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Questions and Answers from supCAT

picture of a supCAT on Lake Kegonsa.

Q:  What about curving the keel at the bow?
A:  I bend the wood around the bow. To do that, I use a simple steamer / hot water bath. That is part of the kit, the plan and the book. DIY builders should have no problem building it. Positioning the long keel piece in a vertical position while four feet of it soak in the steamer is the hardest part. A creative DIY'er might go one more step and devise a horizontal version of the steamer (stay tuned).

Q:  What about the stern end pontoon shape?
A:  The stern is a bit more complex than the bow, but still the same basic concept. I set the bottom (aka keel) and the bottom row of the pontoon skin. I use an internal piece cut to the desired angle of the end cap. With the internal piece and the three bottom pieces all joined and flat and true, I bend and shape the rails until they fit into the grooves that I let in to that internal piece. So that's five ‘skin’ pieces anchored to the internal piece. With those joins made and dry (and true and plumb), then it is a matter of iteratively fitting the remaining pieces into the space defined by those first five. It's like a puzzle, but all curves and PATIENCE. Very absorbing hand work with smallish tools removing bits at a time and gradually bringing it all together.

I consider this more of a manually done piece requiring the patience needed for the iterative fit-shape-remove-check-and-repeat process. No particular secrets here, which is why I will include this bit in detail in both book and video series that are in development. So if you want to build your own, I am happy to show and share in both video and book, as soon as I can finish......

Q:  Why does it say ‘wavetrainSUP’ on the side of the supCAT in the pictures?
A:  When that supCAT was built in summer 2018, the decision to make supCAT a stand alone entity had not yet been made. The idea was there and it was time for a prototype ‘newCAT’ to emerge for testing. After several pontoons test pieces came and went, the first complete craft emerged in all its red and blue happiness. Wood dye was a test question. Large rice paper decals were another test question and that is the answer to why a supCAT board says ‘wavetrainSUP’ on it. Also wavetrainSUP is a company in the same shop space specializing in custom SUP paddles and paddle kits for SUP paddle DIYers.

Q:  What's the secret with the pontoons?
A:  Nothing in particular. Edge gluing long narrow pieces that are 3/16ths thick has a bit of trickery just dealing with the long pieces, but the strongback makes it easier to store, move, and position the pieces. Most often, I use small panhead screws and anchor each piece to the underlying bulkhead. I also have a jig in development that will hold the strip down against the bulkhead and the piece below it, while the glue (Titebond 3) dries. A set of these will be included in the kit, once testing is complete.

Q:  What about hatches and expansion relief in the pontoons?
A:  I have both six- and eight-inch diameter round hatches on hand for those that want them. Some do not. Hatches are my preferred method of accessing the interior and expansion relief. For those hatch haters out there, I have simple ‘plugs’ that can be unscrewed when the boat is off the water and screwed back in when the boat is on the water.

Q:  How much does a supCAT weigh?
A:  As most would expect, a wood boat weighs more than a composite boat. The red and blue supCAT seen throughout the site, at fourteen feet long and 32 inches wide, made of white pine and encapsulated in four ounce fiberglass cloth and MAS epoxy weighs about 52 pounds. Don't quote that number though. I can't remember if that was before or after the cloth and epoxy was on the wood. I need to double check this number (1/18/19).

Q:  What's the hardest thing to do at supCAT?
A:  In addition to balancing a long slender piece on end in the steamer, lots of bits have the same degree of difficulty, but the hardest / most frustrating thing to do is taking good pictures. Even here in tropical southern Wisco, temps are still in the 30s-40s at best, which makes the water downright cold. It also makes the leaves fall, so we go from gorgeous green outdoors to that quiet sleeping color of midwest winters. It also makes fingers cold and cameras do strange things. So good pictures are difficult to come by.

I'm in ‘hurry up’ mode, but mother Nature reminds those of us choosing to live at 45°+ of latitude, with her iron grip on the outdoors, even if it is a mild one so far, that slow and steady is sometimes the best way to go. At the moment, it's the only way to go for supCAT boards. At least until new leaves and short sleeves appear one more time in the great outdoors.

Q:  What's your favorite thing about supCAT boards?
A:  My favorite thing is ‘creating’. I have come to recognize in myself that I love (and that's not just ‘like’) the creative process. The first supCAT, aka newCAT, the one in the pics on the site and on the water last summer (2018), is the embodiment of that for me. In my prior work lives, creativity was associated with Photoshop and Illustrator and various layout tools. While I know those tools in front of a computer, my preferred medium is wood. I've been channeling that into custom paddles and paddle kits for the last several years at wavetrainSUP and quietwater paddles.

Going a bit afield... years ago, I was walking the aisles at Canoecopia, which is a pretty big deal here in the winter time midwest. I went by the CLC booth and they had a paddleboard along with a set of plans to build that paddleboard. Up until that time, I was all about canoeing. Seeing that board and the plans sent me down a new path. I built a CLC Kahuna and loved it. It's a board I still have.

Going further adrift - back in the day, my wife and I were on our honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands. At the time, she loved to SCUBA. I was too much of a country boy schmuck to go that far under water, so all I did was snorkel (and get sunburned). But that day, we went out to the dive area on a trimaran, which to me was an amazing way to travel. Again, being mostly freshwater upper Midwest, I had never seen a boat like that. It kind of stuck with me, and percolated for a couple decades in the lizard part of my brain.

So long story short, lots of things merged together over the past several years, and the result is a supCAT board.

</rambling>.....

Q:  Who makes and where are your boards made?
A:  Why do short questions always have big answers?

The short answer is that supCATs are built right here in small town Wisco.

The longer answer is that I'm not interested in going down a high volume, wholesale / retail, sales path. My interest is in creating hand made, wood, hybrid paddleboards. aka supCATs. Call them catasups or supcats or padasups. These boards are part catamaran and part paddleboard, and made to order after talking with the buyer about their design ideas. Emphasis on hand crafted and wood.

Notice that there is nothing about ‘manufacturing’ or ‘foam’. supCATs are hand made from wood. Going down the traditional retail path means doing high volume with foam or plastic, which means handing the reins over to a manufacturer in China, like virtually every single board manufacturrer in the paddleboard marketplace has done. It can also mean creating a master mold (or worse - molds) which carry large, upfront costs, something that has made life difficult for some predecessors in this vertical.

On an upnote, I am happy to give credit to the manufacturing exceptions that I am aware of. Glide SUP makes their boards in Salt Lake City, UT. Good for them! While thick slabs of noisy, flat-bottomed foam are not in my wheelhouse, I am happy to trot Glide out as a great example of a company making their product in the USA. There are not many others. In fact, feel free to email me with other examples.

It's only seven. Three more are coming....

updated February 11, 2019