January - February - March - April - May - June

Lake Pepin

This is a reminder that the Lake Pepin Messabout is only five weeks away - June 1-3. Let me know soon if you need tent space. I want to make sure we have enough room for anyone who wants it. Thanks to you campers who've already checked in with me.

You can find full event details HERE.

Be sure to invite your boat-loving friends. Contact me if you have
any questions.

Bill Paxton

Next Design Contest

I’m not sure when you are thinking about the next design contest, but may I make a suggestion.

Perhaps something a little less exotic and specialized. A clean, low power lake and river cruiser. Something in a small innovative day-sailer with some odd requirements – like must have capacity to brew a cup of coffee for two people comfortably watch the sunrise or could serve as a small camp trailer. Not many of us really are in Puget Sound or will do the Everglades Challenge sort of thing. More of us are around a bay or river or a TVA lake or a state park launch ramp or some such.

But keep up the good work. I really like what you do.

David Arnold


Jet Kit

Hey Chuck,

I think your readers seemed more interested in the fact that FSP was developing a jet than they were about the hovercraft! In any case, the jet website is now up at fsplimited.com/jetkit. I have an article about it too if you want to publish it.

God Bless,

Matthew Crume

Owner - Father Son Projects, LLC


I probably got this site from Duckworks, but on the off chance I didn't, here's a guy building a Walkabout, just launched as a matter of fact.


Also, while browing you Duckworks website update today, I saw the link for carbon fiber sleeving. Here's a source I've used; I think the variety is greater and the pricing a little better and the owner has been very willing to give technical advice when needed.


Gary Blankenship

Another big boat sailor gone small


My kids ordered the new Jim M book from you for my birthday, and it looks great. Count me as another long time big boat sailor who has finally seen the light regarding small boats.


Keep that Grinder, Lee


Yesterday at 4 o'clock, one of my main tools, a 5" Milwaukee grinder/sander suddenly stopped going round and round. It was a really expensive grinder 26 years ago when I bought it for full-time use in my welding shop. After a full life in the welding shop, I've used it for 2000 to 3000 hours [estimate] around my home shop, mostly on fiberglass, so I was shocked when it stopped. I rushed in to the same store where I purchased it, And of course, the tool tech took it apart immediately after finding out its short history. Luckily, we immediately found a wire loose that was quickly fixed. He decided to put in some brushes, but it looked to me as though the old ones [original] would have gone a few thousand more revolutions. Damn thing cost $3.52 for repairs and brushes. You would think it was still under warranty.

Lee Martin

Thank You

Chuck and Sandra,

With the publishing this morning of the article by Kellan, you have succeeded in creating the illusion that I actually know what I'm doing. A finer effort from a professional public relations firm is not to be found. I can only say thank you for believing in my design work and giving me a place to contribute to the lifestyle I so much love.

Your friend,


Think Mr. Fredbob might be running a scam?





A question: I have to build new bulkheads for my O’Day 23-foot sailboat. The chain plates for the mast bolt onto the bulkheads, which also separted the forward cabin from the main. The boat came with teak-plywood bulkheads which disintegrated when the previous owner allowed the cabin to fill with about 2 feet of water during two years of dry-dock. I am thinking of making solid-oak bulkheads by using a plate joiner to attach several oak planks together. The bulkhead itself is subject mainly to vertical stress and so, and I feel rather better about having sold wood as opposed to plywood. Does this sound like a bad idea?


Terence Paré

Great Lakes Wooden Boat Society


I was looking through the Duckworks site. GREAT SITE!!!!! Found what I was told I would find (birdsmouth mast making), and more.
I would like you to check and see if you would like to link with our Great Lakes wooden Sailboat Society's website - geocities.com/glwss/. The web master is Ken Klemmer, kklemmer@gbcglobal.net. I think all would enjoy and benefit.
Our group is in the process of reorganizing after the death of one of our founding members, and the one that did most of the organizing.
It costs nothing to become a member, and we just had our winter meeting, and it looks like our annual regatta and gathering will be with the All Wooden Boat Show, in Huron, OH. At the Huron Boat Basin.
Anyway, just thought I would check. The Duckworks site is simply awesome!
Happy sails,
Greg grundtisch
See the Friendship Sloop “Sea Dog” for sale at

No More Flapdoodle

I no longer wish my plans to be sold by Duckworks. I wish it could be otherwise.

Bill Weller

Make that "Freight Canoe"

I recently read in an outdoors magazine about the “flathead canoe” plans that are available through your company. I do not see the plans listed on your web page. I have never ventured in to boat building but I am fairly competent with carpentry and wood working. The article indicated an amateur can generally accomplish building this boat w/o major problems. Can you steer me in the right direction to obtain the plans?

Tom Martin

Tom: What you saw was Paul Butler's new design, "Freight Canoe" in Outdoor Life Magazine. Paul has kindly listed Duckworks as a source for hardware in the article. - Chuck

Good luck with that JuneBug, Bruce

Hi Chuck,

How's things? All well I hope.

Can you tell me again what program you use to build and maintain your website?

I'm building a JuneBug in a public school ADD and behaviorable problem class, lots of fun. Article later, after the launch.

Thanks and take care.

Bruce Hector

Bruce: we now use Dreamweaver MX but once used FrontPage-Chuck

Order form

Dear Sandra or Chuck:
I am trying to place an order for various stuff. The form doesn't let me complete. I am ordering from Canada for a ship ment to my daughter in Edmonton. The form continues to ask for a deliver to state in oder to complete. I don't want to lose all the keyed in info.
Jim Feltham

Jim: Sorry about that - the Canadian provinces are listed with the US states, you have to go to the bottom of the list to find them - Chuck

Stevenson Plans


Have you ever considered carrying Stevenson Projects plans? I like some of their plans, but they're the worst in the world to deal with. I've sent emails and left phone messages over the course of a couple weeks starting about 5 weeks ago and STILL have yet to hear anything. I think they'd be better off letting someone else manage their sales...

Glen Ellyn, IL

Magnolia Beach - 1 Week Left!

We had a slight change in the format of the event -- we are no longer officially associated with the Water Tribe points series. No ill feelings, just that Chief doesn't have time and wanted to hold off till later this year to do any point series races. So, now the event is FREE, and instead of specific routes, we are simply putting out the log book boxes and you can visit them in any order you want. The log book pages will be published on my website after the event is over, plus some interesting statistics.

For more info, see the updated web page HERE

See you in a week!


Lake Pepin

This is a reminder that the Lake Pepin Messabout is only five weeks away - June 1-3. Let me know soon if you need tent space. I want to make sure we have enough room for anyone who wants it. Thanks to you campers who've already checked in with me.

You can find full event details HERE.

Be sure to invite your boat-loving friends. Contact me if you have
any questions.

Bill Paxton

Origami Folding Dinghies in the Water

Ahoy Chuck,

Just a quick one to say that I have created a customers gallery with a few Origamis now.

Also a 4 page article coming out in Classic Boat magazine in UK (like your Wooden Boat) in a couple of weeks.

