Micro-Expedition, Session 1

Shellbend Folding Boat

I will be simultaneously publishing new content on my Micro-Expedition course on my new CCA weblog, which you can follow by clicking here.

I’m excited to be teaching the Atelier Studio for CCA’s Furniture Program this semester. Russell Baldon invited me to be this year’s Wornick Visiting Professor, and I’ve designed a course I’m calling Micro-Expedition. The class has a total of 7 students, most of whom are Furniture majors, and we meet on Mondays from 9-3 in the ‘benchroom’ at CCA‘s San Francisco campus.

The first day we made introductions and looked at charts, maps, books and boat plans related to my proposed, semester-length project. In brief, the students and I will collaboratively design a water-borne expedition for the end of the semester, and design and build the craft most appropriate to the requirements of the chosen waterway, given the constraints of time, space and budget. We have just 14 weeks to make the boats, so I was pleased that the group quickly and unanimously chose a body of water (to remain a secret for now) and agreed to approach the boat-building as a kind of production crew, with small teams assigned tasks related to making all of the components.

We’ve begun to explore two major boat types, a sailboard and a folding dinghy, with the class split into two research teams relatedly. We have plans for an early ‘buckboard’, a 12′ sailing surfboat that evolved into the classic sunfish. One approach will be to modify the hull to function more like a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and alter the sail for hands-free, downwind conditions. Another approach is to combine features from several ‘folding dinghy’ plans available for free online. I printed two of these that originally appeared in ‘Popular Mechanics’ in the 1960’s. I asked the students to develop their own ideas for these basic hull types over the week to present to the class. We will analyze these as a group and decide which features should be incorporated into the project, making all attempts to keep the craft as simple to build and safe to handle as possible.

After the first class I walked from CCA to see if it was possible to access the Bay by foot. I was surprised and delighted to find a boat launch off of 3rd street, less than a mile from the school. If time allows, we will use this to test a few boat types to get a feel for how they handle before beginning construction in earnest. As part our adventure, I’m requiring the students to document the process and keep an archive on these pages. I will be making running commentary throughout the semester, but each week will feature a different student author. Stay tuned!

boat ramp sf

public dock near CCA’s San Francisco campus

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