serene – 1, part 7c

t’s good to see every parts of the boat work as intended. The hatches are completely watertight. When I left the hull out under afternoon sunlight for an hour for it to dry, the air inside warms up and expands, when I open the hatches, I can hear the sound of escaping air. That confirms not only the hatches, but the whole hull is airtight, and so they are obviously watertight. Then carrying gears inside could be housed with minimum protection against water (e.g: some normal plastic bags).

For the last two weeks, I only tested the boat on flat water, small river branches which are calm most of the time. Next would be some longer and rougher paddling. Been too busy lately and couldn’t keep up the planned pace of at least 40 km per week, and so my endurance has been falling drastically 🙁 ! Also, I’m quite lazy at video shooting and editing, after all, you can’t make it as good as a professional cameraman, and upto one point, you don’t see a necessity for much showing off any more.

Sometimes, I wish I could just put everything aside, pick up the paddle and go, go light and go now! Nothing comparable to the paddling experiences, you and only you in the wild, and you don’t have to depend much on those delicate electronics to have a joyful journey, they’re just some more burdens. So maybe I my next trip, I would just leave the GoPro at home, a single small still – camera is stilled needed though. 4th image below: can only be happy when in open air and on bobbing water! 🙂

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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Serene – 1, part 3
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With that “go light” determination in mind, all next fittings, equipments for the kayak would be kept to the minimum and simplest possible. The boat is now lightweight enough, I don’t need to carry the kayak cart along my trips anymore. If required, I would just port the boat on my back.

There’ll be no seat, just a small block of foam used as the back rest. Also no signal pole, just some head – mounted lights I guess. No marine compass fit on deck as originally planned, I would just use the Garmin instead (plus a tiny hand – held magnetic compass as backup).

lâng lâng chiều mơ

Mây vương sầu lan, gió ơi đưa hồn về làng cũ…

piece of music for working time listening… Mất một số kha khá thời gian để hiểu ra nhận xét sau của NS Phạm Duy về nhạc sĩ tiền bối Dương Thiệu Tước: khi ông viết theo điệu Tây, nhạc rất là Tây, khi ông viết theo kiểu Ta, điệu lại quá là Ta. Nói một cách khác, ông (DTT) vừa Tây hơn tất cả chúng ta, và đồng thời, lại Ta hơn thảy chúng ta. Mất một số thời gian để hiểu ra điều đơn giản nho nhỏ như thế. Và đừng bao giờ hy vọng rằng, dù trong một phút giây, nhạc cảm vượt qua được ông, dù là ở khía cạnh này, hay trên khía cạnh khác. Đơn giản đừng làm công việc vô ích là phân bì với cái con người đã được Trời ban cho như thế! 🙂

Bóng chiều xưa – Quỳnh Hoa      
Ngọc lan – Thái Thanh

semper idem

Nằm đây, tưởng chuyện ngàn sau,
Lung linh nến cháy hai đầu áo quan…

ột tựa đề quen quen thoáng hiện trên mặt báo, nghĩ mãi mà không nhớ ra, đành phải nhờ đến Mr. Google… Chỉ một phút, cả một trời ký ức hiện về, một tựa sách phiêu lưu viễn tưởng của Jules Verne từng thích thú thời còn bé tí: L’épave du Cynthia, tựa tiếng Anh: The waif of the Cynthia, tựa tiếng Việt: Chú bé thoát nạn đắm tàu. Thế là bỏ ra một nửa buổi tối ngồi đọc lại, từng câu chữ, từng đoạn văn lũ lượt kéo về trong trí nhớ, gần 30 năm mà tưởng đâu như mới ngày hôm qua.

Không khó cho một trí óc trưởng thành để phát hiện ra những chi tiết không logic, thiếu hợp lý và mạch lạc trong bố cục toàn bộ câu chuyện, và sau một hồi đọc lại, nhận ra truyện không hấp dẫn như những tác phẩm khác như: Đi tìm thuyền trưởng Grant, Bí mật đảo Lincoln, Hai vạn dặm dưới đáy biển, Từ trái đất đến mặt trăng, Cuộc du hành vào lòng đất etc… của cùng một tác giả. Và từ lúc nhỏ, dù rất thích các tác phẩm của Jules Verne nhưng không thực sự là đến độ mê mệt.

