PIRAGUA, SWAMPBOAT, 13' X 30",
70 POUNDS EMPTY
The photo above is of a Piragua built
by Bob Taylor down in Texas. Piragua is a very simple
useful boat. I probably get more Piragua photos than of
any other boat, an indication that more Piraguas get built.
Piragua is made from two sheets of 1/4" plywood with
very simple old fashioned glue and nail construction.
It's very suitable as a first project, both as a way to
learn construction and as a boat you will use a lot. But
the first Piragua almost never got built, an indication
that you can't tell what will be popular in this hobby.
I drew it up an thought it pretty good for what it was
supposed to be. I put it in my prototypes catalog and
had two blueprint sets printed. After a year in the catalog
I still had those two prints! I took it out of the catalog.
About a month later I sold one set to Don O'Hearn and
gave the other set away to Brian Waters who had ordered
other plans, saying he was looking for a project for his
sixth grade shop class.
Both boats got built! Waters'
bunch of kids finished the first one, shown below. Brian
also sent an article from his local newspaper showing
the boat with himself and a class full of smiling kids
behind the boat. I still have the copy on my wall and
always thought it to be a trophy!
O'Hearn's boat followed very closely
and he lives close enough that he brought the boat to
our Messabout and I had a chance to try it myself. I thought
it was quite good. I could just barely stand up in it,
very common of this sort of narrow boat. It's 24"
wide on the bottom and I've found that you can't reliably
stand up in something that narrow. Don used the boat for
fishing in little waters and keeps his butt on the seat.
You paddle Piragua with a double paddle like a kayak.
Here is Don's boat with his son at the paddle.
Here is another boat local to me by
Rich and Ben Scobbie of St. Jacob, Illinois.
Steve Jacob built this one with Spanish
moss hanging above. His used taped seams instead of the
external chine logs with some crown to the decks.
And here is a photo from New South Wales
from Ashley Cook. I'm very glad these boats are getting
around. You can see these are best as solo boats but have
the room and capacity to take some passengers in good
conditions. Also you can tell that kids really take well
to this sort of boat. They are easily understood in one
glance. Still, you have to take any boat seriously. If
you fall out of or capsize a boat like this you well need
special training and gear to get going again in deep water.
If built with the end air boxes the boat will have plenty
of buoyancy but probably won't be stable enough for you
to get back in. I think the only way to do the job is
with a bailing scoop and a way to lash the paddle across
the boat with a flotation cushion attached to one end
to stabilize the boat in roll. You have to do all this
as you swim around. My own approach is to use these close
to shore in warm water!