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By Bob Groves - Cape Breton Island - Canada

To Part One

Continued from yesterday...

Here are the measurements that we ended up with for Easy Go:
1. Yuloh Length 60% Hull Length, 20 ft actual (calculated to 20.4 ft)
2. Blade length 6'2" from tip to waterline
3. 12' 6" from blade tip to fulcrum
4. 4' 0" from fulcrum to bend in handle
5. 3' 6" from bend to top of handle
6. Blade width tip 9.8"; waterline 7.3"
7. Blade thickness tip 1"; waterline 2"

Our yuloh is made of locally available black spruce barn byulohd planks that we were able to pick up in rough finished 1"x9" pieces about 16 feet long from a local farmer/logger. Using epoxy resin the planks were glued together. Cutting out the rough shape from the "recipe" gave the blank that we then shaped in the final process. The tricky part was scarfing the planks together to create the bend in the handle. Using a power plane the scarfs actually worked out quite well. Final shaping was done with the power plane to give the shape that was desired. We were pleased to find that when following the "recipe" precisely the taper from the tip of the blade to the very end of the handle is constant creating a pleasing form for the eye and a strong yuloh. We chose not to round the handle but to simply round the edges with a router. Keeping as much material on the handle seemed to be more important for strength. The edge of the handle, as shown in the picture is used to guide the yuloh. The pushing and pulling is done with the rope that attaches the handle to the deck.

Storage of the yuloh can be somewhat problematic. Easy Go has a raised deck cabin and with a couple of chocks with tie downs the yuloh resides safely and comfortably on the port side of the deck. It is not instantly available so should not be relied on in emergency situations.

Until recently we had no lifelines and the premiere version of our yuloh simply slipped back on the deck (we didn't even have chocks for this one but it did rest firmly lashed to the deck for two trans Atlantic crossings) and dropped on to the ball, tied to its attachment point and away we went. Installing stanchions and putting on lifelines created complications. However we completed the yuloh, put its mounting pin in place then untied the lifelines and gave it a test run. Oops, back to the drawing byulohd. The yuloh snagged the stanchion at the cockpit and required a rethink. The simplest solution was to cut the stanchion off near the base and epoxy in a plug so that now the stanchion is easily removed along with the lifelines and there are no obstructions while the yuloh is in place. The lifelines are secured to the furthest back stanchion by lashing tying them to it. The lifelines are made or rope and are easily tied so that while the yuloh is in place the lifelines are still somewhat effective.

The pin to mount the yuloh on was easily solved by taking a piece of a dock spike. Solid steel and about ½" in diameter and ground down to a rounded top. This has provided an excellent mounting point for the yuloh. Many sources of information indicated that a small ball should be welded to the end of the pin but we have found this to be totally unnecessary. The yuloh as built rests comfortably on the pin with no further restraints to keep it in place. It is tied to the boat by the lanyard so that it is instantly available when required. Preparing the yuloh before entering the harbour and stowing after leaving gives the flexibility and instant availability that was only previously found with a motor.

The yuloh has a replaceable board with a hole drilled at 45º hole drilled in it to accept the mounting pin. Presently it is made of spruce with the hole hardened with epoxy and filler. Eventually it will be replace with a piece of white oak when we come across one.

We thought we might need to fabricate a weight to put on the end of the blade to sink it. Using the yuloh has made this initial impression unnecessary. The yuloh does float a little at rest but once it is started it quickly sinks down to its working position. The operator simply starts the sculling action with the shaft in both hands. After one or two strokes the yuloh lifts to its full operating position and the thrust and pull of the yuloh is made with the lanyard. In our case the yuloh is mounted on the port side. The right hand is the power hand on the lanyard and the left hand is the balancing hand located on the yuloh near the bend. The bend in the yuloh provides a fulcrum that flips the yuloh with very little energy expended.

The desire to push the yuloh quickly is counterproductive. Our modest experiments to date show that about 20 complete stroke cycles per minute, (20 to the left and 20 to the right for 40 strokes total) can be maintained for extended periods. Depending on the conditioning of the sculler higher speeds can be achieved although we find that even lower speeds concentrating on form will produce very respectable results.

Physical fitness will improve with use. Stomach muscles, arm muscles and the entire cardio respiratory system will leave one tired after extended use. The yuloh is a product of an ancient civilization and its use was ingrained at a very young age. Remember the baby mentioned at the beginning. In an era of rediscovery the yuloh is a device that is practical and valuable in the world of modern sailing, yachting, and small craft.


Bob Groves


Kathy and I have been on the water together for more than 40 years. We built the junk rigged dory schooner Easy Go in 2005 and have sailed the Great Lakes, Caribbean and crossed the Atlantic twice to Africa without a motor using only sail and yuloh. We are presently resident on Cape Breton Island, Canada planning a second cruise to Newfoundland and another crossing of the Atlantic.

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