I'm 19 hours into the build. That includes 3 hours today completing the deck and carving the bow stem piece. I used oak for the back deck stringers (1/4 in x 2 in) so that they would be less likely to crack if someone big wanted to try getting into the kayak. When installing the stem I placed a square amidships to mark the center, so when I looked down the hull I would be able to tell if the stem was crooked. Funny thing was I had a lot of trouble getting the stem "straight" according to the measurements. It turned out that what I marked as the center was an inch off. When I lashed the stem tightly in place it straightened out by itself. Today's lesson: Trust your eyes. They are more sensitive than rulers. If it looks right, it probably is.
I spent a couple hours last night pounding the deck together. I used the minimum number of deck beams: 2 in x 3/4 in red cedar pegged and lashed to the gunwales. In Dick's East Greenland replica the beams are held in a blind mortise, with no lashings. Pegging is a lot easier and faster than carving mortise and tenon joints, and lashing provides plenty of extra strength. My philosophy for building this boat is make it ultra light, just strong enough, and as quickly as possible. I'm saving time not planing rough surfaces that won't be visible. My other rule is I'm not going to use any sandpaper on any part of this boat.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? By chance I was working all last weekend and couldn't make it to the celebrated annual Redfish Wooden Kayak Rendezvous (R2K6). Just days before that my friend Dick found an East Greenland Kayak replica for sale on Craigslist and bought it for nearly nothing. He brought it to R2K to show off. He wanted me to try it out afterwards, so he sent it to Tacoma with my other new friend also named Dick, but we'll call him Richard. Richard just finished the frame for his own skin boat, so when I arrived at his place (a big old sailboat sitting in the middle of Tacoma's downtown Thea Foss waterway) to pick up Dick's kayak, he generously gave me some very long left over pieces of oak bending stock. When I discovered that I couldn't fit in Dick replica, I suggested to Dick that I modify the masik and coaming, and possibly even reskin the boat to get it to work. Both Dick and the builder were strongly opposed to the idea of changing anything on it. I respect that. Even if no one except a 13-year kid can get in it, it's still a work of art. So can you see it? All the signs point me to building an East Greenland kayak of my very own! I had been thinking about doing it for some time, following the lines from Adney and Chapelle's Bark Canoes and Skinboats of North America, figure 208.
Last night I ripped and planed the oak rib and coaming stock, and set them in tubs of water to soak. I went to my day job today and my cases were cancelled. So I ended up having the whole day off, but it was raining and not the best day for paddling -- more signs! So I had all morning and a good part of the afternoon to rip the gunwales, rout out the mortises for the ribs, and start shaping the deck, following the offsets I scratched down on brown paper. Since this will be my 3rd skin boat, the work moves quickly -- there's not as much time wasted sitting around admiring my work, referring to the texts, or pondering my next move.
I haven't felt this good in a long time. The irritability, restlessness, fatigue, joint pains, nausea, headaches, confusion, forgetfulness, anxiety, depression, and feelings of purposeless simply vanish when I'm working on a new boat!
Dick Mahler's new "East Greenland replica" kayak is living at my house now. I tried to get in it this morning, looking forward to taking it on the water. It's supposed to be a rolling demon, but there's no way I can fit in that thing! I tried twisting and turning and going in sideways.
I'm thinking about doing some modifications so I can get in it. It would require moving the masik forward rebuilding the deck, enlarging the cockpit opening, and reskinning it--basically rebuilding it. But it would be a shame to mutilate it. Such fine craftsmanship!
My friend Dick just bought a new qajaq today. He found it on the local Craigslist. It's a replica of an East Greenland Qajaq and looks like a museum piece. The seller apparently is a good friend of Harvey Golden and just couldn't find the time to paddle it -- how sad! Dick didn't even try it out before taking it home. It came with a sprayskirt and replica Greenland paddle -- all for $150. Way to go, Dick!