Monday, 29 December 2008

Progress..updated 31st Dec 2008

I took it off the stands to see what it looks like right side up; there's a wee twist at the bow so I'll have to fix that before I strip the deck. ....bugger......

Update.....view from bow.. I should have fitted more cheater strips, now a  wrap around to the keel strips will have to be done when they are in place. A conundrum....but I have a cunning plan... 
Also a word of praise for masking tape; it's amazing how efficient it it is for squeezing the strips together. At the end of each session I stretch a few inches over the strips, and am amazed at how much glue comes out when it pulls them together, bearing in mind glue=excess weight.

Stern nearly finished

View from stern

I went into the workshop over the last few days and popped on some more strips, and now the boat is really beginning to take shape.

At the bow end I have had to fit some cheater strips to bring the strips up fair due to the upsweep of the bow, so that the lines can continue on the lower hull. Hopefully I'll have finished this part by the weekend.

It's so bloody cold in there that the glue is taking a long time to cure, so when I've got the hull stripped I'm going to move the lot into another room which I can leave a low level heater on to create a more stable atmosphere. 
[I now wish I had used 3/4" strips it would have been a lot faster ..and used less staples!]

Stern view

Saturday, 27 December 2008

I have started so I'll finish...

I finally started stripping today. 
Now that the festivities are over and with the wife out at the sales,  I was feeling a lot better  so I went in to the workshop to give the forms a final check over to make sure they were true, and level and  decided to put the first few sheer line strips on....

They are the most important strips on the boat; if they aren't right all the other strips will look wrong too, so after the first 3 were on, I adjusted a couple of forms to fair out a hollow or bulge where something didn't look quite right before the glue set.

Finally I wrapped some masking tape to pull them together.

The ends are curving quite nicely, but I think I'll encounter a problem in around 6 strips time.

The ends are more pointy too; they finish further out from the end of the stem forms than I imagined but when they are trimmed back it should be OK.

Tomorrow I should be able to get quite a few more strips on. I'm not faffing around with Wood glue for the scarf joints any more. Cyanoacrylate from now on for speed. It cures much quicker, sands better and when it's encapsulated in epoxy will be fine.  I need more clamps too!

All the pictures were taken on my iPhone, so apologies for quality.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


Oh joy!

I finally found the western red cedar for my boat. Less than 20 miles away at the Deck Supply Company. Their warehouse is a cedar treasure trove of lengths up to 5m with hardly a knot in sight. And some other highly desirable timber too

I bought 21m of timber and got a deal on on which was a bit manky, [but will cut up fine for the lower hull], loaded them onto the Forester and got them back to the workshop.

Each board was 26 x 140 mm thick; now they are 6 x 12.5 and 6 x 18mm, and I ended up with approx 1700 ft of it.
I used a brand new Freud ripping blade in my table saw; it took all weekend and I was very impressed [and depressed] by the amount of sawdust created. The manky board is a bit lighter in colour than the other stuff, and I may try out a tiger stripe on the hull

Next up routing in the bead and cove.....boring.....

I've registered on a strip builders forum in the US . No doubt about it, we are paying well over the odds for cedar in this country, off the shelf bead + cove strip would have cost me £670
as opposed to £380 if I had imported it from Ontario! As it was I paid £160 for the lumber.
As it's a labour of love the time is free

*Plus point, the workshop smells lovely!

A guy called Dustin in Ohio has worked out a way of using Google Sketchup and Kayak Foundry to produce 3D drawings of your Kayak desings, but not yet how to 'Skin' the design...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Building the forms up..

I spent the weekend constructing the strongback and forms for the boat.

The strongback is the central spine of the forms, made from 1/2' plywood, rebated glued and nailed together. This pic shows the lot rough assembled, [and back to front in progress terms]

There's a lot to do yet, the forms have to be attached very accurately, and this will involve new support stands bolted to the floor so they can't move, and small cross members to screw the forms to after they have been aligned along the central line and the water line with a laser guide.

