The Duck Report

Posted by Laszlo on Jul 13, 2007

I was in Annapolis this afternoon, so I dropped in the CLC showroom. Right there in the center of the floor was the Wood Duck 12. The usual fine folks were there, too, working hard to make, pack and ship us our goodies. They were able to spare some of their valuable time to help me poke around the Duck and to answer my questions. So here's a quick summary to help you Duck-curious types get some answers to yours.

First, the photos don't do it justice. I'm not knocking the CLC photographers by any means. It's just that it has very subtle, sculptural curves which really need to be experienced in 3D to be understood and appreciated. It has a presence which does not make it onto the 2D page.

Next, it's light. Very light. Really, really light. I don't believe that 40 lb. weight in the ad copy. It had the KD-11 dolly attached to it and it was still almost effortless to pick up. Maggie did make the point that maybe the shape of the boat had something to do with it - the compactness kept all the weight centered and easy to control. Maybe, but it sure felt lighter than 40 lbs. to me.

In another thread our buddy Kurt said "I have absolutely no idea how the Duck is constructed..." Well, I'm here to tell you that it's done the same way that Jack Northrup used to design planes - "simplicate and build lightness in". There is one bulkhead, behind the cockpit, which forms the watertight rear compartment. There is no other framing whatsoever. No sheer clamps, no deckbeams, nothing. It's built the same way as the Shearwater - deck & hull built separately on molds, then joined.

Besides the lack of internal framing, weight is kept low by using 3 mm wood for the hull. This is a true monocoque boat. The hull skins are structural components, not just hydrodynamic fairing over a frame. Stiffness comes from pre-stressing the skin by bending the panels into mutually opposing directions. Sandwiching the panels inside and out in fiberglass also makes this into a true composite boat. The rear deck actually flexes when you push on it with a finger, though without feeling fragile. The front deck has sufficient camber so as to resist flexing.

The cockpit opening is huge. It's actually wider than the cockpit on the Sea Island Sport SOT in the showroom. The coaming is the conventional laminated keyhole, just bigger than any I've seen before. A spray skirt is in the works.

While the VCP hatch was less obtrusive in person than it is in the photos, my preference would be for the flush hatch.

Looking down the front of the keyhole you see a vast volume terminating in the bow endpour. The CLC folks were speculating that some builders might want to put in a foam bulkhead or float bags. In the back, the storage compartment is terminated by a tiny transom similar to the Chesapeake 14's.

In a previous thread I speculated that it might have a smaller wetted area than the MC13. Actually comparing the hull shapes in person, I don't know if that's true or not. But they are definitely very different hull shapes. The Duck is much closer to a sea kayak than to the MC. It will definitely slice through the chop, rather than getting slapped silly. While definitely not a racing kayak, it looks as if it will honorably acquit itself in the speed department. Should easily run circles around the roto-molded boats. I'll have more information about this next week after actually paddling one.

It also looks as if it'll be really easy to build, with the possible exception of taping the interior deck/hull seams. On the other hand, that cockpit is so wide and there's so much interior room that any difficulty should be minimized, especially compared with the SIS. One thing though - builders will want to take extra care with the interior since it is not hidden by small cockpits and bulkheads

So that's what I saw. Next week I'll be paddling it and maybe even trying an exit & re-entry if the jellyfish haven't made it into the South River by then. But from what I've seen, this boat looks like a real winner. It may even end up replacing my pirogue.