Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Massasauga 12

The Massasauga 12 is a hybrid design in that it has a stitch and glue type hull with a single chine and a cedar strip deck. The boat has more beam than many of our other designs of this length to allow for more capacity to help more paddlers fit the deck has more camber than the boats with a plywood deck. The shorter length allows more versatility when it comes to storage but with enough capacity to allow for short trips.

The hull is constructed using the boats bulkheads to help form the hull shape while the panels are stitched and glued together, the hull with the bulkheads is then used a mold for the construction of the deck. The use of a cedar strip deck allows for more individuality in the construction of the boat as well as being a simple method to increase the leg room in the cockpit of the boat. This method of construction also allows you to build a boat that is a little more special than an all plywood model.

The capacity listed on the flyer is as noted at the 3” (75mm) waterline, which is the waterline shown in the sections behind the boats data. As is our practice included in the data is the PPI number which is the pounds per inch immersion which is the weight required to sink the boat one inch deeper in the water from the designed waterline this will give you an idea of what will happen with the boat when you load it with gear and if you are a heavier or lighter than the capacity listed.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Vuntut 12

Over the past year we have developed five new boat models the first of which was the Vuntut 12 which is a pack canoe designed to be propelled by a double paddle. As soon as it was launched it proved to be a great boat to paddle with the result that it was my choice of boat over the summer, that is until someone else came to the same conclusion and as a result the prototype was sold before the summer was over.

The name of the boat is a Gwitchin word that means among the lakes which seemed very appropriate for a boat made to journey. The boat has enough capacity to allow most paddlers to head out with a pack and allow them to get away from it all.

The boat is constructed using cedar strips over molds placed on a strong back with a laminated stem and stern.

There are a number of options when it comes to glassing the boat, the standard option is to build it using a 6 oz. exterior cloth and a 4 oz interior cloth sheathing, the second option is 6 oz. both inside and out.  The third option is to use the same build as the prototype which was 6 oz. carbon twill inside and 6 oz e-glass outside, the first option listed comes standard with the kit. The carbon was done as an experiment rather than a necessity as a test looking forward to other possible lighter builds in the future.

One of the great advantages of a pack canoe is portability, when portaging this canoe during its trials I could simply put the boat over my shoulder my pack on my back and set out down the trail.

For plans, or complete boats contact us and for kits you can contact either us or Noah’s Marine.

At the present time we have begun the build of a 10’ version of the canoe.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A Toy Story

I have been thinking more about my chosen field and how it operates; much of this has come about as a result of looking at ‘green’ or environmentally friendly ways of boat building. I will begin by saying that I have no illusions about the importance of what I do, when asked what I do sometimes my response is that I design and build toys, because that is what I do. It does not matter if the boat is eight feet long or three hundred and eight if it is not a working boat it is a toy, this fact is important when you look at the idea of green boats. In a forum that I check in on regularly someone recently commented that the only truly green boat is one that you do not build, since it is only a toy and therefore there is no real imperative reason to build one.

Every time I see an article about the latest mega yacht being built and the efforts taken to make the project ‘green’ I have to chuckle. Beyond the fact that the boat or yacht is for pleasure only and therefore a toy, once the vessel has reached the point where it will do its job and hold the people it was designed to carry the rest is excess and can’t possibly be ‘green’, it exists only because it can be afforded by the owner. Many of these mega boats where designed with the capability to cross oceans, if they do a crossing it will likely do so only with a small crew on board with the owner joining it when it reaches its destination, meaning in the end it is only a floating hotel. Some do not even do that much and are shipped across oceans as deck cargo or in a ship designed for the purpose, yes they do exist.

This does not let the rest of us off the hook, in Canada we celebrate a small boat, the canoe but the canoe we celebrate is not the toy we use today but a workhorse designed to convey people and goods from one place to another in a world without roads. The footprint for an individual canoe may not be as large as mega yacht, but with the numbers of them out there they still leave a sizable footprint on our world. This really rings true when you consider the number of them wasting away in backyards or serving as a planter in a garden.

