Custom Search
Join Duckworks
Get free newsletter
on this site
by David Lucas - Bradenton, Florida - USA

While I'm sitting here waiting for it to warm up a little I have here the final construction pictures of the Helen Marie. I started building this boat on Jan 1, 2010 to make a cabin sailboat. I added eight inched on to the sides of Howards "Tricia Marie" and put in a well for an outboard motor. We've always had sailboats so what else would I build? The hull was glassed inside and out with the skeg and motor well in only four months and ready to get the decks and cabin started when the shop burned down. I looked out at 3 a. m. when I was awakened by the sounds of gunshots to see flames shooting up two hundred feet from the boat shop. The sound I heard was really spray paint cans exploding. The fire dept got here in time to save the front half of this boat; the rest of the shop was totally gone along with all of the tools and supplies but what the hell. Us old guys just pitched in and built a new and better shop. It was a short circuit in an old radio that caused the fire.

The guys said to just junk the burnt hull and start over but I'm stubborn and pressure washed and sanded the burned hull. I also thought long and hard about what I liked and didn't like about sailboats. I decided that what I needed was a fantail launch with full power and windows and a/c and everything; will go when I want to go, be comfortable all the time and not make me wet and cold. This hull that Roger Allen designed is so slick that it'll go with no power at all and ride as smooth as your Lexus.

Helen Marie has exceeded my wildest dreams. I designed in all of the things that I like in boats and managed a home run. She does her hull speed of 7 mph at just above idle speed setting, rides the waves like a cork, with the rudder addition turns on a dime and is fantastic looking. She's comfortable and easy to be in; I think she may be the prefect boat. She's 24 feet long and only 6 1/2 feet wide so I can see behind her on the trailer. You should see the 90 gallon water ballast tank emptying out the bottom when she's pulled, it's like a two inch fire hose blasting down on the ramp.

Instead of a high priced GPS unit with nautical charts I decided to us an ipad. It has a big bright screen and there are a bunch of nautical chart apps available. The one I like best is the new Jeppesen chart. These are the people who make the best aeronautical charts and this one is great and the app only costs $30. It's a stand alone program that will get you anywhere without internet connection.

Here's the rudder that I made for the outboard. I couldn't turn with just the motor so I molded one to the motor so it fits like a glove. Fiber glass and carbon fiber make a really strong rudder. Also is a picture of the boarding ladder. We've all had the experience of trying to get back on the boat and having to fight for our lives; the ladder goes under the boat, you have to do one leg knee bends or you need a crane to haul you out. After months of thought this is what I came up with and it works perfectly. This is even easier than using the step ladder.

Hull under construction in Jan 2010, took about two weeks working by myself to get this far. Strip planking is really easy. This hull is a giant melonseed. We took a 15 and blew it up 25% to get this.
Sailboat hull all finished in March 2010, all painted with motor well and centerboard trunk installed.
April 2010, boat shop burned to the ground and got the back half of this hull.
We rebuilt the shop, bought all new equipment and took steps to prevent another fire.  I added eight inches to the sides, stuck on a four foot fantail and made it a fantail launch. I thought this green was pretty but the guys called it the "pickle boat".
Jan 2013, Helen Marie finished with everything installed including the kitchen sink. She is a fantastic boat. Handles like a sports car, doesn't give a dam about wind or waves.
Cessna the boat dog waiting for me to come in. She's looking through Steve's elegant Chelsea the African Queen. With these two tied up at my dock we attract a lot of attention. Looks like a 1900 boat convention.
Coming up Steve's canal for a visit. Notice the smoke stack and elegant lines. Helen looking out and three dogs in the back.
She's simple to dock. She goes straight as an arrow, doesn't blow around and reverse is very effective. I can just reach out the window for the line and cleat it to a cleat I put right outside the window.
I pad with the new Jeppesen marine chart running. It's great, really great and only costs $30. It's a stand alone program, doesn't need any phone or web support to operate and the I pad has a real gps built in.
The rudder I molded to the motor does the trick. Works forward and reverse at any speed.
My pride and joy and probably the best thing I did. This boarding ladder is easier to use than a step ladder.

Dave Lucas

Lucas Boatworks and Happy Hour Club

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit our forum