woodworking

y humble woodworking corner with a modest collection of tools for sawing, cutting, drilling, planing, chiseling, sanding… dozens types of chemicals for epoxying, painting, varnishing… For now, it’s still a small corner with basic tools, but it’ll be growing into a “well – equipped” boat – building workshop soon! 🙂

4th image below: a clock, a thermometer and a hygrometer to help mixing epoxy resin, a process which is quite weather – sensitive…

lãng mạn

Lao xao sóng vỗ ngọn tùng,
Gian nan là nợ anh hùng phải vay!

ãng mạn, từ nguyên: text=浪&font=2&size=17&color=555555text=漫&font=2&size=17&color=555555, lãng (text=浪&font=2&size=17&color=555555) là sóng, mạn (text=漫&font=2&size=17&color=555555) tức tràn đầy, nghĩa gốc của lãng mạn như thế. Không phải ngồi một chỗ, đọc vài câu thơ, hát vài ý nhạc vớ vẩn mà phần lớn trường hợp, còn không tự phân biệt được đâu là loại hay, loại dở, loại tầm tầm, loại nhảm nhí rẻ tiền… (chưa bao giờ các phẩm chất cơ bản con người lại xuống cấp mạt hạng như bây giờ). Lãng mạn tức là… sóng tràn đầy, thế thôi; đâu đó ngoài kia, có một không gian thật… lãng mạn! 🙂

on saigon river

or the last several months, I rarely take a camera with me while kayaking. Partly cause I don’t want to bring delicate electronics to water, partly cause I want to concentrate just on paddling. But that’s why I’ve missed many noteworthy things on the way, many times I wished I’d had a camera at the right moment.

The other day, I was paddling in the late afternoon when a large flock of white storks approached my boat in the opposite direction. The V – shape formation obviously was utilizing the “surface effect”, flying closed to water. Just 10m away, the birds raise the altitude, make lots of noises, and pass above my head, a spectacular scene!

Another day, I was taking a short rest under a big mangrove palm tree, watching a beautiful butterfly in a brush nearby. All of a sudden, a big catfish jumps from beneath the calm water, catches the butterfly in its mouth, then disappears as quickly as it comes. I wished I could have taken a picture of that interesting moment!

A colorful world of boats of all kinds and sizes on the rivers, ranging from 0.5 ton (my kayak 🙂 ) to 50,000 ton (this is about the upper limit for boats to traverse safely on Saigon river). The 3rd and 4th images, the pair of Sonya – class minesweepers: HQ – 863, HQ – 864 and two Svetlyak – class gunboats: HQ – 264, HQ – 265 at Hải Minh naval shipyard.

Most people I met on rivers is friendly. The local fishermen are usually timid (except when they’re drunk), the vendors are talkative and glib, only the professional sailors warmly share with me their thought on boats and boating… I receive lots of questions on my boats, and some even propose to sell / build for them another Hello World – 2 🙂 .

A week ago, I passed by a group of wooden boats, whose outlooks are very different to boats of this area. The long, narrow hull, the crescent rudder, colors and decorations… those could be boats of Cambodian influences, I’d thought, very original design, little modern modifications! The next day, I come back with a camera, and they’ve gone! 🙁

Today, I met that group of strange boats again, luckily. It turned out that they’re of Cham ethnic group, not Khmer as I initially assumed, coming from Châu Đốc (An Giang province). It was so good that a really friendly young guy showed me around the group of 4 boats, 4 families living floating lives. They’re poor, but simple and sincere!

The young men then showed me that of the four boats, there’s a different one, it’s an “antique” dugout boat, made mainly from a single huge log of wood. The other 3 are modern builds, wooden planks on frame, although externally they look exactly the same. He said, the dugout boat has been handed down from generation to generation…

…And he doesn’t even know how old the boat is, but estimated that it should be older than 150 years. I examined the boat’s very original design, such a dugout is surely a very rare specimen that can hardly be found today. I then continue my paddling path, many entangled thinking in my head, twilight is gently casting on the immense river…

A watery Saigon, part 1
photo album

(Many pictures taken are not very sharp, since my new fixed lens has difficulty making proper focuses through the opaque water – proof plastic cover)

 

Chiều buông, trên dòng sông Cửu Long, như một cơn ước mong, ơi chiều! Về đâu, ơi hàng cây gỗ rong, nghiêng mình trên sóng sông, yêu kiều…

Chiều về trên sông – Thái Thanh

hello world – 2, part 3

ay after day, I gradually… felt in love with my new kayak 🙂 . Although quite sturdily and heavily built (around 32 kg), it behaves well on water. The longer and thiner hull offers much better speed (compared to Hello World – 1), but the most important thing is that the hull shape provides and maintains sufficient “kinetic energy” for the boat to make sustainable headway into unfavorable winds and waves!

