Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Running Strakes

I'm unsure as to what the correct name is for these parts, runners, strakes, false keel and bilge strakes, whatever. The point of them is to protect the thin-skinned kayak bottom from hidden nasties when launching and beaching. This is especially required since the beach most local to me is covered in oyster shells just below the high tide level.

The plans call for simple bevelling of the ends to provide a bit of streamlining and to please the eye a little more than a square-ended piece of wood. I went to town a bit while shaping the centre runner at the weekend, and had more fun with the two bilge runners.

To get them looking right, I only tapered their outer edges, leaving a straight line on the inner edge to run parallel to the longer centre runner. I paired up the pieces and planed them together to ensure good symmetry. Before stopping for dinner I managed to screw them temporarily in place, using a small offcut to get a constant distance from the centre piece. All the screws were placed from the inside, except on the aft ends of the bilge runners where the wood was too thin, so a round-headed screw and washer was used to hold down the end against the considerable curve of this part of the hull.

After dinner I went back to the garage and unscrewed the pieces to epoxy them on. The mix I used to fix the runners was a good thick microfibre blend. I glued and screwed each part back on to the boat before making some mixes of filler, part microfibre and part micro spheres, to fill any gaps between the edges of the runners and the hull. I also ran a tiny fillet against each edge to improve the look. By this time is was very dark, so sorry the photos are so glary, all were done by flash. I discovered, working at dusk in a lit garage, a benefit of the all-over Tyvek suit is it gives the mosquitoes very little bare skin to bite.

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