Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(1Sep10)This issue will recap day 3 of the 2010 Texas 200. The next few issues will continue the topic.



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.

19th Annual Lake Monroe Midwest Messabout. September 17, 18, 19, 2010. The 19th Annual event is fast approaching and it's time to plan for this fall-equinox event. Check out the "Photo Albums" page for pictures from previous years. Just six weeks to make "last minute" preparations. Don't forget, you need not bring a boat to attend. We'll see everyone in a few weeks. Don't forget the website if you need maps or local accommodation information. http://pwp.att.net/p/pwp-mwmess If you build, dream about, or are just interested in small boats, join us each fall on Lake Monroe (Bloomington, Indiana area). Come for good company! Share yarns, swap lies, talk nautical! Saturday night pitch-in dinner and campfire. Paynetown State Recreation Area, Lake Monroe Reservoir, Bloomington, IN. Questions or comments? Contact: 812-378-4236 (jrmcdan@sbcglobal.net), John or Susan


A sleek new AF4Breve by Mike Thede. His galley slave winds up the old Evenrude.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.




2010 Texas200d


...Wednesday morning in a slip at the Padre Island Yacht Club and we are awakened at dawn by a howling thunderstorm. I peak out the window and the palm trees are whipping around. It is over with quickly though, the only rain we had on the whole trip although the hurricane blew through near here a couple of weeks later.

No leaving at dawn today. To start with the Monies clan is feasting us again at breakfast up in the Club. Thanks much! I wolf down all the eggs and sausage I can and then down to Caprice. Chuck has some honcho duties to take care of so we wait a bit as the fleet starts to creep away. Doesn't matter too much because right now there is almost no wind as you see in this Paul Moffitt photo.

In particular we are awaiting the selling of John's little Echo. As we wait I can see over to the bridge ramp and there is a bit of commotion there and I see a Puddleduck leaving in the back of a pickup truck so there is a realignment of Puddleducks going on. Only two seem to going on from here and there is a game of musical boats being played. I think Andrew Linn has hopped from his pink Laguna for a day in a duck, leaving Tom, who came without a boat this year and is boat hopping each day, and Sean to carry on.

So even though we are late, others are later still. And this will be an interesting day.


...much of Corpus Christi bay ain't got no water, at least not enough to boat in. There is deeper water ahead but for now we try to stick to the ditch which can be followed by the closely spaced buoys. Each has a number and the Hot Spot maps all show the numbers so it can be a connect the dots situation for now. I got this google eyed view of the area near the PIYC and bridge...

You can clearly see the cut channels. I think the dark green area is grass growing in water about a foot deep. So here at least you need to stay in the channel or get out and walk.

Anyway, as we left we saw Skip's proa pulling up lame just before the bridge (which was I think the only bridge to the barrier island in the 200 miles) with a torn sail. He said not to worry on his VHF, he would be along after repairs.

After selling his Echo John hopped a ride with Bill Moffitt on Chuck's Laguna and they hauled passed us shortly, the wind was gathering again.

You can see the nature of the wind here. Running on a broad reach most of the day in a 15 mph wind or higher, here in protected water, so you are sort of on plane all day, leaving a little trail of bubbles behind. There is a red sail in the distance....

It's Gordo in his Laguna, this time with crew. They also are churning along. By the way, the Laguna crews mostly had polytarp sails and they looked good, went fast, and never broke. I'm glad polytarp sail technology has gotten to this point, where a fellow can make good sails on the cheap.


...There are several ways to go on once past the big bridge and the fleet fractured. Almost everyone is heading down the ditch to the big, I mean REALLY BIG, ship channel that runs from Aransas Pass to industrial areas on the mainland at Corpus Christi. But not everyone since a few are always searching for the mythical shallow water short cut. Here is a google eye view of the ship channel...

The PIYC and big bridge are off the page to the south. This part of the bay actually has some water in it, 15' or so on the Hot Spot map, but there are lots of shallow spots too. So almost everyone is heading north now to the cut that is near the cursor. Once through the cut at the cursor some boats will continue in the same direction across the big ship channel and then along into Redfish Bay. But I think most of us went to the big ship channel to Port Aransas. Chuck said the Redfish Bay route has a nasty set of tricks and we were taking the big ship channel.