Also the editor of Classic Boat mag is taking his Origam to Beale Park boat show, one of the biggest shows in the UK in June.


Flicka Update

Hello Chuck,

The interest in the Flicka design continues. I have had four phone calls in the last month, all fall flat when money is mentioned but you know about this? I think people think a small boat will be small money. It's never the case, of course and why Pacific Sea Craft got out of it. All boats, except Godspell, as mentioned in my story have now been sold, so have the moulds, they have gone north.

I saw Peter the builder/owner of Godspell yesterday, and the boat is back at his yard for maintainace and is seriously for sale, possibly you can post this on your site?

Roy McBride

A Cool Product

Morning Chuck and Sandra

You may have seen this already and if not here is a LINK. Just picked up a 4 pack of these, way to cool.

Have a good day
Don Burton

Additional Information from Admiral Dingy
Ahoy there, Chuck!
Greetings from Admiral Dingy!
And along with my greetings, I extend a heartfelt thanks to you for the great coverage that I enjoyed in Duckworks last week!
I also want to express my sincere thanks to your readers who visited my website at www.admiral dingy.com.
Below is another update for your review; and I trust that you will want to share it with your readers.
Chuck--thanks again--!
We'll stay in touch as the adventure continues--!
Here's wishing you and your readers red sky at night (sailor's delight)!
--Admiral Dingy


Ahoy there, Duckworks Readers!

I hereby request permission to come aboard and introduce myself: Daryl Colinot (aka Admiral Dingy)—Master & Commander of the Cruise Ship Dinghy. Your support of Duckwork is a marvel for sailors who mess about in boats. I’m sure that there are many sailors who read and study Duckworks articles to gain knowledge about their

If I may be so humble as to request help from you with issues that I do not have the Knowledge to solve nor execute by myself. The training that I received, as a dancer, Actor and filmmaker, did not give me the knowledge of a Shipwright. I, tis true I have built my dinghy and I’ve done it through other people’s minds, as well as my own common sense. Yet I find that I still need your input to complete. Some of the problems that need to be addressed are:

1). The Dinghy has wind and solar-generated power. How can I add motion generation?

2). Are any of you aware of an America’s Cup boat that has fins that act as swim fins like a treadle on a sewing machine? Could this be converted into a motion generator? I find this most interesting and wish to learn more on the subject. Could this be true? I question.

3). The Dinghy has 20 batteries that create 13,000 amps, within 5 (five) battery banks. Three (3) of the battery banks generate 24 volts to run the motors. Two (2) are house batteries. This would be no time for Dumb Dingy to cross wires!

4). I still don’t have a head aboard. #1 is easy. But #2—what to do?

5). Any suggestions on what to include in my first aid/medical chest.

6). Ham radio/SSB. Would appreciate suggestions on what and where to buy? I still don’t have a license to operate one!

7). Now that we are cruising, I don’t have time to play Webmaster. Is anyone interested in working as Webmaster from home and keeping me and my website in line?

The Cruise Ship Dinghy and I are on our first leg of our 14-leg voyage to circumnavigate the world. The boatbuilding has led to a dwindling of funds. So if you wish to help in that department, you can sign up for sponsorship by purchasing Nautical Miles and becoming a part of the adventure. You can do this via the website www.admiraldinghy.com

Your help with knowledge or sponsorship will be extremely appreciated. Hope I see you along the way! --Admiral Dingy

RE Big Words


Now you made me dig out the dictionary, brush off the cobwebs and go to shuffling pages---let's see "iconoclastic" , couldn't you just say " a person who ridicules venerated institutions regarded by him as erroneous"? Now that just rolls off the tongue.

Lee Martin

(Lee is refering to our intro to the Hot Chili article this month-Chuck)

Village Boatbuilding

Hello there, my name is Kari Thomas and I am an ethnic Papua New Guinean but live in Australia due to marriage. I have recently returned from a visit back home to my family and can't come to terms with the poverty and desperateness of the people back home. While I was there and on my return I have been thinking of ways to help my people. A chance chat with a visiting friend from New Zealand put me on your site. I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to establish an industry such as the one you have going in East Timor as it would create means of finding food, create an income stream and the people involved would learn skills to a trade. The unemployment is about 80% and so manpower is no problem. Monies can be raised to start up but I desperately need advise on where to go from here. Please reply as soon as possible.
Yours sincerely
Kari Thomas

Link to Duckworks

Hi Sandra & Chuck

I would like to make a link to your magazine.
I do not a lot of links but your magazine is so interesting, not only for my American clients, that I would like to make a link. For this purpose can you send me a little bit bigger image of your logo? See our link page. https://www.ikarus342000.com/LINKpage.htm



New Foilstrip Spreadsheet


In a subsequent e-mail, you will find a large (3 MB) excel file that has the new version of FoilStip. There are two new tabs to play with - one will calculate lengthwise strips that will require planing to final foil shape. The other will calculate lengthwise strips to be filleted (like the warren messer approach).

Because the solution to the lengthwise strips approach requires solving an eighth-order polynomial, it requires a hell of a lot of calculations, yielding a large file size.


(Tom's new spreadsheet can be found HERE with the old one-Chuck)

Webwatch Mistake

Thanks Chuck

IMHO You picked the best picture from my site for the May Webwatch but unfortunately the link is wrong.

It should be:


Nice to become an internationally known "boat builder" ;).


(We apologize for the mistake - Chuck)

EC Report

It is cool here in SE PA (cold for April) and keeping me from working on Wanderer. But at least there is Duckworks Magazine. You don't have a reply form set up on Jim Michalack's column and Gary Blankenship's write-up on the EC was so compelling that I wanted to thank him and you for it.

First of all, it's great to read an account of this years race. Having followed it on the EC site and on your blog, I was really curious to get a deeper grasp of being on the water. Gary did a fine job conveying what he and Noel Davis experienced. It kibosh any fantasy I had of doing it myself, but really enticed me towards some two and three days cruises on less challenging water. Having read the previous years reports and the Oracle upgrades I have a keener appreciation for the building and sailing skill that went in to this splendid achievement.

I fully concur with your comment vis-a-vis amateur vrs. professional. I was also fascinated by Graham Brynes effort; it's clearly a fast boat sailed fast. But taking a "stock", home built, Michalak Frolic2 to fourth overall and second in class is a terrific accomplishment. I'm sure Gary and Noel take deep, well deserved satisfaction. Likewise, it is a real compliment to Jim Michalak, proving the worth of his design and laying to rest any nay-sayers.

Reading through Gary's articles and others on Duckworks is both an education and an inspiration to this "OF". Many thanks to all.

Bob Throne

Droped the Price of Redwing

Hi Chuck,

I have decided to drop the price of the Redwing in the Classified Ad that's on your web site to $8000.00 dollars from $12,000.00.

I'm planning on moving within the next year, and I have to get out from under it. Plus, I'm looking to build something new. Thanks a Bunch.

