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DIY Outrigger thoughts: crutches + swim noodle?

I was fixing up my mast cradle ready to see how it may go on the new canoe when I had a thought.     

An epiphany.

My cradle is made from crutches  and works very well indeed.   Crutches are engineered to be sturdy, durable and weight bearing as they are supposed to carry the full weight of an adult human.

They do this so well that the design does not vary although the build materials do. 

So my thought, following on from my last post, was to use the stems of  pairs of crutches  to construct my outrigger. There is a lot you can do with second hand crutches as I have discovered by experimenting with the material on my original canoe -- The Flying Crutchman (so named for obvious reasons).

Second hand they  are cheap, despite their quality and engineering. While people keep breaking their bones or twisting they ankles or wrecking their knees crutches will remain with us. We are indeed talking about a sustainable resource.

So the deal is that I'll employ the curve on the crutch stem to accommodate the fall I need so that the outrigger  arms can reach out to the float -- the ama -- resting on the surface of the water. My initial observations suggest that the drop may be just enough to hold  the ama parallel to the water line on the canoe. After all, that's the main deal with outriggers: they are supposed to keep the canoe upright in the water despite wind or waves.

The ama itself can be made from a swim noodle inside which  further crutches are rammed. By harnessing the curve in the crutch stem, I should be able to make the ama rise up at its two ends. Thus enabling better cutting through the surface of the water.

  • the outrigger arms are lashed to the boat
  • the swim noodle ama is lashed to the outrigger arms
Everything is very light and can be quickly dismantled for easy portage or for swapping sides. The three bits would fit in the canoe with  leg room to spare. If I consider I may have strength issues or heights or falls I need to make up, I simply add more crutch stems or another layer of noodles. 

You'll find no better floating device than a swim noodle. Their one major drawback is that they deteriorate with too much solar radiation.

When I consider my options -- in effect I'd have to harvest trees or tree branches that offer a naturally grown curvature suitable for outrigger construction -- I think this mix of materials is practical and very cheap. 

My design habit is to build and see -- and in the case of the crutches, I'd lash the stems together with zippy/cable ties and tape,  and use bungee cords to attach the crutch arms to ama and canoe  to arms. After experimenting to improve the design I'd later use a  permanent fixing like flexible wire...

On my morning scoot I first touched the sea at the Kunde St boat ramp which is a gap in the sea wall. Stiff south easterly washing up on the run up tide.I know from experience what that would mean after a day out on the water. It would mean surfing onto the cement ramp, disembarking quickly and finding a way to secure the canoe while rushing up the bank for the cart. In the meantime the craft grates itself on the cement.
Advantage as a launch site: 850 metres from home. It has been my standard launching place for my sailing kayak -- 'The Flying Crutchman' -- for the past 2 years.
I scooted off and headed north to McGregor Terrace and sat on the beach (pictured at upper right) to contemplate existence. You access the sandy beach through a grove of Cotton Trees and the nearby eucalypts are the highest of any foliage in town. Easy beach access. Golden sands (these stretch north for another 5 kilometres). Much better launch site and certainly a safer way to return a canoe to dry land. I can also do any rigging that needs doing on the sand before heading off and disassembling same comfortably and in my own good time on my return. I can lock the cart to a local tree while I'm out to sea.
Disadvantage as a launch site : 1.70 metres from home.
Methinks I'm gonna be entering and leaving the water at McGregor hereafter.



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