Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15June 2014) This issue will review the 2014 Rend Lake Messabout. The 1 July issue will be about Mike Sandell's Fatcat tabernacle.



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.


Brand new boaters gather at Rend Lake.



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Rend Lake 2014


...the weather was forcast to be miserable, a high chance of rain each day but temps in the 70's and light winds. Actually I was packed to go on Thursday but chickened out at the sight of the weather radar which showed all of Missouri raining and headed our way. But it all turned south and the boaters at Rend said Thursday was great! Anyway I got my AF4 there, its first launch of the season (as usual).

The camping loop is only a quarter mile or so from this launch ramp so off I go under the cloudy skies that pretty much stayed there the whole weekend. First thing I see is Natasha Lewis, daughter of Steve Lewis, in her 10' Puddleduck variant which Steve called the Eiderduck. It has been at Rend before but now has a Sunfish type sail and was doing quite well with it...

And heading out to the main lake was Chris Feller with his Philsboat, with Harry Sartlas as passenger...

Chris camps in Philsboat like this...

Next in line taxiing to the campground was Dave Seaburg in his WINDIGO, a long time regular at Rend...

And there was Steve Lewis hisself in his Duck Punt. Originally set up to sail on chine runners and a paddle to steer, Steve now has a leeboard and a tiller. Steve makes the long trip from Iowa bringing his custom brats for the Saturday cookout.

Mike Zenker came to Rend again this year with his Campanoe, a rare commercial boat, two glass canoe hulls joined in the center by a hinge. It folds out easily to be about 8' wide, maybe more, with seating and a table and a tent that covers it all if you set it up. Which Mike didn't do this time...

And here is Mike at work...

Rovie Alford returned from Kentucky, or Florida maybe, with his Piragua18. He has a bunch of boats but takes something handy while travelling with his family. His wife supplied us with ice cream and this year the best apple dumplings in the world!!!

Also at the campground I found this blast from the past...

This is a commercial plastic canoe outfitted by Harry Sartlas with lug sails and large leeboards. He had it at Rend Lake a few years past but then I think it was junk rigged. I caught Harry giving it a spin out on the lake. I see it is called now the Maynard G Krebs and if you are old enough to remember Maynard, like I do, then you are getting old indeed...

Paul Ellifrit was back with his power skiff, which was once a sailing Family Skiff...

Here is a shot of the helm...

Very nice job. Doesn't plane of couse because it still has a hull designed for sailing speeds but he uses a 7 horse Tohatsu which easily drives it at hull speed. I also wanted to show his boarding ladder. A good idea that I first saw on Kilburn Adams' Skiff America. I need to copy it for my AF4. When not in use it folds flat against the transom and is secured by a bungee which is low enough that you could reach it and pull it down from the water...

Mike Sandell returned with his Fatcat2...

...And his wife...

Mike reported he figured 9 hours of perfect sailing that weekend. Mke also has worked out a very nice winch system for the Fatcat2 tabernacle and I will be telling more in detail about it in a future essay...

Over on the other side of the lawn we had the beach filling up...

You have met three of the four already and the fourth is another AF4 by Curry Bishop (started by Chris Feller who then let Curry do all the hard work)...

Such a beautiful job. Curry just added a matched pair to his home fleet...

While his two self propelled tykes help him launch..

One tyke answers the question, "What is that bow slot for?" You might note that my own AF4 no longer has the slot but instead a fold down door which, in jest I am sure, I heard called the "senior door". Anyway, the point is that if you can make a boat easier to use you should do it. Note that the sun sort of shown in this few minutes of picture taking...

And Marty Warline came from Florida with his Welsford Scamp. This is his first homebuilt. It is a veteran of the Everglades Challenge but here he tries to chase his calm reflection...

Might as well paddle it in...

Mike Walsh brough in his spanking new Weekender in the same conditions (with electric help)...

Earlier I had photographed them on their first sail...

Rend Regular Bill Dulin was there with his Skiff America...

And Gary Hirsch had one too...

And Skiff America designer Kilburn Adams was there too with his - didn't get his photo this year but, guess what, his looks just like these two.

This unknown fellow was sailing off the loop next to us but I am sure if he was really with us. A pram with a little Hobie sail...

Alan Enlow brought his Puddle Duck up from Texas (he visits local relatives to get two birds with one stone). I spent an hour sailing this one. Note the windsurfer sail rig. A Duck is an interesting bird to sail...


This is the only planned event of the messabout and it really isn't all that well planned. On Saturday we gather for a cookout pot luck at 6. This year, after over 20 of these messabouts, I finally remembered to bring a chair...

The new boaters never fussed...

Zenk and Steve cooked up a storm...

Now I gotta tell you that the hit of the show was not only Mrs. Alford's apple dumplings but also this thing that came attached to Mike Sandell's cooking utensils...

