29 October 2009

SHOP: recess in bulkhead

In a previous post I have documented the installation of an electric bilge pump in an fiberglass kayak.
In most kayaks there is enough room to position the pump behind the seat.
Recently I was installing a pump in an Impex Montauk where the bulkhead is very close to the seat.
This bulkhead minimizes cockpit volume and aids the empting of water in a T-rescue however complicates the installation of an electric bilge pump.
Measuring the distance between seat and bulkhead there was not enough room for the Rule 500 pump.

The bulkhead had to be modified and a recess created to accommodate the pump.
I made a half moon shaped fiberglass channel that would be used to recess the bulkhead.
I used double bias cloth, epoxy and a soda plastic bottle to create the piece.
I outlined the shape of the tube on the bulkhead and estimated the cut-out. The bulkhead is convex and curved; an exact outline was hard to guess so I undersized the cut-out.

I used a high speed drill with a small cut-off wheel to make easy work of cutting fiberglass. Wearing a respirator was essential since there was a lot of fiberglass dust created with cutting and shaping the hole.

I then tried to fit the tube against the cut-out and redefined the correct shape needed with a sanding wheel on my drill.
The base (return) of the bulkhead had to be removed from the hull to make a flush recess for the pump.
I had to be careful not to cut into the hull.

Once the tube had a good fit the area was cleaned off of silicon, grease and dirt with acetone. I used electrical tape to hold in place while I epoxyed it to the bulkhead with 1” fiberglass tape.
After leaving it cure overnight I removed the excess flange with the cut off wheel.
I filled any little gap with epoxy/microfiber slurry.
The recess was now ready to accept the pump.
Installation proceeded as per any other pump installed in this article.

The final install of the Rule 500 bilge pump shown with a loop in the outlet hose to prevent water from waves reentering the cockpit

26 October 2009

SHOP: leakproof through bulkhead hose

In a previous post I have described a solution for a hydration system.
The water bladder sits under the deck, on a “shelf”, and the drinking hose sits in front of me on the deck.
In the Nordkapp LV the deck is lower and less space is available in the foredeck.
Water bottles positioned under the bungees on deck just don’t cut it as they often end up in the sea, especially in rougher conditions.
While on short trips carrying water on the PFD is a possible solution (small amount of water) in the heat of summer in Queensland a liter of water does not get you far.
Hydration in a subtropical locale is a serious consideration.
The water bladder could not go behind the seat (Valley makes sure that the rear cockpit bulkhead is tight against the seat) so the best solution was to place it in the day hatch.
I wanted a positive seal between the drinking hose of the hydration system and the bulkhead.
A simple hole that is just undersized drilled in the deck might not do the job: small amounts of water could still get through and wet items that are otherwise totally dry in a Valley hatch.

I decided to position the drinking hose to the left of the cockpit.
On the right hand side there is the day hatch cover and the outlet spigot for the electric bilge pump.

After drilling a smaller hole with a high speed drill (Dremel_ I use high speed or gel coat chipping can occur) I enlarged it to a slightly undersized dimension for the clear PVC water hose.
I placed an “O” ring on the hose that is slightly constrictive and let it sit on the hose for a while.
The “O” ring would create a small indent in the hose making sure it will really seal well.

I roughened up a circle on the gel coat around the hole, clear off the “O” ring, cleaned the surface with acetone and inserted a slightly greased up (mold release) hose and “O” ring hard against the gel coat.

roughened-up circle on gel coat; hose and "O" ring inserted
I mixed up a small quantity of West System epoxy 105 with 207 hardener (UV stabilized), added some tint (I didn’t like the pale yellow color) and thickened it with microfiber (for strength and workability).
With a toothpick I carefully covered the “O” ring creating a full encasement of the ring.
After curing it overnight I removed the hose (it released easily since it was greased up) and shaved away the excess epoxy to make a smooth “fitting”
epoxy still needs polishing
The “O” ring is now encased in the resin with the rubber surface against the PVC hose making it really leak proof.

PS MAR'10 For a much simpler solution that does not require epoxy Kiwibird managed to source just the right size rubber grommet.
It apppears that her solution is just as effective as mine.
If you can get hold of a grommet that fits the hose tightly I suggest to follow her set up.

