Here is my new kayak. I call her Black and Tan (the hull is painted black). She's a Chesapeake Light Craft North Bay built by Dave Gentry. I think she's the 18th boat Dave built. He obviously had to sell her to make room for more. The swirly brass inlay (poorly visible in the pic of the bow) is typical of his work.
Chesapeake Light Craft stopped selling plans and kits for the North Bay some time ago, probably because of serious design flaws typical of Greenland Style kayaks: poor primary stability, poor maneuverability, severe weathercocking, and a tendency to broach in a following sea. But at 18.5 ft long and 20 inches wide she's plenty fast! It was recommended for "advanced paddlers only!"
Don't you love the clean, uncluttered deck? It really shows off the wood but I'll change that. My original idea was to get a touring kayak that didn't need any work but now I can't help but plan all kinds of modifications. I'll be cutting into the deck to install rubber hatches fore and aft. She also needs some more functional deck rigging. I'll also replace the wooden coaming with a composite one. A retractable skeg is also in the works.
The Jet-Ski Gangs were out in force this Memorial Day. With personal
watercraft around, Puget Sound starts to feel like a crowded suburban
lake. It’s a good reason to paddle at night when you can be alone. I
guess I just don’t get the point of splashing around in circles.
Actually, maybe I do, just in the vertical dimension.
Check out the picture of the little kid driving the Jet Ski (from Wikipedia). Scary, huh? I can’t think of a better reason than PWC for mandatory
boater education. These machines are involved in such a
disproportionate number of boating accidents that there are lawyers all
over the county who specialize in PWC injury cases.
It’s a goldmine for them. You hear about collision injuries all the
time but I personally know of a case where a woman fell off the back of
a PWC and the jet ripped her rectum right open. She ended up having an abdomino-perineal resection and now shits out a hole in her tummy into
a stick-on plastic bag. True story. In fact, it says that use of PWC may rip you a new one right there on the warning label!
Did you know that the Coast Guard had to grant manufacturers of PWC ten exemptions beyond normal vessel specifications just to meet the
definition of a boat? The manufacturers lobbied for this because they
knew that if they could get the craft classified as boats, the Coast
Guard rather than the Consumer Product Safety Commission would have
jurisdiction over them. The Consumer
Product Safety Commission was the group responsible for banning
three-wheeled ATVs, and manufacturers of PWC were afraid of the same thing happening to them. The Coast Guard, an understaffed agency, ended up
being charged with a regulatory and enforcement role over PWC that it
could not realistically handle.
Not a lot of other boats out on Commencement Bay today,
despite the nice weather and even enough wind to go sailing.
Four-dollar a gallon gas prices must be keeping people home. I guess
those Jet-Ski guys didn’t get the memo, huh? I can’t wait until gas
gets to $15 a gallon and they're gone for good!
Once in a while someone will publish an "Everything I learned from building my last boat" post on one of the building forums. I love those posts because they can be packed with good advice. Usually while talking with people who are just getting started on their first boat I'll realize just how much I've learned about building over the past few years. I'll have so much to say and find it impossible to distill everything into a few good pieces of advice, except for maybe "Do your research. Read the building manual thoroughly."
I've been asked before what kind of varnish I recommend. I don't think it's really important what kind of varnish one uses. More important is the application technique. On my Joel White Pooduck Skiff I sanded with 220 grit before and in-between coats of varnish and vacuumed and wiped off the dust with a lint-free rag dampened with mineral spirits. I like to roll traditional marine varnish on with a thin foam roller and tip it off with a good badger hair brush. I used to use those cheap disposable chip brushes because I never liked cleaning brushes but later learned from experience that it's definitely worth it to pay more for a good brush and spend your time cleaning them. It is very important to use fresh varnish for the final coat. The final coat of varnish is the only one that really counts. All the previous coats just smooth out the surface and build up the layers. Varnish starts to go bad as soon as you open the can, so the while the first coat usually flows on like a dream, the last coat from the same can might end up a nightmare, with little particles in it, and spreading too thickly which will create runs, drips and sags. I recommend opening a new can just for that last coat. Another thing that people do that I'm just trying now is to fill the opened can with propane from a handheld torch before closing it back up again. That keeps the oxygen out. I got a canister of Bernzomatic for about $13, which is less than half the cost of a can of varnish.
Here is picture of the brass half oval rubstrip installed on the stem and keel. It is screwed in place and attached with 3M 5200 bedding compound, which provides a flexible and permanent bond. I just discovered that 3M 5200 now comes in convenient small tubes (instead of caulk gun canisters) and in a fast curing formulation (the original formulation took a week to cure).
