BUILDING THE PBK20
Searching for the plan
The reason for selling my canoe just after my teens escapes
me now but, with children of my own, the memories of paddling along
a tranquil canal with only the noise of the local wildlife and paddles
breaking the mirror like water to crashing through shore waves with
the canoe pointing to the sky have spurred me to make that canoe again
so they and I can enjoy the calms, thrills and variety of canoeing.
The canoe in question is the Blanford designed PBK20,
15ft 6ins in length by 3ft berth with a 7 ft open cockpit for 2 adults,
masses of space for storage and very stable, ideal for placid water
or canal touring it can also accommodate a sail rig which I have chosen
not to do.
A lengthy search, the plans located and purchased, my
wife at this stage had no idea of what was to follow for the next few
weeks, I set about getting the various pieces of wood and other materials
together for the construction all of which were listed down to the last
After the frame templates transferred onto ply and cut out the first
challenge came, fitting the strengtheners, being only small they had
a tendency to slip so I used panel pins to keep them in place until
the glue dried, at least 12 hours even with modern glues. This was followed
by the lengthy process of sanding which had to be done using ever finer
grades of paper to ensure no rough pieces were
left on the frames.
My first weekend saw the frames attached to the hog and
stringers all of which had the edges taken off with a surform, which
was to see plenty of use during the project. All joints were glued and
screwed using a resin based glue and 200 brass screws. Fixing the stringers
to the stem and stern required them to be twisted so brute force and
g-clamps were utilised for this along with more glue and screws.
At this stage I wondered about just buying a plastic canoe, however
I know what the finished boat would look and handle like plus my garden
now resembled a wood yard. Once all the parts had been put together
and the glue set it was time to start paintwork, a job I dislike at
the best of times however this could not be rushed and was extremely
important for the final look of the boat.
In all 2 coats of primer and then 3 coats of good quality gloss were
applied to the framework, in between each coat a light sanding was done
to keep everything smooth, over a 2 week period. I then made the removable
seats and flooring plus shaped the back rests again painting them as
and fitting out
With all the framework completed I had to get it covered, several fabrics
were available, canvas, which would require several coats of paint and
sealant to make it waterproof, or my choice, pvc covered polyester,
very tough, durable and is available in several different colours.
I phoned several different companies for prices and settled with for
a local company who gave me a competitive price and the colours I wanted.
The only drawback with this material is that it has very little give
so is fairly stiff to work with especially when cold. I attached it
to the frames using copper tacks and then cut shaped glued and tacked
the stem and stern making sure there was plenty of sealant at the joints.
I fitted the cockpit coaming, slatted seats and floorboards, rubbing
strips and keel plus cleats bow and stern, at last the canoe was finished.
Testing & Launch
Just before putting it in the water on the Mon Brecon canal all sorts
of thing went through my mind like did I do a good job on sealing the
bow and stem? and had I got the balance right? I neednt have worried
as it floated perfectly and not a drop of water got inside, then everyone
who had come for the big event wanted to have a go, so a great afternoon
was spent paddling back and for the stretch between Cwmbran and Pontypool
basin, in all 9 people were introduced to canoeing that day and the
canoe really turned heads as we passed people walking on the towpath.
The first trip in full I did with my son was the next day when we went
from Cwmbran to Goytre wharf it did however end in disaster when we
got caught in a thunder storm and ended up sheltering under a bridge
half way through our planned trip. We did complete it a few weeks later.