Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15June 2016) This issue has the Rend Lake 2016 report. The 1 July issue will be about ballast.



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.


Four generations of Ellifrits made the 2016 Rend Lake Messabout.



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Rend Lake 2016

I arrived at Rend Lake on Thursday this year. The messabout is officially for Friday and Saturday but I had always heard how great it can be for early arrivals. For the record I think the first was in 1990 so this was the 27th annual meet. Anyway, yes there are early arrivals....

The weather this year was warm, hot, and mild. There was enough wind each day to take a turn with a sailboat but not enough to get in trouble. NO RAIN! Not at all in the days before, during, or after.

Bob Trigg came down from Minnesota with some of his clan and some of his boats. He has built over 30, all prize winners it appears. Here his daughter prepares his lapstrake pram, made from lumber from the old woodlot. The dog, Piper, demanded it...

Rovie Alford was there again with his modified Harmonica again. We used it as a camera boat again...

And we got a good "in the water" pic of Bob Trigg in his latest job, a Marples 10' trimaran. Bob said he built several of these back in the day when such things were all the rage. Easily the fastest sailer this year. Control the rudder with your feet, sit reclined sort of like an Indy Car. Every boat of Bob's that I have seen looks like a slick fiberglass production job but they are always wood...

Back at the ranch we had a rare chance to see Curry Bishop's powerboat AF4 pulled up beside Gene Berry's sailboat Normsboat. Hmmm....looks like the lazy designer just traced the from half of one to make the other. Yep....

D C Brown brought his cutest ever tugboat again. 14' long with a 10hp Honda. We all got a ride....

Bob Trigg's boats in a row. You have seen the lapstrake pram and the trimaran, the middle boat in white is a Nutshell Pram...

John Nystom's PDR got added to the mix. No need for a launch ramp with these. The lake was actually at about normal level this year after a few years of high...

And Allan from Texas brought his PDR too, well worn...

Paul Ellifrit had his CLC kayak. The light winds allowed him to go anywhere and everywhere...

Bob Trigg's son in law had taken the Nutshell out once to find both he and the original tiller did not fit in the boat at the same time. Here he goes out for the second time with an amputated tiller complete with bandage...

Richard Spelling brought this variant of the Waa'appa(?). This is a trimaran although the other I have seen was a proa. Sail borrowed from a sunfish type. Richard sold his Navigator Chebacco that came to these meets for so many years. This year he also brought a Macgregor26 to use as his hotel room...

D C Brown also brought along his Catbox. This PDR design might still be free plans at Shorty Routh's website. Here Curry Bishop heads out with two of his small sons. I spent a few hours sailing the Catbox. Always a bit of a surprise how well they can scoot around for such a low tech thing, at least under these conditions...


Tom Cole had this quite advanced Bolger Windsprint fitted with a Sunfish sail. The original design was one of the most basic things you could imagine. But Tom's has airboxes, side seating, pivoting leeboard, etc...

More Ellifrit action as Kay took generations 3 and 4 out in his powerized family skiff. No, they aren't twins....

Gene Berry brought his Normsboat and sailed for hours each day. This boat is a veteran of both the Texas200 and the Florida120. I got a nice ride on this one...

Let's see, the solar panel kept the trolling motor battery charged all the time, at least on these nice long sunny days. He used to once to get back to base after the wind failed out on the big lake...

John Nystom (and I also) tried out stand up paddle boarding using this foam board brought by Phil and Ray from St Louis. No, we didn't crash, but we didn't cross the ocean with it either...

And there were Phil and Ray themselves in the Uncle Johns' Skiff that has been to many a Rend Lake Messabout. They have tried multitudes of rigs but they said this old Snark rig is the best. Remember the wingsail they used a few years back?? It committed suicide one day flying itself to bits at a dock...

Alas, I did not get a good photo of Paul Haynie with his forward facing pull rowing rig. Got that?? You face forward and pull on the oars and go in the direction you are facing, forward. I did get a bit of a photo of his gear as he sped by the camera boat. Let's see, you sit facing forward and pull backward on the inner stick and it pulls on the link that pulls on the outer stick and that pushes you forward in the direction you are facing. It also lifts and dips into the water like the usual oar. Paul swears by it..

