Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Building Boats in the Street

Today's post is a good follow-on to my post of yesterday about building boats in exotic places. It is also in South America but in Brazil rather than Colombia.

Today I received a link from Eugênio Herkenhoff in Vitoria, Brazil. He has been building a Cape Henry 21 for awhile and sending me occasional feedback and photos of his progress. Eugênio is a professional builder but this video shows that he is very different from the professional boatbuilders you will find in most other places.
View into the workshop from the street.
Eugênio has a very small workshop and it is in a very built-up part of the city. I have seen workshops like this in Rio de Janeiro as well, so they must be common in Brazil. All sorts of businesses operate out of these small facilities, supplying custom woodwork, metalwork, plumbing, electrical etc. But there is only so much that can be done inside the building. In the video at Voiles et Voiliers magazine it is described as "a boat in the streets". That is where Eugênio builds his boats. The video is narrated in French but you can get the gist of it without understanding the language.

Being in the middle of a densely populated area, he must be considerate of his neighbours, who are very close. So Eugênio chooses to do most of his work with hand tools rather than electric. That is green boatbuilding with a difference. He also prefers it for better precision and it is less dangerous. Eugênio says that many people stop to watch and chat, "spreading the boatbuilding virus".
Birdsmouth mast of the Cape Henry 21
Don't think of this as primitive boatbuilding either. We all have to adapt to suit the conditions under which we must work and this is what Eugênio has done. He is also very accomplished with computers. He occasionally sends me images of CAD drawings that he has prepared for cutting patterns, to ease his work. The upper photo in this post shows two complicated frames that he has built and over which he will laminate the twisted forward bottom panels of the CH21s that he builds. He designed these frames on CAD.

Eugênio's drawing of the building stocks and frame for rolling the hull.
I feel honoured to be able to work with builders as talented and diverse in their methods as Eugênio and others like him, wherever they are. Thank you Eugênio for your work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boats in Exotic Places

I find it amazing that our designs are built in so many exotic places, all over the world. Of course, for the person doing the building their place of building is just "home", with nothing exotic about it at all. It all depends on your perspective what is exotic and what isn't. Exotic is normally somewhere far away, surrounded by exotic birds, lush vegetation and beautiful azure blue oceans.

Here is an example. The photo below was sent to me by the builder a few days ago. It shows a Cape Henry 21 being built by Juan Uribe in a place named Sisga Lake, near to Bogota, Colombia, in South America. It looks like Juan is producing a good standard of work in his workshop.
Juan Uribe's Cape Henry 21 taking shape in his workshop in Colombia.
 In North America we take for granted the ease of buying materials and equipment for our boats. Almost anything that is needed can be ordered from on-line suppliers and will arrive on the doorstep within a few days. I imagine that Europe is not much different. In South Africa, where you might expect it to be difficult to source materials and equipment, it is even easier for the buyer. There are multiple suppliers in the main sailing centres like Cape Town, so one can walk into a shop and walk out soon after with most of what is needed. What they don't have on the shelf can be ordered.

Builders in more remote places, like much of South America, Africa and Asia have a much more difficult task to source what they need to build a boat. When they can get local materials they may not be anything like the quality that one would like them to be. Often imported materials of higher quality are simply not available because of high import costs or the government may not permit them to be imported. Some countries are actually a fairly hostile environment for amateur boatbuilding. It is such an abnormal activity in some places that there just is no support structure for those who do want to build a boat for themselves.

Despite these difficulties, there will always be people who will take on the challenge. They will build a boat and they will enjoy the process. And their friends and neighbours will look at them in wonder, intrigued by the process and by the invisible passion which drives that person to do such strange things.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lotus Europa

When I started this blog I wrote that I may sometimes write about things other than boats. Today is one of those times.

I have been rebuilding a 1970 Lotus Europa since 2010. It was in a very sad state, requiring the body to be removed so that I could renovate the chassis, rebuild the suspension and replace all of the brake lines. In the process I also replaced the motor because the original was very badly seized. On the body I have replaced the firewall, as well as all steelwork that had rusted away in the previous 20 years.

That work is now all done. Today was the day to reunite the body and chassis. This car is so tiny that body and chassis could fit one-behind-the-other diagonally across our double garage.

Body and chassis waiting to be reunited.
Friends came to help with this job. The body is fibreglass, so it is very light. It took 4 guys lifting and two people guiding to get the job done in less than 5 minutes.

The job done, looking more like a car again.
Still much work to do before I will be driving, including new dashboard, windscreen and reconnecting all of the wiring. Only when it is back on the road will I get around to repainting. I have posted a video of fitting the body to the chassis on my YouTube channel .