Can you spot the form in upside down?

Stern forms

Bow forms

Work will cease on this bit for a couple of weeks now; Ive sourced the Western red Cedar, but only boards. When its delivered and acclimatised, I have to cut it into 6 x 20mm strips, and route in the bead and cove.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Miquanaut MK2...

The scale model process goes on... I have made a mk2 version of the Miquanaut.

I had to. I put the first model on the top of my car and drove off. By the time I had that awful feeling 'you stupid forgetful **** ' it was too late.
Hopefully somewhere a little boy is happy playing with it at bath time!

Anyway, the first version seen in previous post ended up looking too similar to my Valley Aquanaut, and I thought there's no point in copying what's already there, so after playing around with the Kayak Foundry I came up with a new design which is more of a pure day boat and will hopefully be a boat I can 'grow' into for more challenging water.

The Aquanaut is a great touring boat, but not that fast or light!

Designing a sea kayak which to be quite honest is something I don't have a lot of experience of, is a lot harder than you would think. Reading up there are lots of subtle design features that will affect the way a boat handles, so I have tried to incorporate what I consider the best features of other boats, which hopefully will come together in the final design.

By tweaking hull forms, sheer lines, beam etc, changing length, adjusting rocker, position of the cockpit etc, all these factors can be seen in projected drag tables at different speeds, stability for a variety of paddler weight and loads.

I've tried to come up with a boat that will be light and manouverable with the amount of rocker built in, a fairly flattish hull under the cockpit similar to a Romany for good surfing qualities, and a fairly aggressive bow and stern. The drag tables indicate it should be quite fast for a 17 foot boat too.

I've printed out all the forms for the hull, and am now trying to get a source of western red cedar 6mm x 20mm cove and bead strip. There are companies in the UK who sell it at quite extortionate cost; it may be cheaper to import it from Canada!

The alternative is to buy 6" x 1" boards, plane and strip them myself, then router in the edges.
A lot of work, and a lot of sawdust too. I estimate I'll need 1000 feet of the stuff.......

There are some fabulous designs around on the web, Blue Heron Kayaks, and Guillemot Designs are the ones that explain very clearly the whole concept and well worth having a look at.

And for the bespoke strip built boat have a look at this!

In 2 weeks I should have the forms and strongback constructed, so keep viewing..

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Miquanaut..part 1..evolution..

I've started a project to keep me occupied over the winter. I'm going to build my own strip built sea kayak.

Obviously it helps that I am quite handy at making things, and having a large workshop I can utilise certainly helps.

I've been using a programme called Kayak Foundry, which is available as a free download, but it's so good it's well worth making a contribution if you use it. Essentially it lets you enter and alter all the parameters you wish, to virtually design a custom kayak, with drag factors, stability etc

When you are happy it's possible to print off the forms at full scale to build the 'spine' of the kayak, which will be used to support the red cedar strips I will eventually build it from.

I sort of know what type of boat I want; a relatively fast stable tourer, but with a bit more rocker[ manouverability] than my current Valley Aquanaut HV [High Volume] which is a rotomoulded polyethylene boat, which is, er, not a light boat to say the least.

One of the main advantages of a wood boat is that it can be incredibly light even compared to a carbon /kevlar composite boat, and I will be hoping to produce something really special.

I've already started on a model of the Miquanaut, as I call it as it's loosely based on the lines of an Aquanaut, building a 1/8 scale model, which considering I'm a professional modelmaker is quite fun, and its also given me a huge insight to the construction method itself, and already highlighted future problem areas.

For those interested, the forms were produced on a laser cutting machine, and the strips made from 1.0mm Fomex at 3mm width, which equates to a 24mm strip at full scale, but I'll probably use 20mm for exta pliability. I used superglue [extra thin grade] to stick it together and U-Pol Super smooth body filler to fill the odd gap.

I'll go into the physics of wood strip and construction in Part 2.........

Monday, 20 October 2008

A pint of cider please Ma'am.....