Ken Duda

Mystery Boat

Hey Chuck,

I must thankyou for all you have done for me in posting info that I was seeking, I'm talking about the April "Reports" entry for the "Mystery Boat" that you did for me.

I have found a local suitable boat that I was indeed searching for and I must say you're the only one that wanted to help me when I needed it. . . I must ask if it is at all possible for you to remove my message/news post on the April News letter, It has attracted emails I would rather not have, if this is possible I would greatly appreciate it to the upmost, you've been more than a help already, thanks a mil,


More Multipart Articles

Hey Tom,

Interesting perspective on multi-part articles being a way of "stretching" material. I never would have thought of that perception, being on the writing end.

I can't speak for other writers, but I normally split an article on a big project when it gets really LONG! I think the general idea of DW articles is to give people something of about the length that can be read during a coffee break or two at work. I think my articles are generally oversized by DW standards, and fortunately Chuck's laissez-faire approach lets me get away with it. I don't usually worry about it until they get to more than twice the average article size. Then I feel like I should split the article.

A good indicator is generally that MY attention starts drifting when proofreading. I might have a shorter attention span that you do, but I still take it as a "red flag". Particularly since I know people with an even shorter attention span than me!

Here's the evidence that it's not stretching: the process works both ways. A good example was my Outboard Dirty Tricks article - assembling some mini-articles to make one full-sized one. So far I've only done this once that I can remember, though. (I guess I'm too long-winded to need that technique very often!)

--Rob Rohde-Szudy

Great Lakes Wooden Sailboat Society


I was looking through the Duckworks site. GREAT SITE!!!!! Found what I was told I would find (birdsmouth mast making), and more.
I would like you to check and see if you would like to link with our Great Lakes wooden Sailboat Society's website. The web master is Ken Klemmer, kklemmer@gbcglobal.net. I think all would enjoy and benefit.

Our group is in the process of reorganizing after the death of one of our founding members, and the one that did most of the organizing.
It costs nothing to become a member, and we just had our winter meeting, and it looks like our annual regatta and gathering will be with the All Wooden Boat Show, in Huron, OH. At the Huron Boat Basin.
Anyway, just thought I would check. The Duckworks site is simply awesome!
Happy sails,
Greg grundtisch

See the Friendship Sloop “Sea Dog” for sale at


New Column for Small Craft Advisor
Hi Chuck,

Would you consider mentioning to your readers that we've launched our new Down the Ways column? It's a good place for builders to show off small boats that they've recently built or restored. We're asking for up to 500 words and a few good color photos. We don't pay for this column, but the featured boat will get a full color page of coverage.

Thanks for your consideration.

Josh Colvin
Small Craft Advisor

Multipart Articles

I've been hesitant to send this. But, just in case one reader's perspective counts...

The impression that I get when I see frequent multi-part articles in magazines (whether in print or online) is that the editors are stretching material.


TJH - trust me we do not need to stretch material - just ask anyone who has contributed in the last 6 months - we tend to post them as we get them and if they are submitted as multipart articles, we post them that way. Usually we only get them one part at a time; and a project progresses. - Chuck
Back in Print

Hi Chuck,

Anthony Platt, brother of Brian Platt who cross the Pacific in a junk-rigged boat, wrote me to say he's reprinting another 100 copies of the book. He asked me to change the blurb on The Cheap Pages -- also I thought I'd let Duckworks know.

From Anthony Platt:
To purchase a copy of Brian's"Parallel 40 North to Eureka", contact Anthony Platt at: amwplatt@btopenworld.com
or by mail:
17 Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk IP33 1QG, United Kingdom.

Anthony says pound sterling or dollar checks are acceptable. Price in USA is US$40.00 by air ("pretty fast, like inside a week") or $35.00 by surface mail ("according to the Post Office, very slow"). Contact him for pricing in other countries.

Cheers -- Craig O'Donnell


First of all-

Let me thank you for hosting one of my favorite online boat sites. Yours is a great combination of supplies, designs and other stuff that really hits the spot with me.

I am a carpenter and a part time amateur builder of boats, although I haven't built anything for some years now, having less time and more responsibilities :-(

Thanks and thanks again for such a cool website.

Steve Rinker


About your pal, Dennis. Beautiful little model-- and I agree-- it would be nice if a set of plans could be made, maybe named after him and offered for sale. Anyway, it sucks, I know. My condolences.
Mike Connelly

Hey guys- JUST read Chucks write up on the site about your friend Dennis. Really sad thing, but it made me realize just how LONG it had been since we talked. Sad isn't it? To take something like that to jar you out of writing lethargy?
Charlie Jones

Hi Chuck

I'm sorry to read about the death of your friend. His model positively exudes charm; the organic shapes really work for me. It's easy to believe that the creator of such a thing would have been a force for good in the world. There's not much more to say, I guess, other than to echo the suggestion that his memory might be usefully preserved in a plan set. Was he working from an existing hull, do you know?


Thanks, Derek and everyone who wrote:

Organic is the best word to describe the boat. There are no plans. He was working from scratch when he built the model - I think he intended to build the full sized version from it.


Searching for Sven

Loved todays story about the Corps and Sven.

Warren Messer

Everglades Challenge

Congratulations on your EC effort!!!! You and Skip are not afraid to try something new.

Tim Webber

Bad luck in the Ec but I am glad you are ok. Keep up the great work on the site.


Brian Garner

Chuck - are you planning to write an article about what happened at EC, or just going to try and forget about it? :)


I have written a short article which will appear in Small Craft Advisor - Chuck

Dear Chuck,

I doubt your tale from the EC will be unexciting, and I do hope we hear about it soon.

Don Freix

Hi Chuck

Sorry to hear about the EC...glad to hear you guys were safe...next year will be here before you know it...


Mike Smith

Hi Chuck,

I was watching the race progress and the adventures that Skip and yourself were having and figure that in a while you'll be looking back on the event as an interesting experience that you will remember for a while.

Adventures are by definition wet and uncomfortable, and adventures are great things to tell others about when you are back home, well fed and dry.

John Welsford


Have you reviewed any of the Hitchcraft products?

There are 4 or 5 videos of them on Youtube.

Bill Lange

Boat Designs

Following is a response to one of the letters posted in January ...

"Thanks to John Welsford and Jim Michalak"

As someone who's built one boat, purchased plans for more than FORTY others, and commissioned two designs (John Welsford's "Walkabout" and a revised version of Paul FIscher's "Skylark 14," I feel compelled to respond to the January letter from Michael Kinney.

Mr. Kinney complains that the plans from Welsford and Michalak are not sufficiently detailed, and goes on to heap praise on the plans from Jacques Mertens at "boat plans online dot com."

I own two sets of plans from Mertens (the Otter 16 and CK 17), three sets from Welsford and more than a half dozen from Michalak. I've studied all of them closely, and I haven't a clue what Mr. Kinney is talking about. The plans from Mertens are no more detailed than the others.

I have nothing against "boat plans online" -- Jacques has some interesting designs, and his plans are well done -- but the criticism of Welsford and Michalak is unfounded. Anyone who's thinking about order plans from John or Jim should pay no heed to Mr. Kinney's letter.

