Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(1October10)This issue will recap day 5 of the 2010 Texas 200. The 15 October issue will rerun the sail area math essay.



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.


Looks like Rob Taylor's delux Toto decided to leave without him.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.




2010 Texas200f


...It is Friday now and we've been on the cruise for four days but this is the last day. We are starting today's hitch from the abandoned airbase called Army Hole. This is the shortest leg of the cruise. Here's a look at the first part, from Army Hole to Port O'Connor. Essentially this first idea is to head north out of Army Hole to find the cut through to the intercoastal waterway. The cut is about under the cursor in this picture. Then turn right to head down the ditch to Port O'Connor.

These google maps are cool. Hard to keep a secret anymore, huh? To the east of Army Hole you can see two passes through the barrier island. I think one is natural and the second is a big straight cut for ocean ships. As I recall this area was the main sea port for Texas at one time until multiple hurricanes flattened it and kept it flat for a long time. While in the meantime it was replaced by Houston. Hey! If you look further east on the barrier island you see another abandoned air base about the same size as Army Hole. This one appears to still have a small settlement.


You might recall that we were to have a Laguna race today. The idea was to gather at the buoy just off Army Hole at 8:30 and race to Port O'Connor. From there we were to turn left and head up the coast 15 miles or so to Magnolia Beach, where the cars and trailers had been parked the previous Monday and where the Magnolia Beach Messabout was already in progress. Once there the Lagunas were to form up for a formation run to the beach. Such was the plan. I was on Chuck's Laguna, with Bill Moffitt, but I left my camera safe on Chuck's Caprice since Bill Moffitt had demonstrated at PIYC that cameras and salt water don't get along.

The departure time of 8:30 was way past that of the main fleet so we had a long string of sailboats ahead of us again. So we all milled around the buoy except for St John Wright who had slept in a bit and was lagging.

Race director Andrew Linn made a noise at the proper time and we were off. Bill was skippering Chuck's Laguna so I got to watch. My first ride in a Laguna and it popped along downwind quickly and comfortably. On the first stretch to the ditch cut the field spread out more or less like in the previous night's discussion with the lighter boats making to the front. A few miles up the road we came to shallows but they were no problem to us, not even a board bump. We passed fishermen standing in knee and waist deep water. They come out to mid bay in their boats, anchor and climb overboard and wade fish. We cruised past one fellow just as he was hauling in a big one and we gave him a cheer.

Shortly Gordo bore off to the east and headed for a shallow water short cut. Although the start and end points of the race were defined the middle was not. Gordo told me he was sailing his Laguna almost every day, it was part of him, and he knew another way to Port O'Connor. But we pressed on following the main fleet.

After going through the cut to the waterway you turn right. The waterway here at least is quite interesting I thought. The north shore is somewhat populated with industry including the fishing industry. It is very wide, wide enough for big tows to pass each other with plenty of room on the sides for us little guys. There must be a pretty strict speed limit for the tow boats here as there were no wakes to worry about. At one point one tow going our way was passed by another tow going the same way and that took a bit of time, but there was room in the ditch for all. Andrew Linn, with Sean Moffitt bailing, had gotten so far ahead that they stopped racing and began to beach hop the north side of the ditch sight seeing. But we still couldn't catch them. St John, now awake and going fast, cruised passed us before Port O'Connor. The wind was not really chopped up much by the ground near the ditch so it was still very nice cruising for us. No, Bill and I didn't win anything. When we got to Port O'Connor we found Gordo heaved to and waiting and it is said he had been waiting for an hour! So he was the race winner. Andrew announced that there would never be another Laguna race.


Once past Port O"Connor we turn left and head up the coast to Magnolia Beach.

I am guessing the wind was from the southeast, a straight downwind run to Magnolia Beach. Bill and I traded spots so now it was my turn to sail the Laguna. We had the bimini up and everyone went wing and wing up the coast. St John sailed over very close to the shore. Hey, it's very shallow there. He was standing in the bow using his tiller lines for control, scouting fish.

About half way up this stretch I heard and felt a bump and thought the leeboard or rudder had hit something, but no, they were still down. A while later I realized the bump was the aft sail jibing over with a thump. I couldn't see it with the bimini up so it went unnoticed for a while.

Getting towards Magnolia Beach I could see the faster Lagunas hove to a ways offshore and waiting for us so we could make the big formation arrival. It was a bit rough with some whitecaps. So we all got close, turned a bit left to face the beach. I tried to flop my sails over to be both on the starboard side. But the aft sail wouldn't go! The sheet was locked. That sail had flopped forward far enough that it had wrapped the sheet around the axle so to speak and the sheet had no leverage to correct it. All this unknown to me because I had left the bimini up (Chuck never left the bimini up on Caprice when making port) and couldn't see the aft sail above me. A 360 turn in the right direction would fix it but we were in formation now, heading towards the beach with two Lagunas close on each side of me. Well, this wouldn't be very elegant! But I was heading the right way and to tell you the truth if I had been alone I would have still pressed on all fouled up. So we made the beach...not quite. The fore sail was doused a bit too soon, the bow didn't quite hit the beach, we started drifting back slightly and to starboard towards George's awaiting Martha Jane. Gordo saved the situation by diving in and grabbing something and getting us back to shore before the crash. Thanks again Gordo!

With the bow on the shore I started to unravel the mess and it was a lot worse than I thought. The sheet had wrapped around the mast including around the halyard. So I could not drop the sail either. The sheet was also locked in a jamb cleat and there was a lot of pressure on it so there was no getting it loose there either. Eventually I manhandled the boom around to where I could get pressure off the sheet, unlock it from the cleat and then lower the sail. Lots of morals to this story looking back at it, I suppose starting with dousing the bimini in the first place to see what the aft sail is up to.

Here is a photo I stole from Andrew Linn's website showing the condition ...

Thus ended my entry to Magnolia Beach. That's me in the stern trying to figure out what's what. But it could have been worse. No harm done. I didn't have to show Andrew's photo. And that could have been worse too. I know as we were approaching the shore all out of kilter I saw Andrew raise his camera at the worst possible time and snap the shutter! So somewhere out there is a much nastier photo.


...and retrieve my camera from Caprice for a walk down Magnolia Beach. Most of the fleet had left early and arrived before us, but not all. First up was the Bolger Folding Schooner. For those of you who came late, the Folding Schooner was the feature of Bolger's great book "The Folding Schooner and Other Adventures in Boat Design" (later republished as "Bolger Boats" combined with his "Small Boats" and if you have those books you can get a total education. I suppose 90% of what I know about boats was gained from these and a quick look at them will show you I haven't really done anything new, just reshuffled the deck Phil Bolger gave me.). It is actually two 15.5' hulls joined in the middle with a hinge, so you can fold the bow back onto the stern section and slide down the highway with a short trailered rig. More on this later.

Next down the line were some of the larger boats of the Cruise. The sharpie ketch was the biggest, a Sandpiper I think. The drop off at this beach was pretty sharp, say to 3' deep very quicly and he was able to get the big boat close to shore. Otherwise the dinghy was required for most stops. The other boat is I think an English twin keel design which also relied on the dinghy to get to shore.

As I recall when I took these photos I just walked down the shore in sequence. Next was Loren's proa. I suppose it was easily the fastest boat in the cruise and as far as I know made it with no failures or breakage.

I'd like to look this boat over again with lots of time. Loren really had to think his way through this one, it was no "instant boat" like a Laguna. Here is a detail of one of his rudders. It says "Prindle" on the rudder bracket so I see he scavanged what he could...

And the yawl rigged Goat Island Skiff, which looked to be oversparred to me at first, made it through rightside up and undamaged and still looking like beautiful new! Congrats!

This Sea Pearl made the whole trip solo. Looks like a later sharpie rig but still with leeboards. These inspired us during the explosion of small boats that took place in the 1980's.

And George's Indiana Martha Jane made the trip in fine shape. Not sure why he anchored instead of beached here, the MJ is a shallow water boat.

