Friday, June 8, 2012

OkoumeFest 2012

The OkoumeFest 2012 was another spectacular boat-builders happening. By now, the folks at CLC have it down pat - almost routine in accommodating a great number of visitors, it is really awe-inspiring! Everything happens with apparent ease.

Working in the logistics field by profession, I know that a major effort is involved and I appreciate how the CLC staff makes everyone feel right at home.

Chatting with Nick Schade in a sea of kayaks
Having attended the previous year, I knew I did not want to miss this one if I could help it!!!

Where else can you stand in a sea of kayaks while discussing the finer points of the prismatic coefficient of your kayak with designer Nick Schade?

Events began on Friday afternoon with a shop tour, presentations and demonstrations by Nick Schade, Eric Schade, John Harris and the CLC staff.

A fine cook-out with all the fixings concludes  the official program.

On Saturday morning all CLC demo boats are brought to the Matapeake State Park beach on Kent Island.

There you can paddle, sail, test, discuss and compare to your heart's content.

Testing the kayak trimaran
Nick and Eric Schade as well as John Harris and all of the CLC staff are on hand. All are gracious and will happily talk shop or go out for a paddle.

Many builders bring their own boats

and there is a lot of show and tell.

Everyone's handiwork is duly admired.

At one point during the day I had a chance to paddle together with Nick the 16.5 foot Mill Creek tandem kayak. This is a very different style of kayak... with very traditional looks, it offers a lot of versatility in use, including a sailing rig and the option of installing a sliding seat rowing unit.

The day concludes with awards for the best boats brought by builders.The Best In Show award went to an astonishing Hybrid Night Heron by a young architect.

His execution was virtually flawless. Pictures really cannot capture the level of perfection. Hats off!

Here is link to the official CLC OkoumeFest Recap Pictures.

Camping is available at the Park for those who wish to be there right from the get-go.

On this occasion I chose to avail myself of this opportunity and had a chance to admire the setting sun over the Chesapeake Bay.

My objectives for this time were first of all to meet in person Joey and my new friends at CLC and, of course, show them the fruits of my labor. - I did!

Obviously, I was also hoping to pick up lots of tips, tricks and inspiration for future builds. - Indeed, I did!

I also wanted to get a test sail on Pocketship which I was considering to build at some point IF I determined that it fully met my expected needs in terms of accommodations, performance and sailing characteristics. The Pocketship is no small feat in terms of building time and financial investment so I would need to be totally smitten.

In short, I decided that as perfect and beautiful as Pocketship is in many ways, it did not have "my name written on it". Sailing conditions were wonderful whilst aboard and Geoff, the attending skipper, let me helm and trim most of the time so that I got a great feel for the boat. This is an incredible versatile and seaworthy pocket cruiser that may fulfill many a sailor's most secret dreams.- Check!

Finally I was scouting for kayak designs I would want to build some day and specifically to decide on my next build - my next winter project as it were - a kayak for Iris. Unfortunately, an example of the microBootlegger was not on-hand, so I did  not have a chance to test the boat which esthetically speaking pleases me immensely. - Nada Check!

I know that I'll want to build a Petrel. That's for sure! But before I undertake that boat I'll want to develop more boat building skill and experience. I test paddled it last year but did not have the perspective then to appreciate the difference between the Night Heron and the Petrel. The Petrel is a 17 footer with a lot more rocker than the Night Heron. What the nimble-footed Petrel lacks in inherent speed (as compared to the 18' NH) it more than makes up in astonishing agility. This is a kayak for big water which will provide special thrills for experienced paddlers.

The Guillemot Expedition in middle with red bungees
Another boat I found absolutely amazing was the 19' Guillemot Expedition. I believe that the demo boat actually was one built by Nick Schade himself. What a ride!?

So, anyway - I have not decided yet on which boat to build for Iris... I have narrowed the field of options, the solo microBootlegger, the Great Auk 14 or most recently the Hybrid Shearwater Sport. All three are in the 14 foot range.

Paddling Dan Thaler's Great Auk 14
My friend Dan Thaler built a gorgeous 14' Auk which I paddled at the OkoumeFest. It is a very satisfying design. In flat water it'll be faster than either of the other two designs.

The microBootlegger on the other hand is strictly a recreational kayak that is said to track well with its almost canoe-shaped bottom. In terms of appearance, this design would be my first choice.

But then there is the Shearwater Sport which is an extremely versatile, stable and nimble kayak designed by Eric Schade (Nick's brother - boat design talent clearly runs in the family!) It is available in the hybrid format which allows for some boat building creativity. The other two designs are fully strip-plank designs and therefore would be a new, interesting challenge for me.

In due time the right choice will present itself, I trust.- Ha! - and as Joey suggested: quite possibly, any one of them would be the right choice. Nice!