Sunday, 22 May 2011

Welsh Kayak Show 2011

We kicked of today aboard the Bay Island Voyages rib as a surprise birthday treat for my brother-in-law.  I've wanted to have a go on these for a while after seeing them so many times out in the channel.
There was a bit of a southerly wind today which made for a bumpy trip out to the Ranie buoy.  The tide was ebbing quite nicely.
Then it was back towards Penarth for some fast turns and doughnuts.

Well worth 20 bucks

Next was off to Cardiff Marine Village for the Welsh Kayak Show.
One boat I was looking forward to demo was the new Valley Etain.  Both the Composite boats were out on the water so I settled for a go in the plastic version.  Got to be honest I wasn't massively impressed.  Nice boat, turned quite nicely but seemed heavy and a bit sluggish.
Next I managed to twist Hannah's arm and get here out on the water in a double Dagger Blackwater Tandem.  First time in a doubler, a big heavy almost canoe type boat.  It was a good laugh although don't think I'll be getting one.
Next I got Hannah into a sit on top, white trousers and a sit on top don't make a good combination!  She was doing really well and really enjoying it.  May get here out on the sea yet.
I grabbed a Wilderness Tempest 170.  I thinks it's a great looking boat, nice snug cockpit makes you feel a part of the boat.  A little difficult getting in and out even for my small butt.  Edged beautifully although I didn't think the secondary stability was as good as the Etain.  Very light, fast and tracked well.  Very easy to roll, I was almost caught out nearly going back over for another try.
Elan for Up&Under persuaded me to get back in a glass Etain which I'm glad I did.  It was much better.  Heavier than the Tempest but a great secondary stability.  Edged like a dream, easily getting my skirt and cag in the water.  A great confidence booster.  Still didn't feel as fast as the Tempest but it is aimed at being an expedition boat and is much heavier.
The cockpit is much bigger than the Tempest which makes getting in and out easier but personally I prefer the smaller cockpit.  I think the little day pod on the front seems like a good idea but to me is a waste of space.  There's hardly enough room to fit more than a camera and a chocolate bar in there and I can see it flying off with the first bit of surf landing on your deck.  I prefer a deck bag myself.  Again very easy and fast to roll.  I could happily see myself owning one should I win the lottery in the near future.

One of the best days out I've had in ages, must congratulate Up&Under on another well organised event.  My finger didn't look to good after today's paddling and don't think I'll be out doing much paddling for a little while longer.  As for the boat build I have to wait a couple of weeks while the company I'm ordering the strips from to come back off annual leave.  This also gives me the chance to get back doing some work and earn some more bucks to pay for it.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Petrel Build #4 - Strongback

This week while I've been off work I managed to source a very straight piece of 2x4 timber for my strongback.  This is where all the talk about forms and strongbacks makes sense.  For the first time I get to see the actual shape and dimensions of my boat.  The pictures here have been taken on a mobile phone because my camera has been shipped off to the workshop.
View from the Bow

As mentioned in the plans the volume of the boat is not huge, described not as an expedition boat but more of a day or weekend boat.  Very slim and long, god knows where I'm gonna store it.  The area behind the seat is very low and flat in the Greenland style for ease of rolling.  The deck has a sharp chine to provide height for the knees but low overall.  There is plenty of rocker for manoeuvrability.  The chine forward of the cockpit is soft providing smooth performance pushing out into waves and prevents broach while surfing.  The chine to the aft is much harder which provides shape to facilitate carving and leaned turns.
View from the Stern 

I have not fixed the forms in place here.  I have cut the holes in the forms, cut and shaped the strongback to size and simply stung them on.  I need to move the whole lot to the farm before I start fixing things together.  I also have to add the internal stems pieces to the ends of the bow and stern.
Bow to Stern

Considering I haven't fixed anything in place nor lined it all up properly it's looking pretty straight and fair.  The are a couple of dips in some of the forms which I will have to sort when I start laying the strips.  One other thing I noticed when picking it up and rolling it over is how it's so balanced already. 

As for my finger, I've had the massive bandaged removed and a smaller one put on.  I should be having the stitches out next Friday just in time for the Welsh Kayak Show.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

My Finger

This was my finger after they cleaned it up and just before they pulled the nail off and stitched me up.  It had been bandaged up for 7 hours in the waiting room (good old NHS) so closed up quite considerably by then. The way the bit on the left was hanging down after I done it I thought I was going to loose that bit.  Told you it wasn't that bad, the way it's bandaged up you swear I lost half my finger.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Naming A Boat Before It's Built

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here but to be fair I'm stuck in the house with a severed finger.

Even though the boat I'm building is not my design and is officially a 'Guillemot Petrel' I like the idea of giving it a name.  Just like someone may call their Ford Fiesta Betty or the like if you get my drift.  I will probably have the Petrel logo near the cockpit. 

