Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15Aug10)This issue will recap day 2 of the 2010 Texas 200. The next few issues will continue the topic.



is out now, written by me and edited by Garth Battista of Breakaway Books. You might find it at your bookstore. If not check it out at the....


...which can now be found at Duckworks Magazine. You order with a shopping cart set up and pay with credit cards or by Paypal. Then Duckworks sends me an email about the order and then I send the plans right from me to you.

19th Annual Lake Monroe Midwest Messabout. September 17, 18, 19, 2010. The 19th Annual event is fast approaching and it's time to plan for this fall-equinox event. Check out the "Photo Albums" page for pictures from previous years. Just six weeks to make "last minute" preparations. Don't forget, you need not bring a boat to attend. We'll see everyone in a few weeks. Don't forget the website if you need maps or local accommodation information. http://pwp.att.net/p/pwp-mwmess If you build, dream about, or are just interested in small boats, join us each fall on Lake Monroe (Bloomington, Indiana area). Come for good company! Share yarns, swap lies, talk nautical! Saturday night pitch-in dinner and campfire. Paynetown State Recreation Area, Lake Monroe Reservoir, Bloomington, IN. Questions or comments? Contact: 812-378-4236 (jrmcdan@sbcglobal.net), John or Susan


Charles Rider setting the oarlock location for his beautiful QT rowboat.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.




2010 Texas200c


...Chuck is an early riser but so is everyone else on this cruise. Looking out at sunrise I see this...

The fleet was already slipping away. The white ketch is a Princess 22. Looks like a glass boat but it is actually a really slick wooden hull. Sailed by Travis and his two grandsons, all experienced. The pink boat is Linn's beach built Laguna, and the third is a San Juan 22 sailed by a father/daughter crew.

I was still wiping my eyes and thinking about breakfast and coffee at this time. No chance of turning over for another hour's sleep.

Right now would be a good time to talk about sleeping on this cruise. In general I suppose you need to get by with no more than 6 hours a night. Go to bed at 11 maybe and get up at 5, something like that. There was no all night party at any time of the trip. The Ducks arrive late, usually after dark, and celebrate a while, but they weren't noisy about it and no one was noisy about it. No problem there. Lots of folks, maybe half or more, set up tents as required and all that must be taken down and stowed before leaving in the morning.

On Caprice we didn't have to do that. The two bunks were always open and ready for us to flop. Chuck always tried to set the hull facing into the wind so that his homemade wind scoop would scoop some wind. But as you see in the above photo there wasn't much wind in the wee hours. So another secret weapon came out. He has a fan about 12" in diameter that has its own battery but can also be plugged into his 12 volt system. His 12 volt system is I think a large trolling battery aft that is charged with solar cells on deck. Chuck was concerned at first that the fan would run the battery dead if it ran all night but that was not the case. The fan whirred along night after night making sleeping below quite pleasant. Also, there were no insects on the cruise! So once to sleep things were fine. But mild sleep deprivation is I suppose part of the cruise.


One by one the cruisers slipped away. I guess we were about in the middle of the line. Here's a nice one...

...A father/son crew in a new Goat Island Skiff. Beautiful boat with the inside looking like fine furniture.

Bill Moffitt got this photo of Skip and his proa. I met skip a few years ago when he tried to drown all of us with his Bionic Log canoe. He's still at it.

Anyway, at this point navigation was sort of mindless. Leave the beach and turn north up the ditch. I think we had another ten miles of ditch to go before it widens way way out at Baffin Bay (not the Canadian Baffin Bay). Here is another Bill Moffitt photo I wanted to show of George with his Bolger Martha Jane. I missed getting a photo of my own when he passed us later in the day but pass us he did. I think we were reefed by then and he wasn't but as I recall Caprice and Martha Jane have the same sail plan since I often try to use existing sails when I draw a new boat. So at least then he was faster than us even though I suspect his boat is heavier than Caprice. One lesson learned here is that sometimes the box shape doesn't really harm you as much as you might think. Anyway, they got along very nicely. I think his motor was balky on the trip and he sailed to all his anchorages...not that easy since all the anchorages were on shallow weather shores. A good boat with a good crew.

Here was what looks to me like a Klepper type with a sail rig getting ready for the day's run. Looks like California registration.

We got a bit of a surprise right after leaving Haps Cut. Here it is...Gordo Barcom and the missing Laguna...

Gordo had launched at Corpus Christi and sailed to Haps Cut in the evening. Let's see...it must have been at least a close reach if not a towindward 40 miles for him. And in the dark and with the current in the ditch running into his face. He tied off to a buoy less than a mile from Haps Cut not wanting to try the entrance in the dark. So the Lagunathon was complete. All six existing Lagunas were present today.

