Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle . . . .

When I needed a seat for my new boat, I set to cannibalizing my plastic Baffin. First, I liked the seat and second, it fit in the new boat perfectly. Of course, this left a perfectly good boat without a seat. There was the option to replace the seat with a factory one but it would cost 160.00 plus tax and shipping = around 200.00.  Ouch!!

I decided that I would build one out of foam. So I set to work but was not getting anywhere. It was a warm (relatively) day and I was working outside. Outside the shed stood two lawn chairs destined for the garbage next week. Suddenly I had the craziest idea - "I wonder if I could make a kayak seat out of a lawn chair?' I seem to recall seeing it done but did not know how well it would work out.

Your garden variety lawn chair!!

I simply started hacking, trying to get the chair to, at least, fit inside the hull. I made one cut that proved wrong but was later easily fixed by some West System G-Flex epoxy which is specifically designed for use with plastic.

First round of hacking and one bad cut. These "L" shaped pieces proved invaluable when left in place. The back was too high as well for comfortable lay backs.

B  E  G  I  N    P  A  D  D  L  I  N  G       I  N  T  E  R  L  U  D  E

Having been cutting and fitting for about an hour and making some good headway, I put the seat away for a while so that Cheryl and myself could take our 11 year old daughter for a scoot about in St. Philips. Bridget showed an interest in going so we made hay while the sun shone.

Following Bridget out!

Cheryl (l) and Bridget (r)

Bridget all decked out in a drysuit and Greenland paddle!

Cheryl and Bridget stopping for a snack of almonds!

It was a nice little excursion about the harbour and it helped Bridget gain some confidence on the salt water. She handled her boat very well even though a good breeze came up and she even had to punch out through some waves after landing by herself on the beach. She's on the way!!

E  N  D    P  A  D  D  L  I  N  G     I  N  T  E  R  L  U  D  E

As for the seat, I splinted and epoxied the mistaken cut and later that night I sanded and painted. Here's the final product:

Painted and the back trimmed to the right height.

The "L" shapes that I retained where perfect for bolting the seat to the boat - as per the existing holes in the hull!  I reused the back band  that originally came with the boat but did not use with the new one as I am experimenting with the foam pillar with that boat. I popped in the foam hip pads as well. Total installation took no more than 15-20 minutes.

Back band and hip pads in place.

For now the hip pads are held in place with Gorilla Tape.
While it may look nice, it feels even nicer. I was truly amazed at the level of comfort from this simple setup. It's actually more comfortable than the setup I have in my new boat!!  My intention is to have Cheryl use this boat so I had her come outside and sit in the boat. I could tell from the initial look on her face that she, too, found the seat quite comfortable! She feels the way I do about this setup. I can't wait to give it a whir!!

And that, my friends, is some good recycling!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A day of firsts . . .

My last run in the new boat was less than ideal. I was too loose and it showed after a few hours of paddling. Since then I've remade the thigh braces altogether. Today was my first chance to try them out. They really snugged things up nicely. I'm happy!! For the first time I felt truly comfortable in the new boat!

Today was also the first time trying the new rack on the car as well as using the new foam pads I just made. Both worked great - even though it was only a 3 km drive to the put in!!

And most important!! Today was Cheryl's first run on the salt water for the year. Accompanied by Tony and Dennis we paddled from St. Philip's to Topsail return - for a total of 14 kms.

I'll let the pictures tell the tale!!

First time putting the boats on the Hyundai. Works great!!

Putting-in @ St. Philip's.

Grouping up outside to cove in preparation for moving out!

Tony(l) and Dennis (r) just off Whelan's Beach!.

Cheryl (l), Tony (c) and Dennis (r) cruising by the icicles.

Following Cheryl through the rocks.

It may be mid April but we still have icicles.

A little break on Topsail Beach.

The final leg. Cheryl just before turning the corner into St. Philip's.

Thanks to all for showing up and a big congrats to Cheryl on her first, of many,  trips on the briny!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fittin' and Finishin' . . . a slight return!!

Well, the boat was launched two weeks ago, today. Since then it's been in the ocean 4 times and the pool twice. Like any new boat, there's been bugs and kinks to work out.

The first showed up after the first run - leaking pad eyes!! Those little friggers!! I ended pulling them out and reseating them in Marine Goop. Took the boat to the pool and I'll be damned but they did not leak again - you could see the air bubbles escaping when the deck was underwater!!  Crap!! Time to rethink this pad eye thing!! In a nutshell my problem was a design flaw - on my behalf. I'm not about to explain it here but it meant pulling all the pad eyes out and coming up with a new design!  Which was .  . . 

bungees pulled through plywood backing plates with knots holding them in place. The backing plates were first sealed to the deck via Aquaseal. Once sealed to the deck, I mixed Aquaseal with black printer ink and then filled in the whole thing from the above deck. A pool session (with lots of rolling and general farting around) + a night of surfing and rolling in the salt water and not a drop to be seen inside the hull!!  Finally!!

