Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

1024 Merrill St, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(1 October 2019) We go OliveOyling in Canada with Herb McLeod. The 15 October issue will keep continue the OliveOyling.



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.


Herb McLeod has a neighbor with a fancy camera. Indeed!



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
1024 Merrill St,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Herb's OliveOyl


...has been a key help to us boaters for a long time. In my case he has prototyped different boats going back to the AF3 long ago, and then he practices capsizing in the cold Canadian waters and writes about it. He did the OliveOyl prototype last year and has spent the summer in some serious testing of different rigs. So read on and learn. I think there will be two more episodes as later he does a junk rig capsize and then some junk rig testing with gps tracking.

Herb Wrote...

Hi Jim,

So far I have only had 5 full days sailing the junk rig but I will give you my impressions so far.

I built the Chinese lug sail after sailing with local enthusiasts who likes to experiment with different rigs had me out on one of their boat for a day of sailing: http://www.workingsail.com/index.html

The Chinese lug in made on the lines of a Duck Works article by Albertan Mike Mulcahy. I used a 10 oz 12' x 15' canvas painting tarp bought at Home Depot rather than the poly-tarp. To make for a rapid setup I did use the snap buckles and snap hooks as he showed in his article. I also added the Gurney Flap and built in some camber. I used half the camber that he suggested for the poly-tarp which turns out to have been a bit of a mistake. My experience with the canvas lug sail is the broad seam darts are made at about half as wide as one would sew into Dacron. The canvas stretched out to give what looks like a nice belly to my balanced Lug. So far the 22 inch wide panels on the Chinese lug have shown no tendency to stretch even in +20 knot winds.

The tie dye colour was a result of my attempt at mixing a canvas waterproofing with a burnt sienna pigment. On my test batch it worked fine but when I tried to make a larger batch the pigment settled to the bottom of the can too quickly. The top 4 feet of sail have a much more even colour as here I learned to mix up only half a quart at a time and I would keep keep the pigment suspended by swirling my brush each time I dipped it into the can.

I also see that one of my spars is not in the right place. Something that can happen when building a sail in a space that only allows layout half of the sail at a time :-) One suggestion that I have since from from a a local fellow sailor that likes to experiment with different rigs is to build all the sail panels separately and then lace them to the battens.

The Mike Mulcahy article: http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/06/howto/junkrig/index.htm

I found the read in Wikipedia about the Gurney flap interesting. I suspect you already know the story about Dan Gurney: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurney_flap

Comparing the three rigs:


the professionally made Dacron leg-o-mutton sprite sail on the mast with the sprite boom and halyard weighs 34 pounds.

The 10 oz canvas balanced lug sail with spars weighs 24 pounds. (Plus mast 45 pounds)

The 10oz canvas Chinese lug sail with spars and lines weighs 36 pounds. (Plus mast 58 pounds)

(The 16 foot mast that I use with both the balanced lug and junk sail with halyards and lazy jacks weighs 21 pounds.)

Set up time:

Set up time is fastest with the leg-o-mutton as I leave the sail on the mast by rolling it up from the clew and then wrapping it with the halyard and snotter. The balanced lug takes a minute or so longer as I have to rig the lazy jacks and the Chinese lug only a couple more minutes again as I have to snap the parrels together. If I was trailer sailing and going out only for a quick sail I would choose the balanced lug. If I was expecting a lot of wind I would take the extra setup time and use the Chinese lug.

Close winded:

Sailing the leg-o-mutton, it tacks at about 100 degrees on my compass. Both the balanced lug and the Chinese lug are very similar and need about 105 degrees between tacks. I am using my compass to measure these angles.

Reefing: We had +20 knot winds the second day and I was impressed as to how docile the Chinese lug was. We were able to decrease or increase the sail area on the fly something that could likely not be done with the balanced lug and definitely not with the leg-o-mutton. At one point we reduced the Chinese lug sail by reefing the three bottom panels and were still able to sail to windward in the +20 knot winds. The Chinese lug sail enthusiasts with me on OliveOyl noted that this was interesting as the sail area was probably close to the windage of the hull. Also raising and lowering the Chinese lug in a blow was was not as dangerous as with the balanced lug as it is at all times well tamed. The one time I came close to capsize with the balanced lug was when I was raising the sail and when it was about half way up I was caught by a strong gust of wind. The sail then billowed out like a spinnaker and came very close to dumping the boat on its side. I saved the situation by letting go of the halyard and dropping to the floor to get my weight as low as possible.

AF3 and OliveOyl: On another topic Gord was by with his 20 year old AF3 on his way back from Québec to Alberta. We had a good deal of wind and were able to sail the two boats side by side for a day. I have attached a photo of that occasion. Below is what I wrote to the Working Sail group following that event:

Gord arrived at lac McA with his AF3 and we went sailing with both boats using the exact same leg-o-mutton sails on both boats. In the light wind the AF3 was a bit faster than OliveOyl but when it started to blow Gord had to reef the AF3 to keep things from getting scary while OliveOyl was able to comfortably carry the full rig. We later changed masts on OliveOyl and put on the 110 square foot canvas lug sail.

Generally we found that we preferred the lug sail as the mast is easier to handle. Set up is a slightly slower with the lug sail as there are the reefing lines to deal with. That said the lug sail easier to raise and lower in the windy conditions and we could heave to with the lug which I have not been able to manage with the leg-o-mutton.

Next I will have to capsize test both the balance lug and Chinese lug for a comparison. When I get some pictures I will send them.






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.

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.






15oct18, Small Boat Rudders, Jonsboat

1nov18, Sink Weights, Shanteuse

15nov18, Piccup Spinoffs, Piccup Pram

1dec18, Electric Boats 1, Ladybug

15dec18, Electric Boats 2, Sportdory

1jan19, Sail Area Math, Normsboat

15jan19, AF3Capsize, Robote

1feb19, Bulkhead Bevels, Toto

15feb19, Leeboard Issues, IMB

1mar19, Hollow Spars, AF4 Breve

15mar19, Underwater Board Shape, Harmonica

1apr19, Polytarp Sails 1, River Runner

15apr19, Polytarp Sails 2, Mayfly16

1may19, Sail Shaping, Blobster

15may19, Sail Shaping 2, Laguna

1jun19, Capsize Lessons, QT Skiff

15jun19, Rend Lake 2019, Mixer

1jul19, Scarfing Lumber, Vireo14

15jul19, Rigging Lugsails, Vamp

1aug19, Rigging Sharpie Spritsails, Oracle

15aug19, Rowing1, Cormorant

1sep19, Rowing2, OliveOyl

15sep19, BC Scram Pram, Philsboat


Mother of All Boat Links

Cheap Pages

Duckworks Magazine

The Boatbuilding Community

Kilburn's Power Skiff

Dave Carnell

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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