Truyện tôi thích nhất của Jules Vernes có lẽ là Bí mật đảo Lincoln. Từ góc độ khoa học, truyện rất hay vì nó dạy cho học sinh cấp 2, 3 những vấn đề thực tế: làm sao để chế tạo xà phòng từ chất béo (như dầu dừa), làm sao kiểm soát hàm lượng carbon khi luyện quặng sắt thành thép, những bài toán lượng giác dùng trong đo đạc, định vị, etc… (tất cả những điều nêu trên đều có trong chương trình PTTH VN), nhưng dưới các hình thức sống động thay vì chỉ lảm nhảm những kiến thức chết như trong SGK.

Những câu chuyện của ông là sự xen lẫn của hai yếu tố: phiêu lưu và viễn tưởng. Nhưng thực sự tôi không thích viễn tưởng cho lắm, một con tàu phải có những cột buồm có thể trèo lên được, biển và mồ hôi phải có vị mặn, chèo thuyền trên những quãng đường dài thực sự là rất vất vả, gian nan… Chỉ thích những phiêu lưu có thật, cảm nhận hơi thở chân thật của cuộc sống, của sóng gió tự nhiên… Nó phải có gì giống như Moby Dick, một sự lãng mạn khắc kỷ mang màu sắc Puritan – Thanh giáo.

Semper Idem: câu châm ngôn (motto) tiếng Latin của nhân vật chính Erik, của gia đình Durrieu trong truyện, với nghĩa: trước sau như một.

Vẫn là một sự đáng tiếc thường thấy khi các thuật ngữ hằng hải, địa lý trong nguyên bản được dịch không chính xác hay không đầy đủ. Hơn nữa, bản dịch tiếng Việt (hầu như chắc chắn là được dịch lần 2 qua một bản tiếng Nga) đã lược bỏ nhiều tình tiết, làm giảm tính hấp dẫn của nguyên tác.

Lẽ dễ hiểu vì lối hành văn với rất nhiều chi tiết, nhiều cách diễn đạt tinh tế, nhiều logic phức tạp đan xen vào nhau thường nằm ngoài khả năng tiêu hoá cũng như khẩu vị của đa số độc giả Việt, những người thường chỉ muốn một cốt truyện ngắn gọn đơn giản có thể lĩnh hội chóng vánh!

serene – 1, part 7b

he more I paddle, the more I’m familiar with my new kayak, and the more I feel pleased with her. Maybe on my next boat, I should have the following motto boldly engraved on: built like a gun, run like a bullet!! 🙂 Been quite occupied with my works recently, so for now, I won’t put an emphasis on carrying out the next phases of the project yet, just casual paddling here and there a couples of weeks, to get to know more about the boat, and to enjoy the rainy season at its climax.

One minor problem with kayak at this beam, I realized, is that just a small shift in weight could make a directional deviation, it is not a problem with the boat’s structure itself, but with the motion of your body in action. Especially on long paddling, my lower body part becomes stressful and tired long before the upper part, so the need for frequent changes in sitting positions, and hence the effects on directional stability. I guess my lower body part needs some further exercising too.

I like making some short sprints with the boat, it takes up momentum easily, just after a few strokes, and makes it very straight on effort, or to see her gently riding down the waves, just like an Andalusian in dressage equestrianship! 🙂 Well, when I really have some free time, I think I should build a standard K1 hull, to experience that extreme Olympic racing form, and to better understand the correlations between lines, speed and stabilities, and also for some practicing on flat water.

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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Serene – 1, part 3
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In my opinion, a problem with most commercially – available kayaks is that, the cockpits are usually placed too far aft. It’s easy to understand the reason, cause weights of paddlers are variable, they are not fixed. It’s better for the producers to make some ‘reservations’…

to place the cockpit a bit further aft, so that the boat could be trimmed rearward for heavier paddlers. And trimming rearward is wiser for most kayaks, which usually have a Swede form. For a self – designed boat like Serene – 1, it can be tailored to suit your very own measures 🙂 .

serene – 1, part 7a, trial

ade several more ‘sorties’ with Serene – 1 the last week, and her name is Serene, isn’t it!? 🙂 I’m now quite comfortable with her motion, especially her primary stability. The secondary stability comes to assure the initial lesser – secured feeling, though the marginal limit of which is still the subject of more testing. Windage is barely noticeable in most cases. It takes some practices for cockpit entry and exit, the small size would only have benefits once going to the rougher sea.