My first idea came from a group of novels I'm reading about the peloponnesian war where a roman trireme was called the Aquila (Latin for Eagle).  The ship was often describe being like a sea eagle hovering over the waters with little effort searching for its prey.  I then thought about the possibility of something more patriotic like a dragon but I find unless its the usual welsh dragon pose it just looks a bit oriental.  Still on the theme of birds of prey I thought about the Red Kite.  It is somewhat thought of as a Welsh icon, quite like the Golden Eagle or Osprey for Scotland, even though it can now be found in other place around the UK.  Anyway I did a couple of sketches, scanned them on to the computer and ended up with this...Let us know what you think.  As for the boat itself I quite like the stained red cedar as shown here with the white maple detail.  I'm thinking of possibly leaving it natural or just staining the hull/deck..plenty of time to decide anyway.  In-case you were wondering Barcud Coch is welsh for Red Kite, any welsh speakers please correct me if I'm wrong.
The Red Kite was pushed almost to extinction by Vermin Acts during the 16th 17th and 18th century.  By the late 18th century the Red Kite breed for the last time in England and Scotland.  Only a few pairs could be found in rural Mid Wales.  Thanks to dedicated individuals and organisations Red Kite numbers have gradually increased.  In 2008 there was estimated to be 750-900 breeding pairs in Wales and much smaller amounts in England and Scotland. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

No Paddling For A While

This is the outcome when you stick your finger into a running hedge trimmer.  Perfect slice from the tip down to about the first knuckle right through, just missing the bone but through the nail and nail bed.  There are more gory photo's but you'll have to wait until I work out a way to get them off my wife's phone.  My nail has been removed and my finger stitched back together and bandaged up for a few weeks.  What you could call an occupational hazard.  What bugs me more is I can't get out to the Welsh Kayak Show in a couple of weeks and as I'm off work I need to look after my money, which means my boat build is on hold to.  Joy! Could have been worse I suppose.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A Perfect Hang-Over Cure

This weekend I was up north in Liverpool for my friend's stag weekend and like many obsessed kayakers I was on the lookout for a paddling opportunity.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess what was on the back of my t-shirt...they later wished they had put 'Uncle Albert' from Only Fools and Horses.
After two days on the booze it was going to take more than a fatty cooked breakfast to cure my hangover.  Mike had very kindly offered to let me take his Tootega out and join him and a few other from Liverpool Canoe Club for a paddle around the marina.
After 5 hours sleep and a sharp coffee I managed to get myself up and down the marina for 10am.  Mike built this boat from cedar strips and is absolutely stunning.  Making me get rather excited about my build. 
My first impressions was how the feel of the boat was no different to a composite boat if not better.  It felt very strong, ridged and safe (apparently it is more rigged than Mikes Rockpool) and a very smooth finish.      
 For me it handled really well, turning with little effort.  Although after looking at the photo's it seems my skinny little butt may have had an effect as the boat is too high in the water and the stern is out of the water.  It was fast and edged well too.
The rain didn't manage to stay off as we had a good soaking on the way back. 
 I met my friends back at Albert Docks for a quick bite to eat before our long trek home.  It was like tall ship heaven here I just wished I had made the effort to come down earlier in the holiday.  What a perfect way to end a great weekend.  Thanks Mike. 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Petrel Build #3 - Cutting the Forms

No paddling again this weekend so I put my time to good use and finished cutting the forms.  I have put a request in for the cedar strips which I will order for delivery in a couple of weeks.  I am getting the strips from who are very reasonable and have put aside some quality wood for me, best quality they've had in a long time apparently.
I drew the right half of the form on a sheet of graph paper then folded over the half and traced the left side.  I then glued each form on to a panel of 1/2' MDF and roughly cut around each one.  Tip for anyone using spray adhesive.  Just spray the MDF not the paper, otherwise the glue starts seeping through giving the paper a wet look like some of the top forms bellow.
Bow Forms
 I then cut around 1mm from the edge of the forms and then sanded each form fair.
Stern Forms
 Bow and Stern End Forms
Both the bow and stern end forms have an outer stem at the end that is cut from a separate piece of cedar or other soft wood and temporarily glued on the to ends of the end forms.  These stems are beveled to form a sharp edge upon which the strips are glued.  These stems will form part of the actual boat and wont be removed.  I have cut off the Stern stem here from the MDF just to practice until I get the cedar wood.
I can't help getting excited, hopefully I will have something similar in a few months!
My next job is to cut a hole in the center of each form through which the strongback it thread.  There are various ways to construct a strong back but I am going to keep things simple and get a 12ft length of 2x4 timber.  Once the strongback is constructed the boat will then be ready for stripping.