tough boat from the start.
paddling as a small boy in the very late 1960s.
I quickly became fascinated by the construction of the boat. You could extract and disassemble the frame, roll up the skin and store in a cupbard. The wooden frame was warm and alive, perhaps in need of some attention with a varnish brush. The boat was already a good twenty years old and therefore almost ten years my senior at the time. I spent delighted afternoons making sure that all parts fit and were working just right -- all unnecessary labour, as later years of sinful neglect were to prove. These boats are hard to kill!
Then came the first big disaster, an early indication of just how tough the boat was. We had it strapped upside down to the roofrack of the car, on our way to a small local river for a day's outing. The drive was no more than 15 minutes or so, but it took us across a highway overpass. I always thought that it was amazing that I could drive over such a busy piece of real estate only to end up among the ducks in total silence on the water a few minutes later.
Because the ride was so short, we had only tied the boat down by the D-rings at bow and stern. As we drove onto the overpass, a gust of wind hit us with completely unpredictable violent force and lifted the bow of the boat as if there was no tie-down at all. We had tied rope to the D-ring at the bow and it had just opened up. The wind carried the hull towards the bridge railing. Visions of a multi-car pile up below us at 100 mph (this was a German highway, you understand) flashed before me. Then the stern D-ring gave way also!
The car came to a screeching stop and we burst out of the doors -- just in time to see the boat bounce back onto our road from the railing. We just stared at it for some time.
The damage? Scuff marks on the outside of the hull in way of the stringers and keelson, 3 or 4 broken stringers. We decided not to continue with that day's outing, although in retrospect the boat would have been quite servicable with a very little quick repair work to the damaged frame members.
It turned out that the breaks were nice and long, running along the grain of the stringers. Waterproof glue was all that was needed to effect a permanent and near invisible fix. We could have smoothed the scratches in the PVC hull material with a hot knife, but opted to go the whole hog and add rub strips. The latter completely prevented any further damage to the actual skin in future years: Only where frame members reduce the skin's flexibility is it really vulnerable to damage.
After this experience we always attached the bow and stern tie downs to the hull by means of a webbing strap. For longer drives we added straps across the top of the boat from one end to the other of each of the two roof rack cross bars.
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