Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Onward with the Rondane

Work on the Rondane 8 is continuing the hull is wired together on the jig, the filling of the seams has begun between the wire stitches. As the boat is built we continue to work out ways to simplify the build and make it easy to set up for building.

To help you align the bow and stern on the jig we have decided the easiest way is to cut a form on which to set them so that they are placed properly and stay where you put them when you line them up and during the construction process. The boat is built using the bow, stern and mid seat bulkhead as the main parts of the jig which remain as part of the boat eliminating the need for a set of disposable building jigs. Before the boat is even assembled on the jig the inside of the panels is glassed, the interior of any small boat is one of the most awkward parts of doing the fibreglass work on any small boat  on this boat it is done on a flat table where it is much easier. This is also an easy way to introduce yourself to working with resin and fibreglass if you have limited or no experience with the techniques used in the application of resin and glass.

While this is going on the mast is being shaped, you can’t work on the hull all the time as resin needs cure time, the rudder and daggerboard are being laid out for shaping. The details of the boat continue to be worked out and documented so that we can put together a comprehensive set of construction notes for those who will be building this boat.

As with all new models there are things that you learn as you go, I wanted to build the jig out of 8 foot 2x6’s while that is possible and is how I have built the first jig the plans will use 10 footers to simplify the jig building process. The kit itself has gone together well to this point, there are many parts to go yet but the hull has fit over the three components that serve as the form on the jig very well.

In the next few days I will post a few more pictures of the construction on our facebook page.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Rondane 8

This post is to let you know what we are working on design wise and in the shop, we have been seeking to expand our line of boats beyond the canoes and kayaks that we have been focusing on to this point.  Those of you who have seen us at shows over the last year will have noticed that our display has begun to show an increasing variety of boat s that we have been at work designing, some of which are well along in their development.

This past fall our kit supplier suggested that we work on developing a pram as there is always a call for a lightweight versatile boat of this style. When looking at prams there is a trend for then to be little more than floating boxes, my eye was caught by the Norwegian style of pram, and it is from there that we took our lead for the development of this boat.  Rather than using your time to build what looks like little more than a floating bathtub, why not use that time to build something that is much more pleasing to the eye.
As we have decided to use the Norwegian style of pram as our guide we have decided to call the boat the Rondane, this is a Norwegian national park and it stays in line with our usual boat naming practices of using park and river names for our boats.

 There will be two versions of the boat one that will be a sailing/rowing model the second intended to be powered by a small (2hp) outboard.  The boat is to be build as light and as easy to build as possible (that is always our goal) this will allow it to be easily car topped or hauled up onto a larger boat when it is used as a dinghy. Both models will be set up for rowing from either the mid seat or the forward seat this will allow maximum flexibility when balancing the boat under the different loadings it may experience in use.
The sailing rig will be a spider rig, which has a mast in two sections with the upper section hoisted with the sail; these types of rigs are handy in boats of this type as the rig breaks down into very manageable sections when not in use. There are renderings posted over on our facebook page which will help clarify this picture for you.

The Rondane is 7’ 8 ½” long and 49” wide this allows the hull to be cut from two sheets of plywood the additional plywood required varying depending on the model chosen, a strictly rowing version will require the least amount of additional parts and the sailing version the most with the supports needed for the mast as well as the addition of a rudder and dagger board with trunk. With all the additional parts the sailing/rowing version will still use up only about one additional sheet of wood, though it will part sheets of two different thicknesses to form the needed parts.

We will try to keep you as up to date as we can through the blog and by posting pictures of the construction on our facebook page. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

We Must Have Been Expendable

While I know that is not true (have to keep the parents off my back) it seems that way when you compare the attitudes of many when it comes to getting outdoors, and the experiences that they will allow their children to partake in these days in contrast with our adventures.  I have heard it described as wrapping kids in cotton, I would hold that it more like wrapping them in bubble wrap it may seem like a good idea but it is hard to breathe through plastic. It cuts them off from new experiences and of a connection with the natural world around them, leaving the feeling or impression that the natural world is scary and dangerous and should be avoided.  It also leaves a disconnect between them and our little blue planet and that ultimately is not good for us or our little blue orb as we need to live here and need all the parts of it to be cared for and to work together.

 I will admit right from the start some of the things we did where not real smart, but we were allowed to get out and experience the outdoors on our own, canoeing in the spring floods on the flood plain behind our house, heading off up a creek to camp on our own, I was about 13 the first time I and a friend headed out in the canoe to camp on our own. At the time it seemed like a grand adventure in reality we were only a couple of miles from home in a field at the back of a farm, but we did it, got our tent up, managed to cook our meals over a fire and make it home in one piece paid for by getting out collecting and returning bottles for their deposits.

