Newbie - Hello Everyone

Discussion in 'Boat and Accessory Building' started by rookiebuilder, May 30, 2009.

  1. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    I just joined this forum and this is my first post. I have been wanting to build a kayak for around ten years (ever since my first paddle in Tomales Bay). I am a mechanical engineer and I have a small machine shop so I usually build what I design and vise-verse.

    Back then I was looking at the Guillemot stitch-n-glue. I input the basic geometry into the computer and have since changed things a bit. (My avatar is a rendering of the result but I don't know if it will display...). After modeling a new shape, I wrote some software to unwrap the panels to a flat plane and make a pattern.

    It seems that life tends to throw all kinds of distractions at me so I haven't gotten any further along. I have had ideas of building it at my mom's on Whidbey Island as she lives 100 yards from the water. I kinda think I'll be much more likely to use it there (I live in northern California, not nearly as close to a body of water). I can see that this is a place that may help me keep my priorities straight (if you know what I mean).:wink:

    Just in the few minutes I've lurked, I can see this can help me find materials and fittings that could save me time and money.

    I haven't yet decided how big to make it though. I am considering a triple because of it's versatility. (I'd like to be able to paddle by myself or with a friend). I am 6'3" and 195 lbs so a single would be a decent size already. Your input is welcome.
     
  2. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Welcome! I can't offer any building advice, but I do like to follow along with the builds going on here.

    Priority #1: Move closer to the water! :wink:
     
  3. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    Yeah! Another mechanical engineer! I specialized in mechanical design but I've been doing project management for the last 20 years. Right now I'm in the middle of a Pygmy "Coho" build; it's my first "build" since I made a rather crude SOF when I was in high school. At 6'4 & 215 I can say that the Pygmy cockpit is plenty big enough (I finally have the boat to the point where I've been able to test getting in and out).

    My wife (she's 6') and I have tried doubles but found that they just weren't for us: we both much prefer the flexibility and manoeverability of singles. The only reason we'd build a double (and it would have to be one with a large hatch in the middle) would be so that we could take our dog along; a younger couple might wish to be able to take young children. You'd think we'd like a double after canoeing for the last 15+ years however.... :wink: we have learned to kind of like our independance too. But what works for us might not work for you. I will have it finished in time for this year's summer vacation...three weeks on Kootenay Lake in BC and that will be the test that will tell me if I am going to build a second Coho, a Coho HV, or a different model next.

    Strictly from a size persepective I can say that for us longer legged folk one needs to be careful about cockpit dimensions: jamming the shins against the front lip when trying to get in or out just takes a lot of fun out of kayaking. The Pygmy's 33" length is just about right for me, anything smaller would be "close" or "no good". Try some different stock boats and see what works (and what doesn't work); then measure up the L x W and go with that.
     
  4. skiffrace

    skiffrace Paddler

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    Think long and hard before doing the design on your own.

    Hull design is science, with 95% percent of variables known and well understood. Well, the remaining 5% is not, and that's where the art factor comes in.

    Go ahead and browse some of the other kayak fora. They are littered with posts that go along these lines:
    "I designed my own boat and am in the process of building it"[how proud!]
    "Build is going well"
    "Just finished, and about to go on maiden voyage"
    "She paddles great"
    [period of silence]
    "Does anybody know how to {re size cockpit | increase stability | reduce weather-cocking | increase speed ...???}
    "Hello everybody. I am about to start my second boat, Guillemot {Pygmy,CLC etc.}

    All of the kit builders say the same thing about their process: they start with blueprints, build a few prototypes, test=>modify=>test... and only then release the boat to public.
    And they design hulls for living, some of them like John Lockwood of Pygmy or Nick Shade of Guillemot for decades now.

    Now, if you do follow some good existing design quite closely, your design may come out OK, but then, why not just buy and use the existing design? Not to mention that you may infringe on somebody's intellectual property and in your heart of hearts you'll always know you did not truly design this boat.
     
  5. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    GOOD CALL!! :wink:

    Yes, I have noticed this. Good idea to measure existing boats.

    I am aware of the challenges and nuances of designing a boat. This is exactly why I started with an existing set of plans. I am not unfamiliar with fluid dynamics (see http://www.hawkjet.com to get a glimpse of one of my other distractions).

    The hull is essentially unchanged below the water. I modified the deck line to give me more room for my legs and gear. I also smoothed some of the lines to fix some of the shortcomings that Nick cautions others about the design.

    If everyone lived by the question "why not just buy and use the existing design?" we would have no innovation. I am an innovator (again see http://www.hawkjet.com). I appreciate that not everyone is.

    I have been in communication with Nick Shade and showed him what I did. His plans are free so I didn't steal them. I am not selling anything so I'm not infringing on anything. If I did plan to sell something, I'd make sure Nick was part of it.

    I really don't get this "heart of hearts" thing. I'm not trying to impress myself nor anyone else. Just as anyone that builds a kit will personalize the boat for their use, I have personalized Nicks plans.

