I built this little vessel as a 1-man duckboat for our freshwater marshes and beaver ponds where hiding is important but heavy seas are rarely (never) encountered. I based it on the well-known and widely admired 13′ Grumman canoe. I am a sucker, too, for the tumblehome along its sides and at her stems. The hull of the new craft is molded ‘glass and its decks are plywood.
I began by borrowing a friend’s Grumman. Because it had been campaigned hard over many years, the hull sported many dents, lumps and wrinkles. So, I got a tub of joint compound – yes, the same thing you’d use for your sheetrock walls – and filled everything I could. And, I filled either side of the keel because the aluminum keel is narrow (T-stock) and would not lend itself to being replicated in ‘glass. Next, I faired everything smooth with 80 grit.
To keep the resin from sticking to the hull I next rolled molten wax onto the hull. Then, I coated it with PVA (polyvinyl alcohol). During the actual lamination, extra hands are always helpful. I was aided by 3 friends who catalyzed the resin, handed me the 1 -1/2 ounce chopped strand matt (CSM) and the 18 ounce woven roving as needed, and helped saturate the 3 layers with un-waxed polyester resin. Finally, I covered the hull with a coat of waxed resin (to enable the full cure) to which I added some colloidal silica (Cabosil) to prevent sagging of the finish coat. Unfortunately, it did not cure to the self-leveled satin finish I had anticipated. Instead, the Cabosil never fully mixed with the resin and it went on with lumps that dried to a dimpled finish – kind of like a pickle. Thus, the name Sweet Gherkin leapt to mind.
I first ‘glassed a plywood floorboard into the hull. Then, the deck was framed with cypress and sheathed with 1/4″ plywood. After epoxying a very light cloth to the decks, I added grass rails (also cypress) and coamings (yellow poplar). Note that there is no coaming on the aft end of the cockpit because I sit on the rear deck when paddling. I added a light half-round moulding for rubrails. The bow handle is a sleeping Broadbill carved from Phillipine mahogany. Finally, I built it to receive a light mast – I thought a small spritsail might be fun off the wind – but I have yet to make the rig.
The boat has been a pleasure on all counts. It paddles and poles beautifully and hides very well. Oh, I did complete the project by scouring my friend’s hull and returning it – in time for the season – with a fresh coat of paint.