What a difference a couple of inches makes……

….in propellers, I mean. The 22′, semi-displacement John R currently sports an 11 x 14 prop. Way too much pitch. It really needs more like an 11 x 11 or even an 11 x 10. I am going to change over to an 11 x 11 ’cause I already have one but 11 x 10 (maybe even an 11 x 9) would be better. For every inch in pitch I drop, I gain 200 rpms and, right now, I need to gain about 800 to 1000 rpms to maximize the engine’s efficiencies. It seems it runs at it’s best between 5000 and 5500 rpms. Right now, I cannot get past 4500.

We have lately been using the new boat more and more. Grand total of 14 hours on the clock but most of those in the last two or so weeks. It is great! Really great. Our last batch of guests (a family of four plus their 100 pound dog) with all their luggage and Sally, me and our two dogs (our two 8 month old puppies currently together weighing in at 160 plus pounds!) all loaded in and went only a couple of miles but the performance was still very good. I estimate the variable load to have been around 1100 plus pounds. Fixed load (gasoline, equipment, ropes, fenders, pike pole, tools, anchor, etc) maybe another 200 pounds. Quite possibly as much as 1500 pounds of payload all in. We burned 3 liters an hour. That is amazing!

OK, we were not planing at 20 knots like Pumpkin (our 17′ Double Eagle with a Yamaha 50), but I guesstimated that we were easily doing 9 knots and, with a ‘push’, I could have hit 12. Empty-ish, we seem to be capable of close to 18 knots.

This may not seem like news to you and, perhaps, it should NOT be news to me since I kinda planned it this way but, honestly, this boat burns less fuel and carries twice as much as did good ol’ Pumpkin, our previous main but now secondary boat. Basically, the John R is twice as big and yet twice as efficient. Given that gasoline – out here – is $10.00 a gallon, that is a BIG deal!

I love it when a plan comes together but, well, none have ever done that before, so I am gobsmacked actually.

A few days later: I am still plugging away at affixing the new roof. That is not easy for me (given the success ratio I have with woodworking) but I am encouraged. The pieces kinda ‘seem’ right when I dry-fit them. But, as we all know, a dry-fit on the back deck near the shop is not the same as a perma-fit on the curved-but-fixed shapes of the actual boat located 250 yards away along a winding an undulating path. I confess I am still a bit apprehensive about the two scenes being shuffled together.

While making the new roof for the new boat, I also made a new roof for the old boat (Pumpkin) and Sal and I affixed that one the other day. It’s good. It will work out just fine. It is not a curved, pretty roof like the John R but it is effective and pretty enough. Sal is pleased. And that is what counts.


And Sal is also making some new cushions for the fixed seats of the John R and reupholstering the two folding deck chairs we found in the trash. That kind of sounds a smidge pathetic but, actually, the trashed chairs are exceptionally well made and no shopping or deliveries were required. Win-win.

Oh? And the prop? Brilliant!! Bloody marvelous, dahling. With the 11.6 x 11.1 I hit 6000 rpms easily. The boat was flying! I cut ‘er back to 5000 rpms (fast cruising speed) and it just purred while I did at least 16 knots, probably 18 when I pushed it to 5500. The prop pitch made a much bigger difference than the internet suggested.

I would like to use this blog as just another day-in-the-life kinda blog but, to be honest, we have been plugging away like worker-bees for over two months. Think of it, instead, as a busy summer month-or-so-in-the-life of old people with a new wooden boat, puppies, a ridiculous schedule and a bazillion chores.

And NOW, as of today: It happened. Roof is on the boat. Did it fit? Yes! Did it fit perfectly like a hand in a glove? No. It fit a bit more like OJ Simpson’s glove. But a little shaving here, a bit of a nudge and lever there and then, yes it did. Is it beautiful? As a boat building friend said, “It looks great from 200 feet!” Normally, that would be good enough for me. It is strong and functional and aesthetics are NOT my strong suit. Still, I am gonna sand and shave and chip and polish then add some more paint and I think I will achieve the 100 foot critical appraisal. Nothing closer, please.

Here’s hoping…..

7 thoughts on “What a difference a couple of inches makes……

    • Of course you do! But you were looking at Sally, the dogs and you live in the interior. Still, thank-you. I’ll take it. Just keep looking from a distance….even I look adequate from 1000 meters


  1. I didn’t know that about props, so I have learned something today, thanks!
    But reducing the pitch lowers the displacement of the prop? So you can make extra RPM’s which increases again the displacement?
    Or is the main reason trying to be in the optimum RPM range of the engine?
    The roof looks nice, but it spoils a bit the beautiful line of the boat. But I can understand the need for it
    So good job!
    The green paint is really perfect for this boat, I love the way she (he) looks


    • Thanks, WdG. Yeah, it is about achieving (or being able to achieve) the most efficient RPM range. That’s when the engine works the least, uses the fuel most efficiently and still achieves it most power. Of course, one can go slower and use less fuel or go faster and make more power but the ‘right spot’ is in the 5000-5500 rpm range (according to the mfg’er). Frankly, I prefer cruising around 4000 or so – a bit quieter and smoother. It is just nice to have the right prop and to feel how that shows up.
      As for the lines of the boat…I disagree. But, then again, aesthetics are not my strong suit. To me, the sleek lines of the boat-as-designed were beautiful but, of course, in a rain-forest like the BC coast, a smidge impractical. So, being practical was essential. It just had to be done. Form follows function. The next challenge was to get the ‘right look’ and, in that, I defer to the eye of the beholder. It may not be ideal. However…it is close. I’d say a B+. The previous owner had the same challenge going on in his head and he wrote to say that my new roof looked great (but, of course, he still loves his old boat). What the pic does not show is that the roof is held up aft by two steel poles painted black. Those poles kind of disappear in the photo. But they look good in real life and have the added appeal of being a place to put your hand for balance getting on and off.


      • don’t understand me wrong. You did a great job on the roof and the roof does look great. I was just referring to the original lines of the boat that are really great
        It must have been cramped though with 6 people, 3 dogs and the luggage!


        • Oh, yeah! Very cramped, loaded, squeezed and packed. Everyone wearing life jackets, too (‘cept Sal, me and our two dogs). It was crazy. But the boat floated level and only a little lower, maybe an inch (2.5 cm). It really ran well. I have a friend who will not let me get away with anything….and he did a data, specifications check on his outboard fuel usage charts and did the math and privately chided me, “You do not have a magical outboard! I calculated two different ways you used 4 liters per hour!” And he is likely right. I miscalculated. Still, it was very good.


  2. You had me at the “What a difference…” Title.
    The boat looks great.
    Lots of carrying capacity…and room to stand and walk around.
    Nice find.


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