Frequently Asked Questions
I hope you find the information here useful. I've tried to answer questions that friends, family and more than a few idle passers-by have wanted to know. I'm sure this page will grow, and become more helpful and informative.
A: Thats not a question , but if it bothers you just pretend its a monkey.Q: What are your boats made of?
A: Fibreglass boats are polyester resin and gelcoat selected for toughness and surface finish. The fibres are a hand laid mix of thin csm and very strong double bias fabric. Coremat and glass cloth stiffens the floor of boat under the cockpit.
Kevlar boats use csm, kevlar cloth, carbon fibre uni-directionals and glass fabrics to make a tougher and lighter boat. Placement of the fabrics is critical for local reinforcement and to produce the toughened rigid shell. The kevlar layer is doubled in the critical bow and stern areas where impact is more likely.
Overall there are 17 different pieces of fabric or csm in the hull alone.
Decks are glass laminates, but could be upgraded to kevlar.Q: How to you design your boats?
A: Hard chines hulls like my outrigger are designed using a DOS-based computer aided engineering program called Plyboats. It's a very simple tool for designing hard chine hulls. I often use this to outline concept hulls because I can do it very quickly. A free demo is downloadable.
For round bilged hulls I use Prolines by Vacanti software. Programs like this are brillaint and allow you to draw and loft accurate boat hulls with predictable performance. In seconds you can change a hull shape and see the hydrostatics instantly recalculated. Using hand drawing and calculation, that could take a couple of days. A free demo of Prolines is downloadable, but please don't set up a kayak design company. Just buy mine instead.Q: How is that better than how others create kayaks?
A: There are very few designers in NZ actually drawing new hulls. Most paddlers will have noticed a lot of suspiciously similar looking hulls. The fastest and least risky way to design a kayak is to use a machine like a pantograph to take a set of lines off an existing hull and add a new deck. It can be a pretty good design path. Copy the gun boat and yours won't be truly awful even though you have to modify the shape of it a little.
But your new design also wont be better either.
Other people are creating new hull shapes by starting with a big block of foam and carving the shape that looks like a decent boat hull. Again with a few generations of experimenting using the customer as the guinea pig you can wind up with a decent hull evolving, but usually someone else copies it, makes a few changes and you are left being the guinea pig... and paying for it.
No one has designed yachts this way for a century or so. Go ahead. I dare you to guess why.Q: Can you make a bright finished kevlar/carbon boat like brand X?
A: Yes. But I probably won't.Q: Why not?
A: Bright finished hulls are often made using epoxy resins. They can potentially make a stronger lighter hull, but in many cases they won't. The reasons are simple engineering. The limitations on laminates like this are not "strength" but "stiffness". By the time the boat is stiff enough not to be too floppy to stay in a boat shape it is always easily strong enough. Using a tougher resin doesnt necessarily make sense.
Epoxy is also a sensitising agent and has seriously affected the health of many boat builders. Use it too much, have too much skin contact, and the user can become hyper-sensitive to a range of industrial chemicals. Reactions include everything from skin rashes to mood swings and potentially death. No thanks.
Polyester stinks but it's chemically very mild compared with epoxies.
Lastly but most importantly epoxy degrades very quickly in UV light. Aircraft engineers developing high performance figher parts found that they could lose 40% of their initial strength in a few months. On a kayak that suggests that any strength advantage could be quite short term... unless you paint your deck and hull.
There is the option to make relatively bright finished parts using a vinyl ester gelcoat and a VE or polyester lay up. It's a better use of technology but it still doesn't offer the protection a coloured gelcoat.Q: Can you make your boats lighter?
A: Yes, if you have enough cash and accept my generous offer of absolutely no warranty that it survives being used or LOOKED AT, then I think a 4 kg kayak is acheiveable. Payment in advance please.
I'm joking of course [except about the payment in advance], but there is a reason I'm doing so. I think the relentless drive to make lighter boats is misguided.