Stephen Paskey
Adelphi, MD

Bending Stainless Tubing

Well, thanks to Lee's article, I finally did it! After drying sand for two weeks and looking at my 16' long piece of 7/8" stainless, I built a jig and did it! There was a lot of careful calculating of circumferences and radii and a lot of trepidation, but the prospect of saving $700 was a driving force.

I think the stainless behaves differently than aluminum. I was bending everything to a 30" diameter and found that the tube sprang back, giving about a 36" radius. Fears of collapse or kinking seemed unfounded. In the end I drained out the sand and bent the radius sharper out in the open with no specially sharper radii forming. I think starting with the template and the sheathing pipe is the key but I should have made a template about 24" so the spring would go out to the desired radius.

The only other problem was the tube sliding around the template. I had to wrap it with duct tape to get it to stay put while the bends were put in--perhaps a clamp of some sort would have been better.
In conclusion, I would say stainless is much tougher and resiliant, but it takes a fine bend (at least to a large radius).

Tom Schultz

Percy Blandford's Hornblower

In an idle moment I googled hornblower and breifly came on a mention that your magazine had a query about said percy blandford design. I built one 27 years ago, still have it and may be able to help if anyone wants to contact me.

Annually cruise the west coast of scotland in it.

Tony Shorrocks

Tide Clocks

I found a quality tide clock and a barometer to go with it at hightideclocks.com. The clock is a lot easier to keep track of, (it's on my bulkhead) and gives me reliable info fast. The thing is made of brass and should last forever. I got it with the ports I go in and out of and the surrounding area. The barometer matches and they make the inside of my sail boat look a bit more classy. Thought you might want to take a look. Thanks for having such a cool site.



Hi All

I’ve entered a competition with one of my poems, if you get a chance I’d appreciate you rating it on the web site, who knows I might win something.

Cheers Mike Birch

Lake Charles Messabout, April 21, 2007

Our 6th Annual Messabout is coming on Saturday, April 21, 2007.
The Clubhouse is finished (from storm damage) and the water is fine.
We welcome all small boaters, including sail, row, paddle and small power boats.

We will have hot dogs at lunch and burgers in the evening. Activities are not scheduled, just come out and ''Messabout in Boats.''

There will not be a Puddle Duck Challenge race this year, but PDR's are invited to come out and sail.

Sometime in the afternoon we will have the ''Battle for Lake Charles'', a waterballoon fight. Bring your weapons.

Activities start at 9:00 or so in the morning and end with the evening meal.

Come out the night before and camp on the grounds.

Also, on Friday we will have a ''Cruise''. Last year we went to Prien Lake and Prien Park. This year we will go back to Prien Lake and visit the Lake Charles Power Squadron at their 'Anchorage.' They have a Friday evening BYO social (6:00) and we are invited. The cruise will start midmorning on Friday and end back at the Yacht Club when we get tired. We can either stay in Prien Lake for the social or drive over from the Yacht Club. I'll probably drive over.

All Yacht Club members and Power Squadron members, plus the general public are invited the Messabout.

Ken Abrahams, Lake Charles Yacht Club

Boat Plans
I am building a 18 foot Wherry - glued lapstrake. I was not in the mood to build a stripper - and I wanted to see what all the "gain" stuff was about and I really like the idea of no fiberglass sheath. One thing for sure - the designer may be a master boat builder but he is certainly lacking in his ability to explain things on paper. If it wasn't for Ted Moore's Canoecraft I don't think I would have even gotten a decent strongback up. That book should be required reading even if you never plan to build a canoe.

I fully understood what the guy was raving about that returned the boat plans and wrote the letter. Of course he was mistaken as well - he bought boat plans - not a boat book - so he should not have expected a "how to". I think there might be an article there - I could see it done in the form of a letter - from a landlubber to the masters of the sea....

Larry Pullon

Hannu's Close Call

Dear Chuck,

Intrigued by his many clever designs and delightful website, I have become a fairly frequent corespondent with Hannu Vartiala. A witty fellow (you know I speak Chinese, but in my second language I am hardly "witty". Can you imagine being witty in a second language???) we write fairly frequently, and so I was somewhat concerned when my last letter to him went unanswered for a longish time. I figured that he had fled the Finnish Winter for somewhere warmer and sunnier.

It turns out that instead he was trapped inside a Finnish hospital, knocking at Heaven's Door, or closer to it than is comfortable. Right after New Year's, he went to the doc with severe pain in his right shoulder and was quickly diagnosed with sepsis, a severe bacterial infection (life threatening or life ending not all that long ago) and they kept him pinned up and on IV antibiotics for just shy of a month. He's home now, with orders not to do anything much with his right hand until given a medical go-ahead.

I think a number of DWers have built boats of his design, and figured they might want to know and drop him a line.
All Best,


Looking for Apprentices for Project

I’m looking for three or four new apprentices for a new project that I’m starting. The new boat, an 18 foot cuddy cabin outboard cruiser, is the boat we discussed several months back in my shop. It’s my version of Chappelle’s Camp Cruiser. My version has a flat run aft so it will plane and uses a 25 hp four stroke. It should have a WOT speed of about 23 to 25 mph. I plan to have a raised flush deck rather than the cabin used on the Camp Cruiser. This will make a great casting platform and make construction very straight forward and simple.

These will be work for knowledge positions but each of the apprentices will get a set of plans and the manual/book for the boat at the projects end. I’ll also give each student copies of my DVD, my book A Working Guide to Traditional Small Boat Sails, and the new book. In addition, they will be able to buy any other of my plans and kits at cost.

I think the boat will take about three months to build and I would expect the students to work from the start to the end of the project.
It seems like this would be ideal for retired or semi-retired individuals, men or women in the Central Texas Area, with an interest in boat building. I’m not looking for people with boat building experience, just a desire to build boats. I find that is far more important than any experience.

As always, I’ll make sure everybody gets a good understanding of the process of building this boat and how it applies to building other boats.

If you would pass on the fact that I’m looking for new apprentices I would appreciate it. Have anybody interested contact me at www.arrowheadboats.com.

Thank’s for your help with this.

Best Regards,
David Nichols

Pop-pop Boat Forum
Hi all,

I a few discussion groups to look for fairly simple hull designs that might be scaled down for use on semi scale models of old steamboats and ships.

I am an old retired guy who played with pop-pop steamboats before WW2 when these little tin boats were probably the favorite toys for kids.

For lack of anything better, or smarter to do, I am trying to generate interest in the development of pop-pop boats that would look more like steamboats, and less like recycled cans.

I thought the best way to do this would be on a Yahoo discussion group and used "pop-pop" for searches for a while before I decided that the only way to find a group for discussions of pop-pop boats would be to start one. This LINK will take you there.

One of our problems is that there aren't many kits or designs for very small models of 19th century steamboats. There are a lot of kits for paper ship models. Most of them are waterline models, so we need ways to provide waterline models with full hulls and to make them stronger and waterproof of course. There are a lot of groups for people who build elaborate, highly detailed scale models from kits, or from scratch. These people are not interested in building simple semi-scale models, so I decided that groups for people who build real boats might provide a better source for plans that could be scaled down— a long way down!