 Going under the Barrow/Walney Island Bridge

After a months delay 8 of us finally made the journey to Walney Island near Barrow-in-Furness with the aim of circumnavigating the island with an overnight camp on Piel Island.
Unfortunately the wind was up to F6-7 on the west of the island, so we went as far north as possible, stopped for lunch and made our way back down the east side to Piel. 

Piel Island and Castle in the distance .. the water and wind was constantly it was calm and the sun came out. 

Beware! Dangerous Castle!!  

The Queen of Piel told us that steel bars are to be fitted at great cost to the lower apertures to the castle to prevent stupid people hurting themselves.

The intrepid paddlers took shelter from the storm in an open doorway..

Sunset across the sands...

Beautiful Barrow Docks.

Piel Island is an interesting place. There's a hotel, a castle and 4 houses.
More history here

The  custodians of the island are Steve and Sheila who are the current King and Queen, who opened the pub especially for us, and we were most grateful. When the renovations to the hotel are finished in 2 years, the pub will become a bunkhouse. It's a  basic campsite so don't expect much if you go there. But it is worth it.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

A trip up the Mersey

Steve and Brian just past Seaforth Dock

Cruise ship on the way out!

Birkenhead Sunset

Royal Liver Building and Liverpool Pilot vessel

Tuesday 3pm... Brian calls 'Fancy a quick outing with Steve tonight?'..........." Ooo...' I thought. He meant a trip up the River Mersey from Crosby Baths.
High water was at the Albert Dock was at 6-27 so as soon as possible the 3 of us were on the water with the flood whisking us up the river. Just dodging a container ship leaving Seaforth Dock, we passed the heap of shredded scrap destined for Poland where it is recycled for us to buy back. That makes sense??
The Mersey Mammoth Crane was making its way back to its home berth and as the sun glinted off one of the new office towers a cruise ship left the' International Cruise ship Terminal' which is basically a posh pontoon and the subject of some sarcastic debate.
The Sea Cat Ferry left on the high tide and we kept a wary eye out for its wake.

We nearly made the Liver Buildings but had to turn round to catch the ebb, finally landing back at Crosby at 8pm hoping an iron man wouldn't bash our hulls in the gloom. A grand night out.

Friday, 3 October 2008


View from Midge Breeder Central [Loch Leven]

The Quiraing

Fingals Fingers

Port Neist lighthouse looking to Lewis

Loch Dunvegan seal colony

Staffin Bay

We went to Skye for the first time this year. Its a long way;  458 miles door to door but well worth it. As soon as you get over the Bridge there's a lot of 'Wow' factor for a first time visitor!

F + I  stayed in a converted barn, 'The Bothy' in the village of Staffin, on the northeast coast of the island. Very peaceful, with great views of the Quiraing Mountain and over The Minch to the mainland. John MacKenzie, the owner is a lovely bloke who told us many  tales and helped me celebrate my 51st birthday with a wee dram [or two] of Caol Isla malt whisky !

Skye is a big island, and there isn't enough time to explore it in a week. You have to accept you are going to do a lot of driving as the villages, beaches and places of interest are well spread out.  The sea lochs cut inland quite a way, so inevitably you have to go round them. 

Next time we will try to base ourselves in the centre of the Isle; I've already noted a good looking campsite at Loch Greshornish, which looks just the job.

Out in the Aquanaut, I paddled round Loch Dunvegan to see the seals, and over to the islands off  Staffin and Flodigarry. While we we away we were surprised to find out it was brolly weather in the rest of the UK, but the fine if windy Skye weather limited me to fairly sheltered coast hugging trips on my own. [On reflection, I should have taken my smaller Easky boat, which is lighter smaller and better suited to rockhopping.]

We stayed a night in a wee camping cabin at the back of The MacDonald Hotel at Kinlochleven on the way home, where some of the backdrop scenery to the Harry Potter films  is filmed. 

It is as my mate Frank says: 'Midge Breeder Central'