An Old Friend and EasyB weigh in
by Skip Johnson

EasyB weighing in
(click images to enlarge)

Several years ago I had sold my predecessor to the Bionic Log to a client, Ed Stokes, there's an unspoken limit somewhere to the number of boats Susie will gladly suffer at one time :-). Ed had enjoyed the boat considerably, but had really wanted to revarnish the deck and was unsure about doing it on his own.

Since I was ready to finish the deck on EasyB I told Ed to bring his boat over and we'd have a varnishing party and get both boats done at the same time. When Ed pulled up in the driveway with that old 16' stripper on the roof rack it was just like seeing an old friend you hadn't seen for some time, it truly was (and still is) a lovely boat.

Ed Stokes' canoe
(click to enlarge)

The hull on Ed's boat was built 10 years ago in one intense long weekend as a demonstration project at a Houston Canoe Rendezvous at Sam Houston State Park. I will have to say that just because something is doable doesn't mean that it's desirable. It took the concentrated effort of several people and was a really high energy event with a double ring of spectators all the time. Not being able to step back and admire the shape as it develops takes a lot of the joy out of the process. The week after the Rendezvous a major flood and house rebuilding put a hold on finishing the boat for a couple of years.

Once housework was done, the deck was finished and everything was put together on Ed's boat. One of the primary goals on the boat was light weight and every effort was made to keep the boat light. Carefully selected 3/16" cedar strips for the hull, vinylester resin for the hull, probably saved 3-4 oz. and cures quicker than epoxy. Vinylester also doesn't darken over time like epoxy, but it's also not as tough as epoxy and will debond on a bump that epoxy will easily shrug off. Light weight it was originally weighing in at 22#. A little paddling showed the boat was directionally unstable as soon as you put your back into the paddle. A series of rudders were tried and that's when I found out how much difference a little thing can make. The current little 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" rudder transforms the boat and it's a joy to paddle at any speed I'm capable of providing and can fly thru a sweeper with just the lightest touch on the rudder. Without the rudder it's a nasty uncontrollable beast.


I think I learned from that mistake and the Bionic Log does handle well without a rudder, tracking straight at speed and turning in response to foot pressure and paddle strokes. I'm sure it would benefit from a small rudder also, but it's not absolutely necessary.

With the rudder, and some refinishing Ed's boat now weighs in at 24-1/2# which still isn't much. EasyB weighs in at 26# which is right in line with my prediction weightwise before I started the boat, but I missed on some of the other particulars. Being built with scrap Ceiba salvaged from the pinworms from Hades, the EasyB prototype was supposed to be a knockabout boat with an emphasis on shape. Turns out scrap Ceiba looks pretty good even with a few pinworm holes here and there. And the shape's not quite right ;-( Turns out that if you get a hull all perfectly smooth and fair (within reason) then fiberglass the hull in an outside but protected (under the house) environment in a driving rainstorm there might be enough movement in the wood to get a few bumps and creases in that perfectly fair form.

an old friend

Oh well, there's no such thing as a perfect boat, relationship, friendship .....etc, but there are a multitude of examples that transcend the little imperfections and vicissitudes of life to squeeze a little of the joy and beauty out of living. I suspect EasyB and I will spend some time doing that squeezing early mornings on the creek. I look forward to it.