Let me begin by explaining why
I’ve built this boat. Weather permitting, my wife and I
enjoy paddling every morning. She paddles a Hornbeck, very light
and attractive. I paddle my L’il
Kate. Two problems have arisen; the most important
is that she would be more comfortable sitting in a raised position
for easier entry and exit. The second issue is that I want her
in one of my boats.
I’m a big fan of Selway-Fisher
designed boats and recently found the Baby Raven at 12’
and approximately 35lbs as the answer to my problem. The only
question was the feasibility of paddling this boat with a 250cm
double paddle. An e-mail to Paul came back promptly with a positive
Marine ply is difficult to come
by to say nothing of the expense. Since I wasn’t going to
leave this boat in the water and would do glass and epoxy on the
exterior and epoxy and tape on the interior, I decided to go with
1/4” Luan. My local lumberyard had pretty decent looking
stuff for $8.50 a sheet, so into the back of the pickup went 4
I began by squaring up the 4 sheets,
screwing them together and drawing out the panels. Using my curved
aluminum-cutting guide I began to cut. The Luan isn’t bad
but I must admit that I was spoiled by my previous use of okume.
The Luan eats up saber saw blades and splinters quite easily,
but has turned out to be a more pleasing material than I expected.
Construction is straightforward
stitch and glue with no surprises. I have not been a very effective
maker of scarfs for joining panels and butt blocks don’t
appeal to my esthetic sense, so I have been using fiberglass tape.
I used 2” 6oz tape in this case, and it was ok for the side
panels, but I reinforced the center section with 3mm ply extending
12” (305mm) on either side of the bottom center seam. 4”
tape would have been better.
You might note that I use plastic
wire ties in place of wire. I got tired of being punctured by
wire when walking around the boat. The warning here is that plastic
ties do not remove easily when epoxied so stay away from the ties
when doing seams. Pull the ties and then fill in the gaps. Another
thing I do is to epoxy the seams as I put in each panel. Before
the epoxy sets I spray acetone along the seams and quickly wipe
off excess epoxy. It makes for a much neater job and saves lots
of sanding. A mask is definitely desirable as the acetone fumes
are not pleasant, at least to me. After all the seams were epoxied
from the inside of the boat and set up, I then pulled the ties,
filled in the openings left by the ties, then turned the boat
over and carefully filled all the exterior seams. A rough sanding
of the exterior, a coat of epoxy sealer followed by glassing the
hull with 6oz fiberglass, and the exterior was sealed and ready
for the keel and paint. The interior was epoxy sealed with 2”
fiberglass tape added to the seams. Gunwales were installed in
and out. A seat was added per the plans. Another sanding of the
exterior followed by primer and a quick coat of color, orange
picked by my wife, and I could no longer resist the temptation
to put it on the water.
The weather in the northeast has
been horrible but a little rain could not prevent me from giving
the Baby Raven a try on the water. It was great, very stable,
tracked well and the 250cm double paddle was perfect. Breast hooks
have been cut and will be installed before final finishing. The
boat is a bit heavy for my taste (45lbs) so I’ll be sparing
with the balance of the painting. Renee should love this boat
with its stability and ease of entry and exit, but unlike her
Hornbeck she won’t be able to carry it to the waters edge.
A small price to pay to paddle a boat built by a loving husband.
I’m tempted to build another
Baby Raven with some modifications. For starters I’d use
4mm rotary cut or marine okume. I’d tape seams in and out
with 3” tape, seal with thinned epoxy and, after careful
sanding, would varnish rather than paint and prime. I forgot the
most important mod and that would be to continue to reinforce
the center seam.
The Baby Raven is now finished
except for final painting and Renee has given it her stamp of
approval. I was a touch nervous on her first try because it was
a bit windy, but all went well. I still helped her in and out,
but the next day we went for a much longer paddle, and I got to
talking homemade canoes with a fellow out in the middle of the
lake. Renee got impatient and paddled to shore and got out all
by herself making this canoe an unqualified success.
As you can see from the photos
of the completed canoe, it has been decorated in a feminine motif
complete with daffodils, stars and moons.