Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15October 2012) This issue will review Sail OK 2012. The 1 November issue will review capsize lessons learned at Sail OK.



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.


What's going on here? Read on! (Lot's of photos so may take a while to load.)



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Sail OK 2012


...again to Sail OK 2012! For me a three hour drive to Columbia, Mo and then a ride with Paul Elifrit towing his, now much modified, Family Skiff, another eight hours on the road.

We arrive on Thursday afternoon and the weather is still pretty good, low 80's with a brisk onshore breeze. That breeze is new to me here where all other years had a brisk offshore breeze. A quick look at the beach shows the water still somewhat low making for a wonderful wide sand beach.

Paul launched the Family Skiff, now converted to a power boat with a small cabin, into the "hole" that was dug in the sand at the end of the ramp that allows launching in low lake levels...

But there is yet another obstacle in that the lake wants to form a sand bar at the entrance to the hole. A path is dug through that...

...and then the boat is wriggled through the path...

That is Gene Berry wriggling. It all worked OK and seemed to me a lot easier than that year's system.

As Paul got settled on the beach I noticed this beauty...

The builder, who also brought the perfect yellow trimaran last year, gave me a bit of a tour...

He's showing me the mulitchine shape that blends into a nearly plumb bow. It's a plywood design from Poland, about 13' long. Not an instant boat but plywood over frames. Two good bunks inside I thought. Twin bilgeboards in the self draining cockpit. I did not see it sail but those who did say it sailed as good as it looks.

Beside him was Kenny Giles' Mayfly 16...

Out off the beach was Caroline, orignally built by Chuck Leinweber, now owned by Chris and Kathy, and soon to be owned by Stan Roberts. They used a Welsford tender to get back and forth. Caroline beaches very well but is heavy and I suppose they were hoping to avoid the situation where your big beached boat gets blown in by an onshore wind to the point where you can't get it off.

Gene Berry brought two 12' Goose boats fitted with cabins...

I arranged to use the red one as a motel. We pulled them on shore more and faced them into the wind and waves in hopes of getting sleep. Gene slept in the yellow boat.

Walking down the beach, a classic wooden Melonseed...

...and a skin on frame kayak...

Then a trimaran with a story behind it. I think it is a CLC sharpie which proved too narrow and tall for any casual sailor. So it was fitted with a set of amas for the rest of us.

Towards the end of the line was Chuck Pierce with the Mayfly that has been through two TX200's. Here he has it rigged for sleeping. He slept on it but not sure how noisy that tarp was in the winds that blew strong for a few days. Chuck didn't complain...

Standing near Chuck I saw the only Hapscut, built by John Goodman, sailing to shore with four grown men on board. John made a quick trip to California for his daughter's Marine Corps graduation and returned to OK on Sunday, but he left the Hapscut for the weekend for people to play with.

This was a very nice power skiff by David Nichols who was in OK to give sailmaking lectures. A very nice boat. In the background are a factory sailboat and a homebuilt electric tug.

There were a few PDR's around but not like last year's array which hosted the world championships...

Well, the sun is setting. It isn't cold (yet) and the wind seems to be laying down. But the forecast was not on our side as it looked to temps dropping into the 50's on Saturday and the 30's on Saturday night, overcast, strong onshore winds and occasional rain. I figured out how to fit myself into the Red Goose...

...and it really wasn't too bad. Slept angled across the little cabin on a lawnchair matress. Later I found I could really stretch out by letting my feet poke out the cabin door. But even pulled up on the beach totally out of the water wasn't far enough to keep rogue waves from hitting the cabin every half hour or so. Not sure how the heavier boats dealt with that.

Friday morning...

...showed a dark overcast with no one on the beach but the boats. It wasn't cold yet but the folks were starting to assemble up at the Monies Boat Palace, a walk of a couple of blocks, for breakfast. Duckworks Chuck Leinweber and Michael Storer were there...

And there were displays and lectures firing up....

And some folks were huddling in groups against the forecast cold...

Back on the beach my red hotel was armored against the weather...

A few more boats appeared, a Storer Goat Island Skiff foreground and Welsford Scamp background. The Hapscut was becoming part of a sand dune with about 5" of sand washing up around it midchine.

Stan Roberts brought his Family Skiff again...


...there was no boating going on to speak of. It was just too windy and cold with occasional dashes from the rain. But up at the Boat Palace were lots to eat and lots of programs and lectures in progress. Here Dave Gentry teaches us how to make a skin on frame boat, from scratch...

