I launched my newly built boat for the first time today. I was worried about its performance so didn’t take my phone for photos and therefore didn’t record my progress on Strava. I’d been worried that it may be rather heavy to pull, on its inbuilt wheels, a half mile to the canal but it wasn’t a problem. The catamaran breaks into 2 parts transversely and in transit the front half sits on top of the rear. I need to use rope rather than bungees in future because the halves moved with the stretching elastic. Once by the water I built the halves together, which only requires 4 bolts. I had a spectator who delayed his dog walking to watch me launch. I placed the boat on the bank and dropped the rudder, securing it in position, before carefully pushing it over the 40 cm drop into the water.
As expected the hulls floated at a depth of only around 4 cm. With the vessel securely tethered to the bank I gingerly placed a foot as close to the centre as possible. It immediately felt stable, which was a relief, and I sat down. Casting off wasn’t too terrifying and I pedaled away. I could tell straight away that the rather small paddles weren’t biting into the water so progress was slow. Water was flicking up onto the seat. The steering was working OK but when I tried to turn around to return to my start point I slowed even more in the turn so had to do a reverse to get round. I passed my start point and performed another unsuccessful turn. What I did notice was how well the boat kept moving if I left the pedals level which held both paddles above the water. I coasted gently to the bank and climbed back on land.
A small group of walkers showed some interest, one asking me to mark my impressions out of 10. I didn’t give a score but on reflection I’d have to give it a 7. Yes, I need to gain speed but I’ve already formulated a plan to install much wider paddles. I hope that this will be adequate and will only need a little reengineering to make clearance. With more speed the rudder should be fine. I was delighted with the way the boat floats and its stability. With me on board I was immersing the 30 cm deep hulls by 12 cm. I’ll be back for a hopefully better experience next week.
Congratulations! I’m thrilled for you and am excited to hear about the refit! I think, if I recall correctly, you have a YouTube channel? I’d love to see video of the boat whilst underway on the water!
I’ll certainly post some Youtube footage later but the priority now is to get the paddling improved. It’s a bigger job than I’d initially thought so may take me longer than a week.
Andrew — congrats from a long-time cat fan. I’ve been marketing cats (sail and power) for more than 40 years. So, I’m impressed with your avid, D.I.Y. gumption. For my own further education, I’m wondering: what facts convinced you that paddle propulsion would be preferable to a propellor? Over the decades, most of the small, self-propelled cats I’ve seen used screw-type systems. But I don’t know the physics one one system compared to the other — only that few paddle-powered vessels are built these days. Again, kudos to you for your tenacity and an obvious, can-do mindset!
Cheers — Rod
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In the next hour I’m going down to the water to test it! The first paddle system wasn’t going to work since the space is too restricted. I’ve re-engineered with a front mounted paddle wheel because I used a rear mounted successfully on my first boat. Paddle wheels have similar efficiency to good props. but with pedal power it’s easier because you don’t need to turn the drive through 90 degrees. They are not as good on rough water due to strength and the way they will rise above the surface but I will mainly sail on the canal, Later I also intend to add a sail for use on lakes. Wish me luck.