As we got close to the channel a huge empty ocean freighter was working its way towards Port Aransas. Towering over the spoil island it seemed to be hardly moving but when seen completely it was throwing up what looked like a 6' bow wave. But we weren't there yet and weren't affected and he moved very quickly on his way. Approaching the channel our leeboard hit the bottom and snapped up. Chuck woke up Mr Honda and hung a right as we entered the big ship channel on our way to Port Aransas. No chance of running aground here. Chuck's depth meter showed 50' of water in the shallow sides of the channel and 80' in the middle! And the channel is maybe a half mile wide so mountains of sand must have been moved to make this ditch. Ahead of us was about half or more of our cruise fleet. All except us were trying to sail up the ditch and having good success at it. I don't know if anyone made it on one tack but the wind was surprisingly favorable. With the help of Mr Honda we quickly made up for our late start.

This part of the big ditch is about 5 miles long, maybe takes an hour to complete and while there you see all sorts of boats, little sport fishing boats, billionaire sport fishing boats, ocean freighters and strings of barges. It seemed surprisingly doable, at least to a new guy like me on a day when the weather was ideal.

Now, Aransas Pass has some history. There was some sort of natural pass there, one of very few on this coast. Mr Wikipedia says this was a good hiding spot for pirates including Jean Lafitte after he got kicked out of Louisiana. Back then Texas was its own country so the feds didn't bother him here. There is probably still some pirate gold out there somewhere. Over the years the pass was improved, the big ditch dug and the town is sort of a tourist and sport fishing place. But there is no bridge there. So traffic from the mainland has to get to town by ferry. OH, MAN, WHAT A FERRY! Here's one...

Its a double ender. No need to turn it around, the skipper just spins himself around. Or maybe he has a twin facing the opposite direction and they take turns. So it just shuttles back and forth very quickly from its landings repeating the trip as quickly as possible. BUT THERE ARE SIX OF THESE RUNNING AT THE SAME TIME! Each has its own landings and operates independently of the others. So when you get to Port Aransas your next mission is to somehow fit yourself between these six ferries as they track back and forth quickly over their half mile voyage. It's a lot like those old video games like Frogger where you have to hop across a busy highway between the moving cars at just the right time. Somehow we all made it!


... you have to choose one of three channels. Turn right and you go out to sea. Take the center and you continue on to Paul's Mott, our goal for today. We goofed and took the left channel which would have gotten us to Paul's Mott eventually. But after a mile or so things didn't add up. We were getting lonely as the rest of the fleet was heading down the center channel. A quick 180 and we were back in the flow but now we were behind the fleet once more.

Back on track we see other boats again. Here's one...

A close look at the original print shows lots of people on the big boat and "University of Texas" painted on the side. Your guess is as good as mine.

As we sailed on we noticed a group of the cruise's Potters were heading back towards Port Aransas. Never did figure that one out. Here is another Potter19 photo. I think there was one more and I missed him...

The main channel of the intercoastal waterway is here somewhere although we drifted off it far enough to start bumping the bottom with our Caprice boards again. Fisherman were wade fishing all along this stretch. Still Caprice forged on and we worried her over into the main channel again. Eventually you leave the channel back into another big bay or lagoon. Aransas Bay, for the run to Paul's Mott which is miles from the channel. Here's a google photo:

Next goal is to get past the point of Mud Island. I am going to guess that it is about 20 miles from the ship canal to Paul's Mott which is near the hand cursor near the top of the photo. The bay looks to be about 5 miles wide. Paul's Mott is sort of a pimple on the backside of the barrier island and you could miss it, especially at night. But maybe you wouldn't want to be out here after dark. There is deeper water here than in much of Corpus Christi bay, maybe 4 or 5 feet and we sort of took a direct line to the tip of the island, until we saw this:

That's the tip of Mud Island behind the wreck. I should say that the adventurers of the fleet, the Laguna of Gordo and the pink Laguna with Sean and Tom on board, decided to find the mythical shallow water shortcut that appears in photos and charts between Mud Island and the barrier island. But the path between islands turned out to be well hidden and some exploring needed to find it. The gallant crews, who were well ahead of us when they started for the short cut, were well behind us after they passed through it. Next year they will have it in the memory bank.

Another of the tx200 cruisers was this wonderful Welford yawl. I think this was a brand new boat. As I recall they pulled out at Rockport which is across the bay from Paul's Mott. So you see there is another civilized option for cutting the cruise short if needed...

Then for us a straight line to Paul's Mott and to a landing, although as usual the entry to Paul's Mott is not that simple to a larger boat because it is the end of a submerged reef. Here's a photo of the gathering fleet there:

Very shallow here for a long ways out. That is Caprice with Chuck in the foreground. Step off that ladder and it is only ankle deep. The bottom is oyster shell and the beach is really nice ground up oyster shell. There are no structures or man made things here at all except one. I suppose it might be a sculpture of sort, the top of a mast with a cross piece stuck in the ground in concrete.

