While I knew the principles of composite construction, I had to learn the practice very quickly on the job.
A vacuum pump was an early acquisition in order to avoid the messy and stinky ‘wet layup’ system. The glass is laid in the mould and a bag sealed over it. The vacuum line is attached and the resin is pulled through the glass in a technique known as ‘vacuum bagging’ – I used it to make the crossbeams and replace the plywood seatdeck with one made of fibreglass.
It was my intention to log every proto-2 outing to test the boat in Mount’s Bay in all weathers, but that slipped by the wayside – however, after nearly three months, from two to four times a week I got to known the boat well – and I loved it! I really looked forward to a good blow and the resultant big seas, and marvelled at the way the boat would just ride up and over any wave. And dryness – some visitors who saw the boat at the London Boat Show were very concerned that the seatdeck only had a 6mm drain-hole, but that was all it needed.
Also, I really enjoyed the development process – identifying something which could be improved and making the appropriate modifications.
Unfortunately, for the rest of the ROCAT project, I did not have the chance to get out on the water so much again. Outings in proto-2 were exploratory – by the time we were testing proto-3 they were confirmatory, all the main issues having been sorted.
I entered the ROCAT in the British Marine Federation's first Concept Boat Competition. The brief was to produce a design for a 'new kind of transportable boat’, and there were 96 entries, from 30 countries. The judges awarded the ROCAT second prize. Probably more valuable than the cash prize was a space on the 'Concept Boat' stand at the 2003 London Boat Show. This was the boat's first exposure to the public, and the response was enormously encouraging.
When the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall approached me to ask if they could make proto-2 their ‘feature boat’ for a year, I was delighted – it had served its purpose exceedingly well, and I was pleased that visitors to the museum would see this novel craft.