Building Wee Rob November 2015 (2)

Building Wee Rob November 2015 (2)

We’ve rather reached a point in the process now which means that the construction is pretty much finished, with the conspicuous exceptions of the deck and the cockpit coaming. I probably shan’t be able to do much about the former now until the Spring, basically because it’s too cold! Epoxy resin needs something close to 15C to go off properly, and unless we get some freakish weather that’s not going to be available for the next few months, and heating the garage isn’t practical. So we pause!

There’s stuff still to do though ….. I shall paint the interior using primer and Danboline (the latter being International’s bilge paint), and that needs only an ambient temperature of 5C. I can treat with Deks Olje my now complete Greenland paddle, and odd items such as the floorboards. I can also get cracking on the coaming, at least to the point of buying some Ash (I think) and ripping it into bending stock. Being kiln dried it will then need soaking for a week or so before steaming and bending into shape, then to await the thermometer and the epoxy.

I mentioned last time that one of the factors involved in the whole process is thinking ahead to the next stage, and indeed beyond, if the work is to progress. To take that to an extreme, I’ve begun thinking about the next boat! I have a great deal of respect for marine ply and epoxy in combination. I’ve used them many times now, and they work on the whole very reliably. I’m rather taken though with the possibility of building a kayak that uses neither! I have a copy of “Building the Greenland Kayak” by Christopher Cunningham, which details the build of a very traditional and sweetly shapely “skin on frame” kayak. The framework, traditionally driftwood but in my case probably a combination of WRCedar for the main frame and Ash for the bent ribs, is lashed together. Traditionally again that’s done with sinew, presumably extracted from the seals which are hunted in the kayak and whose skins are used to cover it (about 6 to a boat!). Fortunately for the local seals there are synthetic substitutes for both the sinew and the covering which I, obviously, intend to use.

I suspect that the finished product will not be a boat I can use – I might struggle even it get into it! It is par excellence a sea kayak, and the joy of its lashings are that they allow a measure of flex in the boat which means that it can work with the movement of the sea rather than resist it. Such flexibility is rather less of a requirement on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal! The framework though is just so beautiful and indeed sculptural that I really want to try and build one for it’s own sake – knowing incidentally that it will truly stretch my woodworking abilities, such as they are.

While that’s going on I can happily and reasonably comfortably I hope, paddle my “Wee Rob” on the flat waters of the canal system! Time alone will tell!

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