Thursday, December 9, 2010

dry ride in an ulux^tax^ (two hole baidarka)

Dave Wilhelm asked me if I had any thoughts on how to build an ulux^tax^, an Unangan (Aleut) two-holer in which the bow paddler stays dry.  I gave him a brief reply and told him I would post some pictures here for the benefit of a slightly larger audience.  So here goes, a picture.

The really apparent thing here is that the front 3 feet of this boat are sticking out of the water.  This seems to be an extreme case.  Most of the time only the front 2 feet of a double would stick out of the water, but you get the idea.
What makes for a wet ride in a double is that the bow spears a wave  and the water on deck douses the bow paddler.  The trick is to prevent the bow from spearing into the face of a wave.  Elevating the bow is one way.  Making the boat flexible is another. A long stiff boat with some momentum to it has no option except to spear into a wave unless it has a good deal of rocker and enough volume forward to lift the bow.  Having flex lets an ulux^tax^ pick up rocker as needed.
Although much has been written about the flexibility of baidarkas, little has been said about the role of the skin.  My observation is that regardless of how flexible the frame is, a tight skin with little stretch to it will limit flex of the boat as a whole considerably.  I have no experience with hide-covered boats, but I suspect their ability to stretch would have affected how flexible they were.

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