Timely reports of interesting goings on from around the boat building world.  If you have pictures of anything of interest please send them in for posting.  Don't be shy.  Send to:



February, 2002

From: Jim Chamberlin:


Reading the latest Duckworks and thought I'd send off a quick hello. After
launching the second Pointy Skiff (Silly Shark - owned by 6 yr old grandson,
Branden)I decided to something for myself and started a Pygmy "Coho" kayak.
Should turn out to be a beautiful boat. Hopefully will launch in about 3

I have also been volunteering one day a week at the San Francisco Maritime
Museum's small boat shop. The shop is restoring a 21' Bear Boat - A full
keel sloop, cuddy cabin boat built about 80 years ago. We are also doing a
new 12' SF Bay Pelican.

I bought the plans for Dave Carnell's $200 sailboat. Look's easy enough.
Thinking of trying that next.


Jim Chamberlin 

February, 2002

From Alan MacBride: 

Hiya Chuck,

02/02/02 - "Nautical Follies" celebrates two years on the 'net. describes in detail the ballast keel project; a complete rethink of the original concept. It was fast, clean and decisive. shows that despite tribulations, "Albatross' Adventure" is far from over, but making steady strides forward.

Congratulations to the Contest Winners. Fine looking boats.


February, 2002

From: Dave Nolan: 

I built a Tolman Skiff in 2000-2001 and needed a piece of VersaLam.. about 18 feet all told, to make the stringers.  I selected the Versalam stock that was closest to 2 X 12, which I needed to rip in half at 6 degrees, to which I would then power plane to the dimensions needed to make both stringers for the hull.....

I went to 84 Lumber - in nearby Wall Township in New Jersey  to buy my Versalam.  As I recall, the clerk that serviced me was named Steve.  He asked me what it was for and why I needed 19 feet..... He was skeptical about it going into a boat even after I told him I had inquired with System III (epoxy) and VersaLam and it being Doug Fir (and dry -having stood in the rack for over six months), would suck up the epoxy well.  He remained dubious.  Steve struck me then as not being the brightest clerk of all time. Little did I know.

I paid the guy the $105 and got my receipt - filed with all my carefully stacked receipts needed to keep careful track of the true cost of building the Tolman.  Aside:  Although Renn's Book says it costs about $1800, mine ended up "somewhere around 4K".

At any rate, Steve took me out to the stack of VersaLams and I selected the one I wanted.  His choice of cutting implements was not a sabre saw or something I thought the lumber company would have readily available.  It was a 20" gasoline powered chain saw.  The clerk, unwisely, decided not to take the entire 40 foot section of the VersaLam down from the rack.  Rather, he would save a lot of effort and cut it right on top of the other pieces in a rack suspended about 4 feet high.  After about 10 pulls and a steady stream of cussing, the chainsaw started.  Steve did not elevate the piece he was cutting.  As such - he started to cut into the mid-section of the board below mine.... at about the halfway point.  (I really hope whoever uses these for main beams in houses checks them carefully.)   As I pointed it out to him, he got mad and put the saw down.  He had difficulty getting some scraps under my board, in the rack - so then he decided to lower the half cut 40 foot versalam.  Once again - he astounded me.  He simply grabbed the far end and twisted the board off the rack... the half cut heavy Versalam hit the ground and broke where he had made the cut.  The remaining board was damaged by the rough break..losing a good foot and a half.    That made me laugh.  That made Steve MAD.   Really mad.  Who was I to laugh....?

What he did next was truly amazing.  The broken Versalam was on the ground... my 18 foot plus piece, and the other half about 22 feet minus the damaged end.  Steve started the chain saw to straighten the damaged piece and attempted to cut through the Versalam.  This time he put scraps under it.  But as he finished the cut, the chain saw was still running fast and he hit the gravel and the chain blew apart.   My good friend and helfpul clerk slammed the broken chain saw on the ground and screamed "F***!"    He simply walked away and left me with my Versalam soon to be Boat stringer.   I thought Steve needed a rabies shot then and maybe distemper too.   I was in tears.......  If I had a video camera I'd be rich now....   I seriously doubt Steve had a long and happy employment at that 84 Lumberyard...

