Chebacco News 23

Chebacco News

Number 23, October 1998


Peter Gray’s GRAY FEATHER with a bone in her teeth

Peter Gray, of Queensland Australia, sent me this wonderful photo of his sheet-ply Chebacco-20 GRAY FEATHER. Peter writes:

I have been sailing GRAY FEATHER a lot and the more I sail her the more I realise what a great design she is – so user friendly.

I entered a wooden boat regatta at Tincan Bay. There were about 25 boats in it. GRAY FEATHER won the prize for ‘Prettiest Boat of the Fleet’ (1 bottle of rum!).

Regarding your previous letter about topping lifts, this diagram shows how I did mine. The topping lift in this case also forms a lazy jack, making sail handling very easy. Floorboards – I completely sealed my cockpit, making it into a cockpit well. I use a small bilge pump to take the water out to the outboard well. This keeps the hull completely dry,

I have put a small headsail on the boat and have found that this helps her to windward very nicely – Not because of more leading edge, but because the headsail creates draft between it and the mainsail.

I am experimenting at the moment with a small bowsprit and putting a lightweight genoa on this, mainly for reaching and running. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Gil and Joan Fitzhugh visit Scotland

Gil Fitzhugh writes:

In eary July, Joan and I savored the opportunity to sail on Bill Samson’s Chebacco in Scotland. Unless Phil Bolger is a big name in Alaska, this is about as far north as his sphere of influence has yet reached. Scotland’s at the latitude of Hudson Bay; if you’re in a little unballasted sailboat in Hudson Bay, you’re not at the top of the food chain. Be reassured, however, that polar bears are not a threat in Scottish waters.

Bill Lives in Dundee, a small city pleasantly situated on the north shore of the Firth of Tay. Translated into North American, that means the estuary of the Tay River. It’s helpful to learn a few words of Scots: ‘firth’ means estuary, ‘strath’ means valley, ‘dun’ means fortress, ‘Islay single malt’ means ambrosia, ‘Damn! I missed the mooring’ means come about and start the engine before we go aground. See how easy it is?

Summer in New Jersey often means hot, sticky, sultry, stagnant air with 2 miles visibility in sunshine. Summer in Scotland seems to be cool, mostly overcast, breezy, with 20 miles visibility sometimes lowering to 4 miles in light rain. Always be prepared for rain. If you’re lucky, you won’t get it. We were lucky both days we sailed. And the sailing is grand. Both days we needed to take in a reef – a tremendous improvement over listening to limp sails slatting in almost no wind. Forget shorts and a T-shirt – you sail in jeans and a sweatshirt. And sunblock, because there’s a lot of UV coming through that cool overcast.

Our longer sail came on a Saturday. Had we been underway by 9:30, we could have beat upriver on a flowing tide to a beach about 7 miles away, had lunch, and then run home on the ebb tide. To these two American slug-a-beds, 9:30 still felt like 4:30 am, not an hour at which we’re prepared to sail (although, in July, 4:30 am local time in Scotland is full daylight). So we got a late start, and had a fun time beating up-river through the first of the two great bridges over the Tay (the road bridge). By the time we got to the second (railroad) bridge, there was no help to be had from the tide. We were still beating and the bridge was playing hob with the wind. So we turned around.

Going upwind, the Chebacco tacked through a precise 90 degrees on Bill’s compass, and made very little leeway with the board down. (Our only prior Chebacco sail had been in Sister Krista’s TOULOUMA TOO, whose board was stuck in the up position – she made considerable leeway.) Bill can tie off reefs in the middle of his boom, so reefing was a relaxed operation. On a dead downwind run, the Chebacco was very easy to steer. It could be a popular boat for hijacking by polar bears in Hudson Bay, since the cockpit will comfortably hold Papa Bear, Mama Bear and a whole passel of cubs.

There were dolphins in the Firth of Tay. This surprised Bill, who hadn’t seen them before. Since we were there, they’ve apparently taken up permanent residence. But remember, guys, we saw ’em first.

If you get to Dundee, ask Bill to take you sailing. You won’t have to ask him twice – his family aren’t sailors, and Bill likes company. You’ll have a blast!

Fraser Howell experiments with Jibs:

Fraser writes:


Fraser <>

Hello Bill,

Itchy & Scratchy has been having a busy summer. Everything is holding up well. I’ve been trying out different jibs in an attempt to reduce the weather helm when beating. I have a short bowsprit, so I have the ability to fly something bigger than the optional 30 sf jib shown on the plans.

Yesterday we rigged up a Laser M sail, which has a shorter luff than a regular Laser, and is 65 sf. The winds were < 10 km, so not a real good test. The boat balanced well on an almost neutral helm, and was faster. The laser sail sets nicely and gives good overlap. I can’t say for sure that she points higher. The best sheeting point is about 1 ft forward of the cabin bulkhead, 4″ in from the gunwhale. This is quite a bit busier rig , a handfull for the solo sailer, and draws some attention.

We will continue evaluations, but so far I am convinced that the Chebacco is a more capable sailer with a bigger jib. I’ll update you later.

I hope that this doesn’t spawn any gaff-rigged lasers.

Fraser Howell

I was concerned at Fraser’s report of weather helm, which has never been a problem with SYLVESTER, so I sent this reply:

Dear Fraser,

Readers of Chebacco News will be interested to read about your weather helm and your experiments to cure it.

Funnily enough, I’ve never had serious weather helm – nothing that’d make my tiller-arm ache anyway. I’ve helmed a Wayfarer in a good blow and that’s much worse. The worst I’ve ever encountered was an 90-year-old 50 foot yawl, where I had to take the main sheet end around the tiller to give enough purchase to hold it. It was a plank-on-edge boat which belonged to ‘Titus’ Oates of the Scott expedition and that type is seldom guilty of severe weather helm. It had been re-rigged from gaff to bermudian at one stage, so maybe that was the reason, though I can’t think why.

I find with the Chebacco that if the heel is kept to 12 degrees or less (reefing if necessary) then weather helm is slight. My mainsail has its maximum depth well for’ard – at about 30% of the way back from the luff. I’m sure that must be significant. Modern sails usually carry their max depth at about 40% back.

The trim is also significant. Weather helm is reduced by keeping the weight well back. Mine trims down by the bows a wee bit (I think my mast’s a bit heavy) but I keep the anchor amidships – nothing heavy up in the bows and the crew (if any) sits well aft.

I’m not sure about mast rake. Mine is almost exactly vertical.

The other thing is how tight you sheet the mizzen. My mizzen is cut dead flat and I harden up the snotter to keep it as flat as possible. I find that fine control of weather helm (on some points of sail) is possible by adjusting the mizzen sheets. Close hauled in a force 2-3 it’s possible to lash the helm and let her take care of herself for quite long periods. For example, I’ve done that and gone below to tidy up and she’s maintained her course for 20 minutes or more.


Fraser elaborated:


Thanks for the detailed reply. I’ve been keeping the weight as far forward as possible. My mast weighs exactly 40 lb. and the outboard plus gas is close to 100 lb. I can’t tell without making it come true, but I keep thinking that I’m submerging the bottom of the stern, and slowing things down.

I now never hestitate to reef. I reef before whitecaps. The weather helm is terrible when you are overpowered. I’ve been caught in the “death roll” running before a freshening breeze, quite out of control until I got her around into the wind. Normally the weather helm isn’t too bad, and its easily handled by the tiller comb. Just about the time when I am thinking of putting in a reef, I have often had 8-10 deg of weather helm, and that causes cavitation off the rudder. I am hoping to be able to carry more sail longer with the bigger jib.

I also find the mizzen to be critical to the helm. I haven’t experimented much with the main shape by tinkering with the peak halyard and the outhaul. I also adjust the centerboard, from all the way down beating to almost all the way up running.

Lots of other things to try yet, but so far I am suprised that PB was not more encouraging of a larger jib.

As far as going out to sea, I have to get into open water to go anywhere but Halifax. The most interesting sailing areas are one or two days sail in either direction along the coast. I haven’t yet gone out of sight of land though.

The further one goes out the more big marine life there is. We’ve seen several kinds of whales and porpoises, sun fish, leatherbacks, and swordfish or tuna(not sure which).



So there we have it. Phil Bolger was the first to notice that a Chebacco could be prone to more weather helm than he would prefer, and suggested to makers that it would do no harm to move the mast forward 3 or 4 inches. If you sail a Chebacco, what’s your experience?

Ed’s hull

You’ll remember Ed’s amusing account of buying a Chebacco hull from Burton Blaise in Canada, then importing it to the USA [Chebacco News #21]. Here’s a photo of Ed strapping the hull onto his borrowed trailer at the start of the journey:


Ed makes all secure. Note the boy and the dog – both mentioned in the story!

Ed writes:

I’ve attached a couple pics of the Chebacco hull when we were loading it at Burton Blais’. I’ll hope to get some in process shots soon. Thanks for your earlier reply. I’ve decided to go with the Brad Story cockpit sole. I was thinking of doing a teak grating anyway so the pine boards will probably be a cheaper alternative. Now I’ve started on the cabin. The 1×2 lower supports for the sides are in, and I’m going to start fitting the sides tonight. The drawing is a bit sketchy here though, are the tops of the sides cut straight? or is there a concave cut in them? The drawing shows a concave, but I was assuming the natural bend might do that anyway. What did you discover on yours?

I sent Ed this reply:

RE the cabin sides – They are indeed concave along the top (and convex along the bottom, too, where they follow the sheerline).

My procedure was to cut them oversize, then fit the bottoms first, to the framing you’re putting in. Once you’ve got this line, then you can measure the height of the sides at intervals, from the plan, above this bottom line (allowing for the thickness of the deck) and then cut them to their final shape. I’d cut out the windows at this stage, too – Much easier than when the sides have been fitted.

Ed emailed later:

Just an update and some observations. First, the cabin top is on as well as the decks and in fact we’re just about to be ready to apply some exterior glass and epoxy.

As well, the centerboard is glassed and covered with a second layer of thick epoxy and will be test hung this week. Pictures of both are in the camera at this time so God knows when they’ll get processed.

Some observations,

You mentioned I think about getting a slight dip in the cabin top when you put on the ply. If this is in the fore / aft plane, I got the same even with extensive supports. I think IMHO that it is due to the flex of the ply over the designed cabin top “sheer” for lack of a better term. It appears to me to be unaviodable, but I wonder if making the rise of the cabin top a bit higher would make it better. Anyway it doesn’t look to be

an insurmountable problem.

I’ve cut in the storage under the seats and am preparing to install the shelves/ lockers whatever they are. (holes from the cabin back under the port and starboard benches.)

I’m planning on epoxying the bilge area up about 12 – 14″ from the bench front up the side rather than epoxying all of the interior wood surfaces. I have heard that if water intrusion does occur in plywood epoxy’d both sides that there is no way for it to dry. (similar to the osmosis problem in GRP. But, if the interior is left un epoxied the wood can dry from that side. Anyway that’s my theory.

Not much other news from the frozen north. I figure I’ve got about 5 weeks till the first snow flurries so I’ve got to get her watertight before then.

I replied that most makers epoxy both sides of the ply and that a good layer of epoxy is needed in the bilges, where water is likely to collect, even if you have a cover over the boat.

Jamie Orr makes progress:

From: “Orr, Jamie” <>


The pictures of the big turning over are going in today’s mail.

We’ve had a great August, the weather’s been perfect for boatbuilding. I wanted to spend the full month at it, but the rest of the family had some ideas for the holiday as well. As a result I only spent about two weeks building, more or less full time. However, for change, I’m fairly happy with the results. I fitted both the cockpit and the cabin dry, and now I’ve pulled them out for final sanding, sealing and inside

painting. Finished up the sanding last night and I’ll be putting in the seat fronts and starting to seal tonight. The motor well and after quarters are in place as well, and all decks are ready.

After reading about how difficult it was to bend your cabin roof, I laminated mine out of two layers of ¼ inch. I spread a sheet of plastic over the cabin area, and laminated the roof in place. The first layer was split down the center, and the second was done by centering the plywood on the roof, with two little pieces added at the sides. I used the same technique as I did laminating the bilge panels – holes on 8

inch centres in the top layer, with screw driven through these to squeeze out air and excess epoxy. I also tacked the edges to the cabin sides through full length ½ inch ply pads, first folding the plastic up over the work. I finished by putting small clamps on the overhanging edges. This was probably totally unnecessary by after all the rest, but the neither the clamps nor I had anything better to do. It worked fine, and now the roof is sitting all ready to drop into place.

I’ve decided against the mast slot for now, although I might put in the framing under the roof for later, if wanted. I am going to put in the hatches in the after quarters, and will borrow ideas from the sea kayakers to secure them. I expect I’ll use nylon webbing across the hatch covers with a rubber seal under – there are some effective looking cams available to snug up the straps if needed. I’ve also bought two of

the Beckson circular access hatches for the rear half of the seats, so I can use that area for storage as well.

How did you install your portlights? I’m thinking of routing out the ply by the thickness of the lexan, and using silicon sealer with an oval “ring” covering the edge. The available bronze ovals were the wrong size, so I think I’ll try cutting my own out of 1/8 sheet brass, (but that’s for another month.)

I’m also working out where to put mooring cleats, fairleads and so on, as the deck will need reinforcement underneath, and it’ll be easier to fit before the deck’s glued down -any suggestions on placing these fittings, now that you’ve had a couple of seasons sailing?

Looking forward to the next newsletter – hope you’re having a good summer and getting in lots of sailing.

P.S. A point for the newsletter about taping the seams. I started out using fibreglass tape, with finished edges. This is very convenient for handling and doesn’t fray, but doesn’t always lie down easily because of those edges. I didn’t buy enough at once for the whole job, and when I ran out I started cutting tape sized pieces out of scrap 6 oz cloth. I found these were much easier to put in place, and needed less sanding to

smooth the edges later. I never did go back for the rest of the tape, and I’ve managed to use up a lot of scrap.

A couple of points of interest. I did SYLVESTER’s portlights simply by cutting oval holes in the sides of the cabin and screwing1/8″ acrylic sheet on the inside, with some clear silicone sealant between. Jamie’s method sounds much nicer! As for cleats and fairleads – Jamie’s right in that they MUST be through-bolted. Woodscrews eventually give out (as Gil and Joan will testify – the air was blue when a mizzen fairlead on SYLVESTER let go in July!). My suggestions are:

  • cleats on the cabin top for hallyards and topping lift
  • turning blocks near the mast foot to take the halyards and topping lift back to their cleats
  • fairleads at the quarters for the mizzen sheets
  • cam cleats for the mizzen sheets, after they’ve passed through the fairleads
  • cleats on the side-decks near the rear of the boat for tying up alongside, and for hooking on a tender’s painter
  • If you have the Jonesport cleat at the stem, as shown in the plans, then that’s your for’ard mooring cleat – otherwise a hefty cleat is needed in the foredeck.
  • Apart from these, I have a block and camcleat on the aft end of the CB case for the mainsheet, and a couple of cleats on the coaming for lashing the tiller amidships when I’m on the mooring.

And finally

That’s all for this issue. Please keep your news, photos, stories, questions etc coming in.

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

Broughty Ferry,

Dundee DD5 1LB,


email –

Gil Fitzhugh,

44 Primrose Trail,

Mt Kemble Lake,




Chebacco News 22

Chebacco News

Number 22, August 1998


SYLVESTER heels under an ominous sky


You must be getting fed up of pictures of SYLVESTER under sail. How about you Chebacco sailors sending me some of yours? Of course, I appreciate that it isn’t the easiest thing to get photos of yourself underway. The above one was taken by a friendly powerboat driver, to whom I had thrown my camera and asked to shoot off the whole film. On a different occasion, I got my crew to sit at anchor in a tender with the camera while I sailed around him. It’s seldom possible to get good close photos of a boat under sail from the shore, unless a long lens is used.

