Building A Boat - Page 10 - The Return Of The Snow Pea

boat104.jpgSeptember 2009: Owing to the conspiracy of a number of different factors in my life and circumstances, I'm ashamed to say that the Snow Pea languished in my garage not only for the winter of 2007, but for the whole year of 2008 and most of the summer of 2009.

However, this is about to be remedied...

I've cleared out a lot of the clutter that was preventing me from even taking down the boat from its hanging position, and more importantly, I've done some work to try to correct what I think is the major remaining flaw - directional stability.

The Problem

It might just be down to lack of familiarity with handling, but I did find it just a little difficult to keep the boat tracking in a straight line - the reasons for this are, I think, twofold:

  • A short hull, and with the upswept ends, an even shorter length in contact with the water
  • The outrigger - effectively increasing the width of the boat

A Proposed Remedy

boat101.jpgI'm going to add a long rudder - it will be a steering rudder, but I anticipate using it primarily in non-steering mode - that is, just to keep tracking straight

The rudder post is made from a sandwich of thick waterproof ply tongues, affixed to a reclaimed maple centre

boat102.jpgStrong vine eyes are driven into the maple to act as one half of the hinge mechanism

The counterpart vine eyes are driven into the stern post and the assembled mechanism is held together by a large bolt

boat103.jpgIt swings freely through almost 180 degrees. Later on, I will add some elastic cords to keep it centred unless otherwise deflected.

The rudder blade is a long piece of waterproof ply in a rounded triangular shape

It will be bolted in place between the two protruding tongues of the movable rudder post - swinging on a single bolt, the rudder will be able to flip up if it strikes an obstruction or when the boat is beached (as opposed to just breaking off otherwise)

The blade will be sprung into the downward position by elastic cord and pulled up by hand using a short rope handle

Steering will be effected either by a pair of lines attached to the rudder horns, or by a rigid pole attached to one of them

A Turning Point

If you'll pardon the pun, the addition of this rudder marks a turning point for the Snow Pea...

If It Works

If it works, I will spend the winter equipping the boat with a small mast and sail (can't really do sailing without a rudder anyway) - as well as some sort of leeboard.

In the early summer of 2010, I'll transport everything to a suitable area of safe, calm inland water and see if I can teach myself to sail (I fancy I understand the basics, but recognise there's a difference between theory and practice)

If It Doesn't Work

If after the addition of a rudder, the Snow Pea is still too hard to handle, I will draw a line under it all - dispose of it and start again - building another, simpler boat from an established, stable design.

25th Sept 2009 - It's all done (pics to follow soon) everything is set for a test launch this weekend - I plan to be down at Botley Quay about 3pm on Saturday 26th to test out the new rudder modifications...

boat104.jpg26th Sept 2009 - Here's a picture of the finished rudder assembly - in the end, we used it in this upper position all the time - it didn't need dropping any further and would only have snagged on weed or submerged branches

A long curved pole is attached to one of the rudder horns, curved (laminated from two pieces - the same as the outrigger pylon supports) - the curve allows the front seat passenger to steer - going around the person at the rear

Pushing on the pole causes the rudder to flip to the right and pulling it does the opposite

Directional Stability

boat106.jpgThe rudder makes as significant an improvement in directional stability as the outrigger did to general stability - it's easy to track in a straight line and very responsive in turning

It's even possible to paddle on the side opposite the outrigger and set a slight bias on the rudder so as to still go in a straight line

Handling the boat on my own is now tricky, although I think this could be overcome by fixing the rudder control pole so I can lock it in any given position - I'd still be able to effect a turn by braking with the paddle

What Next?

Well, there might be time for a proper trip down the river in the warm days of Autumn... we'll see...

My project for the winter will be the construction of a sailing rig and leeboard - I plan to make this as yet another bolt-on module

In fact, I'm starting to like the idea of bolt-on accessories for the Snow Pea- I also have in mind (longer term) a pedal-power option - either driving a paddle wheel or a screw propeller. I will use chain drives or some other method to direct the rotary power up and over the gunwale, so that there is no need to perforate the hull