Baidarka Day 10

A Half Day 

Yesterday we coated the bottom of the boat (the hull) in urethane, and let it set overnight.  The urethane application process is entirely unpleasant – from the measuring and mixing of two incredibly sticky fluids to the hours of constant brushing and scraping.  Of course, it’s better than paddling across Puget Sound in a waterlogged boat.

The glossy result of all that effort was evident this morning…


…with a few things we could have done better.  Chiefly, staying even longer than we did, catching the drips as they slowly form (over the course of many minutes, even a half hour).  As the urethane cures, it becomes increasingly viscous until it finally hardens – but a viscous liquid is still a liquid, meaning drips and slumps can form – very slowly.

the boat has been right-sided in this picture, but the slump formed when it was upside down

Here’s a good example of that – the urethane slid down the gunnel in an uneven flow, creating this line.  Not that most people would notice it, but still, we’re going for a smooth, even finish on all that hard work.

Then there are the flaws which are harder to avoid.

Actually, I’m thrilled that my Baidarka killed a mosquito. Is that bad?


With the hull coated, it’s time to flip the Baidarka over and continue.

notice the matte top deck (the lower part of the boat, in this picture) which is uncoated


Top Deck

Today was a half day of work, applying the urethane to the top deck.  More mixing, more sticky hands and gloves.  More help from Joe, thankfully!


I was on “drip duty” which entails constantly sighting down the length of the boat, looking for the forming drips and slumps of urethane, and brushing them away.  Plus a bit of brushing urethane into any small spots we missed . It’s not a complicated job, but it’s exhausting.


The coaming (the correct name for the wooden ring which forms the cockpit entrance) also got urethane, sealing everything up.

I just love the curve that it takes!


Until finally the whole top deck is well coated, and we can leave it to cure for another day.


With age and enough UV exposure, the urethane will tint to a “parchment” yellow color.  It’s not a wondeful look, but it’s not bad either.  Until then, I really enjoy the shiny white translucence that it has now.


There’s still a few parts to attach – a rope ring around the coaming (hold the skirt on) and some equipment lashes (optional, but very useful) – but the construction of my Baidarka is complete.  I’ll also go back to make a traditional wooden paddle (takes another half day, plus some curing time) – but that happens in a week or so.


Stepping Back

The Skin Boat School hides in a wooded section of Anacortes, WA, not far from Bowman Bay (where we tried out the various lengths and beams in the introduction), with only a couple main buildings.  There’s the workshop – a ‘temporary building’ which looks like a boatwright designed it.


There’s the log cabin, with the business on the ground floor and Corey’s home upstairs.  I slept in a lofted section downstairs, which was fun (and also very cold at night).

The logs, by the way, are all treated with his Pine Tar Boat Sauce – a mixture of his Tung Oil Sauce and a creosote-free pine tar.


Other students commuted, or brought a trailer, or slept in the Treehouse – another unheated space with a lofted sleeping area and a kitchen; so that’s pretty cool.  Also:  it’s a tree house!!

lots of Baidarka storage below, and did I mention it’s a treehouse?!?


It’s the stars that I really enjoyed – walking out of the workshop at night, or after making a dinner in the treehouse – I could look up and see zillions of stars, even the milky way.  Just like the original builders would have seen at night, without the light pollution of cities.  This time of year, it’s Casseopia and Cygnus, and (oddly enough) the Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb, and Altair) which shone clearest above the trees.  That was a wonderful way to end the day.

What an exhausting, amazing project!  Sadly, I don’t think I’ll get to actually try my Baidarka out on the water for another week or so.  On the other hand, I went into this to learn how, and experience the making of a traditional wooden skin boat – to me, having a boat to show for all my effort is just icing on the cake.  (Urethane on the skin?  There’s gotta be a better metaphor.)  But since I have it, I’m definitely using it.  Next chance I get to go kayaking with some friends, I’ll see how this vessel compares with the plastic version I paddled a few weeks ago.  I’ll be a more excited after some catch-up sleep, no doubt.

This item probably would have helped back when I started the Baidarka project (and the postings about the Baidarka project) – it’s an illustrated glossary of the Baidarka parts.

Links to earlier stages in this project – note that “Day 1″ was a step-by-step approach to the building process which I quickly abandoned, so it’s a bit dryer reading than the rest.  If anyone wants more detailed pictures of the building process, I have them, and can send them along in an email.


Baidarka Introduction

Baidarka Day 1

Baidarka Day 2

Baidarka Day 3

Baidarka Day 4

Baidarka Day 5



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