The added retractable skeg works perfectly! Within the storage compartment lies the skeg box, which houses a 30 cm skeg blade that can be controlled (lowered or raised) via a steel wire which runs into the cockpit on the right of my seat. With winds coming from astern, the skeg is lowered to reduce the boat’s drifting and yawing, or when waves are large, the skeg helps reducing rolling motion.

I now have the excellent Fein Multimaster oscillating tool into my woodworking collection. Watch a demo video here to see what the wonderful Multimaster can do. There’re some other accessories needed for this Hello World – 2: a paddle, a hand pump… For the paddle, it’s the first time I experiment with carbon fiber fabric, it seems to be very solid, but I need to learn more to get the most out of this special material!

The hand pump is quite simple indeed, it takes just a couple of hours to get it done. Two check valves (one way valves), some PVC parts, and a toilet pump (available at most super market). The hand pump is a crucial accessory for my kayak, as now it’s turned into rainy season, and as I’m paddling into rougher water. There’re some more accessories to be made and tested, before… the voyage begin!

the rubber duck

he famous rubber duck is here on Crescent lake, Saigon. Just my curiosity to go there and have some poses with that huge, yellow floating object. To be precise, my childhood was not familiar to this kind of thing, such a toy at my time was consider to be… “luxurious”! The guards did not permit us to pass the floating buoy line, arghh!

Accidentally met this ‘English guy’ on the waterway who said to purchase that Vietnamese – style motorized dinghy to use as his ‘fishing boat’. He complained about the difficulty of obtaining a kayak or canoe for his fitness purpose, and the expensive prices of imported boats. Well, see… we have both two: a canoe and a kayak with us 🙂 !

saigon river

t is not always as calm as in the video below, this time of the year, the monsoon is reversing, causing lots of turbulences. Sometimes waves are so big that I can hardly have anytime for playing around with my GoPro camera, one reckless moment could cause my little kayak to be flooded, or worse, capsized. But many of the times, there’s enough wind and wave to let Hello World – 2 going dancing, drifting and surfing 🙂 . My 20km routine paddling path, passing by Phú Xuân bridge, Nhà Bè fuel reservoirs, Bình Khánh ferry, Hải Minh shipyard… where I can see the CSB – 9001 (a Vietnam maritime police’s search and rescue boat) mooring, next to it are some small Navy (HQ – xxx) gunboats.

In the wet docks are two Navy minesweepers: HQ – 863, HQ – 864 being refitted, I passed by closed enough to see their towed array sonars and their wooden planks (minesweepers are rarely constructed in ferromagnetic materials, often it’s wood or composite). The two hulls: KN – 806, KN – 807 are barely finished with some upper structures, they belong to Kiểm Ngư (Vietnam fisheries resources surveillance) force, whose establishment has just been announced last week. There’re also some other exotic – looking water crafts, which I haven’t been able to identify their designs and roles. No active guard seen for the Navy shipyard, or they don’t even care about my harmless tiny nutshell!

hello world – 1 and 2

ow “operating two boats” 🙂 , I could have more ways to play and have fun with them. Usually, me and one of my friend, each of us would go on a separate canoe / kayak, then exchange them at the midpoint of a paddling trip. It’s extremely hot out there this season, 35° ~ 39° Celsius, but that’s good for our endurence anyhow.

The handling experiences are different from boat to boat, and obviously, Hello World – 2 is lighter and has much better speed compare to Hello World – 1. It can easily give a handicap of more then 1/3 of the way. But despite of that, it’s good to learn how to handle both boats, in various conditions and situations on water.

Below is a video capturing both 2 boats’ actions on water, each as looked from the other. While Hello World – 2 was taking a gentle promenade, Hello World – 1 had to struggle hard to keep up. Jump to 1’36” on the video timeline to see how the kayak made a fast, short impressive sprint to approximately 7 ~ 8 knots! 🙂

hello world – 2

aunched and trialled the kayak this April fool day! Can’t say how much I’m pleased with it, great speed, just like a dart slicing through water! 🙂 It could take some time to learn how to handle this new kayak, the experiences are different between my two boats, but I got the right feeling on how to control it very soon.

