Portage Pram CNC Cut Plywood Kit
We finally got the little Portage Pram prototype on the water and couldn't have been happier with the results.
In addition to being capable of swallowing a lot of people and gear, this 35-pound, 6' 10" tender is stable and comfortable. And maybe most importantly, the Portage doesn't spin away or drift when rowing - on the contrary it tracks like a mine cart. The special seat shape and multiple oarlock positions allow for lots of different seating and trim options.
The Portage Pram is an ultralight plywood version of a much heavier traditional plank-on-frame pram designed in the 1970s by Bill Peterson at Murray G. Peterson Associates (see plans HERE. Owners of the original prams were so effusive in their praise that we sought out the designer and obtained permission to create this kit version.
The Portage Pram has received excellent design reviews over the decades, from owners and experts in small-boat design. The late Dick Wagner, founding director of The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle - a critic who generally distrusted stubby boats - penned the following comments in a letter to one of the Peterson-designed pram's owners, George Kruzynski of North Saanich, B.C.:
"I've always preached that a short, fat boat cannot be good at rowing, but yesterday I rowed a pram that was 6' 8" long and I liked it very much. This little Peterson-designed pram was a great boat, despite my dogmatic prejudices. It accelerated quickly, tracked better than a Gloucester Gull, carried well between strokes and made no wake at hull speed. I don't know why it worked so well, but it sure did! This little pram is a hell of a good boat!" - Dick Wagner, The Center for Wooden Boats.
The final kit version includes tabs and pockets that make assembly and construction simple and virtually tool-less, using mostly zip ties and epoxy.
Take a look at the photos above and below. We glued a few of doubled parts together in the morning (15 minutes), then came back and assembled the entire hull with cable ties in only 90 minutes. This boat is almost too easy to build. After squeezing some fillets, putting a little glass cloth inside the pan or footwell area, and some cloth on the outside bottom and some sanding, it's time for paint.
The special inwales are designed to receive multiple plastic oarlock bushings allowing for multiple positions for the single set of oarlocks to match crew weight and seating. The Portage Pram can also be rigged for sailing.
We've already had enthusiastic response from folks who want a pram small enough to easily car-top or put in the truck for rowing/fishing/sailing and from sailors who want a small but capable tender to tow behind their small boat. For our part, we've got our eye on carrying the sailing version of the ultralight Portage Pram into some remote lakes that would otherwise seem unaccessible.
We're cutting the first kits now and offering the CNC okoume plywood parts only kit for $799. There are three optional small ad-on kits: One provides the necessary epoxy, cloth, fillet blend filler, and zip ties, includes the "tools" you'll need to make it even easier, and the final kit includes the four sets of oarlock bushings for multiple locations and a pair of bronze oarlocks. All three kits only add $168.99 to the total price. The online builders manual is included, and this "open source" manual format allows questions to be answered and results in a constantly improving manual. Online manual pages can be saved as PDFs and printed.