Support boat thoughts

Much in keeping with my previous adventures and experiences, I am trying to keep PedalTheOcean about optimal human performance and state of the art human powered boat efficiency - much like what I did with Critical Power human powered vehicle 24 hour distance record . As I have said before, one of our biggest problems today as a society is a result from this pursuit of achieving more with MORE. Faster cars, bigger stuff, MORE of everything. We need to change that and I am trying to show the world how we can achieve more with LESS. And that it's cool and fun! I wrote a little more about that in Dec of last year.

That said, I am prepared to spend some considerable expense on a really great support system including a support yacht and crew. I want to make this clear - this challenge is NOT about doing a solo, unsupported survival adventure across the Atlantic ocean. I have the highest respect for those who do that like current ocean crossers Roz Savage, Jason Lewis, Bhavic, Ralph Tuijn and previous ocean crossing expeditions Leven Brown, Greg Spooner, Colin and Julie, and the many others I follow and have followed.

My 'thing' is the combination of technology and human performance. A fully supported human powered Atlantic speed record attempt is exactly what this expedition is. The support / safety boat will accompany me and provide supplies, traffic lookout, water making, equipment backups, communications, repairs, food, company and even occasionally a safe place to escape to (if ocean conditions allow). This allows me to focus on designing and building the fastest, most efficient human powered ocean boat possible, and my ability to pedal the machine 3000 miles across the Atlantic ocean in less than 40 days.

24 hour human powered world record
650 miles

human powered mega-meter world record
23.1 hours

The Adventures of Greg BLOG:

Labels: ,

Buoyancy compartments and bulkheads

I covered the Styrofoam bulkhead shapes with a layer of fiberglass roving using a light coat of spray glue to hold the fabric in place while I fully whetted it out with epoxy resin. I wanted to make the bulkheads light but strong, so I vacuum bagged the wet layups.

I use Elmers spray adhesive for a temporary bond when I know that I will be using a vacuum bag to keep the whetted fabric next to the form. This glue tends to dissolve when epoxy is introduced, so it does not seem to clog up the weave and prevent epoxy from fully whetting out the fabric and bonding to the form. As you can see from the photos, Elmers glue allows me to wrap the form up nicely - kind of like wrapping a birthday present. I use 3M high strength 90 when I'm not using a vacuum bag, as it does not seem to dissolve with the epoxy resin and the whetted fabric won't lift up or peel off the surface. the problem with the 3m 90, is that since it does not dissolve, the epoxy doesn't fully soak into all of the weaves in the fabric - it seems to wet out about 75% of the fabric though, so probably more composite material is required to offset this. I'm not sure - it would be interesting to do some testing some day and find out exactly how much various spray glues impact on the strength/weight ratio of composite materials and epoxy resin.

They came out really nice - light and strong and tightly wrapped in glass. I bonded them into the kayak hull using epoxy/micro and radiused the inside corners nicely. Now I am going to place a strip of fiberglass roving along the joins to further solidify the bulkheads to the kayak.

I filled the bow and stern compartments with Polyurethane expanding foam. This foam is buoyant enough to support 60 lbs of weight per cubic foot. I estimated that 2 square feet of this foam should be good enough for Within-24, since Within-24 won't feature the top deck. I'll add more foam in the bow and stern compartments of the top deck, plus the deck has quite a bit of Styrofoam as it's core, and will probably float all on it's own.

The reason for these two solid floatation compartments is if the boat were to completely flood, it would still stay afloat due to these two sealed off, solid buoyancy areas. For Within-24, since there aren't any additional compartments filled with air, I'm thinking of strapping in some air filled water bottles under the soft deck just in case.


Bulkheads, bay glass, and mechanical efficiency

Drive leg bay

I started the fiberglassing of the drive leg bay. There are two
purposes for adding fiberglass to it, one is structural - to make the
drive leg bay a structural part of the kayak hull, and the other
reason is to water proof it. The first layer is water proofing and
runs around the kayak hull bottom, up and over the DL bay walls and
then a few inches onto the floor.

The bay is a very complex shape, and the glass fabric running along
the inside of the narrow part of the bay frame has to be very thin
because the drive leg struts fit in there pretty tight. I used 3M
super 90 spray glue to hold the fiber glass fabric down to the form,
then whetted it out with epoxy resin. The resin does not seem to
dissolve this glue, so it holds it's position VERY nicely - almost
like it was vacuum bagged. The only issue that I have, is that I'm not
positive that the epoxy is fully saturating all of the threads in the
fabric due to this spray glue. However, a tight fitting glass covering
is also a very important aspect of sealing and structure.

I plan to add a least one more layer, then some thicker roving to the
edges for structure.

Adding the glass have me an opportunity to finally insert the drive
leg, prop the seat up and get in for a quick spin. Everything feels
just great!

Mechanical efficiency test

I was also able to test the mechanical efficiency of my drive. The
last time I did it, I determined that there was a 8 watt loss due to
the chain / cog / gear box. I repeated the test, this time with the
completed drive leg and the loss was 7 watts. So, it does not appear
that the chain clanging in the stainless tubes is responsible for any
measurable losses.

I need to point out that this 7 watt loss is 7 watts from free
spinning of the crank and chain ring without any chain. 7 watts of
power is required to turn the chain, turn the small cog on the gear
box, and to turn the gear box. All of this work needs to be done
regardless of what kind of method you have to get the power down to
the prop, so it's not really a 'loss' so to speak. It's just a cost of
getting the power to the prop - watts that won't directly be producing
any forward thrust.

For comparison purposes, Rick has a drive now that takes 5 watts, and
has made a gear box that took only 3 watts. But that gear box was too
small for this design, and was filled with a high viscosity
lubrication - again, not applicable to my drive. 6 or 7 watts could be
normal, and I think with a double right angle gear drive with a shaft,
it could be as high as 10 watts.


I cut out 3 Styrofoam bulkheads and 2 wood bulkheads. The two small
1/2 plywood sections fit on the sides of the drive leg bay and run out
to the kayak walls. These will add structure to the drive leg. The 3
Styrofoam bulkheads are for the small solid buoyancy compartment in
the bow, the bow compartment (which also acts as further structure for
the drive leg), and the main cabin bulkhead behind my seat.

I measured the curves using my curve guide, then traced the shapes
onto cardboard and messed with the cardboard shapes until they fit
nicely into the kayak hull. Then I traced the shapes onto some 1/2"
thick Styrofoam and carved and sanded them.

Next, I will cover them with fiberglass and then glass them into position.


Here are some shots of the rudder in the rudder steering shell tube. I still need to sand down the rudder top more so that it fits flush to the bottom of the hull


Subscribe to email updates:

Email :

About Greg video:

    follow me on Twitter

      Adventures of Greg Home
      Motivational Speaker

      featured slide show:

      Archives (newest first)

        Web This Blog

    © 2006 | PedalTheOcean BLOG by Greg Kolodziejzyk.
    motivational speaker
    No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.