Katie Beardie

Dance Katie Beardie

based on an article first published in WaterCraft Magazine 

Katie Beardie had a Coo 
Black and White aboot the moo 
Wisnae that a dainty Coo? 
Dance Katie Beardie 

My first sailing canoe, Polythene Pam, is a Selway Fisher Ranger 16 and it’s no disgrace 
to her that Paul Fisher actually gives the plans away with his Stitch and Tape Manual. Through a series of self-inflicted circumstances, she was the only boat which I could use in the first 
HBBR Thames Raid in 2009. Pam performed her duties well but her conversion from simple canoe to thoroughbred Raid machine was more by accident than design; I felt something more bespoke was needed. 

The initial discussions about a replacement for Pam started on the old HBBR forum. Amateur designer Chris Waite aka CeeDubs was explaining his new Premise, an 11'6" x 4'6" (3.5 x 
1.4m) cruising dinghy he described as the illegitimate offspring of a Thames Barge and a Gloucester Dory. I asked him if he could extend this philosophy to 16' (4.9m) and then narrow it down again to about half. 

Now the conversation between designer and client can be a delicate negotiation at times. The designer may have some firm ideas of how things should be and of course, the client will have an equally clear vision of his ideal boat. The trick is for each to convince the other that they are getting their own way while gradually getting what they want. The conversation went 
something like this... 

GN: Last night, I was pondering about a replacement hull for Polythene Pam. I have two sheets of ply, which came as the wrapping for the Jordan Boats Coot dinghy kit I’ve just finished – see 
W88/89 – and plenty of epoxy left over from the same job; they’ve been urging me to build something. I need the hull-form to be flattish amidships so as not to spill my tea when going about, nice and pointy at the front, with 'an easy run aft' as boaty journalists are wont to say to 
make her 'burdensome' enough to carry a week's worth of camping gear and baked beans. Fairly beamy to carry a sailing rig but not so broad it makes paddling impossible when the wind puts up a fight. A vertical sternpost to make the steering gear nice and simple 
to manufacture and a cockpit big enough for one, with perhaps space for a small well-behaved dog. Cover the whole thing with sufficient decks and hatches to keep the camping gear dry 
and there you go: the perfect face-forward, car-toppable, sail-paddle, camp-cruising, easy-build singlehander. 

CW: How deep and more particularly, how wide can it be before kayak-type double-paddling becomes impossible? 

GN; I'd say 2'6" (0.76m) is about as wide as we can go when travelling in the direction God intended without seriously bashing knuckles. As to depth you don't want more than 12" (0.3m) 
of freeboard otherwise you will lean out so far the tippy wee thing will have you over before you know it. 

CW: It seems to me the maximum width of strake amidships would be 10.5" (267mm). I think it is worth the extra work to have a keel-type seam, because the dihedral angle gives strength to the floor which even in a canoe could otherwise be a bit flexy. 

GN: If I'm getting this right, the lovely vee-shaped hull form you have created will have a waterline beam of 24" (0.6m) which is a tad narrow for we forward-facing folk. You rowing types have the distinct advantage of a pair of balancing oars to keep you upright. 
Even better they move together in an elegant sweeping motion; we paddlers are all over the place. And as mentioned, I'd want to put a sail up, so when I say 30" (0.76m) beam, I will 
really need to use all of it. While we're at it, a little bit of rocker – a fore-andaft 
curve to the keel proflie – is a good thing when trying to navigate a long thin hull with a short paddle; Pam tracks like an arrow but does 3-point turns like a long wheelbase Land Rover. 

CW: So, as slab-sided as a battleship or the slightly-flared mid-sections of a 
Thames barge?
What would you prefer 
– A: The slightest flare; B: Vertical; or C: a touch of tumblehome?
And are you 
sure you wouldn't rather do as nature intended and row her?

GN: I've now given this considerable thought and come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter. Not really. A bit of tumblehome on a canoe helps to prevent grazed knuckles and keeps the 
maximum beam where it needs to be but may look a bit odd on a single chine boat. Slab-sided may be less than elegant, boxy in fact, while a bit of flare may look sporty and provide 
some extra floatation when heeled. I envisage having some half-decks to help her heel further before a deluge of green water lands on my sandwiches. 
Yes, I do prefer to face forward, rowing may be all very well for getting there quickly but the view is much nicer with a paddle. 

