Deck Construction

It took one-and-a-half boats to figure this out.

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Decking was not on my mind.  I assumed that if the hull was strong enough to float, it would be strong enough to hold a mildly overweight adult male.  But the human body does not distribute weight evenly.  When people stand, we put our entire weight on a surface that can be less than 50 square inches.  Lifting one foot temporarily cuts that to 25 square inches, or close to 10 lbs per inch.  On two knees the pressure is higher.  Angled wrong, it’s enough to crack plywood and sink the boat.

Comfort matters, too.  Boats leak.  Water from paddles and caught fish splashes in.  You don’t want to sit in a puddle.  It’s also nice to be on a flat surface, a place to set your coffee.

Decks are important.

My first deck was a small sheet of plywood raised by a spare 2×4, seen here:1049

Not too cozy, but it kept my butt dry.

For boat #2, the deck was also an afterthought.  It was a sheet of scrap wood.  When I brought my son on board, he kept stepping off the deck and onto the 1/4″ plywood that separated us from the lake.  The deck restricted my movement.  I couldn’t reach the rudder, or reach over the side of the boat to catch a lost oar, for example, without having to balance myself on the beams of the frame.

I needed a deck that was large, yet removable; strong, yet light.  I also needed access to objects that fell underneath.  The solution: a group of 1 x 4’s separated by a 3/4″ gap, held together by 1 x 2’s.  The 1 x 2’s fit snug alongside the hull beams.  Below you can see how I assembled the deck onto the beams, using scrap wood for spacing.   The result looked like a professional boat deck.  The spaces between the beams also allowed for easy removal.

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Two boats later, I added a second, poop deck.  This covered more of the boat and made a convenient seat.

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One final thought on decks: Keep them removable.  When you are carrying a boat, every pound counts, and the deck is the heaviest removable part.  Removable decks also allow easy cleaning and repair along the bottom of the hull.

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