The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














Slicer Utility Launch
Design #492 by Phil Bolger
29'0" x 5'2"
Weight 800 lbs. Bare. 1700 Ibs. Full Load

Slicer was designed for choppy water, to keep going without being slowed down much or slamming hard in, say, a 2' chop. Ed Haile ofChamplain, Virginia, the owner from whom we got the most useful reports, says she is "quite elegant" in a 2' chop but "a bit out of her element in 3' and 4' seas," slamming and wet. He reports good steering manners, "holds her course in all seas starting at 3kts on up," with a 30' turning circle if she's loaded aft, it increases as the weight is moved forward. Top speed with a 15hp 4-stroke is 15 knots. At 12 knots she gets 15 nautical miles per gallon of gasoline (15 nautical miles equals 17-1/4 statute miles or 27.8 kilometers).

She was intended to be efficient with a wide range of motors, the man who originally commissioned the design wanted a boat with considerable carrying capacity that could run reasonably well with a motor that he could remove and carry away on his shoulder on account of a major theft hazard where he meant to keep her. We reckoned that she would do 7 or 8 knots with a 6 hp 2-stroke and not be slowed down in a small chop. That may be conservative as Ed Haile's boat can make 11.5 knots with four adults with 9.9hp.

The designed construction was 1/2" sheet plywood, though not laid out for instant prefabricated construction, she had to be lofted and set up boatbuilder style. The first one built that way did not report any problems, though we'd suggest that it might be worthwhile to plank the forward end double 1/4" to make forcing the sheets up on to the stem easier to do and less of a stress on the sheets.

Ed contracted with a small boat shop to build her for him. The builder went to a naval architect to do a CAD rendering of the shape so the panels could be prefabricated. This was supposed to save lofting and construction time, but it seems that the N.A.'s CAD program wasn't able to handle the designed shape of the hull, which is not quite a true developable surface. Whatever happened, when they set her up, nothing fit. The boat showed unfair places and the sheet lengths did not come out right.

The builder tried to fudge it, resulting in a lawsuit and the-transfer of the work to another shop, Craig Watson of North Beach, Maryland. Watson built her, with our approval, of 3/8" Coosa Bluewater foam coring with skins of 10-oz. glass cloth and mat. She came out fair and clean from Watson's hands and may be lighter than the plywood hull, though we don't have a reliable figure on that.

This boat is one more illustration of the distinction between long and narrow. The reputation of boats that are narrow for their length for rolling easily and deep is due to the fact that many of them are narrow for their breadth, height, and weight. The man who commissioned this design intended her to replace a 14-1/2' Jon boat, which he described as a stiff boat. Slicer is the same beam as the Jon boat, and she might be described as the Jon boat with a 14-1/2' cutwater added on to its bow to let her slice through a small chop. The added length was quite pointy so it did not add to her capacity in proportion to the added length, but I take it that nobody will argue that if the after 14-1/2' is a stiff boat and a good carrier, that adding 14-1/2' to its length is likely to make it tender! Still, I can hear many, "yes, buts" coming...

Plans of Slicer, our Design #492, are available for $100 to build one boat, sent priority mail, rolled in a tube. Phil Bolger & Friends, Inc., P.O. Box 1209, Gloucester, MA 01930.