Spontaneous Combustion

Here's fair warning, I am about to build another duck, and I already have a copyright on the name Dangerous Duck. Anyone who even thinks about stealing that name will soon come to understand what that name really means. Besides, I already have the t-shirt. :)

My recent duck luck has sucked! On October 4th just three hours into my trip to Oklahoma with the sure winner of the 2011 worlds, Wild Duck #143, the biplane-rigged duck, mysteriously went up in flames, temporarily shutting down Florida's Turnpike, reducing another boat to ashes, and destroying about ten new sails and all my camping equipment. A couple of months prior to that strange accident, my former pride and joy the Z-PDR #351 had pitchpoled on the Intercoastal Waterway and ultimately floated out of control into the barnacle-covered Hutchison Island Causeway where every sharp angle was ground off her as surely as if she had encountered a Transformer-sized belt sander. The Z-PDR, now my only remaining boat of consequence, currently sits on end in the garage, still awaiting restoration. As bad as she looks, her hull was not penetrated, so when she's repaired, she'll have some battle scars, but those will likely only add to her character.

Wild Duck was really primed to win. She was originally built in 2007 for the express purpose of setting a record for carrying the most sail area by a duck, which she did -164 sq. ft. of sail for the mandatory ride of a mile before and against the wind. I believe she was also the first duck to routinely carry a biplane rig of 102 sq. ft., and when she was rigged right, she was wickedly fast and very maneuverable. She wasn't rigged right for the 2009 Worlds at Allatoona Lake and couldn't turn into the wind. That and a couple of 720 penalties and an attempt to fix her that made things worse doomed her to 10th place in the race. But shortly after that miserable performance, I got the leeboard right, and she was untouchable for the poker run. She placed 1st in that event, so I still regarded her as a champion.

In fact, just before leaving for Oklahoma, I decided to dress her up with each record listed for all to see on either side of the boat in between her racing stripes. I spent a small fortune for stick-on letters, but she deserved the recognition. I had rebuilt her this last summer adding a light deck all around that needed no support thanks to an innovative little keystone effect along the side decks where they transitioned down from 15" to about 13" of freeboard running from amidships to stern. She was repainted and had two new leg o' muttons with windows that would actually allow me some visibility for a change. In her only trip out this summer, I only flew one sail but she almost kept up with the Z-PDR which was a much lighter and smaller duck that had placed 4th at the 2009 Worlds in the hands of my son Ryan, a novice when it came to sailing in spite of his Navy background.

The new Dangerous Duck will continue the hull design trends established in the building of five Hot Tub 4' x 8' scows, a number of PDRacers, and from Wedgie, the kid's scow that also perished in the recent fire. To keep Dangerous lightweight, I'll frame her with clear cedar, make her sides from 3 mm plywood, her transoms from 6 mm plywood, her bottom from 6 mm plywood, and her deck from 3 mm ply. I'll use the foam insert concept I first started using in 2007 and continued through the Z-PDR and the kits for the Wooden Boat Show for flotation and stiffness. The evolution of this construction process has been well-documented previously in a photo essay on my website at: http://www.polysail.com/zduck.htm

While some things will remain the same, I'm prepared to make a few changes in this next racing PDR. The side decks for Dangerous will be much narrower, and the front deck will be kept fairly short, all in the interest of saving weight and increasing cockpit area. She will continue to offer multiple options for sail setups, including the biplane configuration, but I expect to fly twin battened shoulder o' muttons rather than leg o' muttons for her sails. I experimented with this sail on the Z-PDR and on Wedgie and I think it will compete well with board sails upwind and the big lugs downwind. She'll carry close to 100 sq. ft. of sail, but unlike the lego's, I don't expect these sails to overlap on a downwind reach or run when not carried wing on wing. I will change the transom configuration somewhat to avoid catching a corner in a wave as the Z-PDR did when it pitchpoled. As for boards, I like the appearance of the wishbone rudder on the Z-PDR, so I'll probably stay with that design. Going with a daggerboard might solve some of the problems with turning the biplane rig, so that might be a major change this time. We'll see. I still like the simplicity of the leeboard if I can get it to work, but adding a daggerboard case isn't all that hard, and it's fairly easy to plug if it causes me too many headaches.

Ryan and I are taking a trip down to World Panel in Riviera Beach this morning to pick up a couple of pieces of plywood. I expect to do a workshop as I build Dangerous Duck on the Start Sailing @ 60 forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/60sailing/ When finished, maybe Shorty can add it to his free plans on the free pdracer sailboat plans page. I'll try to provide both a lumberyard version and a high end version for those who are interested.

The bolt together kit trailer has been restored and looks better than new. All it needs now is a slick (but not too hot) little PDRacer with a winning history to carry to the 2012 Worlds. Of course, she might need to have a new captain if I actually want her to be a winner. I'm thinking St. John is about the right weight and a captain with experience. Not only that, but he's also a man without a boat. How about it, John???

Expect to see a lot of Dangerous Duck's tail feathers in the next few months if I can swing this deal.