Lastly here is a picture of the swing-up half of the rudder after a couple coats of marine primer.
With the weather getting warmer and days longer I'm really getting tempted to try this boat out on the water with oars before the rudder and spars are done.
Finally got a chance to try out my SPoT "Satellite Personal Tracker" device the other day. I think this little homing beacon is really revolutionary. Everyone should have one. I especially like that they kept the design simple with only four buttons, and it's small enough to keep tucked away in my PFD until I really need it.
I can probably retire my VHF radios now. I never really learned to use them anyway. My first was a
Standard Horizon. I got a good deal on it and it is about the size of a brick but is totally
indestructable. I only tried transmitting with it once while on a
sailboat. It didn't seem to work, maybe because the rubber pad I was
pressing wasn't actually the transmit button. Then I bought a little
Uniden that died as soon as it got wet. The manufacturer replaced it but the second one died too. They obviously weren't very waterproof. Then I ended up with another smaller Standard
Horizon, never used.
Who really wants to worry about the VHF radio's range, line-of-sight and when to say pan-pan or securite' anyway? Have you ever thought about what you would say in a real emergency? "Mayday Mayday Mayday I'm in a sinking kayak bearing one hundred fifteen degrees magnetic and three point four nautical miles off blah blah blah..." That's a lot to say when you're seriously injured or getting thrashed around in cold water. It's much simpler to press the 911 button on your SPoT. Sure, there will always be fans of VHF radios, like there are still a few traditionalists who listen to vinyl LPs or use ham radios in the age of the Internet.
My wife especially likes SPoT, probably more than I do. She can keep track of me and get
those reassuring text messages on her phone that say I'm OK. Now I feel like I'm free to go on bigger trips, you know -- longer crossings, more challenging conditions, at night, alone, with less backup emergency gear. That reasurring 911 SPoT button may just be a license to get myself in bigger trouble!
Joe Greenley of Redfish Kayaks recently posted a picture of his latest cedar strip project, the Ursa 420, a unique rough water expedition kayak designed by and built for Robert Livingston, creator of the Bearboat Pro boat design software. I remember seeing this project in the stripping stage in Joe's workshop maybe a year and a half ago. Probably the most striking feature of the design is the really big aft compartment, which I think makes the boat self-righting. There are four hatches, all secured by rare earth magnets. Check out Joe's gallery for a closer look at the details. As to be expected from Joe Greenley, the craftsmanship is superb! Click here to read the original post.
While looking over Robert Livingston's site it struck me that I saw a kayak very similar to this years ago when I first joined the Washington Kayak Club and started going to their pool sessions in Tacoma. I was struggling to teach myself how to roll and after an exhausting hour or so thrashing around, I sat on the edge of the pool and watched this guy perform slow and graceful sculling rolls in a short stubby white fiberglass kayak. It had kind of a bulbous bow and a very large aft compartment just like the Robert Livingston design. A fellow observer told me he thought that boat was "self-righting". Note the picture of the kid doing a hand roll with the Ursa 350 on the Robert Livingston site.
Warren took this awesome video of himself surfing in Cattle Pass in the San Juan Islands:
"...It's a 4.8 flood with a little wind. More wind would of made nicer waves, these waves are about 3 feet. You could get some rides at the front of where they started to stack up. I put in at Anacortes, worked out in this chop at Davis Point for over two hours and caught the ferry back."
I paddled by that treehouse in the madrona below the Cliff House restaurant this morning and was shocked to find it in completely burned down. The smell of a fresh fire was still in the air. Somehow I had a feeling that was going to happen sooner or later. It just looked like a big bonfire waiting to happen.
The Tacoma Lights and Sirens Blog says it occurred on May 7th and was probably caused by a "transient". KIRO News even posted a video of the treehouse on fire on their website. Looks like the fire burned a narrow path right up the hill. Apparently the fire didn't keep people from hanging out down there because I still found a bunch of fresh empty Budweiser cans scattered all over the ashes.
Just some building notes on my Joel White Pooduck Skiff: I finished painting the hull and started making the rudder. My daughter chose the color. It's Epifanes Marine Enamel, "light green". At the last minute I decided to paint the red accent stripe. I followed a masking technique I read about in the lastest issue of Wooden Boat. After laying the masking tape down, you paint over the border with the same underlying color or varnish, before painting over with the new color. This seals the tape and produces a crisp border when the tape is removed. It is important to use fresh masking tape and keep the edges of your roll clean by being careful where you set it down, and by storing it in a plastic bag at all times.
Still a lot of work to be done but now it's getting close to the point where now I have to figure out how I'm going to get it to the beach!