Chebacco News 09

Chebacco News


Number 9, May 1996

[This issue of Chebacco News can be seen (in glorious colour) on the World Wide Web at:]

More from One Who Waits

In the last issue Marc Lindgren told us about the hatch he built into the cabin roof of his Chebacco-20, One Who Waits. He has sent me a bunch of photos of the boat which will be of particular interest to builders of lapstrake Chebaccos.
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Marc spiles the shape of the main bulkhead

The cabin top showing the hatch

View of hatch from inside the cabin

Another view of the cabin top

The hatch certainly makes an attractive feature on Marc’s Chebacco. Builders will, of course, need to make up their own minds whether a hatch is more important than the mast slot of the drawings, since you can’t have them both!

Weather helm . . .

Phil Bolger sent me the following letter:

A couple of owners have found their Chebaccos so balanced that the mizzen needs to be shaken to avoid too much weather helm. Not all have this; it may be a quirk of sail draft. But there would be no harm in opening the mainmast partner as far forward as the taper of the trunk allows, so that the rake of the mast can be reduced if it proves to be desirable. . . .

[I wonder whether sail makers realise that the Chebacco Mizzen is more of a steadying sail than a driving sail, and as such it needs to be cut dead flat – a straight luff and no broadseaming. Clearly a full mizzen would provide a lot of drive that would exaggerate weather helm. Another possibility that strikes me is that, if your mast partner is in place and you are loath to start sawing, the mast step is quite easily adjusted to bring the rake of the mast forward, though with slightly less effect than an equivalent adjustment to the partner. – B.S.]

‘Jib-booms and bobstays!’

. . . well, not exactly, but Phil explains:

We have an inquiry about a bow-sprit. If intended to be used close-hauled, it should be very short and very stiff, or else have a bobstay. We tend to think it not worth the complication. A flat-cut reaching spinnaker, single-luff type, guyed out on a pole, would add more performance but the question of added clutter remains. Rather than make a drawing for this, we’d suggest trying it out with a borrowed genoa jib of appropriate luff length, on a makehift pole to suit. Exact size and shape aren’t critical. P.C.B.

[If you are unclear about how a reaching spinnaker should be rigged, Phil’s AS29 design has this feature and you can look at the drawings in Phil’s book ‘Boats with an Open Mind’ for further details. – B.S.]

News from British Columbia

Jamie Orr writes:

Just a quick note to let you know what’s happening (or not happening) in lotus land.
[‘In’ joke – B.S.]

I had a quick visit from Fraser Howell at the end of February. He had his photographs along, although they weren’t quite up to date – he has finished veneering, but the photos didn’t show that. I was impressed by his adaptation of building method to suit his materials on hand.

I guess it’s true about white oak beiong hard to glue. Just this weekend I noticed that the joints in my stem are letting go. The stem is made up of eight pieces of 1/4″ thick white oak. These were soaked, pre-bent together over a form, taken apart to dry, then glued over the same form using epoxy thickened with microballoons. The work was done before the low temperature arrived so I am guessing the failure is due to the white oak. I knew its reputation, but hoped that epoxy would handle it. Another possible factor was the pressure needed to hold the wood to the form, it may have squeezed too much glue out the edges. Chalk one up to experience.

Luckily, I had put in screws every six inches or so, alternating from front and back, after the glue dried. These should help to hold the shape in for now, but I think I will replace them with bolts, with as much epoxy as I can work into the cracks, before I leave it.

I’m still working on the centreboard and case, not pushing too hard as I’d like some warmer weather before epoxying the pieces of the hull together. We’re still getting frost some mornings, which makes it cold for around here.

I’m looking forward to the next edition of Chebacco News. I hope that I’ll have something to contribute by Summer. How do I print the photographs? Do you work right off ordinary prints? I’ll try to get some decent shots of my work-in-progress, although the shelter restricts what can be done.


Good point about photos. Yes, ordinary prints are what I work from. I just scan them in and ‘paste’ them into the document. Some of you have commented that photographic quality in Chebacco News isn’t quite up to the standard of National Geographic; but then neither is my equipment!

Also- good point about white oak. I experienced this on my last boat and would never use it in a glued situation again.

