Building a KARA Hummer Layout Duck Boat #14: Fitting Out the Boat

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 06-17-2015 02:10 PM 7332 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Installing the Floor Part 14 of Building a KARA Hummer Layout Duck Boat series Part 15: Painting the Boat »


The basic boat is complete and only needs to be painted. However, there are a lot of little things to be made to fit the boat out to my purposes. The two functions of the boat are transportation and layout platform. Each function requires careful consideration during the fitting out process. The plan doesn’t give many details on these steps, so a builder must do their own research and design. My goal in this blog entry is to show some of the thought process and trial and error that goes into this stage of the build.


There are several options to propel this boat including kayak paddle, SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) paddle, push pole, and oars. The wide beam, high cockpit sides, and my load situation eliminated the kayak paddle as a comfortable option. The wide beam and my lack of experience ruled out the SUP paddle. Some of the lakes we travel are too deep to use a push pole the whole route and that moved the push pole to a secondary means of moving through heavy vegetation and shallow areas. I chose oars as the primary means of propelling the boat.

Fore and aft trim is a consideration on a boat with such a low profile. The goal is to have the boat sitting a little stern heavy so it submarines less into the waves. My primary load consists of two decoy bags, a gun, Copper, and me. Each decoy bag weighs 27 pounds and Copper weighs 55 pounds. They balance each other out well. With the two decoy bags placed in the front of the cockpit and Copper at the rear, I’m placed slightly aft of center and this gives the boat the slight stern heavy trim I desire.

My first thought was to build a simple seat across the cockpit frame and elevate the oar locks as needed. This seemed like a good idea and I ran with it.

This oarlock frame raised the oar locks about two inches above the cockpit frame. I obviously would have beefed it up more, but this level was adequate for fitting.

This seat is made of 3/8” baltic birch plywood and reinforced with 1 1/4” tall white oak stringers. It slides easily along the cockpit.

I was unhappy with how it stuck up above the rest of the boat. I could have brushed it out to camouflage it from the ducks. I hadn’t built my oars yet, so I borrowed a “junker” set from my brother to determine fit and placement. I quickly discovered that I would have to go even higher for the oars to clear my knees. I wasn’t about to ruin the low profile advantages of a layout boat by going even higher with the oarlocks, so it was back to the drawing board. I had just spent half a day exploring this option.

This set of oarlocks is much simpler and blends in with the low profile of the boat better.

When sitting on the floor, the cockpit sides elevate the oarlocks enough to clear my knees.

A Type IV flotation device provides cushion to sit on and still maintains oar clearance from my knees. I’ll wait to glue and round the oar lock supports until after my initial launch of the boat. I’ll experiment with fore and aft positioning with the oarlocks clamped temporarily in place.

This position allows my feet to rest against the aft end of the cockpit frame for leverage during the stroke.

During the fitting out process, I determined that 5’ oars would be a good length. My Dad gave me some extra 4/4 rough ash he wasn’t going to use. Ash will make a heavy, but durable set of oars…perfect for the duck marsh. I planed these boards and cut them to 5’ 6” to prepare for lamination.

I used thickened epoxy to laminate the oar blank. I’ll cut out both oars from this blank and shape them according to a set of plans I purchased from Chesapeake Light Craft.

Layout Platform

Once at the marsh, the boat serves its second function as a layout platform. The goal is to lay in a reclined position comfortably for hours at a time…nearly invisible to approaching ducks and then sit up to shoot them. I’ll build flip blind doors later, but the first step is to set up the boat to lay comfortably.

I made these brackets of 3/4” aluminum angle to support an aluminum crossbar that will support the layout board. NOTE: I’m keeping all the permanent fittings below the level of the cockpit since we will build covers for each boat out of plywood and plan to stack three boats on my utility trailer to transport them.

Bimini fittings for the flip doors will attach to the 1” aluminum crossbar.

The layout board is 3/8” Baltic birch plywood 15” wide and 28” long. I used white oak cut at the recline angle to hold the board in position on the crossbar.

The recline angle is about 18 degrees.

I discovered that this shallow recline angle faces you nearly straight up and it’s a strain to scan the horizon for ducks. After a lot of trial and error, I devised this set-up. The neck and shoulder support is cut from two 1 ½” layers of pink insulation foam beveled at a 40 degree angle. (I’ll eliminate the notch at the head to simplify upholstering the cover.) I then sculpted a head piece from scrap Minicell foam. I covered this with layer of closed cell foam. I’ll even place an extra layer or two for some lumbar support! My plan is to cover this with 500D Coated Cordura.

I’m picky on fit, so I do my fitting with waders and my life jacket on.

It’s really more comfortable than the picture portrays…

Shooting from a seated position is awkward at first.


In the next installment, I’ll discuss painting the boat.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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