The team at DRIVE Marine Services (DMS) joined together with The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) and Institute of Industrial Arts Technology Education (IIATE) for the first time in 2016 to host the inaugural Novice Canoe Building Challenge at the 2016 Sydney Classic & Wooden Boat Festival (C&WBF). The challenge involved teams of students from Carlingford, Pennant Hills and Turramurra High Schools and Lumen Christi Catholic College constructing a Bellinger Double Chine Canoe in three days at the Sydney C&WBF held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour from April 15-17, 2016. The supervising teachers also joined in and made their own canoe in between supervising the students which was fairly easy with such a motivated group.
The canoes were constructed under the expert guidance of Brian Jones (the designer of the Bellinger and retired primary school teacher) using materials donated by DRIVE Marine and BoatCraft Pacific, the students constructed the canoes from precut panels of 4mm plywood, cable ties, Bote-Cote Epoxy Resin thickened with Bote-Cote’s easy to mix Gluing and Filleting Filler. Another important ingredient in the mix was Alesha Bleakley – the dynamo teacher who dug up the teams and helped pull the challenge together. Alesha gave up her weekend, to supervise the event after organising custom made aprons for each student. Then there was Emma Ferguson and Lynda Kelly from the ANMM who provided the venue, lunch for all team members and even found accommodation for the out of town team.
Students on steep learning curve.
Brian providing guidance.
Brian's gunnel clamping tool.
Finishing off on Sunday.
The first morning of the festival saw the teams gathered along the water’s edge to be briefed by Brian on the initial steps of playing with Bote-Cote and assembling their canoes as shown in figure one. The students then split up into their teams and began planing their ply, before joining the panels with a butt-strap and their first opportunity to play with
Bote-Cote. Brian assembled the gaggle on a regular basis to introduce the next step. Brian mulled around throughout the day to assist students and ensure there were no questions left unasked as the students worked together to assemble their canoes. It was amazing to see students who had never done any boat building previously, working cooperatively at a cracking pace bringing the canoes to life with figure two showing the students into it. By the end of day one, all teams had their canoes pulled into shape with cable ties ready to have a ‘gupping’ good time on Saturday filleting all of the seams. By Saturday evening all seams were completed and a coat of Bote-Cote applied on the inside. Brian even showed his engineering prowess when he brought out his gunnel clamping tool that proved a dream to use for pulling the gunnels in at the stems with the beast in action at figure three. The aim was to roll the canoes over on Sunday morning and coat the outside with a generous layer of Bote-Cote ready for a 1400 launch. Unfortunately, the plan was thwarted as inclement weather arrived and dashed the plan. So Sunday was spent removing cable ties and cleaning up the outside as shown at figure four.
A video of the build was taken by Charlotte and cut down to 30 minutes of how to build a Bellinger canoe at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQEV_Y2z1I4&t=227s It is also very entertaining and will give you an insight into how to take a flat pack and turn it into a Bellinger in easy steps. During and after the C&WBF there has been an overwhelming amount of feedback complimenting the success of the canoe build.
The students and teachers learnt not only how to build a canoe but also about the ease of using modern technology products which provide a safer way to work. For more information on modern technology epoxies go to: http://www.boatcraftnsw.com/portfolio-view/working-with-modern-technology-epoxies-a-safer-way-to-work/ It is also hoped the Novice Canoe Building weekend will give the students some good ideas for their HSC projects and future careers. Three students were so impressed with what they had achieved that by Sunday afternoon they were enquiring how they could get into a boatbuilding career. Figure five (lead in pic) shows the proud students lined up with their canoes on Sunday before the big splash.
Then there was the launching and race in Cockle Bay when many laughs were had as the supervising teachers had to show their paddling prowess. We are sure the teachers will never admit it but the student’s canoes definitely remained afloat a lot longer than the teacher’s ... The teams should be commended for the quality of their builds as the work produced was fantastic!
Congratulations to Carlingford High School coming in first for the quality of their build and Pennant Hills High School coming in first in the Canoe Race.
Since then Brian, has been back at Tuncurry and Bulladellah High Schools building more canoes with disengaged students. He recently informed me that with the build at Darling Harbour the number of Bellinger canoes built by students is now over one hundred. In addition, several other schools have taken up the challenge of building Bellinger Canoes as a practical program for their students.
The next opportunity to see Bellinger Canoes being built in public will be at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart from February 10-13, 2017. We showed Paul Cullen (General Manager AWBF) how much fun the students were having at the Sydney C&WBF and he went away with a mission to have the Novice Canoe Challenge in Hobart. The teams will be slaving away under Brian’s expert tutelage in the Shipwright’s Village and the finished canoes should be pristine, having an extra day to finish them off. The teams should even be able to get gunnels on them and you never know, but there may even be some time for creative artwork before hitting the water. See you all in Hobart for another great festival and if you want to know more about a safer way to work with modern technology epoxies, paints and other boat building materials come and listen to me waffle on in the Maritime Marketplace Theatrette on my favourite subject and say hello.
For more information contact the team at DRIVE Marine Services