nylon layup, so lighter than some others. Another nice sailing hull. All of our decked conversions have a simple downwind sail, handy for big open water wind, but also for shallow waters where getting a paddle blade down is an exercise in futility.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU2mE83Gi0M

Cons: The Poke/Phoenix MSRP was always crazy high, and so it is hard to find one at a rock bottom price. I drove from Maryland to South Carolina for that one.

Hyperform Lettmann Optima
16’ 6” x 30” (Notice the length/width similarities in those vintage “European-style touring kayaks)

Pros: Another excellent sailing hull, and seemingly not a unicorn in rarity; I’m converting a third one; maybe I just got lucky, each cost around $100 used.
Cons: Lots of glassed in OEM features to cut out. Hyperform made them either in heavy woven roving or lighter glass & nylon, even in the same year (1977)

Here’s a write up on the process of converting one of them. I do not recommend trying to get it all done in a three day shop marathon.

http://scooter-bangortoportland.blogspo ... canoe.html

Klepper Kammerad TS
15’ 11” x 30”

Pros: The “TS” stood for “tandem sailing”, the Kamerad makes fine solo sailer too. Built like a tank, with buttresses between the hull bottom and decks.
Cons: Woven roving, very thick gel coat and internal buttresses heavy as hell.

ImageP4170008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There are other possibilities in vintage composite tandems. The Bavaria Boote Amazonas II/Missouri II comes up for sale occasionally. Or one of the venerable Rob Roy-style designs, although those are uncommon used cheap.

In more modern poly tandems the Wilderness System Pamlico 145T (14’ 6” x 28”) makes a wonderful pocket decked sailing canoe, and the Pamlico 160T (15’ 6” x 33”) makes a fine, albeit heavy, big boy, big load hauler.

The P145 is my wife’s favorite of all the decked sailing trippers. Less width and wetted surface length, plenty nimble. Sail up, rudder down, feel free to talk with your hands.

ImageIMG014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Converting those by raising one of existing seat is easy, and the seat can still be slide fore and aft for trim. Mostly though, in terms of available tandems, with modern rudders & controls, they are more common used than the ‘70’s composite tandems.

One interesting thing with the 1st and 2nd generation 145 and 160 Pamlicos, they have slight but near continuous rocker, so they are very responsive to the rudder when sailing, and fairly nimble when paddled. The 3rd generation Pamlicos, with the gurgling tracking channels along the bottom sucked, and were noisy about it.

ImagePA260039 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

My Pamlico holy grail is a 145T-Pro, the 15’ 1” x 30” kevlar version. With an MSRP of $3500 Wilderness Systems didn’t sell many, and folks that have them don’t let them go.

By way of comparison, foreground to background, MRC Monarch, Pamlico 145T, OT Sockeye, Phoenix Vagabond

ImageIMG019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

One seat note; the “seats” in the Vagabond, Optima and Klepper were designed by Marquis de Sade; since you need to install a raised solo center seat for decked canoe conversion find a comfortable one.

One or two rudder notes; most of those ‘70’s era European-style tandems had extraordinarily rudimentary rudders, so rudimentary that there was no mechanism to retract the rudder blade while in the boat. Pull over, get out, and retract or remove the rudder blade by hand. And most of them did not have foot pedal controls for steering with the rudder, just a hand cord loop through pulleys.

To be functional those have needed modern foot pedal controls, and either a modern rudder or significant modification.

FWIW the Wilderness Systems P145 and P160 storage covers fit the Optima and Klepper (and Monarch) cockpits, and, if you are into wearing a skirt, a P145 solo spray skirt fits the Optima solo seat placement.

JF, I am obviously smitten with those converted tandems. If you find a suitable candidate and have questions you know where to find me.


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2021, 6:33 am 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2069
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
About the big-boy, big-load hauler Pamlico 160, it has the same continuous rocker as the P145.

ImageP5020012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That one is for sale; with soon to be eight decked canoes we are going to need the storage space.

Fully outfitted, comes with a downwind sail and modern Feathercraft rudder/foot controls

ImageP5010003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Raised sliding seat and utility thwart. The sail base mount can also works as a Scotty rod holder for fishing purposes. The usual outfitting touches; paddle keeps, knee bumpers, heel pads, deck rigging, D-rings, ect.

ImageP5010009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Enough volume for a big load of camping gear, including a 60L barrel with the seat slid fully back.

ImageP5060001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

15’ 6” long, 32” max width, 12 ½” deep, 88” x 20 ½” cockpit

$825 USD in Maryland. I’ll even throw in a double blade and single blade paddle.


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2021, 9:19 am 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm
Posts: 33
Hi Mike

Thank you for the insight, and for a very enjoyable read.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for a suitable conversion at the right price, although unfortunately a recent move to a basement apartment in Toronto has severely limited both my storage and workshop space to nil. Given the state of the classifieds in my area, it looks like converting a modern poly tandem is most the most likely possibility, although an MRC Monarch was up for sale this past spring (to the tune of $4,000 cad) so I shouldn't rule out their existence.