The things we did could have been made safer, a life jacket might have been a good idea, not paddling in a winter coat and boots during the spring floods, as they do inhibit your ability to swim, or even be rescued.  Today no one is likely to allow their kids to head out on the water without a life jacket; cell phones are omnipresent and close up the distance while they are on their adventures as they learn to spread their wings. Before you begin to protest yes I know they can’t simply be sent off on a week long expedition in the wilderness with never having spent any real time outdoors, the idea is of gradually increasing freedom based on previous experiences. Getting started is as simple as a tent in the backyard or their own tent while out camping or the cottage.

In addition to an appreciation for our planet they will learn to plan and prepare for their adventures, (they may even develop an appreciation of the work you put into preparing family vacations) while on their adventures learn to manage risks (important for anyone who does not consider themselves expendable), kids will let each other know if they think someone is likely to upset the boat putting them at risk. Putting the trip together and carrying it out successfully they learn to work with others and to contribute to the completion of the journey even if it is just overnight. Hopefully they will also come to appreciate the world we live in and develop a sense of responsibility for it.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Couch Surfing

I don’t know about you but I have like millions of others been spending time watching the Olympic coverage on T.V. and reading some of the coverage in the paper. There are a few things run through my mind as I watch them; the first is that a great opportunity is being missed by all those organizations, including government to promote getting fit, to show case the incredible number of activities that one can participate in outdoors even in winter. Instead the most heavily promoted items seem to be 1600 calorie fast food meals or another ad that ran as I write this for chicken, beer and sport with sport being supplied by someone thousands of miles away just as in the fast food commercial. Sixteen hundred coincidentally is just short of the number of calories required by many people for the entire day especially when it is spent couch surfing watching others actually getting out there doing.  

The closest that I've seen an ad come to doing so to this point is one that promoted a web site that shows young people how to connect with Olympic training facilities. This only relates to that small percentage of the population that is already involved in sport has set the Olympics as a goal and just does not know where to go for direction. It does nothing to build a passion in anyone or encourage any new participants.
 If we do not find a way to get people involved in activities that involves more than couch surfing we will end up with a society operating their computers from their hospital beds.

As you watch the Olympics there are many things being promoted as there is during any show, cars, investment plans and the like does anyone else find it amusing to watch athletes many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and draining the family coffers to pursue their dreams being used to promote things they cannot afford.  It helps to prove that the purpose of television is simply to deliver an audience to the advertisers, and on nights when the other networks seem to have given up and are filling the air with reruns they know they have the attention of a large portion of the TV viewing public.

As an aside to the above I know there are those in the higher profile sports who are making a living at what they do and some a very good living, it is why we now see athletes in their thirties still competing, in years past they would have had to go find a job after that one shot they had at their dream. Being able to pursue your passion as a career choice for more than a few years, is not a bad thing, many of them only getting better at their chosen sport. 

Other than the usual whine from those who did not win these are the things that have caught my attention during the games.

Get outside, move, participate, enjoy, it is a big beautiful world explore it from someplace other than your couch.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

It's Official

I know it has been a long winter for all of us including many of you who do not often experience much of this cold stuff, and seldom if ever experience that fluffy, often slushy white stuff. Those of us who see snow and cold every year to one degree or another are experiencing a winter unlike any we have had in the last twenty years both in the amount of snow and low temperatures.  Neither of those things is what brought home the knowledge that the winter has been too long more than this afternoon.
 I was heading home driving along the shore of the St.Clair River, my preferred but not always most direct route home, when I noticed that there is a narrow swath of open water along the shore that extends far enough that it would make for a nice paddle. The next thing that I knew I was slogging through the snow down to the banks of the river to do some scouting and right where I thought there might be one there it was that spot where without any gymnastics a body, even one not as nimble as it once was could get into a kayak without getting its feet wet.

The degree of desperation that is contained in the preceding action is made clearer by the following, I have never believed that going out to paddle in conditions where the water is 9/10 ice covered and is according to the weather sites a bone chilling 32.4 degrees Fahrenheit. I have by the way taken an unintentional dip in the river in these conditions it is not an experience you forget. There is enough that can go wrong on even the best days, without adding these extra elements into the equation, elements which only stack the odds against you should anything go wrong. The conditions result in the addition of another consideration into the equation, there will be no one else to lend a hand should the unthinkable happen so here I sit on the couch, and yet I am still thinking about that spot on the shore.

There is one other drawback to the launch that has nothing to do with weather, it is swans! That may seem an odd consideration but a number of swans have made the area their home this winter. If you think this is a contrived excuse then you have obviously never had the adrenaline releasing, heart pounding experience of being chased across the water by a cranky, mean and surprisingly quick bundle of white feathers with a nasty beak. This realization of how quick, and cranky they can be occurs while you are paddling backwards as fast as you ever have in your life because there is no time to turn around and your just hoping that your paddling partner can move as fast backwards as fast as you can.

All the above being stated I am still here on the couch, thinking about that launch spot, knowing it is not going to happen, at least not today. It is time to go get some exercise so I will be ready when the time comes and tomorrow we will get out but will take advantage of the holiday and go play in the snow.