Monday, December 31, 2007

Decision making

As I write this, I'm squinting my left eye against the bright sunlight streaming in through the window. It seems odd, then that I just got off of the phone with the friendly folks down at CF Airtronics, whom I just called to cancel the two year transponder check that I was planning on having done today. Chances are that I could have gone - Highland Co. is a short flight of maybe 20 minutes or so. It's just that there are two little things bothering be: DUATS is forecasting temporary 900' broken ceilings, and while the AWOS at Bolton is reporting ceilings unlimited, it is also reporting winds at 11 knots, gusting 19.

So, what to do? Neither of those conditions are absolute show stoppers. The temporary 900' ceilings, if they occur at all, would probably be exactly as stated: temporary. The winds, while directly across the runway and therefore more of a factor than if they were more closely aligned with the runway heading, are nothing I haven't dealt with before. On the down side, however, the risk of the 900' ceilings lasting until the forecast improvement at 5pm means that if it were to occur, it wouldn't clear up until after dark. And I'm not keen on night flying at all. You also have to consider that I've flown relatively little in the last few months and my skillz are a bit rusty.

It's really down to a risk/benefit at this point, and given that the transponder check is something that's easily rescheduled, there isn't any real benefit in having it done today. When you place a zero in the benefit column, even a smallish rating in the risk column makes it the hands down winner.

I'm staying home.


It's never good to second guess these things, but it's clear as a bell outside, with 5 knot winds.

Oh well.

I spent the time in the usual manner: trying to come up with a good project as a follow-on to the kayak, without breaking the bank. I think I might have a plan. I found a web site that offers plans for a stitch & glue canoe called the Hiawatha for $30. The idea for a canoe came to me when I was considering building a second kayak for Egg or guest, but reluctant to spend $800 on another CLC boat. I looked for cedar strip canoe kits, but they were priced at $1,200+. This would be an occasional use boat, and I was hoping to keep it reasonable, and certainly wanted to keep it cheaper than the sail boat would be.

Enter the Hiawatha:

The plans are sure affordable, but they call for two 4' x 8' sheets of 1/4" plywood. To do it right, they suggest the use of marine grade plywood, priced at $50 a sheet. There's a slight ouch factor to that, but not nearly as painful as the $140 shipping charge. That, I simply will not pay. I googled around for awhile and came across a few opinions regarding the type of plywood to use for building small, limited use boats. Quite a few people were of the opinion that a boat of this type could be built with 1/4" exterior grade plywood from Lowe's, as long as one was willing to live with increased weight and a more difficult to finish wood. I checked Lowes dot-com and found BC grade exterior 1/4" plywood for around $16.44 a sheet. And, of course, $0.00 shipping, assuming I can coerce the owner of a sufficiently sized vehicle to help me pick up a couple of sheets.

There's still going to be the $150 worth of epoxy and glass to buy, but I can live with that. I already have the tools I'll need to build it, and it looks like it would be a nice boat for Egg and guest to use.

Definitely something to consider...


  1. I built my sailboat using exterior grade plywood. If I kept my boat in the water all the time then I would consider marine grade.

    Went up this morning with my 9A for 0.4 hr. 90 degree cross wind at 11 gust 20. 9A refused to come down. Floated over half the runway and pushed up by gust a few times. Not a fun flying day.

  2. Ted -

    I stopped by Lowes to look at their plywood, and there is definitely a difference between the smooth marine wood and the off-the-shelf Lowes wood. The wood itself is affordable either way - it's the delivery charges that are insane. I googled an Ohio lumber yard up by Cleveland, thinking that the shipping would be lower, bus it was still over $140 to deliver $60 worth of wood.

    I'll go ahead and use the Lowes wood. I think with a good coat of epoxy and paint, it will be fine. It will spend most of it life under cover, either in my basement or shelved in the back of the hangar. The only time it will get wet is when it's being paddled.

    I wish there was a way to get away from the $150 worth of epoxy and fiberglass, though, but I don't see any away around that. I don't need to buy that until after I have cut the wood and stitched it into the shape of the canoe, so at least I will be sure that the low cost wood will work before I have to spend any serious money on it.

    I looked at yesterdays weather as the perfect excuse (as if one was needed) to watch a full day's worth of football. I might be braver if I had a nosewheel, but then again, I might not!