Saturday 28 April 2012

Sailing Canoes - The Beginning

Well, the beginning for me. There is ample information about sailing canoes posted around net which chronicles the beginnings of these now rare watercraft, but essentially there are canoes with sails, and sailing canoes. Placing a sail on an open paddling canoes often takes spectators by surprise, as they seem the least likely hulls to try and sail. Nevertheless, with a leeboard (or two) and either a rudder or paddle for steering, they are tremendous fun. Sailing canoes, however, came into existence as the hulls began to be developed more for sailing and less for paddling, culminating in the International Canoe, or IC, or 10 square meter class of sailing dinghy shown above.
The modern version traces its roots to the early days of canoe sailng, which saw many innovations, such as the sliding hiking seat which allows the skipper to use their weight outboard of the boat, to balance the force generated by a large suit of sails, 110sq feet  typically.

Photo credit: David McDaniel

The above photo, taken at Killbear Park on Georgian Bay, demonstrates the differences between an open canoe rigged with a lateen sail, and a decked sailing canoe with hiking board, namely a replica circa 1913 sailing canoe from the 16 30 class. Early in the last century, this class was extremely active and under development as some stability was added with the caveat that boats be no longer than 16feet and no wider than 30inches, carrying 90 feet of sail on two masts. Until around 1930 when the British caused planing hulls and sloop rigs to alter the class, this setup prevailed.
Photo credit: Rod Mincher
John Summers, then of the Antique Boat Museum, made it possible for several of us to build replica boats of our own, as original 16 30 are typically rare, which puts their cost at a premium, and often fragile due to their age. Add to this that the majority of period boats were round hulled, making for a steep learning curve when one is first learning the subleties of handling one. John took the lines of a hard chined boat that resides in a museum collection, and develped it for modern construction. When offered the opportunity of a spot in this endeavour, i couriered a cheque immediately. Suddenly towards the end of 2007 there were 5 similar boats, and  the current revival of sailing canoes was well underway. Plans are available from the museum,, for anyone wishing to have one. I`d  be happy to build one for any prospective new sailor...

Dan Sutherland taking my boat on its maiden voyage at Clayton, NY
What led me to John, and ultimately the fascination with this now historic class... 
More later on this boat, and how i scratched my wifes new week-old van....

This sailing canoe was discovered abandoned in the woods in Eastern Ontario, amongst other boats and rowboats left behind by earlier generations. While the other boats had long since rotted and were becoming part of the forest floor, this one suffered a kinder fate. Placed in the woods decades earlier, it had been turned upside down and placed on two boulders, off of the ground. Due to its robust construction, it had not hogged or lost its shape, and as it was built to be canvas covered it had shed much of the water and snow. It was naturally waterlogged, and it took great effort to load it. Home it went, close to 300pounds on the roof rack, and on taking it off the help i enlisted was unable to hold it up but miraculously never dropped it.
The canvas was removed so it could begin drying.
As we were in the process of moving, and not wanting to lift it again, i of course placed it in a position of prominence in the new house. We had taken the house early to paint and renovate, so it was tolerated for the time being!
Really though, i thought it was a great piece but was quickly voted down and it would find its way back to the garage. No matter, I was hooked. A genuine sailing canoe, and not knowing much about them I began to make inquiries......

Another two shots of the same boat i found while looking through old files. This old boat will get a new lease on life this winter, hopefully to splash again this spring or early summer.

Second bet thing the Toyota has ever hauled, behind kids. Pre - trailer days when everything got hoisted on the roof. Soaking wet and covered in canvas, it easily lost 100+lbs when it was stripped and dried out.

Another great shot i found while going through old files, getting pointers from Jan Gougeon of Gougeon Brothers, manufacturers of West System epoxies and developers of the wood epoxy saturation technique. Brothers Jan and Meade have been to the Paddlers Rendezvous at Killbear Provincial Park many times and are great sailing canoe enthusiasts, however they tend to favour cruising over the wet, racing style 16/30s. Jan still enjoyed my boat, and put it through its paces.
 A rolling rack of happiness.. 16/30 replica, original sailing canoe below awaiting restoration, and a glossy cedarstrip up top. 

Thursday 26 April 2012

New Floorboards for the Cedarstrip

Because of the many small and higher ribs in a cedarstrip canoe vs a cedar canvas, they typically have floorboards both to make kneeling and sitting on the bottom more comfortable, as well as to spread the weight over a greater area. This particular boat is equipped with kneeling thwarts, but showed up without boards so a new set is in order.
First a 12' clear white cedar board is selected, although basswood was a popular material as well. It then gets split in two, after a trip through the bandsaw on the resaw blade.  Note outfeed rollers or a table were not available, so we stop the first person passing by and press them into service..
The resultant boards, book matched. They wil be shaped, varnished and put in place with brass clips screwed into the ribs.

The morning was cold, but spring is definitely on its way.
New boards shaped and awaiting varnish. To be installed with original style brass clips, then new stem bands and the launch.
Cedar boards are a nicer alternative than the basswood originally used, with a much nicer grain.

Saturday 21 April 2012

FOR SALE: Peterborough Prospector

A new acquisition, a Peterborough Prospector from the Department of Lands and Forest. Officially a model 1452, 16`in length. The boat requires a complete refinishing, as well as a few ribs to be replaced. They had been replaced already, but the workmanship is not the best. Two thwarts and slat seats, pure prospector. A perfect tripping boat, this boat is suspected to have been built by the Canadian Canoe Company, who were building most of the Peterborough Canoe Company`s canvas canoes during the period this one was built. Unlike the prospectors from Chestnut, the lines on this one are in our opinion finer, with a finer entry and smoother transition to the midsection, as well as moderate rocker carried the full length. The boat has no keel, and will be a superb paddler.
Visible here is the serial number 1452 as well as the L&F stamp from the Department of Lands and Forests, the former name for the Ministry of Natural Resources. A prospector would have been the natural choice for work in the field, and this one, while well used, was not abused.
Nice lines, constant rocker and replacement ribs visible. A no frills workboat, planked in white cedar and trimmed in ash, it is nevertheless well built and finished.