While dealing with the pad eye problem, I was also dealing with the fitting of the cockpit. The back pillar took some time to cut and shape before it's now finally comfortable. I had it too steep and too close to the seat so it was rubbing my lower back - not good on a three hour paddle as I found out - ouch!! I needed to work on my thighbraces and footbraces as well!!  I went on a three hour excursion in bouncy conditions and my hips were killing me because I was too loose in the boat. Then my footbraces were too far fwd and my thighbraces were too slack. Glad to get off the water that day!!

The first night rolling in the pool revealed that the cockpit was a little wide and I was losing my leg grip during sculling braces. I decided to tighten up the cockpit by bringing the thigh brace "ears" a little closer. I simply epoxied a piece of plywood place and faired it. This picture shows the unpainted epoxy but a quick shot of black paint and you'll never know the difference.

Prijon Seayak to the Port beam, Pelican Elite 140 off the Port bow and a Boreal Design Baffin off the starboard bow!

With the cockpit the shape I wanted, I needed to finally fit the thigh braces. Again, I've decided to go with the minicell foam floor tiles available from your local hardware store. 12.00 for 4 pieces at 24"x24"x1/2" is not a bad price!!

The new braces fit up under the deck and then curl down along the hull to give better support - both vertically and laterally! I built the braces from several pieces of foam and laminated them so that they will retain their curved shape for easier attachment.

Schedule 40 clamps once again rise to the occasion!!

The intent is to customize the cockpit so that it will fit like a glove. That's the beauty of a self-built boat - such customization is rather easy!! That plus the fact that I'm more concerned about function over form!!

My wife gave me two sets of Yakima Mako saddles for Christmas. I kept them based on the belief that they'd fit the new boat  - HA!! After fitting them to the car and popping the boat on I realized that they are strictly designed for boats with soft chines!! They could, in no way, accommodate the hard chines of the Point Bennett!! Not to be deterred, I decided to make a set of foam carriers just to fit my boat. Again, I used the foam floor tiles and the prototype is looking good. Simply need to glues the layers together and BADDA BOOM BADDA BING - $6.00 carriers!!

Testing the fit!!
After two weeks I have some observations to make about the new boat:

Even without a skeg, it tracks remarkably well. I paddled head 'long into 60 km winds with no perceivable weather or lee cocking. The only deviation from course resulted from the bow being blown by the wind as I punched through a wave - quite understandable!

I find the edging quite good to the point that I am trying to make it my main means of steering - even while surfing!!

It's certainly lighter and stiffer than my poly boat!!

While I've managed to shave the back pillar to better accommodate lay back rolls, it is nowhere near my Baffin. The aft cockpit height of the Baffin is a good 2" lower than the Point Bennett.  Lay backs in the Baffin are a dream - even for the stiff backs like myself!!

Its a very nice looking craft!! While many endeavor to create a work of art, I like to think that my boat is a workhorse. Something to use, maybe abuse.  Strong yet not hard on the eyes. You decide . . .

Friday, April 1, 2011

A house gives birth and a maiden voyage!!

The big day has finally arrived. Two months to the day, the new boat is ready to leave the attic and hit the water!!

I think the pictures speak for themselves . . .

See, no problems coming down those stairs!

Not what you'd expect to see!!

A helping hand.

Coming down!
A soft landing.

Time for rackin'

A two minute drive brings us to St. Philip's.

On the slip next to Tony's Nordkapp.
It was a lovely evening on the water. 

Impressions:  This boat is a lot "tippier" than my Baffin - but in a good way! My initial fit is good so far - may need one more 1/2 piece of foam on the foot braces! Rolling is good - only three pulled off due to cold water temps. Edges nicely. Tracks great - but no wind to really test.

Verdict (after one paddle):  A boat that will reward the serious paddler but will not suffer fools! 

My camera died before heading off for a paddle but my good paddling buddy, Tony, managed to document the rest of the evening in his blog -

It was a great evening on the water - thanks to Tony, Dennis and Eugene. The boat was great. Fast and responsive. We hit some slight clapotis - just enough to get the feel of the new boat. After two hours I was quite comfortable and it's only going to get better!!

Only one  setback. When Dennis and I we're loading the boat back on the car I heard sloshing and the boat felt a little heavy. I ignored it until home when I found that the day and rear hatch had significant water in them. My initial thoughts were DAMN - those friggin hatches are leaking. BUT after some pressure testing, i.e, pressing down on the closed hatches, I found that the pad eyes (deck line fittings) were all leaking. They all hissed loudly whenever I pushed down on the hatches!! Again, my initial thoughts were DAMN - those friggin' pad eyes are leaking. But then I thought that is was better the pad eyes than the 300.00 worth of hatches!!  Oddly enough I managed to push the pad eyes back into the hull with no problem. It appears the sealant did not set up properly!!  I've decided that I will next put copious amounts of Marine Goop on them and see how that works!! Marine Goop is very thick and tenacious - I am confident that a good dose of it will cure any future leaks..

Other than that, the boat is resting comfortably here in the living room - lying in front of the woodstove like a lazy dog!. I put the compass in earlier this evening (without incident) and am now waiting for the hull to dry out. Tomorrow I will rectify the pad eye problem.

All in all, a great evening on the bay with a great new boat in the company of fellow paddlers!! Can it get better??