Imagine a boat that's designed to displace 100 kg. The boat weighs 15kg and the paddler 80kg and then add a selection of paddling gear, paddle and food/water to get to the design displacement. Now make the boat weigh 12kg. Total displacement is now 97kgs. That wont affect the hulls hydrostatics greatly if the hull is well designed. The boat/paddler combination will potentially accelerate 3% faster, have EXACTLY the same top speed but have 3% less inertia to help it through the next wave train which cancels out the potentially faster acceleration nicely... and now the catch:
The boat itself will be 20% weaker and more flexible [assuming it's made from the same materials]. If the hull skins are flexing, the boat will be slowed as it absorbs energy. Sea kayakers who have paddled both fibreglass and plastic boats will know this effect. Plastic boats are slower because they are made from more flexible material .
As I said earlier, I can make you a 4 kg boat, but I think the current generation of construction is pretty close to practical limits of what is achieveable and desirable. For some people adding a couple of kgs to the boat construction might be a really good idea. It will make a boat tougher, stronger and have a longer life. When you order a boat this is an option worth considering.Q: You sure about that?
A: Ok, Ok before some smarty pants physicist jumps on me for that statement, I'm going to put my hand up and say that it does contain a couple of generalisations and a few assumptions too. Those are based on reasonable expectations of use, and the materials that are potentially available to make kayaks. Those boundaries will change and kayak designers will adapt but right now for most paddlers, unless you have to pick up and physically carry a boat as part of a race, there is absolutely no advantage in reducing the weight further.Q: What can I do to make my boat last longer?
A: A good quality car wax will help protect the gelcoat. Preferably wax it before you first use it.
If you use the boat in sea water give it a fresh water rinse when you have finished. I always carry a 20 litre jerry can of fresh water to wash my boat before it goes back on the roof rack if Ive been paddling in salt. Thats good news for your car too.
Take care to scratch the hull gelcoat as little as possible. A good smooth surface will pay off.
It's probably also best not to let your kids use the deck as a trampoline, but hey it's your kayak.Q: Are you going to make a really fast boat that can beat a .........?
A: I hope so . I'm already working on high performance multisport designs .So far these exist only on paper and computer file but at least one will be released in 2006 . I'm sure they will be more than competitive with the front runners in any race situation.Q: Where the hell did the name DRUNKEN MONKEY KAYAKS come from?
A: Well, the kayaks bit is obvious. If it's not then you are in a lot of trouble already. The rest is a bit of a story so hang on to your hat, get a coffee lean back and relax.
A couple of years ago I was asked by my friend Pete to help him set up a business in Richmond to make canopies for utes. When we started there was nothing but a huge hole in the ground and a rumour that concrete trucks would turn up sometime soon. We worked in an old tin shed to prove the concepts, develop the product and get the equipment working so eventually we could move right into that shiny new building and immediately begin churning out product [once the concrete had set of course]
There were a few re-designs on the way and more than a few teething problems but mostly we had a really great time. I'm never going to stop laughing about the day we landscaped the yard with huge rocks Pete had bought at an auction, but thats another story and besides we'd probably get arrested if the police found out we drove those things there on the back of a ute with the suspension utterly bottomed out.
Staff numbers grew and I set about training people to actually make the canopies. Again teething problems, but eventually we hired Adam and Danny who really are unique individuals with skill and talent as well as being really decent blokes. We worked side by side for a couple of months till we weren't just good. We were great. The finished product shows that we did get it right.
And then I went away on holiday for a week. Pete stepped in to cover for me and with a little guidance from Adam, and a wall full of scribbled notes taped in place by me before I left, they did Ok.
First morning I was back Adam and I were examining the previous days canopy shells as they sat in the moulds waiting to be released. There's a lot of skill and finesse in doing a job like that, and you only come to appreciate it by doing it again and again. Pete's work wasn't bad. But it was obvious that he was filling in LOL.
He was keen to catch up about issues that had come up while I was gone. I saw him coming out of the corner of my eye, and I could see that he'd noticed Adam and I talking about his work. He said something like "thats alright isn't it?" I couldn't resist and it just came out. "It looks like it was made by a drunken monkey"
I get fired a lot when I work for other people. When they stop laughing that is.
I worked there for another 8 months or so while I worked part-time getting this new kayak venture up to speed. Yes, perfection eludes me and every time something went wrong there was Pete saying " a drunken monkey could do that better" or just "drunken monkey" muttered very low while he laughed and walked away leaving us to sort out the chaos.
So thats where the name comes from.
And besides, you will never forget it.