25 August 2011

New boat

I've got a new boat.

Well, almost. It's not quite finished yet, but I should hopefully be paddling it by next weekend. but this is what I've been doing for the past month or so.

It's based on the traditional Greenland kayak design, what the Inuits built from driftwood and seal skins, except this one was built from materials I got from the local hardware store and a guy in the states.

The frame is made from Western Red Cedar, that I got from a local supplier, and Tasmanian oak and pine from Bunnings (the local hardware). The skin is ballistic nylon, the stuff they used to make bullet proof vests out of, I got that from a guy in the states that teaches people how to make traditional kayaks, or if you prefer, Qajaqs.

A couple of people have suggested to me that it would be easier to buy one. I've spent a bit under $500 in materials, and almost 80 hours labour so far. To buy a commercially made kayak, with the same performance, custom made to fit me, that I can lift with one hand and put on the roof rack of our Subaru, would cost probably four or five thousand dollars. Even taking into account the time I've spent building it, I'm ahead. And I have a few people that have been following the build asking me where can they place their orders.

It's been probably the most rewarding learning experience I've ever had, and I compare that to my university studies. It's combined learning new skills, planning the different stages of the project, overcoming problems, and getting back to basics. There are no nails or screws on the kayak, it's all held together with dowels and lashing, the same way kayaks have been made for thousands of years.

Anyway, the finished item won't be the same colour as in the pic above, I dyed it this morning, and it'll be given a few coats of poly-urethane (not really traditional) to make it waterproof, but I'll have the satisfaction of knowing I built it myself, and there are several other people that want me to build them one too.

Oh, and if you're used to paddling plastic kayaks, as I am, this one will weigh under 15kg when it's finished, that's for a 16 foot kayak. I'm used to lugging a 33kg kayak onto our roof rack. I can lift the Greenlander up with one hand and carry it on my shoulder.

If you're interested in the building process, I've been blogging about it here.

14 August 2011

Home made tools

The mixer tap in our kitchen has been leaking a bit just lately, so I finally got around to pulling it apart today to find out what size cartridge we need to fix it.

I've never fixed a mixer tap before, and when I went to pull it apart, I discovered the biggest spanner I had, at 1 inch, wasn't big enough. So I went down stairs, grabbed a couple of off cuts from the boat I'm building, and a bit of rope, and made a pipe wrench. It worked surprisingly well.

I was a bit disappointed that Donna didn't jump up and down and say how clever I was, but I guess she's just so used to my genius, that it wasn't any surprise to her.

If you're knew to this blog, the above is sarcasm, the bit about genius is anyway. I thought I was clever.