Two-part Paint

Jamie Orr, whose Chebacco is nearing completion, sent the following email to the ‘Bolgerlist’ discussion group on the internet –

A few months ago I was asking for your experience with paint. I got a number of good responses, with recommendations ranging from latex to two part polyurethane. My concerns were that the finish have good resistance to abrasion, which favoured two part paint, and that the paint be reasonably user friendly, which didn’t. I viewed one part polyurethane as a possible compromise. Prices ranged from $15/litre for enamel to $29/litre for one part polyurethane to $40+/litre for two part.

I finally decided to go for two-part paint. Here’s what I learned using it, in case someone else is in the same boat (no pun intended). I found the paint to tack up quickly, but it wasn’t really that hard to use. I used a West system foam roller to apply it, followed quickly by a foam brush, brushing back into the already painted part. The hard chines of the Chebacco made for easy dividing lines — I painted the keel, then each bottom side, then each bilge side. (I’ve left the topsides for later, after

the deck joint is glassed.) This split the job into long narrow panels, making it easier to keep a wet edge on the paint.

Two things to watch for.

I found that an area about 2 ft by 2 ft was big enough to roll at once. If I did much more, the paint started to tack up before I could brush it all out — I used a three inch disposable foam brush, and didn’t brush any area more than once if I could avoid it. I estimate I had 20 seconds to get the area brushed. I also found that I did a better job if the brush stroke was backhand, not forehand. That meant I painted while moving from right to left, brushing back left to right (for a right-hander). I also changed to a new brush every so often. One roller cover did a full coat.

The other thing to avoid is to leave a roller edge mark across the end of the already painted part — its *very* hard to brush out. To cover the surface, I like to roll first one way, then go over it again at 90 degrees. To avoid leaving a mark, I rolled the paint first parallel to the wet edge, but not touching it — leaving an inch or two uncovered. Then when I rolled at 90 degrees, I rolled back into the wet edge, just as with brushing. The inch or two space only gets rolled one way, but it covered okay, and the join with the previous part was invisible after brushing.

Any flaws have to be covered within that estimated 20 seconds, or the fix will be as bad as the flaw. I put on one coat of primer, and two finish coats, so I had two “practices” before the final coat.

After the cost, the biggest drawback is the toxicity of the paint. An organic filter mask is a minimum requirement, and the paint should not be allowed to touch the skin either. I wear a beard, and so its hard to get a good seal around the mask. To help this out, I globbed vaseline into my beard and put the mask on/in this. If you try this, waterless hand cleaner will get the vaseline out again, eventually. Gloves, sleeve protectors and disposable coveralls completed the outfit. Safety glasses might be a good idea in case of splashes, but I can’t wear them with a mask as they fog up.

For cleanup, I just leave the roller cover and brushes until the paint cures, then throw them out. The solvent is about as toxic as the paint, so I haven’t used any yet. To clean up the mixing cups, I slosh the dregs of the paint in them to catalyse everything, then chuck them when cured. I also use disposable plastic liners in my paint tray, and found out that this paint will eat its way through eventually, so make sure the tray underneath is clean as well.

I used Endura paint, made in Edmonton, Alberta. For information go to:


They have a wide range of colours, or will match any sample. The literature mostly talks about spraying, but they have a special brushing component to replace the usual catalyst if you want to brush or roll it. Make sure the pigmented component is well mixed — preferably shaken on a paint store’s mixer. I found the paint did not change or start to gel while I worked. I mixed up a full litre of primer, but used smaller batches of finish coat —

I mixed about 300 mls (9 oz) each time, adding it to the old stuff in the paint tray. This was to avoid having a lot left at the end.

I had no problem with sagging, but found that if I dripped on an unpainted spot, I had to smooth it immediately, or the drip showed through. I guess the 20 second rule applies here too. After the primer coat, I masked the bottom and bilge surfaces separately, so I could leave them covered while I did the keel, then leave the bilges covered while I did the bottom. More preparation time, but it worked.

There it is. Required care, but wasn’t that hard to use after all.

Jamie Orr

Reefing tips

Craig O’Donnell sent me the following email, pointing to reefing systems described on the Internet:

Speaking of reefing, you kight want to consider the pointer to:

for the next issue. While it isn’t Chebacco-specific, it’s a good overview

of 3 reefing schemes. The originals were (are) for battened sailing canoe

sails, but of course modern lightweight battens could be used on a Chebacco

sail instead.

In any event it might spark a brainstorm among the Chebacco Riggers of the


Sail-making, rigging etc.

Jim Slakov is making his own sails at the moment, and sent me a number of questions. Here’s my reply:

First of all, grommets – I used the cheap brass ones that you’ll find anywhere – 1/2″ inside diameter for everything. I agree that they’re nothing like as good as the ones used by professional sailmakers, but they don’t need special equipment either. I’ve used them on sails for the past 10 years and they’ve lasted fine, apart from a bit of greenness!

The way I fit them is to sew the ring part into the sail, with strong thread, until you can’t see the brass – Then I put in the grommet and flatten it out with the punch and anvil you get with the grommets. It seems to be plenty strong enough. An alternative is to go to an awning maker and get him to press some in – Still it’s nicer to be independent! If I ever make more sails, I may treat myself to some professional kit, but it’s hardly worth it for one set.

You also have some questions on rigging. Here goes.

1. Is there a particular point on the boom to attach the topping lift? Is it just tied onto a cleat or an eye?

– If you look at the gaff sailplan sheet that is part of Phil’s set of drawings, you’ll see that the boom has eyes at various distances from the end of the boom These are, in order:

12″ in from end – The attachment point for the mainsheet block.

8 1/2″ in from previous eye – fairleads for clew reefing pendant (first reef).

19 3/4″ in from previous eye – fairleads for clew reefing pendant (second reef)

8″ in from previous eye – attachment point for topping lift.

17″ in from previous eye – attachment point for second mainsheet block

I have my topping lift tied onto the boom, and going through a block shackled to an eyebolt near the top of the mast, then down the mast, through a block on the deck, via a fairlead, to a cleat on the cabin top (port side). If I was doing it again, I’d probably go for the simpler solution of tying it at the top of the mast and simply cleating the other end on the boom, via an eye.

My only deviation from Phil’s drawing is that I have the reefing cleats much further aft, so that they are easily reached from the cockpit. I keep the pendants in place all the time – including two at the tack. There are four cleats in all – one for each pendant. The pendants are 1/4″ braided line. The pendants cleat on the starboard side of the mast so that you can reef down on starboard tack – giving you right of way over other sailing boats. Cunning, eh?

2. How is the peak halyard attached?

The gaff has a strop (1/4″ dia rope, in my case) going from the mid-point to the top. This should be tied as tight as possible – It looks loose on the sailplan, but you’ll find it falls away like this even if you tie it bar-tight. A shackle slides back and forwards along this strop and the peak halyard is attached to this shackle. This means that when you have the full sail up the shackle will be near the foot of the strop, but when you take in reefs it will be further up, so that the pull is still at right angles to the gaff, allowing you to peak up the sail nicely. Both halyards go through blocks shackled to eyebolts near the top of the mast, then down to turning blocks at deck level, via fairleads to 6″ cleats on the cabin top (starboard side).

3. How do you attach the throat halyard to the gaff jaws?

Interesting one this. I originally shackled it to a lashing on the gaff, but soon found that the shackle was wearing a nice groove in the mast when the sail was peaked up. The best thing to do is sew an eye in the halyard and lash this directly to the gaff jaws (- I have holes drilled in the jaws to accommodate this lashing, as well as the sail lashings).

4. What about the forward end of the boom?

The weight of the boom is enough to keep the luff tight when the sail is raised. No need for any downhaul or vang, in my experience.

5. How do you tie the jaws (boom and gaff) to the mast?

There are holes in the ends of the jaws and I have 1/4 lines thread through them with wooden beads (‘parrel’ beads) to help stop them binding and stopper knots (figure eight) at the ends. The correct tension in these lines is determined my trial and error when you first raise the sail. Some builders have used a conventional gooseneck fitting for the boom.

6. How is the forward end of the sprit boom attached?

There is a line (the ‘snotter’) tied in a hole at the for’ard end of the sprit boom which goes up through a block lashed about 1/2 way up the mast, then down to a 4″ cleat. This supports the sprit boom, and flattens the sail when it is tight. There is no other attachment point for the boom, except for the lashing to the clew. It is important to keep the mizzen flat. If it draws too much you will get weather helm. If you look at Phil’s sailplan drawing the arrangement should become clear.

7. Can you hang onto the tiller while adjusting the halyards underway? Do you use a tiller extension?

No – I normally heave to. This involves centring the mizzen to make the boat point into the wind. Then you can adjust everything at your leisure! I don’t use a tiller extension, but it could be useful at times.

8. What is the sequence for setting sail?

(a) set up the mizzen so you are head-to-wind.

(b) take up the slack in the topping lift and peak halyard so the boom gallows can be removed.

(c) keeping the gaff roughly horizontal, pull alternately on the peak halyard and the throat halyard until the boom jaws rise and the luff is tight.

(d) pull up the peak halyard until the creases run from peak to tack. This is critical for windward performance. A crease from throat to clew means the top part of the sail isn’t drawing properly and performance will suffer greatly. I occasionally need to peak up the gaff during an outing when the halyards settle down.

(e) drop the centreboard if you are heading out to windward.

(f) cast off, backing the mizzen to send you off on the desired tack.

(g) sheet in, and you’re sailing!

I look forward to seeing photos of your boat when she hits the water. The thought of 3 Chebaccos [Jim Slakov’s, Garry Foxall’s and Jamie Orr’s] sailing in company in B.C. waters is wonderful!



Scuppered hatches?

Gil Fitzhugh has decided to put hatches in his Chebacco – in the seats, and at either side of the outboard well. He wants them flush (for comfort, and appearance sake) and doesn’t want them to be a source of leaks. His solution is to provide self-draining ‘ledges’ for the hatches to rest on. These have a gutter and drain holes at the corners which lead water away to the ouboard well, where it will drain overboard. This sketch is pretty much self-explanatory


Wanted – a Chebacco

I had an email from Patten Williams, of Augusta, Maine: <>

I’m looking to buy a used Chebacco and haven’t seen any in the usual places

I look to find boats for sale. Can you direct me to a place I might find

used Chebaccos?

If you know of any, then you could contact Patten by email, or alternatively let me know, and I’ll pass on your message.

Floorboards – to seal or not to seal?

Ed Heins was asking whether the cockpit sole should be sealed, keeping a watertight volume under the floorboards. Here’s how I replied:

As far as I know, all Chebaccos (mine included) just have loose floorboards here, and pump out the underfloor area from time to time. That way, any stray water sloshes around below the bit you are standing on, and doesn’t make it slippery. I’ve used plywood for the loose floor, in three parts – one either side of the CB case and the other covering the aft section. Brad Story has used pine boards, with narrow gaps between. He screws them down but leaves room to poke the end of a hand pump for emptying the bilgewater.

Have you read Sam Devlin’s book on stitch and glue boatbuilding? He favours your method, as it adds strength, but he fills the void with foam and still leaves a drainage channel for getting stray water out.

Incidentally, I’ve had a little trouble with water lying in that free-flooding area

aft of the cockpit. A couple of little limber-holes that drain into the cockpit wouldn’t go amiss. I plan to drill some next maintenance season.

And finally

That’s all for this issue. Please keep your news, photos, stories, questions etc coming in.

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

Broughty Ferry,

Dundee DD5 1LB,


Chebacco News 21

Chebacco News

Number 21, June 1998


SYLVESTER scoots along in a sea breeze

Why so late?

You’ve probably noticed that this issue is about a month later than usual. The explanation is that there wasn’t enough material from our readers to fill an issue until now. Anyway, there’s some good stuff now, so I hope you’ll find it’s been worth waiting for.

Reefing (again!)

I’ve made some very simple modifications to the reefing system on SYLVESTER that make reefing under-way a much more managable process. In essence, all I did was to move the horn cleats for the pendants to a point about mid-way along the boom; making them easier to reach without leaving the cockpit. The pendants at tack and clew are left in place at all times, and just hauled in (tack first) as the occasion demands, just as Brad Story described a few issues ago.

I had a chance to try it out in anger last weekend; I took in a reef when things got blustery, and shook it out again when things quietened down a little. It worked very nicely.

Building the Coach-roof

Builders tell me that one part of the plan that takes a lot of thought is the construction of the coach roof. Here’s how I did it.

First of all I put on the cabin sides – just cutting and trying until they fit, not forgetting to cut the elliptical holes for the windows before finally gluing them in.

Next job is the framing for the roof – not too difficult joinerywise, but it takes a bit of study of the drawings to figure out what’s needed, allowing for the right clearances for the mast slot and hatch hole.

This is all faired up in preparation for the top going on.

I made the top from 1/2″ ply – it takes a LOT of bending – Two layers of 1/4″ might be easier. The top is made in two halves – port and starboard. I glued and screwed it to the centeline first – LOTS of screws to make sure it stays down.

I found, when bending the curve into the top the framing started to sag, so I placed some temporary props between the framing and the bottom of the hull to try to minimise this sagging.

I then applied glue to the rest of the framing and applied my full 180+ pounds around the edge as I put in the screws. This is the hardest bit, because if you stop half way through, with not enough screws in, it’ll just pull out and spring up. I’d recommend a screw every 4 inches or so.

Finally I removed the props and there was a little sag in the roof. No big problem, but it does mean the hatch sides need to be convex along the bottom and require a bit of fitting. Once the hatch sides are on, and the framing of the mast slot, the whole thing is as stiff as you could wish for.

I hope this is helpful.


Cabin sides in place and framing for the coach-roof completed

Jamie Orr Pours Lead in his Centreboard

Jamie writes:

Here are the lead pouring pictures.

First, some reminders:

  • Pick a dry day or work under cover. Molten lead will splatter if it contacts moisture.
  • Clean up your work area. It’s obvious from the photos I could have done a lot more in this regard. (Also, I think we could have had the stove in a less vulnerable position, so it couldn’t be easily knocked over. On the other hand, it didn’t get knocked over, and was at a convenient height. Take your pick.)
  • Lead stays hot for a long time, watch your fingers.
  • Wear protective clothing, and don’t breath the fumes.

Now, what we did.

We drove four big nails into the edges of the hole in the centreboard to anchor the lead. This was only just barely enough, and the lead was a bit loose after it cooled and shrank. Some epoxy around the edges fixed that.

A piece of steel plate was clamped to the underside of the board. I wire brushed the plate as it was a bit rusty, but didn’t do anything else. The books favour some blacking or soot, as well as preheating the steel, to prevent the lead from sticking, but we had no trouble with it. The board was carefully levelled on sawhorses.

The lead had been previously used to seal the removable top on a 45 gallon drum, so it came as a thick strip about an inch thick. Dad bandsawed it into chunks while I set up the board. We fired up the backpacking stove, put the pot and lead on, and put a 3 lb coffee can over the whole thing (both ends cut out of the can!) with an air space at the bottom. The can acted as a heat reflector, wind shield, and chimney for the stove, greatly increasing the heat to the lead.

It took about six minutes to melt 2/3 of a pot of lead, or about 6 lbs. Beeswax is supposed to help impurities float to the top of the lead, but they seemed to float up quite well without help, so I didn’t bother with the wax after the first lot. A tongue depressor removed the dross nicely. I found the easiest way to hold the pot was with vise grips, ignoring the bail, at least for this pot. (The pot was bought originally for bullet making, from a sporting goods store.)

I didn’t pour the lead all at once because I only had a small stove and pot. Because the first (learning) pour was on the small side, we had to do a very small fourth pour. Also, this last pour was delayed, so the lead already poured may have cooled a bit. In any case, this last, fairly thin pour didn’t bond as well to the already poured lead. When I started to level the excess, the edges tried to come up like the edges of a pancake whose middle is stuck to the pan. After I had the excess levelled, I drilled two corners and put one inch wood screws in them. Along with the epoxy already mentioned, this fixed the problem.

As an aside, I found the best tool for levelling the lead was the electric plane. I did a final finish later with the belt sander when I was fairing the edges of the board. The lead didn’t seem to hurt the plane – if in doubt, rent. Note that lead shrinks as it cools, so it should finish about 1/8 inch above the surface when poured.