Saturday evening and it is time for the cookout. D C Brown runs the show here in the grey shirt and hat and sunglasses. He did the cooking and helped me buy the food while answering all my questions about coal mining. The boaters look pretty hungry and impatient don't they...

And the last and final eating photo. Make a note for next year, more paper plates and less potatoe salad...

Thanks to all for making it such a great time. See you next year!



mixer.jpg (12899 bytes)


Mixer is a stab at mixing some features of my prams with the features of the original Roar rowboat. The prototype Mixer was built to perfection by David Boston of Factoryville, Pa. That's him sailing on vacation in Maine.

Mixer's beam is half way betwen that of Piccup, which has "stand up and walk around" stability, and that of Roar, which is too tippy for serious sailing. They all have a similar multichine cross section. Dave was very happy with the stability of the prototype. He reports sailing in white caps with no troubles.

The pointy bow causes a loss in carrying capacity compared to a pram bow. Mixer would need to be stretched at least a foot longer to meet Piccup's capacity. But I left Mixer at 12 feet for two reasons. I've found a 12 footer can be cartopped without bow tiedowns and few new cars have bumpers suitable for bow ties. Longer hulls usually need bow ties (except for narrow jobs like Toto). Also, the 12 footer can still be got out of four sheets of 1/4" plywood and may be a tad lighter than Piccup. At any rate, Dave's Mixer has sailed with two adults aboard and was quite happy.

Mixer's got the exact same interior layout (a 6.5' open cockpit between two large flotation/storage chambers) as Piccup for all the same reasons. So here is a cartopper with capacity for two adults or for camping one adult with a flat floor large enough to sleep on and lots of dry storage.

The sail rig is identical to Piccup's. If you look at my leeboards you'll see they pivot at a lower hull guard while their tops are braced to take loads both ways and only one board is required. Essentially they are centerboards mounted outside the hull. But no centerboard case is required and there is no need to handle the board in tacking as with loose leeboards. For anyone thinking about converting a centerboard design to leeboards, note that a leeboard should be mounted at the hull's broadest beam to be in flow parallel to the hull's motion. The sail rig then needs to be placed for proper balance.

Plans for Mixer are $20. No lofting or jigs required.


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.

We have a Picara finished by Ken Giles, past Mayfly16 master, and into its trials. The hull was built by Vincent Lavender in Massachusetts. There have been other Picaras finished in the past but I never got a sailing report for them...

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. As I write this boat is supposed to be "done" but is untested. You can follow the builder's progress at http://moffitt1.wordpress.com/ ....

The first Jukebox3 is on the (cold) water. The mast is a bit too short - always make your mast too long. A bit more testing will be nice...

A brave soul has started a Robbsboat. He has a builder's blog at http://tomsrobbsboat.blogspot.com. (OOPS! He found a mistake in the side bevels of bulkhead5, says 20 degrees but should be 10 degrees.) This boat has been sailed and is being tested. Should be a "done" boat soon...






1jul15, Rend Lake 2015, Musicbox3

15jul15, Box Boat Stability, Mikesboat

1aug15, Taped Joints, Cormorant

15aug15, Plywood Butt Joints, Paulsboat

1sep15, Navigator Cabins, Vireo

15sep15, Boxboat Stability 2, Philsboat

1oct15, Center of Gravity, Larsboat

15oct15, Hullforms Model, Jonsboat

1nov15, Port Aransas2015, Piccup Pram

15nov15, Hullforms Results, Caprice

1dec15, Sail Area Math, Ladybug

15dec15, Sailing For Nonsailors 1, Roar2

1jan16, Sailing For Nonsailors 2, OliveOyl

15jan16, Sailing For Nonsailors 3, Robote

1feb16, Sharpie Sprit Rigging, Laguna

15feb16, Trailering Plywood Boats, IMB

1mar16, Hollow Spars, Slam Dink

15mar16, Bulkhead Bevels, Frolic2

1apr16, Capsize Lessons, RiverRunner

15apr16, Wood Vs Aluminum Spars, Mayfly16

1may16, Scarfing Wood, Blobster

15may16, Prismatic Coefficient, Roar2

1jun16, Figuring Displacement, Mayfly14


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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