Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

1024 Merrill St, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15 November 2020) We see Herb McLeod weigh his OliveOyl in a unique way. In the 1 December issue Herb shows us around his new junk rig.


...an update from my blueprint paper supplier, Freedom Paper in Houston, is that they were unable to locate any coating material for Diazit process blueprinting. Not in the US or Asia. So it is kaput, no chance. Looking deeper into getting scans of my mylar tracings. Chuck L sent a tally of last years sales and we figure if we scan the the top twenty or so that will cover most of the income. I am still hunkered down due to the virus and don't see it going away soon, but I think getting scans will take a lot of leg work around here, including getting trials to assure quality. When done, you will be able to order those downloads. So the plan now is to eventually continue the catalog. Right now you can download files for Jonsboat and Toto from Duckworks. These are not scans of my originals but rather are cad works done by kind and interested customers.



... 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.


DON'T CLEAN THAT SCUM LINE! We need it for something.....



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
1024 Merrill St,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Herb Weighs OliveOyl

Herb McLeod, up in Canada, wrote...

Hi Jim,

It is getting cool here. We have now had three frosts and they are forecasting a possible snow fall on Monday. We are ready for this weather event having completed the fall garden cleanup; placed the snow tires are on the car and taken OliveOyl is out of the water.

OliveOyl spent all of this Covid-19 summer in the water and when I pulled her out and up on the blocks I noted that there was a distinct line all around the boat showing exactly what part of the hull was under water while moored to the dock. (See attached pictures}.

After your recent essays on calculating the displacement of a design I thought to myself, I can figure out how much my version of OliveOyl weighs! My OliveOyl sits on the water leaning to the starboard side. I then measured the depth at midpoint on both port and starboard and where at the bow and the stern the hull exited the water on both sides. Next I pulled out the lines drawing and drew lines representing the starboard (green) and port (red)water lines and a third line (blue)in the middle that halved measurement differences between the starboard and port. (There was a goof in my initial measurements so there are two red and two green lines.) All three lines are parallel so using the middle line I worked out on the plans a curve of areas for this water line.

My OliveOyl was built from 3/8 spruce ply for the sides and 5/8 on the bottom. One sheet of 3/8 spruce ply weighs 30 pounds which is the same weight as a sheet of inch fir plywood but the boat gains an extra quarter inch of beam and an extra 1/8 inch of depth on the outside chines due to the thicker plywood. I took all this into account in my calculations. When tied to the dock the mast and sail are not onboard and the ballasted rudder is raised to be completely out of the water.

My calculations showed that OliveOyl with the hatch cover on but without mast and sail was displacing 651 pounds.

Next I subtracted the following: 100 pounds of lead ballast, 25 pounds for the electric motor and mount, 10 pounds (estimated) for the anchor and chain, 30 pounds (estimated) for other gear, Life jackets, cushions, tools, spare parts, fire extinguisher, paddle, boom crutch, bucket, step-stool, boarding ladder.

This indicates to me that the OliveOly hull weighs 486 pounds which is close enough for me to your estimate of 500 pounds.

Working backwards from the Curve of Areas calculation, I calculated that the Prismatic Coefficient for the OliveOly when moored dockside is 0.57.

There are no surprises in any of this but I have always wondered what OliveOyl weighs. I now think I have a pretty close estimate short of driving 8.5 Kilometers to the local gravel quarry and then begging them to weigh my rig twice, both with and without the boat.

Cheers and stay safe, Herb


Piccup Pram

Piccup Pram


Piccup Pram was the first boat of my design to get built, back in 1990, I think. I still have the prototype and use it regularly. I designed it to be the best sail/row boat I could put in the back of my short bed pick up truck. But I found it to be a good cartopper, too. It has capacity and abilities I had previously thought impossible in a 90 pound cartopper. The photo above shows the original 55 square foot sail on Pensacola bay a long time ago. Piccup is a taped seam multichine hull which can take a fair amount of rough water.

Piccup continues to be one of my most popular designs and I get nice photos from builders. Here is one of Richard Donovan hoping for more wind up in Massachusetts.


Richard's Piccup has the larger 70 square foot sail that prefer myself. It's the same as the original but is 2' taller. This balanced lug sail sets on a 12' mast and rolls up easily for storage on its 9' yard and boom. The idea was to be able to store the rig easily in the boat during rowing and it works. There is a pivoting leeboard and kickup rudder on the boat and they can be left in place raised while rowing. Converting to full sail takes a couple of minutes as you step the short mast, clip on the halyard and tack lines, hoist the sail, lower the boards, and off you go. And the balanced lug sail reefs very well although reefing any small boat is best done on shore.

Here is a Piccup by Vince Mansolillo in Rhode Island, a nice father/son project. Piccup will be large enough to hold both of them. You can see the large open frameless cockpit, large enough for sleeping. And you see the buoyancy/storage boxes on the end.


But Piccup will take two adults as seen in the photo of Jim Hudson's boat. Jim's boat has a polytarp sail as does my own Piccup.


These boats have proven to be good for sail rig tinkerers (be sure to read and apply the Sail Area Math essay before starting). Here I am in Piccup with a polytarp sharpie sprit sail. The rig is different from the originals but the hull here is totally unchanged (except for paint) from the original shown on the beach at Pensacola.


I think my own Piccup has had about six rigs of different sorts and was always the test bed for the polytarp sail experiments. But, hey!, that's nothing compared to the tinkering the late and great Reed Smith did with his out in California. Here is his Piccup rigged as a sharpie sprit yawl!


Here is Rob Rhode-Szudy's yawl rig Piccup that was featured in his essays about building Piccup that you can access through the old issue links.

Here is another by Doug Bell:

This one is by Jim Islip:

And this one by Ty Homer:

Piccup Pram uses taped seam construction from five sheets of 1/4" plywood.

Plans for Piccup are still $20.


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:

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.






1dec19, Taped Seams, Ladybug

15dec19, Plywood Butt Joints, Sportdory

1jan20, Sail Area Math, Normsboat

15jan20, Trailering, Robote

1feb20, Bulkhead Bevels, Toto

15feb20, Cartopping, IMB

1mar20, Small Boat Rudders, AF4Breve

15mar20, Rudder Sink Weights, Scram Pram

1apr20, Two Totos, River Runner

15apr20, Water Ballast, Mayfly16

1may20, Water Ballast Details, Blobster

15may20, Mast Tabernacles, Laguna

1jun20, Underwater Boards, QT Skiff

15jun20, Capsize Lessons, Mixer

1jul20, Scarfing Lumber, Vireo14

15jul20, Lugsail Rigging, Vamp

1aug20, Prop Slip, Oracle

15aug20, Sharpie Sail Rigging, Cormorant

1sep20, Guessing At Weight, OliveOyl

15sep20, Prismatic Coefficient, Philsboat

1oct20, Figuring Displacement, Larsboat

15oct20, Choosing A Design, Jonsboat

1nov20, Balanced Lug Jiffy Reef, Mayfly14


Mother of All Boat Links

Cheap Pages

Duckworks Magazine

The Boatbuilding Community

Kilburn's Power Skiff

JB Builds AF4

JB Builds Sportdory

Hullform Download

Puddle Duck Website

Brian builds Roar2

Barry Builds Toto

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