Creating a memory after 75 years

My father wanted a tender to use with the Blackduck. (This was even before the Egg.) So his boat-crazy son (myself, about 10) showed him a design in one of the catalogues I had collected. Dad sent away for the plans, ordered the wood, cut out the parts. Then for various reasons the project stopped.

Fast forward 75 years. I still have the plans for Puddleduck, a 6’ 6” plywood pram, plus most of the materials that Dad cut out. I also have a grandson, aged 10, and three other younger grandkids. I also have a very determined and capable daughter-in-law who is looking for ways to keep young hands and minds occupied during this summer of pandemic isolation. So Tammy is now the superintendent of the With Boatyard.

The plans called for standard plywood-on-frame construction. But today with epoxy resin, fibreglass sheathing, and the stitch-and-glue method, we are going to learn, and teach the kids, how to build a tiny rowing boat!

Tammy has already started the “stitching” and is figuring out from the table of offsets the shape of a pair of crucial missing parts, so we are sailing right along. This is a learn-as-you-go project. We will be posting progress reports and photos here on the blog. This is the first:

Boatbuilder Tammy studies Puddleduck’s plans.
Tammy shows Jasper how the bottom pieces are stitched together.

In the above photo Tammy has stitched the chines to the bottom pieces. In the photo below, taken on the hottest day of the summer so far (32 C), she has made a new stern transom, adjusted all the stitching, and stitched the transom to the bottom and chine pieces.

Having cut out a new transom, Tammy adjusts stitching at the chines.

When the side pieces were stitched to the chines, we found all the pieces could not be bent enough to be glued together. Which has us wondering if any boats were actually built with the chines, as no pram plans currently available seem have them and they don’t appear to be necessary. So Tammy took the chines off, and now will try pulling all the pieces together to see how they fit before the glueing can proceed.

That worked, so her father Rick June, a professional fiberglasser, helped her putty all the inside seams, remove the nylon zip-ties, flip the boat over, sand it, and glass the outside of the hull. All that in one day! Having a pro for a teacher helps, especially if he’s your Dad.

Tammy holds the boat steady while her dad Rick planes edges prior to fiberglassing.

So Puddleduck is now in her finished form. Next will be sanding the glassed exterior, filling gaps, more sanding, and a final gel coat. Then follows some trimming, installing the skeg, gunwales and other wooden items, painting, and launching her in a neighbour’s pool to see how she floats.

Inside, showing seams puttied and taped. Next, these surfaces will also get a gel coat.

Not one to waste time, the day after the photo above was taken Tammy applied the gel coat and while it was setting went and bought the paint. One more fine sanding and the paint went on, transforming this craft into its ultimate phase: a newborn puddleduck.

And here she is, almost finished:

Greg, Sawyer and Tammy pose with the newly named Puddleduck.

She still needs the skeg fitted on the bottom, oars, and some hardware, and she’ll be ready for christening and launching. Then the great-grandchildren of her original owner/builder can take her for the first row.

On Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 Puddleduck was christened by Tammy and myself, then launched into a pond for her first venture afloat. She still needs some adjustments, but we are pleased with how she sits on the water as she should. With an adult rowing and a child in the stern she will be perfect. With two and even three children she should also be perfect. More than that for a six-foot boat is dangerous.

Ready for the water.
She floats!
Greg rows Sawyer in Puddleduck. She is bow-heavy because the rowing position is too far forward.
Boatbuilder Tammy gives Jasper his first time aflooat.
Is that a self-satisfied smile? It deserves to be!
Sampling the christening bubbly after waiting 75 years. Ancient Islander is now land-locked.

PUDDLEDUCK’S STORY HAS BEEN PICKED UP BY “SMALL BOATS MAGAZINE”. YOU CAN READ IT HERE: https://smallboatsmonthly.com/article/puddle-duck/

2 thoughts on “Puddleduck

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