Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(1aug01) This issue will review some happenings at our last Midwest Messabout. Next issue, 15aug01, will present more details about Chuck Leinweber's Caprice.



The gang gathers at Rend Lake.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.





We are still having our messabouts here in the heartland. This last Midwest Messabout held on June 9 and 10 was our 12th and it was blessed with great weather and a fine turnout. Although I plug the event as a two day Saturday and Sunday affair, it is very common for folks to arrive on Friday and leave early Sunday. Normally I advise that folks not travel more than a day's drive to one of these since the weather and turnout are not under control, but luckily not everyone listens to me.

This year I arrived on Friday to find two boaters had come already on Thursday. Richard Spelling of Oklahoma had brought his family and his AF2, a 20' unballasted cuddy sharpie of my design. His boat was a true family project and very shipshape. Added touches I liked were his hollow round spars made by the "birdmouth plank" method which set a fine gaff sail that he had sewn himself from a Sailrite kit. Another good feature was a trolling motor mounted off to one side of the transom for launching power hooked up to a battery near the bow that also ran his lights.

Also there on Thursday was Chuck Leinweber and wife from Texas. He had his Caprice 25' cabin sailboat, also one of my designs. This was a new boat and I think he said it was its third time out. Caprice was probably the largest homemade boat we've had at our meetings. The idea behind it was a trailer sailer boat to cruise two with the emphasis on easy use. To keep trailer weight down it has water ballast. I'm thinking the full weight draft is about 6" and you can see it beaches very well indeed even with its ballast. Sail rig is also for quick launching, with a balanced lug main set on a short tabernacled mast and a little mizzen behind for trim and anchoring. Lateral plane is a single pivoting leeboard (as I use on nearly all of my sail designs including AF2). Chuck brought the boat from Texas towed by his four cylinder pickup truck. He says launching and rigging is a 15 minute operation. Chuck's sails are currently white polytarp from David Grey's Polysails Kits. Normally I wouldn't advise polytarp sails on a boat that weighs more than about 500 pounds so it will be interesting to see how these hold up. I sailed Caprice for a while and it was fast and handy. I don't believe it has sailed it in rough water yet, but with multichines, a long lean bow and ballast it should do OK.

I arrived at the lake with Max Wawrzyniak who brough his AF4, a simple 18' power sharpie of my design that is more or less a power version of the Rich's AF2. Me, I brought a Bolger boat, my Birdwatcher. I built it 1988 and it is still pretty much original. I hadn't brought it to the Messabout in a while and wanted folks to see it. The slot top idea is spreading here in the Midwest.

You can see the slot top on Rich's AF2 and in Max's AF4. In the AF4 photo Chuck is standing in the front of the 2' wide roof slot. So when Max sleeps in his boat he covers the slot but otherwise he can walk upright clear to the bow.

And Kilburn Adams brough his Skiff America 20' power boat and it uses the same slot top cabin system as you see. Bill Dulin brought an identical Skiff America so we had twin Skiff Americas there. These have multichine hulls, better in rough water than the flat bottomed AF4. Very nice.

Also on Friday we met Phil Lee. He had a wonderful enlarged Payson/Bolger Junebug, sort of scaled up about 10% but with added touches like arched decks and a raked transom. Quite a sharp sailer too with its scaled up rig.Phil operates a nuclear power plant during the week and told all of us around the campfire how they work. He didn't glow in the dark.

Larry Applebaum trailered in his Nancy's China, anchored in the launch cove and sacked out directly. You can see his boat off the stern of Caprice in the group photo. His boat now has a tabernacle and gallows for easy rigging. Larry is a real verteran of these messabouts.

More folks arrived on Saturday. The Scobbie family brought son Ben and his Piragua. John Sellers brought his Payson/Bolger Teal. John took a lot of these photos. John and his Teal made the first Midwest Messabout in 1990. His stories are always appreciated. Alas, I think I forgot to get photos of these (although Ben Scobbie's Piragua appeared a few weeks ago in the Piragua writeup).

Also for a while we were joined by Scott Widmier and family from Ohio with a Stevenson catboat. A salty looking project but I didn't get a chance to talk much since they had to leave shortly.

Paul Brunkow brought the Payson/Bolger Nymph powered by a trolling motor. If you look at the photo you see the only motor setup which I think will work with a small boat. He sits in the middle of the boat steering with a tiller extension, the battery right under his seat. So the big weight items are all centered in the boat and she trims properly fore and aft. Wonderful and quite fast! Paul is a biologist as Southern Illinois University and scopes out the critters at our lakes and ponds with this rig. There is a funny side to this. If you look in the background of these photos you see that we have the lake to ourselves on weekdays and Saturday, a wonderful place. The only hitch was that a spell of cool weather had killed off a lot of carp and their maggot filled remains were plentiful on the shore. Much to the disgust of all of us - except for Paul! Biologist to the core, he broke into a big smile at the news!

