Thursday, February 19, 2009

Off my Trolley

The kayak trolley has been providing me with lots of headaches, and the kayak with lots of scratches.

The Mk I version was hopeless, so I angled the bunks a bit to provide the Mk II, which also shed its load on the way to the beach.  The photo shows the more elaborate Mk III with wide, raised bunks set further forward on the boat to help with balance, and the bungee cords replaced by nylon cam-lock straps.  This also failed while taking the kayak down for a quick paddle out to 'VESPER', a schooner moored about 1 km away and which I originally suspected to be a remnant of New Zealand's fleet of trading scows.  I know now that it's not a true scow, but need to research a little more to see if there is any link at all to the scows of old.  Either way, I ended up carrying the kayak back, along with the trolley and was nearly late for a night out as a result.

The Mk IV trolley is sitting in the garage waiting to be tested, but as I write the rain is torrential and a gale warning is in force, so it will have to wait in the garage a little longer.

My building and boating activities have been somewhat curtailed of late.  For the last 4 weeks I've been acting as full time tour guide to my parents, over on a visit from the UK.  I did manage to get away yesterday evening however, to take part in a race on board my friend and neighbour's Beale 33' cruiser/racer.  Winds were up 15 - 20 knots and with only two of us on board, it was quite exciting.  We didn't do well, but that was mainly down to confusion at the start when the skipper accidentally reset his stop watch and so we had only the 1 minute gun to go by, crossing the start over 30 seconds late.  I learned a lot during the race though, and also managed to use some of what I've read over the past few months, all good practice for when I build my own boat.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saltier by the Day

I think I'm turning into an antipodean Gavin Atkin. For those few of you who read these pages and don't know who Gavin is, then I suggest you get over to immediately.

I must admit that I like the idea of not only building my own boat, but also designing its lines. And through reading Gavin's blog, I've developed a respect and increasing interest in older boats and ships.

While I was paddling round the upper Waitemata Harbour at the weekend, I was fascinated by the many boats I saw moored up along the way. One of these I suspected to be a converted sailing scow, a commercial vessel from 100 years ago, essential in the development of Auckland as a city.

Today I went with my parents to the National Maritime Museum. We took a look at the racing boats and sponsor's yachts and launches, here in town for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series and then headed for the museum. They wanted to potter around and enjoy the waterfront, but I was on a mission.

I took lots of notes and photographs of the exhibits in the Hawaiki hall, especially of this Kiribati canoe. It is a proa, that is it does not tack but shunts, the outrigger stays to windward and the lower point of the sail is moved to the other end of the boat and it 'reverses'. This is in fact a western prejudiced way to think of it, for in this type of boat the axis of symmetry is shifted 90 degrees and there is no front or back, but a windward and leeward. Anyway, I want to build one so I thought I'd examine an original rather than use plans of a western interpretation.

I also wanted to check out the Ted Ashby, one of the few remaining sailing scows still working for a living, albeit as a harbour cruise distraction for the paying visitors to the museum.

Between the Pacific craft in the Hawaiki hall and the quay where the Ted Ashby and other vessels are moored, I came across this beautiful rowing boat. It spent its working life in the Auckland Islands, 300 km south of the main New Zealand land masses. It appears to never have been used though. It was stationed on the islands along with cashes of food and clothes in case of ship wrecks.

I intend to deliver more on each of these vessels. I'll digest my notes and try and define the critical forms, structures and mechanisms of the sailing canoe, determine whether the boat I sighted was indeed an original scow (with the help of a volunteer and model maker at the museum) and publish more photographs and details of the boat and the castaway station on the Auckland Islands.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Sea Trials

After the launch I went away for a week to the Coromandel.  While there we (me, my parents, partner and son) went on a sailing excursion that I highly recommend to anyone in the area.

The day after I got back I went out for a quiet paddle.  The boat seemed to be moving well so I continued across the entrance of Island Bay and carried on up the west coast of the North Shore until I got to Beach Haven point.  I then made a bold move across the harbour to the boat ramp used to beach Sunderland and Catalina flying boats at the old Hobsonville airfield.  I then tried to cross diagonally back over before hugging the coast again for the last couple of bays, but the boat was catching so much wind I ended up straight-lining the route to the home beach.

I think I'd like to fit a rudder to help steer the boat while I paddle a steady rhythm.  Instead, I was making 3-4 strokes on one side for each stroke on the other to compensate for the wind.  Towards the end of the trip the sea got quite choppy and a bit of water was coming in, so that spray deck is also looking quite essential.  I've now dismantled part of the trolley.  It needs the bunks to be properly aligned with the angles of the hull, and in future I'll secure it to the kayak with some nylon cam-lock straps instead of bungee cords.