Jim Michalak's Boat Designs
118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254
A page of boat designs and essays.
(1March 2015) This issue will take a look at my old WeeVee design. The 15March issue will rerun the bulkhead bevels topic.
THE BOOK IS OUT!
BOATBUILDING FOR BEGINNERS (AND BEYOND)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....
ON LINE CATALOG OF MY PLANS...
...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.
The prototype Robbsboat rolls along. Note he has switched to external chines. Much easier. I think this is the only boat I drew with internal chines probably at Robb's request.
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254
Send $1 for info on 20 boats.
Lessons From WeeVee
I think I built WeeVee in 1993.
A DEEP V DINK...
I had done several flat bottomed and multichined boats by the time I was thinking of WeeVee and wanted some first hand experience with a V bottom. I decided to go with a small dink although I'm pretty sure that experiences gained from a tiny boat might not apply to larger boats. I kept the length to 7-1/2' so it would fit on one length of plywood. I kept the beam at 3-1/2' which had worked so well with some previous designs. In order to get any sort of volume of displacement I had to make the V quite deep as you see in the lines. 9" deep, in fact. I had been used to sailing and rowing boats with 3" or 4" of draft where I could usually drive the boat onto the beach and step ashore with dry feet or at worst step into ankle deep water.
But the lines show an advantage to the V bottom. With WeeVee I made the V deep enough that the chines were kept above the water in any normal loading. I thought that would give very good water flow over the bottom. If the boat is kept from sideslipping, the flow lines should never pass over any seams, just from bow to stern over the smooth gentle curve of the bottom panels. I also think there is an advantage in water flow even when heeled in sailing. The V boat will sail with just one chine in the water where a flattie will sail with two (until it heels enough to fly a chine) and hard chines in the flow usually stir up a fuss. That's why I think shallow V sailboats like Y Fliers and Lightenings seem to sail so much better than dead flat boats.
WeeVee was a taped seam project from 1/4" plywood. She has no internal structure at all - no ribs or longitudinal stiffeners or keelson. The arcs in the plywood stiffen the panels.
Although the panels have no stiffeners, they are fastened to a stiff top perimeter. The basis of the stiff perimeter is a wide wale, 3 plies of 3/4" lumber as shown below. The trick of it is to make the outermost ply wide and in effect making a channel or I beam situation of the wale. Most traditional wales would have the wide ply against the skin for looks, but here the wide ply is outside for stiffness. I call this the "Carnell Flange" because Dave Carnell kept after me until I used it. The ends of the hull are plated with 3/4' lumber across the wales tying the whole structure together. The system was a total success even though the stripped boat weighs about 45 pounds!
The actual building of WeeVee involved 5 mm lauan underlayment from the lumberyard, seams filleted with automotive Bondo and taped with polyester resin. Then the lumber parts were glued with Weldwood powdered glue. None of these things are supposed to work but WeeVee was still in the shed 5 years later with no repairs and no sign of needing any. Indoor storage surely makes a difference. I really never know what to tell people about materials because of the varied successes and failures that happen. The only thing I can say is that if I start reading somewhere that only one material or method works, I stop reading.
I had the Moby gaff rig in the shed so designing it into WeeVee was pretty easy. I used my usual pivoting leeboard, easily adapted here because the boat had vertical sides and needed only a minimal lower guard. For the top guard I took advantage of the wide Carnell flange wale and simply added one more lumber ply in the area of the leeboard and sawed a slot through the flange.
There were two experiments in the rig for me. One was the use of lashings to secure the mast at the partner. So instead of building up the mast partner board to sufficient width to allow a full hole for the mast, there is just a half width slot for the mast with two 1" diameter pegs right in front of the slot. The idea is to push the mast into the slot and secure it with a rope that belays around and around the pegs and the mast. So there are no metal fittings. I had seen the system work well on Marc Smith's Birdwatcher.
Second, I used a shallow wide rudder of the sort that was becoming common. It had an endplate. The rudder was hung with rope hinges instead of metal ones. The ropes were secured to the inside of the hull, passed through holes in the stern (the lower rope was fastened to the skeg) and then through holes in the front edge of the rudder. They eventually passed out through the rudder sides to cleats. It fastened on pretty quickly.
