Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15jun07) This issue will present the 2007 Rend Lake Messabout. The 1 July issue will rerun the rowboat setup article.



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.


A sailing Shanteuse! Bob Williams and Chuck Leinweber bring her to shore at the 2007 Rend Lake Messabout.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Rend Lake 2007

Great weather for a messabout and 31 boats! Probably won't get such a combination again for a while. I arrived about noon on Friday but several folks were already there on Thursday. Thursday had gusts to around 40 so I doubt if they got in the water. But Friday was overcast, about 80, and a good sailing breeze of 10 to 15 across the lake. My first trip through the campground brought me right to Chris Feller's new Philsboat which had gotten its feet wet for the very first time that morning.

The water level has been low at our lakes all year, the result at Rend was that we had four pretty good places to beach right at the camping loops, none enough to absorb all the boats at once, but enough for four or five at each place. Cartoppers were simply slid down the banks, no launch ramp required.

I grabbed a ride with Chris first thing. This Philsboat was a prototype and built to the plans (except he borrowed the 91 sqft lugsail from his AF3 while the print shows a 114 sqft sail). Chris had slept in it on shore the night before, supposedly with an airconditioner set in the front of the slot. We took off to the southwest with the wind from the northwest. Dave Seaburg was already way out there miles away. We barreled along on a single tack for about an hour with the gps bouncing around 5.5 to 6mph the whole way. A great way to start the meet. As we approached the dam, Chris did a 180 degree turn and we barreled back at the same speed. I hope to have a full report on Philsboat next issue. Here is another photo taken on Saturday, much lighter winds:

I was thinking a 15' boat can't go that fast but the whole time Tom Hamernik was flying alongside with his Mixer rigged with a sharpie sprit sail. So he was going that fast with a 12' boat.

And don't forget Dave Seaburg out there in his 11footer. His gps took him over 11 miles in less than 2 hours. Shows you what the right wind can do. Tom was wetter than we were.

Tom also brought his CLC kayak and there were quite a few smaller boats around. Max Wawrzniak brought these three, his Oracle, Larsboat, and a new kayak he built based on a Cape Charles design.

Phil Reed brought his brand new perfect Toto down from the Illinois River where he paddles, rows and sails.

And messabout regular Paul Ellifrit made the trip from Missouri with his perfect Acorn Skiff which he uses for both rowing and sailing:

Richard Spelling and family trailered all the way from Oklahoma with his veteran Bolger Light Cruiser:

Also out there was a red Glen L power skiff but he was too far and fast for me to catch and I didn't get to meet him. I think he had emailed me earlier. (Someone remind me who it was and I'll correct this essay later.)

Friday night more arrived as we settled into the campground. Clear skies, light winds. We chatted into the night watching satellites fly by and arguing how gps works.

Saturday was bit of a different story. Clear skies, 80 degrees but light winds instead of the sailing breeze of Friday. Actually a good chance for all those paddling boats..............

I had my trusty very worn Roar2 with me this year. As I rowed around on Saturday morning I saw.... what's this?!

It's David "Polytarp Sails" Gray with this biplane Puddle Duck racer. (Duddle Ducks were developed by our old buddy David Routh of Shorty Pen fame.) Yes, two masts side by side just in case you were getting bored. And a rudder and leeboard sized to handle it all.

And out of the launch cove also came another PD Racer with Bill Giles of Memphis at the wheel. He was "just passing by" he said, with his PD in the back of his truck. No, there was no race. Bill is shown here in the background with Max and his kayak.

Out also in the light winds were Dave Seaburg again in his Windigo 11, his own design, and Jim Tucker and co. with his new modified Normsboat. I think this was the second sailing for the Normsboat. The hull is pretty much to plan but the sail rig is not since it now has a standing lug and a mizzen. I had warned Jim that my experience with standing lugs were such that I quickly made a boom for it and thought the boom to be one of man's greatest inventions. A boomless sail uses your hull as a boom and you must sheet it to a very specific place on the hull with each point of sail. So Jim was experimenting with booms, in this case a quicky painter's pole. It buckled on the windy Friday but did the job on Saturday. Might as well also mention that lugs like to be hoisted 40 to 50% aft along the yard and Jim's looks to far forward on the yard to me. Oh well, A new boat, new things to work out, and that's what its all about.

