Entry 6

Studio Pram
Brian Hughes

Judge's comments:

She has nice proportions, A boat has to be beautiful in her owners eyes and it is not easy to get such a tubby little creature to look the part. She will be a good load carrier for such a short boat; the shallow keel arrangement will enable her to sail well enough to be fun.

I like the simplicity, and the ability to build with hand tools only; the heavy cuts being done by the plywood supplier.

But she’s lovely, stable and safe, not fast but capable and certainly will deliver the goods as required by the contest rules. Nice drawings , a credit to the designer. Well done!

The idea of building a boat in a fifth floor apartment brought back memories of my last apartment many years ago where even the activities of ordinary life brought angry pounding from my neighbors and ultimatums from the super.

So the restriction I placed on my design is that it could be constructed without power tools or hammering. To this end the side planks are formed from straight and parallel pieces, cut from plywood by your local lumberyard at a buck a cut. Every thing else can be cut with a Japanese pull saw or a back saw. Beveling and fitting can be done with a block plane, surform, or spokeshave. Chine logs and gunnels are stock lx2's. The bilge keels are 2x4' s. The mast is aluminum conduit. Weight should be about 60 pounds, so if it doesn't fit in the elevator, hefting it up and down the stairs amounts to a good aerobic workout. This would take two people, alternately carrying the boat and looking out for nosy neighbors and the super.

It may have been another apartment, but I remember an earnest young man standing at my door patiently pointing out illustrations in a tract, explaining that Noah could fit all the animal pairs in his boat because he made it like a box. Take a box, put a little conical development on the sides, rocker the bottom, and cant the ends, and you end up with a pram. A pram 5 cubits long, by 3 cubits wide, by I cubit high, will hold a pair of humans.

A pair of 6 foot oars and hardware store oarlocks can propel this pram. A modest sail harnesses the wind. The rudder uses nylon knockdown fittings for gudgeons and pintles. The rudder snaps onto the stern and hitting a rock pops it out without damage. There are a number of power options. For the conventionally minded a conventional gas or electric outboard of 2 horsepower or less can be clamped onto the transom, A gas leaf blower pointed aft actually has enough thrust to get you places and enough noise to get you noticed over the cigarette boats. Lastly, a gas weed wacker with a cut down model airplane propeller fitted in place of the spool, can be used as a surface drive, with the propeller hub held above the waterline.

I imagine that rent on a Greenwich Village studio apartment would necessitate a good six figure income, but my apartment cost me $200 a month and back then I could hardly afford that. Old habits die hard, so the projected cost has been held down to about $350 all up, including tools and a yard sale acquired leaf blower or weed wacker.

(click to enlarge)


Brian Hughes lives in Winnipeg, Canada and makes his living designing ventilation and plumbing upgrades for the campus of the local university. He learned woodworking and
boat building at his father's knee and what he knows of boat design from the internet.