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the dream of dawn

Lil' Bo÷te is small but it's still a B.O.A.T.

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There is no Ericson in this story.

The newest incarnation of Lil' Bo÷te (tender to Arcturus) is finally operational. Somehow at some undefined point along the line, my $500 boat turned into... a project! They can't help it I suppose. Even though they're only small, they still suck your time and money, because in the end, they're still Boats.

The mission specifications for Lil' Bo÷te:
1. Tender to Arcturus. Ferry crew, fuel, provisions, bicycles etc. to and from shore. Must be capable of folding and stowing below or safely on deck.
2. Short-range SCUBA and coastal exploration platform. Must be capable of carrying divers, rigs, and possibly a third crew to act as tender up to ten miles from the anchorage/campsite.

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I found the Zodiac CFR 340 at an estate sale. With a high-pressure floor, the boat only weighs 90 pounds! Yes, almost twenty years old, but it looked brand new. Some old guy bought it to take his grand kids fishing on the Deschutes (perhaps he thought it was a river raft?) and almost never used it. Kept inflated in dry storage. The transom had never had a motor clamped down on it. You would expect a 20 year-old PVC boat to be at End-Of-Life, but this seemed like a pretty good deal.

But that was in the middle of winter. The boat couldn't rest quietly in the garage until spring. No, it softly called to me every time I walked past it... "Love me... Love me... Love me..." "Need... Need... Need..."
Well, OK, it DID need a registration plate. Got a pretty nifty set from And I looked into some kind of LED running lights. Which lead to some system for mounting them. Which sent me drinking the Kool-Aid of the Railblaza mounting system. "Hey, I can use the same mounts on Arcturus, or the kayaks, and just swap gear between the boats." Plus the glue-on RIB-mounts are also cleats! How cool is that? (And the mount socket is exactly the same as a winch socket, so hey, I've already got nine of them on Arcturus!) They'll mount anything - running lights, rod holders, cup holders, cameras, diver down flags, fish-finders...

Which brings us to the 3M VHB mounting tape that came with the Railblaza RIB-mounts. I was pretty dubious, but hey, those 3M engineers are pretty smart guys. They even have YouTube videos to tell you so! And why would Railblaza include them if they didn't work? I chickened out with the first one on the bow - used good old PVC cement and weighted it down over the weekend with an olympic plate. It came out a little messy around the edges, but basically a good solid mount.
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Then the YouTube thing got to me and I decided to try the neat pre-cut VHB pad with the aft RIB-mount. I meticulously followed the directions for surface prep, pre-heating the rubber of the mount, and again weighted the whole thing down for a couple of days... And it was a total failure. Peeled right up around the edges. Still sort of stuck on in the middle. Hard to trust this with anything. I haven't yet tried to peel it completely off, and and use real glue, because I can foresee that turning into a great fiasco, with the mount neither on nor off.
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Meanwhile, the seat cushion/storage bag was on closeout at Defender, so I picked up one of those. My previous experience with 12-foot inflatables was that miscellaneous stuff was always rolling around underfoot and couldn't be found (under the dive gear) when you wanted it. But now I needed to build a seat. Which became a ridiculous over-thought project. Made from marine plywood epoxied into mahogany rails. Lightweight, but - seemed a little too flexy with 200 lbs on it, so I laminated another layer of ply in there with epoxy. Coated with IP2000, then non-skid paint. Man, that is one solid (and heavy) seat now! Maybe can double as an emergency rudder...

Next, we needed propulsion! I spent a few evenings working on the 50-year-old Evinrude that I had in the shed. Needed water pump and lower-unit seals. And a helicoil or two. But... it is an ungainly and smokey old beast. And it's technically above the horsepower rating for the Zodiac. Nor is it either a long-shaft or a short-shaft - it's something in between. While the Evinrude was in pieces, spread out on the workbench, waiting for parts, I kept scanning Craigslist. Wow, short-shaft motors are actually kind of hard to find around here! Then this 06 Johnson (Suzuki) 9.9 four stroke popped up for a pretty good price, only a hundred miles away. I went to see it - turns out that the owner was setting up his boat as part of his retirement plans (much as I am doing) but before he could really do anything with it, had a massive heart attack and is stuck in a wheelchair now. Much the same story as the boat itself. Moral of the story: Play with your toys while you still can! The casing was a bit dinged up (he apparently backed the boat trailer into something) but he had a dealer repair receipt for it - ticket still wired to the handle. So I shook the piggy bank and took a risk. True to the story, it does seem to run like new. Quiet and smooth. Uses the same fuel as the Atomic 4, so no extra fuels to carry in the mother ship. Love it so far, after spending a few hours zooming up and down the river. I hadn't really planned on getting an electric start model, but that's the way it rolls. The 9.9 can be upgraded to a 15 simply by changing the carburetor, but I don't know if that will be necessary with the loads that I envision. It cruises along at 15 knots pretty effortlessly, and the boat gets a little squirrelly going any faster than that, unless the water is like a flat mirror. We'll see how it does with a load of SCUBA and camping gear.

Next, for weekend missions, we needed a trailer. Back in the day, I used to roll up the inflatable and stuff it and the motor into the back of my 4-Runner and assemble everything on the beach at the destination. A trailer would be so much more convenient. Well, fortuitously, I already had one back in the bushes, harvested from Craigslist years ago for a different boat project. Of course, it took a full day to adjust the trailer for the smaller boat. And it needed new lights. And new tires. And new wheels. Wow, the old ones were rusty old split-rims, which no tire store will touch any more. Wow again, didn't know you could just order up a pair of galvanized wheels with mounted tires on Amazon for less than half the price of local tire stores. And then it needed new bearings - argh. And bearing buddies of course.

OK, nothing more! All winter, Lil' Bo÷te has been sucking up the time and bucks that Arcturus wants, and he is getting a little jealous!
Oh, honest, Archie, I'm only playing with the little guy on days with no wind!

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Updated 05-05-2018 at 07:52 PM by toddster (problem with attachments)

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