Saturday, 24 August 2013


Modelling- we are not talking about some latent desire I may have to grace the cover of a magazine, those of you who know me and those who have surmised that the overly paunchy guy with the bald head that you see in some of the boat pictures is the guy on the other side of the key board you will no doubt be relieved.  If the thought or picture of such an occurrence is now planted in your head, I’m sorry.

What I am talking about is making models of boats, in particular new designs that we are working on, I do not do this often, and usually I rely on the fact that the boats are all modelled in 3D in the computer. Now that we have modelled a number of boats this way and in particular a substantial number of canoes and kayaks there is usually little reason to do so, simply looking at the model will tell us if the wood will bend to make the shape we desire. This judgement call is important in particular with the plywood boats as there is often a degree of compounding of the plywood in the ends of the panels that form the hull and sometimes the deck. Compounding is simply trying to bend the plywood in two directions at the same time; plywood will only do this to a very limited extent.

The boat that is being modelled now is the small trimaran that appears in rendered form on the home page of our web site, there are a couple of reasons that I have decided to model this boat to scale. First,  at the present time the plan is for the outer hulls to be stress formed that is two panels will be joined along the centreline and then bent into the desired shape and I want to make sure the final shape that is chosen will work using this method even before the prototype is built. The second reason is simply a practical one, a trimaran even a small one takes up a lot of space, show space is expensive it is much cheaper to sit an 18 x 12 inch [457 x 305 mm] model on a table than to rent the required space, it is also a lot easier to ship leaving room to take other boats which can be displayed more economically to shows.

 The above leads me to touch on part of the philosophy behind our designs, the expense of keeping a boat in a marina and particularly a wide body one is becoming prohibitive for many, one that can be taken home or disassembled and the taken home avoids that expense. Additionally making each section of the boat light enough that it can be carried piece by piece to the launch area will allow access to places you could not otherwise reach.

I do plan to continue with my modelling career even if only sporadically, but I do promise that I will model only boats, and that I myself will only appear when wrapped in one.  

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Memory and Change

We have just returned from just short of two weeks in Algonquin Park, it is the first time in a number of years that we have been able to get away for that long a period of time. It was as it usually is a relaxing and enjoyable time, what struck me most about this year was how camping and the camping experience has changed over the years. I have been going camping for, I am afraid to admit this but over fifty years; my first visits are outside my recollection as they occurred before I was able to process such things. The first being just a few short months after I was born with a trip to Algonquin Park, there have been many trips over the years to parks in both Canada and the US, and the odd farmers field on the edge of whatever body of water was being paddled, all this is just to say that I have been doing this long enough to notice that things have changed and seem to be doing so even more quickly of late.

Those of you who have seen my facebook page will know that I was bemoaning the slow internet connection while in the park and my inability to upload pictures in a timely fashion to inform those who may be interested in what was happening.  I am becoming more convinced that the ability to do things such as get on the internet and in particular to have high speed access is not necessarily such a great thing, it is wonderful to be able to keep in touch and to make sure that everything is OK at home but do we really need to post pictures and messages now? Camping was once upon a time a rather social happening focused on what you where doing now and you talked to those who where there taking part in the same experience, most often those path crossings remained just that brief encounters with an interesting cross section of people you would never have otherwise met. On occasion these encounters could lead to lasting friendships, my grandparents made some friends that became very close to over the years; they met in Pinery Provincial Park. The relationship continued for many years with invitations to birthdays, anniversaries and holiday visits to each others homes, at one point in time my younger brother dated one of their granddaughters.

Today rather than a group of people who have gathered in the same place, to share a common interest and are happy to meet others who have come to do the same, the parks seem to be a set of site designated individual enclaves. Some come to the park and set their sites up in the camping equivalent of the old west’s circling the wagons to keep out intruders, the tents or trailer are used to block any view of the site from the road and a vehicle used to close off the path to the encampment when the residents are in. Not everyone goes that far, the more common creatures now are the ones who set up, get the fire going and since most car camping is done in areas with cell service they park themselves by the fire and start making phone calls, texting and informing their online ‘friends’ of what is happening on their camping trip, practicing the modern version of being social, no human contact required.