Eventually the ditch ended and we were again in a wide lagoon. This was Baffin Bay and Mr Wikipedia says it is one of the few natural bays on this coast and is much older than the Laguna Madre itself which he says is a mere 3000 years old. Anyway, back to wide water. Here's another Bill Moffitt photo...

This is the bright finished San Fran Pelican that I thought did so well. Two man crew on what is called a 12' hull but I think the bottom is 12' and the rest larger. They've got their shade too. Looking ahead you can see the fleet strung out ahead so you can follow the leader all the way. Only problem is very shallow water outside of the channel so you must pay attention to the buoys that are closely spaced.

And another Moffitt photo of an old Starcraft from Iowa with another father/daughter crew. He told me the sail is from his San Juan 22 feeling it would reef better for the cruise. Again, everyone looks so bundled up to block the sun but it is 90 degrees or more.

Here is a Mudhen fitted out for the trip. I think this fellow was Donovan and he grew up in the area and cleary understood the situation with the sun. He has a little bimini with the side flap like Chuck's.

And this is I think a Potter 19. There was three in the cruise as I recall. All did quite fine.

Hmmm...now what is this??

Loren is a true Frenchman working in Houston. This is his proa. Designed and built by himself. Looks like glass but inside it is strip planked wood. A 20' hull with a 31' mast and sail stolen from a racing catamaran. I suppose this was easily the fastest boat on the cruise. He left well after us, passed us, and I'm told was first to the yacht club. Well, almost. Andrew Linn said Loren flew by Andrew's Laguna into first place and was faced with sailing to windward up the twisty narrow shallow channel to the yacht club in a boat that doesn't tack. Instead it "shunts" as proas do. That tedium allowed Andrew to pass Loren in the entrance and be first to the club house. Well, Loren will be first to admit he needs to practice the maneuver. And maybe shorten the rig and get a longer hull. But it is quite a gadget, isn't it? From the spectator's viewpoint a proa looks like a simplification...just a canoe with a rig and a single simple float and rudder. But in practice it looks to get away from you needing two rudders, two daggerboards here, and a rig that is limited by having to work in both directions. Anyway, it was a spectacle! Here is another view as he whizzed past us....

Well, back to earth now with another old factory boat given renewed youth. I've forgotten the type but I'm pretty sure the skipper is an Englishman/Texan who brought the blue boat through thick and thin. The factory boats did well although as we'll see later they were probably more likely to stick to the known channel than to go awanderin' though the adventuresome shallows ahead.

And another oldie, an O'Day?? I have a bad habit of giving life to inanimate objects but I can feel the joy an old boat, which may have spent 20 years in a barn, gets when it sees daylight again, gets cleaned up and tuned up and then gives its skipper a great ride. A lot better than buying a new boat to me.


When I was in Port Mansfield everyone was talking about John Wright. Was he their guru, I thought? Andrew Linn calls him Saint John. He looked like the "Old Man" of the sea a lot more than Spencer Tracy ever did. He had assembled his modified Laguna for the first time at Port Mansfield and gotten off late there so we had not seen him on the first day. He must have gotten off later at Haps Cut too but half way through the day he came slicing past the Caprice and I got to see him in action for the first time. Not that he was doing much at the time besides sitting down and going fast. I suspect that roll beside him is a staysail which I did not see him use. But clearly he had it in high gear and on cruise control.

The wind picked up again at noon as in the previous day. It was around 20 again. We reefed the Caprice. But I want to add a bit to that. Two or three times the snap hook that attaches the halyard to the yard unsnapped while we were sailing. If that had happened with the sail totally free it can be a disaster because the whole sail and spars comes down either on you or, more likely, over the side into the water. I've had that happen myself. But Chuck has Caprice rigged with a good set of lazyjacks and now the loose mainsail just shuffles down into its rope nest. The boat sailed on by mizzen alone at 3mph or so while Chuck resnapped the hook and rehoisted. So the lazyjacks are a great safety factor it seems and I had never thought of that. After about the third failure in as many hours Chuck swapped a good snap hook from stolen from somewhere else on the rig and we soldiered on without a break,

Another Chuck trick is to rig the main sail with the boom slid forward a lot more than usual such that it is " more balanced" and more like a square sail which he does this sort of downhill run. It certainly did the trick for us, handled perfectly the whole time.