Wouldnt this be the ideal boat for canoe tripping for an overnite, weekend or week long trip - then again, there`s lot of stablility and room for fishing or just paddling around.


Saturday 14 April 2012

Spring Canvas replacement

The weather has been so nice and the bugs are still weeks away, so before the snow tires get put away we took advantage of their weight and canvassed a Prospector, Guide and Chum yesterday. After the preservative has dried on the canvas, they will be filled and set aside until they are ready for prime and paint.
The unmistakable stem profile of the legendary Chestnut Cruiser, 17.5 ft in length.
Currently my favorite canoe ( and likely to be for some time) these boats are a fantastic combination of carrying capacity, maneouverability and speed.
This old girl has a great history with Canada's oldest canoe tripping camp, and has seen a lot of miles over the last 24 summers. Still in its original canvas and with no repairs to date, its a great example of a Chestnut canoe. But why does it say Fraser on the side in Chestnut-style script?
 Through the generosity of another canoe builder, we were able to acquire this boat and add it to our personal collection. It is a constructed as a guide model, with heavier ribs, wanigan ribs and carry thwarts as ordered, and was built by Don Fraser, Chestnuts last salesman who, upon learning of the company's demise in 1979, acquired several forms and began production of his own on a limited scale to supply the camp.
Several patches and lots of sand attest to its use throughout the years of campers tripping north, and its restoration included backside repairs to 5 ribs, and the replacment of close to 20' of planking. Remarkable shape for the use its seen, and we left all of its scars and scrapes as a testament to its service. We'll update its progress as it nears completion.

Consider picking up the definitive history of the worlds oldest canoe trip camp, we cant say enough about the quality and sheer number of photos and stories it contains.

Great mild weather and no bugs, perfect for filling canvas in preparation for paint and finishing

Monday 9 April 2012

Tools and links

From time to time there are tools and links that are just plain worth sharing. For excellent bandsaw blades, R&D bandsaws in Brampton, Ontario make an excellent product.
They are easy to deal with over the phone, and despite stating shipping would be 5-7 days the product arrived in 2. Resaw blades are fantastic and wicked sharp.

Because everyone could use a $500 dollar damascus steel chisel, the Japan woodworker exists. Tools out of this world, and many affordable.

Saw Stop, a great idea and innovation, unfortunately as with a lot of newer technology the cost is prohibitive. Website has a sort of gruesome countdown going to the next accident, which it states is statistically every 9 minutes. We're not so bold as to say it can never happen to us, but at 4x the cost of a comparable table saw, we'll continue to be diligent until the price comes down.

Setting up the new shop began soon after the first load of tools arrived, quite a busy July and August!

New favorite saw. Long a fan of Japanese pull saws, this was on sale around xmas so found its way home. Unlike some fixed blade saws, the blades are removable, and the canvas pouch came with a 19tpi as well as a 19tpi blade. It does well on hardwood and rockets through cedar. An excellent edition to the shop, and to relieve some of the others that are becoming dull with age and use. 

Another excellent tool, a Japanese 'boat builders hammer'. Sure we're not Japanese boat builders, but an excellent product, with a slightly crowned face, nice heft and a narrow end for setting and driving in tight spaces. Having used one for the last two years, we are thoroughly pleased with them.

Sunday 8 April 2012

FOR SALE: Canadian Canoe Company Balmy/Chestnut Chum

A nice, early 1960s 15 footer showing typical deck tip and gunwale end rot, so typical of cedar canvas boats left outside throughout the seasons, and/or upside down on the ground. The rest of the boat is in excellent shape with no broken ribs or plank repairs required. This model is very similar to the 15' Chestnut Chum, made famous by Omer Stringer, as well as the Peterborough Minetta. At one time Chestnut was manufacturing these for all three companies, and several characteristics about this one show it was made in Fredericton.

More photo updates to follow, as boat is ready for canvas. 
For those seeking an excellent, proven boat for solo tripping, style paddling or a leisurely paddle with a boat easily handled by one person, this one is for sale.

Tips done and new decks in place, boat has been stripped, oiled and has a third coat of varnish currently, on its way to 5.

Choice of colours can be at buyers discretion, for more information please inquire.

While we were going to opt for a more traditional red or green, another customers boat came in and Epifanes Burgundy enamel was chosen. We liked it so much the Chum is waiting on its final coat before gunwales and stembands complete it. All that will be left is to cane the seats before it hits the water.

While the Prospector is only a foot longer, it dwarfs the Chum!

All done, seats are being caned and stembands going on. Epifanes #23 burgundy, looks terrific. Water testing is next, and awaiting a new owner.

Next up is this 50s/60s era Chum, and to choose another great colour

Update: Both Chums sold!

Finished Burgundy boat; second sold as is, owner to restore
An example of the kind of transformation that can happen...

FOR SALE: 1920's Canadian Canoe Company model #50

Canadian Canoe Company model #50, circa 1920s. Collected recently, this original boat requires refinishing and recanvasing only, as seats, ribs, planking and stem tops are in great original condition. the boat was lighly refinished at one point in the 1980s with a coat of varnish on the inside. Planked in 4" western red cedar, it will stand out against the white cedar ribs. Heart shaped decks, a good amount of tumblehome and the characteristics of their early boats make this a nice example of an early Canadian boat.

For sale as is, or fully restored.
Inquire further for more details.