The previous paragraph does not mean that I have come to believe that we need to take up our place on the couch and remain there. We do need to get outside it is good for the body, the soul and helps form or should, a connection with the world we live in which is good for all.

It does mean that no matter how careful we are, manufacturing the craft we use requires resources, as do the trails that we find in the many parks that allow us access but we often give little thought to. These are maintained by someone who may have been flown in to do so that is also our footprint, as are the trees cut to make that trail. Our fascination with light weight gear is also a place where there is little green involved (except for that which we part with to purchase it) many light weight fibers are the result of the use modern high-tech production and research methods.

This does not mean that I am giving up on boats and the outdoors, I love being on the water and helping others get out there in boats they have built, and I will continue to research ‘green’ materials. What it does mean is that I don’t want to fool myself by thinking what I do is ‘green’ but I do want to make sure that what I do is done using materials that do the job as efficiently as possible and are as far as possible made of materials that are sustainable. Even that last statement I know could lead to a discussion on what is meant by efficiency.

Keep getting outside just remember, as you look around and enjoy the world in which you travel to look behind to consider the footprint you have left, it is there no matter how lightly you tread.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Tribute to the Source

I recently reread a book that I go back to from time to time and always enjoy called ‘A Tribute to the Source’ it is naturally about Robert Frost and is a collection of his poetry interspersed with short biographical essay’s. The book has of course nothing to do with boats or boat building but as this weekend I have been perusing a few of the books that I find myself going through and studying boats that worked well in the past and how they fit the purpose for which they where designed and how those goals where met.

You may wonder why in this age of computers, 3d modelling and performance prediction programs why I would do this. In my office in addition to the computers, printers and plotters there is the library you would expect containing volumes on yacht design, interior design, aero-hydrodynamics, boat building in wood (using traditional and modern methods), steel and aluminium, as well as various building standards. So why go seemingly backwards?

 The answer is simple these boats did their jobs well, are the product of years study, and day to day use by those who owned and often built them. Did you ever ask yourself why so many canoe builders turn out a Peterborough or similar model canoe, the materials may change but the hull shape works, it does what you want a canoe to do and it does it well. Last week I talked with a gentleman at the show we were attending and he commented on how his canvas cedar boat was a bear to get to the water due to its weight, but once it was on the water the story changed, there was nothing else he would rather paddle. Why? Because once in the water the boat could do what it was designed to do and do well, be paddled. I have a Peterborough drawn in my computer but have no intention of marketing it, it serves as a baseline a known quantity that works to which I can compare other hulls , a way to build on and compare with something that I know works well.

This does not mean that I have no use for new methods and technology some of my favourite boats are those that walk the cutting edge, like the monster multihulls, the IMOCA monohulls boats sailed for records and profit by men and women whose skill and courage you can only admire. I have followed these boats for years and as they have evolved you can clearly see how each generation of boat stands on the shoulders of those that came before, how the experience gained has informed the designs of today.

As I go back to my books and consider not which I would copy but which of the designs I am studying can be adapted to modern building methods and in particular which of the old school easily driven hull shapes would lend itself to electric power. Just which hull shape will give a smooth quiet ride with little power while serving as an aesthetic feast for the eyes while it glides across a lake on a sunny summer afternoon?

 I give thanks today for those who have come before and have shared with us their passion, and its product. Today in particular my thank you is to Pete Culler, John Gardner and to those who inspired you.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Weigh In and Ask

This past weekend we where showing our boats at a small local show and the most frequent questions have to do boat capacity. As I am getting ready for another show in just over a week and am beginning to make preparations I am giving this some more thought, as I want my signage to give as much clear information as possible. I have in the past done research to see what others are doing and thought I would take another look and see what they are doing now.

The first thing to know is that nowhere is it written that there is a particular way in which this determination must be made and the first thing that came up when doing an on-line search was this article seven companies, seven methods some even telling you they then either fudge and or real world test.

