Foam Foam Foam your Boat

After laying new carbon fiber cloth on both interior sides of the bow, which stiffened the hull and gave it integrity again, it was time to follow through with setting the blue XPS foam. I had tried cutting the foam with a razor knife, a hand saw and even a kitchen knife. Of those three the kitchen knife was easiest to work with to get a clean cut. However, I spent $20 on a hot foam cutter through Amazon and got my best results. None of those little blue styrofoam balls and relatively easy to cut complex curves. You definitely want to wear a respirator. The fumes are nasty.

All in all, I figure I added about 2 ounces of foam to the weight. I left a little gap on other side to ensure I was not spreading the hull and ensure the top would fit.

Hot Foam Cutter
Dry Fitting Foam

Foam Inset by Repaired Crack

Phase 1 of Returning the Top Nose

Since I also needed to repair cracks in the hull under the seat, it was decided to simply add a deck plate with access cover instead of returning the carbon patch. The deck plate cost $15 from West Marine and the hatch will be utilized to attach a small storage bag. The plate is made from ABS plastic, heavier and stiffer than carbon, so I think it will actually stiffen the area of the hole, though it added a few ounces as well.

Since I've lost 4 pounds, we're in good shape!

Stay tuned as we prepare for the Swimming Pool Test.


Planet Ocean and Boat Floating

This post will serve as an introduction to the greater topic of paddling and allow me to meander to thoughts about water, especially salt water, without which there would be no need for outrigger paddling. These thoughts about our planet ocean tie into the repair thread in that I am taking into consideration the force of the collision between the hull and the standing waves of water. I discussed this with my repair mentor Gil, and while it is certainly impossible to calculate where the bow bounces against wave peaks the most, the last thing I want is the hull to crack like an egg against waves or any flotsam.

I am guilty of salvaging a 1966 Chevy Chevelle that had a tree fall on it, but it's hard to sink in an old Chevy. If I get my boat repair wrong and hit a reef, so to speak, this could be life threatening. This hull repair must be brought to 110% integrity. Okay, how?

While it was decided that the top of the canoe should be cut open to fix it from the inside, there was concern about the possibility of new damage to the location brought on by new surf stress, which could lead to "catastrophic failure." Yikes. I decided it might be best to insert some XPS insulation in the area to provide strength, and came up with this initial design:
Just how hard is water in motion, and what kind of stress can a boat handle? I don't know, but after I came across this post on a craft marooned on a reef, once again, I felt a little better about my prospects.

Much better to add 4 ounces of XPS (fancy name for foam) with a compressive strength of 25 psi (pounds per square inch) to take any future blows than risk cracking the hull. While the foam might add 4 ounces to the canoe, I'll just have to go on a diet to offset it!

The foam brings one more aspect to the hull: it is buoyant.
If things didn't float on our ocean, there would be no paddling. So, why do boats float? The answer is buoyancy, which is actually a physics term. It means an object will float if it is less dense than the liquid under it. The pressure from the ocean is "upthrust" and is pressure against the object trying to displace it. The shape of a boat, or in this case, canoe, lends itself to buoyancy. This canoe is like a carbon fiber bubble where the length provides even greater stability.

The hull was cut open, and we took a peek under the "hood."

A Dremel was used to make the first incision, but I decided I'd get a smoother continuous cut from a jigsaw and ordered the Bosch carbon fiber blades online.

The XPS insulation discovered inside the hull seemed to be original to the canoe's creation and likely was meant either to hold things in place while the top was originally glued on or did serve some purpose for cushioning bounce. 4" holes are cut into it like Swiss cheese, presumably to cut down on unnecessary ounces.


Puakea OC1 Rescue

What kind of OC1 costs $175? Well, who knows? But that was the price tag the night I randomly googled for used outrigger canoes. 1: usually the hits are scarce. 2: usually the listings are for OC's almost as expensive as new. 3: usually these OC's are in California or Hawaii.

They are never in Lousiana and certainly not on a Louisiana Air Force Base. But there it was, $175 on eBay. It was listed as a fixer upper missing a rudder. Well, since I've thrown away a couple hundred dollar bills on much more foolish things, I gambled and bought it.

The seller was kind enough to wrap it in its case and bubble wrap the ama and i'aku's as well as the seat. Federal Express was dumb enough to lose the X-shaped PVC cradles it was sitting on.

The Fedex guys who carried it out marveled at how light it was, but I was concerned that the boat had parted ways with the cradles and been rolling around in transit  There is no way to insure a used craft like this, so it was all part of the gamble. (*Fedex freight cost $425 to bring it to New York City, where it was retrieved at the Elizabeth Port distribution center in New Jersey.)

By the time my friend and I picked it up and unwrapped it there was bonus damage: a good hit to the left side of the bow. However this exposed a weakness, for exactly in that location someone else had done a pretty sloppy repair. Naturally the most damaged area was exposed last, and I have to say it made me very nervous. But after my friend ran his hands up and down the hull and itemized each flaw he said cheerfully, "Nothing we can't fix!"

He handed me a sander and 15 minutes later it looked like this:

Should I say I was actually comforted by the fact my friend had crashed his marathon canoe 40 miles into the General Clinton Memorial Day race just a few days prior, which ripped it in half, and he expected to fix even that. So, this was nothing. Or so I hoped!