Here is another of Tucker's new Normsboat, pulled up on the beach for sleeping as the designer intended:

Bill Hoevel returned with his Gator Croc and a couple of ancient outboards. He uses this boat for duck hunting and what you don't see is a pair of large permanent wheels mounted below the stern. You would think they would act like sea anchors but it still will get up and go.

In the mild conditions everyone had a chance to get out. Here is old buddy Larry Applebaum in his Swamp Yankee canoe, another veteran of the messabouts. With Phil Reed in background in his Toto. You can take these little boats along anywhere with you like you would take a briefcase. The green boat is Mike Zenker's Campanoe, now a collector's item. Two plastic canoes joined in the middle with a folding hinge so it trailers with the two hulls quickly stacked one atop the other and folds out to be a power catamaran. Has tables, chairs, full screen house, etc. Another veteran of the meets.

Kilburn Adams came from St Louis with his Skiff America 20:

And he spent some time scooting around with Steve Lansdowne who had this Wee Rob sailing canoe but no wind. Both of the boats are pretty much perfect, wish I had gotten a closer picture of the Wee Rob.

Off the beach sailed this cloud of polytarp which is an Uncle John Skiff variant by Philip Frohne. I think he said he had three sail rigs with him, this must have been the most outrageous. But his sprit was broken so he later switched to his lateen.

Also out on those glassy waters was Paul Hayne in a production Angler kayak and Rovie Alford in a Grumman canoe with motor and training wheels. They are also messabout veterans.

Remember Bishop Curran with his "ain't got no rudder" sailing canoe. Still ain't got no rudder although he said he thought a bit about adding one. Now he is building something from scratch but last year's strangest boat of the show is still OK. Here he is in the boat's center steering by swinging the leeboard for and aft, the guy in the back is just for looks. Yikes! It works!

And another veteran, Steve Lewis with the "scout canoe" he brought last year now rigged as a trimaran. Wish I had gotten a closer photo. Outriggers are just plywood frames with floating "noodles" stuck on for buoyancy. Yikes! It works!

And this is not Kilburn Adams again but Bill Dulin with a twin to Kilburn's Skiff America. Bill told us great jokes I can't repeat.

I suppose the biggest and most complex boat we have ever had here is this Bolger Scooner by Rob Rhode-Szudy, a man of endless energy and imagination. Third year here and all the bugs are worked out. Let's see what have we here - Rob and wife and two daughters and big dog and Chuck "duckworksmagazine" Leinweber at the wheel. Chuck and Sandra were here from south Texas again only this time on the tail end of a business trip, so they had Volkswagon and no boat of their own (and I should tell you one of the best ways to enjoy a messabout is to not bring a boat).

Looks like Max again in his kayak telling them what to do again. Rob also brought a Polepunt but I didn't get a photo.

And what have we here?

Bob Williams, 82 years young, recently moved from south Texas to nothern Michigan and after he learned to handle the upper peninsula started tooling around in his sailing Shanteuse. I have no drawings of a sailing Shanteuse so you would have to wing it like Bob did. Hull has been given a swept up stern that matches the bow for low power efficiency. Has a 5hp B&S motor. 114 sqft of sail I think. Yikes! It works! At least in the light winds we got it around. Here is a photo of the inside with Chuck L again mooching another ride.

Lots of room. I had never seen a Shanteuse for real and found it very roomy and I was quite happy with it. Steering of the sailing version is still in the works. To steer from inside the tiller is hooked up to the ropes you see along the ceiling. Takes a bit of getting used to.

Also on Saturday, as I rowed to the launch ramp looking for Jim Tucker, I found Mike and Linda Walsh there with perfect Bolger Cartopper and a stripper Wee Lassie canoe. They were packing up to go already but I convinced them to stop by the camping circles for a closer look at the others. It is a fact of the Gun Creek layout that you can launch at the right ramp and never see the messabout going on a half mile away.

