Thursday, May 31, 2007

Surprising Support

Well the other day I mentioned my idea on the AngloInfo forum, asking if
anyone knew of a charity I could support as part of my trip, I'd already
asked once and had no replies so I didn't expect a lot. But I'm amazed,
people really seemed to get it and were full of interest and support, both
in their postings and in private messages. It's very encouraging.

Also I'm finally beginning to manage DelftShip, the boat design program. I
can't say I understand all the technicalities of boat design by a long way,
all these LCBs and CLAs, but I have at least managed to get it not to leak,
now I need to get it into a rendering program so I can animate it for this
website. I still think I'll use Kayak Foundry when it comes to building it
though, as it gives you nice simple to print out offset plans.

Mind you the whole design might end up different. I'd started off with a
slightly fat kayak, with a shaft driven propeller, but that seems to have as
many problems as it does advantages. For a start it's too fat to be able to
make the hull form out of single sheets of plastic, they'd have to be joined
at the keel. Also the shaft driven propeller seems to be causing no end of
problems, all down to having to turn the drive through ninety degrees.
Finding a gearbox is proving harder than I thought, partly down to the
vocabulary of it all partly down to the costs, if I can find a suitable
supplier in France then I'll be happy, but until then I'll be looking at a
conjoined catamaran, as I'm calling it. The advantages to this are that the
hulls can be made of a single width of PVC and I can go back to a twisted
chain propeller drive, which will pivot up between the two hulls, also it
could well be more stable, the downside is that the superstructure will all
have to be redesigned and might mean I end up sitting higher. We shall see.


Part of my research on the build has taken me to the IHPVA Human Powered
Boats mailing list and I've found out a lot of useful information there.
But, I do sometimes get a bit frustrated with some of them when they don't
seem to get what I'm on about. I know a lot of the focus of HPB-ing is
towards racing, and there don't seem to be many people interested in
pleasure boating. That's the frustrating bit, because racing means stressing
things to the limit, and that means using high end components. So if you're on a
budget building interested in pottering along the canals it can be a bit
frustrating. Maybe I just need to explain myself better, maybe I just need
to climb that steep learning curve?

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I'm slightly stuck. I've been using a program called Kayak Foundry to design
La Voie Bleue and I've got a design I think I'm happy with. I want to start
using a different design package though called Freeship. Kayak Foundry is
excellent and to me more intuitive, but Freeship lets you visualise the boat
in three dimensions and from there you can export to all sorts of rendering
packages - great for graphics.

BUT, I can't for the life of me work out how to get from one to the other.
I'm sure the answer's staring me in the face. I've posted on the Boat Design
forum about it. Hopefully someone there will point me in the right
direction, for now though, I'll have to make do with the 2D image I've
photoshopped up.

Getting covered in pvc

Yesterday I went out to look at materials. I found the 3mm PVC I'd had in
mind, it looks good but the sheets are smaller than I thought, which means
buying more and attempting to join them. Of course, every join is a
potential leak spot, something I'd hoped to avoid in the first place.
Then I found some 1mm clear PVC available on a roll - it's used for green
houses and stuff. It looks pretty hard wearing, and it'd certainly remove
the need for joins. In fact, I could build the whole hull as one piece and
then cut it in three after, which might be better anyway, as it'd keep all
the lines together. But is it strong enough? Can't see why not it's thicker
than the PVC sheet used in folding kayaks after all. The other great thing
about clear is I'll be able to see that the bouyancy foam's got in all the
nooks and crannies, the downside is that I'll have to paint it of course. I
reckon it's worth giving it a go though - and it's a third of the price. I
also found the edging strips I had in mind. If I go for the 1mm these will
be even more important, but at least I know they're there. Now I just need
to source the box section aluminium, and at least I lnow where to find that.
Oh and of course the gears, the seat, the pedals, the propeller, the
waterproof stuff sacs and boxes, but hey it's not much really.
Still need to sort out those offsets though.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

First (past the) post

Hmm, it's that blank blog feeling. How many times have I started a blog only for it to peter out, sometimes even after the first post. Well this one's going to be different, this one has to, because this one isn't really about me and my random musings, this one's about my project.

So what's the project? Well it's to pedal the length of the Nantes-Brest Canal. No big deal I'm sure, there's a tow path all along it, and it's pretty flat so cycling it should be no problem. Well no except I'm not planning to ride along the side of the canal like everyone else. Nope I'm going to ride along IN the canal. Of course I'm not doing it on a bike though, that would be silly, and wet. So I'll need a boat, but you can't just go out and buy a pedal boat - well you probably can if you've got the money - so I'm building one, and this is going to chart the progress.

Before I go any further though I've got to mention The Adventures of Greg. Greg's planning on pedalling the Atlantic, but then Greg's mad, and Canadian. If Canada had more stringent health and safety, Greg would be locked up by now. Inevitably Greg's a huge inspiration, and inevitably what he builds will be flasher, faster, and so much better than what I build. But then he's crossing the Atlantic, and I'm mooching up a canal. Anything I do which reminds anyone of Greg is done purely because of that inspiration.

So what's la Voie Bleue then? Literally it means the Blue Way. I think it sums up this whole thing pretty well really. That blue line on the map that marks out the canal, that sense that you can only travel along, that calm that comes from hearing water gently flowing. There's one way I'm going to get this thing done and that'll be the Blue Way - la Voie Bleue.