Best wishes to all, Frank McNeill

David Beede on TV

Hey Chuck,

Local PBS station just did one of those "artist close-up" thangs on me recently, building and playing my quasi-esoteric instruments. It's now viewable online here:


It's in Quicktime or .mov format, so your browser has to support that. I'm cursed to dialup land these days so haven't seen it myself. It's a few minutes long.

I'm adding a 12' x 32' space to my shop, partly to quietly accommodate my new CNC machine and also give me a spray room and a clean room. I'm getting too old for construction work and ache all over. I'll be thrilled when it's all done though. Floor framing and roof are done, so I can see the light at the end...!

Hope you guys are well.


Thanks for the Forum
Dear Chuck,

Although my 10-yr old daughter thought "DUCKWORKS," was a pretty silly name for a website, and she joyously thrilled at the chance to kid me in applying the word, "Amateur," to my abilities, she was never-the-less intrigued with the fact that something written by her dad is published on the web. Not a small feat with a child who knows everything now that she is half-way through fifth grade. This is a great enjoyment for me and I appreciate the opportunity through your hard work, maintaining this site, to be able to contribute and to impress my daughter.

; ^ )

Don Freix
I'll be there

May 6 is on my calendar. I will be at the Duckworks Messabout/Magnolia Challenge with my Boston Whaler.

I thoroughly enjoy Duckworks Magazine, keep up the good work. Say Hi to Sandra.

Bob Shipman

Thomas Firth Jones Passed

Hi Chuck,
Boy you sure have a nice resource with your bbs and magazine, bravo.

I just found out Thomas Firth Jones had died. I was just reading a letter he sent me back in July, looked on the internet and found out he was gone: https://www.wharram.eu/live/ see the Obituary by Ruth a ways down the page, nicely written.

I have all his books, and like Bolger says he "did all his own thinking".

Whidbey Id (near Seattle)

Boat Burning (replys to March Webwatch comments)

Boat builders are romantics and visionaries that can see the potential in any piece of trash. So I can understand their objections which I partly have too. But on the other hand, we all do know how junky they can be made, or turn into, and their funerals are usually hushed up affairs - that happen all the time.


Bleah, I knew this was going to cause a s**t storm. I hope my reply doesn't further offend people. Pull it if it gets ugly. Still, I think it is a valuable discussion: When is a boat worthless? Lots of variables on that.
Andrew Linn
Rigging PDRacers

Hi All, We have just put together a pictorial rigging guide for the OZ PDRacers. You can see it at:


Even if you don't have a PDR it will help any sprit rigged boat set up for best performance.

Michael Storer www.pdracer.info

Magnolia Beach Challenge
Hey everyone, come on down to the Magnolia Beach Challenge and Combo Event. We are doing something new this year, we have several loops to sail or paddle as part of the Water Tribe point series, the 5th annual Duckworks Messabout, Noel's Casual Cruise, and a Puddle Duck Race. If you like small boats, you better come. If you can't come, you better be dead, or in jail. If you are in jail, then break out!

Full details at:


Melonseed Skiff Progress

I am approaching the end of the planking on my Melonseed project. I am fiddling with the last two planks trying to get their spiling down. Spiling is a really nifty boat building crowd word that simply means "to determine the width". I have to spile the last two planks with the eye of a practiced artist because I am running out of room on the forms and need to make the planks look good and swoopy. Swoopy is a nifty boat building word that means "you didnt read the book carefully enough and need to panic and cram the last two planks on because your spiling stinks on ice". Its good to be part of the boat building crowd and know these things.

Augusta, GA

Thanks from Cross Multihull Designs
Dear Chuck,

I was very pleased to see the photo used for the article and the plug for my website. Thanks so much for that. If you ever need a photo of a particular CROSS trimaran and some catamarans, I would consider it a privilege to provide one. I am a attaching a CROSS 42 photo incase you would like to substitute it for the CROSS 44 your now have. Again thanks for the plug.

Best regards,

Jeff Turner
CROSS Multihull Designs

Email jeff@CrossMultihulls.com
URL https://www.CrossMultihulls.com

Reply to "No Thanks"
I have purchased several of Jim Michalaks' plans and I take offense at your comments. Jim's plans are filled with detail if you take the time to actually look through them. With the included building key there is not much left to question. I have thought about calling Jim a few times with a question, but with a little study of the plans the answers are there. Jim's boats are simple boats in design and construction and the plans are more detailed than more expensive plans that I have purchased. I did purchase Jim's boat building book and it was well worth the money. The incredibly low cost of Jim's plans and book compared to other designers, it would have still been worth the investment at twice the cost.

Mark Knedler
Rockford Illinois
Crusing: Sense and Nonsense
Hi Chuck,

After reading Charlie Whipple's extremely sensible "Some things cruisers might want to think about", I opened my second favorite website and found Edward Lear's nonsense poem, "The Jumblies" (click and scroll down).

It was clearly a cosmic coupling.

from Saturday, 20 January 2007

" Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live",

Tim Ferguson
Thetford, Vermont

Wish List
Hi Chuck,

I love your site! It has been very helpful in getting me started building a boat.

I don't know how complicated this is, but having just gone through the holiday season and getting requests for gift lists from family and friends I discovered the joys of Amazon wish lists.
I would love to be able to set up a similar list on your site of all of the things I either need or want to purchase for my boat build or things that others might want to purchase for me to help out the project. Even something where I could take the time and list all of the hardware for my project so I can purchase it as I have the money and not have to try to remember what it was each time.

If it's not too complicated it might be a nice addition to your wonderful site.

Here's a wish for all the best for you and your family in the New Year!

Scott Marckx
Stolen Diablo

I've been meaning to share with you that this Diablo was stolen (along with its trailer) on the Olympic Peninsula about a year ago. Can't be too hard for your readers to spot.

I've built several since then but still miss that old skiff.

Ed Sasser


You saved me a lot of research and trial and error by posting up your detailed article on how to modify the trailer.

I own the same trailer and have been using it for hauling misc. stuff around for about a year. Well, I just came across a good deal on a 14’ flat bottom aluminum fishing boat and I needed to figure out a way to haul it around. I thought I might be able to extend the tongue on my trailer to make it work, so I searched the internet to see if anyone else had tried this. Sure enough, I found your article on duckworks! Thank you for doing all the hard part for me..

I am wondering if you have had any issues with the trailer? I will be doing this mod to the tongue in the next couple of weeks if I don’t hear anything negative from you.

Thanks a million !

Tim Weig

Dear Chuck and Sandra,

I wish you a very prosperous New Year, one filled with increased sales, submissions, ideas, participation and of course, time to dink around with friends and family in interesting places (the San Juan River comes to mind...).

Thanks so much for your efforts. I agree with others that the e-zine has so much more to offer than any other publication concerning mainly homebuilt boats and gear. Of course, we can't leave out MAIB, I wouldn't dare hurt Bob's feelings but both fill a niche without redundancy.

