Saturday, June 30, 2007

The day I've been dreading

It was bound to happen: a weekend day with weather conditions so extremely suited to flying that I would be severely frustrated by not being able to fly. The ankle, while improving, is still not flight worthy. I could push it I suppose, but knowing the level of peer-level acerbic comment that would arise from an NTSB report citing "stupid decision to fly with a bum ankle" as a contributing factor in an accident is enough to dissuade me. Note the approbation thrown at this fella, rightly or wrongly (your mileage will vary), here:

Lucky for me, the gimp factor has declined to the degree that I can safely make the 13 step commute to the Blue Heron Boat Works and make some progress on the kayak:

Here I'm beveling the edges of the shear panels, which are synonymous with the longerons on the RV. Sitting on the floor like this was very uncomfortable for my ankle, and as this was the last step before everything is up off of the floor and can be worked on from a standing or sitting in a chair position, I was happy to have it done. Still, it was a neat step because it involved actual wood work. This was the first step in which I took responsibility for the quality of the work; up until this step, all fabrication had been done by the factory.

Here you can see how stitching the major panels together with copper wire pulls the deck into the rounded shape that makes it so darn good looking. The wires have to be twisted pretty tightly to pull the pieces together, which very quickly goes from being really cool to being really painful. I suspect it's a lot like learning to play the guitar: your fingers hurt, but the progress made towards creating something very aesthetically pleasing is all of the encouragement you need to keep going.

This is the deck, inverted. It will be lifted, turned over, and trial-placed on the hull to make sure everything aligns correctly, and that no unwanted twist is being built into the boat.

Co-pilot Egg assisted in the delicate lifting and placing of the deck on the hull. It will be loosely wired to the hull, then the spacers will be removed and the wires tightened. This is the last step of fitting and aligning before gluing, so it needs to be done patiently and precisely. I wish I could hire that out, as I am not known for possessing copious amounts of either of those traits.

It's really starting to look like a boat!

Just as with an RV, when it looks 90% done, you only have 90% left to do. There will now be a whole lot of assembling, fitting, disassembling, reassembling, gluing, filling, taping, glassing, and sanding.


One of the deciding factors for going with CLC Boats was their attractive and content-rich web site. Included in that is a Builders Forum. Well, I had a question regarding the fit of the aft end of the boat, and I posted said question on the forum last night. As you can see, the very aft end of the shear panel doesn't fit as nicely as the forward point did, and there is some overhang from the shear panel to the side panel. It's equal on both sides of the boat, so it's not indicative of twist in the hull. My question was whether it could simply be planed or sanded flush, or if I needed to find a way to get the hull spread apart a bit more. It seems that either option will work, so I'm going to try spreading the hull with a dowel stick, but not be overly anal about the results.

There were two good answers waiting for me this morning and I'm basically splitting the difference between them. That kind of quick peer-level response, similar to what we get in the Vans RV world with Doug Reeves' tremendous site, really impresses me as a customer. It tells me that other customers truly love the product and are willing to devote their time and brain power to helping other customers. It says a lot about both the product and the manufacturer.

In fact, I'm so happy with this (so far) that once the kayak is done I'm going to consider building another of their boats, only this one would be a row/sail/outboard motor boat called the Passagemaker Dinghy:


  1. Those stitch-n-glue boats are so cool! I have been wracking my brain for an excuse to apply the technique to an airplane.

    Another way cool alternative-to-a-whole-airplane project is the Alleweder velomobile:
    Sheet aluminum, rivets, pre-drilled holes - it's almost a mini RV!


  2. Great pics, Dave. Really an impressive job.

  3. Nice boat and airplane!

    The Passagemaker Dinghy from CLC is a great boat. If you have any questions about it, check out a forum for the boat: