Guppy trailer, part 5: 1000-mile test



On July 4, we drove to Ashland, OR and saw Misner & Smith in concert. It was 107 degrees in the Sacramento Valley during our drive, so we had the air conditioner on most of the way. We found that the AC slowed us down far more than the trailer. Aside from an occasional chunka-chunk shaking of the trailer-hitch, the trailer’s effect on the car was barely noticeable. A good sign! In the image above you can see now the Guppy is relatively large compared to our golf, but tiny compared to a standard American camper.


Ashland is quite beautiful; I recommend it. Dragonflies.130705_0642_TrailerAtApt

Our first night on the road, we camped behind an apartment building. Not so romantic, but realistic: the Guppy is designed so that we can camp wherever we park. Here you can see the unfinished back end; we won’t know the aerodynamics of the full trailer until the hatch-lid and haunches are built.  130707_1008_kids+trailer

On our second night we stayed at Tule Lake, after visiting the Japanese-American internment camp site. Apparently the TuleLake camp was famous for housing dissidents and (Japanese)Americans who would not sign an insulting “loyalty oath.”

On our third night, we stayed in a park in Trinidad, CA.


Trinidad is stunningly beautiful. In many ways it is the beginning of the Pacific Northwest coast. It also has a fleet of tiny, working fishing boats. I thought it would be great to meet some of the boatwrights to confer about the Guppy trailer, since it is built like a wooden boat.



…But first, we had breakfast at Trinidad’s Beachcomber Cafe. Fabulous place.



They have displays of where their ingredients come from.


Trinidad is very different from Arcata, the hippie college town just down the road. Still groovy-north-coastal, but much more low key.

Teardrop Trailer 001

After breakfast, we went outside and lo and behold: a boat guy had found us. Actually, when we parked in town to go to the cafe, we parked in front of Ken Bechdol’s house. He has built many wooden boats, but the partially-complete trailer intrigued him. Ken emailed me the photo above; note that he laid a yardstick in the image for scale. Also note how incomplete the Guppy is: we used cling-film to close the window-holes. You can see straight through the gap between the door and the jamb. There is even a bit of a shark-fin where I have not trimmed down the side-paneling above the door.130707_1130_Ken

Ken showed me six of his boats. [Hopefully when he reads this, he will remind me of the names of the four wooden boats. A leeboard skiff? A gig? Argh, I did not write them down immediately. But the two coracles are so distinct they are hard to forget!]

Here, Ken is showing me that on the rail of the boat he left the edge of the plywood exposed, so that he could show the thinness, and humbleness of the actual hull material. When the wood is finished this nicely, though, that sandwiched plywood edge looks like decorative inlay.130707_1133_BechdolBoat

One of Ken’s strip-plank boats, suspended from the rafters of the shop/garage. 130707_1625_beadingArcata

After conferring with Ken for one highly-informative hour, we headed down to Arcata and made beaded jewelry. Lizzie came up with a brilliant design for a pair of earrings! When I get the chance I will post images of them.130707_1932_PegHouse_KeylockScarfJoint

On our way back from Arcata, we stopped at the Peg House for coffee and snacks. The cashier pointed out the elaborate carpentry shown above. He did not know the name of the joint; I believe it is called a key-lock lapped scarf joint. And yes, that is a portrait of The Man In Black, affixed to the underside of the joined beam.

The drive back was uneventful; the Guppy continued to handle smoothly. In Petaluma, our trip-meter marked 1,000 miles traveled.

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