Dave Nolan
Brick, NJ

February, 2002

With the collapse of my website: disappeared from the net. My new website is found at . Sheers and chines, Barend Migchelsen 

February, 2002

From Pat Patteson:

I think I'm going to have to wait a little for the weather to warm up before I start on my AF4. (My shop doesn't get very warm)  We finally got our first Snow Fall of the year, and the temp is in the mid 30's.  Really Just Pretty, and no big problem.  A little too cool for epoxy though. That's a picture of my Rapid Robert, yesterday, under the Snow and Blue Tarp.  Brrrr

Pat Patteson 

February, 2002

From Peter Barter:

Has anyone built or sailed an Acorn skiff based on I Oughtred's design? As I am currently building one myself, in France, I would welcome the opportunity to glean information, advice, opinions on the subject. I am building the 12' version with a centreboard, have just fitted the keel, transom and stem and am about to start fairing them prior to boarding, have not yet decided on the rig (but plan a hollow mast and, possibly, spars) and am aiming to varnish the boat inside and out.

I hope to hear from someone!

Peter Barter 

February, 2002


I just looked in on Duckworks in detail for the first time in a while - very nice.  The Michalak catalog is especially good, looks like a good deal for both of you.

I have cleaned up my site a bit, not much new content, but I do have a friend doing a great job on a 17 foot Diablo.  Check it out at

Next time I'm editing I'll put a link to Duckworks - the premiere homebuilders site!  Congratulations again...

Don Hodges

February, 2002

Planning to attend Conroe if possible. Maybe have the PCat.  Got the ports installed yesterday. Weather has been too cold and rainy to do much.  Picture of the name (Star Trek) and light air jib under construction. Notice Mardi Gras Colors?

Ken Abrahams 

February, 2002

Dear Chuck

Thanks for your wonderful ezine, I log onto it regularly to read articles from boat builders and others,

I thought you might be interested in a brief report on my current project.

I have been day dreaming about building boats for some time, and first "put my toe in the water" building a small row boat. But my real ambition was to build a camping cruiser capable of taking me down the Murray River. The Murray is a bit like the Mississippi with less water, Australia is a very dry continent.

I read an article by Arthur Wade in "Australian Amateur Boat Builder" about the launch of his boat designed at his request by Mike Roberts of Headland Boats. It is a 6.2 metre dory style camping cruiser. I decided this was the boat for me. So I have purchased the plans and started building. It is supposed to be complete by Christmas 2002, as it is my turn for the family Christmas celebration, I am not entirely confident.

I have created a web page of construction so far, if you are interested the link is

Thanks for your great site, a place for dreamers

Tony Liston 

February, 2002

I dashed off a page on breast hooks and quarter knees from dowels yesterday. Here it is if you might be interested.

Thanks again for all the great work you're doing. I loved Kevin's new article - He's boat builder's Dave Barry!   later...

David  Beede 

February, 2002


Harrigami sailing and trailing photos attached.

On the trailer. Mast goes under the cockpit, sits on the lee hull. Boom could go on top, but the trailer exceeds the min weight required for brakes, so I put it on the car roof rack. Saw horses are to allow the cradles to be wheeled off the trailer. A problem caused by the second hand trailer.

Sailing. Front rudder locked, steering with aft one.

Shunting, or maybe reaching....

View from windward. Will look better with windows. Observe bend in the mast.

These photos were taken in 5-10 knots of breeze, boat speed about 7 knots. Just before and just after we were well into double figures, although it would be hard to tell from photos.

Been out on the river (4 mile fetch so the waves get reasonable) half a dozen times in breezes from 0-25 knots. Harrigami handles like a dream. Top speed so far is 14.8 knots, recorded on a broad reach with 3 people on board and full sail in 15 knots of wind, measured by the Bureau of Meteorology. So effortless that no one bothered to look at the gps, which fortunately has a "top speed of the day" function. In 25 knots we did easy 9-10 knots tight reaching, with only a reefed main. Plenty of scope for improvements in all wind strengths. The rudders work well, shunting is very easy, even without the jib, and/or in confined spaces. The sailmaker cut down the jib a little more than necessary, so the mainsheet loads are high. Needs 2 hands to sheet on with the 1:1 sheet, or a judicious luff. Without the jib, (used as the first reef) a detachable 4:1 tackle handles the loads pretty easily.

Tried angling both rudders to windward, and the boat achieved negative leeway, but at a high cost in speed lost. Should be enough to prevent anyone passing close to windward, or starting to windward of us.

Changes so far include better hinges and locking system for the beams, although I think that single piece, demountable beams may be a better idea. The trampoline is a disaster as it keeps stretching, particularly when wet. Discussions with the supplier are ongoing. 
The mainsail halyard lock was excellent till it broke. I am still at the drawing board on this. Everything else is pretty much as designed.

The paint job was done by Michael, from EcoCat R&D. It is instead of fairing and saved a lot of work and bog. We will be letting him loose on the sails when the recuts are finished. The "Ecocat R&D team" is a group of guys keen on building lighter, cheaper boats and components. They will build a Harrigami to sailing stage for $Aus20,000/$US10,000, plus materials. Freight to most major ports is about $aus4,000.