I took WeeVee out on a windy spring day but was careful to keep it in very sheltered water. The first thing I saw was that the deep V made her hard to get into, at least from a beach. She had to be walked out into 9" deep water before boarding. Usually with a flat bottomed boat you can find a way to get going without getting your feet wet. Later I found that by tilting the boat over about 20 degrees one way or the other you can make it sort of flat bottomed for a while for getting closer to the beach. But if you look at the photo of the boat above you will see there is almost no freeboard in the stern corner when thus tilted and I have to be careful while doing the tilt.
While rowing, with my weight secure in the center, the boat has fine stability. As for a seat, I use a loose board that wedges itself in place from my weight. In fact the usual loose board is the leeboard which would not be used while rowing. Eventually I cut out another loose plywood board that was only used as a seat. You don't want to stand up in a craft like this.
WeeVee is very fast under oars for her length. She'll go 4 mph with good effort in good conditions, about what I'd expect from a 12 foot rowing boat. A case could be made for WeeVee as an exercise boat because she is smooth and fast enough to be interesting and yet is very cheap and takes up so little space. I found there were many small lakes, say a mile or two long but narrow, where the boat was ideal. At 45 pounds it is easy to carry it on a shoulder from the parking lot to the dock and plop it into the water. At a dock the boarding problems that occur while beaching are not problems. Then I can cover the whole lake in an hour.
The boat is actually OK in rough water. It sort of hops over waves. But keep in mind the low freeboard and total lack of flotation. Swamping it means going for a swim with no chance of self rescue.
And WeeVee could hold both me and my wife, say 280 pounds of people. Freeboard or rowing effort were not problems once underway. But getting two folks arranged is more than twice the challenge of one. When the passenger sits in the stern before the skipper, the bow cocks up way high! We were careful and it never took water over the stern.
I just thought of one more small experiment. Instead of buying rowlock sockets, I took advantage of the wide flat wale to make my own and shown below. Essentially they are 1/8" thick aluminum plates bolted top and bottom to the wale. A hole is then drilled for a standard rowlock. The aluminum I used was simply that of a standard aluminum yardstick, about $3 at the lumberyard, the kind meant for drywall work but very handy for everything. These sockets have worked very well with almost no wear. A bit of grease helps, of course. Phil Bolger had done the same thing with one of his fancy rowing boats only he used stainless plates.
Boy, what can I say!
The mast lashing partner was marginal. It worked well on Birdwatcher and my own Pencilbox design because the step and partner are well apart. But on WeeVee the partner is maybe 10" above the step so the loads there can get quite high because the "couple" is so short. The rope lashings were always strong enough but getting all the slack out of the ropes is about impossible and any small amount of slack in the closely spaced supports made for big defections of the mast. It was always a struggle and I never tried it again.
For essentially the same reason the rope lashings of the rudder were not a success. Now matter how tight the lashings were at the start, after a bit of a sail they loosened and the rudder got floppy.
And this boat pretty well taught me to not use a gaff sail on a cartopper. It takes a while to rig everything, although once rigged you have great control with a rope at each corner. Repeatable simplicity is so important on a small boat. Quick rigging will mean the boat gets used a lot more. And on a boat so small that your weight placement controls the boat, the idea of going forward to tweak the rig is silly.
The deep V made the boat hard to sit it while sailing. My butt always slid to the middle which is always where the deepest puddle was. Eventually I used my new rowing seat board closer to the stern. I'd sit there with my butt to one side and my feet forward in the deep V. Upon tacking, I'd slide my butt to the other side. All this had to be done smoothly and well timed because the V made the boat quite a balancing act under sail.
I've mentioned the problems with the rope hinges in the rudder, but there was another problem. The original shallow broad rudder worked fine close hauled or on a reach, but on a brisk downwind it couldn't hold the boat. She would spin around into the wind. I took to "tacking" downwind and avoided straight downwind runs. I tried wider endplates and an endplate on top of the blade because it was plain to see that water was swirling over the top of the rudder. I gave up on that rudder and made a deep plywood drop rudder like I normally use and hung it with metal fittings. Great improvement! Full control under all conditions.
Well, I can't help but think that WeeVee was not suitable for sailing by anyone except the skateboard crowd. After the first year I parked the sail rig and it has stayed parked.
