John's Night Heron

Page 5:  The Finished Boat

Click any photo to view a larger image.  

Lewisville_NH_2.jpg (204381 bytes)

The Finished Boat
Fully rigged, the boat weighs 39.5 pounds.  I am pleased with the weight, considering it has 6 ounce fiberglass, inside and out, with two layers on the outside hull.  It's built like a tank!

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Rear view.  The back deck is low and flat, but I can't quite reach the back deck with my head when leaning back.    

Lewisville_12-2003_3.jpg (185667 bytes) I took the boat on a short shakedown cruise before gluing the seat into position and fine tuning the shape of the kneepad foam.

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The shear line is so pretty that sometimes I regret not highlighting it with a contrasting color.

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The Night Heron performs pretty much as I expected.  A very stable feel.  Not as maneuverable as my Guillemot.  The bow rises over waves that the Guillemot tends to cut into.

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My friend Barbara tries out the boat in the next few shots.

I just love the low profile of the Night Heron!  

Barb_Lewisville_12-2003_1.jpg (158036 bytes) I'm waiting for warmer water to test rolling the boat, but I'm sure it will be an easy roller. Barb_Lewisville_12-2003_3.jpg (137123 bytes)

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The boat's first real outing was at Caddo Lake over the new year weekend.  Seventeen miles on Friday and eight miles on Saturday.  The boat was very comfortable.

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There is enough room in the hatches for a few days camping gear with proper planning, though my outings were day trips.

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Just a few more shots of the boat in the water, here at Lake Ray Roberts.

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 In a crosswind, there is no significant weathercocking, but  boat does seems to slide a lot with only my 155 lb weight and day gear.  Maybe I just noticed it more because of all the trees in the water to use as reference points.
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The Night Heron is a relatively loose- tracking boat for its 18 foot length. 

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The boat feels very stable, and easy to paddle at a race pace.  At sprint speed the bow lifts up a lot, though, presumably due to the the flatness of the bottom that is brought relatively far forward.

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Steve tries out the Night Heron.

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I am looking forward to a lot of fun in this boat.  Now, what to build next?!?

After paddling my Night Heron a few months, I decided to tighten the tracking a little by adding a little more fixed skeg to the external stem at the stern.  It didn't take much to greatly improve the tracking.  Here are a few photos:

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Mahogany strips were built up to the height of a string line.  The rear third of the boat bottom became a straight line to the stern.

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Two layers of 6 ounce glass on top.  The depth of the keel ranges from nothing three feet from the stern to about 3/4" at the stern.

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Varnished at it's finished.   It is a very modest keel, and does not significantly affect the appearance of the boat.  It doesn't take much keel to make a big difference in performance.

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I really like the improved tracking.  It's still more maneuverable than most 18 foot boats, but not so extreme anymore.  After two days on the water in varying conditions, I am quite pleased. 

This completes my Night Heron project.  I want to thank everyone who has shared ideas and experiences on the boat-building message boards, as I learned a lot.  

Thanks also to my local paddling friends who provided encouragement to build, as well being great paddling buddies.    

See you on the water!

Sincerely, John Caldeira

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Created January 5, 2004