Look on my works ye mighty, and despair.

My apologies for the long absence. I have been very busy for some weeks trying to finish the boat. I have failed to do this.

 I really wanted to get the whole story up to the present day before showing what I am building, but I can see that I am not going to make it. Hence, some pictures:dsc000621

I cut plywood molds and screwed them to a long tabley-thing called a strongback.  Very long 6mm x 18 mm strips of cedar were then stapled on and glued edge-to edge. The dog’s name is Rocky; I adore him beyond all reason.


   The main hull is formed. Cedar is not strong however, especially when cut so thin. The hull must be glassfibered inside and out to seal it and give it strength. Prior to this a great deal of tedious and tiring hand-sanding is required – it actually took me ten days and was so wearing that afterwards many people commented on how much weight I had lost. It occurred to me after the robbery that my ideal helper, if I had one, would have been the Karate Kid, due to his experience  sanding things and his ability to defend the house from banditos.


The hull stained and glassed. Rocky awake, digging after a land crab.


   Gluing on an end-deck. The lovely shine is from the epoxy resin, but I had to sand it off.


   The main hull as it stands today,  sanded and ready to be varnished. The stick poking out is a bracket for a steering oar. Gunwhales and trim are of oak and pine.


This is the lesser hull. It is being built in much the same way as the larger one. Here I am using strips of inner tube to help force the two halves together; they are not cooperating due to changes in humidity warping the shape out of line.

    Two hulls? Yes, this is an outrigger sailing canoe, actually modelled on traditonal sailing craft from Polynesia. In this case, the boat is not merely a canoe with a float, but a much more unusual configuration known as a ”Pacific Flying Proa”. I am indebted to Mr. Gary Dierking of New Zealand for his most excellent book ”Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes”, which gave me the basic hull shape (though I modified it a great deal, wider, longer).

      I wanted a funky, unusual boat and I certainly have it. How’s this for nuts: draw a line from the bow to the stern of any boat you can think of, right down the centreline of the hull. Obviously, the boat is symmetrical about this line ie. the bow and stern may be different (except in the case of certain ”double-enders” such as lifeboats) but of course the sides are mirror-images of each other. The sides have to reflect each other, otherwise you’d have a crazy boat that just went around in circles or fell over or something. Well, that is true I think for every boat in the world except for proas. Yes, the ends are the same but the sides are different.


The boat is symmetrical only about an axis perpendicular to it’s length. The weirdness in the picture above is not due to some kind of lens distortion. I get endless amusement from watching the locals notice this peculiar lopsidedness. They scratch their heads, clearly wondering if they should point out to me that I have made the most horrendous screw-up in boatbuilding history.

          This boat has no bow or stern. It goes in both directions with equal facility (I hope).  It is always sailed with the outrigger to windward, which means that when sailing into the wind it does not tack, it shunts. I hope to make all this clearer in the future, for now suffice to say that this is possibly the most peculiar craft in Mexico. I can only say possibly because the people here are not above constructing strange and highly imaginative things and in fact there is an extremely odd and enormous vessel being constructed at Alvarado, 40kms south of here, at this moment.


    Clearly I have competition. I feel a bit emasculated by this thing. I hope I don’t have to go head-to-head in a ”My weird boat is bigger than your weird boat” contest with the man behind this three-hulled Greco-Roman-Aztec goliath, Spanish adventurer Señor Vital Alzar, because I shall lose. My boat is only 6.5 metres in length, his is about 35 metres. but then, mine isn’t costing 2.5 million dollars. I think I might win a sailing race though.

          I intend to return to this post later to fill it out with more detail, when I have more time and am less exhausted, so if you are interested take another look in a couple of weeks.

          A dull post, this, my apologies. I owe many people letters and will catch up when I  can. I have not forgotten, just become disorganized and a bit haggard. Nighty-night then.


7 thoughts on “Look on my works ye mighty, and despair.

  1. Wow, she is looking GOOD! I had not looked at your site for a few weeks, and just opened it this morning. She looks really professional, and as though it might actually sail. 🙂

    Got an email from JC, and was able to look at your Spot location on Google Earth. I can see the patch of jungle surrounding your house, but am not able to see the boat. More pictures, please.


  2. Still putting up the good fight , how wonderful . Everyday here at my little farm in North Tucson is greatly enriched by the idea that a man can beat his head against an obstacle and get more than a scuff and a migraine . Sleeping frog farm salutes you dear sir and we await the next installment like children at a comic book store window . Would you benefit from neem or Tea tree oil we have bulk and would gladly send some your way .

    Still impressed by the juice press ,

    JAi C J Marks dis placed cajun

  3. Wow Chris, thrilled to have found you and shared some of your adventure. You write so well – look forward to your first book! Also want to say hi to your beloved (to me) Papa and wonder if he remembers me as fondly as i remember him. Wishing many delicious strawberry dacharies to the Jamgocians too. Twenty years ago…
    Sending you love, Jj

  4. no – not dull. Wow – what a beauty.
    I am amazed that you managed to find the plans for the only beam-symettrical boat known to mankind.
    Mind you… this ghastly greco-goliath gang of Alvarado are clearly amateurs – they haven’t even thought to build a shelter based on a major London railway station to keep the rain out – pah!
    Sadly I have a little, bad news, sorry.
    It’s patently obvious that the book that someone mistakenly published (via a wonky non-linear photocopier) is a fictional joke, Mr Gary Dierking is a joke name that has unfortunately taken you in, with ‘his’ seductive promise of non symettrical lines and ‘his’ alluring vision of off-beam beauty. I’m surprised (must be all the sandflies) that you didn’t spot that ‘Mr Gary Dierking’ translates as: Grim Gay Drinker, which explains it all really – the tawdry roots of a transatlantic marine mockery. Other signs were: ‘Gary Dierking’ gives the morose homosexual alcoholic prankster’s actual name: ‘Ray Rigged Ink’ and the fact that he built the prototypes out of matchboxes; ‘Gary Dierking’ also translating as ‘Dinky Rig Rage’ – so be warned Don’t listen to the wisdom of that sad drunk ‘queen of the seas’ Ray – he’s holed up in Golden Bay counting the royalties! 😛

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