Tuesday, September 25, 2007
There were many kinds of boats at the show. At one of the scale there was a Kon-Tiki style raft that was made of lumber they might have found along a railroad track, with a tree stuffed in the middle for shade, and a stump for the pilot to sit on to run the 6 horse merc outboard. Six adventurous souls arrived on this vessel and some were swimming before it was secured to the dock. They brought their sleeping bags and were ready to party the whole 3 day weekend.
At the other end of the scale was a 100 + foot yacht made for the commodore of the San Francisco Yacht club in the 1920s. It looked a lot like the presidential yacht during Nixons term. Also in the fleet were many sailboats, from El Torros to round the world cruisers. All were open to the public and we were eager to get around to all of them for a tour.
There were a number of workshops where wannabe to expert builders could sharpen their skills. The best attended was a shop for kids who diligently built their own model boats of every sort, and with a line attached, launch and retrieve them along the docks and rock banks of the harbor. A creative group of kids caught a jar full of small crabs and had them 'walking the plank' off their boats. Some had sails others were 'motor boats'. Lots of wet kids exercising their imaginations that weekend. Half dozen of them were my great grand kids.
We had the kayaks set up by thursday night and took advantage of my brothers hospitality in the town of Sequim about 25 miles away, sharing pizza and beer, swapping stories. Friday we were at the show at 8am and Lynnette ( my daughter ) listened for a couple of hours while I answered the questions of the many folks that stopped at the static display. She was soon able to handle the questions easily and I could get down to the dock and take the other kayak out for a ride.
Motoring around the harbor had many folks hailing me over to share with them how the boat worked. I seemed to be exactly where I wanted but never used the paddle. The boat is electric powered, and can be completely controlled using only ones feet. This leaves my hands free to accept the beer offered and demonstrate the handling qualities of the boat. I met a lot of very generous folks and enjoyed every visit.
I could also head out of the harbor and paddle/run through the anchorage. The boat moves along easily at 3 1/2 mph and I quickly covered the mile or two over to the Lady Washington tied up at a dock. She is a 3 masted square rigger that travels up and down the west coast, stopping at various ports to be displayed to the public. I have been aboard her in the past, but paddling around her in the kayak offered a very different perspective. From a 10 foot kayak she looks very big, and the top of the main mast is a long way up.
Paddling back I came across a pedal powered boat that was about 17 ft long, and had a chain drive from a bicycle type crank to a gearcase which drove the prop. The rudder was connected to a small handle for steerage and the pilot was in a semi-reclining position. The pilot was an athletic looking fellow wearing shorts and a light shirt, ready to sweat when speed was called for. I had a video camera so asked him for a demo of the craft, and he was glad to show me his stuff. I found it difficult to estimate his speed as we were in open water and there were no nearby fixed objects for a reference. However it went like hell, quickly getting up on a plane and leaving only a little foam in its wake. He ran for only a short distance before the chain came off the sprocket and the boat came to an unplanned stop. He assured me he could remount the chain and he would be OK, so I headed back to the port.
Sunday was more relaxing and Lynnette could take her g-kids for a ride in the KF10. They used all of the 300 lb rating of the boat when she and her daughter jumped in. They felt comfortable enough to paddle/run out of the harbor and head out into the sound to view the sailboat races. On their return they executed a few hard over turns and get the feel for the limits of the boat. Lynnette reported it 'was a ton of fun'.
At the end of 3 days we took stock of the event. We had put a lot of literature in the hands of interested folks, and had no time to leave the display to eat or get to the workshops as we had planned. Lynnette got to page 2 of her novel. The response was very positive. I was especially pleased at the number of builders that came by to look at the craft. Their comments were encouraging and helpful. I am impressed with this community of people. They love what they do and seem to view problems as a just something to be dealt with and an opportunity to find solutions and grow their skills. I heard no complaints and no one cast dispersions on anothers' efforts. The kind of folks that you like to be around. We will be there next year.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
We have been working on our website for the Kingfisher Electric Kayak. Recently we added a forum so that kayak fishermen, kayak builders and kayak dreamers can post to ask questions and to give tips and information to share with others with the same interest: Kingfisher Forum
We have had an incredibly busy summer with getting the kayak business off the ground, creating a website and showing the kayak most weekends at our local port market place. Some of the buyers have actually seen the kayak at the port, gone home and ordered plans. Karen has spent most of the time working at the booth. It takes her until Wednesday to feel rested enough to cook us a good meal! The sun and wind take a toll on her good humor!