And the assembled Lagunas, Gordo's, Chuck's and Mike's. I think St John had already headed for the ramp by now, and Andrew's was getting special treatment as we shall see.

The two surviving Puddle Ducks sailed in....


....later in the afternoon these two boats were donated to a nice lady who heads an organization that teaches kids to sail. So may their adventures continue!

And here is the Iowa Starcraft and then the Potter19 I think I was missing. They all made it in fine shape. And what's that white thing further down the line???

Remember we left Skip's proa at the PIYC and he had not been heard from since? He had finished the trip but skipped the camps at Paul's Mott and Army Hole. So here he was again all in once piece..

The three men are trying to figure which end is which so they can go sailing. Eventually they figured it out ...


...sailors started moving their boats to the ramp after getting a lift to the area where the cars were parked on Monday. Chuck decided to rerig his Laguna to the "one sail" version. Laguna has a mast step in the center bulkhead for this, all Chuck's idea.

And off to the ramp with it. I guess it works! One sail and still with a bone in its teeth.


...you ask. First you unhook the stout latches that keep it rigid. In the old days it was then a real challenge and to quote Bolger, who had the first Folding Schooner, "I once folded and unfolded her singlehanded, on challenge, but I dropped her pretty hard at the end of each maneuver and don't recomment it." But that was then and now we have a new 19th century technique shown here...

OK, trailer has a bracket that holds long stout pipe that holds old farm auction block and tackle with heavy jute rope. Hook rope to bow and easily pull up to near vertical, easily push past vertical and easily let down bow section onto stern section. Then stow stout pipe on custom trailer brackets. Easy as pie! Seeing it done so smoothly and quickly was almost a let down.


...again! It really was a shrimp boil but they also had stuff for us who don't eat insects (actually spiders so I was told).


...or was it a suttee? No, I'm pretty sure it was a potlatch. A potlatch is " A ceremonial feast among Indians living in the Pacific Northwest where the host destroys property to show that he can afford to do so." They are illegal now I think but Andrew Linn is from up there and decided to burn his Laguna on the beach so he must know about these things. First all the screws and metal parts were removed.


I also stole this photo from Andrew's website. That is me and John V sitting on the victim wondering what life is all about. Note that the bottom of the boat is falling off. Here is Andrew's postmortum on the great 2010 Laguna Leak. The bottom panel had been painted totally over before the hull assembly, including the areas to be glued. The PL Premium would not bond to the paint. Thus the leak that could not be sealed. The rest of the boat was not paint treated that way and held up fine. So don't glue a painted surface. Next the hull was raised on sawhorses and set alight ...

...It did not die easily, dear friends. The boat fought back. Finally gasoline soaked clothing and shoes were brought in to destroy the beauty. It got really ugly. But still, we all had to watch, hypnotized...


Well, I had a great time. I enjoy remembering it as I've been writing about it and looking over the photos. I want to thank Chuck and Sandra for getting me off my ass for a few days to practice the hobby. Everyone on the trip was wonderful, really!

I do have some thoughts about why this worked so well on the Texas coast and might not work well elsewhere. One is that the steady nature of the weather on this Texas coast is quite important. Where I live the winds and weather change hourly and there would be no one direction downwind cruising for five days in a row. Essentially we all ran at hull speed for five days always making towards our goal. Not once did we have to tack upwind.

Probably equally important is the planning the organizers do. The Monday shuttle where you leave your vehicle at Magnolia Beach and bus ride back to Port Mansfield is I think the other key piece to the puzzle. Without it the 200 mile downhill run would leave everyone in an ugly situation. All these details, the bus, the parking areas, etc., are arranged and paid for by the organizers. So if you are thinking, "Hey, I am going to put on one of those cruises where I live." you must think this all out first. Don't forget that Chuck had done this cruise a few times before going public with it so to him at least there are no surprises.

You don't need a superboat to do this cruise. As you see from above there is quite a mix and they all made it. Comfort and shade count for something. Shallow draft counts for something. Solo sailors probably have a tougher time of it.

