Well that was an interesting experience! I took the boat to my favourite testing ground at Marsh Benham to see how it would perform on the water.
Starting with the seat in the forward position located where the rear paddler’s feet would be, I tentatively pushed off from the side. It was far more unstable than I’d anticipated. After the first few strokes, I got the measure of it but as I started to put some power in, the whole boat started to twist, as there is next to no longitudinal bracing. Not wanting to swim, I backed off.
Because I had removed the rudder and the boat is really designed for the weight of two paddlers, the wetted area was substantially reduced. This resulted in “significant loss of directional stability” in that the boat was very sensitive to a paddle strokes. It veered from one to the next and I had to be quick to switch sides to get it back towards my intended direction. A couple of times I “lost it” and had to back-paddle to avoid crashing into the bank.
However, the 360 degree turn was a doddle. It turned like a slalom canoe as can be seen in the video.
All in all pretty awful, but as expected. Sometimes one has to introduce a big “problem” in order to prove what one suspected in the first place, and so it proved.
So, I moved the seat 40 cms towards the stern and this made a big difference.
I’m now sat just behind the middle of the boat and it is much more evenly balanced.
I now have my starting base line from which to measure improvements and it’s time to make some radical changes:
1. Bracing along the length of the boat.
2. Bracing across the width of the boat.
3. Reduce the hull rocker to zero
4. Start weight training so I can lift the damn thing!
I’m off to the timber merchant to buy some 6 metre lengths of bracing.