Still in British Columbia, Randy Wheating in Port Moody has news of his sheet ply Chebacco:

My boat is progressing slowly and surely. I amattempting to pre-build as much as possible before getting into the assembly stage as she will be going together in our two car garage – diagonally, as the garage is 19 ft in length. The bulkheads, molds, stem, transom, centerboard and trunk are basicall completed to date.

The Chebacco News and letters from other builders have been an invaluable resourse for me. Here are my latest questions and comments:

1. Samuel Devlin’s “Devlin’s Boatbuilding – how to build any boat the stitch and glue way” is an excellent reference manual for anyone undertaking the building of a Chebacco. It is comprehensive without being wordy and is available through The Wooden Boat Store.

2. I was a little apprehensive about dealing with the molten lead for the centerboard ballast. A few issues ago there was a letter to the editor of the Wood Boat magazine which I thought dealt with this nicely. It was suggested that the 6 inch square hole be filled with a thick mixture of lead bird shot and epoxy. No melting or pouring lead and bird shot is readily available. I plan to try this out and will let you know how it goes.

3. One of Samuel Devlin’s suggestions, which I have incorporated, is to line the centerboard trunk with countertop laminate. This creates a smooth, tough, waterproof surface that allows the board to slide freely.

4. Phil’s plans show a support surrounding the pivot hole of the centerboard. Is this necessary? If so, what is used? Could a recessed epoxy/cloth patch be used? Is a similar support required on the trunk? I plan to epoxy a short piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe into the board and trunk to act as a bushing for the 1/2 inch SS rod (from a 6 inch bolt) pivot. Does this sound workable?

5. Would it be sensible to substitute hte lower cost polyester resin in areas such as sealing the underside of panels and the inside of the hull while using the stronger and more costly epoxy for areas where great strength and durability is required such as joints, laminates, the outer hull etc.? This could reduce the costs considerably but would the quality be compromised? In my research I have found builders who use only polyester resin (i.e. Harold Payson) and others who use only epoxy.

6.After drawing out the outlines for the main bulkhead onto the plywood and finally getting a feel for the true size of the cabin I decide to expand the cabin sides outwards about four inches to align with the cockpit seat backs “catboat style”. There is some loss of deck but the additional room would be worth it. As the master of a completed Chebacco, what do you think of this plan?

7. On the topic of space below, I have been thinking cbout installing a hinged mast step on the cabin top over a beefed up bulkhead. This would require the tabernacle, two back stays (fixed) and a forestay (detachable). The advantages would be no mast boot required, access to more usable space in the forward cabin area, shorter mast to build and handle and easier mast stepping. The disadvantages are the stays (but I plan to run the optional jib anyway) building the hinge itself (I have never seen any articles or books on this). I have seen this rig on boats of similar size and would greatly appreciate any input on this matter.

I’ll try to address some of Randy’s questions here, but I must admit to being flummoxed by some of them and would be interested to hear your views:

1. I haven’t read Sam Devlin’s book yet, but I do know he produces some superb craft by the methods he describes.

2. I guess the bird shot/epoxy mixture will be a little less dense than lead. A mathematician into sphere packing theory could maybe give you an exact figure. Anyway, what I’m suggesting is that the six inch square hole may need to be slightly enlarged to give the same weight.

3. I believe that Brad Story once lined his trunks in the same way. I’m not sure if he still does. Brad?. . .

4. What I’ve done is to apply an epoxy/glass patch. It remains to be seen whether this is adequate. One consolation is that if not, the centerboard is the easiest part of the boat to replace! I like the idea of the PVC bushing, though.

5. No, no, a thousand times no! My reasoning is that epoxy forms a much more effective moisture barrier than polyester resin. To get the full benefit of this (and it’s a benefit well worth having) each part should be totally encased in epoxy – inside and out. (That’s the epoxy people’s propaganda, anyway.)

6. If you sit inside a Chebacco’s cabin, you’ll find the most comfortable position (at least for a 5’7″ guy like me) is to sit athwartships with your back leaning on the inside of the hull and head under the side deck. So, unless you do away with the side decks altogether, I guess you’ll get little benefit in terms of space gained. You might want to look at Phil’s drawings of the Chebacco-25 in ‘Boats with an Open Mind’ to see how a Chebacco might be built with no side decks.

7. I’m stumped here. I seem to remember that Peter Gray was planning to have mast shrouds on ‘Gray Feather’. Peter? . . .

You tell ’em Peter!