I was going to take a dip here but was warned by the Texans to watch out for this and that and in the end I chickened out again. I decided that only non Texans ever swim in Texas waters. To wash off I used another secret weapon Chuck had on board. Its a black plastic plant sprayer that he leaves lashed outside the cabin bulkhead in the hot sun. He said it is a standard sort of thing but fitted with a hose and showerhead (and he sells them). So you give it a few pumps and give yourself a hot shower. Worked great!

By evening the fleet, which had split at the ship canal, had reassembled at Paul's Mott. I think all were in by dark. Loren broke out some French wine and we celebrated a bit although fine glassware was replaced with sawed off plastic bottles.


...By now we had an eating routine. Surprisingly I was seldom hungry and others mentioned that you don't usually need to eat much on this cruise. I suppose for Chuck and me the effort was about like riding in a car all day so no need for mega calories. For breakfast, Chuck is a cereal guy and he had a bit of milk he kept cold in his cooler for that. Me, I'm an egg man, cholesterol doctors be damned, and have known for a long long time that some eggs in the morning will last me well into the afternoon before I get the hungries again. So I had a dozen in the cooler and quickly scrambled two or three each morning, with cheese mixed sometimes, in the pan. Some coffee and bread and let the work begin. For lunch we nibbled or at most made up a tuna sandwiches. One day Chuck ate just a can of asparagrass for lunch! But the main lunch feast was some Bumblebee lunchables, just tuna salad paste with crackers and a spoon, all in a little box. Two of these for lunch and let the work continue. Supper was I suppose most elaborate. Chuck had a box of camping food left over from previous trips, like tuna and canned meats. In fact the only food we got special for the trip that I can recall is some cans of spaghetti, a staple of life for me, and the eggs. I had spaghetti two of the three camping nights and Chuck showed me how to heat the stuff right in the opened can plunked into a pan of hot water on the stove. For a stove he has one of those butane one burner jobs with a mechanical spark lighter so no matches required. All very convenient. On the final evening Chuck cooked up a masterpiece from dried pasta in a bag of seasonings, plus some tuna. Yummy. We never suffered for food. Clean up was next to nothing after Chuck explained to me the antiseptic qualities of the bay waters. So just reach over the side with dirty pan, swish twice, and dry. This is the life!

Next time... On to Army Hole!



Way back when I drew up a trimaran conversion of my Larsboat kayak and called the conversion Trilars. It is pretty much a clamp on rig except for the small mast step and partner. Down in Texas Charles Nichols built a model of it.

Then he built what they call down there a "Charlars" shown here with me behind the wheel at the Conroe, Texas messabout in 2002:

Charlars was a bit different from the Trilars. The main hull is per the Larsboat blueprint but built without the deck. I thought the rudder and leeboard were just like the Trilars print. The sail is a large balanced lug instead of a sharpie sprit. The floats are triangular in cross section instead of flat bottomed as on the Trilars, and I'm pretty sure the Charlars is wider than the Trilars which I drew narrow enough to trailer without disassembly. There wasn't much wind that day but I got a little sailing in with the Charlars and it seemed fine with the potential of being wicked fast. My only thought was that it was fast and stable enough (it was stable as a dock) that in rough water it might spear a wave and ought to have the fuller deck, something I think the paddling Larsboat can get by without in most cases.

And finally Jeff Blunk built a Trilars in Colorado but I never got a full sailing report on it:

And Errol Smith down in Australia made a Trilars and has sailed it a lot. But it is also not quite a Trilars and in particular has a centerboard instead of the blueprint leeboard (probably makes it a one man boat)..

As a lot of time went by I would get more Trilars reports but it wasn't until this year that I got two that seemed to be to the plans to the point where I felt the design was proven. Tom Raidna built this one:

He has used what I think is a Penguin sail which looks like a good swap although he might want to recut to raise the clew and get more head room. He did not make the full deck but I am pretty sure these boats are quite wet in rough water.

Then came a Trilars from Ken Purdy in Texas.

He took it on the Texas200 pretty much on its first sail. Let's seeeee.....as I recall he got dismasted on the second day. They rebuilt only to have the sail blow totally out the next day. Lots of wind down there!! Ken also had an abreviated deck and said that was a mistake. I felt the basic design was proven by now. Clearly the boat is quite stable and if you intend to go out in a real blow you might make a heavier mast and sail.

Trilars plans are now $20 (but remember you need the Larsboat plans too).


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.....




15sep09, Birdwatcher Cabins, Philsboat

1oct09, Bevels, Larsboat

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


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

Plyboats Demo Download


Brian builds Roar2

Herb builds AF3

Herb builds RB42

Barry Builds Toto

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