maiden voyage of the 6-hour sailing canoe I kept jabbering about
- -or- "Beginner's Luck"
The monsoon has ended and perfect weather befalls the SW USA. Warm with no
humidity, the air sucks the perspiration from the skin, making life
comfortable and preserving our homebuilt wooden boats. The hot, humid
monsoon ended just two days before the maiden launching of my 15'
break-apart pirogue based on the 6-hour canoe plan (I widened the beam a
little), the first of two identical boats I hope to lash into a catamaran.
Total time to build: don't ask. It was like a work week or more.
The high-aspect short-headed lugsail I cut from the foot of a 7.5 oz dacron
gaffsail was exceptionally well-balanced considering how little concern I
put into researching a precise mast placement and rake. Beyond the hull plan
of the 6-hour canoe, it was done by eye, and in a somewhat excited rush.
Then, beyond stepping the mast, I only began to do any rigging on her after
our second day on this primitive looow budget trip we like to take to
Desertsea ( L.Powell) in the Arizona-Utah canyonlands. The paint was still
drying when we loaded her for the 6-day trip. But a dip of a leeward paddle
is all that is needed to offset the hoped-for weather helm as she points as
well as anything I hoped for... in a force 2 anyway. That's all we've gotten
The mating bulkheads (gusseted white oak-framed break-apart 1/2" mating
bulkheads) keep the biggest part of the boat under ~35 lbs, lending itself
to portage and lashing up quickly on the plywood toneau cover of my truck,
permitting the truck bed space to still be used through the tailgate,
including as camping bunks my daughter and I call "the coffin". Any leaking
through the bolts (3 below waterline) at the mating bulkheads was
The boat is mostly 1/4" exterior ply and polyester resin. All the metal
fastenings, found only at stems, mating bulkheads and mast step, are 316
stainless. Mating bulkheads are 1" thick when mated. There are 6x1" red oak
thwarts fore and aft. There's a bulkhead at the mast thwart. There's a
foredeck with a V-shaped oak splash rail on top, which was needed. Epoxy was
used on chines, thwarts, and stems, as was glass cloth. Epoxy sealed the
mast and all plywood edges. Epoxy also attached the interchangeable mast
step, bulkheads (3) and the foredeck, but there are no shear clamps, chine
logs or other blocking except the stems. The chines are strengthened instead
with polyester resin fillets thickened with diatomaceous earth (from your
pool supplies section), portland cement and wheat flour. And/or epoxy. You
see, the chine fillets are a mish-mash of whatever I had leftover in the
bottom of the mixing pan that day, slowly completing the chine fillets and
saving money by not wasting leftovers.
I wouldn't say I'd do anything different in the design and build except: 1.)
gotta raise freeboard at midships for brisk airs 2.) not allow even a couple
minutes' rain to fall on her until the ply is sealed, as they delaminate!
3.) put on a lighter yard! I made an impromptu yard out of routered seasoned
Doug fir (same as the mast), which I cut fireside in the wilderness with a
chisel and a rock. Though it was only 1.5x1.5", and tho' it always missed
us when we let loose the halyard, it came down so intently that it came to
be called the "head-bonker".