Colin Hunt, of Victoria Australia, kindly sent me a copy of the “Australian Amateur Boatbuilder” magazine (a great mag; I wish we had the like in the UK) which has an article about the Chebacco in it. The reviewer reports that “there are none on the water here, yet.” Readers of Chebacco News know, of course, that Gray Feather was launched in Queensland Australia last year. I’ll stick my neck out, again, and affirm that this is the first Chebacco to be launched South of the Equator. Perhaps Peter Gray should have a quiet word?

Colin is planning to build a lapstrake Chebacco-20, modifying the design to make the cabin 2 feet longer and the cockpit that much shorter. He also asks about ballast. Since he’s a new reader he won’t have seen earlier discussions on ballast. The long and short of it is – some do, some don’t. ‘Toulouma Too’ carries 300 pounds of lead ballast under the floorboards at the aft end of the cabin. Most people don’t bother, since the Chebacco has such a lot of form-stability. So far, (touch wood) none of us has heard of a Chebacco giving anyone a fright.

Financial aspects of building to order and other thoughts . . .

John Gearing of Clifton Park NY (just north of Albany) has sent me a couple of thought provoking Emails:
I stumbled onto [Chebacco News] last night during my first session of cruising the internet. I had heard of your newsletter in WoodenBoat, but I had never got around to writing you. In fact, I have been a Chebacco fan since I first read about the design in Small Boat Journal. I always thought it was sad, or perhaps a commentary on our times and economy, that Brad Story was never able to build the boat commercially for a price the market would support. The major lesson of the WB story about the three versions of the Chebacco, in my opinion, was that it takes about the same amount of time to build the boat, no matter which method one chooses. One can’t help wondering whether jigs and other production aids could cut the labor costs, but then you get into the old “chicken and egg problem” of financing the creation of an assembly line without firm orders in hand. But how do you get orders if you don’t have a production method that keeps the cost reasonable? As I recall, Brad Story had plenty of requests for information about the boat (the market was there) but very few orders (price too high). Once upon a time I suggested to Jon Wilson that a builder could build a run of boats by subscription, using the down payments made by buyers as leverage to get funding for setting up production. At the time I wasn’t sure which boat design might attract enough interest to make such a plan feasible, but now Chebacco comes to mind. I’m going to give this some more thought and will let you know if anything concrete develops. They are such great little boats . . .

and . . .

A few years ago the US boating magazines (I think it was SAIL) had an article on “trailer sailers”. Of course they were of designs not to my liking but I was impressed with a couple of things:


  • they came complete with trailer;
  • and the average cost of the lot was about $11,000.


This was at the time a new Chebacco would have run about $18,000 sans trailer. I keep reading in SAIL and its ilk how there are booming sales in these 20 – 23 foot trailerable boats because they are so convenient, and because one can avoid slip fees. It seems to me that this kind of boat could really open up the sailing world to a lot of folks who don’t live on a body of water but do live within a few hours drive of one. I’ve watched people look at wooden boats and their eyes light up at how beautiful the boats are. It used to be that there was a widely held opinion, no doubt assisted by those who build in fibreglass, that wooden boats were maintenance nightmares while fibreglass boats were maintenance free. We all know by now that no boat is maintenance free and that a properly designed and constructed wooden hull is quite competitive with ‘glass from a maintenance standpoint. In sum, there seems to be good reason to believe that there is a healthy market in the US for a Chebacco-type vessel.

Upon re-reading the above paragraph I realise that I may sound a bit preachy and that I am perhaps guilty of “preaching to the choir”. I don’t mean to go on and on over this, merely to add my small voice to that of the choir . . .

Well – John has given us some challenging thoughts there! I’d be glad to print your responses to his ideas.

Further news and thoughts:

When I started on this issue I wondered if there’d be enough material in the winter season when we Northern Hemisphere dwellers don’t do much building, but we’ve managed to fill this little newsletter with some novel, thought-provoking stuff. I guess Chebacco fans are at the intellectual end of the boating spectrum!

Meanwhile, our little community grows apace – over 40 of us now plus the many who read Chebacco News on the internet.

Keep your news, photos, thoughts, dreams . . ., no matter how outrageous, coming to me:

Bill Samson,
88 Grove Road,
West Ferry,
DD5 1LB,
Phone: (+44) (0)1382 776744 Email: 1

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