I love the simplicity of the color, a warm side panel and a darker deck. Wonderful! So, I set out to replicate that. I researched varnishes. Studies stains. Toiled over brushes. My greatest breakthrough came just a couple of days ago when I posted the above image on the CLC Boats (where I bought the kayak) builders forum website looking for advice. I found out that I needed to stain the wood prior to laying down fiberglass and epoxy onto the deck, which ironically, was exactly the point I was at in the build.
I also learned from the forum what kind of stain I needed use (NOT oil based), how to apply it (with a brush or rag) and how to even out the overlapping brush marks (super fine steel wool). All of this cerebral knowledge did not make the process any less nerve racking, though.
To prepare, I masked the edge of the boat so no runs would escape me. I visualized what I needed to do. I re-read the forum tips. I sacrificed a small lamb to appease the Staining Gods. Screwing up the deck was the last thing I wanted to do. But, everything went pretty much as I expected. The deck is now covered with stain, in some places heavier than others. But that's okay, because I can use the steel wool to even things out. And, apparently, when the fiberglass and epoxy go down, it will even out even more.
Here's the before:
And the after photo:
I'm sure the down the road the color will even out and even change as I add epoxy, fiberglass and, as the final steps, layers of varnish. But at this point I'm pretty happy to have a custom kayak.