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by Steven Gully - Acworth, Georgia - USA

In the summer of 2009 South Winds Sailing Club in Acworth, GA hosted the World Puddle Duck Races. I was unable to attend but a fellow sailor, Scott Widmier, was there and he likes to build wooden boats. For months afterword all I heard from him was that I needed to build a boat. Every weekend, day after day, that seemed to be all I heard.

I had been in the construction business for 6 years and in apartment maintenance after that but building a boat was intimidating. Gradually, I began to go to the web and started doing some research on materials and began to work on a design. I've never been one to jump in until I'm in the right mind-set. I'm the same way when it comes to painting. Once I had decided a wanted a cabin and had a profile, the rest was easy. I must confess I used cheep ¼ ply and pad the price for it later. I quickly began cutting out the side panels, ends and seats. I got some 1x2's and PL Premium. Next was making it 3D.

I called Scott and another fellow sailor, Andy Kohler, and we arranged a Saturday to put it together. With their help, Scotts experience, and a brad nailer things came together quickly. My plan was to put a piece of ply for the window but Andy convinced me I need plexiglass and even donated some he had. Of course I later had to add port holes. I can tell you that bracing is very important and designing the mast support is critical. Mine uses a box held in place with a 1x6. This also made a good storage area in the cabin. Then all the little details just for looks. I have a sunfish so I used the rudder and centerboard as patterns for building the parts for the PD. I also used the mast and sail for the first year.

The following year I was in the PD during a rainstorm. I have to say that is did well and having the cabin gave me room to move my arms and not feel claustrophobic. However, the sound was like sleeping in base drum all night. Several months later we had a PD race at Allatoona. Remember the cheep ¼ inch plywood? The morning of the race I went to my PD and stepped right through the bottom putting a one foot hole all the way through it. I was done, so I thought. After come convincing from my fellow sailors Robert took me to Lowes and I bought 2 pieces of plywood, more PL premium, and a box of screws. I made a very ugly patch by sandwiching the hole between the plywood and sealing with PL premium and screws sticking out the bottom. It was a light wind day and somehow I managed to pull off second place. After getting the boat home I discovered that a router set at the right depth removed a PD bottom very nicely. All I had to do now was glue on a 3/8 BC ply bottom which is much better, though heavier. There is always a trade off.

Once I decided on the profile and height of the cabin 2 feet, and sides 16 inches the cutting began.  Sides, front back, seats (air boxes), and bulkhead.
With the major pieces cut out the 3D work began with the help of Scott and Andy. PL premium and a Brad nailer made things go faster.
Bracing. You can never have too much.
Adding the 1x1 foot seats as sealed air boxes.
Adding the "first" bottom. Sides and bottom cut from the thinnest Ply I could find. It makes the boat lighter but I don't recommend it.
More bracing for the cabin.
You can's see it but there is are 2 1x6's run across the front for the mast support. Adding the top.
Sealed the bottom with Fiberglass and taped the edges. The sides are sealed with epoxy. Painted the inside and top with white porch paint.
All the details. Added the slot for the off-center dagger board and cut the slot in the bottom, added the mast support and cut the hole, added port holes by cutting out the center of doorstops and putting Plexiglass behind them.
Added the Plexiglass window thanks to Andy.
Added the rudder and the 'Wheel' just for the Picture.
First test run with Scott and the Latine rig from my sunfish.
Every boat needs grab rails and a Bimini.
Fixing breakfast after spending the night on the beach during a rain storm with Scott and other sailing club members.
Puddle Duck worlds in Pennsylvania.
Having fun by adding a pointed bow, or 'Bill' as my wife calls it.
After launching it looked like the new Bow may work.
Did I mention not using the thinnest ply you can find? This was a quick patch after stepping through the bottom the day of the race at Lake Allatoona.
This year at Sail Oklahoma testing the new bow in some strong waves and chop. I'm still undecided on how much it helped but it did make the boat more stable.

Thanks to Scott, or at least I think so, I've been dragged to SailOK (Sail Oklahoma) for the 2011 Wooden boat festival and World PD Races. That's when I discovered that the Sunfish Sail was too large for the winds we had that year. I was able to get a used Windsurfer sail and mast. Again, thanks to Andy. I took out the battens an cut out some of the bag in the sail so the mast could remain straight. This has worked much better in heavy winds. Scott then dragged me to Pennsylvania for the 2012 World PD Races. I did manage to come in Second that year. After having a year off, Scott again dragged me to SailOK. I enjoyed it much more this time having some idea who the designers were and what to expect at the event.

I had been thinking for several years about adding something to the front to help the PD cut through waves. So two weeks before SailOK, I started building a "bill' as my wife calls it. I took it and tried it out but I'm undecided if it makes the boat faster or not. Bit I can say it makes it more stable.

In conclusion, I want to thank my fellow sailors and those of you have supported me and given me ideas. I like seeing what others have done and seeing some great ideas. The fun part of this for me has been using the boat to explore and just have fun. So go get some plywood, PL premium, and start building.

Steven Gully (Earlfixit)

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