In the back of my head I've got the idea that this year's cruise had abnormally mild conditions, from listening to the veterans. So we had no really rough water. No capsizes or dismastings this year. We missed the hurricane here by a week. Plus I had the luck of riding with Master Chuck who knows all so maybe I get the wrong impression. Still, I do think some practice cruising and testing would be in order for a new guy. But I'm a big chicken about these things.

Would I do it again. SURE!



Larsboat was built by Lars Hasselgren to replace a Folboat that had finally met its end. Lars wanted capacity for two, plus decking, as with his old boat.

I took Toto and lengthened it with a 30" plug in the middle to gain capacity. But lengthening a hull with a straight plug like this usually improves a boat in almost every way and Larsboat should be faster than Toto in good conditions. In this case the plug meant I didn't have to refigure the shape of the twisted bow panels as I would if I'd lengthened Toto with an overall stretch. (I can figure twisted panels pretty reliably now, but not back when Toto and Larsboat were drawn.)

The decking was quite simple because even the original Toto could take a forward deck of flat sheets with a center peak. I should add that I feel the decking is very optional. This prototype weighs 61 pounds and deleting the deck might cut another 10 pounds or so. The undecked boat also would have a better cartopping shape. I'd keep the stern chamber. It will ease your mind about taking a big wave over the stern.

This would be a preferred project for someonw who intends to do a lot of cruising and camping. In the Toto camping I've done the sleeping room has been OK, but the storage is limited. Larsboat would be better both because of increased capacity and because there is dry storage under the bow deck.


The basic hull is taped seam construction needing four sheets of 1/4" plywood for the decked version and three sheets for the undecked version. No jigs or lofting required. Plans are two blueprints with keyed instructions for $20.

The photo above is of Bob Smithson's Larsboat. He customized the decking a bit. I think he also built the boat of 1/8" ply to save weight. I've forgotten what his boat weighed but he did say it was sufficiently rigid for him.

Bob Hoyle built this one without a deck down in Florida:

Paul Moffitt built this one. You can see this is a much better two person boat than the shorter Toto:

And remember Garth Battista's vertical Larsboat?

And the old outboard motor guru Max Wawrzniak often goes for a paddle in his Larsboat:

Larsboat 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.

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 I heard about through the grapevine.

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.

A view of the Caroline prototype showing a lot of the inside, crew on fore deck. Beautiful color:

And here is another making I think its maider voyage in the Texas 200. (I'm told the Chinese rig will be replaced by the blueprint rig.)

I gotta tell you that on the Caroline bilge panels I made an error in layout and they are about 1" too narrow in places on the prototype plans. I have them corrected but it always pays, even with a proven design, to cut those oversized and check for fit before final cutting.

And a Deansbox seen in Texas:

The prototype Twister gets a test sail with three grown men, a big dog and and big motor with its lower unit down. Hmmmmm.....




15oct09, Transom Height, Jonsboat

1nov09, Ballast Again, Piccup Pram

15nov09, Ballast Again2, Caprice

1dec09, Weight Problems, AF4Casa

15dec09, Ballast Again3, Raider

1jan10, Knockdown Recovery 1, RioGrande

15jan10, Knockdown Recovery 2, Caroline

1feb10, Emergency Flotation, Mayfly16

15feb10,IMB Capsize Test, IMB

1mar10,Wood Vs Aluminum, Blobster

15mar10,Rigging A Lugsail, Laguna

1apr10,Beefing A Mast, Frolic2

15apr10,Rigging Sharpie Sprit Sails, Sportdory

1may10,Small Boat Rudders, Blobster

15may10, AF4 rebottom1, Catbox

1jun10, AF4 rebottom2, Ozarkian

15jun10, Rend Lake 2010, Vector

1jul10, AF4 rebottom3, Wooboto

15jul10,Texas200a, Mikesboat

1aug10,Texas200b, Family Skiff

15aug10,Texas200c, Cormorant

1sep10,Texas200d, Trilars

15sep10,Texas200e, Philsboat


Mother of All Boat Links

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Brian builds Roar2

Herb builds AF3

Herb builds RB42

Barry Builds Toto

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