Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(1Jul04) This issue presents the 15th Midwest Messabout. The 15July issue will rerun a really old issue about leeboard issues.



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.


Sandra Leinweber tries to steal Rocky's lunch at Rend Lake.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Rend Lake 2004


...all the great folks who came to the 2004 Rend Lake Messabout. A lot of you drove (or flew) a long ways to attend. It is the people that makes these such great events.

Second I want to especially thank Max Wawrzyniak, the old outboard guru, who does so much to keep everyone informed. Since he got involved the meet has essentially doubled in size. Speaking about doubling in size, Max has about done the opposite having lost 100 pounds this winter by brutal dieting. Most likely he will keep it off since has noted his AF4 is about 10% faster now with no changes to motor. In spite of the diet he is still the grand chef of the Saturday cookout. He also kept a sign in sheet that I am using to reconstruct what happened. I hope I get your names right.

Third I want to thank Chuck and Sandra Leinweber and John Sellers who provided almost all of the photos. I took some too but proved again that I can't take pictures and steer a boat at the same time. (John came to the very first Rend Lake Messabout.)


... is all important at a meet like this and usually it is so-so, this year no exception. We had a good breeze on Friday for some spirited sailing. Saturday was a bit calmer with a shower here and there. But one of the good things about a meet that last a couple of days is that you will always get some hours when the weather will be OK, and so it was this year. The lake was a bit high again, good in that you don't run aground much but bad in that our "beach" got rather small.


... has changed a bit over the years. Originally it was on Saturday and Sunday. I used to show up on Friday afternoon and usually be alone until that evening. Now some are showing up on Thursday and by Friday noon there are several boats in the water. Saturday has always been the main day with the cookout getting better every year. (Although the Bloomington, Indiana cookout still has us beat I think.) The Sunday boating is minimal now with most folks hitting the road early on Sunday morning.


Max was the earlybird at this one, arriving on Thursday evening with his AF4 and his Oracle rowing boat. Had them anchored out.

Chuck and Sandra Leinweber arrived early Friday with the prototype Ladybug on trailer with a new Toto and soft skin kayak strapped to the top. I hope to write up the Ladybug next issue. I got a good ride on it on Friday and was quite impressed with it all.

We launched all and jammed them onto the little beach, shown here. Max's AF4 is in the background, my and Chuck's Totos in the foreground, along with Chuck's Ladybug and Phil Lea's Junebug Plus.

Phil Lea was another early bird bringing his Junebug Plus, about a 10% enlargement of the Bolger Junebug. Chuck and I sailed alongside Phil on Friday. Phil's boat is almost always the fastest thing around and he knows how to make it go.

Also there on Friday was Dave Seaberg with his D4 dinghy. I think this photo was taken on Saturday when Dave was working hard on his sunburn. He is from the Rockford area and not used to sailing an hour in one direction:

I got there too on Friday with my AF4 and Toto.

Mike Zenker (and daughter) was back for the second year with his Campanoe, a very interesting commercial boat. Here it is all folded up on its trailer. It unfolds to become a low power catamaran with a screen house.

Kilburn Adams and wife brought their Skiff America, using it as a camping trailer at night in the camp ground. You can link to Kilburn's website on his boat (he sells plans) through the links at the bottom of this web page. I met Kilburn about 20 years ago at Carlyle Lake and it was he who introduced me to lug sails and also low powered skiffs. My AF4 is a result of his conversations and experiments.

And Rhett Davis and Dianne Miller trailered this AF4 all the way from the Georgia coast where it has been getting a lot of use:

Saturday brought Bill Pettit and his modified Campjon. He shortened it 2' by truncating the snout but that won't bother it in smooth water (and a jonboat is not a rough water boat in any case). The cabin is also different from the plans Campjon but it all was very well done, I though. He went fishing in it Saturday but he had to hurry home and I didn't get a chance to try it out with him:

Bill Hoevel brought a Gator Croc with antique motor from St. Louis, one of Max's old motor buddies. I think this one is fresh from the work shop:

And Paul Ellifrit brough again his beautiful Selway Fisher, a sailing design that he has modified for low power. I think this boat is well traveled.

Gary Lang brought this very interesting flat iron skiff with electric power. The motor head is mounted to the rudder and is quite powerful, 60 pounds thrust and 24 volts as I recall. Not shown are the two batteries needed in the bow to store the juice. Very much a "laid back" boat as quite quiet and smooth:

The two jetski powered boats were back this year, Guy Boyce and Larry Poulon. Guy's boat is a modified Crestliner (I think) that came from the junkyard but you would never know that after seeing it. Larry has recently sold his jetski skiff which is homebuilt. He is moving in another direction now, thinking of a tunnel drive outboard jonboat since he lives in an area of pretty but shallow rivers.

David Grey of Polytarp Sails fame brought his Cartopper complete with one of his first polytarp sails. He also provided the big tarp we stretched over the cookout which came in quite handy:

Jeff Hoesel brought another small runabout complete with an antique motor. The design is a Jinx from the free plans that magazines like Science and Mechanics offered in nearly every issue back in the the 50's and 60's. Here he takes his two girls for a spin. I guess this is what we did before jetskis but this is on 12 or 15 hp:

Paul Brunkow also brought his Cartopper for a few hours sail. Glad he had a bit sailing breeze this year:

There might be others that didn't get photographed.


We have this fairly unplanned cookout on Saturday evening. This all done under one of Dave Gray's big white polytarps since it would shower every now and then. Max and I run into town to buy the basics but all the other goodies are pitched in by the folks. Good variety and no one goes hungry. Got to talk with several folks who did not have boats there but more important brought themselves. The sign in sheet shows they were David Billsbrough, Robert Eggers, John Sellers, Roger Shull, Marc Pauls, Chris Feller, James Dagger and Paul Haynie. I found this year that the evening and late evening and really late evening conversations were sustained by these folks.

Max ( Sandra Leinweber said we should now call him Slim) is shown here putting the spoon to two big pots of peach cobbler all cooked over coals in a device that featured a modified grease barrel. He is already dreaming up next year's masterpiece!


...We'll look at leeboard issues.




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.

The Texas Ladybug is done! Complete story in a few weeks:

Out West the Picara picks up where it left off before the winter:

The Deep South Skat is done! Hopefully a full story in a few weeks:

Another Picara, this one with a 1' stretch in the middle, going together in Arkansas. Sailmaking done and its on to glassing the hull.

This is an AF4Grande well along):





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