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New Sail

It's been a while, but I finally got the boat rigged with a Duckworks sail. Here's a short clip from the maiden voyage yesterday. I was very impressed, the sail shape seems perfect and it drove the canoe very nicely with only a few knots of wind.

Very happy customer - thanks again!


Rock Creek Drift Boat

Here are some photos of Paul Butler’s Rock Creek Drift Boat in the water.


Guppy 13

Here is the video of the 1975 Guppy 13 micro cruiser. Thanks to duckworks for the parts needed to restore this old fiberglass classic.


First Launch of Kathryn

This is the first launch of Kathryn, a rowing wherry. This is a beautifully designed boat by David Gentry. I did my best to build it according to the design and it turned out pretty well considering my building skills.

Kathryn is named after my great-grandmother who rented rowboats to vacationing Chicagoland folks on Grays Lake, Illinois years before I came along.

She moved pretty nicely with nary a wake but the oarsman needs some practice and slightly higher oarlocks. And some days Colorado lakes are just FINE!



Charlotte Canoe designed by Tom Hill and built by me, Lance Turner.   I have named her "Pluma Blanca"


Saturday Night Special

Sunday we launched the Saturday Night Special that John Welsford designed and that I built.

All went well except we ended up with a bent mast (Aluminium tube). Somehow I ended up with the wrong material or wall thickness. Anyway, John and I are going to sort when I get back home again in four weeks or so.

We had to launch on a beach on the lee side of our peninsula as the wind was pretty stiff and it was pretty rough on the other side. Only trouble was tide was going out, fast! We managed to get her in the water and off for a short sail. She felt very stable and quick. We powered her up and were congratulating ourselves on a job well done when we noticed the mast flexing. De powered and sailed very gently back to the beach.

Jobs to do other than the mast; get some anti slip on the deck we were slipping all over the show. Tidy up all the rigging. Get out and go sailing!

Great fun.

Looking at that race to Alaska, what a blast that would be. We are jealous of all the events you have over there even though they are spread out over your whole country. We should organise something similar here in NZ.



Here we are, bright and early. Das Boot is ready to launch into the stunningly cold waters of Lake Tahoe. I forgot the oarlocks so had to fashion some out of local materials.


Gimpy Fin

This was our first wooden boat project and was a fantastic success. We learned a great deal throughout the process and will be applying those lessons to our next project, a Michalak IMB which we will then use in the Texas 200.

This is Gimpy Fin, a mouseboat which was originally a Gavin Atkin's design. We more or less stuck to the original plans but made a few modifications along the way. An inch here, an inch there, compartment here, through-hole there. The boat was constructed entirely from common home center materials and was put together using nail and glue construction.

The boat was built to be used for night fishing the canal lights in Galveston and has been a tremendous success. The most significant modification made was the trolling motor which we mounted straight through the forward deck and hull. The battery sits in the forward compartment for which we made the access hatch seen in the photo. A lovely kayak double paddle sits on the port side but since the addition of the motor, it does not see much use. The boat of course has all the other standard goodies such as rod holders, anchor points, cooler mount, beverage holder and a comfy chair.

Cody and Amy

My Design - Leightweight Skiff

Here's a picture of the boat I'll be bringing to the Port Aransas Plywood Boat Festival - still a work in progress, but I have the sail rig functional and I'm hoping to have it painted and prettied up in time for the festivities. I worked out the design myself. I started with the idea of getting as much boat as possible out of three sheets of 1/4" ply.


"Interim Measure" - A Normsboat

"Interim Measure" so named because we all know I will be building another boat, but this will do in the interim. Interim Measure is a Jim Michalak Normsboat and is somewhat experimental in nature. I built using 5mm ply in all but the bottom which is 1 layer of 1/4" followed by a layer of 3/8 ply and coated everything inside and out with TB II. The bottom is covered in 6oz glass and epoxy thickened with graphite. She flies a 100 sq ft balanced lug main (built by Jim) with a 27 sq ft mizzen from Polytarp International. All my hardware came from Duckworks.

She was Splashed at this years Sail Oklahoma event and I drafted a lovely lady to do the christening duties. I gave a lot of rides during SOK and everyone seemed to like the room and stable feel of the boat. Thanks to Duckworks for the epoxy, glass, and hardware, Jim for a great design, Dave Gray for the mizzen, and a special thanks to Sandra Leinweber for the color combination recommendations.


First Mate

There are quite a few examples of First Mate on the water now, but except in photographs, I haven't had the opportunity to see the boat sailing.

First Mate with the sprit rig option I designed this boat for my friend, Ian Hamilton, who wanted a Phoenix III but didn't have the confidence to tackle such a building project. However, having previously built a Bolger Cartopper, he felt that a stitch-and-glue version would be within his capability.

