Archive for the ‘Fiddlehead’ Category

Secondary Stability

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

picture of a meter showing "Very Stable"One of the factors for selecting the Mill Creek 13 for the Eva Too build was stability. The CLC Boats site had this confidence inspiring meter showing the boat to be very stable. That really appealed to Eva.

We’ve had both boats out several times recently and have gotten used to their rolling nature. Yesterday, I had no water sensitive electronics aboard, so I tested “secondary stability.” That’s the kind of stability that a hull exhibits (or doesn’t) when rolled off of its normal keel. My tests were simple and didn’t go all the way to a complete capsize. I simply leaned over until it felt as though I was about to fall out of the boat. Each boat behaved very nicely. They rolled over onto one of their planks and remained stable. I was able to roll to the point of having a rub rail submerged.

In the end, we need another notch on that meter. It was harder to get the Fiddlehead over to rub rail submersion than it was the Mill Creek. I think one would literally fall out of the boat before either one rolls enough to capsize.

Eva Won is Launched

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Eva, my best friend and partner of 45+ years, won the naming contest. I was, of course, planning to name the boat after her. Since I am planning on building two boats, one for each of us, in my traditionalist fuddy duddy way I intended to name them “Eva I” and “Eva II.” She’s a linguist, perpetual language student, and language teacher. She did a little word play to turn those into “Eva Won” and “Eva Too.”

Today’s launch was at a Lake Sebago, in the Palisades Interstate Park near where we live. The lake is too small for power boats and just right for canoes and occasional competitive rowing and sailing events. Transport to the lake is atop the lumber rack on my truck. It’s a short walk / carry to the small launch dock. Putting in was a piece of cake. Getting underway was a different story. You ought to hear Eva laugh at the sequence of these next two pictures.

happy boatbuilder launched boatbuilder

I was so busy talking (about the boat, of course) to the guy with the blue hat that I wasn’t careful enough in entering the boat. Swim around to a shallow area, climb out, and try again. The next time went better, after we pumped out about a gallon of water. THANKS to another bystander who had a nifty hand pump. (Gotta get one of those.)

paddling 1Yes, the boat is tippy, but no more so than a white water kayak. Actually, probably a little bit less. Once situated, I felt no uneasiness at all. The boat rows easily. It was not at all difficult to put on some comfortable speed. It tracks well. Perhaps it could turn more easily, but that could also be due to my novice rowing technique. It seems to be quite watertight, except when you submerge one side when trying to enter. Water in the boat came from two sources, submerging the port side on the first entry attempt, and from the paddle. The drip rings on the paddle helped, but need to be improved. After returning home, I checked the watertight compartments and found them bone dry.

paddling 2The paddle worked well too. The paddle itself taught me how to use it. Once I found a good technique, the paddle became absolutely silent in the catch and almost silent in the exit. The paddle’s length (90.5 inches, 230 cm) was determined by the length of lumber I purchased. I think it could stand to be 6 to 8 inches longer. I found myself reaching outside that imaginary box formed by shoulders and elbows to get enough paddle  immersion.

It was a very fine launch day, and a good time was had by all … especially the spectators at the dock. Now, I know why many advise “never paddle alone.” You need someone, not to hold the boat while you enter, but to laugh at the harmless mishaps (and to help carry – THANKS Eva!).

paddling 3Ready to float, the boat weighs 51 pounds. It’s an easy weight to load and carry and only 5 pounds heavier than the designer’s estimate. A fellow who had just carried his Coleman 15.5 canoe (listed at 76 pounds) lifted mine and smiled at how light it is. I think mine is heaver than what Harry specified because I avoided making the scantlings too scant. I erred on the fat side when thickness planing the planking material. The one area where I erred on the thinner side was the coamings. If you look closely at the second picture, you can see that the port side coaming became a casualty to my clumsy first entry. It cracked when brushing the side of the dock as that side submerged. It will be easily repaired.

Back to the boat’s name. There are no name banners on the boat yet. I tried creating waterslide decals, but found that inkjet inks just aren’t opaque enough for this application. (I wanted yellow lettering on the green hull.) We’ll try another approach soon.

Eva’s still laughing at the first two pictures.

Full Boat Pictures

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

These shots are for the youngster who wanted to see the whole boat, not just the top or bottom. As always, click on any image to see a larger version.

up close from bow from stern

It Isn’t Easy Bein’ Green

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Well, actually it is. Here is a fabulous rendition of Kermit’s theme song. Go listen to it; I’ll be here when you get back.

bein greenI have often read that you can’t paint a lapstrake boat with a roller. So, I plundered through two coats of primer and the first coat of Kirby’s Bottle Green with a really good brush. A little bit of added Penetrol made brushing easy, but my technique still creates lap marks. Then, I remembered the 4 inch rollers from another project. They work. Yes, you can paint a lapstrake boat with a roller. Just get the right size. Paint the lap edges with a brush and them roll on the rest. Kirby’s paint is fantastic. All the tiny bubbles from rolling gradually disappear with no need for tipping.

Launch day is coming soon. …


Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Make or buy? Make! On my last trip to the lumber yard, I picked up a very clear western red cedar board, reserving it for a double blade paddle.

