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A 75% Redmond Bluegill, “Munchkin”

by Loy Seal

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I have always liked Steve Redmond’s boat plans since I picked up the September, 1988 issue of Small Boat Journal which featured “Whisp,” an ultralight skiff. After building several pirogues, dinghies, a Michalak Toto, and other assorted boats, I decided to build a Bluegill and ordered plans. In the meantime, I was sidelined by other plans such as building a house and beginning a Bolger Micro. I got the Micro to the point of turning it right side up and realized that I had a long way to go without a boat to use right now. Not wanting to buy another trailer, I needed something less than 12’ long (state registration rules also don’t apply to sailboats under 12’ long).

click to enlargeI also wanted to use my Bolger leg o’mutton sail, mast, and rudder from the Elegant punt that I had given to my sister. Weighing all these options I began exploring the possibility of building a 75% Bluegill. Doing the sail plan math, the leg o’mutton sail was the perfect.

click to enlargeRedmond’s sail plan is well done, but presupposes that the builder has some experience. I used 18” stations instead of the 24” ones listed on the plans, which made an 11’9” skiff. I reduced the midship mould by 3” to leave a 4’6” beam. I love the traditional look with the false stem. Other than this I followed the plans closely. The hardest part was finding the correct position for the centerboard to go with the new sail plan. I guess there is a reason you take all that math in school. Because of the reduced size, I made the transom seat similar to Redmond’s 9’8” Tetra with a 26” length to keep my weight midship when sailing.

click to enlargeMy wife and I launched the boat last week in light wind conditions. It was the first time my wife had ever been in a sailboat other than the 84” schooner we had sailed on in Charleston harbor. Several guys with jet skies and their families came by to inspect the boat and ask questions. I referred them all to the Duckworks website. Sailboats are rare in central Louisiana and the surprised looks of bystanders was evident. Because of the light winds, we only sailed for about an hour. In the few moments when the wind blew about 6-7 knots, it moved very quickly across the lake. There was a slight weather helm, which meant I got the math right.

click to enlargeWe named the boat “Munchkin” after our youngest child’s nickname. Now, I need to work on the Micro. Because of the light winds in our area and the proximity of the Red River, I am considering modifying it into a powered river cruiser. I guess I get to do some more math.