Altogether, this made a nice change from epoxy, and was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.


Melting, and pouring the lead.

George Cobb’s hull nears completion

George Cobb, of New Brunswick, Canada, sent me a bunch of photos of his beautifully crafted lapstrake Chebacco-20 hull. George writes:

I enclose photos going back to March ’97. I started Aug ’96 but spent most of that winter on spars, CB & trunk, rudder etc. working in the basement. As you can see from the photos, my shed doesn’t have enough room to build a boat of this size. Most of the construction went smoothly. Some trouble lining off the lap lines becuase I didn’t have room enough to stand back and look at them.

In the latest photos I am in the process of applying epoxy & the fiberglass to the deck. I have just started on the cabin. I laminated a rounded front as I did not care for the pointed look in the plans. I made very few other changes to the plans. Still have cockpit coaming, cockpit sole, toerails and rubrails and various trim pieces. All hatch covers are made except for the one for the companionway. When finishing and trailer are included I doubt if I will be launching this year.


Starting planking – note the ‘lining off’ battens.


The turnover ceremony.


Starting to fit out the hull


The cockpit nears completion

Ed Heins buys Burton Blaise’s hull

So I was pondering the next project, either a Light Scooner, a Chebacco, or one of the sets of Jim Michalak’s plans that are residing in my “projects pending” file, when lo and behold, Burton Blais posted an unbelievable deal for his Chebacco hull which made up my mind all at once and made me the newest builder on the Chebacco news list. The deal was even more attractive, as Burton, up in Ontario, is only a few hours northwest of us here in Frostbite Vermont. Burton, by the way has done a magnificent job thus far. That about covers the upside of the situation.

The downside? Well, convincing my wife Deb, was the next step. Of course it seems Deb, beautiful flower of English womanhood that she is, was somewhat less than overwhelmed at the marvelous opportunity of having yet another “bloody ship” in her back garden. Fortunately, the age old solution of providing a “quid pro quo” of greater value than the object in question, (this time in the form of a tennis bracelet) worked to perfection and the necessary political groundwork had been laid. Which then left only the logistic issues to be solved.

Downside #2, we had no trailer to transport this beast. After a caucus with Bill Samson about trailer requirements, however, I petitioned a friend to loan me the trailer from his 15′ plastic puffin which theoretically just got me enough snubber to axle length to balance the Chebacco. One small problem it seemed however was that like most Vermonters, maintenance on said trailer had been sadly neglected, so before embarking I had already rewired the lights, changed out one wheel bearing and being a Vermonter myself felt that I could get by with just repacking the other 3. Mind you I had never seen a Chebacco up close and personal, so I’m envisioning at this stage, how this is going to fit.

The morning of May 16 broke sunny and warm, a lovely day for the drive. We headed west across Vermont, caught the lake Champlain ferry just north of Burlington VT and landed safely in Plattsburg, New York. From there we headed northwest up route 190 and transitioned to US 11 at Ellenburg Depot. We left US 11 at Malone NY ( a rather niceish town with a hellatiously big Kmart, best described as a Tescoish thing for our British readers). Anyway the significance of the Kmart is that there are none in our small locale so it was planned to stop on the way back

to satisfy her majesty’s shopping fix. US 37 leaves Malone and runs west along the Canadian border to where we planned to make the border crossing. All was well here until we discovered 25 miles of roadworks with no feasible means of avoidance. Hence, 25 miles of dust and gravel later we were back on rt 37 heading towards Massena New York.

Now, Cornwall Ontario is a small city. At least on the map it looks substantial enough to warrant a signpost on the freeway. However… as with our US mapmakers who show Canada as a big beige empty block above the US border, I suppose the powers-that-be assume that just a reference to “Canada” should be sufficient for the average ignorant yank motorist. Therefore, the only signpost along the road reads “Industrial Plants Bridge to Canada”. Now it seemed absolutely logical to me to think this meant “THE Industrial Plant’s bridge to Canada”. There was an enormous factory there, and it’s not unheard of to have a factory in these parts span the border. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it) Anyway, needless to say, 6 miles farther down the road we came to the realization that in fact this was the ONLY bridge to Canada. A clandestine U turn with a trailer across one of those “Emergency Vehicles Only”

median crossings and we were headed to Ontario.

Border crossing south to north was no big deal. The Canadian folks were friendly courteous and checked Molly the Bassett Hound’s rabies papers, and passed us right through. Burton God bless him had given excellent directions so the remaining miles were insignificant.

Until we arrived at the Blais’ estate and I got a look at the Chebacco, upside down on it’s building frame, and was appraised of the size of a completed Chebacco Hull. I would have sworn that it would never fit on the dinky trailer hitched to my minivan. Not wanting to admit defeat however, we pressed on and horsed the hull out of the temporary shed. With the help of a willing neighbor turned it was over for the first time. I have the feeling that if Burton had turned this over prior to my arrival, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance at the boat.

This was one pretty hull all trued up with the bulkheads and temp frames still inside. But onward….

Downside #3, Back to the Vermonters lack of trailer maintenance. It seems the trip had broken loose a couple of ancient weld patches and there was no way the trailer would have survived an overload condition in that condition. Thankfully another of Burton’s neighbors came to the rescue with a grinder and welding rig, and an hour later we were back in business.

Back to Burton’s, to load up the hull. Cripes it overhangs. Well at least the bunks fit more or less on the flat bottom although they’re somewhat short for the job. A bit of gerryrigging got her sorted and tied down & we were off back south.

Actually it trailed not too bad. There was a minor skirmish with the US customs who first after inquiring about my 2 children in back, (one boy, one dog, OK that put me off) then their obvious struggle with how they were going to get a Coast Guard safety registration certificate on an unfinished hull. (I’d love to see the exam for customs agent) Finally they acquiesced to the fact that this was really lumber at this stage so there wouldn’t be duty.

We made the obligatory stop at Kmart as promised, spent the night in Ellenburg Depot and returned uneventfully with only a few scratches in the paint to show for the ordeal.

This weekend, marks the building of a proper cradle and 8 strongbacks to horse the hull off the trailer and hopefully embarcation of further boat building exploits. Stay tuned. I’m a little overwhelmed at where to begin.


Ed Heins

For Sale

I want you fellow Bolgerphiles to be the first to know that Catfish Lounge [a Catfish Beachcruiser] is going to be offered for sail, er, sale, to make way for a Martha Jane. Price of the Lounge is $4,500, and includes an excellent Pacific galvanized trailer and a year-old Honda 2HP motor. If you have an interest, or are interested in learning more about the boat, send me e-mail. (Both the boat and I are in the San Francisco Bay area.)

John Tuma <>

What about an aluminium rudder?

Fraser Howell sent me this photo of his aluminium rudder. He is very pleased with the way it works. It’s very strong, too. It’s worth noticing that the rudder is in a particularly vulnerable position when a Chebacco is being launched from a trailer. Careless launching can mean the rudder hits the slip when the boat slides off the trailer. It is comforting to have a really strong rudder!


Fraser Howell’s aluminium rudder

And finally:

That just about wraps it up for this time. Please, please, please keep your news and photos coming. They are the stuff that Chebacco News is made of!

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

West Ferry,

Dundee, DD5 1LB,



Chebacco News 19

Chebacco News

Number 19, January 1998

Is Electric Outboard Power feasible for a Chebacco?

Gil Fitzhugh wrote to Phil Bolger and Friends –

Dear PCB&F,

. . .

I’ve been intrigued by ‘Lily’ [the electric launch] and saw her or a sister ship at St Michael’s last month. I’m not looking to build or own a power boat, but I’d welcome your views about whether the newest electric outboards with a modest number of batteries would provide reasonable auxiliary power for a Chebacco. I shouldn’t think I’d need to motor more than 3 hours between charges – usually less, since I wouldn’t go anywhere far in a Chebacco if I couldn’t anticipate reasonable sailing – and maybe a couple of solar panels on the cabin roof (or deck house) would replace, during a day’s sail, what I’d used up motoring out of harbor in the morning. Otherwise, I figure a 5-horse Honda 4-stroke would be the next-most environmentally friendly source of adequate power. Thoughts?

Best regards,

Gil Fitzhugh

PCB&F replied –

Dear Gil,

. . .

On your E-power idea, the matter is straightforward and viable for the milder duty cycle you propose if you take it seriously. Before LILY, we hung two smaller 42lbs thrust MINNKOTAs on Ted Ratcliff’s 20′ ply Chebacco ‘KATTEPUS’ and she went quite well, only hampered by the limited pitch (one size only available) on the props.

The following hardware should be good for up to 5 hours of continuously powering your boat:

  • 65/70lbs thrust 24 volt MINNKOTA (saltwater series optional for coastal use) [$430],
  • 4x6V TROJAN T-105 for 217Ah (or T-145 for added range and cost!) [4x$49 or $129] connected in series to get 24V, but interruptable by
  • single battery switch into two banks of 12V [$20], which in turn can then be charged readily in less than overnight by a
  • 40Amp STATPOWER 4-stage ‘smart’ charger with two-bank output to feed each 6V T-105 pair with 20Amps as de facto one battery [$350]
  • You could add an E-meter [$160] to gauge consumption and get instant reading on voltage and actual amp and amp/hr numbers – useful and instructive.

This will cost more than any combustion engine. But after initial installation, and very minor battery maintenance you’ll be running her for years without additional worry, never mind noise, vibration or oil-plumes – decent return for the money. E-cost will be on the order of perhaps 80c-$1 per total charging cycle . . . But always recharge immediately after you bring her back within reach of the nearest 110V outlet.

Put two batteries in about the location in each cockpit bench where [the Cruising Chebacco] plans show a single one. And locate the expensive charger inside the cuddy/house to keep it out of the rain. LILY’s rain-proof units would take twice as long to recharge these 6V pairs, and seem thus way too wimpy for the occasion. Your E-CHEBACCO would have about 2/3 the capacity of LILY. You probably won’t see more than 4Kt due to the limited pitch on that 11″x4″ prop.

. . .

Susanne Altenburger

Phil Bolger

Hanging the bilge planks on a Sheet Ply Chebacco:

Skip Pahl has been comparing notes with Jamie Orr regarding the hanging of bilge planks. He kindly copied this email to me:

Dear Jamie,

Thanks for all the good information in CN about your building methods and

experiences. Your advice is really timely for after several years of

deliberations, courage and model building, I began cutting wood this summer.

Progress is slow. My building speed is limited by the ability to buy only

three sheets of plywood (or its $ equivalent) every two weeks! Add to this

the fact that I’m very slow when it comes to new types of construction and

you’ll understand why I am straining for new wisecracks to answer the

inevitable question, “So, when’s the big launch date?”

I am writing to you because it is approaching the time to hang the bilge

planks and I am struggling to visualize the process. I too wish to avoid

building all that stress into the hull that 1/2″ ply creates when making that

“Gawdawful” twist and have decided to go with the 1/4″ ply laminations.

I made 7:1 scarf joints when I layed-up the 1/2″ sheer strakes and bottom.

They worked out really well. The curves are fair and the joints appear to be

very strong. However, with laminated bilge strakes it looks as though the

butt block is the way to go. Would you review my thinking here and see if

I’ve got the process right?

PART 1 ( (No volunteers required)

1) Trace mylar or craft paper templates on bilge openings on each side.

2) Transfer template shapes onto for bottom layer plywood. Cut out and

coat outboard surfaces with rolled layer of unthickened epoxy. Allow to cure

and sand.

3) Make 4″(?) wide butt blocks out of 1/4″ plywood and attach to aft end

of each of the forward sections of the bilge strakes. Use thickened epoxy and

bronze screws to clamp.

4) Attach forward section of each strake to the stem using bronze screws

only and begin working aft making temporary clamp blocks that are attached to

the shear strake and bottom. Use wire stitches as needed to fair.

5) Attach aft end blocks to middle sections of bilge strakes.

6) Hang middle sections of bilge strakes by beginning at the forward end

butts and working aft. Use bronze screws and epoxy at the joints with wire

stitches at the top and bottom to keep joints fair. Work aft using wire

stitches and clamp blocks (no glue).

7) Hang aft sections of bilge strakes using bronze screws on transom.

8) Go back and unscrew planks at stem and transom and reattach with

epoxy and epoxy/cabosil putty.

PART 2 (Volunteer required)

1) Transfer template shapes onto top layer of unjoined plywood and cut


2) Pre-drill an 8″ grid of holes in exterior panels to allow for escape

of air pockets in laminating.

3) Masking tape interior seams closed so epoxy will not run into

interior of hull.

4) Dry fit exterior lamination panels and mark for future positioning.

5) Beginning with the center panel, roll thickened epoxy onto outboard

surface of inside lamination and unthickened expoy onto inboard surface of

exterior lamination.

6) Join the two panels with pan headed screws beginning at the center

and working forward and aft.

7) Apply forward and aft sections of exterior lamination in similar way

using bronze screws along the butted seams. No butt blocks are used on these

seams inside the hull.

8) Before epoxy has cured, apply unthickened epoxy to seams and follow

with epoxy/cabosil putty mixture to fair.

Sorry this took so long. Please let me know if I’ve got it screwed up. I

have nightmares of things getting stuck together crooked.

Thanks for your help.

Skip Pahl

These sound like sensible procedures. My only comment is that I’d probably thicken the epoxy, a little, between the laminations – but that’s just personal prejudice.

Skip also sent this photo of a gorgeous model he’s built of a sheet ply Chebacco:


Skip Pahl’s model of a Chebacco-20

Uncured epoxy

Just about every boatbuilder will at some time in their career experience the horrors of uncured epoxy. This happened to Burton Blaise, who sent this nessage out to a few of us. In short, getting it off is not a lot of fun:

In case anybody is interested in my continuing epoxy saga, I am

pleased to report that, after a gruelling week-end of scraping, grinding

and sanding, I finally got all of the gummy epoxy off my Chebacco hull

and am back at where I was a couple of weeks ago (that is, ready to

complete glassing the hull – weather permitting!). As mentioned in an

earlier message, I found that the straight edge of a piece of broken glass

really works best to scrape the majority of the goo off. Any remaining

residue was removed using a belt sander fitted with a very coarse

sanding paper (30 or 40 grit). Anyone attempting the broken glass trick

should bear in mind the need to be EXTREMELY careful during the

scraping operation – I got carried away and careless, with the result that

my glass scraper broke in mid-stride, causing my hand to slip past the

glass edge and slicing a good way into my right index finger (after

bandaging my finger – which probably really should have gotten stitches

– I wisely resorted to completing the operation wearing thick canvas

gloves). This hull hasn’t even been launched yet, and already its been

baptized with my sweat, my tears (of frustration) and now my blood!

However, the way things are shaping up, I know that she’ll be worth it all

in the end. Yep, she sure is a shapely hull.


I’m certainly glad to hear it worked out OK eventually!

Chebacco too big for you? – Try a ‘Bobcat’!

Colin Hunt of Australia sent me this photo of a pair of Bolger ‘Bobcats’ (a.k.a. ‘The Instant Catboat’, ‘Tiny Cat’, ‘Little Gaffer’ . . .). Colin points out that the construction of the 12 foot hull is very like that of a sheet-ply Chebacco hull. They are excellent daysailers and family dinghies, too. So – if you’ve not quite decided that you’re ready to take on the construction of a Chebacco-20, why not hone your skills by building a ‘Bobcat’? Plans are available through PCB&F, as well as Dynamite Payson, who has also published the excellent ‘Build the Instant Catboat’, which is an almost indispensible aid to construction.


A pair of ‘Bobcats’ by Colin Hunt.

Reefing systems for a Chebacco

I was recently caught out in a force 5, under way, single handed, and had the uncomfortable job of trying to put a couple of reefs in while slithering around on the cabin top, avoiding being swept overboard by the flailing boom. It’s no secret that the Chebacco is fairly tippy, initially, (though with superb secondary stability) and so whatever side you approach from, the boat heels in that direction and the swinging boom heads your way! I eventually backed the mizzen a little so that she hove-to on port tack and thus was able to approach the boom from the starboard side, where the cleats for the reefing pendants are attached.

