Tuesday, September 25, 2007

KF-10 kayaks at the Port Townsen Wooden Boat Show

The Port Townsend anual wooden boat festival is one of the largest and attracts wood boat lovers from all over the country. It was to be the first show we have participated in with the Kingfisher Kayak and we had some concerns about being the 'new weird kayak' of the group, located out in the far end of the show grounds. But the administrative folks there were very generous and gave us a section of dock space for the demo kayak and a nice location near the dock ramp for a static display. The static display was a kayak on its transport cart, with the motor turning the prop at about 120rpm. Few people walked by without stopping for a look. We had brought along a novel to read and literature to pass out.

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.