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        Skin on frame kayaks


    I design and build canoes and kayaks to customer's requirements, the last four of which were of unique design and built to their specifications.
    Although I design and build in epoxy/ply to full expedition sea kayak specifications, so far demand has been for Skin on Frame construction; thus it has become my area of expertise.
    The most recent design: Lowen is also being offerred as a stock boat with custom finish and fittings.
    Plans of this kayak will soon be available for the home builder to purchase, more details at the foot of the page.

    Skin on frame Kayaks

    These craft have a durable impact resistant frame and a skin capable of withstanding puncture and abrasion. They are every bit as strong as a composite kayak on the water and much lighter, adaptable to custom sizing and accessible to home building. Of hand made craft, these are the easiest and quickest to construct, which makes them good value.
    My kayaks are not built as full expedition sea kayaks with bulkheads and hatches. I have found that this just does not work on a fabric kayak - and seems to go against the grain of this approach.
    These are day boats with the capacity for an overnight or weekend trip. Designed for fun on the water they are stuffed with buoyancy and capable of taking a sea sock for added safety. I surf these boats; they all roll well, and for rescues have full deck lines etc as you would expect on a modern kayak.

    The Lowen

    The Cornish word for "Joyful"                                           For wind wave and tidal flows

    launch photo of LowenLowen launch penzance harbour

    A day and overnight kayak.

    Fast lively,
    fun to paddle.

    At 13-16 kg, easy to lift unaided.

    4.29 M (14' 1'') x 60 cm (23.5'')                                                       Payload including paddler 105 kg
    Volume 336 litres

    The Lowen is fitted with an Ocean or Keyhole cockpit, both with knee bars, a comfortable wooden seat and adjustabe backstrap. Foot pegs are fitted a few inches in from the gunwales towards the centre for more comfortable and efficient paddling. The boat comes with lifting toggles, deck lines and straps, three of which are adjustable. It is stuffed with buoyancy bags forward of the footrest and aft of a space for day gear, behind the cockpit.

    Design Brief and Performance.

    The original brief for a customer looking to improve his skills was to build a copy of Brian Schultz's F1. When it was clear that this was not possible my proposal to design and build a "British" version of the Mariner Coaster, on which the F1 was based, was accepted.
    Only 13'6", the Coaster was the first sea going "playboat", a kayak for surfing, rock dodging, tide races light camping and touring; essentially a day boat.
    This 14ft "British" version has a lower profile for our more windy environment. The name Lowen - Cornish for "Joyful" seemed right.
    Feedback on performance is as follows: slighty tippy with good secondary stability that enabled effective steering through secure edging; no weather-cocking tendencies - this was important for a kayak without a skeg (like the F1 & Coaster), good tracking and satisfactory cruising speed.
    On 2 ft surf, spilling waves - not steep the performance was excellent: loose with the back holding in well. With the exception of wind and waves on the quarter which is always difficult, the boat was easily controllable in a following sea and would surf readily. Cruising speed seems to be in the range of 3.6-4 Knots; varies with who is paddling and with what.
    PDF of my test reports and customer feedback on which this is based: Cornwall Custom Kayaks PDF file Open/download here PDF
    Lowen1trials&feedbacks.pdf (1.28MB)


  • These kayaks have gunwales, deck beams and stringers of Douglas Fir, light and strong.
  • Frames are of 9mm marine ply reinforced with cedar.
  • Deck beams and frames are lashed and pinned to the gunwales; stringers lashed to the frames etc.
  • Glue is only used to laminate components, not join them.
  • Thus the frame is nice and stiff yet able to give to shocks - no glued joints to concentrate stress.
  • With a strong polyester/epoxy skin you can seal launch these boats as you could a composite boat.
  • Lifted with one hand - with the impact strength of a standard composite boat
  • Solid or Semi-translucent skin coating.
  • Simple technology, where possible of locally sourced and recycled materials; hand built to order.

    Custom Kayaks

  • Lowen, as specified above, 1700 plus delivery
  • New designs to customer's requirements: design fee 500 plus cost of the kayak.

    Please e-mail for further details:

    Book a free trial in a skin on frame boat - Come down to Cornwall and try one
    Send for a skin sample info@cornwallcustomkayaks.co.uk
    Or simply phone Chris Pease on 01209 217114 mobile 07964 943193

    Kayak Plans

    The Lowen is built with a fusion of traditional and modern methods. Instead of the bent ribs of a traditional kayak, the stringers are supported on plywood frames. The Lowen is not built on a strongback from the keel upwards like frame boats normally are, but from the gunwales on top of trestles like a traditional kayak.
    This means that you do not have to build a solid structure beforehand that will need dismantling later if you need the space. Instead a disposable flexible sheet, locked in place by the gunwales and deckbeams acts as a secure base on which the boat is built.
    The plans, which will be available by mid 2018 will include illustrated building instructions. They will be available as a PDF download for about 75.

    onto New Products

  • 01209 217114 mobile 07964 943193