Although I got her well enough reefed to sail the 7 miles back to my mooring, the sail was a tad baggier than I thought ideal, and I felt there must be an easier way to do things. So I phoned Brad Story, who has built and sailed more Chebaccos than anyone else. He suggested that I would have been better to lower the boom into the cockpit, or into a boom crutch to hold it steady while I was working on the reefing. Seems obvious now; I wish I’d thought of it! Secondly, the cleats for the reefing pendants should be positioned so that they can be reached from the cockpit. Good thinking!

Brad writes:

Dear Bill,

I’ve tried to sketch some details of my own rig. The topping lift is on one side only (keeps it simple!). At the mast head is a loop spliced into the topping lift. It’s held up there with an eye-strap or two. From there it just runs to a cheek block on the boom, and then forward to s small cleat. It’s very handy – it’s right in the cockpit. It can never fall down and it’s one less line to deal with when setting up or striking the rig.

The jiffy reefing lines I’ve sketched, also. At the tack, a single line is made fast at the upper grommet. It runs down the luff, through a fairlead (hole, whatever) and aft to a cleat on the bottom of the boom, far enough aft to be reached conveniently. At the clew, a line is made fast to an eye-strap on one side of the boom (below the appropriate grommet and alittle bit aft). This line runs up to the grommet , through it and back down to a fairlead (or small cheekblock) and forward to a cleat. When it’s time to reef, just lower the sail a bit, haul both of these lines until the grommets are where they should be, and cleat them off.Now all you need to do is bundle up the foot of the sail. Again, it’s fast and convenient.

Brad Story


Brad Story’s sketches of reefing arrangements

Jamie Orr’s hull nears completion:

Jamie Orr of Victoria BC, Canada, sent me this picture of his hull. He reports that he’ll be making the sails over the winter, when it’s too cold for epoxy work. He’s using 5.4 ounce cloth and plans to make a jib, as well as main and mizzen.


Jamie Orr’s sheet-ply hull

And finally . . .

That’s all for this issue. Here are some addresses that may be of interest to readers:

Phil Bolger & Friends, PO Box 1209, 29 Ferry Street, Gloucester, MA01930, USA (- Designers of the Chebacco boats and source of plans for all versions)

Harold H Payson, Pleasant Beach Road, South Thomaston, ME 04858, USA ( – Author of ‘Build the Instant Catboat’ and alternative source of some Bolger designs)

Brad Story, Boatbuilder, Box 231, Essex, MA 01929, USA (- Originally commissioned Phil Bolger to design the Chebacco boats, and has built many superb examples of them)

Bill Samson, 88 Grove Road, West Ferry, Dundee, DD5 1LB, Scotland ( – Editor of Chebacco News)

Chebacco News 17

Chebacco News

Number 17, September 1997

Bob Cushing launches the first Chebacco Motorsailer


Bob Cushing’s Chebacco Motorsailer Congratulations to Bob Cushing for building and launching the first example of the Chebacco Motorsailer – the ‘Glasshouse’ version referred to in Phil Bolger’s book ‘Boats with an Open Mind’. This version has a fixed ballast keel and no centreboard. The tiller is positioned to allow the boat to be helmed from within the spacious cabin. Bob writes:

We have sailed the Chebacco Motorsailer 3 times now and finally had some good wind on our last sail. With winds of about 20-25 kts and 2-4 ft waves on Seneca Lake in upstate New York we sailed downwind for about 15 miles. We had both reefs in as we were not sure of how wild it would get but as it turned out it was quite docile running downwind in these conditions – one reef would probably have been adequate. Speeds were in the 5-6 kt range as measured by the GPS. Speed under power with the 9.9 Honda have been measured by the GPS to be 7.0-7.5 kts max and 5.5 kts a more reasonable (i.e. quiet and comfortable) speed under power.

The boat is very comfortable with 7 foot berths, a dinette table to port, which can pivot to center, a kitchen area up front with sink, stove, cooler, food storage and 6 gallon water tank. There is a lot of storage space under the bunks and throughout the rear of the boat under the decks. A porta-john with pump-out capability is kept under the step, along with the toolbox. A small built-in fuel tank is behind this. Tinted Lexan windows were used throughout. The front-center opens and four Beckson round ventilation ports w/screens elsewhere. Trailing and launching is quite easy from a standard bunk-type boat trailer. Setup time is about 20 minutes – Take down and pack up about 30. This will be shortened by some 5 – 10 minutes with some simplification of procedures and fasteners. The mast is laminated from fir and weighs 60 pounds – not too hard to step – walk it up on the roof as one end rests in the tabernacle. The actual lifting/pivoting weight once it is in the tabernacle is probably only 30 – 40 pounds. The sails were made from a Sailrite kit. They are made from 5 ounce dacron and went together pretty easily using a home sewing machine and two people working together on large sections.

All in all a really nice little trailerable motorsailer.

Bob Cushing


Another view of Bob’s Chebacco Motorsailer

Phil Bolger writes:

Bob Cushing lights up our lives. Amazing, and wonderful, how fast he does good work. The boat looks nice and I am inclined to think it’s a better bet than the more-or-less conventional ‘cruising Chebacco’ we’ve been discussing. . . . the idea of sitting in shelter, right on the pitch axis and center of buoyancy, has a lot to be said for it.


Bob Cushing has built a number of Bolger boats, including the Fast Motorsailer and the Microtrawler. I understand that Bob’s Microtrawler is currently up for sale –


Bob Cushing’s Microtrawler – FOR SALE!

If you are interested in buying it, Bob can be contacted at 5998 E. Lake Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035-9323, USA, or at the email address above.

A Tool for fairing Epoxy Fillets:

Burton Blaise writes:

One of the great advantages of building hard chined hulls by the “tack and tape” method is that even amateurs such as myself can put a hull together with minimal time and effort. However, working on my Chebacco 20 hull, I found it difficult to cut the bilge panels with sufficient accuracy to give me beautiful, fair outer seams at the chines (where the bilge panel meets the topside and bottom panels). In fact, this type of building technique cannot do otherwise than produce ugly seams where

hull panels meet since the plywood edges are not bevelled to ensure perfect mating of the pieces. Therefore, such seams (especially outer seams) must generally be made fair before applying glass tape by globbing on putty (thickened epoxy) and then smoothing on with a putty knife or other straight edge to produce a nice, fair and eye-pleasing chine. (This also adds to the strength of the joint).

Working on my Chebacco 20, I was finding this to be a pretty demanding task, with a great deal of fussing and several successive coats of thickened epoxy necessary to produce a half-way decent looking outer corner. Thinking that there had to be an easier way, I eventully came up with an idea for a simple tool which enables me to create perfectly fair outer corners in just one pass. Perhaps such a

gizzmo is already known to the more initiated boatbuilders, but for the rest, here is my idea:

Take two tongue depressors or other flat, straight edged pieces of wood (e.g., paint mixing sticks), place (stack) one on top of the other, and drill a small hole through the two stacked pieces at one end. Then pass a short screw through the hole and tighten with a wing nut to create a pivoting point. You now hold a very simple device which greatly facilitates the task of fairing an outer corner or chine along a

compound curve on a hull. To use, simply glob thickened epoxy on the seam to be faired, then open the fairing gizzmo (spread the sticks apart) and rest the straight edge of one blade (or stick) on one of the hull panels and the other blade on the adjoining panel, and slowly, steadily draw along the seam making sure that both straight edges rest firmly on the panels at all times. The gizzmo automatically and smoothly adjusts to the changing curves and angles between adjoining panels as you go along the hull. The result is a perfectly smooth and fair outer corner or

chine in a single pass, with only minor touch ups to be done later. I’ve used this on the Chebacco hull and have found it to work like a charm! Once the resin sets, I then apply the glass tape and fill the weave with unthickened epoxy, according to standard practice. Hope this is helpful to someone out there!


Rigging a Chebacco:

Burton wrote to me again:

While I am nowhere near the stage of having to rig a Chebacco yet (as is quite obvious from my recent correspondence with the Bolgerphiles group!), I am starting to think about the details of the rigging. Now, I really have very little experience with sailboat rigs in general (my Gypsy’s rig is so simple that it does not prepare me for the more complicated cat-yawl rig of the Chebacco), and the details shown

on the Chebacco building plans leave me with more questions than answers. For instance, I’m not relly clear on what exactly lazyjacks are, or how to set up the toppinglift, nor do I know much about reefing and pendants & such. I wonder if, for the benefit of the uninitiated, you might consider devoting part of an upcoming “Chebacco News” issue to the art of rigging a Chebacco, perhaps even including some detailed drawings of how to set up her rig and some explanations of the different elements (sheets, halyards, cleats, pulleys – er, blocks, that is, etc.). I

suspect that we novices could stand to learn a lot from your own and other builders’ experiences – some food for thought at any rate.

Chat with you soon!

V. best,


My reply was:

Briefly, the halyards and the topping lift (which I have on the port side of the sail) go through blocks at the top of the mast, down to blocks at the mast foot, then back to cleats on the cabin roof at the front end of the cockpit.

The topping lift, if it was paired with another on the starboard side, would constitute a pair of Lazyjacks, which simply guide the gaff and sail down onto the boom when they are lowered, rather than falling off to one side. Lazyjacks often fork into 3 parts on the boom, to help gather the sail better. I’m not comfortable with lazyjacks because they need more line and complicate things. I like to get everything out of the way when I snug the boat away under its cover. The more lines, the more

complicated this would be.

A reefing pendant is a line which is attached to one side of the boom, just aft of the corresponding leech cringle which becomes the clew when the sail is reefed, is led through the cringle, then down to a block or fairlead on the other side of the boom, then led forward to a cleat where it can be cleated off when the sail is reefed. A similar pendant can be installed at the luff. When both of these are hauled tight, the sail is reefed all but the tying of the reefing points – which isn’t that important. With two lines of reefing points (as in the Chebacco’s sail) two pendants are needed at the leech, and two at the luff, with cleats for each.

That’s all I’ve got on my sail, apart from the mainsheet, which is straightforward.



Inexpensive epoxy

Dick Burnham writes:

After reading Reuel Parker’s “The Sharpie Book” I was newly informed that

only about 4 or 5 firms manufacture epoxy. Parker buys direct, it seems,

from Shell Oil. A place in West Palm Beach, Florida (admittedly distant

from Scotland) sells an epoxy (RICO?) in a 15 gallon kit that includes

hardener and resin for about $377? I called them on their 800 number and

seem to recall that it was about $30 – / gal. Which, if its the same, is

soooo very different from West epoxy at $80/. The name of the WPB place is

in the appendix of Parker’s book.

Epoxy Woes!

Burton Blaise has been having problems with epoxy. He sent an email to the Internet Bolgerlist – read on:

I desperately need help from all ye bolgercolleagues experienced with epoxy . All summer long I’ve been using epoxy (a 4:1 mix from Gelcote International) quite successefully in assembling my Chebacco 20 hull. In typical warm summer weather, the epoxy would cure within about 24 h, to the point where it could be sanded. Occasionally, the epoxy would remain sticky even after curing for 2 days, but this sticky stuff (which I assume is amine blush) would come off readily by wiping with a wet cloth, and the epoxy could then be sanded.

Recently, however, I’ve been experiencing some difficulties with the same epoxy, and frankly, I’m at wits end to know what to do. About a week ago I did a few last touch ups (fairing and filling) with the epoxy and taped the last few seams around the keel. After 3-4 days of curing, I washed the sticky surface thoroughly with water as usual. I should point out that, other than being sticky on the surface, the epoxy seems to have hardened. When I started to sand, I noticed that the sand paper was clogging very quickly, and that the epoxy was not sanding into a fine dust (as it has been during all previous sanding sessions), but rather was either not sanding at all or just coming off in little waxy bits. In fact, in many spots the recently epoxied surfaces remain hard but tacky. I’ve tried washing several times with water, and even with acetone , but the surface remains tacky (even at the present time, fully one week since

the epoxy was applied, it remains tacky and cannot be sanded). When I tried scraping the epoxied surface using a cabinet scraper, I get a very thin gummy film coming off but nothing else. Washing with acetone followed by scraping does not improve things. Now, I’m pretty certain that I’ve measured the resin and hardener correctly, and in fact am using the same approach (and materials) that have worked well all summer.

The only thing different is that we have been getting some cooler, damp weather lately (particularly at nights, when its been going down to about 10 C), with a few rainy days. However, we’ve also had some warm days where the temperature in my tarp boatbuilding shed should have been more than sufficient for curing epoxy.

Well, now that you’ve read my sad story, could some kind soul please offer me some suggestions on how I can deal with this problem? Right now I’m stuck at this stage, since I need to be able to do some sanding before I can apply the final glassing over the entire hull. I’m especially anxious to complete glassing and painting of my hull by the end of September, so that I can turn her over and make some progress on the deck structure before having to call it quits for the winter. Is there anything that can be done, or has something gone horribly wrong with my epoxy, or my technique, or whatever?

Sure looking forward to some suggestions from y’all. Many thanks in



The Internet Bolgerphiles duly replied and the conclusion was that the problem was probably caused by a slight excess of hardener in the epoxy mix (a lesson for us all!). The solution that was adopted by Burton was to scrape off the bad epoxy. He tried a cabinet scraper, but the best solution was to use fragments of broken glass as scrapers.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any other theories/solutions, please send them to me and I’ll include them in a future issue.

Butt Block Woes:

You’ll recall that in the last issue, problems were reported with butt-strap joints giving out when the panels were bent into position. Jamie Orr comments:

I used the same plywood butts on my Chebacco that Burton did, but reinforced them with 1″ #10 bronze screws. This also solved the clamping issue. The soft bronze is nice because the screw can be countersunk without worrying about breaking through the other side, the point is easily ground off when it does break through. Although Burton has fixed his problem, adding screws might provide more peace of mind.

After looking at the sailing pictures, I feel inspired all over again. I’m having problems staying on my time line, but still plan to flip this Summer.

Jamie Orr

A later email said:

I thought I’d add another comment.

When I joined the pieces of bilge panel (first layer of 1/4 inch), I did the first joint on the boat. This was OK, but for reasons since forgotten, I took the panel off (only tacked on) and did the second one on the flat. I think that if I build another boat in this style, I will do all the butt joins flat, as it’s easier to clamp. Also, the edges beyond the buttstrap can be easily edge glued and will then stay in line rather than twisting apart and having to be held in place when fastening to the hull.

Of course, if you are fastening to the hull at the same time, the last point doesn’t apply, but I try to tackle only one thing at a time.


Progress report

Jamie Orr also reports progress:

Hi, Bill

I’m at the stage of “designing” my sails, and thought I’d touch base with you. So far you’re the only builder I’ve heard of who also made the sails as well.

I think you said somewhere that you cut the mizzen very flat. Was that dead flat or only relatively flat? Can some shape be induced by slacking off the snotter?

On the main, I started out thinking that I would use a vertical cut, very plain. However, now I’m thinking that it might be more useful as a learning exercise to go the whole nine yards, with horizontal cut, roach, battens and all. I’ll probably change my mind a time or two yet, as I’ll be doing the mizzen first. This is all winter work — I’ll start as soon as the weather becomes a problem for boatbuilding.

On the boat, I now have the hull glassed (six ounce), except for some work on the keel. One of the high points of the hull was carving the stem — it always feels so good to work with real wood after a long spell of plywood and fibreglass. I used the band saw to cut the profile and rough out the taper, then block plane, spokeshave and chisel to finish it off.

I laminated the bilge panels out of 1/4 inch plywood. I glued and fastened the first layer on, and let the epoxy set up before I started the second layer. To guard against voids between the layers I pre-drilled holes on eight inch squares, in the outer layer only, after the pieces were cut to shape. I rolled some unthickened epoxy on to both layers, then spread a generous amount, slightly thickened, on the outer piece (outer, because it was lying flat and so the epoxy couldn’t drip or drool). I started with the

middle piece, and started fastening from the centre of that, using self tapping, pan head screws to draw the layers together. Working outward both ways from centre helped make sure that air and excess epoxy got pushed out.