We are getting ready to go to Port Townsend, WA for the Wooden Boat Festival taking two kayaks, wearing our newly designed T-shirts with boxes of business cards to pass out. My daughter , Lynnette who you can see on the video is going up with me along with her husband, Jim. We should have a great time meeting new people seeing some incredible boats and enjoying a festive wooden boat show! Karen gets to stay home to watch out for the four dogs and her mom. At least, she doesn't have to work at the port that weekend! LOL
It is sad that since summer, the Kingfisher hasn't been in the water. Port Townsend will be our first summer splash! It is fun to be busy, but the kayak is happier in the water.
Karen has been busy posting questions and answers of questions being sent to us via email to the website so you can learn more about our Kingfisher Kayak. She is teaching eBay at the local college....next will be web design or maybe a class on how to be a webmistress. I'm just happy that I don't have to figure websites out. I can spend productive time building controllers, electrical kits and whatever else is being ordered.
We retired to the Oregon Coast, but have managed to be way busier than ever before. Karen believes that doing website business may be as beneficial as cross-word puzzels to keep our mind intact. I certainly hope so! She often complains of having blisters on her brain from figuring this all out. I wonder if this could be true? LOL
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I have spent a few days out in the water tuna and salmon fishing. I use my ocean-going boat to go out. No, I'm not nuts enough to use my Kingfisher in the ocean! My daughter and I managed to bring in approximately 500 lbs of tuna. It is rare that the tuna come in close enough for the sport fisherman to warrant going out to get them. They were as close 18 miles this year. Lynnette and I wore ourselves to a frazzel pulling in tuna after tuna. Cleaning them takes almost as much time as catching them. We got so good at cleaning that others in the fishing station were asking us for advice; which took more time! We dragged ourselves home to dump the canning job on Karen and Lynnette. I tried to catch up with web work along with snoozing in my chair. I beleive Karen and Lynnette canned 28 cases of tuna! They had to resort to using both 1/2 pint jars along with pints as everyone in town was buying the 1/2 pints. Friends brought over 12 cases from Medford. We have enough jars now for more tuna! We (well the girls) also froze up some steaks that they marinated in Teryaki and wrapped in bacon and now they only have to remove from the freezer and Barbeque. I did the smoking of several pieces. Now, it is a challenge to judge whether we like smoked tuna over smoked salmon.
Brookings is short on large salmon. We are catching 15-20 lb silvers and there seems to be plenty to catch. The water will be like a pond for the rest of the week, so Lynnette and I will catch all we can. I'm hoping for 30-40 pounders. Karen says that the smaller salmon taste better. I like to think that my limited tags will be used for largest possible! More for the buck, I guess.
I've been searching the web for the best buys in parts I need for the kayak building. I found some springs that were phased out by my former source. I actually got them for less money and will pass along the good price for my customers. I'm in search of better sources for those very small, but important parts. The component that I read about and lust for, isn't available from anyone that I can find. Karen was a sales rep for components and remembers her engineering department lying through their teeth about what was going to be available, so maybe my part is still only a thought in some engineer's mind. I wonder.
I designed a nice cart to haul the Kingfisher kayak around. We are going to the Port Townsend, WA Wooden Boat Festival Sept. 7-8-9 . I was thinking I may have to carry a 55 lb kayak further than up a levy or across a beach so I made a pretty niffty cart. We will be offering it for sale on our website soon.
If you have any questions or comments be sure to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our toll free number: 877-572-6451. If we don't answer, I'll get back to you right away.
Monday, April 2, 2007
If there is a wind and there are ripples on the water, your visibility to the fish will be diminished. So when approaching a 'fishy spot', think about coming in from down wind and you will get closer without being noticed. Also note that your height will make you more visible. So keep a low profile and if possible keep the sun in front of you so your shadow doesn't give you away. Not only the shadow of yourself, but also that of the boat, and your rod as you cast to the fish.
I fish a lot out of an electric powered kayak and often use a paddle to assist while exploring for new fishing sites. Using a paddle I can reduce the power setting of the motor and almost double the range of the boat while maintaing a 3-3.5 mph cruising speed ( a bit over walking speed). In the summer the fish like to sun themselves near the surface of lakes. As I move along and I can see their swirls as they are alarmed by the approaching boat. It is surprising how quickley they become spooked when using the paddle, streaking off while still 50 feet in front of me. On the other hand, if I just let the breeze move me along and leave the paddle in its cleat, the fish will not run until the boat is just a few feet away. Part of this is because the boat is moving slower, and is not as threatening. Also if I use the motor for power, even at cruising speeds I can get much closer to the fish without the paddle. Those flashing paddle blades are like waving a flag that you are approaching and you are armed.
