Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

1024 Merrill St, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(1 July 2023) We cover the Rend Lake 2023 Messabout. The 15 July issue will rig a lugsail.




... 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.

ALSO...In addition to the Duckworks downloads I also now have access to a large format inkjet printer which is making very nice full sized prints on paper. So I can return to what I started 30 years ago, you order direct from me by snail mail using the address above only with cash or check in US funds with the prices shown on this website, and I mail you full sized 2'x 3' paper prints. The price includes first class mail to US and Canada.


A chat around an interesting boat at the Rend Lake Messabout.



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
1024 Merrill St,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Rend Lake 2023


...it was a bit smaller this year but most enjoyable.


...It all started in 1990, I think. Back then there really was no internet for most of us. We got our boating news from the great paper magazine Messing About In Boats, a small thing that published every two weeks and featured with each issue a boat and discussion by Phil Bolger. It had a wonderful following. (Bob Hicks, who did such a great one man job at it just recently retired. It shows how one man can make a big difference.)

Even with no internet it was possible, somehow but don't recall how, to get an act together and with the help of Bob Archibald, a Bolger Micro builder in Tennessee, we proceded to put together our own "Messabout". We found people and a large snail mailing resulted in a lot of returns. We were pretty formal about it then. I had been goofing off at Rend Lake in southern Illinois for a while. It was right off the interstate, pretty large lake for around here with some sheltered coves. But it also had free camping at its Gun Creek campground which had its own cove and ramp. So it was a go.

Well, that was a lifetime ago. I supposed it peaked about 15 years in with up to 40 boats at times! Folks were tired of Gun Creek and the event moved across the lake to the North Sandusky camp grounds. A very nice large no wake cove there but not free and a bit tough to reserve. (Gun Creek was changing at the time with the addition of electricity and water and real bathrooms. That brought in the rich campers so it was gonna change anyway, there was no control over that.)

Thing stablized nicely at North Sandusky as we learned to get organize about nailing down the good campsites very early. That helped a lot.

COVID came along and I felt I had to cancel the 2020 event. Then again in 2021 since the reservation opening coincided with the arrival of Omicron, the again in 2022 since that part of the state seemed forever in the "Red Zone".

...and so, this year I got word that Rovie Alford wanted to try it again and there was every reason to give it a go. Thus we restarted with the 31st annual Rend Lake Messabout.

Oh, we lost most everyone in three covid years. But the event has always been for those who come. I've always felt that one other person makes an official messabout.


It is common for boaters to arrive early, even say Wednesday but for sure Thursday. Rovie might have been the first this year. He comes with a clan that now goes down to great grand children. Rovie is 88, his wife Elaine is 86, they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversery at the meet this year. A fastinating man. This year he brought his Piragua 18 and off they went...

Another early arrival was Paul Leibenow who I know was there Thursday since he talked about how great the sailing was that day. Paul and Meg live in way south Illinois next to the Mississippi River.

He brought a very interesting sailing canoe (bound for the Mississippi River).

Crab claw sail with outrigger. No rudder, steers with paddle. He sailed all over the large inlet out to the main lake with it. Paul knows CAD very well and this design, I think, started with a set of offsets for a CLC boat. Paul put those into his computer and sliced and diced to get exactly what he wanted. Same with the float. He made it all with local stuff and there you go! Here is a pic of the other side...

I brought my old recently repaired battle axe Roar2, shown here between two inflatables that might have belonged to the Rovie clan. Still needs some work. This boat might have been around during that first messabout.


...Tom Steinmetce drove in with something really interesting....

...so, what is it says I? Tom explained the voyage that started with a Leyden Paradox. He got it to sail well but could not accept the tiny cabin. How are you gonna make up a bed when you have to stand on the only spot the bed can be? So he went bigger and experimented. Looks sorta like the rear of my Scram Pram design, thinks I. No, says Tom. Its a Fatcat with the bow chopped off a bit. Then a big house added...

That is a luxury interior for boats like this. Not sure yet how the big house will affect things on the water. The sail rig is still a work in progress. But the afternoon went along nicely with a long gam. That is Tom chatting with Paul and Meg.

Very nice weather on those days but rain and storms were supposed to move in on Saturday night so most of us bugged out late Saturday.

YES, WE WILL DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR! In June, always on the weekend before Father's Day.



VIREO14, ROWBOAT, 14' X 3.5', 80 POUNDS

Vireo14 is a 14' version of the original 12' Vireo which was quite popular with all of its builders. In this case the extra length comes from a straight "stretch" of the original design. By that I mean that the same cross sections were used but now spaced 14" apart instead of 12". Another way to lengthen a boat is to add a straight "plug" in the center as is sometimes done to even completed boats and full size ships. I doubt if the stretch has any advantages over the plug except maybe in looks. Even there a short plug is hardly noticable, for example in the case of where I put a 30" plug in my Toto canoe to make Larsboat.

The extra length usually gives a bit more speed for the same power in a low powered boat, at least until windage gets to be a big factor. And in the case of Vireo it means about 110 pounds more capacity. The original 12' boat will float 290 pounds before the chines start to enter the water. Beyond that I would expect the boat to slow noticably, although boats with bows shaped like Vireo are superior in this respect. So you see that it is a push to float two large adults in the 12' Vireo. The Vireo14 will float the same way at 400 pounds and will be much better with the two adults. Hull weight will increase by 10 or 15 pounds, of course.

The prototype Vireo14 shown in these photos was built by Steve Fisher in New York in a matter of a few weeks. If you look at his construction photo below you will see that there is not a helluvalot involved. Steve elaborated on some of the details but with these small simple boats often there are between twenty and thirty pieces of wood to make counting everything.

Vireo14 uses taped seam construction needing four sheets of 1/4" plywood.

Vireo14 plans are $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.






15jul22, Rigging Lugsails, Frolic2

1aug22, Horsepower, Oracle

15aug22, Sharpie Sprit Sails, Cormorant

1sep22, Measuring Prop Thrust, OliveOyl

15sep22, Leeboard Issues, Philsboat

1oct22, Prismatic Coefficient, Larsboat

15oct22, Figuring Displacement, Jonsboat

1nov22, Lugsail Jiffy Reef, Mayfly14

15nov22, Sharpie Reefing, Piccup Pram

1dec22, Making Oars, Batto

15dec22, Taped Seams, Sportdory

1jan23, Rowboat Setup, Normsboat

15jan23, Sail Area Math, Robote

1feb23, Bulkhead Bevels, Toto

15feb23, Trailering Boats, IMB

1mar23, Small Boat Rudders, AF4B

15mar23, Making Sink Weights, Scram Pram

1apr23, Sailrig Spars, RiverRunner

15apr23, Water Ballast, Mayfly16

1may23, AF3 Capsize, Blobster

15may23, Mast Tabernacles, Laguna

1jun23, Underwater Boards, QT Skiff

15jun23, Capsize Lessons, Mixer


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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