I don’t really know why I feel I must build a boat. I had a dinghy when I was a kid and my son, Dylan, and I briefly had a dinghy when he was younger. My boat will be pedal powered from a recumbent seating position, so it will give me similar exercise to cycling. I live close to the canal so this is where I’ll be using the boat. I have a 9 mile stretch of water, uninterrupted by locks. I couldn’t negotiate a lock without help but if the need ever arose I could haul the boat out and somehow get past the obstacle, so long as the boat is light enough. A project of this type must begin with plenty of planning and, whilst I’ve thought about the idea for years, I’ve planned in detail for several months. Obviously the internet is a massively helpful source of information and by looking at lots of designs and combining what I consider the best, I’ve arrived at something I think will work.
I decided to build the hull in aluminium because I have previous experience of using large sheets of the metal. It’s easily worked and quite plastic so that dents can be beaten out. The transom (back of the boat) is marine grade plywood, supported on a frame of pressure treated timber which shouldn’t see too much contact with water. The hull was very floppy when I cut and bent the sheet but improved a lot with the transom in place. Now I’ve fitted the gunwales which are aluminium strips around the top of the hull and it no longer flexes in a way that you can feel.
Next comes a curved marine ply cover at the bow with strips of ply down each side reaching the flat part at the stern. I’ll fill under this wooden area with a combination of expanded polystyrene and expanding spray foam so it will float no matter how much water gets inside. A seat at the rear and pedals at the front will finish the interior. I haven’t fully resolved the tiller to steer it but have the propulsion system ready to construct. It’s great to have a project which is so involving. It’s taking a lot of brainpower to overcome so many challenges. My wife, Ali, started off thinking it was a stupid idea but now she’s seen some progress is almost impressed. She’s even said she’ll bring the dog, Freddie, along to the launch. I think they’re just hoping to see me get wet. Tomorrow will be a dry day so I’ll be back to mountain biking.