WEEVEE QUICKLY EVOLVED...
...into Vireo. Much shallower V, 50% longer, faster and all around easier to use. And I left the sail rig off even though Vireo might get away with it. And others like Robote and Vole also followed.
WeeVee also evolved into Vole. This one is right off the drawing board. Vole is a lot less extreme in the deep V department, but more extreme in the beam. In particular Vole should be a lot better as a knockabout sailer. Here are the Vole words in the current catalog:
VOLE, ROW/SAIL DINK, 7-1/2' X 5', 70 POUNDS EMPTY
Vole is a large dink. In particular Vole is short enough to be called a dink but is wide enough to maybe twice as long.
Dinks have a problem carrying weight simply because they are so small. If you weigh 200 pounds and your boat weighs 100 pounds, the total weight will equal about 5 cubic feet of water. It may not sound like a lot but there are very few dinks that could handle it well if they are streamlined at all underwater. The streamlining usually reduces the underwater volume, compared to a square ended prism with the same cross section, by half (the prismatic coefficient). Then if you don't want a flat bottom, thinking it might be slow and clumsy, you can reduce the available volume again by half by using a round or vee bottom. So then when you start sizing the boat by saying it needs an underwater box (equal to draft x beam x waterline) of almost 20 cubic feet to carry that weight. Then a short hull with 7 feet of waterline and 4 feet wide will draw about 9" of water. There is no getting around this type of figuring, al least not on this planet and in water.
So Vole is 5' wide at the top. She has a shallow V bottom which will make her go a lot better than a dead flat bottom in these proportions. The extra width will make her fairly stable and roomy for a dink, but she'll be too big to use as a tender and maybe clunky to cartop. I would expect her to sail pretty well, even with a crew of two. I gave her a sharpie sprit rig which might be the best cheap and simple sail rig. But you have to accept the 16' mast on a 7-1/2' hull. Don't expect to be able to reboard a boat like this in a capsize. There is usually no room for both flotation and crew. Any open boat without substantial flotation that swamps will be about hopeless.
Vole is made from three sheets of 1/4" plywood with taped seams. No jigs, no lofting.
Plans for Vole are $15 until one is built and tested. A few have been built but either not exactly to plans or I never got a test report.
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 to the point the builder can sit and relax in it and imagine boating. 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.)
AN INDEX OF PAST ISSUES
THE WAY BACK ISSUES RETURN!
MANY THANKS TO CANADIAN READER GAETAN JETTE WHO NOT ONLY SAVED THEM FROM THE 1997 BEGINNING BUT ALSO PUT TOGETHER AN EXCELLENT INDEX PAGE TO SORT THEM OUT....
THE WAY BACK ISSUES
15mar14, Bulkhead Bevels, Frolic2
1apr14, Capsize Lessons, RiverRunner
15apr14, AF3 Capsize, Sneakerbox
1may14, Paper Capsize, Blobster
15may14, Prismatic Coefficient, Roar2
1Jun14, Roar2 Repair, Piragua
15jun14, Rend Lake 2014, Toto
1jul14, Mast Tabernacles, Musicbox3
15jul14, Sandell Tabernacle, Mikesboat
1aug14, Taped Seams, Cormorant
15aug14, Plywood Butt Joints, Paulsboat
1sep14, Rowing 1, Vireo
15sep14, Rowing 2, Philsboat
1oct14, Guessing Weight, Larsboat
15oct14, SailOK2014, Jonsboat
1nov14, Chine Runners, Piccup Pram
15nov14, Lugsail Rigging, Caprice
1dec14, Sail Area Math, Ladybug
15dec14, Poly Laminates, Sportdory
1jan15, Sharpie Spritsail, OliveOyl
15jan15, Knockdown Recovery, Dockbox
1feb15, Mike Monies, Laguna
15feb15, Cartopping, IMB
Mother of All Boat Links
The Boatbuilding Community
Kilburn's Power Skiff
Bruce Builds Roar
Rich builds AF2
JB Builds AF4
JB Builds Sportdory
Puddle Duck Website
Brian builds Roar2
Herb builds AF3
Herb builds RB42
Barry Builds Toto
Table of Contents