We hope not, since we’re clearly gifted with the art of only focusing on one project at a time.
In this video, I attempt to demonstrate exactly what we’ve been focusing on (instead of posting to the blog…and yes, I feel very guilty, but that doesn’t seem to make the posts magically appear…foible of Me.)
What is that crazy couple doing building a boat in the desert??
From previous post:
The high desert of the Southwestern United States is not a particularly popular place for boat building. With a variety of cactus, the occasional tumbleweed, and roads like the Santa Fe Trail, a few visitors even told us that it was easier for them to imagine Billy the Kid on the main plaza than our little boat taking shape.
As it turns out there’s not a lot of demand in New Mexico for the specific marine-grade materials we required either. It took a lot of work to find them, and in the end we had most of them shipped in from around the country. Marine plywood from California. Epoxy from Florida.
Wilber was created by a process known as ‘stitch and glue.’ In short, panels of plywood are cut out to particular shapes, the panels are bent and twisted so edges line up and they get ‘stitched’ together with copper wire or zip ties.
Alignment gets checked to ensure the boat is straight and true, then the joints get ‘glued’ with epoxy, filler and fiberglass. The result is an exceptionally strong, yet light weight body.
Just when you think you’re almost finished, many extremely tedious hours are then spent surface finishing and painting. In the end a beautiful, stylish boat is has been created. It sits patiently, calling you to take it to the water and promising to carry you to any horizon you desire.
*You’ll note in these photos that Wilber was not created in a standard workshop nor backyard. We began him outdoors, but the epoxy requires 15.5C (60F) to set. As the autumn temperature dropped we were forced to move him indoors. When I say indoors, I should probably clarify at this point, that indoors means the spare bedroom at my Mum and Dad-in-law’s house…except for the week we had to keep it in the living room! (Thank you mummy and daddy.)
**You’ll also note that Wilber, being 21’ long, sticks out of the bedroom door into the hallway. Originally he was meant to be a double-canoe catamaran, but since we could only build one hull (canoe) at a time, logistics dictated he either became an outrigger canoe, or we had to spend nearly double the time building him. In the interest of getting the Sea of Cortez as quickly as possible, we opted for the outrigger canoe!
The Tahiti Wayfarer hull shape is derived from traditional dug-out canoes from Tahiti and Samoa, but built in stitch & glue ply/epoxy. All other components of the boat are constructed from materials found in nature. Crossbeams and spars are made from small trees and saplings with natural forks for jaws, stripped of bark and sculpturally finished, all parts are lashed together.
As she is likely to be used in the open sea she has a self-draining floor (large enough to sleep on) and watertight bow and stern compartments. This hull shape has only 8″ – 20cm draft; her lateral resistance comes from a fine forefoot combined with the area of the steering-paddle/side-rudder.
She can be built as a Double Canoe with two same-sized hulls and a platform big enough to erect a two man tent on, or as an Outrigger Canoe using just one hull and a light weight log as outrigger float. She is rigged with a crab claw sail, using rope standing rigging. Tahiti Wayfarer with her very shallow draft is a perfect boat for exploring, a great boat for use by scouts and youth groups or to be taken on a ‘Raid’. Auxiliary propulsion is by paddle, oars or Yuloh.
By self-making everything: natural spars, sails and even hand carved deadeye blocks, her building cost is very low (the Plans give all details). This is a boat that needs NO hardware! The aim of the Wharram new Ethnic Design range is to study and understand by practical experience aspects of the design of canoe form craft from the ancient sailing world.
Still curious about what it takes to turn plywood into a floating work of art? That’s coming up next!…