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Building Tennessee

by Charles Leinweber

jetties.jpg (47399 bytes) Sometime in 1995, my son Bonham and I decided that we would build a boat. I wanted to build a cruising sailboat, but he wanted a fishing boat. Tennessee was our compromise. I could cruise and he could fish. In the ensuing years, Bonham has discovered that he hates cruising, but my wife, Sandra, has discovered that she likes it. That is fine with me, she is a much better cook anyway.
I had built a couple of 8 ft. prams, and a self-designed catamaran which was a disaster. I was ready to use someone else's design, at least until I had a little more experience.

Phil Bolger's designs have always apealed to me. He seems to get a nice balance between what makes a boat work well, what makes it look good, and what makes it easy to build. As you can see from the line drawing Tennessee is 29' long on a 6' beam and 4' high with about 4" draft, really just a big flat-bottomed canoe. She's much more than a canoe of course. She is a great little camp cruiser for two with lots of room for gear. She is not fast, but she handles a chop very well, and will float in very little water. At eleven or twelve hundred pounds, any old car will tow her.

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Since this was going to be a simple boat, I didn't want to go all out on materials, but I didn't want the very cheapest either. I used Douglas fir plywood and western red cedar. In a few places where strength seemed important I used southern yellow pine.  Everything was attached with System Three epoxy and stainless steel screws. All surfaces were primed with epoxy before being painted, or glued.
figure2.jpg (55161 bytes) I got the plans from Bernie Wolfard at Common Sense Boats. My sixty bucks got me one sheet of instructions. I guess I was expecting more, but everything I needed to know was there on 16 by 20 inches. The building concept is inspirational. All frames, which happen to be bulkheads, are internal. All longitudinal stringers such as chine logs and cabin beams are external. Therefore, absolutely no notching is necessary.
Here is how the building went: first the bulkheads and the transom were constructed. Then four sheets of plywood were joined for the sides and the profile was cut out. A 1x2 was attached to center of each bulkhead in order to line everything up.
Next, the chine logs were attached to the sides and the bottom placed across the chine logs and the bulkheads. We used two layers of three eighths ply with the joints staggered. Next the keel was attached, and the bottom was completely finished. figure3.jpg (58035 bytes)
figure4.jpg (50642 bytes) When the boat was turned over, the rest of the longitudinal stringers, which serve as rub rails, were attached. There are four of these stringers in all. One is at the cabin top, one at the foredeck and cockpit coaming level, one full length at the lazarette level, and finally, the chine logs.

We later added a canvas sunshade, wheel steering, a Garmin gps, a depth finder, vhf, and most important; a Honda 10hp 4stroke motor. It was expensive, but it is quiet and reliable. At full throttle it gets about 15mph, at half throttle, 15mpg.


We named her Anomaly, because she is so different from other boats. Her maiden cruise was from Port Aransas to the beginning of the land cut south of the entrance of Baffin Bay on the Texas Gulf coast. The next year, she cruised from Corpus Christi to Port Isabel and back on the inside with a stop at the Mansfield jetties. Anomaly has also seen action on Lake Buchannon, Lake Ivey, and Lake Travis.

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