My method is to use the ABYC* standard, though even it can be used in different ways, depending on a decks camber and whether or not a boat is measured at the sheer (the point where the hull and deck meet) or just before water can get in at the hatches. I use the lowest point of the sheer line and sink the boat to this point in the computer then use this number in a spread sheet that is based on the ABYC* standard and use this for the basis of my capacity number. The ABYC* standard also works the weight of the boat into the formula so my capacity number is above the weight of the boat.

What this means is if a boat says its capacity is 175 pounds it is not going to sink at 176 at 200 you will not likely feel much difference in its handling. This number will tell you in the case of my boats that if you weigh in at 190 and you want to haul a weeks worth of gear you probably have the wrong boat for the job. You also need to take a look at the boat and use a touch of common sense our Little Lake 10 has a listed capacity of 148 and looking at the distance between the waterline and the deck in the pictures and knowing that the boat will only sink one inch for every 58 pounds that at two hundred pounds you could paddle it. Really! It’s a ten foot boat with a 22.5 inch beam you would likely have to break a part of you that would result in some serious pain/injury to enter the boat and once in may not be able to leave. You’ve seen those comedy sketches of the guy stuck in the chair right?

When you see us at shows contained in the information on the boats displayed is something called the PPI this is pounds per inch immersion this is the amount of weight that it will take to sink the boat one inch. If you then take our capacity as your guide and you like the boat but weigh a few more pounds then the capacity it does not mean the boat will not suit you. It will depend on the use the boat will see if you are going to day paddle only it is not likely to matter, if you are going to make extended trips and carry your gear it may.

So keep asking, and for fun the next time you are in a big box or even a sporting goods store and the salesperson comes over to ask if they can help tell them you where  just wondering what the PPI number was on the kayak your looking at and what method was used to calculate the capacity.

Keep in mind when you shop that how the capacity number was arrived at and what it represents matters, if it is the max the boat was designed to handle the exceeding it is risky if it is a max with fudge factor then there is room to play. Also be mindful of how much gear you plan to add, kayak fisherman in particular are real good at the just one more toy trick, the problem is all the toys add weight and often up high on the boat where it is least needed.

* ABYC- American Boat and Yacht Council they set various voluntary standards for the marine industry and though there name says American they cab often be found in the Canadian standards cited as a reference.More often than not the methods are the same in Canada and the US as  more and more effort is put into harmonizing the standards.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Bow Wow

Since the recent introduction of our paddle boards there have been many questions about how we make them look the way they do with the patterns. The technique that we use is not new and is relatively simple when I worked building fibreglass boats we used a similar technique to finish the decks on a number of small sailboats.
The patterns on the deck are not the result of great artistry or a custom made decal as some have speculated but is simply the careful application of a layer of fabric to the sheathing that covers the forward deck of the paddle board.

Step one is a trip to your local fabric store to peruse the various fabrics that they have in stock, guy’s this is a great way to fell like a fish out of water and to get more than a few questioning looks as you will most likely be the only male in the store. My most recent trip coincided with a sale so the shop was full of bargain hunting women rather than the one or two that have been there on any other occasion when I was looking for material, for cockpit covers (rip stop nylon).

What you are looking for is a pattern you like that is available in cotton, quality is not really a problem as and fabrics with a lower thread cont will actually make wet out easier. Test a small section to be sure that the colour will no be a problem with the epoxy, this has yet to happen but I’ rather be safe then sorry. When you get the fabric home iron it to get rid of the crease that will be in the fabric from the roll.

Cut the fabric about an inch smaller that the deck as smoothly and cleanly as you can. With the fabric in place I use tape to outline its position on the deck then roll about half the fabric back exposing the deck and then wetting out the deck with epoxy and laying the rolled up section of fabric back into the resin. Roll up the other half of the fabric then wet out the rest of the deck and apply the fabric, remove the tape from the deck and cover it with the fibreglass sheathing.

Wet out the sheathing and use a squeegee to force the air out of the fabric and the glass sheathing, proceed as you would for any other epoxy sheathing job adding a couple more thin coats of epoxy to fill the glass cloth’s weave.