Dave and a few others gave a class on racing that took up the afternoon with no time off, and hinted and more wonderous things to come on Saturday.

Friday night is "ASK THE DESIGNER" night. Not sure how coherent I was at the time.


...was pretty interesting. The weather was impossible for most of us. BUT NOT FOR AN ENGLISHMAN!

This is Richard Woods, an Englishman who now designs trimarans in Canada. Today he is going to teach us about capsize recovery. It's blowing like stink onshore, perfect for his testing since he needs wind to capsize and an onshore wind, just in case, means your crashed boat and all the broken pieces and flotsam might eventually fetch up close to home. It was quite a lesson.

First he walked down the beach from boat to boat, selecting a victim, and describing what about boats makes them good or bad in a capsize. I think all the boats may have failed his criteria but he suggested improvements and we sort of found, I think, that if your boat has enough emergency buoyancy to start with that it will be the details that make your recovery easy or impossible. I will cover this more next issue as it was I think very important and informative.

Well, to make a long story short, Stan's Family Skiff was chosen as Richard's test article. He removed the mizzen and its gear (Family Skiff was designed without the mizzen so no problem there) and luckily Stan's boat was empty of the usual junk which always comes loose and floats away in a capsize....

So off they went into the cold gloom (the water was still somewhat warm) and I was very glad to be on shore.

A half mile or so out they did what was needed to flip it. It went over with the leeboard on the high side on purpose to make it as difficult as possible...

We think the mast scraped bottom...

Then they brought the painter rope around to lever it back upright (slowly)...

And then up and in thanks to a rope stirrup that Richard had carefully rigged on shore...

Note that the lake is not totally clear of stumps and that might have added some concern. Back on shore the boat was unharmed. There was a small amount of water inside as you see but it was sailed back with no bailing required (Stan has boxed in the seat volumes which may have helped here).


...Richard wasn't happy with a few things so he rerigged some ropes that would allow him to reboard more easily. We will present that in more detail next time. And then they went back out again for another capsize! The next went even better, with the leeboard used to lever the hull upright and new improved ropes as stirrups and grips to allow faster and easier reboarding.

Then back to the Boat Palace for yakking and supper...

Jackie Monies is chief cook and bottle washer and all around head honcho and baby sitter...

Some folks were plumb worn out...

...but more were reanimated during the giving away of the many door prizes. That's Mike Monies directing the Give Away...

Packed, isn't it. They cleared away the supper and readied all for the final lecture of the night which made us all feel warmer, or at least made us realize that we could be a lot colder. So they turned off the lights (so I have no photos) and Howard Rice showed slides of his 1988 trip, in a Klepper fabric sailing kayak, around Cape Horn. Such a trip! He threaded his way between Argentina and Chile, who were sort of at war and shooting at each other at times, getting "detained" several times and escaping as required. When his planned trip was blocked by the officials he jumped onto a sailing derelict bound for Antarctica, then jumped that ship with his gear midocean and paddlesailed back to the Horn. Then stranded for weeks waiting for weather and a trip through a mine field, etc, etc, etc. He finally made it and linked up with another venturer to do it again. Now he lives in Micronesia so I guess he learned a lesson of sorts down at the Horn. Anyway, afterward maybe it didn't seem so cold or windy in Oklahoma at the time.

I've gotta add that the programs that the Monies provided kept everyone busy all the time in spite of the weather that kept everyone but the Englishman and poor Stan Roberts off the water those days.

SUNDAY the weather was improving but we had to get back on the highway for the long drive home. But not before it was my turn to lecture .. about leeboards. Not sure how coherent I was at the time. Then back for the final load up and photo...

Thanks for all and I'll see you and the dog there next year!




Jonsboat is just a jonboat. But where I live that says a lot because most of the boats around here are jonboats and for a good reason. These things will float on dew if the motor is up. This one shows 640 pounds displacement with only 3" of draft. That should float the hull and a small motor and two men. The shape of the hull encourages fast speeds in smooth water and I'd say this one will plane with 10 hp at that weight, although "planing" is often in the eye of the beholder. I'd use a 9.9 hp motor on one of these myself to allow use on the many beautiful small lakes we have here that are wisely limited to 10 hp. The prototype was built by Greg Rinaca of Coldspring, Texas and his boat is shown above when first launched with a trolling motor. But here is another one finished about the same time by Chuck Leinweber of Harper, Texas:


In the photo of Chuck's boat you can see the wide open center that I prefer in my own personal boats. To keep the wide open boat structurally stiff I boxed in the bow, used a wide wale, and braced the aft corners.