What type of double paddle? The modern kayak paddle with asymmetric dihedral blades? They’re ubiquitous, but also look to me like a blob on the end of a long stick. They seem to have a lot of area and I wonder how tiring they are to use. A native paddle with very long narrow blades, like the Greenland paddle I made last year? They need to be far more vertical in the water than normal paddles, and I’m not sure my boat is narrow enough to use them effectively. Or, something in between?  I’m a traditionalist kind of fuddy fuddy and found the traditional canoe paddle shape appealing. I took my pattern from Graham Warren and David Gidmark’s book about Canoe Paddles. They have many interesting paddle patterns in the book, but only one for a double paddle, and I liked it.

The end result is 90.5 inches long (230 cm), with blades than measure 21 inches by 5 and 3/4 inches (55 cm x 15 cm), yielding about 105 square inches per paddle, as compared to 115-130 for modern kayak paddles. These blades are longer and narrower than modern kayak blades, but not as long and narrow as Greenland blades. The shaft is 1 and 1/2 by 1 and 1/4 inch, and has a cross section that is egg shaped. The completed paddle weighs 40 ounces, as compared to 33-38 for modern kayak paddles. Both blades are in the same plane, no feathering.

paddle glue upThat stick of lumber wasn’t wide enough to make the paddle as one piece. So, I ripped of the shaft (using my handy frame saw), and then cut the remainder into four parts. Those yielded more than enough material for the blades when glued up.

Simple plywood patterns, lofted from the above mentioned book, provide guides for cutting the blades (with my handy bow saw) and for roughing the curved shape of the blade (with my handy Stanley #40 scrub plane).

paddle rough shapingThis is a good place to rave about the scrub plane. Christopher Schwarz found it “curious” and decided its best use was for rough trimming the edges of construction lumber instead of ripping them. He wasn’t too keen on using it for reducing a board’s thickness. On the other hand, BobRozaieski was horrified by what it did to his lumber. Unlike either of them, I find the scrub just fine for reducing thickness. It can take out thick, well controlled, shavings. Yes, it leaves a furrowed surface, but that’s easily cleaned up in the next step. I cut the rough curved shape in these blades with the scrub plane in less time than it would have taken to set up and use a resawing technique on the band saw. A spoke shave cleaned up the furrows afterward.

paddle spooningPutting a little bit of spoon dishing into the power face of the paddles was done with those same two tools, the scrub plane and the spoke shave. In this case, using them at an extreme skew and with more blade protrusion than normal allowed for creating concavity. Vintage rounded blade spoke shaves have gotten rare, but I’ll find one some day and make this task easier.

Another of the handy things in Warren and Gidmark’s book is a pattern for a curved sanding block. The french curve shape makes it very easy to sand all sorts of curves. It is especially good at the throat area, where the loom meets the blade. The block is scaled so that a strip cut from the width of a standard sheet of sandpaper fits neatly in the wedged notches. paddle sandingThis block is my new best friend for the wearisome work of sanding.

Shaping the shaft is the usual 8 siding, then 16 siding, then sanding shoe-shine style. The only difference here was using an egg shaped pattern rather than a fully symmetrical pattern. It fits the hands very comfortably.

Rough sanding, medium sanding, and fine sanding was followed with four coats of pure tung oil. The first two coats were thinned with mineral spirits for better absorption. The last to used normal strength. By the way, when using pure tung oil be sure to wipe it all off. Don’t leave a wet coat; it will take three eons to dry. paddle doneLet the coat sit for 15 minutes. Then, rub it off. Then, buff until dry. Do it again tomorrow.

I have no idea of whether this will be the right paddle for this boat. If not, I can try another variation until I find what works best. Making a paddle is easy, quick, inexpensive, and very satisfying. It’s also a good thing to do while waiting for paint to dry.

Lastly, spread those oily rags out flat until they are completely dry… so dry they are stiff. Otherwise, they can spontaneously combust.

One More Thing…

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Dating myself: Quite an interesting group of “Borscht Belt” comedians rose up in the middle of the last century. One of them, Sam Levenson, based his comedy on the day-to-day experiences of growing up poor in Brooklyn. His book, “Everything But Money” tells these many of stories in a humorous and comforting style. My favorite routine of his is “One More Thing,” which tells of little Sam getting ready to go out and play. Every time he reaches the door, Mama says, “One more thing…” and launches into long advice about one of life’s hazards. I can’t remember whether young Sam ever made it outside to play.

cane seatOne more thing for the boat: Harry Bryan, the boat’s designer, suggested sitting on the bottom and advised using a cushion for a seat. That advice sounds practical, but I became interested in using a cane seat as is traditional for canoes. So, that became one more thing to do … before we go out to play.

cane seat installedMaybe I’ll learn to cane a seat some day, but for now, I’m happy to buy one ready made. The seat I selected is from Ed’s Canoe. It is a beautifully contoured seat made with an ash frame. The geometry of this boat isn’t suited for the usual mounting, which hangs the seat from the gunwales. Instead, I mounted the seat on  rails that I epoxied to the bottom of the boat.

The combination of the seat, the backrest, and the adjustable footrest makes for a very comfortable posittion.