Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

1024 Merrill St, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15 November 2016) This issue will continue the D'Arcy Bryn design essays with a letter from the builder/user. The 1 December issue will get to my comments about his comments.



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.


D'Arcy Bryn, foreground, somewhere in Texas...



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
1024 Merrill St,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



D'Arcy Bryn 1

D'ARCY got built by Bill Moffitt who has a lot of experience with this. It took a while which included a retirement/relocation, etc. etc.... Bill took it out for the first time on the Texas200. No one advises a fellow to do that. You need to test the boat first before going on this demanding 200 mile sail. But this is the second time Bill has gotten away with it - the first was taking the prototype Mikesboat out on the same event on its maiden voyage. Well, anyway, enough with the warnings. Let us see how it went....


Well, you can take D'Arcy Bryn off the prototype list and upgrade to finished. Ignoring common sense once again, I took a prototype boat and splashed her in for a 200 mile maiden voyage, (Being one of your designs, it wasn't that big a risk, as we know)

I have gathered up all the photos I could and will attach them to this letter so you can choose which to use; I have been yard sailing too many years. I have to apologize for taking so long. The Mikesboat design took about 8 months, but this one took about 5 YEARS! Getting through the last working years to retirement and moving a 30 year household up to Elizabeth City, NC, “The Harbor of Hospitality,” from Atlanta, took its toll. Being old had nothing to do with it...

As usual, you did a very good job and my construction, though slow, was adequate, so the D'Arcy Bryn did all she was supposed to. Even having the ballast about 6” too high was good enough for this trip. While releasing the 2nd reef,(and trying to cheat and not come up into the wind as I usually do),the wind caught the extra sail area and we jibed. I was up on the hatch, far from the first time; seemed stable enough under non-jibbing circumstances, and went over board. I managed to grab a jiffy reefing line, which pulled her over even more. The roll stopped when the cabin side hit the water and she came back up even with my sailing partner, Ed, still in the cockpit. Ed said at one point he was standing vertically on the cockpit wall. I assume he moved to bring her up, and as she kept moving slowly I got in behind the stern.

Time to test re-boarding! Rudder to starboard, toes into lower slot, grab stern top and mizzen mast, and stand. Surprise! I never used the head stock slot at all. In fact, it was a bit too high for a comfortable 2nd step, But lo and behold, there was the boomkin in perfect position both vertically and horizontally for my next step and perfectly easy access to the cockpit. Re boarding is no problem! Don't worry, I still intend to pour the lead and bolt it on the keelson where you intended it to go. But probably not till this winter.

So, above is a shot of her heeled over with full sail up. (attached photos are fullest resolution I have; these embedded in text may not be.) She is initially tender, even without sails, just with weight shift, but stiffens up when heeled a bit. One becomes quickly used to it and ignores it. One person is to port and the other to starboard.

I need to address the two man/one man issues. As this was intended to be a solo boat, having Ed aboard did cause some minor problems. The cockpit/foot well will only accommodate 2 if one is to port and the other to starboard. Still a tight fit for 4 legs and feet. We did try Ed in the weather side front corner of the cockpit once, and the extra ballast there was great, but it was a bother getting all in place. So we sailed balanced side to side, and consequently heeled more than she will with one aboard.

Also, with the interior not finished, i.e. no storage nooks, and 2 crew's gear, the floor was pretty well covered. Not as I intended. Hence the easy access to forward through the cabin was not not so easy and the main reason I did reefing from the hatch tops! But I did use the hatches/cabin several times, and it works well; just need to keep my berth space clear!

One reef in and running down. The day before the waves were much bigger and wind higher and the 2nd reef was in as well. We got lots of practice avoiding broaching as we surfed down waves at 7.1 to 7.9mph! But in this photo, all is well and comfortable.

Except... Every now and then she would start to round up, take the bit between he teeth and all you could do was limit the speed of the motion and let her do what she wanted. No, it isn't the mizzen; tried it with the sheet free as well. I have a theory.