    I understand your concern about changing things. I agree that it is good advice for the average person so thank you. I am not the average person. I learned long ago that there are certain environments that will surprise you about the skill and expertise of people. This is one of those environments. Yes there are also those that shouldn't be climbing out on the skinny branches. Happily, I am accustomed to skinny branches. :wink:
     
  6. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    "Behold the lowly turtle, for he does not make progress unless he sticks his neck out". (mantra for engineers). :D
     
  7. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    Yes, I now really get your first comment: Yeah! another mechanical engineer.... :cool
     
  8. skiffrace

    skiffrace Paddler

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    yes, but also

    "fools rush in where angels fear to tread"

    You have the knowledge base that allows you to tinker with concepts out of reach for most. BTW, good luck on the HawkJet project! (did you read one of the recent issues of Wired magazine: an article about plane design not far off from yours)

    Absolutely! YES!!! However...
    ...stay within your area of expertise. In order to make a breakthrough, you need to have 100% of the domain knowledge, and build on top of that.
    What's your domain? Ships? Then you are unlikely to revolutionize train design. Artificial Intelligence? Nobel prize in biology is not in your future.

    I work as a software architect and a co-authored a patent in networked federated search field. If you ask me to write a BIOS program, I could do it, but would spend much more effort and result would be inferior vs. the BIOS assembler expert.
    Most importantly, why should I waste my time on something that is not my strong point? The time I can use to push further the outer frontiers my my domain.

    OK, back to the boats. Since this is just a hobby, sure, why not tinker with it!
    I guess the key difference in our thinking is the scarce resource (our time) allocation cost/benefit analysis, and the resulting decisions.
     
  9. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    Sorry Skiffrace, i must disagree.
    my chosen profession is Metal Work. i took up boat building as a diversion, and taught myself to work with wood and fiberglass. i then got hold of a software boat design program and designed a kayak, and then built it. i had some help with learning how to work the program, but the kayak design is my own. it's a very successful kayak, now owned by Sushiy. i'm currently working on a project where the medium is light-weight cloth, the tools are scissors and a sewing machine. the project is a tent. i can also fix cars, outboards, chainsaws, lawnmowers.

    the point is; if we stay only with what we know, we do not grow and learn. we would be no better than pre-programed artificial intelligence.

    "any day that we don't learn something is a wasted day."

    Daren.......
     
  10. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    You probably won't benefit as much as you'd think from a triple -- paddling a boat that size by yourself is a real workout. I used to have a double that I would occasionally paddle solo by adding balast to the bow (containers of water) for trim -- no problem paddling if conditions were calm but throw a headwind and some waves into the mix and the larger kayak becomes a huge handful.

    My recommendation if you want a friend to paddle along with you, is to build two boats -- either two singles or a single and a double.

    The HawkJet is awesome -- very sexy and fun looking airplane.

    *****
     
  11. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    Maybe I'm different. I know when "I know just enough to be dangerous". As a result, I seek experts when I am in over my head, I research areas I am weak and therefore I am self taught in my expertise(s) (and I am very good at what I do). :shock:

    So I guess you could say, I don't "rush in..."

    I missed that, do you know the aircraft name? (I probably have seen it but you never know...)

    Yes, but what I have done is SPEND that extra time and become an EXPERT so it is not inferior (The HawkJET is an example). I understand that one also has to be responsible for their schedule and attempt to be cognizant of how long it may take, etc.

    As I say, I am aware of your cautions and have taken them into consideration. Others reading this thread may not be aware of the complexities, so in general you provide good council. :wink:
     
  12. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    Yeah, I've been thinking that too. I was hoping to hear differently but I suppose the handwriting is on the wall.

    THANKS!
     
  13. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    Hey Darren, it sounds like we have similar approaches. :lol: :wink:
     
  14. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    And I disagree here. I have seen (and been apart of) breakthroughs that were possible BECAUSE of the LACK of 100% domain knowledge. When you know how to do something, you just do it. When you don't know, you figure it out. You now have an opportunity to think "outside the box" (because you don't know what's inside anyway), and you invent something new.
     
  15. skiffrace

    skiffrace Paddler

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    Wired magazine January 2009
    The plane is called Icon A5
    http://www.iconaircraft.com/

    On the subject of kayak choice:
    I do not own or paddled a Guillemot, but have heard from multiple unrelated people (who did not own or built them either) that the Guillemots they tried were disappointing .
    1. The flagship Guillemot model does not want to go straight. The moment you stop paying attention, it starts in it's own direction.
    2. Turning is unpredictable. Initial lean turns the boat quickly but the increased lean angle has little effect.
    3. Low secondary stability. Guillemots have flat bottom == good primary stability. However, since they have little hull flare, lean a bit too much and you are swimming with little advance warning.
    If you insist on Guillemot brand, go with S&G Night Heron. They at least track straight (according to conventional wisdom)

    On a more general subject of boat reviews: I think that people who build their own boats (myself included) tend to be biased in favor of them. It is human nature: if you spend 100s of hours building this thing you are less likely to admit (even to yourself) that it has problems.
    So, don't ask Guillemot owner "how is your boat?". You can be 99% certain of the answer you'll get.
     
