Tag Archives: DW

C2 compared with Duet

I’ve compared the new C2 with The Darkness C1 because that was the starting point for the design however, to get a proper C2 perspective, I should compare it with The darkness Duet C2.

So I laid them side by side and took some pictures and measurements.

Duet and new C2 – 1.


The Duet conforms to a continuous arc from bow to stern, whereas the C2 has a long section of parallel width. The Duet was designed by a Naval Architect using CAD tools and fluid dynamic algorithms, The C2 was pretty much guessed at.

Key dimensions are:

Max width at the gunwales: Duet – 68 cms, C2 – 56 cms
Boat depth from hull to central thwart: Duet – 27 cms, C2 – 28 cms
Boat depth at rear of cockpit: Duet – 26 cms, C2 – 29 cms
Boat depth at front of cockpit: Duet – 34 cms, C2 – 29 cms
Seat height: Duet – 20 cms, C2 – 15 cms.

Weight: Duet – 21 kgs, C2 – 18 kgs.

Duet v new C2 – 2


The weight comparison is a bit of a red herring as the C2 has the additional seat adjustment rails but would benefit from some additional stiffness within the laminate, but 18 kgs would seem about right.

This particular Duet is not really representative either as it’s based on two layers of carbon, hence the additional stiffening across the hull. Without the now standard internal layer of Kevlar it is more vulnerable to damage. A more realistic weight with the Kevlar would be about 23 kgs. This boat also has some seat rails because as the demo boat, it needs to be more adjustable. Adjustments for the rear paddler is serviced by moving the footrest.

Duet v new C2 – hulls


As both boats are ICF compliant, the only difference in the hulls is the cross section profile. The C2 is much slimmer but water resistance is usually measured by the wetted area. The Duet will support a heavier payload and is massively stable, but it would be interesting to measure the wetted area when paddled by two racing snakes.

Duet v new C2 – cockpits


The C2 cockpit has less open space but at 310 cms, it is still greater than the ICF 280 cm minimum spec. I’ve positioned the seats closer together to take advantage of the central buoyancy. As the boat tracks so well, it isn’t necessary to have the rear paddler way back towards the stern. Also, we don’t need to leave the central area available for camping kit and the like.

I’ve set the seat height for the C2 at 15 cms. This is 5 cms lower than the Duet because I’m expecting it to be less stable.

Duet v new C2 – front and rear decks


The front deck has lost the steep gradient and the ridge. This should make it more comfortable for portaging, but there may be more water coming across the deck in rough water.

Notice also the lack of a name, what on earth I am going to call it? Dual, Duo, Double, Dunno!

Duet v new C2 – bow and stern


The C2 is closest to the camera and it shows that the Duet has less height in both the bow and stern areas. It will be interesting to observe the freeboard, and how much will be sticking out of the water (and likely to catch the wind). I’ll also test the curved bow.

Tomorrow I get to test it, and the day after a Duet crew has agreed to give it a go.

First prototype

The first boat came out of the mold last week and I collected it from Devon. We’d had a number of discussions regarding the construction and I was adamant that the boat had to be light, and the prototype was the right time to take a risk. We agreed on a 200 gram carbon twill supplemented with a 200 gram Caron/Kevlar weave. We knew this would not be stiff enough so we implemented a series of uni-direction cross members. These in conjunction with the flanges, would form a sort of scaffolding……………..or at least that was the theory.

The boat came out of the mold weighing 12 kgs. This was crazily far too light for a C2. However the construction seemed to work, with the right kind of stiffness but with some flexibility to absorb knocks. However we hadn’t continued either the flanges or the cross bracing beyond the boundaries of the cockpit, so the deck and hull in the stern and bow areas are a tad flimsy. That will be rectified on further boats and may add another kilogram.

As the design is based on The Darkness C1, I immediately compared the two, yep, completely different! The front deck especially, has lost its sharp gradient and ridge. The gunwale edge remains which adds lateral rigidity and supports the full length spray deck.

The C2 (I must think of a name for it) has a constant cross beam at the gunwale of 55 cms, The C1 has a maximum width of 51 cms.

Comparing the C1 and the new C2 – decks


The hull seems to have more curvature than the C1.

Comparing hulls


The array of different materials is starting to grow on me but I’ve never been a fan of Kevlar. We do need it though to give the boat some strength.

The boat is actually quite deep. I added on 10 cms of deck height from the C1 to increase the freeboard. The boat will sit lower in the water and it will interesting to see what level of payload it can support.

Birds-eye and side views.


It took a couple of days to fit it out with seats, footrests, thwarts, portage handles and buoyancy.

Fit out complete.


I took advantage of the parallel flanges to mount the seats on rails. These enable a high degree of adjustment which will allow many people of different shapes and sizes to easily and quickly change the setup. These will be discarded for a racing setup as they add over 1.5 kgs to the weight and I do lose some rigidity across the width.

Cockpit arrangement.


I’ve added the usual grip tape the assist non-slip getting in and out. The thwarts are positioned to provide a stable hand hold during embarkation. I will be putting some cycle handlebar tape in the centre to improve grip and comfort.

