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by Robert Jacobs - Fresno, California - USA

Part One - Part Two

I do like this boat. Oh, I mean the Frolic2 design, by Jim Michalak. I think it is saucy and peppy, I think it is strange and beautiful, and I think it will make a great tool for the jobs I have in mind, namely sailing and rowing around in a little boat where I can have a permanent little dry(ish?) space to keep my coffee, books, and clothes. I bet you thought I was going to say socks, but I don’t even own a pair anymore…

This is a boat I can build quickly and cheaply, as far as these things go, yet is as capable as any her size, and possesses a couple features few other boats have (I’m talking to you, slot top!). Here is a vessel that I can disappear in for days, or weeks, at a time, but not so large as to preclude day sailing.

Really, Chuck deserves all the credit, because I simply would not be building THIS boat if not for him and the Duckworks gang (Crew? I like gang, because it sounds tough). I would never have even known this boat existed if I hadn’t been goofing around on the Duckworks site, ironically, looking for bits to build a different boat. I certainly would not be typing (keyboarding?) this if it weren’t for that Texas Dynamo. Bless, you, brother, for catching us all in the web.

I originally thought to build a different, less epoxy intensive boat as my sail-and-oar-camp-cruiser boat. I wanted a boat that I could cruise alone or with one, and daysail a few, and found a slightly more curvy, expensive, complex, and time consuming  boat to build than the Frolic, but the same basic ballpark as far as size and performance. My wife bought a set of plans through the Duckworks site, and they were so friendly (and helpful, because we needed it…).

A pile of stuff destined to be a boat.

I thought to look for building supplies I could buy from them to use on my boat-to-be.

I should add here, that I am not an internet person. I quit regular interface with it sometime around the dawn of high speed. I just don’t like it. Just this here amount of sitting still to type in front of this little glowing box (well, it’s really more like a Pee-Chee folder stuffed full) makes me crazy. See, I have a very bad case of Shiny Thing Disorder. Plus, I got (food, y’all) gardens to tend, birds to watch, fish to catch, and marathons to train for. Did I mention the kids to raise yet, kayaks and canoes to paddle and/or build, an old house to keep propped up, and old car to keep running, and an ever growing pile of books to read (some of them are even fiction!)? Goodness, y’all, I’m wore out just listing it all, so I think I’ll grab a book and head for whichever hammock isn’t in the sun right yet…

The fact that I am a trained draughtsman and calligraphist may have a bit to do with my disdain for the box. Let’s say it’s not a tool I choose to use, like an electric router (not the computer kind, the spinny blade kind). I think of the router as a fantastic tool I never need to use, and the computer to be his cousin.

The fact I am now typing this and interfacing on the web doesn’t mean I’m getting a router (either kind, wise guy), or a table saw, nor booking my face, so calm down.

You can imagine, I would imagine (heh heh), my amazement at what I found on the Duckworks site. I’ll admit to having been drawn back onto the internet when I HAD to upgrade my cell phone (ahh, landline, with no recorder, I miss you…) to a smartphone, and stumbling onto a small skin on frame (my real Kryptonite, Batman) forum, so I knew there was stuff for me out there, but I wasn’t really prepared for the DW site.

Man, I read stories and watched videos until my teenaged kids began to get worried. If a teenaged kid thinks you are on the internet too much, by the by, you ARE! I found an article about Chuck and a guy called Gary doing the Everglades Challenge in a boat I was interested in building (ahem!). The writings and videos entertained me, so I sought out some more by this Gary fella. He (Gary) reminds me so much of our dear departed Huell Howser, a fine example of California’s Gold. The next video link I found was to another article about Chuck and Gary doing the EC in a weird/cool boat called Oaracle that Gary had built. I don’t know, but something about the SeaBird/Chebacco boat feel about the boat just got me.

I checked out the design, which I learned was a Frolic2, because the web has all these convenient links to lead you deeper and deeper into it, and I was excited and disappointed by what I found. See now, I gave up on strip/glass and stitch and glue back around the same time I ditched the internet, because I just couldn’t do epoxy anymore. Perhaps I became sensitized to both? I mean, I could deal with the small amounts of goop need for glued lapstrake, but no more EVA suit-up-buckets-of-toxic-gloop sheathing for me.

That’s where the Frolic2 dream would have ended, too,  if it weren’t for Duckworks. More specifically, Duckworks epoxy, which I insist on calling Duckypoxy. Here is a product that seems to address all my qualms about epoxy and will allow me to utilize some great construction methods again. I think a wood core (yes, Virginia, even plywood) covered in cloth and gloop makes a great boat, especially a dry sailed boat living desert adjacent, and doing tremendous amounts of windward work at 48 knots.

Perhaps the greatest part of the Frolic2 design is it can be built something like licketty-split. I have built a few dozen something or so boats, not including the scale models, so the build will be easy for me, and should go quickly, but then again, this boat would be easy for ANYONE to build.  

She won’t be my first five panel boat, but she will be the first I’ve owned with a slot top, though we almost built a Bolger slot-top boat years ago. And, she will be my first Michalak boat, which makes me happy, because I remain a hugenormous fan of Phil’s, and I think Jim is carrying on that particular subset of Phil’s work admirably. And Dynamite’s work. Boy, we can’t forget him.

Of course, you know I bought some Frolic2 plans and a bunch of gloopandglass from Duckworks, right? Then I bought a short stack of domestic ply (hand selected with my son, some of it gorgeous), dug through my stack of lumber (boy is IT ever gorgeous!), and built an epoxy station and workbench in the newly converted garop from some scrap junk I had laying around. You don’t throw stuff away, do you?! The bench was necessary because I have been building boats outside on the porch or under the persimmon trees for years, but decided to move into a more controlled environment for the gloopening. Really, I think my wife decided, but she made me feel like I did. She is an amazing and patient woman, who can paddle the bow seat of a canoe like nobody, Jack, so I do what I can to make her happy.

The plan is to have this boat done and launched before summer’s out, and then sail and sail and sail her about 156,379 hours this fall and winter, and then drag her out to Texas and sail the 200 next year. And then sail and sail and sail her some more, see if I can’t wear out these lakes, or the Bay or Delta (either side, y’all).

And then?

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