First Launch of the Minihune2 Prototype!!
I did some finish work on the boat that made the ugly bits very nearly marketable. I’d had numerous setbacks on my launch date. I jumped up and down for 3 days like a 3 year old going to disneyland. I felt it was time to launch the Minehune2 prototype, done or not. On 8/10, my plan was to wait until my wife got off work, then see if she would drive down there with me. I searched for excuses to go sooner. There was a chance that something could be wrong with my design or workmanship. I’m not a very experienced boat builder, so there was lots of reason for apprehension regarding all my new unproven design ideas. If anything went horribly wrong, I wanted a chance to fix it before anyone saw it.
I went down to the confluence of little spokane and big spokane rivers. It’s a mellow waterway with few motorboats and a few predictable currents. It has many easy launch spots and I know it well. The boat packs easy. I held it in one hand, and packed the Ridiculously Long Paddle (a new design concept that beats any kayak paddle I’ve ever seen) and dry bags in the other. I tossed it in and it felt good. Vidya approved. A smarter person may have left dogs at home for this kind of dangerous adventure, but this dog and I have been through some freeky shit together and we’re real close. Besides, she’s the only one I know that loves mucking around in boats as much as I do. Her 70lbs. balances out a small dicplacement hull’s waterline nicely, that’s all the excuse I need. Empty, the hull barely sits upright, and gides back and forth easy. The iffyness in the finish seems to disappear when the sun shines through the skin. I nervously stepped in and sat down. No creaking, no leaking, this hull is way stronger than it looks. I knew it would be tippy. How else could a 12′ hull not be painfully slow? I heeled it back and forth in the shallows and was very pleased that I had succeeded in making the bouancy increase with heel, without causing weird drag or tracking effects. I told Vid to jump in, and she gracefully hopped into the longitudinal balance point like a balerina mounting a skateboard. We heeled it back and forth some more. With the wale nearly parralel to the waterline, it doesn’t take on water, and gently tries to self-right. If I force it over more, it takes on water then self rights more forcefully. This is a happy success. When upright, it feels a little tightwire-ish, but again, how else could a 12-foot boat be fast? I paddled around a bit till I got a feel for the boat. The iffy balancepoint isn’t so bad, because the seat is just below the waterline, and the more you heel, the more it wants to return to upright. With the bluff end (better splashdeck on this side, and more boyouncy lift) forward, it feels a little slower than with the pointy end for’d. I guess in freeky wave action I’ll just turn around. I paddled around the peninsula and meanders, and up the little Spokane toward the old resort-mill take-out. I hung it on a shallow rock in the current to see if it would drag capsize like other canoes. I was very happy to see the hull only tip slightly. The current went right under the round hull sideways, then it weather-cocked perfectly and aimed me down river. I was so happy, I paddled to Nine Mile Falls Dam. There’s a modest current here as well, and shallow rocks. I worked pretty hard against the current, but never reached a standstill. Working hard in this boat feels like slack, because you lean back against the super curvy carlin and put your arms on the wales. It feels like sitting in an old bathtub: so comfy! The surprising strength of this boat means I don’t have to add any cross-members. This lack of crossbracing means I can put my legs, gear, and dogs anywhere I want. I can lay flat and stretch out, and move around easily. For this reason, being in this boat feels so much better than being in canoes and kayaks. For leg-room versatility, only a sit-on-top kayak can compare; and those don’t keep you dry at all. This boat stays bone dry. My paddle design has a lot to do with this dryness. With an insanely simple design tweek, I accomplished what donuts and driplines can only barely do.
The short test-paddle I planned quickly turned into a moonlight trek with singing and laughing. I saw a shooting star, sputtering like a flare against the darkening sky. I paddled to Seamusshire by Big Sandy. It was around 4 miles, round trip. The garminsays I make about 3.9 mph when I push hard, leaning for’d to center weight over the LCE; and 2.6mph when I slack off and thoughtlessly slap the water, resting my elbows on the deck, leaned back like a fat guy in a recliner. That’s a little slower than I’d hoped, but still not bad for a 12 foot 23lb. boat displacing 256 lbs.
Deeper into Long Lake, I met some large, fast motorboats. The first big wake made me cautious. I put my nose to it and paddled perpendicular to the wave. No slapping, no creaking. The bow cut like butter, and the modest amount of freeboard hardly changed at all. Vid looked at me with a quizzical expression, and I imagined she was disappointed that we had almost zero chance of getting pooped. Next big boat wake, I met with the hull parrallel to the oncoming wave. Again, graceful and stable. The third fast water ski boat was bigger, and I surfed it’s wake into some lillies. That was awesome fun. This is a really good design. I’m so happy with how it performs.
This is my first independantly made skin-boat. I’m thankful to Capt.n Schulz for helping me learn about this Aleut technology and modern skin-on-frame boats. I want to make a longer, prettier one for market. I kepp trying to think up necessary design changes because that’s just how I am, but the shape is just so perfect. I’m a happy guy.