Rear seat on sliders.


The seats are to my own design, similar to racing kayak seats but with a much bigger seat pan. This adds comfort and better stability. They are currently set at 15 cms high which is 5 cms lower than the Duet.

Front seat setup.


The footrests support the pull bars which have proven very successful in The Darkness Duet C2, and the footplates have grip tape on them.

Bow and stern.


The bow is more curved to help avoid picking up weed.

The handles are my own design and made of carbon. They are similar to the Marsport handles, but shorter, lower profile and have a deeper recess to support a torch. I’ve mounted plastic tubes wrapped with cycle handle bar tape for better grip, comfort and warmth in lieu of a torch.

So, it’s all over bar the paddling.

I’m looking forward to its maiden voyage and subsequent experimenting with the setup, and then I’m hoping a few crews will try it out.

Thameside 2 2017

A bit late to start thinking back to Thameside 2, but as we were promoted to Div 6 at our last race, we didn’t have to wear buoyancy aids.

However, I do recall that we got a reasonable start on the second wave even though it was very bumpy to the first portage. Too many boats at the same time. We has planned to run long, but were forced on to the steps. Lots of pushing and shoving and a few frayed tempers, but we did pretty well to get away without a mishap.

The field split up on the paddle down to Sonning. Still pretty busy but again we got away clean. At Shiplake we were out and across to the put-in in quick time but even so, another C2 were quicker.

As usual, we settled down into the race, got quicker and managed to pass Nigel and Paul from Leighton Buzzard. They were clearly tiring as we got to Temple. We knew we had to get to Marlow first to beat them to the finish, but they still had a bit more left than we did and they got there first.

In our haste I slipped on the concrete and dropped the boat. Did some considerable damage.

Duet damage


We ended up in 5th place by 37 seconds and about 13 minutes behind the winners.

Thameside 2 results


The racing has been a good training benefit and it certainly put us in our place.

Onward to Australia

So we have a box, now need to pack out the boat. I decided that the most secure way would be to pack it like an egg-in-an-egg-box.

Conscious of the strict import rules in Australia, I opted for polystyrene and scoured my garage to find all the bits of buoyancy I’d kept “just-in-case”. I use a profile tool to mark the canoe shape holes to support the boat along its length. I also supported the weight with blocks of foam insulation.
c1_packed_1
I then used all the spare bits and positioned them just proud of the top so that the lid would clamp the whole thing together when I screwed down the top.

So far, so good but now came the big challenge of how I was going to transport it to the shipping depot in Basildon. The shipping company offered to collect it for £175, but cost were already high so I decided take transport it myself.

The crate weighed in at 87 kgs, ten times the weight of the boat! I was convinced that with half a dozen blokes, we could put it on the roof rack of my estate car. OK it was on the limit in terms of weight and size, on the border of road legal but it should be fine.

My wife decided that it wasn’t fine and proceeded to describe all the potential things that could go wrong (she has a very vivid imagination!). The alternative was our camping van which has four roof rails and it somewhat longer. However it is 2.5 metres high, how the hell was I going to get it up there?

A call round the neighbours and a text to my cycling mates meant that seven blokes turned up to help. I lashed two ladders together as a ramp, and reduced the gradient by putting the base of the ladders on a patio table. I used a long rope to act as a brake and another to stop the crate crashing down when it reached the pivot point.

With a lot of huffing and puffing we inched the crate up the ladder ramp on to the top of the van. I dismissed the troops and lashed it down. There was much talk of beer owed!
c1_on_van_1
The next day I drove very gingerly to the shipping company depot in Basildon where the crate was unloaded by forklift in about 30 seconds.
c1_on_van_2It’s now out of my hands, as the shipping company are now responsible for getting it to Brisbane. If anyone is interested, the cost of shipping is £491.80.

Bon voyage to The Darkness.

Boat to Brissy

I follow a FaceBook site which was setup by the canoeists in Australia called Australian Canoe Racing https://www.facebook.com/groups/AustrlianCanoeRacing/. It is fascinating to see all the similar sort of things we do in the UK, being done on the other side of the world.

I did noticed some familiar looking boats and I realised that a guy called Frank Harrison developed a similar sort of boat design to The Darkness C1, but many years earlier. In fact it took a few posts to convince the Ausies that I didn’t pinch his ideas!

There are some differences as there are some national canoe design standards for Australian touring canoe racing, but the concepts are the same.

To cut a long story short, an Ausie digger has ordered one of my boats and I’m now in the process of shipping it to Brisbane.

So, what on earth do I know about exporting canoes to Australia? Well not much, but I’m learning fast.

I’ve found a shipping agent who is prepared to transport the boat, but first it has to be crated. No problem I thought, pop down to B&Q, buy a few sheets of plywood and knock a big box together. Not so fast! The timber has to be heat treated and certified for import to Australia. If you ever watch those fly-on-the-wall documentaries about Australian customs, you’ll know they are pretty strict about these sort of things.

So the shipping agent recommended a packing supplier in Eastleigh and I started a dialogue.