The boat gave me a good firm sense that it can be used for longer range. The 2.2 m paddle is too long for this 0.62m – beam kayak, I would need to make a new 1.9 ~ 2.0 m one, but that would be later. I need to try it out thoroughly before deciding what to do to turn it into… an “expeditionary” boat for my up – coming journeys!

Made some longer paddling and realized the boat’s tendency not to track very straight under turbulent flow or wind (in calm conditions, it tracks well), this is tiresome for long voyage. This could be fixed when the kayak is fully loaded, with weight shifts toward the aft, but I decided anyhow to add a retractable skeg to the boat in the coming weeks!

hello world – 2, part 2

rom the outlook, she gonna be a nice boat with simple and sporty curves! I proceed slowly and carefully, as I intend to use this boat for white – water (near coastal) areas, where it gonna be rougher and wavier, compared to the almost – calm rivers around Saigon. It need to be ‘engineered’ with a focus on durable & strength! 🙂

6.     Canopy

It is extremely hard to bend the 5mm plywood into the curvy shape of the canopy (I used 5mm for convenience cause I’d bought 8 sheets of them, I should have used 3mm instead). The ply cracks a bit at the bow section, forcing me to apply a layer of fiberglass to repair and reinforce. Also, I would need to change the painting plan to better conceal the faults! 🙁

7.     Coaming & hatch

Finished the canopy part, now the jobs of fixing the plywood cracks, fitting the cockpit coaming, the hatch and its locks, sealing the compartments to be water – tight, installing the seat… lots of miscellaneous jobs. Still some way to go, but I’m already very excited to see the desired watercraft taking shape!

8.     Glassing

I was considering over and over again about whether to glass the hull or not, cause glassing will add more weight into the boat, which is quite heavy already (estimated final weight at about 25 kg). Eventually decided to glass still (stiffness is important out there in rougher water), plus an additional layer of glass at the bow & aft sections.

9.     Painting

I chose quite an unusual color scheme which diverges from my favorite colors of blue & white, I just feel that this boat needs something bold and strong, so I go with black & white, plus the wooden color of the canopy. The result is quite satisfying, at least to my eyes, now I know why this model’s code name is: Dart! 🙂

10.     Finishing

It takes some more time to finish this boat: the seat mattress, deck lashing lines, hatch’s lock, and some decorations: boat name and contact information, and boat’s eyes of course. Some more accessories need to be built for this boat, but that would be after then, can’t wait until launching and trialling this beautiful kayak!

hello world – 2, part 1

ix months have passed since I’d started Hello World – 1, my first build, a general purpose canoe. Now it’s time to let this planned Hello World – 2 to say Hello to the world 🙂 . She gonna be a kayak (of Selway Fisher’s Dart 14′ design), which I hope to have better performance and somewhat better ‘open – water’ capabilities.

1.     DRAW & CUT

Having gained much experiences from the building of Hello World – 1, I’m expecting Hello World – 2 to be finished in 2, 3 weeks or so. Apart from the canopy, the underpart of this kayak requires only 4 bilges (compare to 7 of the previous build), which would ease and speed up the progress. I did all drawing, cutting & joining in a single day.

2.     TRIM & JOIN

After cutting, pairs of bilges are clamped together (port & starboard) and trimmed to the same shape. Then simple butt joints with additional ribbons of plywood would do the job of joining to the full length of 14 feet (~ 4.2 m). All these joints would be hidden inside the hull under the canopy anyhow, so I don’t really care if they look good or not.

3.     STITCH

Stitching does not take much time indeed, there’re only 4 bilges to put together. The hull is simpler, the plywood is easier to bend too. I guess more hard work would come with the canopy part, but for now, I’m really pleased to see the hull quickly take initial shape. Check geometries, fasten the wires, then come to the next step!

4.     GLUE

More and more hands – on with epoxy and fillet. I think the suitable mixing ratio is somewhere between 1:3 and 1:5. That is (applied for), in Saigon, there’s no West System’s epoxy or such things, what I can find is kind of ‘raw chemicals’. Also, humidity greatly affects epoxy curing, avoid working when it rains. Absolutely keep acetone from the messing in!

5.     Bulkheads, deck’s beams, stringers & gunwales

At this point, I decided to change the original design. The fore and aft sections are water – tight compartments serving as flotations, next to the aft section is the added storage compartment with hatch, to store gears for, e.g: a weekend trip, and cockpit in the middle. There’re so many small details to be cared of at this step…