By Paul Helbert - Broadway,
Virginia - USA. Comment by Michael Storer, Designer - Australia
Here is my "William Henry Harrison", a non published
prototype, narrow version of Michael Storer's Quick
Canoe. Michael's idea was to test stability and some
other issues in a narrower boat. Sailing it was my idea; it surprised
us both by sailing pretty well. It has no rudder. All steering
is done by weight shift, heeling, sail trim or use of the paddle.
The canoe is made from thirty dollars worth of 4.5mm underlayment,
twenty dollars hardwood for gunwales and thwarts, and about forty
dollars worth of epoxy and miscellaneous. I had already built
rig (also Michael Storer's design) for another canoe
so it is not counted in the cost. It probably added another forty
dollars because although I used a two dollar polytarp, I did use
good cordage and fittings. The balanced lug sail is two square
meters, with one set of reef points.
My "big boat" is a PDR. I find myself using the canoe
often when I only have a few hours after work, or don't want to
have to load the bigger boat onto the roof racks.
I have attached a few photos and here are some links to video
clips on the web:
Finally, the William Henry Harrison joke is on me since she did
not turn out to be as tippy as she looked before trying her out.
MIK does not plan to release plans for this version and I think
he wants that to be made clear. (He has added comments to that
effect on some of the video clips on youtube). This boat was very
much experimental and we have had a number of surprises (and discovered
a few problem areas) from it, which was its reason for being.
IDEAS from what was and is being learned will, no doubt, be incorporated
it future efforts. Anything you can add (to the splash) to help
with that understanding, the better.
I am planning to take the boat to the CLC OcoumeFest mid May,
mostly to show the $1000 crowd what $100 can do. Maybe they won't
care. Maybe I'll see some good ideas to steal.
FIRST SAIL - Too much wind.
I have no photos to show for a long day (mostly driving). The
wind at Mount Storm was higher than forecast and although I had
added reef grommets on the leach and luff, I could not figure
how to use them properly. I tried to set it up reefed to begin
with, but the sail bagged and stayed loose bellied. I could not
get the down haul to work properly with the reefing. I need to
learn how to do that.
So, I decided to go with the full sail. Not a good idea as the
wind was fierce. I was on a lee shore about 30 degrees to the
wind, if that makes any sense. Could not go to starboard because
the land was there. So I took off FAST to port on a reach which
had me heading toward the lake's center in breaking waves and
my port gunwale almost in the water. I was still sorting things
out... couldn't get the paddle out from under thwarts, so turned
downwind and back toward shore. I crashed into the shore hard
enough to rag-doll myself on the center thwart and cut my knee
on the sharp corner of the mast step which needs to be eased.
Made shore about a tenth of a mile down wind of the launch and
waded back along shore pulling the boat.
The wind continued to freshen and as I was alone at the lake,
I packed up. Stopped at a little fishing lake on the way home.
There the wind was much less as it was blocked by some hills and
often dies down in the late afternoon. In those gentler breezes
I had a good sail. (Would have first tried it in such a place
but had chosen Mount Storm due to the warmer water). I had the
boat under control and spent a couple of hours going wherever
I wanted and made it back to the rather unlikely windward launch
site in front of an admiring small crowd of fishermen.
Great fun but also great exercise in that it is an almost constant
balancing act. Anytime I would lean back to look up at my telltale,
the boat would react to my motion in one way or another. Weight
shift steering worked better than with my (much beamier (35"
vs this 28",
22" at chines)) canoe, but I also found myself using the
paddle more often... probably just getting used to it. I think
the hard chines were helping with the steering in that they cut
in better than the smooth rounded chines that I am familiar with.
Once the helm is balanced by weight and leeboard, a slight lean
to one side initiates a gentle turn to the other. Of course with
so little freeboard this method has risks and keeping the boat
level is interesting and half the fun. I heard a bit of wave slap
but could not determine my fore and aft trim and had nobody to
The overall stiffness of this little boat is outstanding. It
is also tough. Two ounce glass on the bottom, 2" glass wraps
the chines and stems externally and 1" glass beefs up the
I solicit your suggestions as to how to properly do the reefing
and have a decent sail shape.