And here is my trusty Roar2. You see the great beach we had this year (because of low water) in the background. To launch the little ones you slide down the bank from your campsite.

I think I have mentioned all the boaters at the meet. There were other fine folks around for Saturday night's cookout.

Many thanks to all, especially Max Wawrzyniak who slaves over the stove making cobbler (with icecream this year) and doing most of the overall organizing for that matter.

Hope to see you next year!

NEXT TIME: We will take a look at setting up a rowing boat.




Every now and then I draw up a sailboat with a centerboard. A boat with a centerboard can have a prettier rig sometimes because the rig does not have to be centered over the hull's widest beam, as it does with a leeboard boat. But the sail area still has to be right above the centerboard for the boat to balance well. In Vector's case, the widest hull beam is 10' aft and the centerboard is between 4' and 8' aft. And that is the downside of the centerboard - it takes up some the prime space inside the hull.

Some designs will skimp on the centerboard size in order to take up less prime space but the result of that will always be more leeway when sailing to windward. In round numbers the area of the board that moves through the water needs to be about 4% of the sail area to efficiently counteract the full side force of the sail. Essentially the centerboard "flies" through the water in the same way that an airplane's wing flies through the air. True, water is about 900 as dense as air but things conspire to keep the centerboard from getting 900 times as much force from a given area. First the centerboard cannot develop a really high lift coefficient since it must be symmetric in cross section in order to operate on both tacks, unlike a soft sail which can be shaped with camber to reach a Cl of 1.5 in a good sail and maybe 2.0 in a great sail. Worse yet is the fact that the centerboard will flow through water at a fraction of the wind speed, and if your boat is beating to windward at 3 knots in a 15 knot wind, the 4% rule works out almost exactly. That is the worst case - beating to windward especially in rough water. If your boat were to hit a big wave and slow down below 3 knots, or if the centerboard were undersized to start with, the board will "stall" and develop no more lift no matter how much angle of attack (leeway to a sailor) you demand of it. The only solution would be to "fall off" the wind, pick up more speed, and try again just as an airplane pilot needs to recover airspeed after a stall.

Vector was inspired by the 12' Skat. It will be a much better family boat than Skat because of its greater capacity. Two adults and two kids would do it. There is a huge water tight storage volume behind the cockpit. The transom is quite wide and will take a small motor on a bracket mount, or you might try building in a motor notch to one side.


She's V bottomed as you see. Should be fast and handy, better than a flat bottomed boat although she will be a bit tippier and draw a bit more water than the flat bottomed boat.

There are two prototype Vectors that I know of. The first was by Peter Mohylsky down on the Gulf Coast (hope it is still there).

I never heard much of that boat but the second by Mike Sandell showed up at the 2006 Rend Lake Messabout much to my surprise (I had to ask what it was) and I got to talk to Mike and see it sailing for two days. Mike has a website at http://www.geocities.com/michsand@sbcglobal.net/ (archived copy) where the building is well covered. He was still quite new to the boat but especially on the second day, after he had tweaked the lines on his polytarp sail, he had no trouble sailing and sometimes leading the fleet.

I asked Mike to write a bit about the experience and he responded:

"My Vector was built over a period of five months in 2005, beginning in March of that year. The wood used was AC grade plywood purchased from the Menards home improvement store, with framing purchased both at Menards and Home Depot. The large pieces were cut to shape using a table saw with the blade set to a shallow cut. Small pieces were cut with a sabre saw.

"The glue used in the project was Titebond III, produced by Franklin International. which is an ANSI/HPVA Type I waterproof glue. Clamping of parts on the project was accomplished using a combination of deck screws and PVC clamps.

"Parts were cut in my basement workshop, and assembly was done in the garage. Taping of the seams was accomplished using marine epoxy and fiberglass tape purchased from Chuck Lienweber at Duckworks Boatbuilders. Two layers of tape were applied to both the inside and outside of all seams. Filling was done using both epoxy filled with wood flour, and also polyester auto body filler, depending upon the application.