CW: I think the key is to soften the chine forward so it causes less drag. Also we should keep the stem fairly vertical to increase the waterline length for improved hull speed. Further, for a 
given waterline beam, it induces a finer entry. For all of this, including a touch of rocker, consider the forward ends of the garboard strakes on Octavia, my rowing skiff; see W77. These are simply the biggest planks I could squeeze out of the ply. They are 14" (0.36m) each 
wide, which in total is only 2" (50mm) short of your target. The after sections of the floor, from one piece of ply would be much more like Premise, taking on the gentlest curves only and leaving the single chines to meet at the foot of the canoe stern – a bit like the 10 Square 
Metre canoes I used to sail.
The whole is 
dressed in a 12" (0.3m) curtain, made from the other sheet and along with a dainty sheer, cut to match.
Does M'sieu fancy a Canadian canoe bow a l'Octavia and a fractionally raked sternpost, just 
a soupçon, to add a certain je ne sais quoi? 

A few more such exchanges took place over that bleak mid-winter of 2009/10 until......

CW: I am uploading photos of the cardboard cut out of my solution to your canoeing requirements: two sheets cut into eight pieces; some waste;
rocker about 3" to 4" (75-100mm); 
Octavia-like forward, flat and to the point aft. Something of a reverse teardrop appearance, for a meaner entry and to add a dash of elegance? It would be possible to bring the maximum beam forward but I feel she might then look like a pencil that's just had a good meal. 

It should be mentioned here that CeeDubs doesn’t really do drawings in the conventional manner, preferring to go straight from the grey matter to the 3-dimensional. Once he’s happy in 
three dimensions, he then works backwards to find the plank shapes. Sometimes he builds models first, other times he prefers to carve the boat  straight out of wood and epoxy. 

GN: Great, Cee Dubs I very much like the principles here. I like the fine entry, and sweeping lines of the chine coming down to a broad flat midsection to add stability and load carrying capacity, sweeping back to the stern. The asymmetric hull shape is good with the max beam just behind my... er... behind. And all with what is essentially four bits of ply. I think we 
can now go into the fine tuning stage of the design, a wee tuck here, let out 
this seam there... And when we’d stopped fiddling with dimensions... 

CW: Graham, I am uploading a ply cutting plan for the floor-pan and sheer strakes The two straight lines with CUT written at each end, are moderately angled along the board. Working symmetrically about the mid-line of the sheet, the cuts start 31" (0.79m) apart at the wide end and reduce to 17" (0.43m) at the narrow end. The 'fair curves' should be made to fit at 90° to the butt joint, 1½" (38mm) from the CUT lines.

Get this right and you can't 
possibly fail! 

Words I would rue later on. 

GN: CeeDubs, she is sublime! As bonny a craft as anyone ever set eyes on and certainly an elegant throwback to those Victorian Canoe Yawls. The economy of line is only matched by the 
economy of material. She'd bring warmth to a cold, cold heart, and tears to a glass eye. Put down those scissors and that sticky tape and take a well earned rest my friend, you deserve it. 

Further conversations followed regarding sail plans and centreboards.

CW: I am now attempting to manoeuvre the masts and centreboard along a horizontal line which has the Centre of Lateral Resistance and the Centre of Bouyancy engraved on it. It seems to me that the rigged canoe will either look like two trees on a prairie or you 
will be wearing the centreboard case somewhere extremely personal.

GN The Victorians liked to shove their mainmast right forward and have their mizzen masts right behind the cockpit which would be handy – currently I can't reach Pam's mizzen when 
underway. So a combination of the two should push the COE well forward and take the centreboard with it. I’m inclined to go for a proper hinged centreboard. A daggerboard is fine 
when it’s down but gets in the way of everything when it's raised and becomes a slimy wet plank when removed from the slot. How about a balanced lug main for the simplest of 
all rigs and a leg-o-mutton mizzen, that can be easily brailed out of the way when it isn’t needed? 

Like the Giant Rat of Sumatra, world is not ready for the story of the build. Suffice to say, if you heed the designer’s words, you can’t possibly fail, ignore them at your peril. Events 
further conspired to ensure that the quick and easy build I had in mind took a year longer than expected.

Rudimentary flotation tests were  carried out in July ’11 during an HBBR  rally on the Severn near Tewkesbury to confirm our buoyancy calculations prior to designing and fitting the 
decks. Even so a major effort was required to get the boat ready for a  re-run of the HBBR Lechlade to Beale Park Raid, in June ‘12. A rudimentary sailing rig was thrown together from 
bits cannibalised from Polythene Pam, and quite a lot of polypropylene waste pipe which looks like carbon fibre from a reasonable distance but bends like barley in the breeze. 

Readers may know that this year, the weather in the week prior to the Beale Park Boat Show was so foul that the first day of the show had to be cancelled. Katie and the rest of the HBBR's Alternative Jubilee Flotilla battled their way through headwinds, rain and flood warnings to a half empty, sodden boat show. But at least the sandwiches stayed dry. 
I’ll leave the final word to CeeDubs: 

When designing a Scotsman's canoe 
From ply, with epoxy for glue 
Make it no more broad 
Than a fine Claymore sword 
But a point at the other end too.