I had a long drive the other day and turned my mind to first principles to try and find another starting point for the tent (previous musings here):
- everything in a boat should have two uses (can't remember where I read that), so what can we use to avoid carrying and storing more stuff? Stowage space in a Walkabout is limited and less weight is always good.
- avoid adding holes or fittings to the boat
- in a boat, especially a yawl, we start with at least two advantages when it comes to designing a tent, compared with designing a tent for land: two strong uprights (masts); the ability to fix the bottom of the tent firmly to the boat, eg hooks under the gunwhale, no need for tent pegs.
So, apart from the masts, what else do I have that could be useful?
- 2 pairs of oars (and the ability to get these out of the way when in tent mode would be good, they normally lie on one of side benches getting in the way.)
- the mizzen boom
- two stretchers (foot rests)
On the drive I turned these over in my mind and came up with the idea of a tent hung from a line between the masts, and using the mizzen boom and a broom stick handle to spread the sides of the tent. These two poles will hang across the boat from a lines from each mast to the gunwale, to form two 'coat hangers' a little shorter than the beam suspended across the the cockpit. Along each side an oar will be slung from the coat hanger.
This should form the basis of a fairly solid frame. The canvas will go over the ridge line, outside the oars and fix to the existing hooks under the gunwale with elastic lacing. At each end a series of triangles of canvas will form a bell end laced to the existing hooks outside the coaming.
I couldn't work out the detail of the ends in my mind, but there seemed to the possibility of fixing the bell ends to the main canvas with zips to allow the ends to be used as doors. And at the top of the bell ends, under the overhanging apex, space for a good sized ventilation panel with insect net.
Here's a sketch of my idea. Thinking about how to actually make it, I imagine the main 'framework' – the blue lines in the sketch – will be woven tape, say 3 cm wide, to which the canvas will stitched. The tape can be pulled tight without risk of ripping a light canvas. The oars might be lashed to velcro sewn to the tapes, or perhaps sit in pockets sewn to the tapes. The tapes will have long tailed that would feed through the forward and aft rowlock sockets, to be tied off inside – the tapes could easily be loosened or tightened as necessary without leaving the boat.
This morning I was in the boat yard sorting out my launching trolley – another story; despite the dreich weather I couldn't resist trying out this idea with some rope, my bivi tarp, and a wooden batten I found lying around.
The oars are only just long enough, and the mizzen boom is too long but a couple of broom handles could be cut to the exact length needed. To earn their keep they could be used for checking depths or as boat hooks perhaps.
The structure was only lashed together in a hurry and the oars tied on with garden twine, but it seemed to have the potential to be very solid. The 'coat hanger' did swing however, but that was soon cured by lines to the downhaul cleat: the black lines in the photo.
The spreader will be above the foredeck and not take up any room in the tent. In fact it might well end up outside the 'bell end'.
If I'm to use the bell-end as a door I'll need to either sling the tent from higher up the masts or have a less acute pitch to the roof, or possibly both.
When not in use the rowlocks live in a hole in the frame. This provides a perfect place to cleat off the line – probably tape if this tent is ever made – that feeds through the rowlock socket.
If this method really does create a robust frame for the tent, I might be able to lash the second pair of oars to the first pair. This will get them right out of the way when the tent is in use.
What do you think? What have I forgotten to take account off?