Last to appear on Saturday was Larry Pullon from Arkansas with one of the most interesting boats to make the scene. He had a power skiff designed by Gavin Atkins except that it had a modern bass boat deck and chair arrangement with no sign of motor. Under the aft deck was a recycled jetski power unit. Larry says jetski power units can be had from damaged or out of style boats for two or three hundred dollars. His has a Kawasaki of about 40 hp. How to adapt it to a skiff? Larry chopped the bottom off the old jetski hull complete with motor and jet and bolted it as a unit to a slot in the bottom of his boat. I thought the installation looked really slick. Steering is by a joystick arrangement between the seats. I think this was the first time Larry's boat had been in the water. It all worked! Problems to be solved - inefficiencies of a jet at lower speeds, dangers of FOD (foreign object damage), and noise, all old problems with jets in aircraft.

Well, an interesting bunch of boats. We had the big feed and bull session on Saturday night. Sunday brought more fine weather. After noon the usual Sunday buzz boats came out and we all trailered up and headed home before they would spoil the mood.

The Midwest Messabouts have always been on the weekend before Father's Day and at the Gun Creek Recreation Area at Rend Lake in southern Illinois.


I'll review some details of Chuck Leinweber's Caprice .




I keep trying my hand at these little rowing boats. The idea is that they will cartop very easily, row quite well with one person and take two adults in a pinch. I also try to keep them somewhat seaworthy and easy to beach.

Rogue should be a very good cartop all around rowing boat. I kept her length down to just 10' which should mean that the boat will be short enough to cartop without bumper ties. That gets important because automobiles lost their metal bumpers back in 1990. It will also keep the weight to about 60 pounds for an easy lift to the roof. It should be easier to load than an 8 foot dink because those really short boats often can't be loaded one end at a time - they must be put up there all at once. Even ten footer might be too short for "one end at a time" loading although I know I can load an 11' Piccup Pram that way on a compact car, at least.

I kept the capacity up there at about 400 pounds with lines such that the stem and stern are still out of the water. With a light weight hull that should mean the boat might still row well with two adults. One might ask why longer boats are preferred. First, a longer boat can be faster at any loading because when operated at a low power mode, the speed of the boat is limited by waterline length, the longer the faster. That's because long boats make less waves that short boats and those waves are made by your arms in a rowboat. There are limits to the length, of course, but a really serious racing hull might be 20' long or more for a single seater. (I once saw on a college campus a racing boat for a four man crew, over 60' long as I recall. The rowing coach was trying to recruit men to row it, saying he preferred red shirted basketball players - the bigger and taller the better.) And one might remember that there are other elements that cause drag such as skin friction and windage, both factors get worse as boat length increases.

I went to multichines with Rogue and would expect her to be a good sea boat for the size, at least when rowed solo. (That is another argument for a longer boat. When loaded with a passenger the weight in the boat gets pushed to the ends and in rough water the boat will not lift itself over the waves but instead pushes through them and that usually slows you down. A longer boat is not affected as badly here.) I'm quite certain that a multichine hull has less drag all around than a flat bottomed boat, although I suspect the V is better yet. The multichine hull is a very good compromise in that it will beach flat and have draft somewhere between a flattie and a V bottom, everything else being equal. My first rowboat, Roar, had a hull like Rogue, but was 14' long. I found out from it that a multichine has little resistance to side loads, as in a cross wind. Thus to avoid needing to row in a "crab" in crosswinds, a multichine needs a lot of skeg area and a full length keelson.

Construction is taped seam. Three sheets of 1/4" plywood will do it and only two thirds of that ends up in the boat, the rest used as temporary forms that are removed. No jigs or lofting.

Plans for Rogue arel $15 until one is built and tested.


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.

Caprice: Chuck Leinweber of Duckworks Magazine has finished the prototype Caprice. I got a ride and some photos at the Midwest Messabout and will have a full report soon. Caprice plans are now available as a "done" boat for $45.


Normsboat: This is an 18' sharpie being built by Cullison Smallcraft in Maryland. You should be able to check on it by clicking through to his web site at Cullison Smallcraft. He is presenting an excellent photo essay of how to assemble a flattie. This boat has been launched and I'll have a writeup about it in two issues. Normsboat plans are now available as a "done" boat for $35.

Family Skiff: A Family Skiff has been started in Virginia.

HC Skiff: One of these is going together in Massachusetts.

Electron: An Electron has been started in California.

Mayfly: A prototype of the original 14' Mayfly is going together in New York state.




Mother of All Boat Links

Cheap Pages

Messing About In Boats

Duckworks Magazine

The Boatbuilding Community

Kilburn's Power Skiff

Bruce Builds Roar

Dave Carnell

Rich builds AF2

Herb builds AF3 (archived copy)

JB Builds Sportdory

Hullforms Download (archived copy)

Plyboats Demo Download (archived copy)

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