Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stitch then Glue

So, the stitch and glue technique was "an old hat" having this previous winter complete the Passagemaker Dinghy in the same fashion.

The hull of the Hybrid Night Heron is stitch and glue, so I did not think of it as a test of my skills.

For sure, it helped to have done it before, however, working with 18 foot long panels did add somewhat of new challenge.

Luckily, CLC provided external forms that greatly facilitated the process of achieving alignment and symmetry.

Making sure everything is in order - from all angles!

Glassing the inside!

Preparing the outside hull!

Glassing the outside hull!

So yes, the kayak gets a layer of fiber glass both inside and outside - thereby fully encasing both - the hull as well as the deck.
After additional coats of epoxy... filling in the weave.

In essence, this procedure (prescribed by CLC) makes these kayaks fiber glass boats with a wooden core.

Upon closer inspection - Yep! We seem to be good to go...

Now we'll have to sand inside and out to a completely mat appearance and then we'll be ready to set up the forms.

This is where things will begin to get exciting for me because the process will be new construction territory.

Before too long I'll have to talk about the Night Heron and the Blue Heron - yes, these are actual bird species...

While this design is called Night Heron, building it feels more like making a Blue Heron. Your assignment for next time: Find out why!

All of the boats designed by Nick Schade are named after birds in, on, above or by the water. I'll have to ask him at the next OkumeFest why he decided on Night Heron for this design...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Things First

My main debate over whether or not to build the Night Heron was related to space.

WHERE, oh where could I build this boat? 18 feet is a long stretch of space and you need sufficient room to walk around the ends of the boat so, 22 feet clear would be about the absolute minimum. Well, the sun room which served as my shop last winter was definitely not going to fit that bill.

Okay then, the only other space that did not require knocking down walls in my house was the garage.

Alright, now that we have that solved, this being a "winter project" whose car would be parked outside covered by ice and snow? Iris said: That's easy: YOURS! Oye! ...but I cannot deny her impeccable logic. Plus: my wife is always right!

Snow has not yet arrived in these parts but rain has been pouring in abundance. And this explains my being somewhat premature with my "winter project".

The manual recommends building a sturdy 4' x 16' working platform. Had to give that some thought before coming up with a way of joining two 4x8 boards in a manner that there would be no sagging so that I could work on a perfectly level surface.

Once this was accomplished the project was ready to go.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Hybrid Night Heron It Is

I resolved to build a kayak as my second boat whilst waiting last December for my very first boat kit, the Passagemaker Dinghy, the building of which was chronicled on the In a Nutshell blog. Yep, that's right, I actually planned my second boat before building my first one.

Heck, it's all I could think of as I waited impatiently for the arrival of my first boat kit - for nearly a month. Let's just say that I was rather intoxicated by the keen excitement that I would be building several boats - if not more. And gosh, the catalog of the Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) company offered so many tempting options.  It was just a questions of which boat to build.

I was pretty sure that it would be a kayak simply because I had taken to paddling for several years already - on a 12-foot Pungo, a nice recreational kayak made by Wilderness Systems. I had bought the boat as a tender to my SJ21 but mostly I used it to explore the nooks and crannies of lakes and rivers in the region and it also proved to be a stable platform for birding around the water.

Bow-Detail of Dan Thaler's Hybrid Shearwater 16
My initial research on what type of kayak to build lead me to decide on the 17-foot Shearwater Hybrid as the most likely candidate. The hybrid option means that the bottom of the hull is constructed in the basic stitch and glue method whereas the deck (top) of the boat is strip-plank construction. CLC offers three shades of Cedar which allows for some creative designs.

This past spring I headed to the OkoumeFest which the Chesapeake Light Craft company hosts annually. Boat builders bring their most recent creations to the Chesapeake, talk shop, attend informative demonstrations, rub shoulders with star builders and designers and - last but not least - get to try out any of the boats offered by CLC. Speaking with Nick Schade about his perspective of his various designs was particularly valuable. With the latter foremost in mind, I climbed in to a number of Shearwater 17's and was thrilled with the superb performance of this design.

Paddling the Petrel - a fast water version of the Night Heron
Even so, there were other boats to try. And so I did - all along quite certain that I'd be building the Shearwater 17.  But then I took off in the somewhat more formidable Night Heron. I was initially intimidated by the sheer length (18') of this very slender hull (20"). But with a few strokes of  my paddles I realized that I sat in a totally amazing craft... smokin' - Wow! What can I say: Paddling passion was ignited!

Fast and efficient, the hull tracks well, is prone to surf on the smallest waves and carves a fast turn. That'll suit me just fine, thank you! Performance on the water aside, this boat is a magnificent design. Of course, the ultimate appearance is up to each building in as much as the deck requires a very personal touch.

By the way, an example of the designers personal construction of the Night Heron is in the permanent collection at the Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA). But let there be not mistake about it, this boat wants to be in the water.

On a account of an OkoumeFest special deal for attendees, the kit was ordered shortly after my visit to the OkoumeFest and has been stored in my garage - patiently awaiting its being brought to life on the seas.

Prior to getting started in earnest, a number of preparations were required.