All that remained to complete the geodesic dinghy was to secure some hardware, primarily the oarlocks’ side mounts, and a paint job.
Because the boat is viewed in an experimental light as a prototype, I avoided height-priced marine paint in favor of Valspar’s extreme weather primer/paint (fog gray) on top of the fiberglass brushed onto the plywood hull’s outer planes. The deep blue inner planes were set off by white structural members to accent the skeletal geometry.
Getting it to the water was the next big challenge. To meet it, two 2” x 4” racks were built to set on the top of my father’s Jeep Cherokee. My brother and I then carried the boat’s nearly 100 pounds almost a hundred feet like a large sofa around a variety of obstacles. Once in position, my next worry was allowing all the boat’s weight to rest temporarily on its stern edge before tilting onto the back of the Jeep. But it stood, and with my dad’s help, we 3 wrestled the boat into position upside down on top of the Jeep for about a half hour. Once lashed down with the bow to the front, the boat fit the angles of the Jeep like it belonged there. Even so, the 12 mile trip to the water was driven slowly, going 35 mph in a 55 mph speed zone to the landing area characterized by lumps of sand covered with ice-plant.
With the boat intact at the water’s edge, my biggest concern was the obvious: would it float –without leaks. The layer of fiberglass that I coated the plywood with was stretched thin due to the misfortune of having to make do with left-over hardener because someone had lifted the one that was supposed to be included with the newest can of resin I had just purchased. But after securing a line to the boat’s twin bow eyes and pushing it off, it not only floated but did so beautifully. From one perspective, the gap between the side panels and the waterline created an infinity pool-like illusion of being suspended on a layer of air over the glassy water’s surface.
The next test was to get into the boat, push off and see if everything held. For the next few minutes, I inspected every panel and seam more than half expecting a small breach somewhere, but not a drop!
With this crucial test passed, the next test was to determine how effectively the boat moved with temporary makeshift oars. My chief concern was the oarlock positioning, and I soon discovered that, while not perfect, the boat was both easily propelled straight in a desired direction and turned to another with the boat’s simple geometry having just enough complexity to supply a plane angled to allow a path for water to get out of the way.
During these initial tests, my technical advisor and I recorded measurements of how the bow and stern sat in the water. Of course the next worry was to see what happened with a passenger sitting on the stern seat. I had made a rough estimate that the volume of the water displaced by the weight of the boat and 2 people would equate to the bottom edge of the side panels. This turned out to be close on the average (about an inch above the bottom edge), but the boat was naturally tilted to where there was only 5-6” of freeboard above the lowest point of the stern region. Even so, water was not gushing into the boat, but I wouldn’t want to tempt the situation in anything but mellow seas. The important thing with 2 people in the boat was that it still didn’t leak.
The waterline readings and the rowing test results told me that the rowing seat and the oar locks should be shifted about 4-6” and 2-4” forward respectively.
I would also increase the contribution of the hexagonal expansion of the central section about 2-4”, and decrease the stern section dip from 4” to about 2 ½ – 3”. Beyond this, a healthier layer of fiberglass would make for more worry free use and extreme weather paint for the inside also be much better.
All in all I am generally satisfied with the outcome. Some future testing remains: A receding tide prevented determination of how well the boat rowed with a passenger. Aside from this, I am looking forward to what it is like to camp in the boat at anchor and transporting a bicycle on a yet-to-be constructed rack.