Thursday, June 22, 2017

Maiden Voyage

Since the Quail Lake champagne party really doesn't count as a "maiden voyage", this May Huerfano took her first river trip down Deso.

Not without some bumps and bruises on the way, starting with a flat tire on the Sand Wash road.  Here I've been saying for several years we've never had a problem, and the road has gotten better, and then boom- "tire pressure warning".  This was complicated with the fact the tire iron/jack kit did not contain the necessary key insert to fit into the spare tire release crank.  In the end a minor set back, with help from Marlyn and the folks at River Runners shuttle.  Thanks to all!

Here we are with the little Huerfano on the trailer at home ready to take off.

Some new pretty oarlocks from Brad Dimock's shop.

And here is a pic during the late packing stages.  Trying to figure out for the first time where everything should go - to be modified several times during the trip and I'm sure on future trips.

First impressions - she is fairly fast pushing in flat water - until the wind comes up when her bow catches a lot of air and lower profile rafts were faster.

If you look closely at the last pic, you can see where white paint rubbed off down to the primer coat, from rubbing by a raft at camp.  Learned to stay away from those nasty rubber objects.  Also a couple of small chine dings from rocks while pulling into camp sites.  All easily fixed with minimal paint upon return to the MBS.

Downstream rather than upstream ferries are much more effective.  In fact, I was disappointed how little progress I made pulling away from the left Cow Swim wall with an upstream ferry.  Maybe disappointed isn't exactly the best word.

Tippiness - in confused water with lots of side waves etc. she's actually pretty tippy, up until the secondary stability of the side flare kicks in, afterward which she's very solid. Not quite sure how to address this, since oars are often out of water, so can't keep pushing through.  But in big water, of which we had a good amount at 18K+ volume, as long as you tee it up, nothing (yet) seemed to phase her.  We pretty much took the meat lines in every rapid.

To confess, that was plan B at Coal Creek as I was trying to miss the Thunder Hole on the left but it did not work out that way.  Very good hit, but through and still smiling!

Still working on getting some of the videos and rapids shots.

Here's a curious visitor at Range Creek checking out Huerfano.  This turkey was persistent, looking for handouts, and hung around all evening. I'm just glad the bear cub (and presumed, but never seen, sow) stayed up by the groover and never came down for a closer inspection.

The obligatory petroglyph hikes. 

View of Rattlesnake rapid above School Section campsite.

Last nights camp before Swaseys.

Finally, here's a wonderful watercolor sketch by my friend Stacy one evening during our trip:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Back Home and Luthier Wood

Finally got back home and once the weather got nicer began to finish the new set of oars I started at Brad's shop.

Sewing on the leathers with sinew, curved needle, water and contact cement.

Adding the leather oar stops.  This was a pain as we weren't quite as well set up as Brad's shop, and the plastic strips I used weren't tough enough, requiring doubling up.  Came out ok in the end.

Boiling up some paraffin wax for the leathers.

Meanwhile, elsewhere some flamed maple has arrived for mandolin backs, and here are several pics of me resawing some Brazilian rosewood I've had since the early '80's for guitar backs and sides.

Grand Canyon Dories

Since Plan A was going to need some rethinking, I spent most of the morning going around to the various Grand Canyon outfitters who provide food etc. for trips down the canyon.  Not sure if that's what we'll end up doing, but I've been invited on a Grand trip Sept '18, so I thought I'd check out Moenkopi, Ceiba, and PRO.  Nice guys all.

Then I headed over to Grand Canyon Dories.  It was a wonderful stop, they let me poke around the boathouse, take some pics, and answered a ton of questions about building, repairs, packing, etc.

The fiberglass repair room.

The Marble Canyon is the new Martin Litton tribute, made I think at least partly of Core Cell, so somewhat related to Huerfano.

Here's a shot of the repair kit list on the inside of a rocket box lid.

You've probably read about this one. Cool to see.

Oar School

Just a little late getting this one on the blog.  Been busy getting Huerfano ready for the Deso trip this May, plus mandolin and guitar mold building, bamboo rod tapering, riding dirt bikes, work, life, etc....

Anyway, tail end of February I headed down to Flagstaff with two sets of perfectly good, new Smoker oars, ready to destroy.  Otherwise known as "bludgeons" by others.  The goal was to cut away what wasn't a good, shapely, functional oar, leaving the rest.

The truck was a little full, with a dirt bike, various bags and other gear, plus our mountain bikes, since we were meeting friends later in Phoenix.
Here we are at Brad Dimock's Boat shop and headquarters for Fretwater Press, in Flagstaff.  Introductory talk is getting us ready to either build some new oars or reshape some older bludgeons.  There was math involved, with geometric examples which left at least me wishing I'd gone with the second cup of coffee.  

But no worries, it all becomes crystal clear after doing it yourself and making numerous mistakes.  Here's Bill and Brad laying out a centerline on a new set.

And the dory crew, Brad, RJ, Andy and Coop discussing some finer details of bludgeon shaping.

Me trying, later unsuccessfully, to avoid screwing up a perfectly good set of new oars.

First set in progress, with the evil grinder.  These actually came out pretty good. 

Andy, Coop, and RJ in various phases of bludgeon remodeling.

Meanwhile, the inside crew, building new oars (and clearly much more advanced on the Darwin scale since it was bitter cold outside for the grinders), are trying to use every single clamp in Brad's shop.

Marieke planing the orange off a new set of ash and padauk oars.

I took a break to go upstairs and take a look at all of Brad's various boats in his loft.  This is his original Briggs.

After remodeling two sets of Smokers, and in the process making one blade just a wee bit too thin, I decided to use the rest of my class time to start a new set with ash and walnut.


Andy and Brad helping glue up my lams.  Highland clamps to the rescue again.

Meanwhile we started other side projects - fiberglass tips and leather oar wraps.

Greg and Brad wrapping the leather oar stop with epoxy.  

 Brad drilling the grip to add counterweight.

And Marieke bringing her padauk back to life with some LTV.  Looks great.

Then it was off to Phoenix for dirt bike riding and meeting up with Cheryl and friends.  But the next morning brought a small change in the plans: