Updated 3/28/2010: Manda Ray / Sunny Fish is Launched
Fishie was a 10 foot plywood pram we built in 2004 at a Family Boatbuilding event at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum in Newport Beach, CA. About 50 families succeeded in assembling these boats in one weekend. Fishie had a short life. She only sailed once or twice after the maiden voyage, shown in the picture above, before being badly damaged when she was blown into a fence during a storm.
We had a lot of fun building and rowing Fishie, but after she was damaged, we moved on to other things for a while. A few years later we decided to build another boat, this time from scratch. For the Beta Fishie project, we set the goal of building the boat from scratch and launching it over the 3-day Memorial Day weekend in 2009. The boat had to be simple if we were to be able to build the complete hull in 2 days. The design of "Beta Fishie" was heavily inspired by the work of Hannu Vartiala. Hannu's website is HERE, and I highly recommend it for all would-be boat builders.
Beta Fishie was made of 5mm exterior grade Okume plywood purchased at our local home improvement store. The parts of the hull were cut from 1 1/2 sheets of plywood as shown in the drawing and picture above. The bottom and sides were spliced using plywood butt straps on the inside, and fiberglass tape on the outside. She is about 15 feet long, and has a beam of 3 feet at the gunwales, and 2 feet at the chines.
The seams were taped inside and out with fiberglass drywall tape and epoxy resin
Off to the water for the launching
Barnaby takes her out for the maiden voyage
Beta Fishie can carry 2 adults, or one adult and 2 kids comfortably. She floats on her lines at about 450 pounds total displacement. We added a skeg to improve tracking after the first outing, but aside from this one improvement she has proved to be a capable and fun craft from the start. Beta Fishie was used extensively in 2009, and will be back in the water this spring. We have tried paddling her with single paddles (shown above), double paddles, and rowing her. With temporary oarlocks installed she proved to be a very nice rowing boat, and moves well with moderate effort on the oars. We will be installing permanent oarlocks for the 2010 season.
The whole family enjoyed Beta Fishie during the 2009 season. There was just one problem. Beta Fishie is not big enough to carry Barnaby, Lynne and the twins all at the same time. Somebody always ended up waiting on the beach while others were out on the water. One day, Mandy suggested that she could rent a kayak so that we could all be afloat at the same time. While this did not happen, it became clear that the family needed another boat to solve the problem.
The new boat is intended for the twins to paddle. While Beta Fishie was primarily designed to be quick to build, the new craft had more design requirements.
We wanted a boat that would:
Carry the twins comfortably, allowing for the fact that they will have grown significantly between the beginning of design and the launching.
Be easy to paddle.
Be stable enough for the girls to be comfortable on the water and learn paddling without too much worry about tipping over
Have sufficient emergency flotation for self rescue in the event of a capsize or to keep the crew afloat while swamped.
Fit through the rear window of our 1994 Roadmaster station wagon so that we can transport both boats with one car. Beta Fishie on the car top, and the new craft in back.
The design Barnaby evolved is very much like a sneak box or duck boat. She is 8 feet long and has a beam at the chines of 38 inches for stability. The tumble home in the topsides will make it easy to use a double paddle, and tend to keep the center of gravity of the crew in the center of the boat. She is decked fore and aft, and the two buoyancy compartments provide about 150 pounds of flotation. She has twin fins mounted on the bottom chines for directional stability and tracking.
The new boat has 2 names because she is intended for use by twins. "Manda Ray" is from the shape of the boat, and Mandy's love of all things piscine, and "Sunny Fish" is derived from Julie's self-chosen nickname of "Sunny".
The main parts of the hull (5mm ply) MRSF uses taped seam construction: Beta Fishie lurks in the background
The girls were major participants in the build. Here is Julie in all of her safety gear (safety glasses and dust mask) and hard at work sanding the chine to prepare the hull for the application of glass tape and epoxy to the outside of the joints.
Manda Ray/ Sunny Fish in primer. Final paint and sea trials to follow soon
At the Shore Ready for the Maiden Voyage
Afloat For the First Time
Manda Ray / Sunny Fish (heretofore known as MRSF or Mrs. Fish) was launched on Alamitos Bay on March 28. The boat met all of our design goals. Its stable, tracks well and is easy to paddle. It carries the twins nicely, floating at the designed waterline. The girls paddled together and individually and enjoyed the boat greatly.
We also tried paddling MRSF with Dad and one twin aboard, for a total load of about 300 pounds. The boat handled this load fine, floating with the chine immersed about 1/2 inch at its lowest point. We consider this weight to be the limit of her capacity.
The twin fins make MRSF very stable directionally for such a small craft. This is pleasant when cruising in a straight line, and when the boat is being handled by inexperienced paddlers (which it what it was designed to do). The one minor drawback if the twin fin design is that the boat is not particularly maneuverable. Paddling on one side starts it turning, but the fins damp out the turn rate almost as soon as the paddle stroke ends. For experienced paddlers, I would probably cut the size of the fins somewhat.
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