My Backyard Boats:

Archive of On Deck log entries: 24 July 03

You're crazy, man! he said

[Read the original, tone-setting post to this log]

Free plans here.


  24 July 03: Last summer, while I was finishing the Harmonica, there was a guy who stopped by a time or two to talk. He was enthusiastic about my project. This spring, when he walked by, and saw that I was building yet another boat, his comment was different: You're crazy, man! he said.

    Nevertheless, despite occasional negativity from a generally supportive stream of neighbors and other strangers, I'm starting another boat, a quick build called the Flats Rat.

    The plans are free from the website of David Routh, a Texan who sells a number of interesting boat designs; his site also has a narrative and lots of pix of the Flats Rat. Flats Rat, technically speaking, is a kayak, simply because one uses a double paddle to propel it. Any other resemblances to the usual idea of Kayak are largely absent. Still, it's an able craft, and will carry an adult and a bunch of gear without strain.

    Flats Rat is the 10th or 20th permutation of a single-sheet plywood boat called Mouse, originally design, then released Open Source-like, to boatbuilders on the Internet. Mouse is the child of an English guy named Gavin Atkin. His website is a treasure trove of free stuff having to do with building boats, computer programs -- free -- for designing boats, and links to a Yahoo club concerning the Mouse:

    The original Mouse is a single sheet of plywood in a vee-bottom hull. The original purpose was to give novices a way to experience stitch-and-glue building techniques without much expense. I like the Flats Rate, because I'm building it as a surprise for the Reverend, and because I don't have any interest in stitch-and-glue techniques. Flats Rat is meant to be a nail-and-glue boat. You may wonder how I will keep this a secret, but the truth is, it'll go together in about two days of work.

    Flats Rat takes two sheets of plywood because of its deeper draft and more generous pram ends, and its water-tight bulkheads fore and aft (which I like very much). I got two beautiful sheets of a pale lauan underlayment 1/4 plywood today at the home store and spirited them into the basement. I hope to have the hull done by Sunday -- while continuing to work on the Piccup Squared.

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