Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Finding Your Balance

Many kayakers head out in their boats seeking a sense of inner balance, but those first couple trips in the spring (for those of us who have to deal with hard water winters) can be a challenge. It is not a sense of inner balance that’s missing its actual physical balance that is missing, the transition from the office chair to the kayak seat can be interesting due to the kayak having significantly less stability. There is a simple way to eliminate this and that is the use of a balance stool, these can be constructed to challenge any paddler by increasing the rocker in the stools base. This is also a good project for anyone thinking of buying or building a kayak why not be ready when the boat hits the water, no surprises, look like you have done it before, from day one.

This blog is also written for those who have experience only in rental and other kayaks that are short, fat, and where choosen for their job because they where completey suited to an application where the majority of users have no experience whatsoever in a kayak. The change is then made from a boat which is 30+ inches [76cm] wide with a flat bottom to a rounded, or V bottom boat, that is 23" [58cm] wide and find that there is a significant difference in stability, that they were not entirely prepared for, with the stool you can be ready. If you find yourself in this state don't be discouraged if it takes a few attempts, much more comfortable in the denon the stoool than on the water in the spring. 

Think of it as a rocking horse for adults, and best of all it is simple to construct,inexpensive and can be constructed in a half hour, and requires few tools, a jig or band saw, six screws, a square, and eight feet of 2x 8. If you make your stool 2” [50mm] shorter than I did you will only need six feet of 2x8, the length will depend on how tall you are, what is the distance from the back of the seat in your boat to the foot pegs this will guide you as to the required length. (My stool is 50” [127cm] long and I am 6’ 3” [1.905m] tall as a guide if your boat is not close by) When looking for a suitable piece of lumber look for one that has no big knots or faults, particularly in the longitudinal, you really don’t want it to break if you are sitting in the middle of the stool, and it is easier to cut smooth curves for the rockers if you are not contending with knots.  

Cut the 2x 8 into three pieces, two pieces 12” [ 30.5cm] long for the rockers, and a longer piece to suit you for the top. The two pieces for the rockers need to be laid out with a notch on top to accept the longitudinal piece and have the bottoms curved to make the stool unstable. The stool in the pictures has a 1.5” [3.8 cm] in the bottom you can always increase the curve later to increase the challenge or until it feels like your boat or even a little less stable than your boat to really challenge yourself. Note how I drew the curve a ¼” [6mm] up from the bottom, this is to help ensure a smooth curve on the bottom of the rockers, a flat spot would defeat the purpose of the stool, and cutting close to the edge makes it easy for the saw to break out of the wood leaving a small flat on the bottom.

Layout the curve on the bottom by marking the centreline on the 12” [30.5cm] pieces and put a mark up each edge 1 ¾” [4.5cm] up the edges, join these marks to form a smooth curve, with a batten. The batten can be anything that is smooth, straight, and flexible, hold the batten so it touches the marks on the sides and pull the centre down to the bottom line and draw in the curve. This task will be easier with some one to help hold the batten. 

The notch on top needs to match the 2 x8 mark half the width to each side of centre and the depth of the 2x8 then draw in the notch, all that’s left is to cut the two pieces for the rockers. As always when you cut; cut on the waste side of the line this should give you a nice tight fit in the notch.

Assemble the three pieces, making sure the end rockers are square to the centre longitudinal. Join the two pieces using three-inch-long #10 or 12 screws, with the heads countersunk into the longitudinal.

If you are new to kayaking the first step is to simply get used to balancing yourself, it will not likely take long. Once you get used to that try turning your upper body as if you where checking out what that paddler just behind you is up to or you wanted to make yourself heard when speaking to them by turning in their direction. The next step is to grab a broom or length of dowelling and go through the motion of paddling, now you are on your way to finding the outward balance so you can concentrate on finding some inward quiet and balance.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Class Time

We have been looking at the possibility of offering classes to help those who want to build a boat but would prefer to do so with some guidance. After some serious searching, finding space that would allow us to do so economically has proven that if we were to follow the same model others are using that doing so would be difficult.

This has led to a new line of thought, I have the shop which houses my office and which I use to build the prototypes for our new models, while it is not large but is sufficient to build one boat at a time. Interested in taking a class on an individual basis, one instructor and a builder with a helper if so desired?

This approach has some advantages, you do not need to purchase tools you may never use again, the focus is only on the boat you are building, and you don’t have to wait until the boat you are interested in building is being offered in a classroom setting somewhere. The class you book is your class alone, building the boat you want, this offers you much more flexibility when it comes to timing as you do not need to wait for six or eight like minded individuals.