The hose can still be slid in-out to shorten or lengthen it according to the paddler's needs.
The hose end inside the day hatch has a quick release coupling that came with the bladder so removing and filling up the bladder is a breeze.
The hose is usually stashed under the deck bungees and can be easily reached when needed for a drink.

After trying different solutions for a drinking system this one seems to address all the shortcomings of the other(*) systems.

* other systems that I tried:

-1) water bottle on deck: not enough water, fall off and hinder some paddle strokes.
-2) water bladder on PFD: if enough water in bladder for a day’s supply PFD becomes rather heavy on the shoulders. Also hinders rolling.
-3) water bladder in cockpit and drinking hose threaded through tunnel of spray deck: bad idea in case of wet exit (rough waters) and inevitably pain in the butt when forgetting to remove before landing :-)
PS: Kiwibird simplified the drink hose system by using a rubber fitting that needs no epoxy work; details here

21 October 2009

Ownership and copyright

My last post (Kayak carry handles) has prompted an indignation (*1).
The owner of the website, where an image I borrowed for comparison, has been alerted (*2) that I have "stolen" an image.

As reader of this blog you might have noticed that all the images that I post that belong to me bear a watermark with my name on it.
In the past, I used to publish electronically images without the watermark.
A few years ago somebody appropriated some images of mine and used them in a presentation claiming them as his own.
I was not impressed.
Since then I decided to watermark my images.
I used to submit some of my images to a sea kayak Club and my newly watermarked images sparked a fierce debate: the webmaster would not accept images that were watermarked.
Not really sure what the motive was at the time for not accepting watermarked images (was somebody intending to use them indiscriminately?) but that prompted me to get involved on the committee of that Club and have a democratic decision by the whole committee to approve or not watermarked images.
It appeared that ignorance of Copyright Laws was a possible factor in making those rash early decisions against watermarking.

As keen photographer, on my outings and trips I take a lot of images.
Being a lousy writer it is my personal satisfaction to be able to document the spirit of the journey in images.
Occasionally some of my images are sought for commercial use and I sell those images.
Often I also send the watermarked images to the companions on my trips however I stress the point that those images of mine are for their personal use only and not for publication or resell.
It was interesting when one of my paddling buddies was mocking me about my perceived “anal” behavior about watermarking.
One day perusing the websites of a kayak manufacturer I stumbled across one of my images.

my image (highlighted) as it appeared on manufacturers website
After a quick check of my invoices I could not find the transaction for that image for that client.
Long story short: the manufacturer was sent my image via my paddling buddy, the same one that mocked me about the watermarking.
What the manufacturer however did was that he conveniently cropped my watermarked name from the image.
I invoiced the manufacturer for my standard fee for outright use of that image and eventually got paid for my published image.
Some of the friends of my paddling buddy got infuriated by my actions: how could I charge “my friend” for the use of a “holiday snap”?
The image was used commercially (to make money) on a website of a kayak manufacturer. The image was altered and my name was deleted so royalties could be avoided.
Steve-o (c)

notice the full size image with my watermark...
There was no mistake made there: it was intentionally sent to the manufacturer for commercial use.

So when I published an image that was not mine on my last blog post hell broke loose.
That’s right: I published an image that was not mine, nor had permission to publish it on my blog.
Was I mad? After I pressed the copyright issue for one of my images? Doesn’t the law apply for myself as well?
Yes and no.
While copyright laws protect the ownership of original material in the Copyright Act 1968, section 41 there are some exclusions.
An image can be used for review or criticism without infringing copyright laws.
What some people fail to understand is that there is a marked difference between a misappropriation of an image used for commercial purposes (and altering it to exclude the copyright owners details) and the use of an image used in a review case where full details are given on the source of the image.
I am sure that some might think that I unjustly dealt with my case (use of my image) and now am abusing my right on the same issue but I made sure I would not infringe copyright laws (after all I am aware that “they” are eagerly awaiting for me to slip up :-) )

While some consider that just because an image is published on the web it becomes public domain (trust me I have heard that line of defense before) there are many levels of copyright protection.
Some authors publish under the Creative Commons license where their images can be reproduced for non commercial purposes as long as credits are awarded, some reserve no rights while others retain all rights.
If there is no specification an image automatically upon creation becomes copyrighted material. There is no need for registration or specific wording.
The watermark is a reminder and identification from the author, but not legally required.

