ONE, TWO, RIDE THE CANOE
Commuters in Seattle, Washington, hard hit by double digit increases in ferry rates, have started paddling across Puget Sound in canoes and kayaks to get to work. "It's a lot cheaper than riding the ferry", one husky kayaker told reporters, "and it's a good way to get your daily exercise. The only problem is that it's slow. What we need is a bigger canoe so we can get more oars in the water and get across the Sound quicker."
Enter the TwoCanoe. Manufactured by a company in western Washington, this ungainly-looking craft consists of two 17-foot canoes stacked one above the other with alternating outriggers for stability. It holds up to eight people, and can travel at a respectable 12 knots when everyone paddles.
Of course, there is only limited demand for a canoe with a top speed of 12 knots, so the company has been working on a faster boat. "We have updated the hull design to enable faster speeds with fewer people paddling," Chief Engineer Tom Dabbles told us. "The newest model is capable of speeds up to 35 knots. Of course, in order to move that fast you have to add a third canoe so that you can get more paddles in the water."
He demonstrated a prototype with three canoes in a vertical triangular configuration that zoomed around the 3 mile test course in just over 5 minutes. "That's almost 34 knots," Dabbles said, "and we only had 10 people paddling." He expects that the production model, tentatively named TrippiCanoe, will be able to cross Puget Sound in about 30 minutes with its capacity load of 15 people aboard and paddling hard.
At just under $6000 the TrippiCanoe is a little pricey, but that hasn't stopped the orders from piling up. "If we get 15 people to go together and buy a boat, that's only $400 bucks each," one prospective customer said. "If you have to make the round trip to Seattle five days a week, the thing will pay for itself in less than six months."
The company and its customers may be ecstatic, but a Washington State Ferry spokesman warned that "a rush to buy these canoes could create more problems than it consumes, not the least of which would be a nautical traffic jam of epic proportions."
Canoe guru Eagan Swiftly is currently working on a system which can transport a car across the Sound. The new 12 canoe configuration -- currently code-named the CarCanoe -- can float a limousine, two SUV's, or four compact cars.
"We were working on an eighty six canoe configuration capable of floating large trucks," Swiftly said, "but we discarded the design when we discovered that log trucks could be moved across the Sound floating on their own logs."