He had red headlights and four marshmellows. A new species I am sure. I know nothing of such things but I have decided to name it Lepidoptera Mikesandellicus in honor.

There was a late arrival, a Mayfly14 by the Burton family...

They were staying to boat on Sunday while most of us cleared away for the night. Most people pull their boats for an early getaway on Sunday morning and a long drive home. We had just enough time to get things settled before the weatherman finally got his wish...






Tom Raidna's Toto

The photo above is from Tom Raidna.

Toto has been my most successful design. Initially she was an experiment to test a new bow shape - a deep V bow that blends into a multichine well aft. There's a twist in the bow bilge panels and at the time I didn't know how to expand those panels on the drawing board. So I built her without them and then sized them by cut and fit. Then I recorded the shapes on the prints. Nowadays this sort of twisted paned expansion is routine on a computer to great accuracy (provided the input is accurate).

The boat is an easy prefab job from two sheets of 5MM ply. Marc Smith came to the 1994 Midwest Messabout with tow of these Totos strapped to the roof of his Birdwatcher. They were built by two twelve year old girls under Marc's guidance. Marc said the girls did all the work including using the power tools. And they paddled around the Messabout in them.

It's fun to compare Toto with the typical minimal dink because they usually come from the same pile of stuff and labor. Toto covered the 6000 foot long dam at Carlyle lake in 14 minutes with a moderate paddling effort for 4-1/2 mph. She's more seaworthy but she's wetter when pressed because of paddle splash. She has a buoyancy/storage chamber aft. It will keep your shoes and stuff dry while you splash around and I believe it has about 180 pounds of buoyancy volume if the hatch cover stays watertight. (But you can't "self rescue" in any boat like this without very special training. It's best to stay within a short swim or wade to shallow water.) The open cockpit is large enough to allow sleeeping inside, as I have done many times. She's shaped for easy cartopping. In good conditions she'll paddle two adults. The long lean bow seems to ignore an overload, unlike plumb bows which can become cranky when immersed. She'll take you through some very rough stuff if you are solo. But the dinks have their place too. They can have sailing stability and many will find their elevated seating more comfortable. By the way, a boat like Piragua with a simple wide flat bottom won't be as fast or as seaworthy as Toto, but you might be able to stand up in Piragua. Don't expect to do that in a boat like Toto.

I've rounded up some more Toto photos. Here are three by John Mulligan on Long Island. These three and Raidna's look to me to be build per blueprint. (I'd sit a little farther forward myself.)

Mulligan's Totos

Dale Dagger rides a wave in Nicaragua in his Toto.

Here is Bob Hoffert's Toto in Ohio, maybe the first boat after mine. Looks like he has added a fore deck and put a big access hole in the aft bulkhead. (Remember that the aft storage box is also supposed to be an emergency buoyancy air box to help save your butt in a capsize.)

Hoffert's Toto

Here is John Ellwood's Toto in Massachusetts. Crowned fore and aft decks and another access hole in the aft bulkhead, although this one appears to have a cover.

Ellwood's Toto

Here is Garth Battista of Breakaway Books with a small foredeck and some good company:

Here is Don Duquet with good company getting ready to watch a space shuttle launch:

Here is Bob Cole's delux Toto, totally decked with watertight storage in both ends way up in northern Canada:

And the fanciest Toto ever by Dean Souza in Washington, with watertight storage fore and aft, fancy coamings, cleats and line chocks, even the national flag flying on the stern!

Souza's Toto

Bob Hoyle in Florida:

And Al Fittipaldi (New Jersey) made this Toto and got a picture of it in Woodenboat magazine!

And Amanda in Barry Johnson's Toto in South Carolina. He has a Toto construction website at Barry Builds Toto

And Bill Turnbull's Toto on the Florida gulf coast:

And Stephen Dandridge's Toto delux out in California:

And we think this is Terry Lesh's Toto delux (seen at a boat show out West):

And here is one by Don O'Hearn of St. Louis, photo from the 2002 Rend Lake Messabout:

And Al Straub's Toto in Michigan:

That is all I can find photos for right now. I'm sure there are more.

Plans come with complete instructions including the details of taped seam construction and a drawing of a simple paddle that works. (Marc Smith's girls used double paddles made from old vaulting poles with plywood blades bolted on. I tried their boats and paddles and they were quite good.) No jigs or lofting required.

Blueprints plus instructions for Toto are $15 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 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 taped and bottom painted. You can follow the builder's progress at http://moffitt1.wordpress.com/ ....






1jul13, Drawing Boats 9, AF4 Grande

15jul13, Taped Seams, Mikesboat

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

15jun14, Roar2 Repair, Piragua


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

Puddle Duck Website

Brian builds Roar2

Herb builds AF3

Herb builds RB42

Barry Builds Toto

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