I hope that with my little rant on Copyright Laws some misconceptions have been cleared and some myths debunked.

*1: Take the photo off your blog. You have not contacted me about using theimage. As you can see on my website this image belongs to another personthat has given me permission to use it on my website, NOTYOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*2: Gary Tischer wrote: "Damiano is pinching pictures .... and spining bull at the same time"

20 October 2009

Kayak carry straps

After witnessing several injuries and sustained the odd one myself while carrying loaded kayaks up the beach I decided that there must be a better way of doing things.
While some kayaks are strong enough by construction and are fitted with very decent carry handles that could easily sustain the load others are not.
I have been taught to carry loaded kayaks by grabbing them with my arm wrapped around the bow or stern.
Wrapping my arm around the deck and hull of the kayak is relatively a good position to carry such kayak however picking it up from the ground and bringing it to waist level is not.
If the kayak is loaded with gear for an overnighter (or for a longer trip) it tends to be rather heavy.
I can hear you say: unload the kayak then carry it up the beach to camp.
While that sounds the smart thing to do often under peer pressure some kayakers carry a loaded kayak "just up the beach".
Other times kayaks have to be fully loaded on the beach far enough from the water's edge to accommodate for an incoming tide (or vice versa, tide ebbing and leaving the kayak on dry land).
It does not take much to injure your back while twisting your spine in a curve and applying the lifting load.
To aggravate things most kayaks are shaped so that if 4 people are helping to transfer the load chances are the persons helping at the cockpit are bending over (rockered kayaks) or bending their arms trying to elevate the load.

"cockpit helpers" having a hard time
Most times carrying a kayak on the beach might also involve going over sand dunes where uneven grounds is encountered.
The image below shows the problem I am describing

source* Seamongrels

I have seen people use carry straps to transfer the loaded kayak.
I liked that idea.
You slip the strap under the hull and two people at each end can lift the kayak without twisting their spine.
The traps however have to be wrapped around the wrist and often constrict the hand.
Carrying a loaded kayak for any distance results in a "blue" hand.
I have therefore modified the carry straps and added some handles.
Using a PVC conduit of suitable diameter (not too small or it does not distribute the load on your hand well) I have cut 4 sections of 11cm.

Using a nylon webbing strap I have sewn loops that thread through the PVC handle to come up with a strap with handles of approx 85 cm.
Now 4 people can carry a fully loaded kayak without risking a back injury.

my preferred way of carrying a loaded kayak

* published under Copyright Act 1968, section 41

12 October 2009

British kayaks, British weather?

The forecast was calling for possible thundery showers but I have to say that most times the weather bureau can't get it right; there are just too many variables to be able to predict the precipitation with pin point accuracy.
The wind however was going to be light and admittedly forecasting wind seems to be more accurate than rain.
Sunday paddle (c)
Morning started nice and sunny with only patchy clouds but by the time we reached our destination island 14 Km away the clouds have rolled in and prevented us to have a pic nic on the grassy shores.
The rain made us scurry for a tinned roof shelter and we quickly changed into our spare clothing trying to get warm.
The rain started to bucket and, while waiting to ease off for a quick dash to the "fish'n chips" shop just up the road, the water pouring from the field formed a stream big enough to wash one of our beached kayaks back into the sea!
We looked at our fleet of kayaks on the beach and then it dawned on us: we were all (bar one) using skegged boats, most of British origin, a couple of British style.
Steve in Nordlow (c)
Was it that such a concentration of "British boats" could cause the proverbial British weather?
I don't believe in superstition but it was an odd coincidence :-)

Funny enough though we all seemed to enjoy the weather.
On the return leg (now raining steadily) we were all smiles.
Being warmly dressed made us enjoy the situation.
heading into the squall_2 (c)
Living in Queensland we opt way too often to chuck in the sponge if the weather is not picture perfect since we can just avoid those rare rainy days and pick most other times to head outside.
What some might have viewed as "terrible conditions" became on opportunity to observe the large water droplets that created the peculiar divots into the water surface.
It looked like somebody had spilled a bag of pearls and now they were bouncing on the sea.
Needless to say we were the only "fools" to be out in such "miserable" conditions.

