serene – 3, part 7

n parallel to cutting, jointing the bilges and forming up the hull and deck parts, I’m also making the cockpit coaming and hatches. They both use the same techniques of bending thin strips of plywood (2 layers of them) around a MDF frame to form the lips’ shape. Now that I have some much better – quality plywood sheets, which is not too easy to crack while bending into extreme curves, this enables me to construct the cockpit coaming and hatches in a much easier and convenient way.

Both 2 hatches would be of the same shape and size, a “rectangular” with 2 circular ends (or could be called: a rounded rectangular). The hatches’ lips and the coaming lips are built up from 2 layers of 4 mm plywood strips, glued together. The flexibility of the ply serves well to the building, the lips take up shape easily, and stay in that shape steadily. In all, they’re all simple really constructions. Special thing about the hatches this time is that they would have elastic silicon gaskets inside.

Recently, I’ve learnt about silicon molding, using 2 – parts silicon mixed together just like epoxy. So I would mold the gaskets specially to accommodate the hatches, and would describe that in another following post. Hatches’ waterproofness has long been a serious issue to me, hopefully, I could resolve it completely this time. An handy (last resort) trick could also be useful: cover a layer of (very thin) PE plastic over before closing the hatch, that would make it absolutely water – tight.

serene – 3, part 6

ext is jointing the plywood pieces: 8 joints for the hull, and just 1 for the deck, to form the bilges that would build up into the boat shape. For the 2 pairs of hull’s bilges, I flip one pair by 180 degree when drawing on the boards, so that to distribute the joints at different places across the boat length, and not to concentrate too much joints into one proximity. That old boatbuilding carpenter’s trick is not completely necessary with modern building techniques, but it’s nice to do so anyway.

The tried – and – true technique of straight finger joint is used as always. The straight joints are easy to cut, and most importantly much easier to be aligned following a straight line for all the jointing parts, so that to make sure all the bilges would be jointed into the correct shapes. All the joints are treated carefully, first is applying a layer of thinned epoxy (using xylene as a solvent, for the substance to penetrate deeply into the plywood), then gluing with epoxy, then a layer of glass on the internal side.

I beveled the edges of the deck parts a bit (at 45 degrees), so that they would fit tightly and nicely together forming straight seam lines. But that’s not applied to the hull, where the cursive seam lines don’t like very thin edges. Experiences from my previous boats showed that, it’s best just to use the squared edges, the thin edges doesn’t stay on each other very well, and would deform, distort the seam lines! You would later just apply thickened epoxy on both sides (in and out) of the seams!

serene – 3, part 5

he progress is really slow lately, several weeks passed, but little get done 🙁 ! Things started moving anyhow, I “quickly” transfer the “offset tables” onto the plywood boards, draw all the bilges, bulkheads, and other parts. The greatest thing of all is that now I’ve purchased very good sheets of plywood, not truly marine – grade (there’s no such in Vietnam), but high – grade water – resistance ones. I could feel it when do the sawing, the boards are quit tough, not fragile as with my previous ply!

There would be an immediate consequence with the new plywood, I would just use less epoxy to pre – fill the boards, and since the boards is stiffer, the glassing would be done on the outside only, that would significantly save the boat weight, I hope. All drawing is completed quickly, I finished in just less than one day, next come the steps of cutting and jointing the bilges. Everything has been done many times before already, so I didn’t have to think or consider things much, just repeat it!

4th image: the cockpit coaming frame cut from a piece of 18 mm MDF. This cockpit is drawn using the mathematic formula mentioned in my last post. It came very closed to the shape of Serene – 2‘s cockpit, but slightly smaller on each sides by about 5 mm, so my existing spray skirt should fit tightly with this new coaming (on Serene – 2, it’s too tight). The coaming would be constructed from 2 layers of 4 mm plywood, and I would later omit out the (a bit tricky) glass reinforcement on this part!

how to draw a kayak cockpit mathematically?

ver the years of designing and building wooden kayak, often a recurring question comes to my mind: how can we precisely construct a kayak cockpit shape in a mathematical way. Today, I spent 30 minutes to figure out the problem, it turned out to be quite easy indeed. But first of all, there are so many different shapes for cockpits, and everyone may have his / her own preference on how it should look like. Here I try to plot a shape that is most suited to my eyes, and closed to what’s usually called “an ocean cockpit” found on Greenland kayaks.

I went to the Wolfram Alpha website (wolframalpha.com) and entered an ellipse function. Apparently a cockpit is not elliptic, but rather an asymmetric “egg shape”. I tweaked around the equation for a while, and the shape came out, closely resembles that of my Serene – 2. I’d also tried to construct other types of “egg shapes”, for example, an 3 – ellipse that has 3 foci (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-ellipse), something that could be drawn with 3 nails pinned on a wooden board and a closed thread of rope (similar to drawing an 2 – ellipse with 2 foci).

But it’s hard to determine the dimensions of that 3 – ellipse, and the positions of its 3 foci. Finally, I found out the formula that is best suited for me, something that could be determined numerically to ease out the actual drawing. The formula: x ^ 2 + 3.5 y ^ 2 + 1.5 x y ^ 2 = 1. Upon close inspection, the “egg shape” turned out to be very satisfactory. One might try changing just the “weight” parameters (e.g: 3.5, 1.5…) and retaining degrees of the polynomial’s terms, to experiment with different other shapes, to figure out what is best according to one’s need.

Next come the question of how to draw this shape onto the wooden board that would actually construct the cockpit coaming? A bit of thinking has the problem solved too. The Wolfram Alpha website provides us with numerical formulas. The general steps are like this:

1. Draw a bounding box in the dimensions you want, mine is: 39×72 (cm), the dimension that your spray skirt would fit into (and the spray skirt vendor usually supply you with this information before – hand). The x value would have the value range of [-1, 1].

2. Draw a dense grid of x & y inside that bounding box, for each value of x from -1 to 1, calculate the y value with the formulas given above. Giving very fine incremental values of x, say every 1 or 2 cm, it would be possible to construct a good looking “egg shape” then.

Of course, I want to find out a way to draw the “egg shape” more precisely and more conveniently, e.g: print the plotting actual size on paper, but found it a bit cumbersome as I have no printer of that size! Anyone finding out a good way, please kindly let me know! 🙂