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je viens d'un pays qui n'existe plus, je viens d'un paradis perdu


n charactereedless to say, boats were my "secret dreams" ever since childhood, and to quote Honore de Balzac: «the three most beautiful sights in the world are: a ship in full sail, a galloping horse, and a woman dancing». When I was a small boy, I "was building" (imagine things in my mind) my "future boats": hull shapes, deck arrangements, riggings, etc... Then the flow of life casts me so far away from my secret dreams, and for so long, many years have passed. Now it's not too late though, to revive those unfinished dreams, I'm making the very first steps into the diverse, colorful world of small boats, starting with the North American Indian style canoe Hello World - 1.

Hello World - 1

Hate having to rent a boat each time going paddling, I decided to build my own one. Building yourself a wooden boat is a fascinating experience that teaches you lots of things: woodworking techniques, epoxying, glassing, etc... Hello World - 1, a 12 foot Canadian Indian - style canoe, is my first boat building project, admittedly, I'd made lots of mistakes, but in the end, the result turned out to be somewhat pleasing. The whole building progress is recorded here (see the albums for photos with detailed building comments). Hello World - 1 took 2 months to complete, though quite slow in speed, and heavy in weight, it's my first boat, she helps me practising paddling, a nice utility boat for going fishing and poking around the water near my home!

Hello World - 2

While a small canoe is fun for messing around, I need a suitable boat for longer journeys. Hello World - 2, a 14 foot recreational kayak, is built with the purpose of reaching waters outside of Sài Gòn, not the calm rivers anymore, but maybe for the choppy, near - coastal sea in Vũng Tàu area. A longer and thinner hull which offers improved speed, a closed compartment to store gears, and deck to offer protection against waves. Having gained much experiences from building Hello World - 1, it took me only 3 weeks to finish this (quite simple in design) kayak, the building progress is described here. I'm quite pleased with both the appearance and performance of this boat: very good looking, lighter and much faster. With her, I started to make much longer paddling!

Hello World - 3

With Hello World - 3, I offcially stepped into the world of sea kayak, long slender boat which offers better speed in preparation for coastal - sea trips. I wish one day, I could go hundreds of kilometers (or even more), reaching remote shores and islands, but by now, I'm still in the progress of getting me ready for that. With experiences gained in the building of the previous two boats, and with much time spent (3 months), Hello World - 3 building quality is quite satisfactory to me. This gonna be my main boat for some time. In building a better boat, knowing its capabilities and limits, knowing how well I'm physically and mentally prepared for challenging long journeys, learning more and more things every day, all pushes me, bit by bit, closer to reaching my dream target.

Serene - 1

In the thirst for a kayak that is "perfect", I proceed to designing my own. I worked on computer modelling for about a month, making all neccessary computations, then spent the next two months building it. A long process ended up with a boat very narrow in beam (45 cm), yet quite stable and fast for coastal sea. Among my "fleet", this is the boat I feel pleased the most: lightweight, agile, and good looking. Now I guess that I'm not a beginner in boat building anymore, not yet an expert of course. So I drop the Hello World nomenclature and give her the new name: Serene, starting a new "family" of boats. With a very good boat, when my free time permits, there's no excuse for not to go on with my further paddling trips!

Serene - 2

My 9 days paddling trip through all mouths of the Mekong river has revealled all the strong points and weaknesses of Serene - 1. I'm very happy to see that the boat behaves very well on rough water. On the other hand, the kayak has minor issues with it directional stability, which prompted me to designing and building Serene - 2. The new kayak has a retractable rudder, controlled by 2 pedals with my 2 legs. At 17 feet long, it's a bit shorter compared to my previous boat, with a slightly increased displacement. The kayak is equipped with a 7 Watt solar panel which charges a 3 cells, 10 Amph Lithium battery to power the bilge pump and lightings, 2 new lighter paddles, and various improves here and there to prepare it for serious paddling in the upcoming time.

Serene - 3

Serene - 3 is a natural continuation of Serene - 2, better understanding on boat design, more experiences in different water conditions, and my improved building skills enable me to build a better kayak, to match and reflect the changes in the sea kayak community, which constantly comes up with many innovations. This is the boat that I put some emphasis on bracing, rolling and other self - rescue actions, as well as its stabilities. With a slightly higher displacement, a rudder controlled by foot pedals, and better equipments, I hope this would be the boat for my long - distance cruisings. Only from a kayak that you build and understand precisely its behaviours that comes the confidence to venture far and long with it.


I came up with new design ideas that is translated into Serenity, my latest kayak, and the one that I feel extremely satisfied with. First, I decided to reduce the boat length down to 15.5 feet, for long - distance paddling, when they say "fast", it usually rather means "efficient", and a longer waterline length only benefits those with greater paddling power (which is obviously not me). Second, I experimented with a very curvy hull, lots of rocker and also a relatively deep - V bottom. The results are extremely satisfying to me, the boat was tested to play very well in big waves. Further more, with Serenity, it's much easier to brace and to roll, as well as to reentry. It's with this boat that I would perfected all the essential skills required for an experienced, advanced - level sea kayaker!


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