The Huntyak several months on


The Huntyak several months on
by David Wallace

I've been paddling the Huntyak off and on for several months now and really like it, a very stable craft. I had it out on several trips so far as well as doing a few 4 km exercise sessions per week on the local lagoon. On the last trip I took the Huntyak out on Teresa Creek Dam [our local water supply reservoir] on a Sunday. I thought it might be good for my wife to get out with me on the water. The main area of the dam is about 1.5 to 2 km across but there are several feeder creeks coming into it and they go for several miles each. The water is a light brown colour, much like the mud was on the top instead of on the bottom. They reckon that the Dam will need to be flushed out several times before it comes clear again.

The Huntyak handled beautifully and is so incredibly stable although probably sits a little high in the front when I have some one in the back. But then I'm a little on the big size at 6'2" and 240 lb and so that is to be expected.

My wife's paddle broke after 1 km. The glue that I used to connect the timber paddle to the alloy shaft (that said on the tube would always remain flexible and create a permanent water proof bond between the wood and alloy) turned to powder. It was probably my fault as the manufacturer had probably never envisaged the extremes in heat we can have here and I'd been leaving it out in the sun. So I had to do all the paddling after that, not a real problem as my wife is only 55 kg. We ended up doing 12-14 km all up. The return trip was a bit of a nuisance as the wind was very erratic and would change direction every few minutes, coming around through the hills tended to give it a bit of a wind tunnel effect and it tended to be quite strong. If you were sailing you would have to be very quick with the line or you would be over but as I said it was extremely erratic and just coming in gusts with long periods of no wind at all. Probably not the best sailing weather but I'm still considering fitting up a sail on the Huntyak any way.

I'm a keen fisherman so one of the priorities of the trip was to scout around a bit. I found a few places with standing timber that should be good places to place my Crawchie pots and maybe also jig a lure or two. We have a very large freshwater crayfish called Redclaw around here that reach lengths of over a foot and are very tasty indeed. I know they have been released into the dam but am unsure how they have breed up. I suppose next trip out will tell.

I'd really like to check out some of the feeder creeks on the other side of the dam but It's a little too risky at the moment to try and cross the dam with all those Ski boats running around , the Huntyak handled the wake from all those boats with out any problem. At times there was so much that we had swells a couple of feet high just coming through on a continual basis. How those boats and skiers survive is beyond me. From my vantage point lower to the water and travelling at a much slower speed I was able to see so many fence posts with barb wire intact in the water that the skiers were passing with in feet of. Some one or a boat are going to get their guts ripped out sooner or later. There seems to be some sort of connection between thinking and speed as in the faster you go the slower you think.

As I said I've been paddling the Huntyak off and on for several months now and really like it - a very stable craft. And of a good size to take a load of camping gear. The downfall is that it's a little heavy, so if I have to do it again what would I do different?

Well first off, even though I changed the stem pieces over for some thing more subdued next time, I'd do away with them completely and just use the glue and stitch method on the front pieces like in the Cheap canoe design from The next thing I'd do is either draw it out on paper or use a cad program and work out the finished heights of the side pieces and cut them out straight off instead of having to trim off excess later. I'd also change the cockpit spacing a bit and move the whole cockpit forward just about a foot [this would help people my size keep the bow in the water when we have a passenger]. This would, of course, make it necessary to change the placing of the internal frames [this would change the shape of the craft but shouldn't be a problem]. I'd also use water tight bulkheads as frame pieces. They wouldn't need to be thick - 4mm ply should do. I'd also change the shape of the cockpit - make it a more tear drop shaped. This would allow me to do away with a little more weight while still keeping strength if done the right way. I'd still keep the inrail and deck stringers.

The Huntyak, as the plans go, call for a fair bit of framing timber to go into them. I'd do away with most of that all together and use glue and stitch through out. The plans call for 1/4" [6mm] ply through out but I'd use 4mm next time. The plans also call for a full length keel section, keelson and deck battens. I'd make the keel smaller out of say 3/4" x 3/4" and also add some bilge runners but do away with the keelson and deck battens. The huntyak tracks very straight - sometimes too straight and can at times be a problem to turn quickly. With the smaller keel and the addition of the bilge runners it should still track straight enough but be of lighter weight than the original plan while still keeping enough bracing to stop oil canning.

I've already done away with the stock seating arrangement and instead replaced them with removable seats. This allows long pieces of gear to be stored and removed easily.

Instead of glassing the whole out side I'd only glass the bottom and the seams.

To date I've built the Huntyak, a Yakoo, an Argie 10 dinghy and I'm in the process of building a BK18 SOF kayak so I think I can safely say I've become a compulsive boat builder so I probably will build a modified Huntyak some time in the future. But before I do, I think I'll discuss it and mull it over with some friends and acquaintances who belong to an E-group that I'm on as several people there have built the same craft.

You know I've just realised that I've gone and redesigned the Huntyak into a slightly bigger version of the CLC Mill Creek 16.5. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and build a MC 16.5? Maybe next time.