...and we start seeing signs of it as we get near Corpus Christi. More fishermen are wade fishing, knee deep a few yards away from us as we blast along in the channel, we hope. When I look at Chuck's map, which is an excellent Hot Spot fisherman's map, I see that most of the bay here, which is very wide, is shown as just 1' deep! And I wonder aloud if the extreme sportsmen of Corpus Christi have ever had say a 5k or 10k biathalon where they run/wade across the wide expanse of the bay to the barrier island and have to swim only the 100 yard wide channel? Anyway, the barrier island gets closer and then you see some cars on it and then more and more people. And then you see the big bridge arcing over to the island and then you see houses on the island.


...invites us to overnight at their wonderful facility. I'm not sure why they do this but I'm very glad they do, maybe it's a "the circus is coming to town" thing. As always Chuck says the entrance is another shallow narrow windy bitch so before we get there we wake up Mr Honda and drop the main. The harbor is already full of our boats. We tie up to the outer wall but later are given an empty slip for the night. Our cruisers eventually pack the place full.

Note the two small factory trimarans. I thought these guys did very well on the trip.

Looking down the wall where we originally tied we see an overflow of our cruisers. I think the PIYC proper might end at that fence and we are way beyond that. Those fellows past the fence are in for stickers and prickers of all sorts as I found out. No bare feet there.

Looking the other way, we see another full house with George getting the Martha Jane ready for bed. He sailed into the harbor (unlike us) and it was actually the first time I've ever seen loose traditional leeboards in action. He had both down in the quick tacking required, the windward board flopping out like a broken wing.

Every square inch of dock and shore was taken.

I guess here you see the smallest to the largest. The big factory boat had rotating masts with wishbone booms and he reefed and furled his sails by turning the masts and rolling up the sails. Then there are two Lagunas, looks like Gordo Barcom's and Mike Monies', then the Pelican and then a piece of one of the PDR pirates.

Eventually all the open spots were taken and we had to raft up the rest. I see three PDR's here plus John's Cowabunga Laguna ...

Here's the last photo I took that day...

Looks like a Core Sound boat tied up next to a Bolger Folding Schooner. Our Caprice was further down the line.


...treated us like kings. My first view was of the shower on the outside of their building and I quickly drenched myself clothes and all. What relief! The building was air conditioned with real bathrooms and showers inside. They had a cookout all set up for us with cold drinks! Boy was this heaven! They went and got ice for us to restock our coolers. THESE FOLKS ARE GREAT!!!

Well, I gotta say there is more to the PIYC than the above. I'm not sure how the cruise would be without it but it would be different. This overnight in civilization allows folks a chance to rehab and also for some to reconsider the next three days, which would be roughing it. Some boats and some bodies were having trouble with the conditions, especially the heat, and now they took advantage of a chance to cut the cruise short. Not many, just a few and they were very wise to do so I think. Most of them got a ride to Magnolia Beach and we met them there at cruise's end. I think most will be back. Chuck and I were living the good life on Caprice but don't forget Caprice has made this journey several times, has been fine tuned to it (and maybe the cruise was fine tuned by Chuck to fit Caprice?) Anyway, the solo skippers have a much tougher time of it than the crewed boats. All of the kayaks dropped out here I think, as did eventually two of the PDR's. John sold his Echo when he got to PIYC and hitched a ride to the end mostly on Chuck's Laguna which was skippered by Bill Moffitt. (Does anybody besides me remember that Caprice was designed for Bill originally?) John said the little Echo, with no back support or foot well, was going to kill him.

Of course another way to play this game is to join the cruise at the PIYC. Don't forget that Gordo Barcom started from there sailing south to Hap's Cut, and I still don't see how he did that. I think others have joined in at PIYC in the past but none that I know of this year.

Well, after the feast the sun started setting in the West. The tent people had no need to pitch tents tonight since they could put their bedrolls in the airconditioned club house. But we dove down into Caprice again, started up that fan and fell asleep.

Next time... On to Paul's Mott!



Cormorant is the largest boat I've ever designed. I always warn folks to think twice and three times before building a big boat because you can buy a good used glass boat for less, maybe a lot less. But a homebuilt boat can have features that aren't available in a production boat and so it is with Cormorant. This one is really a 20% enlargement of Caprice.

Straight enlargements rarely work perfectly and so it was with Cormarant from Caprice. (Don't forget that Caprice was an enlargement of Frolic2, etc., etc., right on down to my Toto canoe.) In this case I narrowed it from a straight enlargement to keep the width within simple towing limits since this large boat is supposed to live on its trailer most of the time. The layout is quite similar. The idea is that the adults sleep in the center cabin and the kids sleep in the forward room.

