Thursday, December 2, 2010

Full Seam

I have been remiss in my blogging.  I am sorry.  Life has been a little bit crazy, but I am hoping that it will soon get even crazier.

Tuesday of this week was the last day of whitewater at the USNWC.  Earlier this season I broke my boat in several different places, but chose to put off fixing them until the end of the season when I would have more time and when the boat would not proceed to be beaten against cement and possibly broken again.  My plan did not quite work out, per usual.  One of the breaks began to get worse and needed to be fixed immediately.  In an attempt to catch the last water of the season I began vigorously working on the breaks.

The first repair involved the stern, which bottom drop had decided to claim since I refuse to get outrightly thrashed there anymore.  In order to make this happen I needed to remove all of the seam tape holding the bow and deck of the boat together.  Doing this however meant that I would be exposing a previous repair.  I decided that while I was fixing the stern I should seam the entire boat.  A wise tactical decision.  But a poor life choice.  Because I did not have much time each day to devote to this project I did it in stages.  I first ground everything down.  Then I patched the stern.  Then came the day for the grandiose seaming project.  I wanted one continuous seam up to the bow where it would meet a section of tape that was in great shape and had no reason for coming off.  Long story short, in a process of trial and error I managed to develop a system for seaming the boat that was rather ingenious, if I do say so myself.  However I was greatly aided by the fact that there was no sun and that it was roughly 60 degrees at the high that afternoon.  What then proceeded to hurt me was that with the low temperatures I could not get the resin to kick (or rather for the chemical reaction that makes the resin hard and stiff to take place).  In an attempt to not use a heat gun, which makes the resin brittle, I kept working the resin slowly.  However the resin just would not kick, which meant that I could not get the seams to stay in place.  Several people gave me ideas and tried to help - Thank you Paul Manning-Hunter, John Hastings, and Marian Davidson.  Finally, I decided to very carefully bring the boat inside and work from there.  Thank goodness I finally decided to go to bed because when I woke up I had a dry boat with brand new seams to paddle for the last two days of whitewater.

Normally I love to do boat repair.  It is a meticulous process with many different answers to a problem.  Everyone has their own way and little tricks that are extremely interesting and when all put together create an awesome knowledge of how to use power tools - or not.  Having raked peoples' brains about repairs each time I have to do one myself I believe I can safely say that I repair boats infinitely better than I paddle them.  Which might also be a result of all the practice I have been getting in repairing my boats. Regardless, I wish the process of seaming an entire boat on no one.  Moral of the story: Appreciate your seams.  Keep them in tact.

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