Speed measured in several hours of paddling averages out in the [7 ~ 7.5] kmph range, that’s good! But please note that the conditions are mostly flat water with some winds, and it’s not a measure for whole – day paddling in true sea environment yet. In fact, I would be very happy to have my whole day sustained speed around 6 kmph, cause it’s very hard to keep up the same constant horse – power output at the end of 12 hours or more paddling session. Still lots of spaces for improving.

I’m not done with my testings yet. It takes time to adapt my paddling habits to the new boat, and to find out the best way to propel her. For example, the very narrow beam, in addition to the low seat, require much a shorter paddle. My standard 2.22 m paddle suddenly becomes too long, it sweeps far apart from the kayak body, and hence has some negative impacts on directional stability. I’m planning to build some Greenland – style paddles in the upcoming phases of the project.

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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Serene – 1, part 3
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As noticed in previous post, the kayak becomes more stable when has some water in her hold, as she becomes heavier toward the designed displacement at 95 kg. It doesn’t mean however, that water should be used as ballast for such small watercrafts (bottled water is fine I think).

I would spend the next month trialling the boat in various other conditions, e.g: carrying different amounts of load, heavy load in rough water… to find out if she is really suitable for the course of “about – a – week – long” trips. Day after day, step by step nearer to being far away! 🙂

serene – 1, part 6c, launch

he final boat weighs at 21 kg (7th image), a bit heavier than my expectation (I was adding more materials in the later phases of building when thought that it’s already light enough, and the two plastic Beckson hatches add an additional 1 kg 🙁 ). But anyhow, that’s fine still, I can comfortably transport it on my shoulders for considerable distance at that mass. Looking top down, the boat is slim and slender exactly like a bamboo leaf! Last image: me porting the kayak to water… 🙂

I took the boat to my routine 20 km paddling route today, having just one word to say: EXCELLENT!!! 🙂 It rains heavily 2/3 of the route, quite strong wind at times, but small waves, relatively calm water. The first thing to recognize is the (predicted) low initial stability, took some times to get familiar with that. A novice paddler could be probably frightened in my boat though. The kayak does not track as straight as Hello World – 3, and I need to deploy the skeg 1/4 down for most of the time.

Velocity sees a very good improve, I finished the route in 2 hour 50 minutes, compared to the 3 hour 30 minutes best time of Hello World – 3 on that same route, with quite a weak tide today. However, this is only initial measures, I need to thoroughly trial the kayak in many other routes and conditions to have some precise comments, e.g: with this narrow beam of 45 cm, I would certainly need a shorter paddle. Would post some paddling pictures and videos once I’m done with the testings.

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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With this narrow boat, the steadiness of your own body in motion is important. Hence, it does require some practices to completely handle the boat. For the moment, it’s too early to say about the kayak stability, especially that I haven’t had the chances to test it in rougher conditions.

However, my observations during the strong wind & some waves, the boat handles nicely. I feel it’s more stable in waves than on flat water 🙂 . When rain’s flooded about 6, 7 cm, it becomes even more stable, cause the kayak is approaching its nominal (designed) capacity.

serene – 1, part 6b

ome final jobs required still to complete the boat: slight sanding here and there on the deck, some minimum decorations, all in white vinyl decals, then the final coat of transparent PU paint on deck. For decorations, there’ll be certainly the inevitable part, the Vietnamese boat eyes, the boat name and some texts stating the owner’s contact information. I’ll keep these to the fewest possible, standing from a functional point of view, and avoid any elaborate decorations, at least for now.

3rd, 4th images: the decals in places, the boat’s eyes, name and contact information. This kayak has bigger eyes compared to those of my previous boats, as for it to see and travel wider, further 🙂 ! Btw, Vietnamese is not the only people traditionally to have eyes on boats, but while others infrequently have eyes as decorative items, 99% of Vietnamese boats has eyes as an indispensable part, a kind of ancient belief that boats are living creatures, who have eyes and souls.

It took several more hours to install all the bungee lines, boat pulling knots at two ends (I just used a variation of the hangman knot) and skeg control. 5rd image below: the skeg control line offset – ed to starboard side, right after the cockpit, hold down by a cleat, for easier handling, and also for not interfering with the rear hatch. 6th image: the skeg blade in its maximum extending position. Now just wait for the paint to completely cure, and for the favorable tide to christen and launch the boat! 🙂

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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The very small fraction of Vietnamese boats which doesn’t have eyes are of foreign immigrants (e.g: Chinese, Khmer…) who had settled in Vietnam long ago. Eyes have different patterns, by looking at their shapes, I can tell from which province of Vietnam does the boat come from.