As it turned out, Ian never did build the boat, so I came up with a deal where he would pay for materials, sails, trailer etc., and I would build the boat in my own time. This approach saved him a lot of the money normally required, and it allowed me to test the panel developments I had drawn - the most critical element in a stitch-and-glue boat design. A symbiotic process. The problem from Ian's point-of-view was that once I had proved the panel developments, there was no pressure on me to finish the job!

The stage at which Ian's boat lingered for a long time

Well, I've gradually got Ian's First Mate finished, and we've had three outings to carry out "Builder's Trials" - I'm absolutely thrilled with the results so far!

The video link above shows First Mate sailing off Manly, which is a bayside suburb on the south-eastern side of Brisbane, the State Capital of Queensland, Australia. Conditions were good, with about 15 knots of wind from the north-east, kicking up a short, steep chop. The rig on this particular boat is the 76 sq. ft. balance lug, but Ian will probably purchase the 104 sq. ft. sprit rig at a later date. Because both rigs use the same mast, in the same location, it is quite feasible to have interchangeable rigs for different styles of operation.

I was the one with the camera, and I'm afraid that there was nothing I could do about the camera shake in the choppy conditions. I was in a 12ft boat which has a quick motion, and was handling the camera with one hand. I have no idea why the final scene is in soft focus, but it is still worth watching. Skipper of the boat was one of my sons, David.


Nina LB22

Built by me in Blanco, Texas the Nina (LB22) is a design based on a "double wedge" or small lobster boat hull. She is light and narrow for her length but will go at 18 mph with a 30 HP. Lobster boats, picnic launches and many large sport fishing boats are variations on the double wedge hull shape. Those boats go fast with little power, not as fast as planing hulls (monohedron type) but they keep going at the same steady speed when the planing hulls are forced to slow down.


The Boat That Thinks It's a Hat

Inspired by the drift boats that ply the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers in pursuit of monster rainbow and brown trout, the "Solo Drifter" a. k. a. "The Boat That Thinks It's a Hat" is the latest creation of the Montrose, Colorado NJROTC. We think it's an ideal craft for the exploration of riparian environments by Cadets and Sea Scouts alike. This prototype is a stitch-and-glue version, but in its next iteration, TBTTIH Mod 2, will be built with chine logs and stems as per the philosophy of "Carpentry not Chemistry." This boat, once cut into kit form, can be leisurely built in about four hours by four students. Mod 1 has been thru sea trials and works well in all configurations: portage wheelbarrow, trailered behind a bike, drift boat carrying its wheel set and folding bike, and, of course, hat. If this looks like a good idea for a workshop let me know your thoughts. Oh by the way - "Dumb Stick" is the trademarked name of the towing device, not the pilot, although arguments could be made.


Launching a Little Ship

I drew Fafnir as my contribution to an online debate about what a very small blue water voyager might look like.  The design attracted a lot of attention, being more realistic than many and having the potential to be comfortable enough for a week or two on board for one, or even two close friends.

The plans have sold surprisingly well. It seems that many see the cost and commitment required to run a bigger cruiser as being more than their budgets will stand, and take the opportunity to build a small ship that will enable them to have big adventures while still  keeping up their life ashore.

Rod Cahill in Aussie has just launched his Fafnir. She’s a much bigger ship than you’d expect for her length, and has a lot more room inside.  He’s chosen the junk rig option which suits the inside steering position, and extended the bow to bring her up to a length which the authorities will allow to be moored out which saves the cost of a marina or the bother of trailering her.

Here’s his email to me about launching day.

John Welsford

Here she is before the cabin top and decks were fitted.  There is space to stretch out and sleep, even for two. A lot of storage, a shelf for the cooker and even a place for the emergency  liferaft that is compulsory for offshore work in many countries.

That big keel houses all of the ballast in small pieces between the plywood sides, and gives not only a high righting moment  and a good grip on the water, it also makes the boat quite directionally stable.

The big day!  Brave with new paint, her junk rig ready to stand up, she is about to enter her natural  environment.  A very proud day, well done that man!

Still almost ready to go, adventures anyone?


I bought the Fafnir plans from you several years ago with full intentions of building soon but life has got in the way. As luck would have it a friend of mine, who also has a boat at Batemans Bay, NSW, Australia mentioned that he saw one of those little boats that I liked. Upon inspection I discovered a Fafnir. I left my contact details on the boat for the owner to contact me and a week later was befriending Anton Harvey, the owner/builder. Anton is finding it difficult to get comfortable on a small boat so I suggested a mutually beneficial swap for my boat, which he jumped at.

I am now the owner of a great little sea boat which I haven't sailed yet because of work commitments. Later this week will only be my second time onboard. It has junk rig and proper bow. Can't wait to get out for a sail.


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