The deck is then varnished as with any other bright finished wood project and once the several coats of varnish which you have applied are cured then the edges of the fabric if not perfectly cut or if they have threads showing can be cleaned up. This is done by the simple application of pin stripes which are available from most automotive supply stores. 

That in a nutshell as they say is pretty much all there is to it.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Waiting/Celebrating Materials & Methods

An unavoidable part of building any thing is waiting, or at least it seems that way, as I write this I am waiting for some epoxy to kick off so I can get on with building the paddle board prototypes. Yesterday I had to wait for the delivery truck to bring the parts that had been CNC cut for the prototypes to arrive, it seems funny the amount of time that we spent waiting to save time.

Modern adhesives and CNC controlled routers have made possible the simple methods of boat building we use today, they allow us to use wood in ways that would not otherwise be possible, stitch and glue being a prime example. The epoxy protects the wood from moisture and combined with fiberglass cloth adds strength and when mixed with fillers it functions as a glue of varying strengths. The CNC router allows us to cut intricate parts that interlock to make a simple but effective structure, and to cut all the panels with extreme accuracy, it is possible to do this by hand but the accuracy and fine fits would become much more difficult, the computer adds is repeatability you get the same thing every time  As I think about the materials we use to ease the construction of the boats even plywood for boat building as we know it has only been around since after the second world war when tighter specifications where set for marine ply to ensure that it is of higher quality than construction plywood. These materials and methods all make our lives easier; they allow people who might have never considered building a boat to turn out a beautifully functional product, as long as you don’t mind some waiting.

While I wait a few other thoughts occur, first if my shop was larger and not half full of other projects then I would build both boards at the same time, but would still end up waiting for glue to cure. Secondly though I am waiting I get to clean up other tasks that need to be completed, preparing for up coming shows, rewriting the web site and writing this blog, working on new designs though not all at once, I do know a person who can use two keyboards at the same time, I have enough trouble with one and a mouse.Third while I am waiting when the glue has cured I will have all the parts ready, last night just before leaving the shop the side panels where glued up now the bottom is curing, all the rest of the ply parts where cut full size so there are no joints. Next will be the internal structure when it glued together it will be time to wait then on to fastening the plywood pieces onto the structure with, naturally the required waits spaced at appropriate intervals throughout the process.

It is time to post this then I can get back to work as I finish up this particular wait. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Belated Earth Day Greetings

Yes I know earth day was almost week ago, that one day when a bunch of people head out to clean up the trash they dumped on our world in the previous 364 days. I have never really lived like that it has never occurred to me that tossing garbage anywhere other than the trash was acceptable, I still remember being shocked as a teenager when after spending 14 hours driving from Georgia back home to Canada when the friend I was travelling with after offering to clean up the car as we where arriving home proceeded to after putting all the trash in one bag to roll down the window and toss it out! About a mile from home where we where both aware there was garbage bags and pails it did not make any sense to me then and does not now.

Maybe our kids will learn from this one day we have set aside that they should take care of the world around them, I believe they are more likely to be concerned with caring for the planet if they spend some time out and about on it. The trips do not need to be long they do not need to involve great expense or lengths of time, if you can get away into those areas that in your mind make up the wilds then so much the better but if not just head to the park.

Take your time, get off the beaten path sit down on the grass and see what is lurking there, you may need in some places to take a second for a first check of the place where you choose to roost to ensure that all you are about to perch on is green, but find a spot and perch. Many towns run their trails along the waterfront if they have one watch the water, look up and check out the trees, at this time of year they are changing rapidly, today buds are beginning to appear, next week leaves. Check out the birds they are busy at this time of year building nests, please don't disturb them, just watch. Should you be able to get out in the evening pick a spot where you can see the sky, lie back and watch the stars come out, its magical even if you are surrounded by light and noise pollution. Imagine how much more grand the spectacle will be when you do get the chance to head off to those quiet places, in the mean time enjoy the green spaces you have.

