hello world – 1, rowing kit

oating progress has been stagnated lately… But really I’m interested in experimenting with rowing, another way of propelling the boat besides paddling. Rowing can help building other groups of your muscles, it could produce more torque to push the canoe forward under unfavourable wind and current conditions, it should increase sustainable speed significantly, furthermore, it’s good for long – range tandem trips: with two hands aboard, ones can take turn to row and to rest. First, I make a pair of 8 feet oars: 5 planks of wood is glued and screwed together to form the oar’s handle and blade. Next is scraping and planing them into their final shapes using my new, very useful tool: a power planer. Then the 4 feet 8 inches outrigger and flotations.

For the oars, I use a lighter wood, Vietnamese name: thao lao (Lagerstroemia calyculata Kurz); the white, fine grain wood traditionally used for building paddle, oar and rudder. Having density at about 0.9 (900 kg/m3), the wood is not as heavy and hard as căm xe (Xylia xylocarpa), but resists better to water. The oars handles’ ends would be attached with short aluminium tubes, which serve two purposes: 1. lengthen the oars to the full length of 2.4m (8 feet) and 2. the hollow tubes will be casted with about 1.5kg of lead each, to better balance the oars once they’re put onto the oarlocks, and hence reduce rowing effort. I’d also decided to use ready – made plastic fishing buoys for flotations, to make the outrigger construction simpler and easier.

Today, I took Hello World – 1 to dry dock for inspection, maintenance and more fitting. After almost 2 months on open water and under direct sunlight, mistakes in the building phase have been shown: 2, 3 small cracks on the outer fiberglass and epoxy layer at bottom aft, water has leaked into the aft watertight compartment (about a gallon), and the paint has been scratched at places… 🙁 Also, I should have taken more care on the canoe’s storage and usage. Now I need to make some repairs: find the seal the leaks, repaint some small areas, lower the seats to improve stability, before being able to fit the rowing kit and other miscellaneous accessories: cleat and anchor, the light pole… It could take the next 2, 3 days to finish all these things!

Today, we tested the preliminary rowing kit, the result is very unsatisfactory 🙁 , but somewhat encouraging still. I’ll need to rethink about the designs, various flaws are spotted and to be rectified: the oars are too long and heavy, the oar locks are placed too low that they limit the rowing movements, flotations are not done yet… The only promising thing is that speed would surely get a huge improve, we was expecting to be able to sustain somewhere around 4, 5 knots (7 ~ 9 km/h), a great advantage (compared to paddling) for long – range cruising. But that would be the jobs of the coming (Lunar) new year, for now, all boating works will be temporarily suspended, as I’ve already got in my TODO list many other stuffs which have higher priority.

hello world – 1, accessories

ello World – 1 has been finished, and trials showed it’s an excellent boat for solo paddling, but there’s still much work to be done to make full use of the canoe. Various miscellaneous things: a raincoat to protect the hull from weather at docking, a pole to push the canoe forward in shallow water, also to mount a signal light for occasional night going, an apparent wind indicator (wind vane) to better observe wind condition, a hand pump to drain water out when it rains, an anchor to allow going fishing anywhere on the rivers around my area without having to find a tree or a buoy to attach the canoe to… Most important of all, I want to make a rowing kit: an outrigger with two flotation units to help stabilising the boat, and two long oars.

It could take a couple of weeks to finish everything, since I’ve just started the design, with some undecided considerations still. Slowly I would got each items done, first is the spade – shape anchor, I casted 1.5 kg of lead into the hollow space underneath, to concentrate weight into the tip (the anchor is a bit oversize and overweight for such a small canoe, some wrong calculation, but I would use it anyhow). 2 meters of steel chain, plus about 30 meters of rope will be enough for an anchorage almost anywhere. There’s still lots of works to be done, with possible more and more delay (the holidays, Christmas and New Year are coming). Meanwhile paddling is still my main pastime in a fresh morning, or in a calm sunset, any day in the week 🙂 .

For the past few days, I really enjoy night paddling: familiar enough with the region to navigate in the dark, northern wind has cool down the nocturnal temperature considerably, and houses, buildings along the rivers’ banks have been decorated with all kind of colourful LED and neon lights for Christmas and New Year holidays, creating picturesque and splendid sceneries. I was paddling among a dark, silent, wide space, only the marvellous lighting and the stars above the sky. Unfortunately, my GoPro camera is not very good at shooting in low – light environment, I would try to post some pictures instead, just to show how beautiful our city is this season, especially in this specific place on Crescent lake near Starlight bridge (hồ Bán Nguyệt & cầu Ánh Sao).

The more paddling I was practising, the more do I realise how much boating (and paddling, rowing, sailing, etc…) resembles life, it’s a microcosm, a metaphor for our lives, for the struggles and enjoyments we make. Any destination is just a temporary target, as life is a long journey on which we struggle to make the next leap, reaching the next milestone, while trying to enjoy the scenes on the way. And that’s why we should take our thinking, our words, our intentions, our jobs… seriously, just to make the journey a more lovely, pleasant promenade… Well, that’s enough of philosophy, 🙂 I need to stop dreaming here and return to the actual works, refine my calculations, sharpen my skills… lots of things to be done in the up – coming year, year of the horse.