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Piragua
Plans - $17.50
 

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!

brian waters

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!


  

 
 


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Joe Wiseman