Like Caprice, Cormorant has water ballast, over 1000 pounds of it. Total floating weight with family is going to be up to 4500 pounds. You don't tow a boat this large behind a compact car but I think towing this sort of weight is common today, all done with expensive large trucks I'm afraid.

The sail rig looks pretty modest with a 207 sq foot main. I'll bet it is enought since this shape is easily driven. I don't think you can go any larger and still hope to handle it without extra crew and gear.Tthe lug sail shown is similar in size to Bolger sharpies and they seem to get by OK. Experience will show if it is too big/too little.

Constuction is taped seam, with no jigs or lofting. Unlike smaller designs this one does not come with a plywood panel layout drawing. Over the years I've learned two things about the ply layout page. First is that almost no one uses it. Second is that with a larger boat the work of finding and drawing and fitting all the pieces to the boat on scale plywood sheets overwhelms all the other work. So part of the deal with doing the design was that there would be no plywood layout drawing. However this is still a true "instant boat" in that all of the parts that define the boat are drawn in detail and you can scale them up on plywood, cut it out and fasten together with no need for lofting or a building form.

Garth Battista, who is a book publisher at Breakaway Books where he publishes sporting books including my Boatbuilding For Beginners (And Beyond), is a true boat nut and has worked himself up from dinghies and canoes to the big Cormorant. He took it initially on a quick shakedown run on a lake near his home and shortly later to Long Island Sound for a week with his family. Here are his comments:

"We had an amazing time living aboard Cormorant (christened "Sea Fever") in Provincetown harbor for 5 days. The tide there was rising and falling about 12 feet a day with the full moon. We'd be high and dry up on the beach for breakfast, swimming off the boat at lunchtime, walking the flats again by dinner. It was a blissful time for me and my wife and two girls. We moved around, took little sails here and there across the harbor (West End to Long Point, then to the lighthouse, then to the East End, etc.) anchoring here and there, usually just running it aground as the tide allowed and staying for a while. Many shells were collected, and tidal pools investigated. Of all the harbors I've ever seen, it is the most alive. It's a couple of miles across and fresh sea water flushes the whole place twice a day. The number of snails, clams, crabs, fish of all sizes, mussels, eelgrass, etc. was just mind-boggling. On high tides I'd go spearfishing (many attempts, no luck) where at low tide I'd been walking around.

We rigged a 8' x 15' white tarp with tent poles running crosswise as a canopy over our cockpit and hatch, supported along the mast folded down in the tabernacle, so we could escape the mid-day sun. Most days were hot and humid and mild, with only gentle winds. We rode out a nighttime thunderstorm with no trouble, just stayed up and watched the lightning. We attended a few wedding-related events, just walking ashore for one party, and for the wedding itself we returned late at night and rowed our dinghy out to the boat, our sleepy children just awake enough to get themselves aboard.

For our last two days we gave up the shallow-water life and sailed from P-town down to Wellfleet, about 7 miles, surfing along on gentle 3-foot waves with a following wind. We beached the boat at Great Island, walked the beach, had a picnic dinner, swam and played, spent the night, and left the next morning at 6 a.m. to beat the falling tide. Our weather radio mysteriously quit working that morning, so all we had was the prior day's forecast of 10-15 knot winds from the SW.

The wind had shifted into the west during the night, so we had to beat out of the harbor, and once we turned north to return to Provincetown, huge rollers were coming in off the bay, more or less directly into our port side, lifting us, rolling us, occasionally breaking and spraying water into the boat. We stayed well offshore to avoid the breakers in by the beach -- but with the falling tide it seemed that we needed to be nearly a mile out. It went from exhilarating to worrisome to mildly terrifying as we neared P-town and the wind kept picking up, past 20 knots to 25 and higher in gusts, and the waves just kept growing. The swells were in the 8-10 foot range, with a high percentage of them breaking at their tops, whitecaps everywhere.

But bless this boat! With its 1000 lbs. of water ballast, and the leeboard mostly up, we were able to bob and roll and slide over nearly all the swells. The worst of them were very steep and threw us sideways, maybe tilting us to 40 or 45 degrees briefly. We had two reefs in the main and the mizzen rolled down to about half-size, and still we blasted along on this nasty rollercoaster of a beam reach. It was the sort of trip that would be scary fun if it was just you and a buddy, but it's awful when you have your loved ones aboard, and you wonder who might get thrown overboard, and how you'd managed a rescue in the rough conditions.

Anyway -- the white knuckles got to relax as we finally made it past the P-town breakwater, and with great relief ran her aground out on the flats. The gale (or near-gale) continued to blow all day, kicking up 3 and 4-foot waves even in the protected areas of the harbor. The only boats we saw going out were an 80-foot schooner and a big whale-watch boat. A lobsterman we talked to later said he'd stayed in as it was too rough to check his traps.