I have noticed the same affect on wildlife. Deer along the bank of the river are not alarmed if I do not use the paddle. The other day I came across a family of otters. Using the electric motor and moving slowly I found they were more curious about the boat than afraid of it. The younger otters swam out to get a better look at the craft and came to within 10 ft of the boat before deciding it was too big to play with. On another occasion a salt water otter swam over my way and dove swimming on his back under the boat so as to get a good look at it. He came up on the far side and looked a bit longer before swimming off. A small boat with no paddle action is not very threatening to wild life. In a past blog I describe how a couple of sea lions trashed my steelhead fishing spot, often coming to within a few feet of the boat. So you get to se a lot more if you maintain a non-threatening profile in the wild, sometimes a little more than you want.
How about noise? When fishing trout in Arkansas with my Bro, we drifted down the White river dragging a heavy chain to slow the boat. We caught lots of fish and no effort was made to be stealthy. Yet on many occasions I have spooked fish with just a tap on the hull of the boat. What is the difference here? Well I think the fish on the White have come to accept the dozens of chain dragging boats that pass every day as "normal", and non-threatening. They might even interpret the chain as the dinner bell, drawing closer to the passing boats. Perhaps it is all in what they get used to. Heavily fished waters are probably more tolerant of fishing activity than those that do not have many boats on them. So to be on the safe side, I usually move along quietly. However I have no concerns about chatting with a fishing partner in another nearby kayak. The noise level above the waterline doesn't seem to bother the fish, but it sure can be annoying to fishermen. Good fishing and paddling!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I put in the river at Ice Box, near the first bridge as it is very convenient. I can drive the truck down the gravel bar to the water and drop in. No need to carry the boat any distance, and to shuffle gear from the truck to the boat. While loading the boat a couple of drift boats glide by and neither of them have fish on board. One boat put in at Redwood, the other at Nook, and I find myself hoping the fish are down lower or that the bite will come on later in the morning.
Shoving off at Ice Box puts the boat immediatley into a fast riffle and two tree limbs pass onerously under the boat. Toward the bottom of the riffle I cast into the seam between the fast and slow water and let the sinker go to the bottom. A few bounces along the rocky bottom are displayed on my rod tip, when the tip goes down and stays. I quickly set the hook - into a snag. A stomp on the left pedal turns the boat upstream and I slide the throttle forward to MAX. The boat quickley turns up river and in a few seconds my sinker is pushed up the line to my rod tip by the fast moving water. I grab the sinker and wind in the line as the boat moves upstream. When I'm above the snag I give the line a tug using my hand, not the rod, and the line parts at the leader. Another turn sends the boat into quiet water where I can anchor and tie on a new rig. A Snag on the first cast, not a good sign, but it did get my adrnenalin up for a while. And I lost a hook but rescued a sinker, so things could be worse. About half of the time the hook will pull out of the snag and I can just continue fishing.
Hooks are less than 50 cents and these sinkers are almost 3 bucks, so I feel ahead of the game. Occasionally the sinker will lodge under a large rock and a pull from upstream will usually free it. You can tell which is snagged (hook or sinker) by the action of the rod. I can't recall the last time I lost a stuck sinker. That is the advantage of these round bouncing sinkers, they don't wedge into a crevice like a lead sinker or even a slinky. All you have to do is get upstream of one to free it.
There is a steel head derby today so there are lots of boats on the water and we are approaching 'combat fishing' conditions. Looking upstream I see 4-5 boats most of the time and as many downstream. Most are guides with their clients and a few have fish on board. I can't help but wonder what kind of magic they employ as I am runnning the same lines on the river and using about the same bait or lure. Having 3 rods in the boat tripples their chances of having a fish, but there is more to it than that. On one boat the lady angler had caught 3 fish (releasing a small one) while the guys had none. Hmmmmmm. Wonder why.
For me the best thing about the derby was the chuck wagon the chamber of commerce set up at Loeb bar. The food was free to all of the fishermen, and the coffee chilli and hot dog put a smile on my face for the last leg of the drift. Fishermen are usually carefull about fishing ediquet but have no problem talking with a mouth full of beans. Most I talked to have been struggling to get a hook up, and the successfull ones just shrugged when asked how they did it. Just dumb luck? Hmmmm.
