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Brian Tarallo - Canoes

Posted on March 22 2012

Dear Bear Mountain, As promised, here's an update on the 16" Prospector I'm building in Guyana. We've decided on a wood for the planking, an indigenous wood called saury skin silver balli. The wood has been cut and dried, and we've begun to use your plans and specifications for molds to design and cut a series of ribs that will strengthen the hull of the boat in the absence of fibreglass. I must thank you again for the gift of the plans. Hopefully the entire boat will be completed in the next two weeks, and its construction in our small community has caused enough of a stir that several people have expressed interest in purchasing one for themselves, including a rainforest resort across the river. Canoe building, hopefully, fill the gap created by increased competition of large-scale boat builders and revitalize boat building here in our town. I'm attaching a photo of the silver balli planks. I'll send more canoe-related photos via email as soon as I can get them developed. Thanks again! Brian Tarallo U.S. Peace Corps Dear Bear Mountain, Here's the first of the photos I promised you. It's of myself and Melville, the local boat builder, studying your plans. In the background is his shop and some of the speedboats he's built. The past month has been spent going over them and trying to figure out how to get as close to your design as possible with the technology available here in Guyana. Unfortunately, fibreglass is too expensive to make a true cedar strip canoe a viable product down here. What we've come up with to lower the cost and increase the strength is a series of ribs along the inside of the boat. The design we've come up with is really an amalgamation of your canoe design and the wooden speedboats built here. You did all the hard work for us; the difficult part was getting a set of measurements that would give us a working canoe. Cedar was also not available. We tested dozens of different types of wood to come up with an alternative based on strength, flexibility, weight, and cost, and we finally decided on "Silver Belly Saury Skin," (that's how they pronounce it at least. We're currently in the process of harvesting and preparing the wood (yup, we're cutting it right out of the rainforest) and, hopefully, will be finished at the end of the week. It looks like the boat will be finished in a couple of months, and hopefully the idea will take off and serve to boost the local boat building shops here. You can expect regular updates of our progress. Thanks again!! Brian Tarallo U.S. Peace Corps Dear Bear Mountain Boats, Our canoe, based on your Prospector design, is nearing completion. The skeletal rib design we built to strengthen the boat given the lack of fibreglass has been a trial and error process, but has yielded magnificent results. The planks we used had to be much wider than those called for in your plans in order to strengthen the hull and minimize the amount of epoxy necessary, but have also produced encouraging results. We're now in the last phase of sanding and filling gaps; soon we'll build the seats and attach the gunwales, leaving the final step of "varnishing," as they call it down here. The best part of working from your plans has been the strength of the design, which has allowed us to construct a spectacular boat in spite of the lack of resources. The local boat builder heading up the construction has already received orders for at least three more canoes, and the word is spreading. I'd like to get your advice on kayak plans. I have a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer friend who desperately misses her touring kayak and wants to use your plans to build a boat of her own (we'll of course pay for this set). Given the roughness of the river here (which can get to almost ocean-like chop) and her medium, athletic build, I was thinking along the lines of the Endeavour 17 or the Resolute 16-6, mostly leaning towards the Endeavour. Thanks again for your help and support. Brian Tarallo U.S. Peace Corps Dear Bear Mountain, I'm just back from our first trip with the canoe. We paddled over ten miles to the resort that has placed an order for additional canoes. I'm including photos of the finished boat, and I look forward to your impressions of it. Thanks again for your support. Brian Tarallo U.S. Peace Corps Dear Bear Mountain Boats, Just wanted to let you know that our canoe is finally finished, and it's gorgeous. We've named it "Matoaka," after a lake in Williamsburg where we used to kayak, and incidentally, the name Pocahontas means "Princess Matoaka." Tomorrow we'll take it for its maiden voyage, up the Essequibo River to Baganara Island Resort, where the general manager has expressed interest in purchasing a few for the resort. Your generous gift of the plans is making a difference to our community. A boat maker who was on the verge of closing shop has found a nitch where he can use his expertise in a new an profitable way. Locals and visitors have all showed interest, and we already have orders for more canoes. We're also looking forward to applying what we've learned to constructing a kayak: you can expect an order for plans from a friend of ours in Guyana. I'm including a couple of photos from the planking process. Sorry about the time lag with photos: I shoot them in Bartica, develop them in Georgetown, scan them back in Bartica, then finally post them on the internet in Georgetown. Today I developed the final photos of the canoe's construction, and I'm anxious to scan them and send them your way. I never thought it would come out so well. I don't see how we'll be able to part with it at the end of our term of service: we're looking into having it shipped home. I'd like to explore the possiblity of rigging it with a sail. I read Hugh Horton's and Meade Gougeon's article on the subject in the fall 2000 edition of Epoxyworks you sent with the plans. I'd like to base it on their designs, but of course there will be differences. For example, their sliding gunter is simply unavailable, and given the fact that there will almost always be two of us in the boat, I'm reluctant to deck it. I'd like to know: given the specifications of Matoaka, is there a standard equation that can tell me where I should place the mast, how tall it should be, how long the boom should be, etc.? If so, how forgiving is that geometry? We had to make a few changes to the Prospector plans because of the manner in which we constructed it; Matoaka is 144" in length, 17" deep at the 0 rib, and has a beam of 36". Can you point me in the direction of someone who knows sailing canoes? Thanks again for all you help. --Brian Tarallo U.S. Peace Corps Dear Bear Mountain, We're at point where we'd like to start marketing to resorts and visitors to Bartica, and possibly to buyers overseas. I'm in the process of making a brochure that describes the construction process and specifics of the boat, and I'd like to credit Bear Mountain with the design. Will you give me your permission to include your name and website in the brochure? I'll of course send you a copy of it once it's finished. Thanks again. --Brian Tarallo U. S. Peace Corps

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