What a fantastic event. Really and truly fantastic. Here's a quick rundown:

We departed the Knox Makers' Space in caravan. Arriving at Clark Center Park, we met up with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. With them on the team we totaled eleven eager boat launchers - a very good-sized group.

Portage team.    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

A short walk brought us to the little picnic cove near the roped-off swimming beach. This area has sentimental associations for me: my family came here frequently when I was a child, and most of the time we brought boats of one sort or another in which to mess about.

I said a couple of words about how amazing the Knox Makers Group is specifically, and how amazing the Maker Movement is in general, and how grateful I was to have seen this long-dormant project come to life in such a short period of time. I tapped an unopened bottle of champagne against the gunwales (scared of The Man and his laws... but don't worry, we'll drink it later!), and then it was time to get her wet.

A good start.    (Photo courtesy Fran Scheidt)

Well, okay! She doesn't sink under her own weight. That's not, like, super impressive... but it's a great start. Next...

Tentative buttinski   (Photo courtesy Fran Scheidt)

...I got in. Wow, was everybody right: this boat is too small for me! Just as a reminder, the Geodesic Airolite people state a 180 lb. capacity for the Sweet Pea Mark 2. She sank quite a lot under my 190 lbs., yet when my tippiness subsided there was still quite a bit of waterline left. And remember: she's just a prototype for bigger boats to come!

Tentative floatinski   (Photo courtesy Fran Scheidt)

Well, hot dog! Looks like this is gonna work. Time to get her movin'.

Speed blur, zoomsplash   (Photo courtesy Fran Scheidt)

I splashed around a little, really enjoying it. I quickly learned that I couldn't lean back against the thwart: it put my weight much too far back. I was nearly taking on water over the stern.

Once I found my balance alone in the boat, I took on a passenger:

Not a bad choice for your first canoe ride.    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

After we'd had our fun, my niece and I surrendered the craft to the waiting team. One by one they took her through her paces:

Keith tearin' it up    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

Andy grinning from ear to ear.    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

After a little of that, Keith volunteered to do a dunk test. And down she went! But when he stepped out, she floated promptly back to the surface.

Oops.    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

Nathaniel, a longtime canoe enthusiast himself, did some good solo paddling and also attempted a deep water exit / reentry (a basic scout canoe safety skill). The first part worked great: he jumped cleanly out to the side and left the canoe high and dry, hardly a splash inside. But getting back in was tricky. She floats too well! And she's much too light! It really helps to have some inertia with which to work, and also the confidence that you're not going to put your knee through the side as you thrash your way back aboard. We aborted that experiment and moved on to something much better.

How soon they grow up.    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

That's right, a paddler who is actually weight-appropriate for the boat! Nathaniel's daughter floated much higher in the water, and the canoe appeared much happier with the situation. She turned more quickly and bobbed in a more graceful fashion. But apparently it was hard to get her to come back to the launch site without assistance:

Rescue    (Photo courtesy Fran Scheidt)

We all had a great time. Thank you everyone for coming out and helping witness and celebrate the launch of the first boat built by the Knox Makers Boatbuilding Initiative. Here's to many more such happy events!

Bliss.    (Photo courtesy Dori or Ian Stiefel)

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AuthorAdan Akerman