Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15 July 2014) This issue will present the new Mike Sandell tabernacle. The 1 August issue will rerun the taped seam essay.



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.


Some more TX200 boats, all of them made the long hot rough 200 miles. Right to left, Glenn Graham's Mayfly16, unknown Duck, Pehr Jansson's Piccup Pram, and Brian Graham's Mayfly 14.



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Sandell Tabernacle


...has been coming to the Rend Lake meets for years, first in his prototype Vector and lately in the prototype Fatcat2. He built both. I'd say his Fatcat is about 5 years old now and he tinkers with it each winter, mostly to make it easier to use.

Setting up the mast has always been an issue with this sort of boat. It is a lot easier than say a Micro. I drew in a tabernacle but not the pivoted kind. In this case you can walk the mast up to vertical and drop it in its step but you still have to be up on the deck for the operation. I've always drawn taberncles that way to avoid hardware, except in the case of the D'Arcy which does have a winch erected mast.

Here is Mike at this year's Rend Lake meet. The Fatcat is totally ready to sail here, just needs to have the sail hoisted but all the halyards and lazyjacks are in place and ready. Mike showed me his routine to lower the mast. Note that he has a gallows that he added to gather up the lowered rig.

Mike points to the secret ingrediant that I avoided but he added, a pivot bolt in just the right place. Note that all the original blocks and cross pieces of the original design are still there untouched. Also, note very well that although it appears that the tabernacle verticals end at the little deck, THEY DON'T. They extend all the way to the bottom of the boat and this is one part of a boat you want never to fail! The little deck is notched around the verticals.

The backside of the rig shows another secret ingrediant - a small winch. I think he said it was the smallest winch he could find at the farm supply place but I think it still has a 600 pound rating. In the midwest freshwater we can get away with this and a lot more as far as rustable hardware goes. In saltwater this stuff probably won't work well for long. Similarly he has run the winch line through a large eye that is bolted to the stout bulkhead. You don't want any of this stuff to fail so make it stout.

On the other side Mike shows the third secret ingrediant, the lower mast pin that secures the mast in the raised postition. The original rig does not have this. Originally once the mast is raised to verical it is lifted a few inches to drop behind the block you see crossing the verticals at the deck. So Mike doesn't use the little block now and has the mast raised up a bit to clear it.

There is another important detail in this photo that Mike changed. Note that the yard jaws are extended way up. That allows him to fold the mast without removing the yard rigging. The boom is mounted on the tabernacle below the fold as is shown on the Fatcat plans so that can stay rigged as the mast is folded. In fact I don't think Mike has to undo ANY rigging or lines to take his mast down and up. I think he told me rigging time has gone from 40 minutes to 10 minutes and that is very hard to beat!

Anyway, you see the routine. To drop the mast he pulls that bottom pin with tension on the line that runs to the winch.

Then it is simple matter of letting off the winch and maybe giving the mast a little shove to get started down if the natural rake doesn't do that. Note that Mike's gallows is catching everything. And note that by setting the winch ratchet he can stop the operation at any time if needed and the mast will wait in position for him. And down we go...

He is done. Never had to go on deck. Note that he has swung the yard around the side of the mast here so it all folds compactly. The only work left to do here is to gather up and secure the sail and I guess it is ready to trailer. Putting the mast up is just the reverse. WELL DONE!

Ain't she pretty?

I have to question why I never drew it like this in the first place. Part is my aversion to metal hardware. And I aways draw them simple and let the builders elaborate, don't I? Finally, the old stress engineer in me doesn't add bolts were they aren't mandatory since almost everything falls apart at a bolted joint. But Mike's rig actually has some nice structural redundancies. The upper pivot also still retains the original tabernacle blocks and either will retain the upper mast mount. And although the lower tabernacle block is no longer used to secure the mast, the large pin is there and so is the line to the winch and both of them will secure that part of the mast. You don't want to take chances with a mast mount. If it breaks it is a disaster.




