Friday, 14 January 2011

A Mirage drive boat on Chesapeake Bay

The Hobie Mirage drive with its strange turtle fins is slowly gaining a following among human powered boat builders.
Don Polakovics has adapted Paul Gartside's propeller-driven design, Blue Skies, for the Hobie mechanism and it looks pretty good floating on Chesapeake Bay at a sustained speed of 3.5  knots and sprints of up to 6 knots .
Blue Skies was designed for cruising with an auxiliary sail, and Don sleeps and even cooks aboard, something of an achievement in a hull as slim as this.
Judging by the picture, the only thing he hasn't fitted in the cockpit is the kitchen sink. The boat still lacks a name, though, as Don explains:
Hi Chris.
No, she doesn't really have a name yet. My paddling partners voted on Patuxent Queen (we paddle mostly on the Patuxent River....war of 1812 fame....but no grudge), which was a whole lot better than the initial proposal of "Hippo". Compared to a normal sea kayak, she is quite large.
So far the boat has worked well for camping (five nights total, three full days, two nights without touching land). The "so far" part is because I've yet to spend a rainy day and night aboard. The cockpit is quite roomy for cooking, dressing, lounging etc. with the Mirage drive removed and the drive well cover in place.
At night I pull the baggage out of the sleeping compartment and put it in the cockpit and then move into the berth. The sleeping compartment is very comfortable. (Probably too comfortable. Much temptation to take a little nap, when I should be exercising.) With a 40 in beam, the boat is wide enough to sleep in most any position, including legs curled.
The open hatch provides a great view of the sky. I've never felt claustrophobic, but yes, I get the coffin comment a lot when people see the boat. The only distraction I've had from good sleep was when I anchored in a place with a little too much fetch and was kept awake by the waves slapping the hull a couple inches from my ear.....and then there was that time some critter kept scratching at the hull.
Speed? Flat water, loaded for a week, she cruises an honest 3.5 knots (quite slow by your rowing standards). Overall daily average (30 nm), including rest breaks, is 3.2. I can get bursts over 6 knots, flat water. With a down wind sail (windpaddle), she'll hold mid 5's, and poke into the 6's, but doesn't seem to be inclined to go any faster. Even at 20 ft., she's portly by kayak standards. The boat was built with a mast step and a dagger board to take the place of the Mirage drive, but I haven't built a real sail for her yet.
Thanks Don! More pictures of this interesting boat are here.

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