Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Good Buddy Murphy and I...

The classes that I teach take place on a Saturday morning.  This can lead to some difficulties for those students of mine who work during the week and might not be able to get to the lumberyard - except on a Saturday morning.  Note the conundrum?   My solution is to do one of two things:

  1. Give the students a hand-out with instructions for selecting materials for the boat they're building and then give them a "free weekend" to go get their lumber.
  2. Have a first class with some instruction about the materials and then send them out the next weekend to get their lumber.
I opted for a combination of #1 and #2 this year giving students a handout and some basic instruction about material selections.  Because everyone is using a 1/2 sheet of plywood for their boats - which isn't readily available in our area -  I said  that I would go get the plywood for everyone as the cost to have it shipped to us is pretty high.

Through the infinite kindness of others, I was able to borrow a van to go get the material so that weather wouldn't be an issue.   My good buddy Murphy (of Murphy's Law fame...) was riding shotgun on this trip.  I seemed to have issues filling the tank, with weather, with traffic, directions.  You name it. 

To cut a long story short here, what should have taken my 5 hours took me almost 9 hours.  The wood is now safely in the barn awaiting the student's touch.    Some may ask why we go to such efforts got get a piece of plywood?  It's not any plywood - it's marine grade Okoume plywood that's qualified to BS 1088.  What's BS 1088, you say?

From Wikipedia :

BS 1088

In materials, the BS 1088 specification is a marine plywood specification that applies to plywood produced with untreated tropical hardwood veneers that have a set level of resistance to fungal attack. The plies are bonded with WBP glue. Although the initials BS are for "British Standard", the finished product does not have to be "British made". The standard is associated with Lloyd's of London since it performs testing of products to this standard.Does not follow that it is a structural plywood.
WBP Glue Line -- BS 1088 plywood must use an adhesive, which has been proven to be highly resistant to weather, micro-organisms, cold and boiling water, steam and dry heat. The product's bonding must pass a series of British Standard tests.
Face Veneers -- These must present a solid surface that is free from open defects. Face veneers must be free of knots other than "sound pin" knots, of which there shall be no more than six(6) in any area of one(1) square foot, and there can be no more than an average of two(2) such knots per square foot area over the entire surface of the plywood sheet. The veneers must be reasonably free from irregular grain. The use of edge joints is limited, and end joints are not allowed.
Core Veneers -- Core veneers have the same basic requirements as face veneers, except that small splits are allowed, and there is no limit on the number of pin knots or edge joints. However, end joints are not permitted.
Limits of Manufacturing Defects -- Defective bonds, pleats and overlaps, and gaps in faces are not permitted. Occasional gaps may be repaired using veneer inserts bonded with the proper adhesive.
Moisture Content -- BS 1088 plywood must have a moisture content between 6% and 14% when it leaves the factory.
Finishing -- Boards will be sanded on both sides equally.
Length & Width -- The length or width of a board produced as a standard size shall not be less than the specified size nor more than 6.3 mm (0.25") greater than the specified size.
Squareness -- The lengths of the diagonals of a board shall not differ by more than 0.25% of the length of the diagonal.
Thickness Tolerances -- Tolerances vary as follows.
  • 4 mm +.02/-0.6 ; 6 mm +.04/-0.65 ; 9 mm +.06/-0.75 ; 12 mm +.09/-0.82
  • 15 mm +.1/-0.9 ; 18 mm +.12/-0.98 ; 22 mm +.16/-1.08 ; 25 mm +1.8/-1.16
From the above we can assume that 6 mm material will arrive at thickness' between 6.04 mm and 5.35 mm.
Face Veneer thickness -- For any three-ply construction, which applies to 3 and 4 mm material, each face veneer shall be not thinner than 1/8 of the total thickness of veneers assembled dry. Since the dry thicknesses of the boards are 3.6 and 4.6 respectively, we can assume that for these thicknesses only the face veneers will be as follows:
  • 3.6 mm dry x 12.5% (1/8) = 0.45 mm 4.6 mm dry x 12.5% (1/8) = 0.575 mm
Multi-Ply Construction-- This applies to boards thicker than 4.8 mm (3/16")
  • Each face veneer shall be a minimum of 1.3 mm and not thicker than 3.8 mm.
  • Each core veneer shall be no thicker than 4.8 mm

And that is the reason we go to the trouble of getting marine grade plywood - guaranteed quality!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"We're not going anywhere, Daddy."

My father, AKA - The Silver Fox - had mentioned on Friday that he'd like to take DS paddling this weekend.   Today was a gorgeous day - a bit cool and breezy, but really sunny and otherwise a great day for a paddle.   So, earlier this afternoon following up on his earlier thought, The Silver Fox called and asked if DS would like to go for a paddle.  DS thought that would be great. 

I've been feeling a little under the weather but figured that it would be fun to tag along, too.   My dad came over, we packed up boats, lifejackets and paddles and a large bag of water. (more on this later...) The Silver Fox looked at me a sideways as I loaded up the water and asked, "Thirsty?"  We then headed off to a favorite paddling spot.

