Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15July10)This issue will start a recap 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.


Hot time in the Georgia summer? Sean Moffitt fills his Piccup Squared with water and invites some friends over.




Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.




2010 Texas200a


...Chuck Leinweber of Duckworksmagazine.com has been putting on the Texas200 for a few years now. It is essentially a "cruise", not a race, that goes from Port Mansfield to Magnolia Beach (near Port Llavaca), about 200 miles total, with overnight stops at agreed upon places such that you cover about 40 miles a day. Only the second stop, at the Padre Island Yacht Club near Corpus Christi, is in a populated area. The other stops are remote and you need to be prepared to rough it for five days and three nights. Actually there is no place to buy any supplies along the way either.


...to get me down there. He had been suggesting I participate for a long time and I've been hedging for all sorts of good reasons but eventually he cornered me and I had to go. So on Friday, June 18, he and Sandra picked me up at the San Antonio airport and thence to see the Leinweber ranch and the Duckworks factory and a general tour. Later we went to the local fine brewery where we met fellow travelers Bill and Sean Moffitt and Paul Haynie. The general plan was that Chuck and I were to sail his Caprice on the cruise and Bill and Paul were to sail Chuck's brand new, only once before in the water, Laguna. Sean had already been roped into another boat as you shall see.

We were to leave early Saturday morning with two vehicles towing the two boats but auto troubles delayed things until late afternoon at which point we saddled up for the long trip to Port Mansfield. Actually this drive was a bit of an epic in itself and I learn in an exciting way that Texas highway exchanges are different from what I am used to. We got to Corpus Christi about dark and as we motored south from there we were passed by Andrew Linn's rig, More about that later.

We arrived in Port Mansfield about midnight. Plan was to camp in the little park they have on the waterfront there but it was at that time very popular with the local kids so we moved to the lot of the public ramp. Bill and Sean and Paul quickly set up tents while Chuck and I dove into Caprice's cabin for a few hours of sleep. The porta potti at the parking lot was quite memorable, worth the trip by itself. Nobody dared use it.


... is a little town with very few people actually living there it seemed. I take it many of the houses there are vacation houses and the main event is sport fishing in the bay. It is on a large lagoon, maybe 5 miles of shallow open water to the barrier island and very long. It's about 20 miles north to where the lagoon narrows to a ditch cut for the intercoastal waterway. And I guess heading south in the lagoon might get you all the way to Mexico. So there is a lot of shallow open water. The intercoastal waterway channel is cut through the lagoon, marked by closely spaced buoys and there is a channel cut from the town's nice harbor to the waterway and beyond, right through the barrier island I think to the open Gulf of Mexico if you care to go out there. But the tx200 is all on the protected side of the barrier islands.


...was a "get ready" day. We launched the Caprice and Laguna and moved them across the harbor to slips next to a motel room where the the four of us were to crash for the next two nights. Ahh - air conditioning! But there was much to do. We stopped at the park again where some TX200 boats were starting to assemble.

Did I say "starting to assemble"? Well in some cases they were "starting to be assembled" In particular Andrew Linn's Laguna at this point looked like this"

Building on the beach was an event I had heard about long before but had to see to believe. Inside that pile on the utility trailer was the makings of a 23' Laguna. He had prebuilt it at home but used no glue, just lots of screws. Now it was time to assemble with glue. Remember this was Sunday morning and the cruise starts on Tuesday morning. In the background you can see other boats being readied.

As the day went by more boats appeared out of nowhere, some small and homebuilt and some large factory jobs. A few had sailed to Port Mansfield from points far south just to make it more of a challenge. There were some PD racers there outfitted for adventure. Here is one,,,

A nice little package. The PD guys hung together very close and for a very good reason as we shall see.

We stopped back at intervals to see how Andrew & Co were doing on the Laguna build. This time they added PL Premuim as they screwed it back together.

Quickly it went 3D and had the bottom on. And then the decks and other pieces. I suppose in about six hours in the hot sun they had the basic hull ready.

But other boats continued to arrive during the day and find a place to tie up or beach for the night. You might recall that Chuck had me design Laguna just for this event and at this time we had five of the existing six Lagunas at Port Mansfield. Andrew's was almost done, and so was John Wright's. John's was something of a tricked out version but was also still getting its final fitting out anchored just off the park (the water there is about thigh deep). And John Miller had arrived with his, called "Cowabunga", plus his wife and boys who were to make the cruise with him. And Michael Monies was there with his very well proven "Blue Laguna", veteran of the Everglades Challenge and the OBX130. And don't forget Chuck's Laguna. The only one missing was Gordo Barcomb's boat which was the prototype. So we were setting up for a Lagunathon!

