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By Joe Holtz - Carmichael, California - USA


The idea started with winning the NCAA Men's Basketball bracket! With a few extra bucks to spend I decided to build an-other boat. (My wife has admirable patience.)

I had been looking at the Geodesic Airolight boats and I finally decided to build one. I liked the idea of a boat that was light enough to carry to the water. I decided on the Arrow 14. I wasn't sure if I had the time or skills to tackle this project but it looked like fun and I loved the looks of the boat, so I sent away for the plans. That was about three years ago. Two weeks ago I took it out on its maiden voyage. During that time I worked on it once in awhile for an hour or two on a Saturday. I would roughly estimate that it took about 60 hours to make it When the cold wet weather came, I put it in the garage or even in the house and waited until spring to continue.

It starts with making a strongback. (Well that isn't exactly cor-rect, I spent quite a bit of time puzzling over the plans and working it all out.)

Next comes the forms to bend the pieces into shape. I found some old scrap plywood in the garage and used that.

I would like to say that the next part was quick, but I didn't take pictures of all of the steps of cutting the different strips of wood and trying to find a piece without knots in it. Sanding and gluing the ends together to make a long enough stringer was an adventure in itself. But at long last I got the pieces made and it quickly took on some shape! I used just regular construction lumber from the local lumber supplier except for the ribs.

A closer look.

Can you find the boat in this picture?

Now comes the interesting part. I next will attempt to bend the ribs and place them in just the right place. The first step is to build a steam box. I made it out of a sheet of two inch foam board. I used caulking on the seams and taped the whole thing with duct tape. It took a bit of figuring out, but I finally got it so it works. With a tea kettle and a hot plate and a few inches of hose from a washing machine I was ready to go.

I should probably mention here that if there is a small leak in the seams and the steam is shooting out of that leak and you happen to put your hand right over that area you will find that steam is really very very hot.... not that I ever did that...

I used red oak for the ribs because I had read that it was a good bending wood and some of the bends on this boat are close to 180 degrees. I soaked the pieces overnight in the pool and then steamed them for about a half hour before bending them. You have to work fast and I still cracked a few pieces on the tighter bends.

Let me just practice a bit first! I learned that gloves were a good idea.

It is a proud day when you take it off of the strongback. What I didn't get pictures of was a lot of measuring, marking, bending, placing, clamping and gluing. Did I mention that there was a lot of that?

I'm starting to like this boat.

Yep, so far this thing is really light!

By the time I was ready to varnish the whole thing the weather had become too cold and wet to varnish so I hung it up in my garage like a piece of art. It really looked pretty cool up there.

I wait until mid-summer to pull it out again. It doesn't look like much to varnish but wow was that ever tedious! So many little corners and cracks.

Next comes the Kevlar roving. I actually don't know what this does for the strength of the boat, but it was called for in the specs and so I made it that way.

To put on the Dacron fabric I brought it indoors because of the weather. It is fun and interesting. I just glue the Dacron fabric in place and shrink it down. I used a heat gun even though the instructions suggest an iron. I just didn't have the patience for an iron.

Another perspective.

A couple of coats of varnish and some trim and finally the boat is done.. well almost. I put it in the pool to test it out and it had a small leak. So I put another coat of varnish on it and that fixed the leak.

So now the big day has arrived.. time for it's maiden voyage! It piggybacks onto my PD racer just fine.

So light, so easily carried to the water.

I christen thee "Bentwood".

This boat gets lots of complements and attention. It is unique and really looks nice.

And finally here I am on the water. A couple of really nice things I noticed. One is that it tracks beautifully. And second, it just glides through the water. I can give it a few paddles and then just glide for 30 yards or so.

I've taken it out twice now and I'm very happy with how it handles.

So now I'm looking for another boat to build. The building is half the fun.


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