The Redfish King was my first attempt to build a kayak of any kind. The kit I purchased from Redfish was complete and the instructions were very well written. I had only minor questions arise during construction and Joe answered them easily over the phone. His design is awesome. Once construction was complete, I was anxious to put it to the test. I can only say the kayak performed like the great design she is and to my delight, she is much more fun on the water than she was as a project in the shop. However, both phases of the kayak are very enjoyable.
I would highly recommend the King and the complete line of fine kayaks from Redfish to anyone. I also own and paddle a Chesapeake 18 from CLC, another fun project and great kayak.The King is a Greenland style home-built cedar strip kayak. Like all modern cedar strip kayaks it consists of a cedar core covered inside and out with epoxy impregnated fiberglass cloth. The fiberglass itself disappears when wetted out with epoxy so all you see is the beauty of the wood. The King was designed by Joe. Joe designed The King to be an all around high performance sea kayak with an exceptional ability to carve turns.
I purchased Joe’s plans with the full size station templates and bought all of my materials as I went along. This allowed me to spend as I built “I didn’t have the cash on hand for Joe’s full kit”. If you can afford it outright Joe’s kit price is an excellent deal and the cedar strips ship in a pre-built strong-back. Joe also offers the option to custom build a kayak for you. Keep in mind Joe’s work is in high demand so there is a waiting list if you take this option. If you decide to build The King yourself, it can be done with just a few hand tools such as a Japanese pull saw, a jig saw, a random orbital sander and a low angle block plane.
My King is slightly modified, I stretched her to 18’ 2.5” to create an even more dramatic bow. If you follow the plans exactly the King will be a 17’ 9” kayak. Please note that building a cedar strip kayak is not a project to be taken lightly. There is a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into building your own kayak from scratch. That being said, if you have the fortitude to tackle a project of this scope you won’t be disappointed.
All cedar strip kayaks are an extension of the personality of the builder. The hull form may be that of the designer but the end result is a direct reflection of the builder. No two are ever alike. Using different types of wood you create the pattern that defines the look of your kayak. For my King I used reclaimed western red and northern white cedar strips for the majority of the hull and deck. The stems are ash and I used walnut for the ends, recessed fittings, paddle park, combing and the center accent stripe. The end result is a stunningly beautiful kayak that is truly one of a kind. Beyond the great looks this kayak handles like a dream. I was concerned about initial stability. I only had prior experience in fairly wide plastic kayaks before deciding to build The King. As The King is only 21-3/8” wide I figured it would feel quite tippy at first. To my surprise, initial stability is excellent and secondary stability is rock solid. Even my 15 year old daughter “who owns a Pungo 100” felt comfortable within a few minutes when she tried The King. In addition, The King turns like a kayak 1/3 rd its size. By leaning the king on its side and using an extended sweep with a Greenland paddle I was able to turn as quickly as I can in the 10’ Pungo. The King is fast but not a speed demon. She gets up to cruising speed quickly and once there glides with almost no effort. While paddling along side my daughter as she paddled The King for the first time I was amazed at the way the hull sliced through the water. There was no bow wake at all, like a hot knife through butter, simply amazing. I will post another report after I get The King out on the big water of Lake Michigan “next year at the latest”. By all reports “from others who have built The King” she handles big water with ease and rolls like a dream thanks to the “Rollers Recess” that Joe built into the design. In short, The King doesn’t excel at any one thing but instead does everything well. This may be the most well rounded kayak design to date. I love my King and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a well behaved, all around high performance sea kayak. Be forewarned, people will stop to admire your kayak and ask a ton of questions every time you take the King out to launch. Believe me, The King can draw quite a crowd. If you don’t want all the attention, buy a nice composite kayak instead.