Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

118 E Randall, Lebanon, IL 62254

A page of boat designs and essays.

(15June013) This issue will cover the Rend Lake 2013 meet. The 1 July issue will complete the Bobsboat design series.



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.


With brute determination Mike Sandell mounts an....ummm....oar where his broken tiller used to be. It worked! Paul Ellifrit wonders where his oar went to at Rend Lake. I show this in case you ever need to do the same.



Contact info:


Jim Michalak
118 E Randall,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.



Rend Lake 2013


...The day before I was to leave for the Rend Lake Messabut my little truck blew out a brake hose and I had to abandon the idea of taking a boat to the meet. The first time in over 20 years I went there with no boat. So I got the old car fueled up and went in comfort, my camping gear in the trunk. Later I realized this had an effect on my photos which this year were taken strictly from the shore whereas in past years I used my boat as a floating camera platform and was able to pester people into making many runs past the camera, maneuvering hopefully to get wind and sun just right. So the photos this year are a bit different.

Arriving at the lake takes you across a long causeway in the lake's middle and you can see to the dam to the south. I could see a few sails out there so I knew the gang had preceded me. I arrived on Friday before noon but the hardy get there on Thursday or earlier. Driving to the campground I found Mike Sandell repairing the tiller on his Fatcat2...

Seems the old had broken in mid lake earlier and he had gotten back with a tow from Paul Ellifrit. After some head scratching and a survey of what was close at hand, the quick, simple and very effective solution was to bolt an oar to the rudder head and thus the Fatcat returned to action. I'm not sure if anyone even noticed the repair but it really looked salty to me and a candidate for "There, I Fixed It".

As I started pitching my tent I soon found I had no pegs or the little doohickeys needed to assemble the frame of a Eureka. Hmmm...looks like a trip to the Benton Walmart is in order again....it has saved our butts many times.

Returning it was time to view the early arrivals. Let's start with this one...

This is Gene Berry's boat from west Missouri. It is one of my Mayfly12 boats but with a difference. As he assembled the hull, had it upside down waiting its flat bottom, he decided to experiment with a V bottom. So he sculpted one so to speak by eye and did a fine job. Now, the winds were light after Friday morning so I took advantage of my boatless situation and gave this one a go. Lot's of fun. The boat surely floats on that V. It is tippier than a flattie and less comfortable, needing seats of some sort to keep your bottom from forever sliding to the bottom of the V. But it is smoother handling, quieter and faster I am pretty sure. And more involved to build, or course. I think Gene's rig here is right to the blueprint, leeboard and sharpie sprit sail. A bit more on this later.

A bit down the line were these early arrivals. The power skiff is Paul Ellifrit's modified Family Skiff, now in its second season as a power skiff. These boats won't plane but Paul got by nicely with 5hp and served to tow a few folks back during the days. Up on the bank is the CLC Chesapeake of Paul Ellifrit The Younger. Beyond that is a new Family Skiff by Tim O'Gill. The lake was up full this year, right to the tippy top.

Looking back the other way we get a better look at O'Gill's boat. Brand new with a skipper and grandson both new to sailing. But the light winds were quite good for the new sailors as they get to learn by trial and error without getting upside down.

Mike Giles returned from out yonder in the light winds with his oars down. This is a much travelled Mayfly16.

Later in the day more boats filled in the blanks. Mike's Fatcat returned to action...

Here's a closer look at Paul's Family Skiff conversion...

And Paul The Younger's CLC...

Next in line was a new AF4, started by Chris Feller who somehow shortened it to 17' to fit his workspace. But it went from Chris to Currie Bishop with "only 40 hours of work left" he says. Currie completed it just now and with 5 hp hauled his growing family around the lake all weekend, a perfect application for the craft says the designer. Currie was the theology student who showed up a few years back with a rudderless sailing canoe conversion (that worked, sort of) but now he is out ouf school with a parish of his own plus a very growing family. If you think the whole world is going to hell, you haven't met Currie....

Next down the line was Steve Lewis' collection, this year brought in two waves. This he calls a 10' Eiderduck, which looks sort of like a Puddleduck/Goose middleground. He signed this one off to his daughter Natasha who helped with the cooking on Saturday night.