I estimated that the boat would easily fit in a crate measuring 5.5 metres long, 65 cms wide and 45 cms high and I was quoted £170 (inc VAT) for the timber. Blimey, one hundred and seventy quid for a plywood box! It wasn’t until I collected the timber that I realised why, I had a complete construction kit for a fork-lift ready, palletised crate.

Flat-pack crate.

Flat-pack crate.


The suppliers had given me some vague verbal instructions, plus I managed to take a few pictures of other crates in the warehouse. So I called my mate John in order that we could figure it out together.

The timber was cut to precise dimensions which should fit together in a specific way.

So, first off we constructed the base. (The picture shows the underside)

Underside of the base

Underside of the base


After that, we worked through the ends, sides and lid. It was only when we attempted to put the components together that we realised we’d made a few mistakes. Luckily we’d use screws so it was fairly easy to rectify it.

A BIG box.

A BIG box.


It was certainly a big box, but was it big enough? Only one way to find out.

The Darkness C1 fits with room to spare.

The Darkness C1 fits with room to spare.


Yep, plenty of room in there for loads of packing, should be nice and safe for the passage to Australia.

Seat development

I’ve now got quite a collection of racing kayak seats in my quest for a better canoe seat design. One thing that has struck me is that they are all pretty much the same size and shape. OK there are a few tiny differences but the manufacturers seem to assume that one size will fit all racing kayak paddler’s bottoms.

Once again, compare this to the cycling world where there are literally hundreds of saddle designs, shapes, sizes and materials, plus a whole host of different options for lady riders.

The discerning canoe racer however is more demanding, and much prefer a tractor seat type design, plus they are seated much higher.

Anyway, I set about modifying my original effort and recast it to have more volume at the back.

Increased surface area

Increased surface area


The picture shows the size compared with a “standard” racing K1 seat.

Next I needed something on which to mount it. I have made a number of seat supports using timber and fibre glass, but they take so long to shape them to support the seat pan.

As it happened, two new seats from Nelo had just arrived. These are a rather different and innovative design in that the seat is supported by a cast metal frame.

Nelo K1 racing seat

Nelo K1 racing seat


The seat pan is secured by five rivets. So I drilled off the rivets and separated the cast metal “spider”.

Nelo seat "spider" support

Nelo seat “spider” support


Together with some stainless steel bolts and some plastic spacers, I secured the new seat pan to the frame.

New seat pan secured

New seat pan secured


I had just got the Darkness Duet back for a few days, so I bolted it into the rear of the C2, and John and I took it out from Pewsey Wharf.

New seat in rear of Duet

New seat in rear of Duet


I’m showing it compared with a K1 racing seat. The marks around the edges are where I used pegs to hold the two layers of foam whilst the glue set. At this point I was reluctant to cut the seat runners down.

Well at first it felt weird because it was different to what I was used to. On the return from Wootton Rivers I’d forgotten about the new seat and was quite used to it after the hour.

I’ve now made a second one and secured both to square profile aluminium tubes ready for testing. I’ve also trimmed the runners.

New seats ready for testing

New seats ready for testing


I’ve mounted them on timber supports so they should sit on the flanges with just the timber drilled to math existing holes.

I now need to get them tested.

Does my bum look big on this?

So, just got back from an hour’s paddle on the Basingstoke canal using the wider seat. It was unexpectedly uncomfortable!

Having more bum area in contact with the seat actually felt more stable, especially in combination with the pull bar. Also having more area at the back of the seat enabled me to push back into it. But the pressure points seemed to be in the wrong place.

One factor compared with a C2 setup, is that the height of the seat is significantly lower in a C1 than a C2. In the C2 I have set the seat height to 20 cms, where as in the C1 it’s set at 12 cms. This may make quite a difference, which I can test once I get my boat back.

Those of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now, but I’ve taken some photographs to illustrate the point.

The first picture shows a standard British bottom on a standard K1 racing seat. Neither the back nor the sides are supported. However, this may be because there is so much movement due to the paddling action.

Standard K1 racing seat.

Standard K1 racing seat.

I wonder if it’s the same principle as in cycling, whereas novice cyclists are often convinced that their sore bums would benefit from a big, wide saddle, where in fact all racing cyclists tend to use narrow saddles which support the bits which matter most.

So-called cycling comfort saddle versus cycle racing saddle.

So-called cycling comfort saddle versus cycle racing saddle.


Now compare the area of support with my new wide seat design. Much more bum area is supported.
New wide seat design.

New wide seat design.


I do wonder whether the seat would benefit from sides in the same way as sports car seats are designed.

Yes I know they have sides to prevent slipping out of the seat due to the G-forces during turning, but are they more comfortable?

The seat I use at the moment is a bit of a compromise in that it doesn’t have hard edges and allows the “excess baggage” to overflow.

Current C1 seat.

Current C1 seat.


For DW, John and I used Zastera seats with two layers of foam. They seemed comfortable to us, even on the long pound to Wootton Rivers, but it’s the additional height which seems to make the most difference
Darkness Duet DW seats.

Darkness Duet DW seats.


I need to get some wide seat prototypes out to the Duet paddlers.