We were blessed in that our youngest son survived a year's combat in Iraq (US Army Infantry, 3ID) and was able to spend Christmas home with family after two year's absence. We built a "yachty" center console box for his 4X4 p/u. He made me promise a long time ago to help with that if he was able to come home--promise fulfilled, and gladly. He is due for another redeployment to Iraq this new year and it will probably happen. After nine years, he does his duty. Even if there is a draw-down, they still need fresh units to relieve those due to come home. He was part of some remarkable achievements over there, very touching, although you won't hear about over here, but there are some Iraqis that are sure singing their praises, and you won't hear about them either.

But here's to a safe and blessed new year, I'm looking forward to it.

Ron Bennett
Thank you. I love your site. It's the first one I check in the morning as the coffee is brewing and the last one I check in the evening. If anything will get me building another boat it will be your site. Thanks for inspiring and educating so many of us.
Curran in Jacksonville, FL

Hello Chuck,

I wanted to personally thank you and Duckworks for the sponsorship and help you’re giving to Alan Stewart and his fellow team mates to help them complete their boats for this year’s EC.

Much appreciated!


Kristen - AKA 'Kiwibird'

You really have your Duckworks in a row. It looks good, feels good, and works good on this side of the monitor. You are probably facing a x-road now. Whether to get big and hire headaches or stay a comfortable size and not be able to get away for more than a few days.
John Wright
A great Book and DVD
Hi Chuck

Recently I bought a book and DVD from an Irish publisher about building Currachs

The book is based on extracts from the DVD and a set of lines is provided together with the DVD.

I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable viewings I’ve had for ages. It starts with a short local history told by the builder and goes on to show the whole thing from the choosing of wood, to the measuring and building process. A very enlightening

entertaining and clear DVD. You just know you could go and build one of these things by eye.

Far be it from me to criticise design, but in my view the build is rough and ready to put it mildly. However when you see the finished product on the water and winning a race, all you can say is. “This is real non nonsense boat building. Very impressive!”

I’d recommend this to anyone interested in skin on frame boats as you can sail these as well.

Get it HERE

Michael Birch

New Hovercraft
Hi Chuck,

I've recently designed a hovercraft kit with the intent of blessing students and familes with a fun and educational project. The kit comes with "The Science Behind the Hovercraft, a Conceptual Study Guide" which explores the scientific principals demonstrated by the hovercraft and its engines; including Bernoulli’s principal, Newton’s third law of motion, aerodynamic stability, and the workings of the 4 stroke engine. The hovercraft is fast, packed full of great design features, and is super easy to build. You can learn more at my website.

I was wondering if you would be able to put a link on your website to mine to help me in my efforts. I would truly appreciate it, and I believe your viewers would as well. Many of the design features incorporated in the hovercraft kit make it superior to Universal Hovercraft's kits.


Matthew Crume
Owner - Father Son Projects, LLC

Clear Deckplate as Porthole idea

Your clear deckplates will be IDEAL for a couple of portholes on an American 16 I'm refitting.

Do they come with a back flange to hide the raw cut? If not, you might consider a special package for portholes: one that contains an inner flange and an outer one.

In fact, here is a little idea - take an inner flange and glue mosquito net or nylon screen to it. Then mount the flanges. The fact that the net is on the inner flange may mean less likelihood of damaging the net when you screw in the cover. It would give you a nicer finish inside (they are cheap enough that two could be used).

Another option would be to have Seadog make them in smoked plastic. (I'm also looking at designing a tent for your contest I wanna be an engineer when I grow up!)


Phill Mayer

Whew, just got back from Puerto Vallarta
Hey, chuck --- Whew, just got back from Puerto Vallarta, in time to just find out that we will now be able to ditch the old "dial up" phone line and go to DSL at last.

In Pto. Vallarta we got to ride out a storm front in a panga with about 15 others, a full boat in fact. Weather so rough that we had to leave the beach in smaller surf dories to transfer to the bigger one in the bay, docks and beach had 6 foot rollers. Nobody got out without a drenching or two. I watched a suspicious dark line coming from about a quarter mile out, at the head of the bay. I was standing on a higher point while another panga was taking on passengers from the beach. Nobody else was looking, I guess -- looked like a tsunami to me. When it hit, the just launched boat was pitched up to about 35 to 40 degrees, a few passengers fell aft, but not for long. As the wave passed they fell forward as the boat hit the trough, about a six foot drop. A lot of yelling and a bit of panic, but the boat was still pointed out and the motor still running, so away they went. About 8 people in an 18 ft boat, 60 hp Yamaha 4 stroke, and the nearest port about 20 miles away.

Then it started to get rougher, I guess over 25 mph winds, 6 to 8 ft. seas --- and we were next!! Our boat had a 150 hp on a 4 stroke Merc, and a total of over 12 people in about a 22 ft. boat. After we finally got transferred by scrambling across between waves, we got out of there -- fast. Cross seas from the point at 6 to 12 ft. with flying horses, so we got airborne several times. In fact we passed the other boat that left earlier, picking up our other passengers (quickly) from a pier more in front of the storm front. There were about 4 kids, two under 5 and a wee baby (who thought it was a lot of fun!) as she was handed down to her dad in 4 ft. swells. All in all a great trip, just enough scary, plenty of excitement. When the panga skippers have everybody don life jackets in port, and tell you to hang on -- just do it. Anyhow safe and sound about 1 1/2 hours trip length each way, ready for a hot rum(s) and a good bath. If you want to look the area up, find BOCA, below Pto. Vallarta -- no roads, water taxi only to YELAPA, further south. Super place, great beaches and lagoon, hiking to a waterfall and excellent restraunt in a tropic setting. Just watch the weather, as if you have a choice!!

PS -- I stepped into a snake pit of boas on the beach in the beach litter, 3 fat ones about 3 ft. long -- harmless unless stepped on, but my shorts got all knotted up instantly as they look like dark brown rattlers. No rattles of course, but I didn't wait around to look too closely at first. We sure do get a lot of excitement for our travel dollar!!!

Kinda stream of consciousness writing Chuck, sorry but this mail screen is not good for editing/moving passages around!! Anyhow, will get back with you later, don't know the day the new cable will be in, I hope this coming week.

Later, Cal
Simmons Sea Skiff


My name is Justin Beard. I hold the Simmons sea skiff close to my heart. Some of my best memories revolved around going to my grand-daddy’s house when I was very young. In fact the earliest recollection of grand-daddy David was when he was building the frame (skeleton he called it) of his 20ft Simmons sea skiff one afternoon at his house in Raleigh. He was so proud of that boat and everyone around him could see his satisfaction anytime we even talked about It. He passed away about three years ago and we were very close. The boat was passed on to my brother and then passed on to me. I remember taking it out last summer and having the time of my life! We went to Masonboro and camped out all night laughing around campfires, took midnight cruises with, well, just about anybody that would go, went fishing early in the mornings for Spanish, blues, and anything that would bite. That boat just makes me feel close to my roots if you know what I mean.