When Chuck L and I were setting up the mast, we checked the rake angle from the cabin bulkhead to the mast VERY carefully on the plans and got 6 degrees. With the mast pivot bolt in, we set the actual mast to 6 degrees and drilled the bottom hole. It ended up about 1/4” from the aft side of the mast, not the middle as you drew. My lower holes for the mast were about 5/8” in front of the tabernacle instead of the 1/2” you drew. We double checked those angles and left it as it was.

I suspect that the CoE of the mainsail is too far back causing my runaway roundup and heavy downwind weather helm. There is plenty of meat left at the mast base to re-drill the pinning bolt in the middle of the mast base and check it out by sailing. If I am right, then I can fill the original hole. What do you think?

Below is a photo of reefing/un reefing action, not sure which. Probably un-tieing. Closer to lying to windward, so safer. I did notice that even with the mizzen sheeted in hard, main sheet free, sail down, and rudder centered,, she would not point directly to windward. She always seemed to point off just enough that reaching the aft of the boom needed sheeting in a bit to make it. Not what I expected, and still puzzles me... Any thoughts?

Here we are dodging the ferrys at Port Aranzas and I had the motor running as well as the sail. Most of our non-surfing sailing with good wind showed 4.9 to 5.5 mph.

This is at the Padre Island Yacht club. I can't remember if that was one of the stops the year you did it or not, but it was NOT a stop this year. Ed's GPS crapped out, no one told me it was a short day (22 miles), the marker numbers were changed and my old chart did not match up, and by the time we asked another boat they said we passed the turn of 30 minutes ago! They were in a Catalina 22' with 2.5' draft and were skipping that shallow camp!So both boats went to the club. We had both reef in with the high winds, and when we got to the entrance channel I started tacking up it. It is only about 150' wide, but I was going up the channel pretty well. This is when I discovered that the motor head prevented full throw of the tiller, and when you lift the tiller to clear it, the handle gets between the sheet falls as the boat tacks causing much fiddling with tiller/sheet tangles right when you need to be firming up on the next tack! Still, I managed to complete several before I missed and ended up on a down wind wall and motored in the last hundred feet or so.

Still, if she will go up at all under double reefs, then she will go to windward just fine. More sailing will tell the tale, but I am not worried about this.

I am not sure what else to add at this point. I probably left something out, and if you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you for a great design, right on point, and for your patience!

Un Abrazo, Bill"





About 15 years ago I built a Payson Canoe and used it for several years before selling it. I replaced it about 10 years ago with my Toto double paddle canoe. Toto has the same multichine cross section as the Payson Canoe but I tried for a long lean bow which would be better in rough water and more foregiving of bow down trim. I still have that Toto, unchanged in any way since new, and still use it all summer. Amanda Johnson demonstrates:

The Toto shape worked so well that I used it in other designs like Roar2 and RB42. I tried it also in a sailing boat, the 20' Frolic2 (the original Frolic was narrower, more of a rowboat than a sailboat). Frolic2 was unballasted with a small cuddy and I hoped it would be a good daysailer and one man camping boat.

Bill Moffitt had built my Woobo design and funded a 20% enlargement of Frolic2 that would have a cabin, water ballast, and a yawl rig for cruising near the Gulf Coast.

The 20% enlargement idea went very well except that I had to deepen the hull more than that to give some serious headroom in the cabin, but it doesn't have standing headroom. Great empasis was placed on ease of use and rigging. The main mast is short and stepped in a tabernacle. There is a draining anchor well in the bow, a small storage segment under the front deck. The mast tabernacle is bolted to the bulkhead that forms the front of the sleeping cabin. There is a utility room aft of the sleeping room. Water ballast tanks are under the bunks and in the sides of the utility room floor, about 600 pounds of ballast as I recall. Aft of the cabin is the self draining raised cockpit with storage volume under the deck. Finally there is a self draining motor well across the stern. Construction is taped seam plywood.