Mikesboat is a big Piccup Pram. It is slightly narrower in proportion. The idea was to have something like Piccup that was large enough to take the family so she has two bench seats 8' long. It should be a good expedition solo boat with a boom tent fitted over the cockpit. Mikesboat has the Piccup layout with buoyancy/storage chambers fore and aft but now there is also enough room for a small motor well across the stern. As a rule something like this needs maybe 2hp to run at hull speed and even then there would be some extra. This shape of hull with multichines has proven good in rough water with fair speed.

Sail rig is the same 96 square foot sharpie sprit rig that I used on AF3 and a few other designs (actually it is the mainsail from a Bolger Jinni design I built 20 years ago). This is a change from the balanced lug rig that Piccup uses but Mike had good experiences with his Mayfly12 which used the sharpie rig and that is what he wanted. I would expect the sharpie sprit to be slightly better to windward than the lug but not by a lot and the sailmaker's talents might be the deciding factor here. There is no doubt that the sharpie sprit mast is perhaps 50% longer than a similar lug sail might need.

Mikesboat uses taped seam construction. Takes nine sheets of 3/8" plywood and three sheets of 1/2", compared to Piccup's fives sheets o 1/4". So you see that scaling up a boat makes for a lot more wood and weight.

I dunno if Mike ever built his boat but Bill Moffitt in Atlanta made one to run the Texas200. He is an experienced builder and sailor and made a thorough job of it in a big rush towards the end. Launching at the Texas200 was its first time in the water. His wife sewed the sails the day before he left for the cruise, and this was her first set of sails! The sail rig he wanted was a lug main with a sharpie mizzen. I drew those up for him and they are now included in the plan set. Here is his boat under sail:

Here is another photo of the boat beached beside Chuck Leinweber's mothership Caprice (which was designed originally for Bill Moffitt!) at the end of the cruise:

The cruise involved camping through several nights and Bill did something I have always thought about but had never seen. He pitched a standard tent in the large Mikesboat cockpit. A lot cheaper than a custom boat tent, for sure, but it takes a big cockpit to handle it. Bill also had some sort of center platform to fill the space between the long bench seats:

Well, three cheers for Bill and son Paul!!! As far as I know the 200 mile cruise went off without a hitch, the boat right on. But I suggest that most of us couldn't get away with going on a long cruise with an untested design.

And here is another Mikesboat, owned by David Chase...

Plans for Mikesboat, showing both sailrigs, are $45.


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 out West.

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.

And a Deansbox seen in Texas:

Another prototype Twister is well along:

And the first D'arcy Bryn is to the point the builder can sit and relax in it and imagine boating. You can follow the builder's progress at http://moffitt1.wordpress.com/ ....






1aug13, Plywood Butt Joints, Paulsboat

15aug13, Sink Weights, Cormorant

1sep13, Lugsail Rigging, Hapscut

15sep13, Sharpie Spritsail Rigging, Philsboat

1oct13, Modifying Boats 1, Larsboat

15oct13, Modifying Boats 2, Jonsboat

1nov13, Modifying Boats 3, Piccup Pram

15nov13, Sail Area Math, Caprice

1dec13, Stretched Stability, Ladybug

15dec13, Trailering, Sportdory

1jan14, Cartopping, OliveOyl

15jan14, Width/Stability, HC Skiff

1feb14, Hiking, Shanteuse

15feb14, Dory Stability, IMB

1mar14, Scram Capsize, Scrampram

15mar14, Bulkhead Bevels, Frolic2

1apr14, Capsize Lessons, RiverRunner

15apr14, AF3 Capsize, Sneakerbox

1may14, Paper Capsize, Blobster

15may14, Prismatic Coefficient, Roar2

1Jun14, Roar2 Repair, Piragua

15jun14, Rend Lake 2014, Toto

1jul14, Mast Tabernacles, Musicbox3


Mother of All Boat Links

Cheap Pages

Duckworks Magazine

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Kilburn's Power Skiff

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Dave Carnell

Rich builds AF2

JB Builds AF4

JB Builds Sportdory

Hullform Download

Puddle Duck Website

Brian builds Roar2

Herb builds AF3

Herb builds RB42

Barry Builds Toto

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