My first kayak was a Granta kit, a stitch-and-glue double that I converted into a single when it became clear that my better half preferred terra firma. I made a half-hearted attempt to make the conversion "nice" looking, but I'm no craftsman, and have no real interest in having a finely-finished boat. Utility, strength,and quickness of construction are what govern my boat-building.
I built my version of a sail-rigged Barnegat Bay sneakbox, also using stitch-and glue, working from some sketches in L. Francis Herreshoff's classic book, The Compleat Cruiser. It turned out well, and I sailed it a few times, but every time I went out, I found myself saying--I could be kayaking now! Boat has sat in the garage for years.
My current Spring-Summer-Autumn kayak started out as the plans for the CLC Patuxent 17, a now-extinct stitch-and-glue hard-chine boat, 17', with a 22-inch beam. I built the hull to their plans, but designed my own deck and cockpit. This was in 1995. After sealing everything in epoxy, I then painted the boat with ordinary enamel, mostly cherry-red, with part of the hull bright yellow. I've since added a permanent oak skeg, and a Perception rudder with a pivoting T-bar foot control. My level of finish remains rudimentary, but the boat is strong, and, to me, beautiful, and it has been my faithful companion now for 13 years and hundreds of trips. The practicality of a painted stitch-and-glue kayak became obvious when I was hit by a powerboat in 2005 (83-year-old man was trying to figure out how his GPS worked, and not looking where he was going), and a huge chunk was ripped out of the stern section of my boat, like a Great White had taken a BIG bite. It was easy to just cut out the ragged plywood and fill in with new panels, and then get out the paint cans.
With a painted wood boat, you can add, modify, or take away anything you like. I've added decklines, bungees, a compass mount, and any other fittings I've needed. I'm too cheap to invest in a store-bought boat, and too lazy and undisciplined to work up a high-finish kit or homebuilt, and the painted wooden kayak is thus perfect for me. I've never seen another.
Carl W (Strange Magic)