I usually study the shapes of commercial welded aluminum jonboats. It's surprising to see the little touches the builders have worked into such a simple idea. I guess they make these things by the thousands and it is worth while to study the details. Anyway, Jonsboat is a plywood copy of a livery boat I saw turned upside down for the winter. What struck me about that hull was that its bottom was constant width from stem to stern even though the sides had flare and curvature. When I got home I figured out they did it and copied it. I don't know if it gives a superior shape in any way but the bottom of this boat is planked with two constant width sheets of plywood.


Greg Rinaca put a new 18 hp Nissan two cycle engine on his boat, Here is a photo of it:


The installation presented a few interesting thoughts. First I've been telling everyone to stick with 10 hp although it's well known that I'm a big chicken about these things. Greg reported no problems and a top speed of 26 mph. I think the Coast Guard would limit a hull like this to about 25 hp, the main factors being the length, width, flat bottom, and steering location. Second, if you look closely at the transom of Greg's boat you will see that he has built up the transom in the motor mount area about 2". When I designed Jonsboat I really didn't know much about motors except that there were short and long shaft motors. I thought the short ones needed 15" of transom depth and didn't really know about the long shafts. Jonsboat has a natural depth of about 17" so I left the transom on the drawing at 17" and did some hand waving in the drawing notes about scooping out or building up the transom to match the requirements of your motor.

I think the upshot of it all is that short shaft motors need 15" from the top of the mount to the bottom of the hull and long shaft motors need 20". There was a lot of discussion about where the "cavitation" plate, which is the small flat plate right above the propellor, should fall with respect to the hull. I asked some expert mechanics at a local boat dealer and they all swore on a stack of tech manuals that a high powered boat will not steer safely if the cavitation plate is below the bottom of the hull, the correct location being about 1/2" to 1" above the bottom. But Greg had the Nissan manual and it said the correct position is about 1" BELOW the bottom. Kilburn Adams has a new Yamaha and its manual says the same thing. So I guess small motors are different from big ones in that respect.

But it seems to be not all that critical, at least for the small motors. Greg ran his Jonsboat with the 18 hp Nissan with the original 17" transom for a while and measured the top speed as 26 mph. Then he raised the transom over 2" and got the same top speed!

There is nothing to building Jonsboat. There five sheets of plywood and I'm suggesting 1/2" for the bottom and 1/4" for everything else. It's all stuck together with glue and nails using no lofting or jigs. I always suggest glassing the chines for abrasion resistance but I've never glassed more than that on my own boats and haven't regretted it. The cost, mess, and added labor of glassing the hull that is out of the water is enormous. My pocketbook and patience won't stand it. Glassing the chines and bottom is a bit different because it won't show and fussy finishing is not required.

Plans for Jonsboat are $25.


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 ready for taping. You can follow the builder's progress at http://moffitt1.wordpress.com/ ....





which should give you a saving of the original Chuck Leinweber archives from 1997 through 2004. They seem to be about 90 percent complete.

1nov11, Sail Oklahoma 2011a, Piccup Pram

15nov11, Sail Oklahoma 2011b, Caprice

1dec11, Taped Seams, Trilars

15dec11, Bulkhead Bevels, Sportdory

1jan12, H14 Rig, Olive Oyl

15jan12, Knockdown Recovery 1, DarcyBryn

1feb12, Knockdown Recovery 2, Caroline

15feb12, Underwater Board Size, IMB

1mar12, Underwater Board Shape, Paddleplank

15mar12, Underwater Board Shape2, Frolic2

1apr12, Underwater Board Shape3, Marksbark

15apr12, Rowboat Setup, Toon2

1may12, Electric Boats 1, Blobster

15may12, Electric Boats 2, Electron

1jun12, Messin With Motors, AF4

15jun12, Rend Lake 2012, Toto

1jul12, Prop Thrust, Brucesboat

15jul12, Making A Hull1, Mikesboat

1aug12, Making A Hull2, Paulsboat

15aug12, Olympic Thoughts, Cormorant

1sep12, Making A Hull3, Hapscut

15sep12, Making A Hull4, Philsboat

1oct12, Figuring Sails 1, Larsboat


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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