Escaped the desk for quick paddle today: 30 minutes down the James and 45 back. I may have paused 3 minutes at most the entire time. The F-1 kayak is so easy to keep moving. All along the way, turtles were soaking up the warm day. All were quick to drop from their perch before we got too close. They’ve a keen sense of hearing (or smell? I did shower this morning). Most had shells the size of dinner plates. Eastern River Cooters I think. Not sure where the little ones were. Maybe at school?
Here’s last week’s journey up the James and into the western end of Tuckahoe Creek. I had hoped to discover the eastern end today, but time didn’t allow. That will have to be for another day.
I’ve built kayaks using cedar strips, stitch and glue plywood, fuselage framed skin-on-frame, and now, steam bent skin-on-frame. I think this last method is my favorite. The translucent skin highlights the ribs and stringers like a japanese lantern. The beauty of line and construction are displayed so openly. With a new lighter western red cedar paddle, this little boat tracks along almost effortlessly. Brian Schulz designed a nice one here. I can tell I’ll use this one a lot. Kabloona!
Skin Boats video. I ordered their skin and coating.
Yanking the cover back over the aft stem was a bear. I used the 2.5″ cloth length recommended in the CF video. This worked once I planed off the coating from the aft stem. The coating caused the cloth to stick.
Tightened the after deck with tarred twine and then sewed welting into center with nylon string. Note: the staggered stitching as demo’d in the SK video makes a big difference in appearance. I actually sewed this twice as some puckers remained.
DAY 14: (4 hrs)
Sewed front deck up and set the cockpit ring on.
The ballistic nylon is quite tight. Some heat shrinking with an iron on “nylon” cinched the last bit of wrinkles out.
DAYS 15-16 and eventually 18: (11 hrs)
Hooped the bottom (3 coats) and a week later, the deck (also 3 coats). Chasing the runs down was not too successful. Using a kerosene heater raised the temp to 65 degrees, but maybe warmer would have helped. Otherwise, I followed Spiritline’s coating videos to a tee. Somewhat dissappointed, I called to report the results. The owner tells me they no longer use the video’s method or the scraper included with the urethane! Instead they use “hot dog” rollers. Thanks for nothing! Nonetheless the boat stil passes the 6′ rule. I’d love to hang her with lighting in the house when not used. She’s a Japanese lantern of sorts.
I added a teaspoon of rare earth pigment to temper the harsher urethane. UV also tends to yellow the coating, but I wanted to accelerate the appearance. I’m happy with the result there.
Screwed a 12″ length of teak on the tail for a skid.
Bought some latigo leather belt material and cut it into 1/4″ strips for tie-downs and stem handles. Pulling the strips through a 7/32″ hole in a block of wood eases the edges. Will add tie-downs in middle of boat later. Had to get this one in the water.
This final post took forever. The cold weather hadn’t encouraged completion. However, my youngest boy and I splashed the boat today. Will post video later. This may be my favorite kayak yet. The translucent shell and visible ribs accent the beautiful lines. Despite all the runs and drips, this little kayak has the wonderful look of craftsmanship, the touch of the hand. I love it. A nice light rowboat build could easily use this construction. Hmmm.
Tomorrow, our pup Huckleberry will be 1 year old. Already he’s added much to life. Still, after almost 20 years without dog, the expected routine by the “baby” took some adjustment. Yes, he can be demanding. He does wrong when you least expect it. The list is long of stuff he has eaten, chewed, torn or scraped. The floors and his favorite window sill are worse for the wear. However, its easy to forgive it all for the walks we take each morning. Most days I rise an hour before he “asks” to leave his bedside crate. Thats enough time for quick emails and a cup of Joe. After his breakfast, we jump in the truck and roll downhill to a park along the river. Neighborhood walks tethered by leash don’t allow him to burn off steam, but just after sunrise we can ignore the many “dogs must not run free” park signs . Then Huck leaps and bounds through the woods. I marvel at his energy and grace. A thing of beauty, he has forced me to pause, stretch the legs, air the brain and ponder next moves. “Huckadoo” has become my good buddy. Oh, and he likes to go sailing too. We’re a perfect match.
A little warmth, light winds and good company all made up UNA’s first sail today. We put in at Mathews County’s Town Point Landing (new concrete ramp and pier), beat against the current for a picnic lunch at Poplar Grove’s tide mill. Supposedly John Lennon owned the estate for a short time and planned on making the mill into a studio. Thankfully he didn’t. There is little depth to get behind the mill. Stick close to the rocks.
All but 2 of these photos were taken by my daughter (thus the artistry).
Had to pull out the oars for part of the return. Boat moved well across the glass. The water’s winter clarity is always surprising. do we really still have 6 weeks left? Tomorrow has snow predicted. Weird. Thankful for the break … and the company.
Paul Gartside is perhaps the premier designer of traditional wooden boats. He’d likely take exception to some aspects of the term “traditional”. He does have a varied catalog, but many of his creations could sit gracefully in any English harbor a century or two ago. His book, “Plans And Dreams, Vol. I” arrived for Christmas. Any of the 23 boats featured there can be built from the contents of these pages. Each write up tackles a different aspect of boat building while providing entertaining descriptions of the subject vessel. The approach is delightful and worthy of re-reads. One chapter focuses on design #166, the Centerboard Lugger. I ordered the $15 study plans, stared for several evenings and compiled a partial materials list. The construction method for the hull (cold-molded, strip planked or clinker ply) is up in the air. Not having tried c-m, that method holds interests me. By laminating 3 veneers over a mold, you end up with super strong plywood in the shape of a boat. The technology was a peacetime off-shoot from WWII airplane manufacturing (most notably the English DeHavilland Mosquito bomber).
Not wanting to short change Paul his due by using only the book, I ordered a full set of plans. I confess too to wanting the door open for questions along the way. As I’ve already asked several, the $360 cost may be slim compensation. Trained as an architect, I particularly appreciate his beautifully concise hand drawings. No information is repeated twice in the 7 sheets. This eliminates error and forces the builder to look at everything. I’ve discovered the drawings are quite expert and thorough.
So what’s next? Well, I bought lumber for all the spars. It has been milled to size and awaits for the darn rain to quit for scarfing (the main mast is 23′ long and doesn’t fit in the garage). The two masts and yard will be hollow birds mouth construction. The mizzen sprit, boomkin and main boom will be fabricated as solid spars.
It felt good to start this in earnest. Why am I doing it? Because. I’ll certainly keep UNA. There is overlap in the two boats’ purposes, but the Ducker will have to wait.