"The boat was finished using an oil-based alkyd primer and oil-based industrial enamel, also purchased at Menards. Brightwork was various types of moulding pieces, held in place with stainless steel wood screws and stained with a Minwax water-based light oak stain. Final finishing of the brightwork was done using Johnson's Paste Wax.

"Fittings were all purchased from Duckworks. Running rigging is all braided nylon line from the home improvement stores, except for the mainsheet, which is twisted polypropylene, which is easier on the hands than nylon cord. The sail was made using a kit from Polysail International, and was completed in a single day, as advertised. The working lines for the sail are both led to cam cleats on the rear top end of the centerboard box. The mainsheet goes through a traveller mounted on the rear deck, and from there through turning blocks on the underside of the boom and finally to a block on the back of the centerboard box. The rig includes a boom vang, and the boom sets on the mast about fifteen inches above the deck when the sail is properly set.

"My boat includes four minor departures from the plans. The first is centerboard box. The plans call for cutting the bottom of the box to fit the curve of the hull bottom, setting the box on top of the hull, and then glassing it in place. I didn't see any way that I would successfully cut the box to precisely match that curve, so instead I cut the bottom slot wide enough to fit the centerboard box through it. I then glassed it in place from the inside, carved and sanded the protruding end of the centerboard box to match the outside curve of the hull, and then glassed the outside edges to finish the installation.

"The second change was in the seats. I'm a fairly big guy, and found that changing sides during a tack or jibe was difficult due in part to the limited foot space between the seats. The original seats were fourteen inches wide, and I replaced these with twelve-inch wide seats. The extra four inches made a huge difference for me.

"The third change was in the jaws for the boom. On a windy day last summer (before I had installed the boom vang) I broke the jaws while running downwind. Rather than build a new, long set of jaws, I cut off the broken set short, and then just used a longer cord to wrap around the boom. The cord is waxed to help ease movement, and does not carry any parrell beads. This has worked fine for me since then.

"Lastly, I did not construct my gaff and boom from laminated lumber as specified in the plans. Both are banister rail pieces purchased at Home Depot. The piece used for the gaff felt stiff and heavy, and was used as-is. The piece for the boom felt less robust to me, and got another piece of wood laminated to the flat surface on the bottom. I think I cut that one a bit too low, however, and it still worried me a bit. I plan on making a new boom this winter, which will have a deeper piece glued to the bottom of the railing to produce a "keyhole" shaped boom, similar to the T-booms seen on other small wooden boats.

"My Vector was named "Valkyrie", in homage to my Swedish ancestry on my father's side. Because of the gaff rig, it takes a bit more tweaking of the sail to get things just right than on simpler rigs. But once set, she really screams. "Valkyrie" accelerates very quickly on reach, and will point nearly as high as a sloop rig. But if the sail is not set properly, she'll flutter and stall in a heartbeat. Really keeps me on my toes! The only additional change I feel the boat needs is a longer tiller for single-handed sailing. Other than that, she is a joy to sail, and was worth every last minute put into her creation.

Taped seam construction. She needs four sheets of 1/2" plywood and six sheets of 1/4" plywood.

Plans for Vector are $40.


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.

We have a Philsboat going together in California. You can see the interior room in this 15' boat:

And here is another Philsboat in northern Illinois by Chris Feller. Hopefully full rundown next issue.

HOLY COW! A Jukebox2 takes shape in Minnesota. Unheated shop means no work during the winter. Check out that building rig!

And the Vole in New York is Garth Batista's of www.breakawaybooks.com, printer of my book and Max's book and many other fine sports books. Boat is done, awaits water. Beautiful job!





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

Hullforms Download (archived copy)

Plyboats Demo Download (archived copy)

Brokeboats (archived copy)

Brian builds Roar2 (archived copy)

Herb builds AF3 (archived copy)

Herb builds RB42 (archived copy)

Barry Builds Toto

Table of Contents