Excerpted from "Boats with an Open Mind" by Phil Bolger

Brick - 8' 0" X 4' 0"

Brick started as an exercise in how much boat could be built out of three 4 x 8-foot sheets of plywood. It's a simple pleasure to come out even with no scrap left over. I try not to let this game become an obsession: there's an 8 x 32-inch rectangle here for which I didn't strain to find a place.

She's practically a scaled-up Tortoise Punt (6 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 2 inches, said with a little malice to be my best design). The sides are too high to row comfortably, but she'll carry four men and a big, frightened dog, with plenty of buoyancy left, still able to sail though with lots of noisy waves.

Built of 1/4-inch plywood as specified, she is flimsy. I had a half-joking letter from a builder describing the distortions in her shape and her eventual disintegration as he and his crew hiked out to drive her. I retorted (with a bad conscience, as I'd totaled a Tortoise the same way) that since driving her wouldn't make her go faster, on account of bogging down in her own waves, there was no excuse for breaking her up. Brick would behave perfectly built of 1/2-inch plywood and slathered with epoxy fillets. That would make her rugged, but a lot more expensive and twice as heavy to carry around, whereas the disposable version will last a long time with humane handling.

It's disconcerting that these box boats do everything better than elaborately modeled boats of the same overall dimensions, if they both have to carry the same load. Rounding or tapering takes away volume; the boat settles deeper in the water and makes deeper, steeper waves. It's possible that running the bottom straight back to a perfectly rectangular stern would increase capacity more than resistance. The deeper transom would fit on the stipulated plywood if the rudder were made shallower (which it could stand), and the quarter knees displaced by the unrockered after sides would just use up that leftover rectangle.

A good reason for the rockered stern is that she's designed to drive stern-first under power. The motor is mounted on the raked bow transom where it doesn't interfere with the rudder or foul the mainsheet. The side-stepped mast leaves the centerline motor mount clear. With rudder shipped or tiller lashed, and the sail rolled up, she goes backward as fast as forward; that is, not very fast.

The photo shows Bemie Wolfard's two Bricks pinned in tandem on a central spacer to make an 18-foot schooner, vastly roomy. The amalgam is clumsy to handle, but for a family outing it conjured up some pleasant scenarios. The central unit, Grout, was decked watertight to stow picnicking supplies, and the two dinghies could be freed in a few minutes to sail separately. The aggregate is much faster and more stable than the
separated components.