Last summer my wife and I spent several very pleasant
afternoons paddling a Sevylor inflatable around. We
managed many miles along the local canal system. Another
trip we took the inflatable to Lake Windermere and
picnicked on one of the Islands on the lake.
The Sevylor is nice for an inflatable and very handy
as it will easily go in the car and can be inflated
when required. It takes less than ten minutes to inflate
with a foot pump.
is nice for an inflatable and very handy as
it will easily go in the car and can be inflated
I had the desire to build a canoe myself and so I
recently purchased the plans for a Toto.
A simple design by Jim Michalak, but it is about the
longest boat I could build in my shed. The shed measures
13 foot by 8 foot and as you can see from the photos
it is pretty cramped. The other boat on the side is
a summer breeze which just needs finishing off..
The plans were ordered from Duckworks and arrived
quickly. I have purchased a few plans in the past
and was surprised that these are a blueprint. A sinlge
sheet with plenty of detail on. Also included is a
small booklet with instructions on building the boat.
I was soon cutting wood and making plenty of sawdust.
I didn’t take many pictures of the build but
do have a photo of the early stages of assembly.
|I was soon cutting
wood and making plenty of sawdust.
This is a quick boat to build and I was soon at the
terrible sanding and painting stage. This always seems
to be the longest part of building a boat. Especially
waiting for epoxy or paint to dry. It was winter here
in the UK so the temperatures were fairly low. My
workspace isn’t heated either so this didn’t
I decided that I would like a covered foredeck with
storage space forward as well as the rear storage
area. I also like the idea of the extra floatation
if I get swamped.
I was soon at
the terrible sanding and painting stage. This
always seems to be the longest part of building
I made the foredeck from 2 pieces of 6mm ply and
joined then with a nice piece of cedar over the center.
I didn’t have a single piece of wood large enough
to do it in one piece. Its nice to use the offcuts
up though. I even built the paddle shown in the plans
but I made it an inch larger across the blades. It
did look a bit thin but I am sure it would have been
Dawn (my better half as she tells me) had watched
the build and decided that we should have two of these.
A his and hers Toto. I should have known. I did read
of someone else who finished up building two of these
So this is how I ended up making two of these lovely
craft. I wondered where Jim got the Toto name from.
It seems very appropriate now. Perhaps he should have
called it a twotwo knowing that they would be built
I did send Jim the extra fee to build the second
one. His plans are so reasonably priced anyway.
|Dawn had watched
the build and decided that we should have two
of these. A his and hers Toto. I should have known.
Here they both are. I have a couple of finishing
touches to do. A spot or two of touching up paint
and varnish. A wash to remove the dust etc.
The first paddle.
April arrived here and the weather was very pleasant
on the Easter weekend so we decided to try Lake Windermere
for the initial tests.
Both Totos fitted nicely on the roof rack of my car
and we were off.
It wasn’t very long before both boats were resting
in the water waiting for the first paddle. I used
the inflatable seats from the sevylor and these were
very long before both boats were resting in
the water waiting for the first paddle.
|I climbed aboard
and carefully paddled out into the lake.
I climbed aboard and carefully paddled out into the
lake. The boat felt a bit tippy and tender at first.
After a couple of minutes I settled down and began
to trust the toto more, I found I could lean quite
a way over and it still felt quite stable. I have
paddled Kayaks a couple of times but I don’t
have the skills to get the best out of a true Kayak.
The Toto by comparison feels much more stable. In
my opinion anyway. You don’t need the bracing
skills Kayakers use. It also doesn’t feel like
you may end up inverted at any second and wishing
you knew how to roll.
Dawn joined me and we set off. We were cautious at
first. It wasn’t long before we were being much
more adventurous. Chasing the wakes of passing boats
and getting bobbed around like mad.
me and we set off. We were cautious at first.
It wasn’t long before we were being much
We again explored several small islands and went
around Belle isle.
There was one point where we were heading into the
wind and the waves were against us. It was quite a
hard to round the corner of Belle isle and get into
calmer waters where we were drifting back towards
our launch point.
It was just too much of a challenge not to race.
I ended up chasing Dawn along a calm stretch. It was
previously quiet but I couldn’t resist the urge
to sing the theme tune from Hawiee – Five-O.
It's lucky there wasn’t anyone around.
We spent about three hours altogether exploring
the lake. These boats are great!!
|We spent about three
hours altogether exploring the lake. These boats
The day was a success with no mishaps or disappointments.
Well apart from the small incident of me slipping
when getting into the Toto. I fell over the opposite
side and managed to get a few inches of water in the
boat. This was easily scooped out of the boat but
it did take me a bit longer to dry. It certainly amused
Dawn. Anyway that’s one mistake that’s
better off forgotten. I think we paddled between four
and five miles that afternoon. I used Google Earth
to estimate the distances.
The day was
a success with no mishaps or disappointments.
A quick word of warning. The following day we both
knew we had been paddling hard. The aching muscles
were a testament to that. It must be a good way of
getting fit though.
I am sure it will not be very long before we are
out in these again. They are so much fun.
This is a well designed plan and it goes together
very well. Anyone thinking of a small paddling type
craft should consider this one carefully.
I do keep looking at both of them and I can’t
What about a couple of cross bars at the ends of the
A couple of linked rudders and a leeboard?
The mast mounted on the front cross bar?
What sort of sail could I mount there?
I have some wood. I have some Polytarp. Hmmm…………..
Somebody stop me before I go too far.
You can purchase plans for TOTO
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