Sunday night was a bit more civilized that Saturday's. A cool motel room and a restaurant meal. I slept on the couch.


...is shuttle day!

But first a quick check at the park at sunrise and we see Andrew's Laguna getting tossed into the water for the first time...

You can also see a small factory trimaran behind it on the beach, another entry in the tx200.

Then the Monies family gave us a great breakfast feed right at the public ramp parking lot. Then Chuck gave the shuttle briefing and tied up the loose ends using Mike's boat as a stage:

Here's the deal. Drive your vehicle with trailer 200 miles north to the little town of Magnolia Beach, near Port Llavaca. There you will find a general store with a grass lot with a pickup truck with big flags to get your attention. Park on the grass and climb into the tour bus that will be waiting there. DON'T BE LATE BECAUSE WE WON'T WAIT FOR ANYONE! It leaves at 1pm ready or not!

Mike was left to clean up but you see he had some free help...

Then off to Magnolia beach. Let's see. Some last minute organizational duties and then we need to stop at a Walmart and then a trailer experiences a flat tire and then we can't recall exactly how to get to Magnolia Beach. Sean's van is running on fumes. We get there at 2. Good thing the bus waited for us.

Then 200 miles back to Port Mansfield by bus. Pretty comfortable and lots of idle chatter. At Port Mansfield the bus driver takes folks to their individual hangouts but remember this is a pretty small town so that is all done in ten minutes. Chuck has a blinding headache by now for some reason, takes a bunch of asperin and flops into bed. Bill and Paul and I head to the Windjammer, the only restaurant in town, for the last supper. But remember this is a small town. The Windjammer probably serves maybe ten people on a quiet Monday evening. And now about 50 hungry boaters arrive quickly. The help are overwhelmed but they soldier on and we are all fed with lots of time to talk. Then back to my couch for the last night in civilization for a while. No real need to pack since I never really unpacked.

Next time....

...WE'RE OFF!!



Mikesboat is a big Piccup Pram. It is slightly narrower in proportion. The idea was to have something like Piccup that was large enough to take the family so she has two bench seats 8' long. It should be a good expedition solo boat with a boom tent fitted over the cockpit. Mikesboat has the Piccup layout with buoyancy/storage chambers fore and aft but now there is also enough room for a small motor well across the stern. As a rule something like this needs maybe 2hp to run at hull speed and even then there would be some extra. This shape of hull with multichines has proven good in rough water with fair speed.

Sail rig is the same 96 square foot sharpie sprit rig that I used on AF3 and a few other designs (actually it is the mainsail from a Bolger Jinni design I built 20 years ago). This is a change from the balanced lug rig that Piccup uses but Mike had good experiences with his Mayfly12 which used the sharpie rig and that is what he wanted. I would expect the sharpie sprit to be slightly better to windward than the lug but not by a lot and the sailmaker's talents might be the deciding factor here. There is no doubt that the sharpie sprit mast is perhaps 50% longer than a similar lug sail might need.

Mikesboat uses taped seam construction. Takes nine sheets of 3/8" plywood and three sheets of 1/2", compared to Piccup's fives sheets o 1/4". So you see that scaling up a boat makes for a lot more wood and weight.

I dunno if Mike ever built his boat but Bill Moffitt in Atlanta made one to run the Texas200. He is an experienced builder and sailor and made a thorough job of it in a big rush towards the end. Launching at the Texas200 was its first time in the water. His wife sewed the sails the day before he left for the cruise, and this was her first set of sails! The sail rig he wanted was a lug main with a sharpie mizzen. I drew those up for him and they are now included in the plan set. Here is his boat under sail:

Here is another photo of the boat beached beside Chuck Leinweber's mothership Caprice (which was designed originally for Bill Moffitt!) at the end of the cruise:

The cruise involved camping through several nights and Bill did something I have always thought about but had never seen. He pitched a standard tent in the large Mikesboat cockpit. A lot cheaper than a custom boat tent, for sure, but it takes a big cockpit to handle it. Mike also had some sort of center platform to fill the space between the long bench seats:

Well, three cheers for Bill and son Paul!!! As far as I know the 200 mile cruise went off without a hitch, the boat right on. But I suggest that most of us couldn't get away with going on a long cruise with an untested design.

And here is another Mikesboat, owned by David Chase...

Plans for Mikesboat, showing both sailrigs, are $45.


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.....





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