Steve, who is quite a veteran of this and other messabouts, also brought along Steve Junior plus his restored 1956 Starcraft power skiff and a Butterfly sailboat

Another veteran is Dave Seaberg with his own design WINDIGO, about 12' long I think with a shallow V body. He and Carolyn did a lot of sailing on the main lake on Friday in the great wind conditions then.

With the sun getting low the lake really became a millpond and Kilburn Adams, his son Michael, and Bill Dulin broke out the RC airplanes. Kilburn and Bill have Skiff Americas, designed by Kilburn. Michael has a veteran Bolger Teal that probably came to the very first messabout decades ago. But for now they gave an airshow...

That attracted a good crowd, both from our group and from other boaters floating in the cove...

Sweet weather.....


...brought a few surprises. First, Chuck The Duck Leinweber, of Duckworks, arrived along with Bill Tosh, the Duckworks sailmaker. Here Chuck photographs a variation of one of the Duckworks deck plates made into a screened window by Paul Ellifrit...

Later Chuck took a spin in Berry's V Mayfly. More sweet weather with winds too light to really go anywhere but enough to move around the big cove.

Hello! What have we here?

He says you can't carry it like that in any wind. These two fellows, who didn't stay until the sign up sheet went around so I don't know who they are, come every now and then with their Uncle John's Skiff fitted with some outrageous sail rigs. This year it had a rigid sail that slips over an aluminum tube mast and can turn in any direction. I think this was maybe the second trip out with it. They say the sail gives no clue as to the direction of the wind, as a soft sail can, and one must focus on the masthead vane. But alas,

Even a supersail needs wind. So the little Tanaka provided the motion. Great fun though!

Back down to earth a bit, Rovie Alford adjusts his Piragua for a paddle. This boat was also rigged for outrigger oars but the paddle is much simpler. I found that to be true with my Toto also...

DC Brown brought that yellow Catbox and went for a sail. DC is pretty local to Rend Lake and saved our bacon by volunteering to be head chef for the Saturday cookout.

Ron Vansaghi brought this beautiful dory. Looked just like my old Bolger light dory but Ron says it is a Northhaven dory...

And Charles Vansaghi brought his Pooduck from Woodenboat. Nice traditional lapstrake, the only one at the meet I think...

Back at the grass beach it was business as usual...

The bright colored sail on the Puddleduck belongs to Alan Enlow who uses his local relatives as an excuse to drive from Texas to the messabout. Also, way in the background you can just make out Paul Haynie rowing his modified production canoe fitted with forward facing oars.

I got this last shot just at sunset. Don Bloss has this Mud Peep fitted out as a "for sale" boat...


...is cookout time. It is actually the only planned event of the weekend. About 4 we take a quick head count (usually about 40) and run down to Benton Walmart again for the basics. Other dishes appear like magic on the picnic table. Here is the head cook DC Brown at work...

Feeding the masses...

And then a nice evening around the campfire...

That is Tim O'Guill in the glasses no doubt telling a big one, trying to outdo the Texans we had this year. I think he was telling us about getting 200 angry bees to sting his face at once. Ruined his beekeeping career.


Everyone leaves early Sunday to face a long drive home. Just as well because like most lakes on Sunday after noon Rend becomes swamped with big horsepower driven by small minds. But wait! Here was one last nice sight to see...

Oldsters like me will remember Larry Applebaum's Nancy's China, named 60 grit. This is that boat! Now owned by John Gibbons. (There was, I am told, another Nancy's China at the meet! That one was quite different, no cabin and a different rig. The owners left before the evening so I don't know who they are. Alas.) I noticed that John continues the large dog crewing option that Larry started.




Tom Raidna's Toto

The photo above is from Tom Raidna.

Toto has been my most successful design. Initially she was an experiment to test a new bow shape - a deep V bow that blends into a multichine well aft. There's a twist in the bow bilge panels and at the time I didn't know how to expand those panels on the drawing board. So I built her without them and then sized them by cut and fit. Then I recorded the shapes on the prints. Nowadays this sort of twisted paned expansion is routine on a computer to great accuracy (provided the input is accurate).

