The Details, The Details

by Alan Berry - Barrouallie, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Southern Caribbean, almost to Venezuela

From my “Don’t forget to Salt the Decks” we have moved on to some interesting modifications, which maybe other designers/builders would consider. The actual boat in that article I sold to a local fisherman, and I am still using my original boat – now about 22 years old. It too, was built as per the article I wrote; flat panel fiberglass laid up on a Formica counter top.

The boat in the article was designed for sailing more than rowing or power. It was only rowed. I found its’ sides too high for me to get into and out of the water conveniently. When you have been spearing fish and swimming for more than a couple of hours you would be surprised how tired you are – especially if you are 71 years old! A fisherman made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. I sold it to him for about 1/3 of the cost of materials. That is the way it is in the boating business sometimes.

My catamaran has two cross beams that extend beyond the outboard side of the cats hulls, and beyond the rowing attachments.

Note in the photos the crossbeams are used to put the boat up on its side. Good for a quick bail out, and good for storing in a small space. It sits on the beams, resting against a wall. Rain water can’t collect in it. Animals don’t seem to like to make themselves at home under it. “Under it” space is very small.

I have tried several times to get a way to row the boat. Trial an error came up with the present location. It needed to be wider than the boat, and higher than the sides. So, we used the extended beams to attach the longitudinal 1×4″ to attach a 6″x6″ block to get the right height. It works great for rowing.

The oars are 2×2 by about 8′ tipped with paddles of fiberglass – one layer of 17oz bi-axile fiberglass. We have only broken three oars so far. Any bigger, and they won’t fit the oarlocks. We can’t get oak, or cedar or those fancy woods, so we are going to be faced with a permanent fix of some kinda hybrid fiberglass, and/or steel wood oar, I guess. Other than that, we’ll just keep making new oars out of rough pitch pine.

The ends of the boat are also a small detail. The bow has a 2×4″, treated wood that is great for an anchor line. It was built into place 20 years ago, and is still functional. Even treated, I had to kill termites trying to move in!

The gunwales were extended in the front, and the rear. Being one of the few pieces of wood on the boat, they rotted. When I replaced them, I extended them beyond the ends. The distance was long enough to get one hand around them. They make great lifting points for the boat. When getting it out of the water, or out of a tight storage area, two of us can lift the boat and carry it. Not really that hard. I suspect the boat weight empty is less than 150 pounds. The cart just doesn’t do sand very well, so we always have to carry it a small distance to/from the road. The previous two photos show the gunwale extensions.

I also want to take note of what fiberglass does. It does not rot. I would leave the boat on the beach and it would fill with rain water. It even created a mosquito pond and when the neighbors complained, I had to go down more often and bail it out. It took four people to lift the boat and carry it the few yards to the beach. The present arrangement makes it impossible for rain to collect, and boat is MUCH lighter. Two of us can now pick it up. Pictured are Terry and John, friends of mine. Being the senior guy, I let them do the grunt work.

The cart was at first just two wheels mounted on a piece of wood. But, it kept flopping upside down when I didn’t want it to. So the “T” handle was added. It keeps the cart from flipping when I don’t want it too. I also provides an easy way to maneuver the cart under the boat. On person can lift the boat and push with the “T” with their feet and slide the cart under where he wants it. Using the stern, or bow gunwale extensions, he can then lift the boat and push it down the road. When not in use, we stick it back inside the van.

One wheel is new, the other one died, so I rounded a couple layers of ply, glued them together with some 1″ wood and made it a round wheel. I cut the tread off the old wheel, and screwed it on to the ply. No inner tube to inflate, and it actually seems like a good idea. It works, and that is the bottom line. Will do the same when the other tire dies – sun here is really rough on rubber and plastic.

My original, 20 year old, 2.5 hp engine died. I tried to take it completely apart and failed. Took it to a marina and they had it in complete pieces. It was pretty bad inside. Parts and shipping and customs was gonna cost more than a new engine. I couldn’t see spending the money since we really don’t go far. I eventually threw the engine away. Fortunately, I kept the lower half. I saw some youtube videos and next thing you know we took a weed eater apart and mounted it on the old outboard leg. It works. Not as fast. But, 25cc is not the same as 2.5 hp. If you try it, you need a weed eater with a clutch, and some kind of reduction gear, direct drive doesn’t seem to work. I think it would work better yet with a smaller prop, but presently I don’t have one.

Holding the engine is my friend Jay.

So now my spear fishing expeditions are easy. Drive down to where the boat is stored behind a locked gate. Drop it down on the trailer and get it out on the street. Sometimes we just carry it out in the street and then load it on the cart. Move it about the length of a football field to the launch area on a lightly used street. Pick it up and carry it to the water. Unload gear into boat. Park the van, and come back hours later and reverse the process.

Now if I can get my homemade spear gun to work as well.

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