The first "Chironomid Style" Kit builder, Steve Harrie in Nova Scotia, Canada, with a fine specimen of a Sea-run Brook Trout he caught this summer while Atlantic Salmon fishing.
Well as some of you probably know we introduced what I call a "Chironomid Style Kit" to our line-up this year. This will be the story of how that came about.
I had an email a way back from an interesting guy, Steve Harrie, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Steve asked me if he could buy and build a kit from the Chironomid rigging as he already had a canoe. My short answer was: "Yes and no; give me a call and we can discuss it further." Steve did just that.
The Chironomid is a purpose built fishing boat and not just accessories added to a canoe, but many canoes can be turned into what I call a "Chironomid style boat", with the Chironomid rigging, IF the canoe hull falls within certain parameters. This is not a major problem in our shop but it requires access to specific tools and equipment, enough space, say 300 square feet, mechanical aptitude, detailed instructions, and a very specific template to match the dimensions of the canoe hull.
After talking with Steve for a short while I realized he would be well suited to building the first kit. Steve has recently retired from the Canadian Coast Guard. Part of his job involved custom fabrication and repairs on sea going vessels. He's still a young and fit guy in his mid fifties :) He also has access to a good shop full of equipment. If fact, in his retirement he still does a lot of custom work on other peoples boats.
I became a bit concerned when he told me his canoe was an 11'10" Old Town... I believe that would make it in the Packer model category, although it is labelled "GUIDE". That makes it over two feet shorter than the Chironomid! I asked him how he was using it now and Steve said: "I sit on the centre thwart and paddle it with a kayak paddle." 'Wow' was my immediate thought, quickly followed by the thought that if he could get away with that then adding the Chironomid rigging should make piloting it a piece of cake... but I had to lay out a Chironomid on my shop floor and start sketching on a piece of graph paper before I was confident. The placement of the seat mount and the receiver tubes needs to be not only different on different dimensioned boats, but the relative placement must differ as well in order for the function AND ergonomics to work out. I find that a lot of watercraft (and inevitable necessary accessory add-ons) sold these days for stillwater fishers just fail miserably in this respect.
Once Steve decided to go ahead with the project a flurry of emails, texts and phone calls started. Steve started measuring (with photos) the things I needed to know. I've included a sample collection of his photos here:
From these photos I noticed that one detail could be an issue and one other detail fooled me because of the angle of the photo. First I confirmed something that I was expecting ... the deck plate in the top right photo confirmed that the triangle shape which it defined did not have the same angles as the Chironomid, which meant that the custom deck plates (which incorporated the custom anchor guide) manufactured specifically for the Chironomid might not work on Steve's Old Town. We discussed this and I decided to send him two deck plated that I considered as "seconds" just to see what might happen. I also sent Steve a piece of HDPE plastic material so he could manufacture his own if necessary.
Here is a photo of the Chironomid deck plate:
Eventually it turned out that Steve was able to use the Chironomid deck plates on his Old Town. He was able to simply bolt them onto the top of his canoe's deck plates. This was not quite as ecstatically pleasing, but perfectly functional. Here is a photo of the plate just before it was bolted on:
After all the initial communication, and I had determined that Steve and his canoe were a good candidates for developing the first "Kit" I set about designing a template for the receiver plates and holes through the hull; the detailed instructions on how to proceed; and the photographs to accompany the instructions. I won't list all those details here. Suffice to say I proceeded as if I were building the kit myself and took pictures of an already constructed Chironomid and a partially constructed one as I went along. Here is a sample of some of the photographs that went with the instructions:
You'll notice (actually many of you reading this blog post will know as you own a Chironomid) that the plates sandwiching the hull on the inside and outside of the Chironomid all overlap the gunwales. You'll also remember I said that one of Steve's photos fooled me into thinking wrongly about his boat. Well in the series of six sample photos near the beginning of this blog the bottom middle photo shows the inside of the Old Town black gunwale. I could not tell from this photo that the profile of this gunwale was quite different than the profile of the Chironomid's gunwale. Specifically, the inside of the black gunwale does not bend in flat against the hull but is rather a square hollow tube running along the inside of the hull. This is presumably done to give the Old Town more rigidity. This meant, of course, that the receiver plates could not be attached to the Old Town overlapping the gunwale, as in my instructional photos. The simple solution was to install all the plates below the entire gunwale as in Steve's photo here:
This photo also illustrates the template which is a simple ribbon. Overlapping the gunwale was originally intended to add strength to the overall design. In retrospect it is not necessary and may lead, in the future, to a minor design change for ALL Cunningham Boats.
Here is the kit (minus deck plates) that Cunningham Boats now has for sale on our website that was developed from the experience Steve and I had together:
You can read the review of the results of our project, which Steve graciously wrote for me, on the home page of our website.