Monday, May 18, 2009
Lighter, Faster, Better
In 2005 I launched "My Escape", a 26ft long cedar strip rowing scull. It was the culmination of my dream to build a cedar strip boat and my determination to figure out a challenge, fueled by my love of rowing. I used technology taken from Nick Schade's book "The Strip-Built Sea Kayak" along with research on rowing sculls and rigging. I drew the sections and built the form work then launched into hundreds of hours of building, ripping up bad ideas, re-building and finally launching. I didn't know whether the boat would even float until it hit the water.
Happily, the boat DID float, and it even rowed in a straight line! At 65lbs it was about 20lbs overweight (like the owner!). Despite its flaws, of which there are a few but no too many, I have enjoyed many memorable episodes rowing "My Escape". But the desire to build another boat using the experience I gained on the first round has always been in the back of my mind. This year, I'm going for it.
The new boat is as yet un-named, but the vision is pretty clear. The big goal is lighter, lighter, lighter. Rather than conventional 1/4" cedar-strip with 6oz fibreglass I'm going with 1/8" cedar strip with 2.8oz carbon fiber inside and 3oz glass on the outside. Half the cloth, half the cedar. A rowing scull does not need the durability of a kayak, so I'm trading durability for weight.
The other big change is a much lighter inner structure. I WAY overestimated the amount of strength I needed to build into the boat to convert the force and action of rowing into forward movement. This was a huge challenge because it was a complete departure from kayak design. I overdid it. This time I am going for a rowing deck of Carbon Fiber, and I am going to rely on the rigidity of carbon fiber inside the boat to give it its stiffness. Ya...that should work.
The last big change will be in the artistic beauty of this boat. The last one was a prototype, and in the end I didn't want to spend too much time on fancy wood inlay if the boat wasn't going to even float! I cut a big corner there last time....but won't be this time.
So, the purpose of this blog is to show the steps of this venture, which I hope has a happy ending. I sure hope that fellow boat builders, rowers, or anyone who just wants to see if the risk will pay off enjoys tagging along this ride with me. Cheers!