When I put the end pieces on, I started fastening from the butt joints and worked to the ends of the hull.

The screws were number 8’s, and almost none of them stripped the threads in the hole. Where this did happen, I just rammed another one through both layers, right beside it. At the butt joints, I put them in four inches apart and got a nice tight joint each time. Butts were about a foot away from those in the first layer. I used a cordless drill to drive the screws. Power is almost a necessity here due to the working time of the epoxy, especially in mid-summer. I used 287 screws altogether, and it took a solid four hours, with no breaks, to do both sides, from the time the first batch

of epoxy was mixed. My dad helped position the panels, but we only had one drill for fastening — I had a back-up drill on hand, but it was too new to use near epoxy unless the first one failed!

I filled the joints at the edges right away, so that if any blush formed, it wouldn’t be deep down in the joints where my sandpaper couldn’t reach. The joints were already sealed with masking tape on the inside.

I have a big clean up planned, so I’ll try to remember to take some pictures when I’ve done that — the site is not suited to well laid-out photos, but we’ll see what happens.


On the subject of sailmaking, I replied:

Yes the mizzen is cut DEAD flat. It assumes some shape anyway, especially if the snotter isn’t twanging tight, and more if the snotter is slackened.

I cut my main with horizontal cloths, broadseaming the seam that goes through the tack and one either side, down to no broadseaming at the peak. You need the double-reefed main to set as flat as possible, therefore broadseaming at the peak is a bad idea. I carried the broadseaming back about 30% of the way from the luff, to keep the maximum draft well forward, to avoid weather helm. It worked! Likewise, the

curves on luff and foot should have maximum depth about 30% up/back from the tack. These curves were about 6″ deep, but that was just guesswork on my part. I’m not sure whether more, or less would be better.

Bolger Plans

Plans for all versions of the Chebacco and all other Bolger designs are available from Phil Bolger and Friends Inc., Boat Designers, P.O.Box 1209, 29 Ferry Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, USA. Phil enthusiastically recommends Dynamite Payson’s books. They are ‘almost a necessity’ for building many of his designs.

And Finally

That’s all we have room for this time. Please send me your news:

Bill Samson, 88 Grove Road, West Ferry, Dundee DD5 1LB, Scotland

Chebacco News 16

Chebacco News

Number 16, July 1997

The BIG one!

I had this email from Simon Jones (

G’day Bill!

With some trepidation and not a little awe, l write to say that l have

committed myself to building a Chebacco 25 (the big chewie!), presently

looking at any possible modifications to improve the original, have really

enjoyed reading the newsletters, and hope to be able to put some of the

ideas into practice (forewarning of any real stupid mistakes accepted in

confidence, sure I’ll need it!). Many years a sailor and this is my first

building project, I’m hoping to start towards the end of the year and take

about a year, and l would greatly appreciate you putting me in touch

(especially by email) with any of the other builders.

yours….Simon Jones.

WOW! So, at last, one of us has taken the plunge. I’ve put Simon in touch with some Lapstrake Chebacco builders, but of course this (as far as I know) will be the first `25 to start building. We look forward with interest and bated breath to hearing more about this ground-breaking task!

Memories of July ’96


Bill Parkes takes the helm of ‘Sylvester’

I (at last) got a film developed that has been in my camera since last summer, when Bill and Mary Parkes of Mechanicsburg, PA, visited. Bill, Donald McWhannell and I went for a cruise up the Tay estuary. It was a beautiful day, with light winds, and we went with the tide upriver to Balmerino (about 8 miles) and back again to West Ferry, using the outboard when the wind dropped completely . . .

‘Itchy and Scratchy’ . . .

Fraser Howell of Nova Scotia has sent me some photos of his strip-planked Chebacco ‘Itchy and Scratchy’ –

Hi Bill,

Finally, some pictures, as you recently referred in the Newsletter . . . This is Chris Bennet and I (in the hat).


This picture of us leaning on Itchy and Scratchy was our first ever night out.


You may notice how the heavy motor, 10hp, trims her down by the stern. A smaller motor would be more appropriate (unless I can get it to plane!). I’m going to try a prop with less pitch.


You can see in this shot looking aft how little weather helm she carries. I’m going to rig a self-tending jib and a tiller comb before I launch in May.

Self-bailing cockpit?

Fraser also sent me an email –

Bill; have you considered a self-bailing cockpit ? What would you think of

another cockpit floor, just above the wl, draining into holes cut into the

cb case ? The thing would be 3/4 in plywood, made rigid with supports. Air

circulation from additional cut-outs into the cabin. I’m thinking more of

rain drain than increased seaworthiness or storage. I got the pictures back

safe and sound. I am going to launch on the weekend of June 13. It is still

too cool in Halifax on the water for comfort on a small boat. In getting

ready, I noticed some unevenness in the veneers. I had to re-glue the edges

of some, so I resealed the hull and painted her white. I hope this will not

become an annual event. I think that I might have been better off sheathing

her in heavy cloth and epoxy rather than the hardwood veneers. Other options

to bailing rain are a boom tarp or a bilge pump with battery and solar panel.


Here’s how I replied –

Hi Fraser,

As you may know, I use a boom tarp. The only self-draining Chebacco I

know of is Alessandro Barozzi’s – this is an open version (no cuddy) and

the cockpit has no footwell! I.e. the seats go all the way across and

water drains over the inner transom into the outboard area. I don’t know

how he deals with raising and lowering the centreboard, but no doubt it

would be pretty straightforward to design some feasible system. This

style of cockpit could be combined with a smallish footwell which is

covered by a lid when not in use – like the one in Micro. On the other

hand, one of the attractions of Chebacco, for me, is the armchair-like

comfort of the cockpit!

I’m contemplating an article in CN on how to make a boom tarp – giving

dimensions. I made one from blue polytarp in an afternoon – It’s lasted

over a year.



It also occurred to me that the Chebacco’s cockpit can be swamped and the water could only get as high as the seats before draining out over the inner transom. I’m pretty confident the Chebacco would sail reasonably well in this state (- I tried it with my model Chebacco -) so a self draining cockpit isn’t really needed for safety – it would simply avoid the need for covering the cockpit at a mooring, or pumping out.

Fraser also reports that he’s going to try a self-tending jib with a boomed foot. I look forward to hearing how it worked out.

Getting rid of Epoxy Drips

Dick Burnham emailed me with the following query-

On another note, how do you guys clean up WEST epoxy? On my little canoe

it is one mess on the inside since I built in upside down and couldn’t see

inside until it came off the jig. I’m fearful of putting the belt sander

to it because the plywood is a mere 4mm thick, and the outer veneer is as

thin as frog hair…. Currently, when roused to solve the problem, I’m at

it with — alternatively, a block plane and a Stanley preformed metal job

which is something of a cross between a plane and the coarsest rasp afloat.

The site of the issue, as I didn’t make clear, is on the inside of the

lapstrakes. The problem should be identical on the Chebaccos.

I referred him to Gil Fitzhugh, who replied in his inimitable style! –

I know of no fun way to take hardened lumps of epoxy off the insides of

plywood strakes, but there are some effective if tedious ways. For truly

egregious runs, slicing down the right-way-up hull (from the blobby end of

the run to the plank from which it cometh) with a narrow chisel gets you

started. You don’t want to shave the run so flat that the corners of your

chisel dig into your precious veneer. When you’ve chiseled enough that your

runs have fairly flat tops, but are still proud of the plank, switch to a

flexible cabinet scraper, again scraping parallel to (not across) the run.

In this step I generally scrape from the plank lap up to the blob. You can

take off a truly microscopic shaving, and blend the run totally into the base

coat of epoxy. (You did coat the inside of the plank before you permanently

installed it, didn’t you? And let it dry? And sand it smooth while it was

still lying flat and unobstructed in your shop, and not all squoonched around

a narrow hull? You didn’t? Aww-w-w-w!)

If the run has set up rock-hard, a few passes with a hair-dryer will soften

it for cutting with a chisel. The scraper seems to work fine on hard epoxy,

but you’ll have to sharpen it fairly often.

I don’t think 4mm ply is a good match for a belt sander once the planks are

bent around the boat. When the planks are flat, well, maybe. But be bloody

careful. I like your analogy to frog hair.

If you ever build another boat, you may prefer to avoid this problem in the

first place. When you offer up your plank to the hull for its very last

trial fit, mark it with a pencil line on the inside where the prior plank

overlaps it. This doesn’t take a lot of acrobatics – just hold a pencil

against the edge of the previously installed plank, and slide it along. When

you take the plank off the hull for the very last time, you’ll see exactly

where the overlap will occur. Mask it off with tape. Paint thickened epoxy

only on the unmasked edge. Leave the tape on while you clamp the plank in

place. Thickened epoxy will dribble out on the masking tape. Reach

underneath and peel off the tape. It doesn’t have to come off in a single

strip; in fact, you’ll probably have to tear it around bulkheads, molds,

etc. This tape will be a yucky, slithery, slimy, god-awful mess, which you

will allow to infiltrate and harden upon your shop floor, your wastebasket,

your hands, your glasses, your clothing and your hair – everywhere, in fact,

except the inside of your hull. You won’t have eliminated the excess epoxy,

but you’ll have been selective about where you let it do its thing.

Butt straps – epoxy etc. –

Burton Blaise emailed me about butt straps in the sheet ply Chebacco-20 he’s building:

Just thought I’d get in touch to keep you apprised of my progress on

the Chebacco-building front. At this time, I have just completed fastening

the topsides and bottom panels onto the frames and bulkheads using

bronze screws to hold the panels in place and epoxy fillets/glass taping

for ultimate strength and permanence. I found that, while this operation

is fairly straightforward, the topsides experienced considerable strain,

especially at the bows, which resulted in my butt joints cracking at the

seam between the two butted sections (the butt joints were made with

epoxy and 1/2″ plywood butt straps, as explained in the plans and

according to previous Bolger designs). I’m not really sure what went

wrong here – maybe too much twist and an improperly made butt joint

(though I’ve made similar joints before with good old fashioned

polyester resin and never had a problem). This is the first time that I’ve

ever used epoxy, and I must say that I find the stuff to be a pain in the

butt (pardon the pun) to work with – this stuff takes much longer to set

than polyester and it seems somewhat brittle once it has cured – I

noticed that unless the epoxied/taped joints have fully cured (i.e., >2

days at 20C during the daytime), any stress in the joint can cause the

tape to delaminate or the fillet to “crack”. Once fully cured, however, the

joints seem to be all right and can take stress (though I haven’t really

forced them too much for fear of causing real damage). I sure hope

that the finished product turns out OK in terms of strength, durability,

etc.. In your judgement, are these experiences with epoxy fairly normal?

Also, I noticed that the epoxied surfaces remain “sticky”, even though

the epoxy has hardened to a full cure (i.e., after several days). When I

wash with water, the stickiness is removed. Is this stickiness caused

by the famous “amine blush” which I’ve read occurs with epoxy?

Anyway, to get back to the cracked butt joints, this unfortunate

occurrence affected the fairness of the panel’s curve at the joint, and I

have remedied the situation by using a combination of “Spanish

windlasses” and clamps to draw the edges of the butted sections back

into alignment as best as I could. Then I strengthened the joint by

applying gobs of thickened epoxy to the other side of the butt joint (on

the outside face of the hull), trying to work the stuff into the thin fissure,

and then applying a strip of fibreglass tape to cover this seam, and

filling with epoxy. This has now cured, and seems to be fairly strong (I

hope that it will be even stronger in the end, once the whole hull has

received its fibreglass sheathing). I will of course now have to do quite

a bit of sanding and fairing of the outside face of the hull to

restore the fairness in the panel’s curve at this point. BTW, what should I

use for fairing – can I use Bondo, or thickened epoxy? If I use Bondo, will

the final fibreglass/epoxy sheathing stick well to it?

My next step is to proceed with tracing the shape of the bilge panels,

and then comes the keel and centerboard case (the latter has already

been built, and is waiting to be slid into place through the slots already

cut into the bottom panel and no. 4 bulkhead – BTW, I used Brad Story’s

technique of lining the inside surfaces of the CB case with Formica using

epoxy as the adhesive: seems to work fine). At this point, I can’t wait to

have the basic hull completed, sheathed, and turned over (since my

building shed is rather cramped, and I don’t feel like taking it apart yet, I

intend to use the “gorilla” technique to turn over the hull – that is,

convince a gang of friends and neighbors to carry the hull out, flip it

over, and carry her back in to rest on the building cradle – I’ll have to

stock up on some beer for this operation..).

That’s about all for now. As usual, I shall await your advice and

suggestions in great anticipation.

Hope you’re enjoying some fine sailing weather. I haven’t been out in my

Gypsy yet, as I’ve been too busy building a boat and mowing the lawn

these days, but I do hope to get out on the St. Lawrence river soon.




Burton Blaise with his Bolger ‘Gypsy’

Wow! Plenty to discuss here.

Butt-joints – They’re certainly not the strongest way of joining two sheets of ply, especially if the butt block is on the inside of a bend (as it invariably is in boatbuilding). My daughter, Amy, did a school project a couple of years ago on the comparative strengths of scarf joints, butt-block joints, taped butt joints (i.e. glass tape either side) and ‘glass welds’ – where the two pieces are planed away to give a shallow ‘V’ which is subsequently filled with layers of glass and epoxy (a poor man’s scarf). Of these, the strongest (with 1/4″ ply) was the taped butt, which was stronger than plywood with no joint at all. The scarf (properly done) was as strong as unjoined wood, the ‘glass weld’ was very variable and the butt strap the weakest of all. The only merit of butt-block joints is their simplicity. Nevertheless, with a layer of glass on the outside of the joint, it is at least as strong as the taped butt, so I reckon the strip of glass tape you’ve applied will achieve this. The problem will be to get a fair surface without sanding away all the good glass.

Another point is that butt straps should always be nailed, as well as glued – this takes the strain off the outer veneers of the ply, which are the first thing to go when a butt strap joint fails. I put clenched copper nails in the butt straps I used in Sylvester – about 8 per joint.

Amine Blush – Most makes of epoxy suffer to a greater or lesser degree from amine blush – a sticky residue on the surface of the cured epoxy – especially if the epoxy has cured at a lowish temperature in humid conditions. It’s harmless and washes off with water without affecting the strength of the joint.

Using Bondo – Officially, Bondo (‘Plastic Padding’ in the UK) being based on polyester resin, is not recommended as a filler for an epoxy coated surface. I think it’s true that the bond would be mechanical, rather than chemical and so not as reliable as using thickened epoxy. I certainly wouldn’t use it before sheathing with glass. On the other hand I used it myself (or a similar product) for fairing during painting. It’s only when you start painting that the final unfairnesses come to light and Bondo-type products are so convenient to use – quick setting, easy sanding. So far it hasn’t let me down.

And finally . . .

Well, that’s all this month’s news. I got some photos from Australia today, but they’ll have to wait for the next issue. Remember – I depend on you all for news, pics, ideas, suggestions, dreams, . . . So don’t hesitate to put pen to paper, finger to keyboard, or whatever and (e)mail it to me:

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

West Ferry,


DD5 1LB,


email –

Phone +44 1382 776744

Chebacco News 15

Chebacco News

Number 15, May 1997

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

Our Website

Those of you who surf the World Wide Web will have noticed that Chebacco News is now at a different URL from previously. Formerly, I put CN on my web pages at work, in the University of Abertay Dundee. I now have a private web page, funded by yours truly.

There are two reasons for this – firstly, my employers could see that I had interests outside of work – a grave mistake in this age when workaholism is assumed to be the norm – secondly, I plan to retire later this year and my work pages will disappear anyway!

The downside of the new site is that I’m rationed to 1/2 megabyte of web space, so I’ll only be able to show one issue at a time, so the happy state of having the entire collection of Chebacco News’s on the web is to be no more.