PS: to my cold weather climate readers: it was a still balmy 20C and not that gnarly anyway. Reed Aquatherm or a light spray jacket was all that we needed...

09 October 2009

Gordon Brown's upcoming DVD

His book is brilliant.

Waiting for his movie to be released...

PS 13OCT: Expedition Kayaks will be the Australian distributor. The DVD will be available from 01NOV

05 October 2009

Playing in tidal waves

I don't have many opportunities to paddle in tidal flows or races.
There are none in my paddling area.
I was delighted when on a recent trip to Haselwood Island (Queensland, Australia) I came across these little tidal waves.

Vanilla did the camerawork while I was having fun.
A full movie from VanillaVids of our Whitsunday trip will be released at a later date.

01 October 2009

DIY: reinforcing the stick

I have been paddling with my stick (traditional paddle) for a little while and I am pretty happy with it.
Did not feel sorry to see one of my Werner paddles go to a "better home" last night.

What I miss however is the durability of a fiberglass paddle.
Admittedly epoxy and glass are a bit stronger than Western red cedar.
The shaft and blades have been so far rather solid.
The Vanstix Aleut has a strong ridge right down the middle of the blade and I don't think I will brake it anytime soon (getting dumped in the surf excluded).
I have noticed that the relatively soft wood does not take the rocks too well, though.
The tip of the paddle is showing signs of chipping.

I remember where the damage occurred: pushing off cliffs in the Whitsunday Islands.
My usual paddling waters (Queensland's Moreton Bay) don't have many rocky places where I could damage my paddle: it is mainly sandy beaches (with a few muddy ones too, but let's not talk about that).
I have seen pictures of some traditional paddles where there is a piece of bone (whale?) stuck on the tip to protect the wood from rocks or ice.
It makes sense: the tip usually is the one banged against hard objects.

Not wishing to use bone or ivory to protect the Aleut paddle I decided that epoxy could make a decent surrogate.
A quarter moon (sliver) around the tip it's all that's needed.

I applied masking tape at the end of my paddle and traced the outline, cut with a utility knife and peeled back the masking tape.

masking tape to protect the paddle from sanding, later on
The wooden tip had to be ground down and prepared for a layer of epoxy reinforcement.
I used the magic tool: the Dremel.
With a little attachment of coarse sandpaper the power tool cuts away the wood with precision.

The shape of the wooden tip was reduced and a thinner "blade" was created.
It will be replaced later by an epoxy mix.

I used West System epoxy (105/206) and some microfiber to thicken up the resin to a consistency of peanut butter.
I applied the epoxy paste to the tip of the blade and shaped it roughly allowing for excess epoxy that later will be sanded away.

This pic looks wrong.. what's pink doing there?...
On the smooth side of the Aleut paddle (back side) I placed a greased up piece of plastic that was held in place by light clamps.
So what is pink epoxy doing there?
This paddle is for Adventuretess and it needed a "softer" touch :-)
I tinted the epoxy mix with a bit of red dye which will also make it more UV resistant.

padlde tip with epoxy mix cured, before sanding
The excess epoxy had to be sanded away.
A cork block with stiff coarse waterproof sandpaper was used.
I used plenty of water to prevent clogging up the paper when sanding away the excess epoxy.

The tip was now taking the original shape of the paddle before it was modified.
Sanding has to be done carefully to avoid cutting into the wood of the paddle tip.
The masking tape was protecting the paddle and once I noticed tears appearing in the tape, the epoxy was sanded back enough.

All it needed now was to peel back the blue masking tape and touch it up with a utility knife.

The paddle is now ready to tackle rocks (and ice :-) .
I am sure I will be still able to damage the paddle if I am abusive but probably no more than a common fibreglass one.
If the paddle will see a lot of chips along the sides of the blade I might extend the reinforcement.