The adjustable bracket used on this (and my previous) canoe seems
to be a good measuring device or template. I think once I have
it set, a lighter, made to fit, version will be made and in the
case of the QC, perhaps glued and screwed in place... not sure
that is a good idea, though, because when I hit the bank at Mount
Storm, there were two "safety features" in play: My
light string leeboard hold-down and the clamps along the gunwales
both shifted and helped protect against any damage.
More testing coming soon. Have to work today and then we may
be returning to more seasonable (cooler temperatures). Also am
pondering the addition of a rudder for sailing.
TWO WEEKS LATER AFTER A FEW MODERATE WIND SAILS
The boat really is a hoot! The little drop-in sail fits it well.
It might be able to handle a bit more sail but this is great for
learning and quite enough for now. I have pretty much gotten over
the twitchy feel. I describe it as like riding a bicycle, which
it is in more ways than one: Like a bike, it takes a bit of time
to get the feel. Once the feel is obtained it becomes a dynamic
activity which takes almost no conscious thought but rather just
a set of conditioned responses... reactions to conditions as they
I fully expect to get dumped sooner or later and I do go prepared
for that. I intentionally jibed several times Sunday without problem
but otherwise did my turns to windward. I may be sitting a bit
too far aft in the video clip. It should not be much problem to
adjust helm with different trim. Please let me know what you think
In departure from the design, I do not plan to install permanent
seat(s). The bean bag works fine for fishing or pfutzing around
on the lake. Keeping an open bottom for scooting my butt around
seems best for sailing. Originally I had the center thwart aft
eight or ten inches for kneeling, but moved it to the center in
order to have advantage of the extra thicknesses of the buttstrap
for screw head holding as well as to obtain good balance while
carrying. This canoe will also be used almost exclusively on lakes,
ponds or sections of rivers where no rocks are expected. Yes,
I'll do some more testing on some creeks and minor rapids, but
due to the thin ply construction and its sharp chines, I cannot
expect it to come home unscathed from whitewater. But, hey, it
wasn't designed for that. No one design fits all possibilities,
and this already seems to be doing a pretty nice job at several.
Lumber could easily have cost but a quarter to half of the above.
I used clear red oak before cutting the skegs away. Could easily
have gotten by cheaper. Even the gunwales and thwarts could have
been softwood. Of course this does not count the cost of the sail
rig, canoe air bags, plans or any of the other things which always
conspire to add to the cost of any project, but still, the completed
project has to be near the least expensive end of the boating
cost spectrum. Not "cheap". Not "disposable".
Inexpensive, fun and easily built. When bigger and heavier boats
are too much trouble of when winds are likely to be on the light
side it is a great boat to have in the stable.
Can you tell that I like it?
by Michael Storer, Designer
With this narrow prototype Paul sits low inside acting as ballast
and is very ready to let the sail (sheet)ngo at the first sign
of trouble. You could sit on the side if you were a confident
sailor for probably more speed than many would want. The wider
boat would also match the standard drop in sailing rig plan that
Paul used for his canoe.
Paul's strategy of sitting on a bean bag for sailing is possibly
quite relevant for sailing any of the Quick Canoes even if you
do fit the seats for paddling.
Canoe 155, the standard design has 5" more beam
than this skinny experimental boat. It is stable enough for a
teenager to stand up in. I would probably recommend the bow end
has the skeg/fin removed for sailing - it might have too much
bite and tend to steer the boat in stronger winds. Also I would
recommend largish buoyancy bags or tanks be fitted - there is
some extra ply on the three sheets that would make modest tanks
possible. On small lakes and rivers with warm water a ditching
might not be too unpleasant, but bigger waterways and colder water
could not only be unpleasant, but dangerous.