 Another advantage, we will be able to offer in this setting is we can customize a design to suit your needs, or you can have a custom design drawn and then come here to put it together. We may even have what you are looking for drawn in the computer and just have not had time to build that particular model to date. This is something that is not possible to do in a class setting. There will in these cases be a design fee but these will be kept to a minimum as full plans and building manuals will not need to be developed as we will construct the boat together.

Taking a look at the courses being offered here in Canada, which are often offered in conjunction with US firms, in US dollars and with a slightly higher tuition rate than the same course in the US. As I write this with the current exchange rate tuition is $850 US which is $1102 CAD. In addition to which they charge $200 US for shipping which equals $259 CAD. for a total of $ 1361 CAD. , there is also a charge of $450 US for a helper which equals $584 CAD. if you bring a helper the total comes to $1945 CAD.  In addition to this these courses require you to supply some of your own tools, some tools you will need to finish and care your boat in the future so you will need to buy these, others for many will be a onetime purchase such as the forty clamps recommended. These prices are in addition to the cost of the kit which in the case of the US providers is in US dollars, ours are in Canadian dollars resulting in further savings for you. If you are wondering the taxation will be the same as the courses are taking place in Canada.

The big question is then naturally course cost, a one on one course will be offered at $1,000 CAD and a course with a helper at $1400 CAD. These prices coupled with our much lower shipping costs (normally less than $100 CAD) coupled with the costing of our kits in Canadian dollars gives you the opportunity to build a boat at less cost and with more flexibility in timing than you can get with our competitors.

Should you know what you would like to build, and when, send us an e-mail and we can discuss the specifics of setting up a course for you. Not sure which boat you wish to build contact us and we can discuss the possibilities.

For our US friends as mentioned on the web site we are just a few minutes down the river from the Sarnia/Port Huron border crossing and about the same distance up river from the Sombra/Marine City ferry crossing. As this is written based on the exchange rate today tuition is just $772 US with one builder and $1080 with a helper.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Splashing About In The Pool

This is not a series of thoughts about hitting the local pool in winter to learn new skills but rather spending time splashing about in the pool of learning and the feeling that you are slipping under. At the end of this note I will get back around to boats and building them, please bear with me as I wander in that direction.

Last year just as I was thinking about having the web site updated, the company that looked after my site folded and they did a good job of making sure the site stayed up and transferring it to a new host. The issues that arose where from the fact that the original company not only hosted the site, but looked after its content based on the information I supplied them in order to update it. The issues only came to light after a summer of designing and building new models preparing the plans, writing new content, and then contacting the new host to be told that they don’t look after content, just hosting.

Back to the pool, it’s at times like that where you suddenly realize that all the work you have put in, making you think that you were headed somewhere, was illusory. It turns out that in fact you where treading water, suspended, going nowhere, working hard but not making any progress.

The good thing about this was it gave me more reason to rethink the site and how it works. Over the years the site has been in existence one thing I always wanted was for it to be more responsive, to be able to alter it without having to write the content then pass it along and wait till it was my turn to have the updates installed. I also wanted it to be more user friendly, with our association with Noah’s you needed to get off my site and go to theirs to place a kit order, not real convenient.
With the new site the idea is to link each of the boats to the appropriate page on their site so you simply click the link and go directly to the page that contains the ordering information on their site. This should make it seem to be essentially one big site where everything you need is just a click away. To achieve this I decided to build the site with new content myself, this would leave me with all the files and the ability to modify the site in a timelier manner. 

What makes this possible is the use of a WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) site builder which means you do not need to be able to write computer code to build your site but for the most part you simply type in what you want. This by the way only works to a certain extent as you need at times when using things like Pay Pal or links to other sites to insert their code into your site to make them functional. Even this simple method of building a site at times has left me feeling like I was back in the pool, definitively in the deep end and floundering badly. I am sure the company that hosts the site must have when answering some of my newbie questions wondered how I even managed to turn the computer on in the morning.

Writing this has led me to think about the boats, their plan sets their construction and how easy it is to assume things which can leave others floundering. One of the things I noticed while going through this process was how in all our fields we tend to forget that those who are learning and those with no or limited exposure to what it is we do have no idea what some of the terminology and short forms we tend to use mean.

I guess what I am really trying to say is this dip in the pool has not been a bad thing, besides the expansion of my understanding of the electronic world, I will try to keep in mind what this experience has been like when plan sets are put together. If you are building from our plans and you think I am assuming knowledge you don’t have send us a note, it will make not only the process easier for you it may help clarify things for someone else down the road.