Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ken Basset Firefly on the Connecticut River

Upon seeing the Basset Firefly Finesse here in these pages, Lorenz Rutz wrote to tell me of his most recent creation. While Finesse is a double, Lorenz has built the original eighteen-foot single from Ken Basset's plans. However, he departed significantly by constructing a tape and glue version. The resulting boat is much lighter and Lorenz says he can easily load it on top of his truck.

We'll ask him to tell the story...



"I was looking to build a performance pulling boat, something a step up from my Gloucester Light Dory and my search kept coming around to Firefly. Being new to boat building, I liked the simple plywood construction. I had successfully completed a 17' okoume/composite ocean kayak and looking at Firefly, it occurred to me that this hull was perfect for stitch and glue construction."





"I contacted Bassett and he gave me his blessing to proceed. Stitch and glue plans usually include plank expansions, a set of numbers that allow the builder to cut out the planks without setting up molds. Firefly did not come with expansions, so I had to begin by setting up the molds."










"From the mold I was able to take the four plank shapes and then proceed to stitch and glue them together. The plywood easily accommodated the twists required, no torturing involved. Though I did use 4mm okoume instead of the called for 6mm which would have resisted a bit more. I used 4mm because I fully fiberglassed the boat inside and out."




"I took a page from the Annapolis Wherry and added sealed tanks fore and aft both for stiffness and because I am a fan of positive flotation in a boat. The center frames are laminated Douglas fir. All the trim is Douglas fir. I have not weighed the boat yet, but I can easily carry it over my head."











"There is a bit more wood to add and more epoxy and paint, but I suspect the resulting boat will be quite a bit lighter than the original version. I'm installing a salvaged and refurbished Alden Row Master for seat and riggers. I'm shooting for a spring launch on the Connecticut River."

"My daughter built an Annapolis Wherry last summer. We are anticipating a double launch date. I’m curious to see how they compare on the water. I will send you photos."

Excellent job, don't you all agree? We'll be looking forward to the launch, Lorenz. Thank you for the great photos!


9 comments:

Baydog said...

Beautiful, simply.

doryman said...

Very nice, I agree. Now you see why I had to have one. A rower's dream.

my2fish said...

wow, that is a gorgeous boat!

Anonymous said...

I can remember the original plans where called 'Skol' and there where in the old "Small Boat Journal" whatever you call it it is truly 'Eye Sweet'

bayou bri said...

I row a CLC Annapolis Wherry and a Weyland MarineS Verry Wherry, both sweet glides but truly different boats. Ken's Firefly first came to my attention in NAUTICAL QAUTERLY 1983-I fell in love with the concept...

Lorenz said...

Our CLC Annapolis wherry is still dry. We are awaiting delivery of the Row Wing. After one row in the Firefly I was delighted with what she gave. I was concerned that she would be a bit tippy, but that is not the case. Everyone who rowed that day felt instantly at ease. She moved fast and straight. We capsized her for grins to see what would happen. The flotation in the ends was enough to provide some freeboard when turned up making it possible to bail. I was easily able to do a deep water entry into the boat without adding much water. The wind and water that day were still, pretty much what I expect on our stretch of Connecticut River. How she does in some wind and waves remains to be seen.

bryan said...

hi - i have bought the plans for the firefly. i had also thought of building her stitch and glue. did you take the shapes of the planks?

Roy said...

I built a Firefly in 1987 and it is still going strong. Bit heavy at 50 kg and I am looking at building a lighter boat for my old age - at 72 the lift onto the car roof roller is getting harder!
Thought of the stitch and glue Annapolis Wherry or maybe the Firefly again stitch and glue. I would use the same outriggers which are light stainless tubing. My blades are beautiful timber and light enough to hold the pair in one hand.
Busy charting rivers and highland lakes in Tasmania with a Garmin sounder.
If I could post a picture I would.

doryman said...

Roy,
I would love to see some photos of your Firefly. please contact me:
mbogoger(at)gmail.com