When Scott Hamilton moved his handmade cedar kayak to the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper office in downtown LaGrange, the owner of Jackson Kayaks was there to check it out.
Eric Jackson was in town last week to film a “Fishing University” show on kayak fishing for the Outdoor Channel and was on the square for a reception when the Hamilton pulled up with the kayak.
“After the reception was over, they came down to the riverkeeper office and were asking all kinds of questions,” Hamilton said.
To have the blessing of the gold medal-winning kayaker was a thrill for Hamilton since the kayak is a labor of love. It took him three years to build it.
It started as a project in the crawlspace under his house when he lived in Grantville. He saw pictures of a wooden kayak build by kayak expert Nick Schade, and saw where you could by plans for a wooden kayak online.
“I’m an old Navy guy,” Hamilton said. “I got out of the Navy in ‘88 and I’ve always loved the water. I thought I’d buy a kayak but I started looking at pictures of the wooden kayaks.”
He bought a set of plans for $70 and went to work, building the kayak when he wasn’t working full-time.
The finished product is 18 feet long, made with western red cedar. Its length is meant for ocean-going and lake kayaks are normally shorter.
“You can really use any evergreen wood,” Hamilton said. “Even coated in fiberglass I can pick it up with one hand.”
The building process wasn’t complicated and he got everything he needed for the project from Home Depot and Lowe’s.
The kayak has been out on West Point Lake, where Hamilton has gotten a few second looks from bass fishermen and others out on the lake.
Hamilton didn’t get any second looks from his family, however. He calls himself a “tinkerer,” taking shop in high school and always having a project to work on.
“I had an old car a few years ago that I was trying to restore,” he said. “I had to quit and I sold it, so my wife knew I was looking for something else.
Now that he’s moved to the Hillside neighborhood in LaGrange, Hamilton would like to build more kayaks with the help of neighborhood children, teaching them building skills and getting them out on the lake.
“I’d love for it to be a community project,” he said.