Take the time to enjoy those spaces large or small and remember look around, at this time of year in the north you can watch all of nature being rejuvenated, see the new life springing up, feel the warmth in the air, the singing of birds, the running of the water in the streams and rivers. When you take the time to do that its more likely that you will also take the time to pick up that bit of trash you saw because you may just come to realise that everyday is earth day.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Seeking Lotto Moments

This week I was looking through Rapid Media’s Paddling Buyers Guide studying  the boats,  yes I admit it I buy these magazines just for the pictures, not the articles. As a result after months of  this magazine having  been in the house and the office I have just taken note of a short article by  publisher Scott MacGregor entitled Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I know that a vast number of people when asked this question will answer immediately I DO!  The Lotto Corporation knows the same thing it’s what keeps them in business. The point of the article and the book the 4 Hour Work Week that inspired it was that what we really want is the lifestyle, the freedom to go and do interesting things. This caused me to do a little thinking (that’s all I can handle) one the first things that came to mind was a friend who each summer would take off to go sailing on the Great Lakes.

He was not a millionaire not even close he was a truck driver, but he had made the decision that while he was still young enough to do so he was going to get out and do not just work dreaming of a future that may never come. The boat he had was older and he invested a serious amount of sweat in making it ready but when summer came he would quit his job, that’s right he just packed it in and went sailing. If the company he had been working for would not take him back then he would look for a new job in September but he went and continued to do so for years. Today he is in his late sixties and no longer sails but when summer comes the bike comes out and he loads it up, his lady climbs into the side car and they hit the road. They did and continue to do so by living with a goal and they may have to live a little smaller the rest of the year saving and preparing for those times when they live the life most of us only dream of.

Quitting may not be an option for you that does not mean you can’t make getting away a priority, interesting places and adventures large and small are not that far away if you look for them.

I am also reminded as I write this of my grandfather  who told me repeatedly, we may not have much money but we are having a great time, they would each summer load up the trailer and spend 28 days ( the longest you could stay in a provincial park) in their favourite park. Fifty years later I still remember the chances we had to join them, nights around the campfires, the friends made and those things don’t happen in your dreams only if you go.

Scott’s goal and the purpose of the buyers guide is to sell you gear, you will not get far in the outdoors or on the water without it, we need gear to get to those places we love and to spend time there. But the fact is that a million dollars and the best gear will not matter unless you make it a priority to get out and use the gear you have. Whether you just bought the newest stuff on the market or it has been in the corner of the garage for the last few years, if it works grab it and go you can always buy new stuff next year or the one after that.

Spring has arrived and the ice is melting slowly, ever so slowly but it is melting, leaving just one question what will you be doing this summer, dreaming of that Lotto moment or grabbing the opportunity and going to explore your dreams?

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Rondane Revisited - Lets try this again

It has been nearly 10 months since I last posted, no I did not fall off the face of the earth as those who also follow me on Facebook know, but did find that time was a problem. Like many other designers of small boats I also have had to hold down a day job and so at times there is conflict between the two, paying the bills won over what I would rather be doing. Recently the company I was working for closed the facility I was employed at so once again I have more time available to dedicate to things like this blog.

The Rondane has made it to the water as the Facebook page pictures attest; we had opportunities to row the boat on occasion and a couple of chances to begin sorting out the sailing rig. The rig still needs a little refinement but it works, just need a few more opportunities to sail it, took the boat with us on vacation and ended up with it spending most of its time on the roof of the van as there never seemed to be any wind.
The plans are well underway and once we get the boat back in the water a couple of times we will be able to make them available.

The simplified building jig worked well with the boat coming out as intended, the interior was simple to install and if you are going to build one that does not require the sailing set up it will go more quickly as there will be no daggerboard trunk or mast step to install.

Currently we are working on three new boats for trials this summer two solo canoes one at 10’ and one at 12’ in length, the 12 is well under way these boat are being built using western red cedar strips. The hulls with be sheathed on the outside with fiberglass cloth set in epoxy and the inside of the hull will be sheathed in carbon fiber.

The third boat is a hybrid kayak with a stitch and glue hull and a cedar strip deck, the kit for the hull has been cut and as soon as the first canoe is complete the kayak will be started with the 10’ canoe to follow that.