When we first moved up to the south coast of oregon about 7 years ago I bought a nice boat for ocean salmon fishing that had all of the goodies on it; electronics, quiet troling motor, downriggers, the whole nine yards. The first 2 week of the salmon season passed with out a single hit, even though I was fishing next to other boats that were landing fish, using the same bait, troling the same speed and depth. Driving home one afternoon I thought it was like someone had taken a dump on my bait, the fish just wouldn't touch it. I woke up the next morning with the realization that 'that is it'. I had been thawing my frozen bait out in a bucket that I had urinated in several days ago, and the residual urine was contaminating the bait. Next trip out we had a new bait bucket and a bar of anice oil soap. No one was allowed to touch the bait intil they had thoroughly washed up, and the new bucket was declared sacred, no one was to pee in it. We immediately began catching salmon and now land more than the average boat.
Incidentally, my daughter is my fishing partner. She baits and works her line, and I do mine. Fact is, I rarely manage to catch as many as she does. The boat My Mary has Mary working the bait and her husband Bob is just fishing. They catch a lot of fish. There seems to be something about the scent of ladies that salmon like, or perhaps the scent of men that salmon do not like. Anice oil, WD40 and bilge oil seems to be more attractive to a salmon than the scent of a male.
Steel head are 'sight feeders' I read, and not fussy about smell. Well maybe, but soap is cheap so now there is a bar in the kayak and I am ready for the next trip as soon as the rain lightens up and the river level begins to fall.
This trip was a bust for most anglers, I saw only two fish hooked up that morning. One boat had gone to using worms, with a big red bonber. The angler wached it intently as he drifted along not far from me. In desperation I had switched to a 'fat cat' lure and worked both sides of the boat, feeling that by covering more water I might bump into a fish. We both pulled in at the take out point with empty boats. Turns out that Mike had made his drift boat and it was indeed unique. It looked like a big pram that could hold two friendly anglers. It was the only boat with 'gingerbread trim'. We compared notes on fishing and talked of boats for a while. Then my wife rolled up with the car so I loaded the kayak up and we went back to Ice Box to pick up the truck. Driving home I could not help but feel that Mike and I had more fun on the river than most. There is something about paddling a boat that you have built that is hard to beat. Now lets see if there is something about the scent of men that makes a difference to steelhead.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
All boats I have owned, at some time in their operation, have been too big or too small, too fast or too slow, too heavy or too light and all were too expensive. So when it comes to fishing boats, there will always be a lot of compromising going on. When thinking about the boat that became the Kingfisher, I set out the following goals bearing in mind that this was to be a fresh water boat operated by a single fisherman on both lakes and rivers that are not exposed to high wind conditions (over 30 mph). They are roughly listed in the order of their importance.
1. Hands free operation-Any boat can be viewed as a hands free boat as long as it is tied to a fixed point, or at anchor. Under these circumstances the boat is not in operation, and it doesn’t offer the fisherman access to any part of the water he cannot cast to. Our view of hands free operation is that the boat must be operating under control of the fisherman without the use of his hands. He must be able to compensate for changing wind and current without picking up a paddle, or to hold the boat in any desirable part of a river and have both hands free to fish. He can move along a shore line and cast to structure most likely to hold fish. He can drift down a river maintaining his line of drift while having both hands free to fish. He must be able to fight and control a large fish without the need to paddle or anchor.
2. Dry boat, adequate storage. The boat must offer a dry environment as it will often be used in colder climates where ‘wet butt’ boating is not an option. It is essential to keep equipment and supplies in good condition, possibly without the use of dry bags. Access to tackle, bait and nets should be at hands reach and without having to untie the desired item.
3. Entry and exit of the boat while on the water- In many fishing environments the operator must enter/exit the boat in shallow water. For example when launching in lakes and streams without launch facilities. Here the boat is loaded while in the water and entry/exit is required. Another common event is when the boat is entering shallow water and it is necessary to walk the boat to deeper water. Finally, landing a large fish in a river often requires the fish to be worked to shallow water and then landed on the beach. The boat is anchored near the shore and the fisherman steps out to beach the tiring fish. The boat must be easy to anchor and secure, preferably with one hand and stable enough that getting in or out is not difficult.
4. Adequate anchor mechanism. Typical kayak anchoring systems consist of a lateral line along one side of the hull, with a clipped on anchor line to secure the boat. Anchors weigh 1-3 lbs. The clipped on anchor is dropped and the clip moved to the bow or stern of the boat, usually a two hand operation. This works well in still water with little wind.