Bill couldn't start his Caprice right away but Chuck Leinweber of Duckworksmagazine gave it a try. He has the room and tools and smarts to tackle a project like this with no hesitation. There weren't many changes from the plans that I know of, the main one being adding a conventional footwell to the aft deck which is designed to have a hatch type of foot well as with the Bolger Micro.

Chuck trailered his Caprice up from Texas to our Midwest Messabout this June and I had a chance to go over it, sail it for a couple of hours, and watch it sail from other boats. Wonderful!

Chuck tells me it takes less than 15 minutes to rig the boat to as you see here. As shown the boat has its ballast so you see it beaches very well indeed. I asked about the ballast. He can flood the tanks without power, just open the access plate, reach in and pull the fill plug and let the water rush in. Since the tops of the tanks are about even with the normal waterline he has to move his weight around to keep the tank depressed long enough to completely fill. Then you reach into the filled tank, replace the plug in the bottom, and then replace the access plate in the top. There are two tanks to fill.

Are the ballast tanks worth the building effort? On a multichine hull like this the tops of the tanks form flats that give places for bunks and storage so that is good. When full the boat should have a very good range of stabiltiy. Chuck's boat has never been in rough going as I'm writing this so the effect of the ballast remains to be proven. It has been capsized in a practice but the ballast tanks were empty and the boat was empty with no crew, etc.. But the ballast is a success from the standpoint that Chuck is able to tow his Caprice behind a four cylinder pickup truck. My idea was to pull the boat up the ramp and drain the tanks afterward by simply pulling the drains plugs. But Chuck has found it best by far to empty the tanks before recovering the boat at the ramp. So he uses a bilge pump in each tank to pump them empty. I'd be worried about water ballast tanks on a wooden boat from a rot standpoint and would be careful to open all the plugs and access panels when the boat is stored.

(I should add that I think an empty Caprice will weigh about 900 pounds based on the plywood sheet count (eight sheets of 1/4", nine sheets of 3/8" , five sheets of 1/2" and one sheet of 3/4"). But any boat like this can hold an awful lot of gear and junk.)

Caprice has the tabernacle setup that I first saw on Karl James' sharpie. The mainsail is 190 square feet, balanced lug. The mast is fairly short, stowing within the length of the boat when lowered. Chuck demonstrated putting up the mast, maybe a 15 second operation. I've been drawing these for a while on different boats but this is the first one I know of to get built and used. I'm greatly relieved that is all works so well. Before you decide to tack a tabernacle like this onto your boat, be advised that the tabernacle posts go clear to the hull bottom with big bolts all around a beefy bulkhead.

I thought Caprice sailed very well in the light winds we had that weekend. Tacked very smoothly through 90 to 100 degrees which is all you can ever get with a low tech rig. Very smooth and quiet compared to the sharpies I'm used to. It didn't seem at all sensitive to fore-aft trim. In the light winds it went 5 knots on the GPS which is certainly fast for the conditions.

Well, all in all I thought Caprice was everything I was hoping for.. Plans 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.

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:

D'arcy Bryn is done and sailing here on its first voyage, on the Texas 200. I never suggest you should test a new boat on a trip like this but it worked this time. I will print a full story in a future issue.

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. He has found the sail area a bit much for his area and is putting in serious reef points.






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

15jun16, Rend Lake 2016, Mixer

1jul16, Ballast Calculations 1, Dorado

15jul16, Ballast Calculations 2, Robbsboat

1aug16, Ballast Calculations 3, AF4

15aug16, Taped Seams, Cormorant

1sep16, Butt Joints, Vireo

15sep16, Old Outboards, Philsboat

1oct16, D'Arcy Ballast, Larsboat

15oct16, D'Arcy Ballast 2, Jonsboat

1nov16, D'Arcy Ballast 3, Piccup Pram


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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