One evening I asked a girl out on a date and planned to take her for a little late evening cruise. I was very nervous so I took the boat out for a test ride to make sure it was running smoothly. I went home, got ready, picked up my date, got the cooler ready and headed for dockside where I had the boat tied up. Well, to my utmost surprise, when we arrived I took one look at the boat and immediately realized that it had taken on some water! To make a long story short I called five buddies and had them come bail for me while I took her home and got the trailor. By the time I got back the fifth of Vodka was gone but at least the boat was still holding strong!

I knew the leak was minimal, but I docked the boat in my friend’s garage and we decided to completely strip it down and make her look mint. We striped it down, took out the floorboards and console and started stripping it down. The worst part is I didn’t really have the money, time, or know how to fix it like it needed to be done. When they moved I had to move the boat to a boat storage place in Castle Hayne where it lies today. Unfortunately it was not under a roof, but I did cover it and there is no signs of rotting wood. Over the holidays we had all the family over and stories about the past were inevitable! Someone started talking about the stories Grand-daddy- David had with his adventures in his boat. I cant tell you what a nerve that struck in my heart. I feel so ashamed that I have not been able to take better care of that boat. It was his jewel. I feel like every time I even think about it I can see him up there kind off shaking his head.

I have made a few inquiries to who would be able to help me restore the boat. I have some money saved up now and don’t want to wait another day to get proactive on restoring the boat back to its pristine shape and keeping it that way for my grand father and myself! If anyone has any suggestions as to who could help me restore the boat, I would be greatly appreciative! I have money to pay for there services, but I really want someone who cares about the Simmons boat as much as I do, because I know that would mean a lot to both of us.

Please feel free to send this to anyone you know who has a passion for the Simmons Sea Skiff

Thank you for your time,

Justin Beard

Your EC Boat
How is your boat going? I need some more pictures of the proa please. When are you expecting to take a test sail? I don't want to miss watching this boat splash.

es todo, Lee

Dear Duckworks,
I’m a first-time user of your online store, trying to rig up a WS fishing kayak. Thanks for the simplicity of your site. Good pictures. Prices are easily seen. No guess work. Great site!
Wes Priestley - Knoxville, TN
Hey guys, just wanted to drop a note to tell you how much I enjoy your web site. I log on for at least an hour a day and find something I missed every time. I would be a happy boater if you started publishing this in a magazine format. I would like to print out a lot of the information on this site but the cost of ink prohibits this. Please don't ever stop publishing this web site, the how do articles are worth a fortune. The only bad thing, is it seams like every few visits I find something to buy, if I keep going I'll own all of Michalak's plans.

Thanks for a great source of information that is hard to find any where else.
Mark Knedler
Rockford IL
Merry Christmas to you and your family and best wishes for a prosperous New Year. And. Along the way, congratulations on a truly wonderful website and a business that just seems so very clean, friendly, useful, without vice or agenda -- just fun and useful. That is so rare.

David Arnold - DocFrog in Kentucky

No Thanks
I received the plans (Jim Michalak's QT skiff and John Welsford's Seagull) and I am not real happy with them. I have built only six boats in my life but each of them came from very detailed plans. (canoes, skiffs and prams) Never have I set eyes on the likes of what I've been sent. When I ordered the plans I asked if the plans had detailed building instructions and was told yes they were but the builder recommended I purchase his book.... Book? I shouldn't need to buy a book if the designers had the amateur boat builder in mind. For years I have bought plans from Boat Plans Online with outstanding results. Excellent easy to read plans and full scale drawings so if there is a problem one only has to look at them to see what the part is to look like full scale. Boat building should be fun! One should not have to bang one's head on a wall trying to figure it out. When I brought this up with Mr. Michalak he seemed to think the major failing is that 99.9% of the boat plan buying public just doesn't read the plans. (!?!) Well, so be it. I guess I'm just one of the 99.9% of the dumb public who can't read and understand well enough to build your boats. Your plans have been returned and I won't be purchasing your plans in the future. I will however hop over to boatplans-online.com and thank Jacques for his excellent designs and years of enjoyment his boats have brought to me and thousands of others like me with bovine intelligence. When a designer of small skiffs cannot go the extra mile to make the building process as easy as possible for the poor slob who just wants to make a boat in his/her backyard/garage and instead stand in arrogance and proclaim the world is to dumb or lazy to read and understand deserves to end up in the poor house. I'll spend my money elsewhere....
Michael Kinney
Selway-Fisher Lynx 14

Just wanted to pass along a note to let you know that Paul Fisher provided a set of Lynx 14 plans for me to reveiw on my website, and that I have listed Duckworks as a source for these plans.

I also ordered a set of four 4" deckplates from you last night for the Trilars, we've had some good weather here in Virgina the past couple of weekends so I've been able to get some work done.

I hope you and Sandra have a happy holidays and you have a great 2007.

Tom Raidna
The Home Boat Builders Page

Letting Gains

I followed a link at the bottom of the new Pathfinder article on your site which led to another article on making gains on lapstrake planking. I have never made a gain, but I suspect you made some on the Rifleman. Do you think this approach would work? Instead of cutting a conventional gain on the lower plank that the upper plank fits into, what if you used your router to cut about an 8 inch or so long rabbet (as deep as half the ply thickness) on the bottom inside edge of the upper plank and a similar rabbet on the outside top edge of the lower plank. The two rabbets ought to transition to fit together nice and flush near the stem, and the remainder of the pocket between the opposed rabbets to the extent there is a gap could be easily epoxy-filled. Do you think this might work? Is making a gain so simple in practice that such an alternative is not really needed?

I just noticed this week that you have advertising links from major players such as Chrysler to their 300 SRT8. Congratulations are in order, as I suspect that is a very major milestone to have achieved for Duckworks.

Have a good holiday,
David K
How Much Filleting Epoxy?

How much ready mixe filleting putty would I need to make the rudder and daggerboard foil you have a plan for in your recent article.
thanks, Rich D

Warren Messer replys:

Not much EZ-Fillet is needed. I think I used less than 6 mixed ounces for both foils; and not much QuickFair either. If someone is making the DB and rudder the same time they are building the boat; its a good place to use up the extra materials while working on the hull.