Only problem at the moment is the mast, which is far too bendy. This makes decent sail shapes difficult, and in a seaway, the shrouds going from slack to tight really shakes the boat around. Apart from this, the motion of the hulls through the waves is very smooth.

The mast problem is not easily fixable, so I have decided to build a new one, testing a technique which will enable amateurs to build them at a reasonable cost. More on this once it has been proven, but it should lower the materials (including plans) cost for a ready to sail Harrigami from $Aus20,000/$US10,000 to $Aus15,000/$US7,500, not bad for a 10.5m/35 footer with full accommodation. The Easyrig is still my choice for cruising, but I suspect that for racing, the lack of ability to sheet the main down the traveller without moving the jib track to windward is costing us some pointing ability. Consequently the new rig will initially be a windsurfer type. This will require a sheet winch, but will save considerable weight in the boom. The mast will not require shrouds and will be telescoping. This allows access under Perth's bridges, makes raising it on the trailer much easier, reduces windage on the mooring and when reefed, and will turbo charge the already impressive light air performance.

Current plan is to build a minimal windward hull (partly for reduced sailing windage, mostly for easier trailling, it is a 4,000 mile trip) and maybe longer beams and take it, with the new rig, across to Sydney for AMOC (Aus Multis offshore champs) in October. A crew position is for sale to the highest bidder, if anyone is interested.

Trailling is not yet perfected, due to the drawbacks of a second hand trailer. It will be much easier with a custom trailer and some practise. Took me 6 hours from arriving at the ramp to launch. Pretty lousy, but there were mitigating circumstances. It was 35 degrees C, I was solo and a lot of the fixings are still temporary. I also got into a bit of a mess raising the mast. With improved systems and an assistant, a 2 hour time will be possible.

Sue and I slept on it last weekend. No problems. This is not cruising, but there are no indications that it will be any less enjoyable than Harry was.

Havent got a motor yet, which accelerates the sailing learning curve! In no wind, I can paddle (single oar, sitting on the beam) it at 2 knots (gps) and about half this into about 10 knots of breeze. In 25 knots (today), I haven't a chance, had to drop the anchor and swim a rope ashore.

As you can see from the pics, Harrigami has 2 sponsors. Anyone looking at the Ultrasol website (when they finally get it running), please mention Harrigami, and ideally, buy a pair of sunglasses. They are putting on a big launching party next week. It is at a marina 25 miles up the coast so Harrigami will get a decent workout coming back into the 20-25 knots seabreeze.

After a lot of indecision about whether to sell plans or not, I have found an expert draftsman, Mark Stevens, who will be drawing the plans. Like me, Mark is in the proa game primarily because he enjoys fast, light, low cost boats.

Mark's wife Michele is a web whizz and is handling the web site. Address to be advised when it is up and running later this month. Once this happens, progress reports will be posted directly to the web.

About Harrigami:

Harrigami is a folding, traillerable proa based on what I learnt with Harry (Harry + folding/origami = Harrigami), my 12m/40' proa. Harrigami is 10.5m/35' long, 5.25/17'6" wide and has all the accommodation in the windward hull, the short, fat, high one in the photos. This hull has full headroom, a huge double bunk and a single, plus table and seats, the galley and toilet, all of which were to be installed before it was launched. It is 8m long (Harry's was 7), wider and better set out. The materials weight of Harrigami ready to sail was 525/kgs 1150 lbs. The finished weight is 550 kgs, with bunk and galley installed, but table and seats yet to be finished, or started, for that matter! For racing, the windward hull is easily detached and a much smaller, lower drag hull installed. The long skinny hull is always to leeward and has the rig and rudders in it. Harrigami will use the rudders and rig from harry. Perth is far windier than Brisbane, and the boat is lighter so the rig has been reduced in height and area. 

Harrigami took 449 hours to this stage, including mistakes, testing, thinking time and cutting and shutting to lower the cockpit floor, excluding a few weeks of messing about with the trailer, the paint job (68 hours), altering the boom, mast and rudders from harry and playing with the folding system. Materials for the hulls and beams, including consumables and the trailer came to $5,435. This includes some bargains, which may or may not be repeatable. In the unlikely event that I learnt the lessons from this one and applied them to building another one, I would expect to have a much better job in under 300 hours.

I have an Excel spreadsheet with a fairly complete breakdown of the costs, weights and time. Anyone wanting this, please ask. If you can't use excel, let me know and I will send it as text.

For more information and some pictures of harry and U (7m prototype of harry) have a look at

Any questions, please ask.
Rob Denny