Cross between a dory and a kayak

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 14:02 23/01/2013
John Meek
Blenheim man John Meek with the fishing kayak he built himself over a year.

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It's said that necessity drives invention and this rings somewhat true for Blenheim farm owner John Meek.

John often spends time doing maintenance work on a Kenepuru Sound house owned by his son and being a keen fisherman decided that he needed to take advantage of the great fishing in the area.

"I was going to buy a fishing kayak but they are quite expensive so I decided to build one myself," said John.

The project began in February last year with the initial idea being to build a traditional dory fishing boat, but John soon decided it would be too big to handle by himself.

However, he liked the idea of a craft with a flat bottom, which are more stable, as well as a transom that an outboard motor can be attached to.

"In the end I went for a kind of merger between a dory and a kayak, which is where I got the name Kayory," said John, who has been involved in the timber industry since he was 15 years old.

"I didn't follow any designs as I built it. There are things that I would do differently if I did it again, but this is the first boat I have built and I'm really pleased with how it has turned out."

The boat is built from black poplar - a wood John admits is an unusual choice as it is known to rot easily, but he already had it in stock and is confident that the fibreglass skin will keep it water tight.

The paddles for the boat, a double and single, are of his own construction too, after finding the shop bought variety weren't to his liking. The seat is also a custom job which John has designed to relieve pressure on his legs.

"I have been in a kayak once before, years ago, and I remembered it putting a lot of pressure on my thighs so I made the seat at an angle to relieve that pressure," explained John.

He admits he has very limited experience on a kayak, but is excited to get his out with some fishing rods soon.

The project took the better part of a year with John's work colleges being a driving force of sorts. "Like a lot of my projects I went hard out the gates when I started and it then slowed down.

"I had told my colleges about building the boat so they would always ask me about it, which in a way forced me to finish it."

The first "sea trials" took place on a pond that was created when the Taylor River flooded before Christmas in front of his home. Satisfied with his first time on the water John took Kayory out on the water in the Kenepuru Sound.

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"It was good to get it on the water - I did feel a bit unstable at first but I'm sure I will get used to it," said John, who has built two outriggers that can be attached, just in case.

"When it's full of scales from the fish I catch I'll know I've achieved something."

- The Marlborough Express

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