In a river or stream it is necessary to anchor in faster moving water requiring anchors of up to 10 lbs to hold the boat securely. The anchor line is usually 1/4 inch and it is desirable that it be routed thru a pulley at the bow or stern, with a jamb cleat near the seat to secure the line. When not in use the anchor is pulled up to the pulley and cleated off. It is helpful if the anchor can be quickly deployed using only one hand. Also it is very important the boat is stable when anchored in the current. Some boats will swing wildly on the anchor rope, to the point of overturning.
5. Good speed and paddling range. Paddle boats are not seen as fast boats. They only have a ¼ hp drive system (you and me) and at maximum speed it tires quickly. Still there is a need to be able to move upstream thru a riffle to make a second pass at a section of a river we believe holds fish, or work several miles of promising shore line. And then there is the paddle home at the end of the day. Cruising speed should be 3-4 mph and grunt speed 4-5 mph. Note that every time you double the speed of the boat, the motor will consume 4-6 times as much energy. So getting in a hurry uses up battery capacity rapidly.
6. Shallow water operation. When fishing rivers, or on a lake when the wind is blowing, you will find yourself entering shallow water unexpectedly. Your immediate need is to reduce the draft of the boat, by pulling up the propulsion unit (if used) getting hardware out of the water and perhaps deploying the anchor so you can further sort the problem out. If the boat should hit bottom it should not result in damage. Once the situation is clear, you might want to paddle to deeper water, or possibly walk, towing the boat behind. Fishing shallow water often means dealing with weeds and snags. If the boat is powered it will be necessary to clear the prop of weeds. Having the ability to lift the motor out of the water and spin the prop both forward and backward makes this a much easier task.
7. One man deployment. It is very desirable for the boat to be light enough that it can be taken to the launch site and deployed without assistance. It should fit in the back of a puck-up, SUV or at least be suitable to be car-topped to the launch site. This eliminates a trailer and storage facility when the boat is not in use. The boat described above can be hung from a garage ceiling using a few simple pulleys and some rope. It takes no floor space and stays clean and dry when the weather turns wet and cold.
8. Lack of Clutter. It has often been observed that a fisherman can get his hook into anything that is not stowed below decks, and even those items are not safe. Lines, bags, clothing and lunch are all candidates. Getting a hook out of a dock line while in a fast river is a very frustrating task, and keeping your line out of the rigging when you have a large fish on is equally important. The best view over the bow of your boat is one with no lines or hardware in sight. Then if you can keep the boat pointed at the fish, you have a good chance of landing that big one.
9. Simple operation. The operation of the boat should be as natural as walking and require little thought or training. Kind of like riding a bicycle, not natural at first, but soon it seems perfectly normal. All needed control functions should be easily at hand and the boat should provide feedback so the fisherman can see his status at a glance.
10. Backing down. Most kayaks are not designed to be operated in reverse, indeed some of the pedal craft have no reverse and a paddle is required. One of the more popular steelhead and salmon fishing techniques is called ‘Back Trolling’. The boat is facing down stream, and a lure or bait is let out from the boat and slowly moves down the river into a likely hole. The motor is running in reverse slowing the boats drift and adding action to the bait or lure. This puts the bait ‘in the fishes face’ and it often produces results when nothing else will.
I also often find bass in out of the way places that are tight to get in and out of. Hooking a fish there requires backing the boat out to open water to deal with the fish, and turning around is not an option.
This kind of fishing requires that the boat handles well in reverse. The shape of the bottom must allow reasonable speed in reverse and fast response to steering inputs. This usually means building some ‘rocker’ into the bottom, resulting in a slower boat with less cargo capacity. More compromises.
11. Places to put things. The boat owner will want to add items to the boat to make it a more effective fishing platform. Fish finders, GPS and tie points for lanyards to secure the paddle and net are but a few. Flat surfaces are much more amenable to these activities than are irregular rounded surfaces. A dash like surface at the front and rear of the cockpit is helpful to hold status indicators and perhaps small electronic equipment. It is helpful if these added items do not become part of the clutter on the forward deck where much of the fishing activity takes place.
I believe the KF 10 meets all of the above objectives. I have fished from one for years now and made changes as necessary to accomplish these objectives. I believe you will find it is a uniquely capable fishing kayak. It is available as a kit with many precut and some pre-assembled parts, making your construction job faster and less prone to error.