Serene – 1 building takes less than 2 months to complete, not everything is as perfect as I was expecting, but the boat overall quality is much more satisfying compared to my previous boats. Not going to water yet, but its firm and compact body gives me a very pleasant feeling.

serene – 1, part 6a

itting the Beckson hatches, fore and aft, is quite straight – forward and just takes about half an hour or so. The hatches are glued with silicone sealant, then screwed to the deck. I also applied a silicone – based mold – release spraying agent as lubricant, which secures a very fine and watertight fit. With these Becksons, I won’t have to worry about water leaking anymore, and even that the gears carried inside (e.g: electronics) don’t need to be packed in waterproof bags.

4th, 5th images below: the cockpit and some other parts on the deck painted. I decided to increase the amount of color pigment to turn the dark brown color into almost black to match that of the Beckson hatches. 6th image: I repaint the deck vs hull jointing line as the previous is quite ragged cause I used the wrong type of duct tape (which lets the paint leak underneath). In this Serene – 1, I don’t “cut corner” anymore, when something’s not right, I redo it until it’s good enough!

7th, 8th images: the hull painted, the dark brown color has become almost black now. I use a foam roller to quickly make the first layer of paint, then use a brush to apply the second (and last). It’s smooth enough, don’t have to sand & repaint another time as in my last boat. At this point, the boat is technically ready for water already, but yet some more painting and fitting jobs needed on the deck. Tell myself to be patient, I can’t even just wait for the paint to dry out in this moment! 🙂

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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Well, some plastic parts on a wooden boat doesn’t look very attractive to some eyes, and initially, I’d preferred wooden hatches too, but such thing leaks no matter how good you make it. In my last trip to Đồng Hoà, I had to stop twice to drain water out when it has filled more than 1/3 of my boat.

So safety is the primary concern over aesthetics. One who’s paddled in rough conditions would understand the very fearsome instability of a boat half – filled with water, not only it’s more heavy to paddle, the whole thing becomes a very thrilling acrobatic game indeed.

holidays

ne autre vieille chanson Française de temps en temps, j’aime particulièrement des percusions, et aussi de guitar, dans un tempo très modéré… La mer comme une preface, avant le desert, que la mer est basse, holidays! Tant de ciel et tant de nuages, tu ne sais pas a ton age, toi que la vie lasse, que la mort est basse, holidays!

serene – 1, part 5c

pply a very thin epoxy fill – coat to completely cover the fiberglass fabric weaves, then peal off the duct tapes (together with the excess glass) with a sharp knife. The hull is then exposed to sunlight for the epoxy to completely cure, before given a very light sanding in prepare for painting. I paused for a few moments to watch her lines, well, with the singular exception of the “man – of – war”, all boats is always referred to as “she / her”, there must have been a reason for that, right!? 🙂

Next come the job of installing some miscellaneous deck hardwares, the deck plate to seal off the skeg box, two small wood blocks acting like tiny cleats to hold the skeg control line… Some more unnamed works needed before the deck could be painted. You can also notice from the images that the deck has received another layer of thinned epoxy (mixed with color pigment). I was thinking over about the color scheme, but found out that it’s best to just have wooden colors on a boat.

7th, 8th images: using duct tapes to mask the areas out for painting. The cockpit would be painted first in dark brown color, like the hull, as well as some other parts on deck. After some simplest decorations go in, the deck and hull would be coated with transparent PU, just one layer on top and two at the bottom. After that is the final fitting (hatches, lashing lines, skeg control) and the boat would be ready for water, seems like I can’t wait anymore for it, to try out the boat this weekend! 🙂

Serene – 1, part 1
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Serene – 1, part 2
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A bit off topic about the connotation of concepts… (in addition to polyurethane vs PU in the previous post) in Vietnamese the terms: áo ấm (warm jacket) and áo lạnh (cold jacket) vaguely refer to one same thing. In English, a wet suit and a dry suit are two different things! 😀

Reflected by the language, the Vietnamese are usually narrow – minded, they don’t take concepts into the very detailed, they don’t see things from different angles. They only see what’s immediately closed to them. As such, they’re easily tricked into seeing only what they / others want to see!