To keep new readers happy, I can now offer earlier issues of Chebacco News as ‘bound’ (i.e. stapled) volumes. The two volumes are issues 1 though 6, and issues 7 through 12. If you’d like either (or both!) of these, the cost is $10 for each volume, including surface-mail postage, or £7 in British funds. Add two more dollars (£1.30) for air-mail. Please send cash only – it costs me a fortune to cash an overseas cheque. Commission for converting cash is much less.

News, enquiries etc should be sent to me:

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

West Ferry,


DD5 1LB,



Gil Fitzhugh ‘fesses up . . .

Gil Fitzhugh has been reflecting on his experiences of building a lapstrake Chebacco hull:

It’s true confessions time. Many of your newsletters have passed on information on how I was building my Chebacco, with the goal of helping those who hadn’t started yet to get off their duffs and get cracking. It has increasingly been occurring to me of late, that many of the techniques I used were suboptimal. Not wrong; I do have a nice hull. But I could have built it much more efficiently. But, if I’m ever misguided enough to build another glued-lap plywood boat, here are some of the things I would do differently.

1. The Tom Hill approach is one I wouldn’t do again. It uses a series of battens to define plank lines. Tom’s boats aren’t particularly curvy; it makes sense to use battens to help shape the planks. But a lapstrake Chebacco is a pretty curvy boat. Since I disagreed with Phil Bolger’s plank shapes, I lofted my own. Then I cut molds to duplicate my lofted planks. Having done so, I didn’t need Tom’s technique to define my planks. I could have taken them direct from the molds. This is what I did when lofting the cradle boat, and as you can see it worked fine:


Gil Fitzhugh’s cradle boat – based on Iain Oughtred’s ‘Whilly Boat’ design

I used Iain Oughtred’s plank lines in defining my molds. There are no plank lines specified in the lapstrake Chebacco. You can use Tom Hill’s battens to come up with nice lines, or you can loft them. You don’t need both.

2. Having abandoned Tom’s battens, you can set up all the permanent bulkheads as molds (either substitute molds or extras, depending on where they fall). When you lift the hull off the building frame, the temporary molds are left behind and the bulkheads stay with the hull. This saves many months of fitting out. I suspect that’s the way sheet-ply Chebaccos are built [that’s right – Bill] ; no reason not to do likewise for lapstrake.

3. Using drywall screws to hold the planks togetherwhile the epoxy sets up is easy and effective while you’re doing it, and a monumental pain later. Some of the screws break off and have to be removed by brute force. All those zillions of holes have to be plugged and smoothed on the outside, and the ones in the cuddy have to be smoothed on the inside, too. All this takes forever and yields no job satisfaction. A better way is to make up a batch of plywood plank clamps, like this:


They can be made tight with a wooden wedge or two at the open end. I starte out to use them on the Chebacco, but the presence of all those Tom Hill battens meant the opening had to be quite wide and the closed end rather thin. When I tried to tighten the clamps with wedges, they bent at the closed end instead of pulling the clams together at the open end. So I gave up and went to drywall screws. I gave up too soon. I should have used heavier clamps. In the cradle boat, with planks of 1/8 inch luan ply, my clamps were scraps of 12mm occume ply from the Chebacco. They worked fine, and left no holes. If I’d taken the time to glue together two or three thicknesses of lumberyard ply for the Chebacco clamps, they’d have been plenty strong enough.

I’m grateful to Gil for sharing his learning experience with us. After all, it’s better to stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, than to start from ground level.

Story Chebacco-20 spotted at Maine boatshow


John Harris, of Chesapeake Light Craft, MD sent some email:

Neat show; I’d swear there was as much interesting stuff as at the WoodenBoat Show. Just crammed with wooden boats of all shades and an acre of boat-stuff vendors.

Brad Story was there with a lapstrake Chebacco 20. Marvelous finish and detail. (Were those NUTS and BOLTS holding the laps together?) I talked with his wife a little; she said they were going to try to ease out of big boat one-offs and concentrate on marketing the Chebacco as a production boat. I’ll be very interested in how that works out; they’ve already sold nine and are doing some nice advertising.

We left on Sunday after a mandatory stop at the LL Bean and Patagonia outlets.


John C. Harris

A new Sailing Pirogue from PCB & F –

John Harris also reports that he has built the prototype Sailing Pirogue – a new design from Phil Bolger & Friends. This pirogue is 11’6″long by 2′ beam. Drawings of this fun boat are available from Phil Bolger & Friends, 29 Ferry Street, Gloucester, MA 01930. Phil writes:

The plans of this design are on two sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ typewriter paper, rough but demostrably adequate. If somebody wants a set, we’ll charge US$25.00 for them, mostly “handling”, i.e. nuisance.


John Harris’s prototype Bolger Sailing Pirogue

Progress with Sheet Ply Chebacco:

Hi to All,

I’ve been making some, but somewhat slow progress. I’m building a sheet-ply Chebacco, and I’m building it in my garage. my progress to date…

cut-out my bulkheads and molds (I guess I’m very luckyto be living so close to ‘Boulter’ (plywood and specialty woods and materials, an excellent company and resource – Boulter Plywood Somerville Ma 617-666-1340)

I built my support structure (less than 2 feet to spare) in an effort to keep things straight, I stretched a wire from front to back and permanently mounted it near the

cieling over the boat centerline. On the wire I have a weighted string that I can slide along over the construction and verify the centerline alignment of individual

elements or the underlying structure, which gets hammered on occasionally. I also shot several areas of the floor/structure with spray-paint, to make it more noticeable

if my structure gets shifted.

I’ve cut-out, but not yet laminated the inner-stem

The transom is not yet reinforced or on the structure.

I have plenty of work ahead of me, and the expenditure of funds is at the rate that is hardly noticed (but the progress is certainly noticeable…if slow) which is

my general plan, small expenditures of money, over long period of time. (besides, I have only a little bit of either of those resources).

I do have some questions for the general Chebacco-building


I’m trying to decide, whether to build the centerboard/case and install/mate with the bottom panel, at bottom panel phase of hull construction (soon in my case) ???

And I’m not clear on the intent, on the plans for the thru-hull-section for the rudder post…

is it lined with an appropriate sleeve for the post to wear/rub against, or is it epoxy-coated (specialty additives) for the stressful life of supporting the twisting and turning of the rudder?

Does any preparation for this area happen while upside-down in the hull stages?

By The Way, My garage is now adorned with a large framed color print of ‘Sylvester Ghosting In’, which was featured on a previous ‘Chebacco News’, (Bill, I hope that’s

OK) it’s beautiful and right smack-dab in front of my wife’s parking space in the garage…she still has use of her side of the garage…and we’re both enthused

by the artwork.

Jim Stewart

#2 Stewart Farm Rd.

Atkinson NH 03811

Regarding the hole for the rudder stock, the way I built my Chebacco all the wear is taken by a pintle (gudgeon?) at the bottom end and a steel plate with a hole in it on the oak ‘slab’ at the top. The hole itself is epoxied and painted, but doesn’t seem to get any wear. Some builders fit the CB case at the same time as they fit the bottom to the hull. I cut the slot later, and inserted the CB case before making the keel. If I was doing it again, I’d fit it at the same time as the bottom – much less hassle!

More questions on construction:

Here’s another email question and answer session between Burton Blaisbblais@EM.AGR.CA – and myself

Hello Bill:

Is it sailing season yet in Scotland? We’re nowhere near it here – it’s still snowing out there!

Three weeks until the moorings are laid. I was out in my Payson Pirogue at the weekend. First time on the water this year!

Anyway, I wonder if I might pester you with yet another request for tips on building my Chebacco. I’ve pretty well finished cutting and sorting out all of the parts & components for the centreboard and its case (all I need to do now is to fiberglass the inside surfaces of the case before putting the whole together – I’m waiting on this for warmer weather and for my shipment of RAKA marine epoxy – yes, despite my recent controversial query to the Bolgerlist folks about the possibility of using vinyl ester, I still intend to use epoxy for my Chebacco). In anticipation of the hull asssembly process, I wonder if you could give me your opinion on the following details:

1) For the inside surfaces of the centreboard case, will fiberglassing with epoxy provide sufficient protection?

That’s what I did and it seems OK. I understand that Brad Story epoxies a layer of Formica on the inside of the CB case – should save a lot of bother!

2) After cutting out the hole in the centreboard for the lead ballast, did you first epoxy the inner edges of the plywood to protect it from the water, or will this interfere with the “adhesion” of the lead? Perhaps it would be better to pour the molten lead in first, let it solidify, and then seal the surface thoroughly with epoxy?

Yes – I epoxied AFTER pouring the lead. It seems fine so far.

3) For the framing, floors, deck beams and carlins, what type of lumber should I use? Can I get away with using carefully selected spruce or white pine, or do I absolutely need stronger wood ( such as oak)? I’m assuming that the main function of the deck beams and carlins is to support the deck, and not to play a major role in the structural strength of the entire hull itself.

I used reclaimed white pine – liberally coated with epoxy and well painted – seems fine. If I’d had unlimited resources, I’d probably have gone for mahogany or Douglas Fir. The carlines themselves add little to the strength of the boat – they effectively extend the glueing area for joins between panels.

4) Again, what are the options for lumber for the keel cheeks?

If you can get oak, that’s probably best – but be careful, It doesn’t glue well, so back up your joints with S/S bolts. I used construction-grade fir (‘red deal’) which epoxies well but is more easily damaged than oak.

5) I seem to recall reading in your published building sequence that fort the bilge panels you are recommending two plys of 1/4″ plywood, rather than 1/2″, due to the twist in the panel near the bows. Unfortunately, most lumber in Canada is sold in metric sizes, and while we can find 1/2″ plywood readiliy enough, the closest to 1/4″ that I can find is actually thicker at about 8-9 mm. Therefore, if I go the route of using two plys of the thinner stuff I will actually end up with a bilge panel that is considerably thicker than 1/2″ , and which will not be flush with the other 1/2″ panels. Therefore, I may have no choice but to use the 1/2″ plywood for this job. Do you have any experience with this, or any tips on how I might be able to use this thickness and still get the correct twist in the panel ?

I can get 6mm ply here, which is pretty close to 1/4″. I should point out, though, that in fact I made the bilge panels out of 1/2″ (12mm) ply but you need a bit of brute-force to get the panels bent into position. I used strategically placed clamps and twisted ropes (‘Spanish windlass’) to coax them into position.

Sorry to bother you with so many questions, but you are simply too valuable a resource not to use! Many thanks in advance for all your help.





Photo from Nova Scotia:

I found this image of Fraser Howell’s strip-planked Chebacco-20, ‘ITCHY’, on the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, the image has suffered somewhat in the transfer! If you can get onto the web, the URL is where the image is much clearer. Fraser tells me he’ll soon be sending some other images. Watch this space!


Fraser Howell’s strip-plank ‘Itchy’ scoots along.

That Tasmanian Chebacco:

A number of you have written or emailed me asking for more details of the Chebacco that appeared on the fromt page of Chebacco News #14. Colin Hunt, who took the photos, takes up the story:

. . . as I wandered around the docks there it was – ‘GREBE’ – a chine built Chebacco launched last summer by Bruce Tyson of Port Sorrell in Tasmania. This craft is magnificently built and finished, and when I finally caught up with Bruce he described her as a very user-friendly boat. She was built according to the plans with no ballast and a 5hp motor.



Colin also tells me that he has built a ‘Bobcat’/ ‘Tiny Cat’/ ‘Instant Catboat’ (surely a 12 foot boat doesn’t need all these names). He mentions that construction is very like that of the sheet ply Chebacco. I hope Colin sends some photos for a future issue.

And Finally . . .

When we first started this newsletter I wondered if it would survive as far as a second issue. I’m frankly flabbergasted at the amount of information we’ve disseminated. We seemed to have hit the market at just the right time when the first home-built Chebaccos were starting to appear. The World-Wide-Web has also been a tremendous help in reaching new Chebacchisti (- Gil Fitzhugh coined this word -), particularly through Chris Noto’s Bolgerlist, and Tim Fatchen’s Light Schooner home page.

Thank you all for your news items, past, present and future – Keep ’em coming!

Bill Samson

Chebacco News 14

Chebacco News

Number 14, March 1997

Colin Hunt spotted this beautifully finished Chebacco at the Wooden Boat Festival in Tasmania. It was built by Bruce Tyson of Port Sorell in Tasmania. This must be the most Southerly Chebacco!

We hit the posh mags:

Some of you may have come across the excellent new magazine devoted to boats and boatbuilding – ‘Water Craft’ – which is published by the legendary Pete Greenfield. You’ll recall that Pete started ‘Classic Boat’ and ‘The Boatman’, which recently amalgamated. ‘Water Craft’ is his latest venture – a bi-monthly mag with a very strong bias towards boatbuilding (unlike some other mags which seem to be committed to reviewing the latest millionaire gin-palaces).

I phoned Pete a couple of months ago, asking if he’d like to publish an article on the Chebacco boats. He looked at a draft article and agreed to commit himself to publishing a major article on the Chebacco and its construction. Phil Bolger and Gil Fitzhugh have both contributed to the article, which will be illustrated with lots of photos of ‘Sylvester’ at various stages of construction. The article is due to appear in Water Craft number 3, to be published on 17 April 1997.

Subscriptions to ‘Water Craft’ (six issues) can be had for £16.50 (UK) or £20.00 (rest of the World) from:

Pete Greenfield Publishing,
TR12 6UE,

Some Questions about Chebacco Building:

Dr Burton Blais of Ontario, Canada, has recently started building a sheet-ply Chebacco-20. He wrote to me with a list of questions which, I believe, are of general interest, so here they are, along with my initial responses to them.

1. What is the best way to set up a construction platform for assembling the hull? I am thinking of two parallel 20’ long 2×4 or 2×6 rails (straight and carefully levelled), with the frames and molds set at proper distances along the rails. I’m not sure about the best way to adjust the heights of the frames and moldsto produce the correct arrangement for assembling the sides, etc. . .

I used 2x6s, as you suggest. I reckon 2x4s wouldn’t be stiff enough, at 20’long. These were set up about 30” apart like a ladder with ‘rungs’ corresponding to the positions of frames and molds. The frames and molds were lightly attached to these to allow some adjustment to fit the topsides panels when these were attached. Gil Fitzhugh used a plywood ‘box girder’ for his strongback and this worked very well, too.

2. Exactly how does one go about affixing the stem cap solidly to the hull – is it bolted to the stem? If so, how is it bolted? (I presume this goes on after the sides and bilge panels have been attached to the stem).

Yes, it does go on after the sides and bilge panels are attached. I fixed mine with longish woodscrews in deeply countersunk holes. Really, the glass sheathing should make it strong enough without through bolting.

3. For the hollow keel, the plan mentions something about drainage holes, but I’m not sure that I understand what is meant here . . .

The hollow keel sections are free-flooding, and so need to be carefully coated with epoxy inside and out. Each hollow section is roughly triangular in shape, so I drilled a 3/4” hole through the plywood (on one side only) at each corner of the triangle. I did this, too, on the hollow rudder. Some builders have made the keel solid and I don’t think there’s any harm in that. For amateurs with limited woodworking facilities, however, the hollow built-up keel is easier to build.

4. For the plywood rudder, exactly how did you affix yours to the rudder post so that it holds strongly (e.g. even when there is pressure against the rudder)? Also, how did you affix the tiller to the post?

I strayed a little from the plans, in this case, because I happened to have some 1” dia steel rod for the rudder post, rather than the 2” dia pipe specified on the plan. I welded two, three inch long ‘prongs’ onto the post, which locate in holes in the frame at the for’ard end of the rudder. The whole lot was then sheathed in glass and epoxy and is very strong. The tiller is made with steel ‘cheeks’ in way of the post. A tightly fitting stainless bolt goes through both cheeks and the post. This would certainly be easier to get right with a 2” post. Play in this joint can be most irritating when you are sailing, as I found to my cost. I fixed the problem by drilling out the holes and using a larger size bolt.

