Prospector Sailing Canoe Build

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Now I have the plans and most of the materials I suppose it’s about time to start the build otherwise I may miss the summer and the best conditions to paddle.

I have a double length garage but it is full of work benches and tools so I have had to erect our family tent in the back garden to act as a temporary workshop, it’s a bit of a tight squeeze as you can see and the 16 foot workbench I have built only just fits in it but it will suffice (although I am under pressure now to complete the canoe in the shortest possible time as my wife wants her washing line put back up!


16-foot scaffold workbench

When my timber was delivered they left an 8x4 sheet of 1/4inch MDF that was used as protection for the ply so I have used this to mark out templates from the plans, this reduces the risk of making errors in the marking out and cutting the ply directly, it also enables all of the panels to be cut from 3 sheets of ply rather than 4 which is not a lot of use to me as I ordered 4 because I did not know they would leave the packing! Still I now have a spare sheet should something go wrong.

WEST systems fibreglass materials

An improvised sanding table to take my rough-cut templates down to the line

I had been looking for a boat of some kind that I could use for sea fishing (in particular Saltwater Fly Fishing) and to get back into sailing. I also wanted something small, easily transported, cheap, versatile and it had to be safe for my kids, most of all it must be fun!
As a kid I used to paddle a fair bit, mostly in kayaks, eventually taking my BCU 2 star at Bewl Water, I have even paddled a Canadian canoe down the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania. A surfing session on the web happened upon some open canoes that used a fixed sail. The more I thought about it the more it suited my needs, to reduce costs and make it interesting I decided on a self build so this blog has been created to keep a record of my project to build a 15'8" Prospector open Canoe

The plans were purchased from Selway Fisher the original Prospectors were originally designed in Canada and known as the "workhorse of the North". They had to have a good carrying capacity for all of the Prospector's gear and they had to work well through white water and wilderness. The bow and stern are relatively full and it has good freeboard amidships to keep its crew dry. The well-rockered keel line makes it highly manoeuvrable and the tumblehome in the topsides makes it both stable and easy to paddle. It is constructed using simple stitch and tape techniques and has 5 planks per side giving it a well-rounded and graceful appearance. LOA 15'8" (4.76m); Beam 2'11" (0.88m); Depth amidships 14.5" (0.36m); approx. weight 65 lbs. (30 kg). The plans were £41 (incl. VAT)

The Timber cost about £120 and I opted to use 4mm marine ply, I purchased WEST Systems fibreglass materials including 1.2kg of resin a set of dispensers pumps, 50m of 50mm fibreglass tape and a small tub of filleting compound, this cost approx £45 but I think I may need additional resin to complete the project

I intend to have the outside left as varnished wood but this will depend on the finish, if it’s not too good I will coat the whole outside in a fibreglass sheet and paint it aiming for a smooth mirror finish

As this can be used as a sailing canoe the plans suggest a Gunter Rig sail, this looks very traditional and would probably prove to be quite effective but as I have only sailed a few times I do not want the hassle of all of the rigging etc, plus stowing the rig would take a fair bit of space when paddling, I was again surfing on the web when I found this website
I contacted Dr Richard Dryden regarding his sailing rig, it seemed to fit my needs so we met up and I purchased one of his prototype rigs, although it is only half the area of the suggested Gunter Rig in the plans it should be more than enough for a novice like me. Its unique design allows it to fold and unfold swiftly with a minimum of rigging and I have had some ideas on how to secure it to the canoe which would enable the sail to be hoisted with the pull of a strap but more of that later

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