A Difficult Day
Today was going to be a difficult day, even before it started. Last night a visiting teacher (Colin) pointed out a mis-placed deck beam; fixing this required cutting that beam out, repositioning, resizing, and reattaching it. The beam had to move because it defines the rear of the cockpit; not moving it meant two inches less space to enter and exit my Baidarka… which makes a huge difference. That’s part of the draw for me – I’m building a boat that’s designed specifically to my dimensions and need. A bespoke boat. So I started my day cutting out a piece I attached three days ago.
This being the first boat I’ve ever built, I’m not the fastest in the shop – and I fell way behind. Thankfully, Colin was still around – he helped out with advice and by resizing the beam. Resizing because the gunnels are both curved, so moving the cross beam back and forth requires either changing the gunnel curves to fit the beam (screwing with the mechanics of the entire boat), or changing the beam to fit the curve. Another bit of luck: the beam moved further from the center, meaning the necessary change was a reduction in length (rather than starting over with a new piece of wood).
Colin was up from Portland grabbing enough parts for two Baidarkas – he uses them in his class (he’s a math teacher at Edison High School in Portland) to sneak math, physics, and a zillion other skills into a fun project. You can see him launching a student in a completed Baidarka in their brochure, at the bottom right of the second page. Edison specializes in helping kids with ADD and ADHD – which I also must manage. Can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I’d attended a high school like that; I’m SO envious of those kids!
Turning the Other Cheek
Somewhat back on track, I trimmed the stringers to merge smoothly with the cheeks (have I mentioned how much I enjoy the fact that my boat has cheeks?!?). Pretty easy with the Japanese back saw, as Colin and Corey had marked and started the cuts for me (it’s a diagonal cut on the unsupported end of a small, round dowel that’s tied on to a complex curve at about 35 points, so… “delicate” understates the situation).
We want a sharp nose cutting through the water, gradually expanding to the full width of the vessel, then tapering back to the stern. Cutting the stringers so that they flow from the cheeks accomplishes this at the bow. This is what we’re going for:
As I can’t hold them like this all the time, they’re lashed in place.
We also trimmed the stringers in the back for a softer edge on the skin as it directs water to the stern. This creates the “twin wake vortices” Corey described back in the introduction as delaying the formation of a bow wake further down the keel. I questioned him again about this, and still can’t quite understand (or explain) how it works.
Three Functional Improvements
We installed three additional elements today, all of which make the Baidarka a better and more functional vessel.
First, foot pegs. Nothing unusual here, pretty much every kayak has them. But they’re so important in providing leverage (for a better paddling stroke), I’m positive they must have been featured on the original Baidarkas. I wonder what the Aleuts used for foot pegs? Today we inserted a couple of very light, plastic models which screwed in easily.
Second, gear rails. These are three long, thin pieces of wood running along the inside-bottom of the boat. As I push my gear up into the bow or stern of the hull, the rails both protect the ribs and lashings from my gear (drinking water, dry bags, seal carcass, whatever), and my gear (backpack, foul weather gear, whale harpoons, whatever) from scraping or tearing against the ribs. They do this by creating a smooth, elevated (above the ribs) rail along which my gear (cooking equipment, spare paddle, portable igloo, whatever) slides.
But what’s so brilliant about the rails is the notches. We carved out a small, shallow notch for each lashing.
Then the twine lashes sat in those grooves, so what attached the rails to the hull didn’t itself cause problems; nothing to catch-on above the surface of the rails. Easier on the boat, easier on the gear! Lovely and elegant.
Third, a pulley. I don’t have a picture, so imagine this: I installed a very small pulley (about as long as a quarter) just behind the nose, as far forward in the hull as possible. Running a rope between the pulley and the cockpit allows me to drag my inflatable all the way forward into the far reaches of my Baidarka, where I wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.
Such a brilliant, simple solution to a problem I hadn’t previously realized existed.
I write this blog assuming that nobody follows it, and in the hopes that it won’t be used against me in court. Today I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a few people actually read my postings! One is a cousin who – and you’d have to know her to understand why this is not unusual – noted that the body metaphor (which appears on Day 3 and Day 4) is a cross-cultural phenomenon, and cited the names of the theorists and the book which develops this idea. I started to research the author’s Wikipedia page and had to stop at:
Such schemata are image-like in that they are analogic neural activation patterns which preserve the topological contours of perceptual experience as a cohesive whole.
…because that’s exactly what I was saying. Possibly.
Anyway, if you’re reading this and have any questions you’d like clarified or posed to Corey, post them in the Comments section (bottom of this page) before my project is completed, next Wednesday or Thursday (assuming I don’t have to remove and re-position any more parts).