Retiring a Kahuna

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Retiring a Kahuna

Post by kidkanektok »

Anyone else out there paddled a Feathercraft boat so long and so hard that they were forced to finally retire it?

Two caveats:

1) I have owned only folders, the Kahuna and a Wisper, since I started paddling in 2004. The Kahuna has been my workhorse for 12 years, and I paddle and fish plenty.

2) I know a handier person with ample time could get busy and really repair this boat -- but I am just not that person, neither handy nor the time

I've broken the behind-seat crossrib for the third time; I have two cracked coamings; a nice little chunk of plastic came out of the bow crossrib and can't be found; a patch on the keel near the rudder keeps coming loose on me; one of the rudder straps ripped off, and is attached now with a very primitive field-repair knot . . .

But the big deal-breaker is that I can't keep the keel bar centered on the keel strip any more. The velcro is quite shot (and has been for a while!) and the lock-button holes are worn and over-large on the keel bar, and, very frustratingly, the whole frame shifts over to one side, off center.

12 years of hard use is pretty reasonable, right? Any thoughts from other Feathercraft owners?

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Re: Retiring a Kahuna

Post by tsunamichuck »

Wore my Khats out over a 12 year period of hard use. It was intact but had to change out frame parts a few times, wore through numerous socks and a few seats
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Re: Retiring a Kahuna

Post by chrstjrn »

Interesting thread. Wood frames have several disadvantages, but I haven't heard of this happening.
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.

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Re: Retiring a Kahuna

Post by photogoo »

I think I found my new heroes. Actually wearing out a feathercraft, that's like wearing out the shutter on a Leica M3 :D

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Re: Retiring a Kahuna

Post by Jake »

Anyone owning a Feathercraft that needs repairs and/or replacement parts is, at least for the present, out of luck. Right now Feathercraft no longer exists. FC owner, Doug Simpson, has said that a parts supply shop will be forthcoming and there is no reason to doubt him but I cannot help but wonder just how reliable an operation that will be or how long it will last. A simple mishap like a blown sponson because you forgot to bleed off air when you put the boat on the roof rack and then went in for a coffee while the boat heats up in the hot sun could mean no more paddling until you find a replacement sponson. Feathercraft kayaks paddle very poorly without sponsons. For this reason alone, I've given some thought to selling my Kurrent and ordering a new Pakboat. I hope that Alv and Pakboat will be around for a few more years.

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Re: Retiring a Kahuna

Post by Alv »

I have some thoughts that may be helpful. While we do not have parts for Feathercraft or Folbots, we do have some materials (aluminum and fabrics) that may work for somebody who wants to improvise in an effort to keep the old boat going. We'd be happy to help if we can. I don't know sizes of inflatable parts for Feathercrafts, but some Pakboats tubes may be possible to adapt.

I am quite sure Doug will do his very best to help old customers with their boats. He may have a problem sourcing materials because minimum quantities for custom runs are much too large for boats that are no longer in production. I think he will be limited to sourcing materials that can be bought off the shelf.

Pakboats may have looked shaky lately because of persistent computer problems. is finally back, but the repair caused our e-mail to stop operating for several days. I still can't access pakboats e-mail remotely, but I hope to be back to normal by the end of today.

Greetings to you all.

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Re: Retiring a Kahuna

Post by KerryOnKayaks »

Replacing the Velcro should be simple. Cut new pieces (get the heavy duty wider Velcro) and hand stitch them to and over the existing pieces using an upholstery needle and the outdoor grade poly thread you can buy at Joann Fabrics.

I have heard of people buying large styrene plastic cutting boards, tracing a damaged rib and cutting out a new one from the material with a jigsaw. Does your Kahuna have the old one piece fiberglass coaming (my 2002 Kahuna did)? That might be harder to replace, but if it has the two piece flat one like the Wisper you could probably make replacements.

If it was mine, I would just keep it and watch eBay and Craigslist for somebody selling off a vintage Kahuna with issues. Often the fatal factor is frozen frames, but since you have what sounds like a mostly intact frame except for the enlarged holes you might be able to cobble together a whole boat from parts from another well-loved wreck.

On the other hand, sounds like you've gotten quite your money's worth from the Kahuna so perhaps retirement would be the gracious end for it. Might be worth parting out the remaining decent parts through the classifieds here.

Per the comments about ruptured sponsons in Feathercrafts: they can be patched or replaced with another brand, or you can even make your own. It is a real pain to turn the skin inside out to remove them and the first (and only) time I ruptured one, on my Kahuna 10 years ago, I ordered a new tube from Feathercraft before pulling the blown tube out of the sleeve. Once I removed it I realized that I could have patched it, as one seam had split a few inches and I could have glued it and then added a glued reinforcement over it. Instead I installed the new one and put the ruptured one aside, meaning to patch it eventually as a spare. The book "Building the Greenland Kayak" has directions for making your own flotation bags and sponson tubes and you can get the valves, vinyl and glue from places like Seattle Fabrics and the various suppliers for skin on frame kayak materials.

Since the sleeves in Feathercrafts constrain the expansion of whatever inflatable tube you put in them, they don't need the exact size as the factory originals. Whatever tube you put in will only expand to the limit of the sleeve.

Anyone needing them and not wanting to make their own should take Alv up on his offer to buy sponson tubes from him at Pakboat -- he makes good components and boats (I've owned 3 Pakboats.) In fact, one of the sponsons in my vintage Pakboat Puffin developed a slow leak during my recent two week trip to the UK so I'll be inflating it and doing the bathtub test to find and patch the culprit this week.

And, Kidkanektok, if you want to replace the Kahuna in order to have two boats, I think you would like Pakboat's Quest 150 model. I have the smaller Quest 135 and it compares very favorably to my Wisper in performance and features. Requires less contortions to assemble than Feathercrafts and the new version can be paddled without the deck as an open boat. Or get a Puffin Saranac, which is a little more like the Kahunas in being wider, and you can use it as a solo or tandem, with or without deck as well.
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Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Curtis Lady Bug solo canoe
Feathercraft Kahuna
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