I will be sure to reach out if/when the time comes.


All the best,
John


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2021, 4:50 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2069
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Jfpaddler wrote:
I will certainly be keeping an eye out for a suitable conversion at the right price, although unfortunately a recent move to a basement apartment in Toronto has severely limited both my storage and workshop space to nil. Given the state of the classifieds in my area, it looks like converting a modern poly tandem is most the most likely possibility, although an MRC Monarch was up for sale this past spring (to the tune of $4,000 cad) so I shouldn't rule out their existence.


4K cad is still pricey, even for a kevlar decked canoe of high regard. With no more Loons or Monarchs (or Sea Winds) being built the used price on those Kruger designs is only going up. My (barely) used Monarch was $1000 many years ago; that was a discounted friend price at the time.

Got room to squeeze a 14 ½’ - 16’ conversion through the basement door if held sideways? Maybe put it upright on a low stand in the living room and craft an oblong coffee table top to fit over the coaming ;-)

For a possibly lighter weight pocket tripper or day cruiser there are several other modern open-ish cockpit designs that might work, although none would likely come cheap; Current Designs Kestrel 160 or 140, Prijon Cruiser, Swift Adirondac 13.6. Maybe even a poly Wilderness Pungo (with a rudder installed). The Pungo’s are actually nice paddling hulls.

There are probably other poly tandem candidates that could be converted to a plastic decked tripper, but I don’t know which to look for and which to avoid. I do know that the first generations Pamlico 145 and 160 each paddle and sail nimbly as solos.

They also sucked as tandems, as do most of the 70’s composite European-style touring hulls I mentioned, and probably most of the other modern day open cockpit poly tandem rec kayaks. Which works favorable for finding one used cheap

The good part, given your lack of workshop space, is that converting a poly tandem rec kayak to partially decked solo is largely mechanical, drilling and bolting, with a tiny bit of epoxy work. With something like a ruddered Pamlico you’ll already have the modern rudder already mounted in place, as well as a comfy (or can be raised made comfy) seat, with adjustable foot control pedal rudder controls, both of which can simply be relocated to solo locations.

There are significant cost (and time) savings having a functional rudder, adjustable foot pedals and a comfy seat already OEM available to repurpose. Raise the seat a bit, drill four new holes for the relocated foot pedals, screw in the old bolts and presto, solo seat and re-positioned foot controls for the rudder.

I patched the holes from the old tandem foot braces with a hull flush circle of tinted G/flex on the outside, same on the inside, with a circle of vinyl G/flexed over top.

The utility sail thwart on the P160 is permanently epoxied in place, but the one of the wife’s P145 is a clamp on, which is a good way to start, testing the best location.

I expect you can find a reasonable priced Pamlico or other poly candidate for easy conversion, or one of the 70’s style composites if you keep an eye out long enough and want to tinker more with the conversion. The most recent Optima was headed to the dump when the elderly owner’s paddler son told them “Maybe I can get $100 for it”.

I’d have paid more, mostly because I need a long shop-tinkering project.

How long? Well, I picked up Optima #3 on September 3 and have diddled with it a bit almost every day since. I’m probably half way done, but I’m slow, and, even though I’ve done this before, I take a lot of think-about-the-next-step breaks.


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2021, 10:02 am 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2069
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
How to turn a ‘70’s European-style tandem into a decked canoe in 30+ days.

I’m not actually quite finished with the conversion; the boat still needs foot pedals and rudder control lines installed. That is some other day’s work, and I’m awaiting a shop partner who is a wizard at those outfitting tasks.

The “month’s work” was not an every day thing, and rarely a full day’s work; most of it has been an hour or two here and there, playing in the shop with frequent breaks to allow paint, epoxy or contact cement to set up. Figuring out the best sequence of preparation and work is my shop Sudoku, “I can do A, then B, then flip the boat over and do C and D. Stopping to take sequential photos helps slow my roll, so I don’t get ahead of myself.

This Hyperform Lettmann Optima was $100 destined for the dump. Even accounting for the cost of mostly leftover parts, pieces and materials I may have another $100 in “Sexy Thang”.

ImagePA040004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The custom outfitting work is mostly hidden under the cover.

ImagePA020019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sometimes I get hazy playful in the shop and have odd ideas; a “wet” box under the raised bucket seat, perfect place to stuff a sponge.

ImagePA090033 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A day-by-day blow with photos, more than any sane person wants to read. . . . .unless they happen across a $100 conversion candidate ;-)

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/o ... -3.126930/


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PostPosted: November 4th, 2021, 8:55 am 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2069
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
The latest decked solo canoe conversion, aka “Sexy Thang” is finally finished. I got sidetracked on some other canoe rebuilds and finally got around to installing the rudder cables, itself a tricky business.

I’m declaring this some of my best work yet.

ImageP9210039 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImagePB030018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I even made a custom single blade, shortie sized for decked canoe use.

ImagePB030024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Time to move on to the next rebuild, a Bell Yellowstone Solo on which every piece of brightwork rotted away.

ImagePB010014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr


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