The boat is an easy prefab job from two sheets of 5MM ply. Marc Smith came to the 1994 Midwest Messabout with tow of these Totos strapped to the roof of his Birdwatcher. They were built by two twelve year old girls under Marc's guidance. Marc said the girls did all the work including using the power tools. And they paddled around the Messabout in them.

It's fun to compare Toto with the typical minimal dink because they usually come from the same pile of stuff and labor. Toto covered the 6000 foot long dam at Carlyle lake in 14 minutes with a moderate paddling effort for 4-1/2 mph. She's more seaworthy but she's wetter when pressed because of paddle splash. She has a buoyancy/storage chamber aft. It will keep your shoes and stuff dry while you splash around and I believe it has about 180 pounds of buoyancy volume if the hatch cover stays watertight. (But you can't "self rescue" in any boat like this without very special training. It's best to stay within a short swim or wade to shallow water.) The open cockpit is large enough to allow sleeeping inside, as I have done many times. She's shaped for easy cartopping. In good conditions she'll paddle two adults. The long lean bow seems to ignore an overload, unlike plumb bows which can become cranky when immersed. She'll take you through some very rough stuff if you are solo. But the dinks have their place too. They can have sailing stability and many will find their elevated seating more comfortable. By the way, a boat like Piragua with a simple wide flat bottom won't be as fast or as seaworthy as Toto, but you might be able to stand up in Piragua. Don't expect to do that in a boat like Toto.

I've rounded up some more Toto photos. Here are three by John Mulligan on Long Island. These three and Raidna's look to me to be build per blueprint. (I'd sit a little farther forward myself.)

Mulligan's Totos

Dale Dagger rides a wave in Nicaragua in his Toto.

Here is Bob Hoffert's Toto in Ohio, maybe the first boat after mine. Looks like he has added a fore deck and put a big access hole in the aft bulkhead. (Remember that the aft storage box is also supposed to be an emergency buoyancy air box to help save your butt in a capsize.)

Hoffert's Toto

Here is John Ellwood's Toto in Massachusetts. Crowned fore and aft decks and another access hole in the aft bulkhead, although this one appears to have a cover.

Ellwood's Toto

Here is Garth Battista of Breakaway Books with a small foredeck and some good company:

Here is Don Duquet with good company getting ready to watch a space shuttle launch:

Here is Bob Cole's delux Toto, totally decked with watertight storage in both ends way up in northern Canada:

And the fanciest Toto ever by Dean Souza in Washington, with watertight storage fore and aft, fancy coamings, cleats and line chocks, even the national flag flying on the stern!

Souza's Toto

Bob Hoyle in Florida:

And Al Fittipaldi (New Jersey) made this Toto and got a picture of it in Woodenboat magazine!

And Amanda in Barry Johnson's Toto in South Carolina. He has a Toto construction website at Barry Builds Toto

And Bill Turnbull's Toto on the Florida gulf coast:

And Stephen Dandridge's Toto delux out in California:

And we think this is Terry Lesh's Toto delux (seen at a boat show out West):

And here is one by Don O'Hearn of St. Louis, photo from the 2002 Rend Lake Messabout:

And Al Straub's Toto in Michigan:

That is all I can find photos for right now. I'm sure there are more.

Plans come with complete instructions including the details of taped seam construction and a drawing of a simple paddle that works. (Marc Smith's girls used double paddles made from old vaulting poles with plywood blades bolted on. I tried their boats and paddles and they were quite good.) No jigs or lofting required.

Blueprints plus instructions for Toto are $15 when ordered directly from me.


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 out West.

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.

And a Deansbox seen in Texas:

Another prototype Twister is well along:

And the first D'arcy Bryn is taped and bottom painted. You can follow the builder's progress at http://moffitt1.wordpress.com/ ....





which should give you a saving of the original Chuck Leinweber archives from 1997 through 2004. They seem to be about 90 percent complete.



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)

Puddle Duck Website

Brian builds Roar2 (archived copy)

Herb builds AF3 (archived copy)

Herb builds RB42 (archived copy)

Barry Builds Toto

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