I hadn’t had a cold in around 2 years but have now endured 2 in quick succession. It started last Friday and only yesterday did I feel well enough to return to my regular exercise regime. I can only presume that my resistance to colds has been reduced by not having to fight one in so long. It also suggests that all the mask wearing and social distancing, which has largely ended, truly has stopped us passing infections around. I have, of course, continued to walk our dog, Freddie, every day but I don’t really think of dog walking as exercise. It isn’t very aerobic and doesn’t stress the muscles though if I take him into the hills for a longer walk it would undoubtedly be of some fitness benefit. I waited until today because we were due lovely weather, which we are now enjoying. I had already decided to use my pedal powered boat rather than ride a mountain bike, partly because we’ve had very heavy rain leading to lots of mud but also because I’ve modified the boat since last time on the water and wanted to know if the changes had worked.
I’ve been developing the boat since I first sailed it in March and had it working well from mid July. It wasn’t perfect, though. At first the pedals rotated in a notchy kind of way. I cured this with more rigid rods connecting the pedals to the paddlewheel which drives the boat forwards.
I then found that the boat went well but it was impossible to turn the pedals at a cycling speed. I could only manage around 30 rpm so fitted a chain and sprockets to reduce the gearing so that 2 pedal turns now turned the paddlewheel just once.
After a successful test I had only one remaining issue which was that the harder I pedalled the more water was flung into the hull. I made a new cowl from corrugated plastic intended as a protective floor covering.
So today, in delightful sunshine, I ventured down to the canal and pedalled to the Cowling slipway where I turned round. I heard the other day that such slipways are not so much for launching boats but to are for horses to be able to get out if they fall in the water. Horses were used to pull the boats in the past but it sounds a little fanciful to me. I worked quite hard on my way past my starting point and up to Frederick’s ice cream parlour. The pedals now turn with a silky smoothness and it’s easy to maintain 60 rpm. In fact this was the first time I listened to music whilst sailing and could time my pedal turns with the rhythm on some songs. I turned for home and kept a good pace up but feeling down in the back of the hull I was surprised to find some water ingress. It isn’t a leak because I could feel cold splashes and see where water had landed on the woodwork, flicked up from the paddlewheel. I’ll try a different cowl at some point though a couple of litres of water per hour inside the hull isn’t the end of the world. On a longer trip the problem may be lessened by pedalling more gently. The boat is still more muscular than it is aerobic but it’s now a perfectly good alternative form of exercise to cycling. I don’t know how much longer it will seem prudent to sail a home made boat as the weather cools down but today I was wearing a T shirt so there may still be some trips to enjoy. It remains a fascinating project and has cost me less than £300 for a vast amount of interest and fun.