The plan was that my dad would paddle the Wabnaki with my son in the bow and that I would paddle my kayak.  We got the boats off the car and put on life jackets and grabbed paddles.  Once the boats were floating, I grabbed the bag of water and put it in the bow of the Wabnaki.  What I'd learned the last time that I had DS in the front of this particular canoe with me is that he doesn't weigh enough yet to keep the bow down in the water. (...and I'm not that big a guy, myself.)    I'd brought the bag of water as ballast to help keep the bow down!   As we launched, the Silver Fox reiterated one of his favorite paddling mantras for DS's benefit - "The bottom of a canoe should only touch two things.  One is air and the other is water."

We pushed off and paddled out and turned into one arm of this lake with the wind at our backs, making easy way down the edge of the lake.  As we got to the end of this section of the lake,  the canoe stopped abruptly, while I kept going in the kayak.  After I got myself turned around, I noticed that they were stuck on a large rock about two inches below the surface that was basically invisible in the shadowed water near the edge.  I went around to the bow of the boat and pulled downwards to help float the rear section that was grounded.   After a little finagling, the boat was free again.  We got turned around into the wind and started to paddle.  I hadn't paddled very long, but soon got the sense that I was paddling alone.  The kayak is fast, but...

I paddled back over to the canoe and both my father and DS were paddling furiously into the wind, but making little headway.  My father is looking very confused at this point and wondering why they aren't making more progress upwind.  I head over and push the canoe and it moves a bit, and they proceed to paddle furiously, making what appears to be little progress.   I pulled over to the boat figuring that I could help tow the canoe a bit with a strap that I have.   DS grabbed it out of my gear hatch and hooked it between the kayak and a thwart. 

I paddled. 


For quite a bit of time.

I feel the strap take up, but we're going nowhere.  At this time, I figure this isn't going anywhere.  At this point in time, we figure that the wind is getting the better of us.  I know the Wabnaki isn't the fastest boat, but, dang.  Finally the wind pushes the bow of the Wabnaki over to one side and my father starts thinking of heading to a different boat-ramp that is downwind from where we are so I can pick them up with the car.  I paddle up alongside and watch some trees on the shore.  I realize that the canoe isn't moving.  At all.   Even downwind.

Huh.  Now I'm suspicious.

I paddle close to the canoe and take my Greenland paddle and sweep it under the keel of the canoe. 


Ah.  They're on another rock.  Oh wait, that can't be a rock.  Must be hard water - the bottom of a canoe only touches air and water.  With a little re-distribution of paddler weight and ballast I can then pull down on the bow again and off the rock they come with some scraping and grinding, but off they come. 

The Silver Fox appeared to be a little bit shaken by the experience, but DS appears not to have realized how serious the issue could have been and it rolled off his back like water off a duck.  We had a very quiet and distinctly curtailed trip back to the put-in where we relaxed on the shore for a bit before heading home.

Darned rocks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Another new beginning...

The Fall season has kicked in with a vengance and the school where I teach has just started it's year with sign-ups for classes. As an instructor, I typically arrive about an hour before the sign-up actually starts to get organized, and to hear necessary announcements from the administration.  I'm always impressed because when I arrive, there are already long lines of students waiting at the front and side doors to sign up for the classes - sometimes reaching down to the street and along the sidewalk from the front door and along the sidewalk all the way to the back of the parking lot and wrapping around on the side doors.  Some of these folks have been waiting for hours and have brought folding chairs, books and beverages.  As an organization, we're getting better at the this, and students seem to be getting better at the waiting game.

My DW was waiting in line to sign the kids up for some of the youth program classes at the school.  A woman in front of her asked my DW and the other woman next to her if they'd hold her space while she went to get a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe.  Both women said, sure - if she'd pick them up coffee, too and offered up the money for their cups.  Community spirit, I say!

I'm always a bit apprehensive at sign-up because I never know if I'm going to fill the class that I'm teaching.  If I don't meet these minimum enrollment standards, the class doesn't run, which would be disappointing.  As many of you know, I've been teaching cedar-strip and fiberglass canoe construction for the past several years.  There are some issues teaching this class in the facility where I teach in terms of space, the cost of materials to the students and the time required to finish a boat.  This year, I was more apprehensive than usual as I'm teaching a new class and had no idea what the interest would be.  The new class will be skin-on-frame boatbuilding and should be lower cost to students, easier to do in the facility and quicker build times.  I was concerned that people wouldn't have the same "draw" to these boats that they do to the beauty of a bright finished wooden canoe, but they seem to recognize the unique features of the skin-on-boats including those listed above and light weight among others.

My fears seem to have been unfounded.  I had a full class by the end of sign-up.  A good sign.

One concern that people seem to have about the skin-on-frame boats is durability.  I'll admit that when I was building my sea kayak, I had that at the back of my mind - that is, until I saw this video from John Petersen of Shaman Kayaks:

I found this to be completely true when I went to Maine with my kayak this summer.  The Maine coast is unforgiving in that it is particularly rocky.  The launching area where I was putting in had rocks, coarse gravel, broken shells of various types, barnacles, periwinkles and other hard, sharp objects.  With the skin-on-frame boat, it's light - so you simply pick it up to put it where the least dangerous area is and even when I hit these things, there was only a small scratch - the skin flexes rather than rips over them. 

So, to my new students - welcome aboard!  It's going to be a memorable adventure!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

In the serious irony department...

This is what was in the "spam" comments trap for Paddling Upstream after the post on "Love Boats" last week:
order viagra online from canada viagra online boots - viagra dosage....

More than a little ironic, no?

Made me smile.