by Wojtek Baginski

Hey, Michalakers (and beyond) - another Campjon is launched.

The project
Our Campjon is expected to explore the Wisla river near Warsaw. Nobody sails here; the river is completely empty. It is wide, wild, and rather shallow, and changes itself often. It’s the last great unregulated European river. Navigating is not easy, actually possible only with power. This is the first reason that people take their boats north, directly to system of a dozen big lakes ( big for our conditions). It's easy and quick. The second reason is that power boating was forgotten here during the former system, for both it's technical and economical aspects. Sails were very popular and, according to heavy conditions on rivers, were concentrated on lakes. Now we can observe the revival of motor boating, but I'm afraid people think the same, and go north to crowd with hundreds of other boats. The third reason for emptyness on the Wisla is that commercial navigation doesn't exist here, and people are simply used to seeing the river empty. I was always thinking about navigating there.

The beginning
I spent almost 2 years looking for a boat to explore theWisla river. I found out at last that all boats I could see are like other boats, and it was hard to choose the right one from hundreds of the same boats with different details. I felt tired. The turning point of my project was finding Jim Michalak’s designs. These boats aren't like another boats. They just are. I`m talking about their radical minimalism. Nothing unnecessary. What evident solutions. I could relax. I think my Campjon could be named SUSHI BOAT, either because of my love for Sushi Kitchen, or something similar in her philosophy, look, and way of building as I believe . Just put her upside down. Anyways, the boat navigates on the Wisla river, Poland, and her name is FARAON. In the very beginning, when only two or three lumber sticks were laying unconnected on my garage floor, I was asked by my 5 year old neighbour Ania about my boat’s name. “I don’t know,“ I answered. ‘Actually I don’t know how to build a boat’, I thought. “And what would be your idea?”.” Egyptian Pharaoh“ she said at once. No way to ignore that conversation.

The headache
The first boat which struck me was Harmonica; another one was Jonsboat. I like the IMB lines too, but there was no sense to think about sails. Finally I choose Campjon, deciding to “personalize” her, following Adam Abrego. Questions and troubles started: is it still Campjon or not?, would Jim accept it, is the cabin long enough (how about 1 foot longer? how about 2 feet?, since I’m 5’ 7” inches high, something new for me). And what about the cockpit, and so on. It is said “better thing is the enemy of good thing”. At last, changes on the original design are as follows:

1 - cabin longer by 1 foot
2 - cabin higher by 6 inches
3 - large windows

The final decision was based on window configuration (smaller-bigger-smaller) depending on the butt strap location, and what gives good results either inside or outside the boat - I hope. This embodiment seems to found often in nature.


The construction
The best thing that happened to this project was when my old fellow Wojtek H told me that he was looking for a boat to explore rivers. I had already the concept and bought Campjon plans! The shipyard is found in my garage, and the construction has started. We had no experience with boatbuilding, but by following the design we made progress with no big problems. Any doubts and questions were immediately discussed at the Michalak Discussion Group on Yahoo, and the results were always right. Members of the list were great supporters. The biggest surprise was in using PL Premium glue. That technology is quick, clean, no smell, and no hard post-gluing works (just cut beyond measure of the glue with cardboard knife). I was happy to limit the use of epoxy to the fiberglass bottom and side panels, and the problems with it were connected with cold weather here. Usually, I worked alone (as a free-lancer I can regulate my work time opposite to Wojtek H). Sometimes the building team was Ania and me as a carpenters for cutting out the elements and assembling the hull, or Wojtek H and me to install the bottom, or Jacek S, Wojtek H and me to laminate the bottom, or Wojtek H and me to paint the boat. We made one more change on original project that is not visible from outside: floatation boxes with Holt covered access holes, which are necessary to register the boat.

The result
I’m very happy with the boat, and hope that a stronger outboard will let her show her abilities. I know this from Luke and Adam, first Campjon builders. Now she performs with 3 hp. My own job on design was making large windows, looking forward and to sides. It works: sitting on the bottom you have a full view all around, without disturbing the environment. The cabin is 3 feet high, and it allows for good observation from the cockpit, sitting on a folding chair or standing. I think Campjon can be further developed according to expectations of users. In my opinion, a two foot longer cabin for canalboating is worth trying, but you’d better ask Jim Michalak first. My first plan was to build such a cabin with narrow walkway, but I was afraid that I would miss the basic jonboat idea which I like so much, and which is more useful for riverboating where surprises are expected. Good communication is better than good accommodation. Campjon has been just launched, and has made her first circle in port basin and first river cruising, ignoring short but heavy rain. Everything is fine. Wisla waters are so low nowadays that we were sure we would be stuck in port, but Campjon’s draft is perfect for that kind of water. The outboard was a 3hp 2 stroke Yamaha; the crew was 3 men. There is enough space for 2 people either in the cabin, or the cockpit. Two persons can pass each other in the walkway with no problem. 3 hp powered the boat easily, and circulation was incredible small.

The fun
At last I understood why the bulkheads were originally named by Jim as bulkhead 3, bulkhead 9, and bulkhead 14 (instead of the 1st one, the 2nd one and the 3rd one). It was one of the last days of construction. Until that moment I was frightened that there was still something I’d misunderstood, and I would have a great opportunity to know the reason of it in the middle of the river. At last I’ve realized that they simply lay on the according foot of hull length! Another funny thing that often happened to me was measuring one side of plywood element using inches, and another one using centimeters. Finally, I’ve appreciated using the feet and inches system for boatbuilding as less abstract than metric.

The friends
I mean by this all colleagues from the Michalak discussion list on Yahoo giving advice and describing their experiences. Let me thank here all of you for your posts. Especially the perfectly done picture building story by Luke Spreadborough, which was a great guide to building this boat, showing the way past troubles. I used these pictures together with Jim’s book. It can be seen that Luke systematically pictured all details thinking about the next builder, not about himself . Great job. And, of course, I cannot forget friends here in Warsaw, who helped with roofing for the project and with other troubles. Especially Jacek, who helped much with epoxy works and motor problems.

The future
Now we’re going to know the river and learn riverboating rules. Wisla is a big river, and there are a lot of forgotten interesting places to go . I’m going to explore southern exposed banks near Warsaw for … (OK, let me write about it next summer). Next year a bigger trip north or north-west. My good fellow Wojtek H, who joined the project after being impressed with Campjon’s minimalism, will take his boys to the landscape park on the Biebrza river to observe nature and take photos (I hope you’ll see them). In fact you can navigate almost everywhere in Europe from Warsaw.

Thanks and best regards to Jim Michalak.

Wojtek Baginski from Warsaw, Poland.