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The boat cloak and umbrella sailing canoe

Halkett boat 'under sail'
The Halkett Boat may not be a craft known all over for its versatility and style. But as an invention it's up there among the many creative canoe experiments of the 19th century.
A Halkett boat is a type of lightweight inflatable boat designed by Lt Peter Halkett (1820–1885) during the 1840s. Halkett had long been interested in the difficulties of travelling in the Canadian Arctic, and the problems involved in designing boats light enough to be carried over arduous terrain, but robust enough to be used in extreme weather conditions.
Halkett's first design was a collapsible and inflatable boat made of rubber-impregnated cloth. When deflated, the hull of the boat could be worn as a cloak, the oar used as a walking stick, and the sail as an umbrella. This was followed by a two-man craft that was small enough to fit into a knapsack, and when deflated served as a waterproof blanket.
Among my 19th century design  favorites from the canoe-ing golden age is the paper canoe --  especially  the inspiring , Voyage of the Paper Canoe by Nathaniel Bishop, 1878. ( a great read). There's even a site dedicated to boats made out of paper -- The Paper Boat Page 
This web page is primarily devoted to an obscure subject in the history of technology: the manufacture of full size boats from paper during the later half of the 19th century. These are not toy boats, but boats people could ride around in; racing shells, canoes and rowboats. 
Today many student engineers get wet by designing and building cardboard canoes as part of their 'prac'. I own a copy of a manual written by Dave Friant which details construction of a cardboard boat (pictured above right).

But umbrellas...? Umbrellas as sailing rigs are still the province of eccentrics. So when I came upon the Halkett -- a design that really thinks outside the square hull -- I was impressed.

So I'm working on my Umbrella Sailing resources.
In terms of content, the best discussion is available from Jay Heath who 'sails' the lakes of  South Dakota by umbrella. The main points to note about umbrellas as small boat sail rigs are:
  1. They are readymade rigs that can be folded and unfolded in seconds
  2. The strongest umbrellas-- like the Gust Buster -- can withstand wind gust of over 85 kmh
  3. They are so much cheaper than any other  kayak sailing option
  4. They require no refitting to mount the sail on board.
  5. Unlike kites or fixed mask sails, umbrellas are easily furled when the wind turns nasty.
  6. You can always use an umbrella to keep the rain or sun off your person when out and about messing in boats.
The question of 'sailing' with an umbrella in everyday activity is something I am going to master. I'm also fascinated by the prospect of exploring how well you could sail with an umbrella -- and not only downwind --  if you utilized some form of  leeboard setup --   especially this crude but simple option:
The leeboard is an aluminum street sign 2 feet square. The corners are round and there are two holes in the top edge near each corner. I tied cord to these holes and tied the other end of the cords to the canoe's center thwart. I wrapped some innertube around that to make sure it wouldn't slip.
When I tack and turn the canoe so the wind is on the same side as the leeboard it swings up.
I pick up the leeboard and toss it into the water on the other side of the canoe.
The leeboard should be just in front of the center thwart to balance this sail well.
Then it's very easy to steer with the paddle.
When things are right the canoe will turn into the wind when you pull the paddle out of the water.
You'll have an easy time steering and water pressure will hold the paddle against the leeward side of the canoe. This set of conditions is called moderate "weather helm"
So as I wait upon my Gust Buster to arrive  with excitement and expectancy as I monitor the winds , I pass on these wise words: " Umbrella sailing: keeps you off the streets."
To be continued....


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