Other PicoMicroYacht

Monday, 9 July 2012

Bill Colley the builder

Our holiday is finished, so my rowing adaptor has been removed from PicoMicroYacht to dry out in the living room for the night.

The rowing adaptor has transformed a simple but phenomenally well designed beach training dinghy (which was called by the previous owner Tinkerbell)  into PicoMicroYacht, capable of inshore voyages in fine weather, with cautious navigation.

PicoMicroYacht was created because I was bored one day and pondering how I could use the Pico  row safely but reasonably quickly around large estuaries. I then sketched out a rowing system on a scrap of paper when waiting for someone to arrive. I realised immediately it could work, but had never seen something like this before. I didn't have the time to build it and was not sure whether I would get the dimensions right. So I enlisted the help of Bill Colley, who for many years has been building boats in his workshop under Richmond Bridge. He did a brilliant job all by eye, of course, with the boat in situ.

Here is a picture of Bill. It looks like the Thames has flooded and he is taking a rest sitting on the flood boards at the entrance. Bill  as a professional boat builder goes back a long way, starting aged 15 years old. There is an oral history webpage in which Bill talks about his boatbuilding apprenticeship in the 1950's.


Using his accumulated wisdom Bill got it just right, so when I tried out PicoMicroYacht I found it perfectly balanced. Which makes PicoMicroYacht a work of art.

With holiday over, I am using my WaterRower to train. It swishes round a paddle in large plastic container, connected to the pulling handle by a series of webs. It is not as ugly as most rowing machines because it is made mainly of wood. The feel is fairly close to the PicoMicroYacht, except there is no feathering action, which I do by flicking my fingers and thumbs at the appropriate moment. WaterRower tells me the speed and power output - I amble along at 24 strokes a minute and at 3.3 m/s and this simulates the real effort of rowing steadily.

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