5. Exactly how does one remove the two molds once the hull and cuddy have been assembled (do the molds not become entrapped within the structure?)? Does one simply ‘hack’ them out?


6. Do you recommend installing styrofoam for positive floatation and if so, where should it be placed?

I haven’t installed any in ‘Sylvester’, on the grounds that she’s a wooden boat and would be quite buoyant, even when swamped. Some owners put in 2 or 3 hundred pounds of internal ballast, and the case for buoyancy would be considerably greater in these boats. If I were to install some, I’d put it under the side decks and under the benches.

Burton later emailed me with an account of how he is going about the construction of his boat:

As you know, I am still very early in the building process, and am very much a novice, and so I fear I won’t have much interesting material to relate. However, I’ll tell you a little about what’s happened so far in my Chebacco building enterprise:

First, I should indicate the type of workshop facilities and tools I have to work with. I built my small workshop several years ago to suit my modest woodworking needs and the Canadian climate – the entire building (which is insulated against the cold -it can get to -30 C here in Jan. and Feb.) is only 12′ X 20′ , and much of the space is taken up by benching and work stations set up along the walls. Despite this, I did manage to build a 15′-long Bolger Gypsy in this space last winter. However, the experience taught me that I would need a larger, less encumbered space to build the 20′-long by 7.5′-wide sheet ply Chebacco. Thus, last Fall, I completed construction of a temporary 12′ X 30′ shelter behind my shop. This is built of a 2 X 3 spruce lumber frame covered with a blue polyethylene tarp (this is an inexpensive woven tarp commonly available in North American hardware stores). In spite of the sunshine and strong winds in our area, I hope that this tarp will last through to the end of next winter (1997-98), when I expect to have my Chebacco completed (or nearly completed – a lot will depend on the availability of funds, and other circumstances). Thus far the tarp seems to be holding up well through the worst of our winter, although its getting a little slack in places (I must remember to see about tightening it so it doesn’t flap too badly in the wind).

As for my workshop tools, I have what I consider to be most of the basic woodworking tools (at least, the necessary equipment for my other woodworking passion, furniture building): e.g., 10″ Delta table saw (this is the inexpensive table top model, with a carbide-tipped blade – this saw doesn’t owe me anything, having given me much service over the past 8 years), a small Delta bandsaw, a scroll saw, a compound miter saw, a router, a lathe, and of course, a skilsaw, a jigsaw and a a belt sander. But my real gems are couple of really nice Stanley handplanes and an old cross-cut saw I found in an antique shop! So armed, I proceeded to tackle the problem of building a sheet ply Chebacco…

At this juncture, I should point out that I am trying to build my Chebacco as economically as possible, yet aiming for a good quality boat in the end. I should state that, as I live at least 10 miles from my intended cruising grounds (the St. Lawrence river, near Morrisburg, Ontario), my Chebacco will spend most of her life on a trailer under a tarp (as does my Gypsy right now). This fact does influence my choice of materials. For plywood, I am using construction grade 1/2″ fir 5-ply (good one side). Now, I know that there are many critics of construction grade plywood in the boatbuilding world. However, marine grade is simply not an option for me because of its very high cost in my area ($90.00 CDN a sheet for marine fir plywood!!). I have contacted the Canadian plywood association, who inform me that all plywoods maniufactured in Canada these days, whether marine or construction grade, uses the same types of waterproof adhesive. The main difference appears to be in the quality of the plies, finishing and the number of voids (the latter factor being of crucial importance to the boatbuilder). I have searched far and wide in the lumber yards of eastern Ontario, and have found that there is considerable variation in terms of quality from one dealer to another. I have learned that there is some pretty terrible plywood on the market these days (both marine and construction grade), and that one has to have a very discerning eye in chosing either type. After searching, I have found a supplier who stocks what I deem to be fairly good quality construction plywood. After much cutting and handling so far, I have found this plywood to have few voids, and these are very small at that! I think that this material will suit my purpose very well. I do plan to use epoxy resin for the fiberglassing, and indeed, intend to fully encapsulate all plywood parts as other Chebacco builders have done. I believe that this (and proper regular maintenance of the boat once in use) will be the main factor in ensuring the longevity of my boat. Now, for epoxy, I did consider going the popular route of WEST System or EAST System products. In my area, the cost of these is roughly $120 (CDN) per gallon. However, recently while surfing the net I came across a company in Florida, Raka Marine, which sells a 2:1 marine epoxy at discount prices. I figure that even after taking into consideration the currency exchange rate and shipping charges, this product will still cost about half of what I would pay for the more popular brands. Anyway, I am going to try it out, and perhaps later next summer will be able to report on how the stuff works. As for the actual construction process, right now I am limited by cold weather. I have been doing whatever I can in my small heated workshop: thus far I have cut all of my frames and molds, assembled the transom and its framing, and put together the stem and stem cap. By the way, knee pads are an absolute necessity for laying out frames, etc., on the plywood – I wish I had thought to get a pair when I built my Gypsy! For cutting the frames and molds I used both a skilsaw and a jigsaw, as necessary. It is very difficult to cut a nice smooth curve with a jigsaw, and I may have to do some planing and epoxy puttying later (note that, since most of the side and bottom edges of the frames will be set in epoxy putty and taped to the inside of the hull at the assembly stage, a slightly “wobbly” edge should not be too critical).

I laminated my stem and stemcap using the 1/2″ ply and epoxy (not the Raka marine stuff, which I haven’t ordered yet). The result was the ugliest looking two pieces of wood I had ever laid eyes on! The stem is laminated from seven pieces of plywood cut with the jigsaw, and boy, talk about multiple wobbly edges! However, I persevered, and began be cutting a bevel on the stem to start giving it its proper final shape. At first this posed a problem: my jigsaw blades were too short for the job, and I broke two bandsaw blades trying to feed the stem through. At last, I was able to do a decent and quick job of it using my trusty cross-cut saw. The final surface and proper bevel were achieved with a blockplane and the beltsander. The aft curvature was worked with a combination of a drawknife and the belt sander. For the stemcap, which is laminated from 5 pieces of ply, tapering was achieved by laying the piece on its side and going at it with a blockplane, followed by smoothing with the belt sander. The result are a rather handsome stem and stemcap, if I do say so myself!

With all of this done, now I am beginning to attack the centerboard and its case…

Well, that’s pretty much all I have to report for now. As you can see, its not much in the way of accomplishment yet. Hopefully when Spring arrives in two months I can get some serious work done. Incidentally, I do intend to try making my own sails, when the time comes, as you have done. This will save me a considerable amount of money, but more importantly, I will learn something new.
Best regards,


News from Germany/Connecticut:

Bill Meier emailed me with an update on progress:

Dear Bill and other Chebacco newsletter readers, In spite of the fact that I haven’t written in probably more than a year (or has it been two years), I have been faithfully reading the newsletters and dreaming. My building plans were put on hold last Spring when my company offered me a one year assignment in Cologne, Germany. The opportunity to live and travel in Europe outweighed the boatbuilding schedule so the family and I packed up and moved. Recently, however, the rather damp and drizzly Rhein valley weather has driven me to spend my weekends reading boating books, magazines and newsletters to the point that I can think of little else but my lapstrake Chebacco, sitting patiently in my garage, waiting. The glowing reports by Frasier Howell of the Chebacco’s sailing performance have made the wait agonizing. The hull of my boat is completely planked, the CB trunk and bulkheads are installed and the cockpit is about half done. I didn’t know that there was/is a Bolgerlist newsgroup so I decided to vary from the construction drawings on a few points. I won’t know if the decisions were right for me until the boat is in the water for a while, but I thought I’d share them with you.

I decided to build a solid keel rather than the plywood sheathed one in the plans. I was concerned about the longevity of plywood, especially when moisture got into the structure and stayed there. I wanted a unit that could be easily replaced (i.e. not epoxied to the hull) in a few years. What I came up with after determining the price and availability of wood was to use douglas fir 2x6s laminated horizontally with plenty of 3M 5200 and bolted to the CB trunk and floors with bronze rods. The whole assembly including the bolt holes were given a good soaking in some Cuprinol I had left over from a previous project. For abrasion resisistance I used a 1x6x18ft hickory shoe that the local lumber mill gave me for free.

Was it worth it? I do know that it took quite a bit of work to get the shape right (with skil saw and hand planes). My work log is back in the States but I remember it being at least two and probably three solid weekends of work. It appears to be stable (not twisted or otherwise deformed) so far. I’m not terribly confident about the longevity of fir even with a Cuprinol bath but at least it won’t delaminate and I can replace it without too much difficulty.

All of the other timbers that will be in contact with the water, except the stem, are of white oak and are glued to the plywood with 3M 5200. I did some epoxy joint tests with my batch of white oak and was not pleased with the results. The 5200 seems to be fine, however, as long as it isn’t overclamped. The inside of the CB trunk has a layer of 6oz fiberglas cloth saturated with West epoxy. After the cloth was bonded to the wood, I filled the weave with two coats of epoxy thickened with West copper-based thickener to inhibit marine growth. The stem and all of the other dimensional lumber above the water line is ash, also glued with West epoxy.

The other point on which I deviated from the plans was to widen the cabin (slightly?) so that, in plan view, the cockpit coaming is a continuous, smooth extension of the deckhouse line. That leaves a side deck of about 1ft, which is on the narrow side but, as I remember, no worse than some other similarly sized boats I’ve sailed.

I’m essentially a novice with planking so I worked slowly and carefully to get the lines right and the scarphs well distributed and smooth. I worked the scarphs with a sharp hand plane (my trusty Record jack plane) and found it to be fast and easy to get a straight 8:1 bevel. I found no need for jigs or other special setups. I cut the plywood plank stock with a skil saw, leaving about 1″ extra on both the top and bottom for final fitting on the boat. The curves were gentle enough that a thin kerf carbide blade worked very well. A few passes with a hand pane were all that were needed to produce a fair curve on the completed plank.

Well, that’s where I am at this point. This week I was mulling over some of the rigging details when I found Chebacco News #13 on the Internet and decided it was time to report my progress?? and ask a few more questions:

I am concerned that, as drawn, the mainsheet will be right in the middle of things and will make it awkward for guests to move from side to side. How has it worked out for you? I’ve seen similar sized (18ft.) catboats and some classic gaffers with the sheet attached only to the aft end of the boom and cleated to the aft of the cockpit but I’m not sure that the Chebacco boom is rigid enough for that to work. If people have found the layout to be a problem, does anybody have an alternative that has been successful?

As far as the topping lift(s) is concerned, I was thinking about running two so they would help to control the gaff when lowering the main and so I could use the windward one to keep the boom up when running free. What is the experience of the group?

I, too, will be going for the low-tech boom jaw approach and I’d like to know what you’ve done to keep the boom jaws down? Is the boom heavy enough to stay put or do you need a line to keep it down and control luff tension?

Thanks for all your work coordinating and putting together the newsletter. I am enjoying it immensely both as a sounding board for design / construction ideas and for reports of on-the-water experiences. If anyone would like to contact me directly, I can be reached via e-mail at and usually by the Deutsche Post at:
Achenbachstr 135
40237 Duesseldorf

Bill Meier

I’d like to reply that I’ve never found the central mainsheet to be in the way, though the end does tend to get ‘in your feet’, but this is the case with any mainsheet arrangement.
I like the idea of a topping lift either side of the mainsail. I must try to figure out how to add one without too much extra hardware.

The weight of the boom is certainly enough to hold the sail flat in any conditions I’ve encountered. I suspect a downhaul wouldn’t be worth the extra trouble.

Wanted – A Chebacco boat:

Douglas MacCoy emailed me to ask if I knew of any Chebaccos for sale –

Family interested in acquiring a used Chebacco boat, basic version. Please contact Doug MacCoy, 1089 NW 83rd Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33071, USA, or by e-mail at Phone 954-345-6483.

And Finally:

Sorry about the shortage of photos in this issue. I do have some that have been sent in, but haven’t got around to scanning them yet. I’ll save them for next time when I may not have so much text!

We’ve had an issue dominated by Chebacco coustruction. This is pretty interesting to most of our readers, but most also like to hear sailing yarns, too. I know that it isn’t sailing season in the Northern Hemisphere, so how about some of our Southern Hemisphere readers giving us some stories? OK – I know you’re too busy sailing . . .

News, views, photos etc to me

Bill Samson,
88 Grove Road,
West Ferry,
DD5 1LB,

Chebacco News 13

Chebacco News

Number 13, January 1997

‘Sylvester’ ghosts home at sunset.

Taped Seams – How many layers?

A couple of readers contacted me recently about the taped seams of the sheet-ply Chebacco. In essence they were asking how many layers of glass are needed on each side of the joint. I asked Phil Bolger for his advice. He replied:

. . . two layers of tape inside and out, including the overall sheathing outside (which is highly recommended), is entirely adequate, and that the second layer on the inside is not critical. Dynamite Payson’s experiments with a single layer inside and out suggest that the veneers will let go before the tape does, but we did break a single- taped joint at the tape in half-inch plywood. These joints are not very highly stressed oncce assembly is complete.

Cruising version of the Chebacco 20

You’ll remember that I canvassed opinion some time ago about possible demand for a cruising version of Chebacco with raised deck and more accommodation so as to be suitable for more extended cruising than the original Chebacco. Phil writes:

On the cruising version of the Chebacco 20, we have done no more than think about it sporadically, and probably won’t do more on it on speculation. If there was enough interest for a group to club together and raise among them US$1000 to commission it, we would be stimulated to give it the attention it should have to be worth doing at all.

If anyone is interested in being part of such a group and (hopefully) coordinating it, please write to me so that I can put you in touch with each other. My address is given at the end of this issue of Chebacco News.

Bob Cushing’s high-sided Chebacco

Transom and bulkheads are in place on the keel and bottom

ch134The ballast keel and bottom are constructed first

Bob Cushing reports progress on the construction of the first high-sided Chebacco-20 – the ‘Glass House’ version. He writes:

I am starting on the sides now and expect to be done and in the water with it this spring. I am not a sailor so this will be my learning boat. I may try and get a look at some regular Chebaccos before attempting the rigging of mast, sails etc. as I am a complete novice at that.

The plans are quite good, as Phil’s always are but much of the building details are up to the builder. Expansions are given for the bottom panels but not for the bilge panels (- those are fitted and sized by hand). Actually I think it is easier to just back an approximate sized piece of ply up to the side and bottom panels and using a fairing stick trace the pattern out right from the boat bulkheads and then double- check against expansion measurements.

I am using a mixture of woods and plywoods. AC fir and MDO plywood. The MDO (medium density overlay) was tested for myself and another builder by Gougeon Brothers (the WEST System guys) as to strength of epoxied joints and it tested fine – just as strong as regular plywood epoxy joints. Framing is mostly Douglas fir with some oak and basswood.

I will keep you posted on progress. Feel free to post my address for others who have queries –

Bob Cushing, 5998 East Lake Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035 USA

Bob also sent me a photo of a very nice Microtrawler which is for sale with or without outboard and trailer. Enquiries to Bob at the above address, please.

Lapstrake Chebacco is turned over!

ch137 Jim Slakov and friends turn over the hull

Jim Slakov, of Sechelt B.C., Canada recently turned over his lapstrake Chebacco’s hull. He’s progressed a lot since then:

My Chebacco is coming along fine; today I fit the cabin sides, which are 1/2” cherry (as are the sheer planks, coaming seatback, and all the wood trim in general, including the outer stem). I made short deck-beams, dovetailed into the carlin, to hold things in place before the decking was glued and screwed on. So far the mid bulkhead is in place, and the foredecks, and cabin sides; I’m beginning to see why you call these big dinghies. My neighbour calls it a hippy-boat, I thnk that’s a compliment, what? I’m opting for the mast slot rather than a hatch and will probablyy refer to ‘Gray Feather’s mast boot and mast hatch when the time comes.