I promise I will get back to boating in my next post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Didi 40cr Kits now in USA

A few months ago I announced that in future we would be working with Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis MD as supplier of CNC kits for our plywood designs. Since then we have been gradually expanding the designs that we are offering as kits. The expansion has been mainly in response to pricing enquiries that we receive for the various designs.

The latest addition to the range of kits offered is for the Didi 40cr. This is an extended version of the Didi 38 hull that has also had the accommodation extended to give a more spacious and comfortable cruising interior. The changes make this boat more of a performance cruiser than a racer/cruiser, comfortable for one or two couples who want to move fast between their cruising destinations. The keel shown in the drawing below is the deep draft version but we include two shallower keels in the drawings as well.

Accommodation of the Didi 40cr.
Amateur-built Didi 40cr in Turkey
Please visit our USA kits page to see if we have what you want. If you want another design that is not yet priced, please email Dudley to request a price for the design that interests you.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nova Scotia Marine Industry Conference 2013

The Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association is hosting their Marine Industry Conference 2013 in Halifax, NS, on March 7th and 8th. The venue is the Lord Nelson Hotel and Suites.

I am honoured to have been invited at the recent IBEX to be one of the speakers at this Canadian event. My allotted subject is "Designing for Strength in Lightweight Plywood Boats". I will cover the detailing that I have developed and found to be successful, as well as some of the designs that I have drawn for my construction methods.

All of these methods and designs are suitable for either professional or amateur builders and produce boats that are fast and light.

So, if you are in the Canadian Maritime Provinces and are interested in plywood boats that you can build for yourself and which perform well, please come to the conference to hear what I have to say and see what I have to show. I look forward to meeting you and talking boats.

Paper Jet with small rig on Chesapeake Bay. Judge her speed by the distance from the transom to the rooster tail

Didi 38 "Black Cat" at the start of a trans-Atlantic race, Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro
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Friday, February 8, 2013

Paper Jet News

We have developing news for the owners of boats to our Paper Jet design. We are in the very early stages of organising the first formal racing for the Paper Jet class. It will be part of a larger event and we need enough entries to have our own start. If we can get a large enough fleet of Paper Jets we can maybe have our own course.

Skiffs are not happy on windward/leeward courses, so liked by dinghies with conventional spinnakers. They cannot be competitive against conventional classes when the emphasis is on beating and running. Skiffs prefer triangular courses, with reaching legs that allow them to sail at full potential. I am at my happiest on my boat when blasting at high speed on a beam to broad reach, when my PJ can really stretch its legs and fly past most other boats. Granted, I am sometimes on the extreme limit of control but the exhiliration of skipping off the waves and sometimes passing powerboats is worth the price of the not-so-occcasional capsize. It all helps to remind me that I am alive and enjoying the experiences of life.

There are enough boats on the US East Coast to have a successful Paper Jet East Coast Championship. At this stage I expect it to be middle to late in May 2014 and in the Carolinas. More details will be released as arrangements develop. If you are already building or are considering building a Paper Jet, you have plenty of time to complete a build and get in some sailing before the event comes around. If you know someone who owns or is building a Paper Jet , please tell them about this event in case they don't follow my blog.

 Lets get all these Paper Jets together and have some fun.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Website Problems for Turkish Customers

A few people have told me for the past 6 months or longer that they have problems accessing my website from Turkey. I thought that it would be a temporary problem but it has not gone away. Recently I had a colleague do a trace for my websites from Istanbul. The results show that the problem is probably with a server in Ankara that belongs to Turk Telekom.

Today a client in Turkey has told me that he can open my website from his home but not from his office, 2km away. He says that there are many sites that he cannot open from the one but can from the other. It may be that the two locations use different routes and one bypasses the problem server. Whatever the reason, he has solved the problem by using an online anonymous proxy service.

There are many of these services available, some paid and some free. I don't want to advise which one to use, it is up to each person to ensure that they are using safe software on their computers. Google "online anonymous proxy service reviews" to evaluate the available services.

Using such a program will possibly help with other sites as well.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

New Didi 34 Downunder

Thomas Farner of Taroona in Tasmania has just launched his new self-built Didi 34, named "Riff". Looks like Thomas made a great job of building her.

She had an interesting journey to the water. She had to first be moved over a makeshift bridge across a dry creek, to get her to where the crane would be able to pick her up.

Thomas Farner's "Riff" being lifted after crossing the dry creek bed.
Thomas has built a nicely-shaped hard dodger on her to shelter the companionway and front of the cockpit, which will be very welcome for cold and wet night watches.

Didi 34 "Riff" gets her bottom wet for the first time.
"Riff" has a rather nice fixed dodger to protect her cockpit.
Waiting for her rig.
Thomas has "Riff" in the water and is no doubt enjoying the intense satisfaction that comes from launching a boat that he has built with his own hands. He is assembling the rig and I will add photos to this blog when she is sailing.

Congratulations Thomas.