  16. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    I am familiar with this phenomenon, Thanks for the reminder! :wink:

    Thanks for the review and the link also (I'll have to check it out). Good feedback, I'll have to look into this further. :wink:
     
  17. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    looks to me like you are going to do fine. The image that you show of the S&G guillemot looks just great!

    I would differ with skiffraces comments about the guillemot even tho' i fit in the category of owning a s&g. But i do own a bunch of other yaks as well - and have paddled a few others also.

    firstly there are a whole pile of guillemot designs and while the tracking generalization may apply to some, it won't to others. And one of the others it typically does not apply to is the guillemot s&g which i have heard described as a tracker by quite a few (and is the reason i hacked the end of mine so it is not now a 'tracker').
    and so, just like there are airplanes with long tails and large fin area ahead of the rudder and vice versa, there are also kayaks that are set up along the same lines. And the hit isn't so great to add fin area to a kayak build - especially a design, or adjust where the cg is - or with an existing build to get out the pruning saw or alternately some wood with some glue.

    The basic point here is that if you are going to do a takeoff, you can adjust things to suit your needs - like many have done on the less tracking guillemots - it is a simple addition of a small strip along the rear of the existing yak. Usually this is done by newbies to paddling, but of course is applicable to those who want tracking in any case - say those who need directionaly stability taking pictures.

    I can't comment a lot on other guillemots (maybe Borre can if he's reading), but the s&g turns more, the more you lean it - there is no unpredicability in this - and I would guess the strip guillemot, the night heron strip (which I've paddled a bit) and s&g and the petrel would all do the same.

    But the guillemot 'guillemot' (and also it's relative, the s&g) do have flattish bottoms with minimal side flare - related to whitewater boats - and so, like skiffrace says, do not have hi secondary stability. But you get benefits (aside from primary stability) which is why I picked the one I have from Daren N ( and made subsequent modifications).

    So if you have experience making designs, there won't be too much problem adding a bit of flare here, a bit of skeg there or taking out some rocker along there, etc etc.

    And if you get it a little wrong, a little sawing or gluing can do wonders.
    mick
     
  18. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    Thanks Mick!

    This makes some sense because a S&G is going to have hard chines.

    I looked more closely at my hull shape compared to the Guillemot. I have taken out some of the rocker and added some deadwood. This I understand will add directional stability as you suggest.

    Thanks to all for the comments. It is great to get word from so many perspectives.
     
  19. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

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    I vote for two singles over one double!!

    I like singles because;
    Talking side by side is more fun than talking to someone's back, or shouting back from bow seat.
    I can get help from buddy easily " Hey, can you take a look at this? I forgot what to do with this, camera,GPS, chart and compass"
    I don't have to ask him to go with me when I want to explore the cove a few hundred yards away from my camp.
    Most of all the skill development classes are for singles ( the boat, I mean). And it is a great way to hook up with the other kayakers.
    Noone within my club want to go in the double anymore. As your skill develop, you'll find singles are a lot more fun than a double. Just practicing those fancy strokes and rolling and even rescue is fun by itself.

    If you have your date as paddling buddy, you don't have to wait till you get out of the boat to hug and kiss her. And she will be a lot more impressed when you can "show her what to do" than "telling her what to do". In double, you have to tell her what to do a lot and can't show her what you can do much.

    If you build 2 kayaks, you can have 2 different type of kayaks, one for long touring tracker gear hauler, and one for day paddling heavyly rockered low volume fun boat.
     
  20. rookiebuilder

    rookiebuilder Paddler

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    WOW! Sushiy, those are compelling arguments! :shock:

    It looks like it will be a couple singles then. :wink: I was beginning to lean that way already, but you have tipped me over the edge.

    Also that means I can use my design as is and not have to go back and redo the deck (and size) for a twoholer. :lol: I have the panel shapes drawn in AutoCAD.

    Last night I started arranging the panels and parts on sheets of plywood (in the computer). I am thinking about using different woods to get different color panels, so I segregated the appropriate pieces to achieve that. I am currently using doorskins (3mm) and a thicker sheet of plywood for the bottom panels (5mm). The doorskins are 3'x7' and the plywood sheet is standard 4'x8'. This is where I am so far (the different colors represent the different color woods):
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, there is still room for more parts. I am reviewing the design to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

    I have a couple ideas on how to procede from here:
    1) Since I have these drawn full size, I can take the files to Kinko's and get full size plans printed.
    2) I can take the files to a guy across the street from work and have him cut them out on his CNC router.

    I'm leaning toward the latter. I now need to get a quote. :wink: