Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some pictures...

I can't believe what a busy summer it has been!  But... despite that I have been able to do some paddling in the SeaTour and sailing in the XCR.  Some pictures:

Sea Tour skin removal:

starting to come out of the skin for the first time

skin off!

skin rolled

First test of the sail:
no wind... but the sail looks nice!

beautiful sunset over Lake Macatawa

...and some sailing in the XCR:
loving the new Balough 5M sail

Sara up front where she loves watching for waves

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sea Tour 17 EXP

I've been falling behind with my blog posts, so I'll start by catching you up with my progress on my folding kayak.  I would gauge my progress at about 90% complete.  The frame and skin are complete, and I have had the boat out paddling a couple of times.  But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

The cockpit coaming:
The coaming rim is made of two sections of 1/2" aluminum, the left and right halves.  The rim is set above the skin, which is trimmed to match the inside of the rim.  Next, multiple strips of PVC are glued to the skin and wrapped around the rim.  This continues all the way around the rim with the front and back left unglued.  Here is a pic of the progress part of the way through:

The openings at front and back are to enable the removal of the skin for folding.  

That brings me to the next stage of construction, the deck zippers.  I plan to install a full length zipper in the rear deck and a partial zipper on the front deck.  These will allow removal of the skin as well as access to gear that is stored beyond my reach.

My final addition will be a Feathercraft K1 rudder.  The rudder and foot controls will be installed after I put in the deck zippers so that I have access to the interior of the boat.

In the meantime... here are some pictures of the boat in use:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Halfwhacker 2011

This past weekend, I participated in the "Halfwhacker" paddling event.  This event is the first half of the 150 mile Bushwhacker, and annual event sponsored by the Verlen Kruger Memorial.  The event begins in Lumberjack Park near Riverdale, MI on the Pine River.  Many of the paddlers, including myself, camped by the river on Friday night before the race.  We sat around a campfire swatting mosquitoes and telling paddling stories before finally heading to our tents.  On Saturday morning, we all enjoyed an excellent pancake (and sausage, ham, egg, etc...) breakfast provided by Lumberjack Park, what a great way to start the day!

After breakfast, I finished packing up my stuff and got the boat in the water to prepare for the start.  A new addition to the event this year was the Backwhacker, which is the Bushwhacker in reverse.  We had a great idea to start the Backwhackers downstream of the Bushwhackers, which meant we would have to pass each other after the gun went off.

It sounds confusing, but it was a lot of fun!  The first few miles went by quickly and the paddlers spread out.  We encountered the first deadfalls fairly soon.  The first few I could go over or under, but before long, I had to get out of the boat and drag around some large downed trees.  This pattern continued for about 30 miles, until the backwaters of the Alma Dam.

The first portage is around the Alma Dam:

The put-in on the other side of the dam was not very boat friendly:

Fortunately, a friend of a fellow paddler was nearby and helped me carry the boat down to the water.  The next few miles to the St Louis Dam were uneventful, I was very thankful that the deadfalls were finally gone!  The only "obstacles" were some fairly low bridges which required me to lean all the way back when passing beneath them.

I portaged around the St Louis dam quickly and continued downstream.  With the slightly greater current and lack of deadfalls, my speed was quite a bit faster than in the first half; I was able to keep the boat moving at about 5 to 6 mph for most of the duration.  A highlight was Carl Cole greeting me from the Magrudder Rd bridge.  Carl paddled the full Bushwhacker last year, but was only able to do the 10 mile Sprint this year.  He let me know where some of the other paddlers were and offered some encouragement.  A few miles later, I started to feel tired and was losing my energy.  I ate and drank something, but what really kicked me into gear was a Starbucks Doubleshot.  This provided the kick I needed to finish the push to the finish.  Finally at about 9:30, I stopped and turned on my headlight, a 2 D-cell LED Maglite, which worked very well.  I also had topo maps programmed into my GPS so I could anticipate the turns of the river, then pick them out with the light.  I only hit a couple of rocks...  Finally, at about 11:30pm I passed the Chippewa Nature Center River Overlook building.  I was really close!

The "finish line" was the canoe launch, which I knew was a little ways past the confluence of the Pine and Chippewa Rivers.  I picked my way very slowly down the right bank, but still almost missed it.  I pulled the boat up and took a picture of the final stats:

The next surprise was when my phone rang, it was Emily.  She had been watching my SPOT and decided to stay up and watch me finish.  We chatted for a while while, then decided it was time to sleep.  I set up my tent, turned over the boat and went to sleep after a long, exciting day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paddling in Holland

After becoming involved with the planning of the Verlen Kruger Memorial paddling events, I decided to participate in the "Halfwhacker" which is the first 75 downstream miles of the 150 mile Bushwhacker Challenge.  At first, I planned to paddle my SOF folding kayak, but Mark P. of Kruger Canoes very generously offered to let me borrow his Sea Wind for the trip.  I brought the Sea Wind home after last weeks Hugh Heward event, and I have been paddling it as often as possible since then.  My first trip out was a night-time paddle; I chased the sun to the west and got a couple of shots of De Zwaan before the sun went down:

I paddled back in the dark, which was fine except for the fish that kept swimming into the boat.  I could see them swimming just below the surface, and a few of them actually swam into the boat; weird.

I got out again this morning for a little while in Lake Macatawa.  It was nice paddling in the daylight, and also nice experiencing some wind and waves (well, boat wakes...) I paddled with my friend Dan who was paddling his SOF Sea Ranger.

It was a great outing on a beautiful day.  I can't wait to get out again!

Oh yeah... and I have not forgotten about my folding kayak.  I have the deck completed and I'll be working on the cockpit coaming next.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hugh Heward Speed Profile

Hugh Heward 25

This past Saturday, Emily and I participated in the 12th Annual Hugh Heward Challenge.  We paddled the 25 mile "Half Hugh" from Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge to the Verlen Kruger Memorial at Thompson Field in Portland, MI.  We had quite a bit of rain preceding the event, so the river was high; not quite at flood stage, but it was really moving!

We were again thankful for the "carspotting" services of Trailspotters of Michigan.  Using this fantastic service, I could drop the boat off in Grand Ledge, drive the trailer to the finish in Portland, and Trailspotters drives me back to Grand Ledge.  The only issue was that Emily had to wait around for a while in Grand Ledge and got kind of chilly (it was about 45 degrees).  A few boats left while I was carspotting; Mike Smith among them:

 Here are a couple shots of the water coming over the dam just above the launch point:

Some of the other boats at Grand Ledge:

We finally got on the water at about 9:50am.  The current below the dam was very strong, and I was not used to paddling without the rudder.  We just barely got past the tree on the left bank; we took out a few branches, oops!  The paddling was very fast and fun!

Before we knew it, we were at Charlotte Bridge, the start of the 13 mile "Quarter Hugh"

At about 20 miles (5 miles to go) we were caught by a fellow Watertriber "Cliffjumps"  He was paddling the full 50 mile route, and was the first (and only) 50 miler to pass us:

We chatted a bit, and then he pushed on ahead.  There was no way we were going to keep up with him in his Epic 18X.  We finished about 20 minutes later, with a total paddling time of 3 hours, 38 minutes.  Our average speed was 6.8 mph and we didn't stop once.  Our only breaks were to munch some snacks and drink.  Our maximum speed was 9.1 mph below the last bridge, were I saw some kayaks catching up to us and was determined to not let them pass us!

The finish was fun, chatting with other paddlers, checking out the boats, and cheering for the finishers as they continued to arrive.  Some highlights:
Gabacouache, a 26ft Vouyager canoe

Jon Holmes and Larry "Coach" Hoff, veterans of the 2009 Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge
Verlen's "Old #10" racing canoe

A little something Mark P picked up out of the river...

The memorial statue of Verlen Kruger

Well, that's all for this year.  Emily and I are hoping to paddle the full 50 mile route next year, probably in our folding kayaks.  More to come on their progress in the next couple of days.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Skinning the Sea Tour 17 EXP

Finally posting again... it has been a while!  I have made some more progress in getting the "skin" installed.  Instead if seal skins (I couldn't find any locally...) I am using 18oz Vinyl Coated Polyester tarp material.  This fabric is REALLY tough!  First, it gets rolled out over the upside down hull.  It is cut to overlap the gunwales by a few inches all around, then small slits are cut every few inches around the perimeter.  Starting in the middle of the boat, the skin is laced tightly around the hull.

You can see in this picture how tough this fabric is.  The lacing is under a lot of tension, however the slits in the fabric do not tear; even cutting them with a razor knife was pretty hard!

One thing that can't be avoided with a skin of this type is wrinkles in the hull between the chines and the gunwales.  I knew that this would happen, and I tried my best to keep them to a minimum.  In the end, I decided to cut a couple of "darts" into the hull sides.  There are two per side, and they reduce the amount of wrinkles in the hull.

My first attempt at closing the bow was a mess, lots of wrinkles and loose fabric.  I cut off the first few inches of fabric and made a new bow section.  The second attempt was much better.  Last night, I finally finished the last dart and got the stern closed up.  I flipped the boat over and will do the deck skin next.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Progress on the folder

Over the past few days, I have almost completed the frame.  The stem took longer than expected because I ended up trying a couple of different methods.  My first attempt used a section of HDPE cut to fit the inside curve of the stem and screwed on.  I ended up abandoning this because the HDPE didn't fit well and didn't feel very secure when installed.  I decided to give the bent aluminum brackets a try.  These ended up being pretty easily manufactured using thin aluminum bar bent around a mandrel with my bench vice.  These were riveted in place, and the stringers were attached with nuts and bolts.

The stem / gunwale / deck stringer attachment was a little trickier, and I thought long and hard about how best to accomplish it.  I ended up making a slightly different version of the bracket where it was molded into a "U" shape.  The deck stringer went on the inside of the "U" and the gunwales are on either side.  See the pic below:

I am hoping that I will be able to leave the smaller diameter inserts bolted on permanently to the stem and stern, but I'm not sure I will be able to get the tubes assembled without unbolting at least one side.  We'll see...

After I got everything assembled, I took the frame off of the temporary supports and could not resist trying it on for size.  Feels great so far!