Jim also sent a picture of the moulds. Notice that he uses chine logs, rather than the epoxy/glass fillet specified in the drawings –
Jim Slakov’s moulds, showing chine logs.

Sechelt is the only town in the world with two Chebacco News readers in it! Jim tells me that Garry Foxall, also of Sechelt, helped with the turnover. Garry is planning to build a sheet-ply version this winter.

June Bug – a perfect tender

Bill Samson happily rows ‘Tweety Pie’ – ‘Sylvester’s tender

Some issues ago I reported that, on Phil Bolger’s recommendation, I was to build a June Bug as tender to ‘Sylvester’. I completed ‘Tweety Pie’ some weeks ago and am very pleased with the result. She rows smartly, is manoeverable, light (just over 100 pounds), and very stable – important in a tender where non-sailor guests are to climb on and off the boat.

If, like me, you plan to keep your Chebacco out on a mooring in open water, and need to row against tides to get there, then the June Bug is perfect. If you plan to build one as a tender, be sure to make the gun’ls good and strong; they take a lot of beating when coming alongside in a chop. Mine were a bit skinny (rather thinner than specified on the plans) and I subsequently had to beef them up.

As well as using the ‘Tweety Pie’ as a tender, I’ve also enjoyed rowing her for pleasure in the Tay Estuary – sometimes with a passenger. She’s at her most enjoyable in calm water; her flat bottom pounds noisily in a chop, though progress is little impeded.

Instuctions for building the June Bug appear in Dynamite Payson’s book ‘Build the new instant boats’. Full scale plans can be bought from H.H. Payson & Co, Pleasant Beach Road, South Thomaston, ME 04858, USA.

A successor to Black Skimmer

Those of you who haven’t yet committed yourselves to building a Chebacco may well be interested in Phil Bolger & Friends’ design #639 – a sharpie schooner of about the same size as Black Skimmer. #639 is 23’6”x7’1”x1’2” with a schooner rig similar in layout to that of the Light Schooner (or ‘Scooner’). Lateral resistance is provided by leeboards. Interestingly, Scottish designer Iain Oughtred was reported in Classic Boat magazine as having Black Skimmer as one of his top ten favourite designs of all time. When Phil discovered this he wrote:

It’s a little ironical that the plug for BLACK SKIMMER (long a favourite design of ours, too) comes just as we finally produced a design to supercede it; about the same size, but with a schooner rig, water ballast, and a ‘Birdwatcher’-type raised deck, to be more seaworthy, more roomy and easier to transport by road trailer. The new design, first of a class, we hope and think, is well along in construction.
Profile of the Black Skimmer Successor
[ Thanks to Chuck Merrell for this scanned image]
[If you want to order plans you can get them from Phil Bolger & Friends Inc., Boat Designers, PO Box 1209, 29 Ferry Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, USA.]

Rigging a Chebacco-20

Those of you who are building a Chebacco-20 and have little or no experience of rigging a cat-yawl may be interested in how I did it on Sylvester.

At the mast head three blocks are needed – one for the peak halyard, one for the throat halyard and one for the topping lift. I put three stainless eye-bolts through the mast head, as attachment points for the blocks. The eyes for the peak anad throat halyard blocks are on the aft side of the masthead, and the eye for the topping lift block is on the port side. The blocks were all of the fixed eye/becket type, 1 3/8” x 7/16” for the topping lift, and 1 3/4” x 1/2” for the halyards. You can spend a lot, or a little on such blocks, depending on whether you want plain or ball-bearing. I went the low cost route and used Barton plain blocks , ST2 and ST3.

At the partners, where the mast goes through the cabin roof, I put upright blocks on the cabin roof to turn the halyards and topping lift , allowing them to be led back to the cockpit. A single upright block was used on the port side for the topping lift, and a double on the starboard side for the peak and throat halyards. These were 1 3/4” x 1/2”, Barton UB3 and DUB3 respectively.

I put 6” horn cleats on the cabin roof either side of the companionway hatch, one to port for the topping lift and two to starboard for the halyards. One refinement worth including is three little plastic fairleads to lead these lines past the hatchway slides, which they would otherwise foul.

I used 1/2” braided line for the halyards and 3/8” for the topping lift.

The main sheet arrangement is best described by following the sheet from its attachment to the becket of a fixed eye/becket block (Barton STB4) which is lashed to the clew end of the boom. From there it travels through a fixed eye block (Barton ST4), which is shackled to the rope horse and then back up through the block at the clew end of the boom. From there it goes for’ard to another ST4 block lashed to the boom just above the end of the centreboard case and then down to a Barton 522 stand- up block and swivel with camcleat which is bolted to the top of the centreboard case.

The main sheet is 1/2” braided line.

The mizzen sheets lead from the sprit-boom end, one either side, to fairleads at the port and starboard quarters, on top of the aft buoyancy tanks either side of the outboard well. From these fairleads they come for’ard to camcleats on top of the buoyancy tanks within easy reach of the helmsman.

That’s all there is. If you go the economy route, like me, it’ll probably cost about £150 ($225) for the fittings mentioned here. I must say that these fittings have been perfectly satisfactory, so far. Going the luxury route with, perhaps, ball bearing fittings by Harken, you could probably spend three or four times that much.

One of the great things about the Chebacco is that it has so few fittings – no winches are needed, no shrouds; a delight to Scotsmen of whatever nationality!

‘Toulouma Too’ for sale:

Sister Krista is reluctantly offering her Chebacco for sale. Reasons for the sale are that she needs more space and amenities due to expansion of crew numbers, so she is upgrading to a larger boat. Here are the details: For Sale: 20-ft Bolger Chebacco cat yawl, plywood version built by Brad Story, 1991. Excellent condition (top-sides and deck painted Spring 1996). Kept under 80% cover. 4hp Yamaha 1991. Extras (all new, 2-3 years old): Origo alcohol stove 2 (4” thick) custom-made sleeping cushions (1996) cockpit tent with screens porta-pot flag staff and flag Call: 609 461-0658 evenings, Monday through Thursday 609 698-1863 evenings, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
News, enquiries etc should be sent to me:

Bill Samson, 88 Grove Road, West Ferry, Dundee, DD5 1LB, Scotland

Chebacco News 12

Chebacco News


Number 12, November 1996

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

Bill Samson’s ‘Sylvester’ impersonates the Chebacco News logo

The first ‘Glass-house’ Chebacco?

Bob Cushing ( emailed to tell me that he is building the high- sided Chebacco motorsailer, dubbed the ‘glass-house version’ by Phil Bolger (Boats with an Open Mind – pages 225-227). As far as I can tell, this will be the first to be built to this design. Bob writes:

I have started building the highsided Chebacco motorsailer – have the bottom, ballast keel and rudder built and some of the bulkheads. I will be turning it rightside up shortly and starting to install the bulkheads, stem and sides.

Bob also mentions that he has built the Microtrawler (currently for sale!) and the Fast Motorsailer (both described in BWAOM). He hasn’t added the sailing rig to the Fast Motorsailer, yet, but is so pleased with its performance under power, he may not add it.

Lapstrake Chebaccos

Gil Fitzhugh reports steady progress on his lapstrake Chebacco. He is currently fitting out the hull:

The forward bulkhead is in, the aft one is cut out and the hidden one at the backend of the centerboard trunk is spiled. The aft bulkhead has a pretty top that I wanted to cover with a curved strip of laminated mahogany – two tight bends one way and two the other. It worked, but what a job! Bulding boats is duck soup. Building yachts, on the other hand . . .

I just hope, that with all that loving care and attention Gil is lavishing on his Chebacco, he can screw up the courage to dump it in the water when the time comes!

Gil also tells me that he is seriously thinking about putting on a bowsprit and jib, following the glowing report from Fraser Howell in the last issue. He has put a substantial breasthook into the hull so that a short bowsprit can be bolted through the deck and breasthook.

Another lapstrake Chebacco builder, Jerome McIlvanie, of Yakima, Washington reports that he built his hull right side up, turned it over using the pulley and ropes method (see Chebacco News #1) for painting. He then plans to turn it back over to finish it off.

Yet another builder who has decided to build the lapstrake version is George Cobb, of New Brunswick, Canada. He writes:

I won’t have building space for another 2-3 months. In the meantime I have completed the lofting and am well along on the spars. I would like to hear whether anybody has used a gooseneck on the boom and its merits and drawbacks as compared to gaff jaws.

I went for a sail in Fraser Howell’s boat three weeks ago. The winds were light but it was still a very enjoyable sail. I especially enjoyed nosing up to a beach and going ashore.

George Cobb

If you use a gooseneck on the boom you’ll be in good company, George. Sister Krista’s ‘Toulooma Too’, built by Brad Story (see Chebacco News #7) has a gooseneck. It certainly looks very neat and works well. I used jaws on my boom because I like low-tech things that are easily fixed, wherever I am. The only slight advantage of jaws is that the height of the boom above the deck can be adjusted using the throat halyard – but this is no big deal.

Another sheet ply Chebacco?

I am sometimes accused to being rather biassed towards the sheet ply version of the Chebacco. OK – I fess up! (- you’d think I was an American or something -) I am biassed. So it gladdens my heart to hear that another one is about to start taking shape. Garry Foxall, of British Columbia, writes: I am going to build the sheet ply version, although Jim Slakov’s [a lapstrake version] is so pretty it makes me want to do that instead. However, I have a number of other projects that must be done, and I think that the sheet ply one will be faster.

I hope to begin cutting out bulkheads and temporary frames this month. December is when I hope to begin the actual construction.

Jim Slakov lives a few miles away. He turned his hull over in the early summer and is now working on the centerboard trunk. He is a cabinetmaker by trade and his workmanship is beautiful. It makes one feel envious.


Chebacco a tad big for you? How about a Catfish Beachcruiser!

John Tuma, of Fremont California has launched his Catfish Beachcruiser (a recent Bolger design). He has called it ‘Catfish Lounge’, in view of the astonishingly spacious cockpit/cabin. John writes:

The hull form is similar to the sheet ply Chebacco . . .

The particulars:
LOA 15’1”
Beam 6’6”
Draft 15”
Trailer weight ~800 lbs
Displ (sailing) ~1000-1200 lbs
Sail area 139 square feet

She has a long, shallow keel and no centreboard, giving an uncluttered interior. The deck is raised to the height of the top of the coaming and there is a narrowish walkway down the centre which forms the cockpit when sailing, and can be easily covered over at night to give sleeping accommodation (rather like the Birdwatcher, but less extreme). So you get a huge cockpit and huge sleeping accommodation, too.

John Tuma’s ‘Catfish Lounge’

John emailed me to say:

The Lounge offers commodious seating, occasionally excellent dining, and often an excellent view. Performance to windward is not as slow as I first thought. I had my sailmaker join me for an afternoon on the Oakland Estuary, and we played with the various controls. Throat halyard tension was improved with the addition of a 2-to-1 purchase, and greater luff tension improved windward performance in light airs. In heavier conditions or with a lightly loaded boat the increased luff tension tends to induce weather helm. I did not expect the rig to be so sensitive to tuning, so now I feel I’m learning about sail controls all over again.

I’ve also found the lounge to be sensitive to loading. Four adults and two children can fit without trouble, but the boat doesn’t sail well with that much weight (at least not when chips and dip are more important than weight placement). Very slow to get going, and slow downwind. The increased momentum made tacking in light airs easier, the deeper profile reduced leeway. However, I’ve been having fun with the sideways motion, and a downwind dock can be taken by stalling the boat and sliding in sideways. I do have to be careful though, as the same thing would happen on a lee shore. I have also found that the Lounge likes to be sailed on the bilge panel, and flies on a reach when that far over. Is the same true of the Chebacco?


It certainly is! The downside is, though, that the greater the heel, the greater the weather helm. On balance, I like to sail my sheet ply Chebacco with a little heel, but not with the gun’l under! Sailing singlehanded, as I often do, this can mean taking in a reef earlier than when I have a crew to sit on the weather bench.

First, the model . . .

James (Skip) Pahl, of Carlsbad, California, writes:

I’ve just started my 3/4” to 1’ model. The hull is done and today I’m beginning the post-turn-over interior work. I am hoping the model comes out looking as sweet as the one you built. [Aw! Shucks! – B.S.] It might give courage at the office during a week that seems an unnecessarily long interruption to one’s time on the water.

I was fascinated by Fraser Howell’s recent comments about his bowsprit and jib, and wondered if his Chebacco points higher than those with cat rigs or might require reefing later since the jib tends to relieve the weather helm when the main is overpowered. Also, I’d like to learn how he installed the bowsprit. It seem to me that, with a careful job of tapering the spar, it could look great with the 19th century lines of the boat.

I’d also be grateful for your thoughts about using plastic laminate on the interior or the centerboard trunk and of using an aluminium plate for the centerboard.


Well, Fraser, some of this is for you to look into. Formica-lined centreboard trunks have been used successfully by boatbuilders for a long time now. I only wish I’d heard about it before spending days glassing the inside of my trunk! I’d be very wary of an aluminium centreboard. Made to the same thickness as shown on the plans, it’d be very heavy and would probably need a winch to raise it. A thinner one would need a narrower trunk and might get bent and jam up. You’ll recall that Fraser laminated a central core of aluminium in plywood, giving the same weight/density as the lead- weighted plywood centreboard of the plans (see Chebacco News #11).

Skip also emailed Gil Fitzhugh and myself asking how to fit the carlins and cuddy sides. Gil replied:

. . . there are floors at roughly stations 2 3/4 and 3 3/4. After they and the inwale are in place, you can tie the carlin to those floors and inwale with string, or wires and turnbuckles, like this –


By adjusting the tension on the strings you can pull the carlins into a fair curve relative to the sheer in both profile and plan view. Note that the top and inside faces of the carlin, to which the deck and cuddy sides will be fastened, are unobstructed. After you’ve fastened the deck and cuddy sides to the unobstructed faces of the carlin with screws and epoxy, the carlin ain’t goin’ noplace, never again . . .

My own approach is rather cruder. I left in the temporary molds 2 and 3, and used these to determine the shape of the carlins. Once the cuddy sides and side decks were fitted, I crawled into the cuddy with a handsaw and chopped the molds up so they could be removed. Untidy, but it works!

Professional advice available

Bill Buchholz has recently returned to the USA from Finland, where he supervised the building of a modified Chebacco at the boatbuilding school in Hamina. Bill has kindly offered to provide advice to amateur builders of Chebacco. He can be contacted at Apache Boatworks, RFD 4517, Camden, ME 04843, USA, phone 207-236-8048.

Weight aft, Mizzen Sails and Mast Boots

Peter Gray of Queensland, Australia refers to Jamie Orr’s query about weight at the back end of the Chebacco. He writes:

I was concerned about this with Grey Feather. The rudder was built of steel-


so instead of the Oregon mizzen mast weighing 12 kgs I used a second hand windsurfer mast costing $50 and weighing 2 kgs. I got the sailmaker to sew a sleeve in the mizzen sail to go over this. It works really well. I also have an 8 hp Johnson outboard weighing 27 kgs. I have found this combination of items works well (weight and function).


About the mast slot and sealing it – this was also of major concern to me as I don’t like water in the hull. I made a hatch cover for the slot and a boot for the mast.


Grey Feather went to the Brisbane (Down by the River) Festival on August 23-24. This was a celebration of the 150th year of Newstead House, house of the Governor of Queensland, Australia. The house is on the banks of the Brisbane river. Incorporated with these celebrationswas a heritage and vintage boat show. Gray Feather was part of this and was met with great enthusiasm

Peter Gray


And Finally . . .

Please keep your news coming; whether about sailing or building or even just dreaming. This is your newsletter and we can all benefit from each others’ experience. For the first time, in this issue, I have devoted some space to a Bolger boat which isn’t a Chebacco – John Tuma’s Catfish. Please let me know whether I should occasionally discuss Bolger designs which might be alternatives to Chebacco, or whether I should stick strictly to Chebaccos.

Happy building, sailing, modelling, dreaming, . . .

Bill Samson,
88 Grove Road,
West Ferry,
DD5 1LB,