Oliver Bloch

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Outer Island

I finished the Outer Island, my first boat-building project, on the first day of spring 2006. At Jay Babina's suggestion (to accommodate my size 12 feet) I modified the deck over the cockpit. increasing the depth from 1/4 inch by my feet to 1 inch at the coaming. I'm not sure in retrospect that I needed the additional room, but it will make sliding in and out of the ocean cockpit a little easier.
This was my first woodworking project apart from a couple of cedar paddles. I ripped my own strips from cedar, ash, and sapele boards, then just let the wood reveal its wishes. Coaming, external stems, hatch knobs and toggles are all made up from laminates of ash and sapele to accent the deck pattern. Thanks to Jay, TwoPaddles and all the good folks on Nick's Kayak Building Bulletin Board for getting me through it.


My second strip project was a Bjorn Thomasson Isfjord, an 18' X 21" hard-chined kayak. I had the opportunity to use some roughhewn boards of northern white pine, milled by my cousin Ray from trees he cut over a quarter century ago. A pop artist who was an early recycler of everything from enameled bathroom fixtures to old barn siding, Ray would have appreciated seeing his wood ripped into strips and put to a purpose at once functional and beautiful. I fabricated a number of parts: carbon fiber hatch lips to accommodate Valley ovals, fiberglass skeg box and bulkheads, and used scrap plastic for the skeg and stainless steel tubing for the control rod.


Finished the Guillemot Petrel over the summer of 2010. Stained the hull with blue TransTint dye which, after the ambering of epoxy and varnish, came out a nice deep phlatho blue, at least that is what my artist friend calls it. Makes sense, as it is the same color as that deep bluish-green of phlatho mold, which consumes down wood on the forest floors around here. Very organic....I like it.
Deck and hull are of western red cedar, some very light, some very dark. The strip at the seam is Alaskan white cedar, the coaming and stems poplar. The boat follows Nick Schade's plans, 17' x 20", with a recessed coaming, Maroske fittings and a control-rod actuated cable skeg patterned after the ones on Valley boats.
Handles great in rough water and surf...my day/play boat!


My next build was a low-volume version of the Petrel, which I dubbed a Petrella. In the image below, the Petrella is in the foreground, the Petrel behind it. This one was of dark and light western red cedar, with poplar stems and coaming accents. The hull was stained red.
The boat was built on the same hull sections used in my Petrel (with Nick Schade's permission), but I redesigned the end forms and lowered the shear by an inch to bring it in at 16-1/2' x 20", suitable for a smaller, lighter paddler. Like my Petrel, it has a recessed coaming, Maroske fittings and a control-rod actuated cable skeg based on a kink-free design by my friend Sheldon Penn. I substituted two Kajaksport hatches, 8" in the bow and 10" the stern, for the wooden ones. The seat, hip and thigh braces, and back pillar were carved from minicell foam to complete the outfitting.


I designed and built what I call my Omage as a tribute to British boats derived from the Igdlorssuit. Western red cedar is accented by Sitka spruce to accent the deck and sheer line, and to strengthen the stems and the bottom of the hull. The carved bow and stern caps are also from a solid piece of sitka spruce. The cockpit and hatch recesses are lined with carbon-kevlar. Two 10" Kajaksport hatches, an 8" KS day hatch, recessed coaming,Maroske fittings and a control-rod actuated cable skeg. At 18' x 21", it's fast and handles well in the rough, a very capable tripping boat.


The second generation Omage II was an effort to reduce the weight and volume of the Omage. Built of western red cedar and Sitka spruce, the deck was lowered along the shear line, rocker was reduced and the day hatch eliminated, resulting in a 17'7" x 20-1/2" boat weighing 43 lbs.