There are of course exceptions, the people who say hello as you walk by and strike up a quick if passing conversation, and those who allow their kids to do what I remember wandering about the park in the area prescribed by them, under their protective eyes but with enough leash so to speak to feel some sense of freedom. It is fun to watch these kids, excited as they run about or ride their bikes to explore their new surroundings, this is how this past week I was able to meet a nice young man and his family, he is about eight years old and while wandering as far from his parents as allowed came by with a series of questions about our kayaks and comments on how he has always really wanted to go kayaking. After meeting his parents as they passed by our site we arranged to get him and his mom into a boat so he could have that experience.   

When he gets home and he goes back to school and writes about what he did on his summer holidays and on into the future, I hope that is what he remembers about camping, that he met someone that was outside his families’ normal experience and that he had fun. I know it is what I remember, campfires and people lots of people gathered around them sharing a common joy and each others company whether it is a passing thing or leads to a lifelong friendship it certainly makes memories.

Friday, 9 August 2013


Last time I wrote about the difficulty of getting on the water, now here I am fresh off the water, my last post ended with a comment on how it is no longer possible to really separate time on the water from business. This is the one small downside to making your passion your business, while you may get to be part of it on a day to day basis you can never  leave it behind entirely; when  I can I paddle our new boat models they don’t always fit me so this is not always possible, this year it is. 

The things that happen when I am on the water are all the things that happen to everyone a sense of getting away, of freedom, peacefulness, enjoyment of the outdoors.  The other things that happen are not necessarily the normal ones that happen to people when they are out enjoying a day on the water. When the boats are first being used I want to see what can be improved, what will be changed between the prototype stage and the stage when the plans and kits are ready. This starts right at the beginning whether getting in and out of the boat or where the foot braces are placed many of these things are similar from boat to boat so the question is how these parts come together as far as being comfortable in the boat. Part of the process is watching and feeling how the boat moves through the water, how easily is it paddled, does it meet the goals that where set during the design stage?  How does the boat interact with the waves how does it respond to the increase of wind that comes with the waves? I also spend time watching the water flow around the hull; this is naturally true more of the boats that I can see than of the one I am in. On the water I also watch to see what you are paddling and what you are asking the boat that you are paddling to do, and how you use the boats that you have.

Reading this you may think that there can’t be any joy to be had out on the water that is far from the truth; hey I’m still out on the water. Yes I may miss the odd bit of wildlife because I was watching the water flow around your hull, remember it’s my passion for being out here and the boats used to get here that led to this and the business, in the end they are simply two inseparable parts of the same experience.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Paddle Time!

Well we have finally reached that longed for part of summer, paddle time. From the outside looking at the lives of those employed in the boating industry may seem to be the ideal life, the opportunity to pursue your passion as an occupation. The problem with this stems from the fact that while many of us entered this field as a result of a passion for the outdoors and in particular spending time on the water, the passion resulted in a business that needs to be run. What this means in practical terms is that there are weekends spent at boat shows, there are people who want to go paddling in the boats on weekends when they are free, then there are of course the normal events that happen in life, weddings to attend, those regular family obligations that come up and are often planned for summer weekends. While taking people out paddling may sound like a fun filled task it ends in the reality of loading and unloading boats and helping new paddlers in and out of the boats and never leaving the shore. These things make even getting weekends away to simply paddle at times difficult, but that is not specific to this industry many I know struggle with this or a variation of it.

To those who I have taken paddling this is not a complaint, there is a certain enjoyment that comes form sharing the experience of being out on the water, to seeing people out in a kayak for the first time and discovering that despite all the talk of rolling kayaks that you don’t instantly end up looking up at the water’s surface when you enter one. That by the way seems to be an impression that quite a number of people have of this sport, while rolling has its place as a rescue which is its intended purpose, sometimes you get the impression from some that getting on the water and rolling is the reason kayaks exist. There are a lot of people out there paddling many of them for the shear joy of being on the water on a nice day they are never going to push the limits of anything except the strength of their sun block, and short of doing something thoughtless or being on the receiving end of such an act are highly unlikely to end up wet.  This is not to discount the  need be able to self rescue I hope to do some practicing while away when I can find a nice quiet spot to do so, far enough away that no one will call 911 to report on a kayak being attacked by some large ungainly creature that seems intent on causing harm.

To get somewhat back on track as this post did not go in the direction intended at the start, while it is sometimes difficult to get out on the water the time spent there is important from more than one perspective. For me it is a chance to relax, no phone, no Internet, no extraneous noise, just nature, a chance to do something that I enjoy for the sheer joy of it. Even though there will be paddling for the sake of paddling, the business part that can no longer be separated entirely from time on the water, because my passion is also my business.