'Gator Bait

IF things go as planned I will be going to England in 07. March or April.. at least that is the plan at the moment.. Many Nations Tribe has members in England and some of them have invited me over.. I am going to be somewhere Near New Castle, our contact is in Tyne and Ware.. If you wish to talk to our contact in England I can give you his e-mail address.. a mighty fine guy. you will like him and his family. He visited our tribal lands several years ago and I took him on the BIG bayou in the deep woods. Not our bayou but one that goes for Miles and miles, through some wild places. I will never forget. He had never been in a small boat. So before we left the dock I gave him a few lessons. How to use the paddle, keep your balance, etc.... He loved it. Well we were in a real swampy place and looking for gators.. it was evening and the shadows were long and dark laying on the waters like a thin grey blanket. A spooky thing. It was quiet.. VERY quiet, the sound of a buzzing misquoto sounded like WW11 fighters rollling in for a strafe. We sat very still and quiet expecting for a monster from ancient times to reveal himself.. Our eyes rolled from side to side as we starred into those shadows waiting for the surface to gently break and reveal the bump of eyes and nostrils on some wild, powerful, and dangerous beast. SUDDENLY - the slience was abruptly broken by the ringing of his cell phone. .Poor thing JUMPED and almost flipped the canoe.. For a split second he did not realize just what that sudden loud noise was.. in the silent moment it sounded much like the air horn of some big truck going down the freeway. He recovered and we both got a laugh.. glad he did not have a bad heart.. PS, it is warm here today a bit foggy and a little damp. BUT a beautiful day.. People in hell would trade a swiss bank account to enjoy a day like this one.. Then again, maybe not having a day like this one is hell. smile. Have a great day.

Chief Redelk - Many Nations Tribe

In Praise of Jim Michalak

The following exchange was overheard on some forum - ed

When I was looking for plans for my first boat, a sailing skiff, I immediately dismissed Jim's boats as ugly and 'clunky'. Later, I bought his book and built the QT Skiff with one of the students at my school. I was really impressed. I'm finishing the Normsboat (for me) and can't wait to get it on the water. Don't know what happened, but now I find his designs clean, efficient, and elegant. Part of that change may be that his designs seem to look better in person than in drawings, but maybe that's just me. And further thanks to Chuck at Duckworks--I've ordered often from him with nary a fumble. Great folks to do business with.
- Mr. Ballast -

I think it's a pretty common first reaction to Jim's designs. Part of it is that you're exactly right about them looking a LOT better in person. Jim's engineering drawings certainly don't do them justice. Hell, even Jim has to make models to "see" them better.

Another part, though, is that we're just not used to seeing boats that are purpose designed as beach cruisers for amateur construction. Most of the boats we see are production boats patterned on slick high-tech racing designs that spare no expense in rigging. Or they are character boats designed to be encrusted with salty-looking nauticalia. (Hey, I think I just invented a word...) These folks know that looks sell boats. They always sell you a cabin but never mention that almost nobody really uses the cabin, and everyone crowded aft in the cockpit ruins the trim. And they'll never use a commonsense off-center mast for easy entry, because it would look odd to the uninitiated.

Basically, the big market in the marine world is people who want to HAVE a boat. People who want to GO BOATING are rather a minority, I'm afraid. That's OK. The former help keep cleats cheap for the rest of us. Even smaller is the group who actually go camp cruising regularly enough to justify a purpose designed boat. Those folks can hardly buy anything suited to their needs because the market is so small. So there's Jim.

And a few others, to be fair. Like John Welsford. But Jim lives in the Great Plains, so he knows what it takes to make a boat sucessful in that vast swath of the USA. Not many designers understand "flyover land" like Jim. The shallow and unimproved ramps, the voracious mosquitoes, the good fishing, the many opportunities for "outlaw camping" on public land. And indeed the desires of outdoorsmen in general. WHY a certain kind of fishing boat should be the way it is.

There's a reason duck hunters and fishermen took such an interest in Jim's Piccup after he painted it camoflage. It's like the sail became invisible! Another example that always leaps to mind for me is PolePunt. The moment I saw Wojtek's prototype I knew I would eventually build one. (It is amazing how the Vistula looks just like the Lower Wisconsin.) I have a buddy in Iowa who does a lot of hunting and fishing who would probably kill for one of those boats. It will get you to the shallow, weedy fishing spots where the big bass are, and it will also sled those big, corn-fed Iowa deer out of the woods. And if you find yourself on thin ice when you're out there fishing, nothing would be better than to have your shanty built on something like it. It's not going to take on the English channel or anything, but it is ideally suited to the needs of the Midwestern sportsman.
- Rob Rohde-Szudy -

Reminds me of a story told to me by a friend who managed a running store. The majority of the people who came in did not want to hear about pronation, supination, proper support, cushioning, etc. -- all the variables that determine the right running shoe for the individual, and that that can make a huge difference in your running experience. They wanted to choose their running shoes based on color!

I love the process of accepting and then loving Michalak designs. It starts with shedding your preconceived notions of what a boat is supposed to look like. It leads to examining your own self -- are you actually trying to impress others by the type of boat you own? And it ends with possession of secret knowledge -- my "cheap, ugly" plywood boat is ten times better for nearly all uses (except crossing the Atlantic) than all those six-figure fiberglass cruiser/racers, most of which never cross the Atlantic. And the revelation that you don't need to let your boat limit your cruising grounds -- i.e. all those sleek white creations with 5' + draft have never known the joys of sailing right up onto the beach and getting out to play, or even just sailing close enough to shore to enjoy the scenery. Ultimately it takes a headstrong, self-confident, clear-thinking person to embrace Michalak
designs. That's us. ;-)
- Garth Battista -

James Wharram
I just discovered the James Wharram Cataraman website this week, https://www.wharram.com and think its great. The coolest thing on the site was a picture of how they lash on the rudders instead of the traditional gudgeons and pintles.

I check your site everyday. Your doing a great job!

Sincerely -- Jonathan Bornman

Boarding Ladder

A fellow named Renzo in Italy took the time to email me with an improvement on the boarding ladder I put forth in an earlier article.


Renzo figured out the hinge arrangement that confounded me - the upper step attaches to the lower with hinges, and the lower step attaches to the hull with SEPARATE hinges! I still don't know if this is how Kilburn Adams did the (brilliant) original form, but it looks like Renzo's will be an improvement over my version. In particular, he won't have to bother lashing it down to keep the bottom from dragging below the hull. Furthermore, it seems to me that it will be an advantage to have the upper step a bit lower, as Renzo's version does. That step out of the water isn't quite as big. It is still too cold for him to test this creation, and I would guess we'll hear from him in May or June. If not, I will certainly try Renzo's version myself this summer on the new/old AF4 Breve.

Thanks Renzo!

--Rob Rohde-Szudy

Hi Chuck,
I wish you and all your readers a very merry Christmas. Well she's finished, in the water and sails beautifully. She was launched in October. I'm so happy with the finished results. I've updated
"Story of the build" to date and included new pics on the web site, https://arinar.bravehost.com and when I haven't been doing things on the boat I've been enjoying your articles.
Regards Craig

Hey Chuck--
The boats this guy was talking about are so awful-- beyond merely ugly, they don't sound that cheap to me either. $3500 for a 13 foot scow?


But I thought there would not be a point to adding a comment at the bottom of the page. What could I write that's nice? "Good imagination!" "Durable!" "Non-magnetic!!"

I was thinking that I could build a coracle in the living room, per Hannu's plans. I'd like to try it covered in dacron (ala Monfort), which I think would make for a delightful boat. Making it with the mylar stuff would be beyond a RPA, but boy, would that look cool! Still, you can see the wave patterns through the varnished dacron--
Best to S!
Mike C