We had a hell of a time taking the boat out and getting her on her trailer for the trip home -- but all worked out in the end, with the assistance of some very kind strangers; and I'm left with the memories of incredibly happy days. -- And an incredible boat.

All best, Garth

P.S. Jim -- I should also mention that on Sunday afternoon as we turned the corner from our run down to Wellfleet to the close reach upwind toward the inner harbor, the boat just drove perfectly. It seemed we made 40 degrees off the wind. That maybe wishful thinking, but it was an angle far better than I'd imagined a lugsail could manage. It was a joy to sail, in all conditions. My hat is off to you.

P.P.S. The number of people who came over to admire the boat and exclaim at its uniqueness, its coolness, its obvious functionality -- well, they were beyond count. "

One more thing, Garth sent me this photo of himself working hard on his new sports book:

Plans for Cormorant are $60 when ordered directly from me.


Prototype News

Some of you may know that in addition to the one buck catalog which now contains 20 "done" boats, I offer another catalog of 20 unbuilt prototypes. The buck catalog has on its last page a list and brief description of the boats currently in the Catalog of Prototypes. That catalog also contains some articles that I wrote for Messing About In Boats and Boatbuilder magazines. The Catalog of Prototypes costs $3. The both together amount to 50 pages for $4, an offer you may have seen in Woodenboat ads. Payment must be in US funds. The banks here won't accept anything else. (I've got a little stash of foreign currency that I can admire but not spend.) I'm way too small for credit cards.

I think David Hahn's Out West Picara is the winner of the Picara race. Shown here on its first sail except there was no wind. Hopefully more later. (Not sure if a polytarp sail is suitable for a boat this heavy.

Here is a Musicbox2 I heard about through the grapevine.

This is Ted Arkey's Jukebox2 down in Sydney. Shown with the "ketchooner" rig, featuring his own polytarp sails, that is shown on the plans. Should have a sailing report soon.

And the Vole in New York is Garth Battista's of www.breakawaybooks.com, printer of my book and Max's old outboard book and many other fine sports books. Beautiful job! Garth is using a small lug rig for sail, not the sharpie sprit sail shown on the plans, so I will continue to carry the design as a prototype boat. But he has used it extensively on his Bahamas trip towed behind his Cormorant. Sort of like having a compact car towed behind an RV.

A view of the Caroline prototype showing a lot of the inside, crew on fore deck. Beautiful color:

And here is another making I think its maider voyage in the Texas 200. (I'm told the Chinese rig will be replaced by the blueprint rig.)

I gotta tell you that on the Caroline bilge panels I made an error in layout and they are about 1" too narrow in places on the prototype plans. I have them corrected but it always pays, even with a proven design, to cut those oversized and check for fit before final cutting.

And a Deansbox seen in Texas:

The prototype Twister gets a test sail with three grown men, a big dog and and big motor with its lower unit down. Hmmmmm.....




1sep09, Taped Seams, Trilars

15sep09, Birdwatcher Cabins, Philsboat

1oct09, Bevels, Larsboat

15oct09, Transom Height, Jonsboat

1nov09, Ballast Again, Piccup Pram

15nov09, Ballast Again2, Caprice

1dec09, Weight Problems, AF4Casa

15dec09, Ballast Again3, Raider

1jan10, Knockdown Recovery 1, RioGrande

15jan10, Knockdown Recovery 2, Caroline

1feb10, Emergency Flotation, Mayfly16

15feb10,IMB Capsize Test, IMB

1mar10,Wood Vs Aluminum, Blobster

15mar10,Rigging A Lugsail, Laguna

1apr10,Beefing A Mast, Frolic2

15apr10,Rigging Sharpie Sprit Sails, Sportdory

1may10,Small Boat Rudders, Blobster

15may10, AF4 rebottom1, Catbox

1jun10, AF4 rebottom2, Ozarkian

15jun10, Rend Lake 2010, Vector

1jul10, AF4 rebottom3, Wooboto

15jul10,Texas200a, Mikesboat

1aug10,Texas200b, Family Skiff


Mother of All Boat Links

Cheap Pages

Duckworks Magazine

The Boatbuilding Community

Kilburn's Power Skiff

Bruce Builds Roar

Dave Carnell

Rich builds AF2

JB Builds AF4

JB Builds Sportdory

Hullform Download

Plyboats Demo Download


Brian builds Roar2

Herb builds AF3

Herb builds RB42

Barry Builds Toto

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