Chebacco News 58 – Cruise Lake Eildon

Cruising Eildon Lake in late Autumn

I am the local scout leader.  It is a role that means I can help young kids learn skills they would never learn on an iPad and can be great fun at the same time.  By one of those happy coincidences, we have 6 leaders in our troop and 4 of us are sailors.

So when it comes to having fun ourselves, without the scouts, we chose to go sailing of course.

Lake Eildon is about 2 hours away from us in central Victoria, Australia.

eildon The lake level goes up and down, and there is a bit of a drought in Victoria at the moment so the level is down to 30%.  But there is enough water to sail on, and the exposed banks are good for camping on.  Mid May is getting a bit cold up there, with overnight temperatures around freezing, so that means we won’t be disturbed by too many tourists and we have an excuse for a big campfire.  Very scout leader like.

11 cub and scout leaders turned up at Eildon Pub on the agreed Friday night.  The cook had conniptions when he realised  11 hungry sailors had just turned up and his usual 3 or 4 diners had just quadrupled in number for the evening.  We camped near the shore under a cloudless sky and woke to a frost.  A fire was soon started and a hot egg and bacon breakfast delayed our arrival at the ramp to a civilised hour.

My Chebacco 25 and Leo’s 26′ Seaway 787 were launched in a light Northerly breeze and hardly a ripple on the water.  Coats stayed on as the clouds got darker and the breeze freshened to maybe 8 or 10 knots.  But at least we picked up a little speed on the beat to our intended campsite.  Scout Leader Chewy, our self appointed camp cook, was very keen to get a fire going but personally I didn’t see the need to rush.  The lightly forested hills to the West hid all sorts of interesting houses, from holiday shacks to mountaintop mansions with windows on every side.  But the densely timber covered mountains to the East showed no sign of human habitation.  That is where we were headed.

Where there are two sail boats there is a race.  Beating in the cool breeze kept me concentrating on keeping up with the Seaway.  The Chebacco wouldn’t point as well as this 1/4 ton racer.  Initially this did concern me, the skipper. (I suspect I need to rake the mast back a bit to improve the helm balance.)  But soon my crew convinced me the reason for the trip had more to do with fun and comradeship than speed. The rum was brought out and I handed the tiller to Scout Leader Suzanna who quickly learned the basics of sail boat handling.

The Chebacco 25 is well suited to this role of cruising comradarie.  We had a 12′ cockpit with spaces for 6 adults.






After a couple of hours in light conditions it was clear we were being left behind.  The iron topsail (a 15hp Johnson) soon solved that.  The Chebacco makes 6 knots easily with half throttle, but full throttle gives you hardly any more speed, she won’t plane, at least not with that many on board.


Camping for the night


The gangplank


We found a secluded bay with flat ground to pitch our tents on and light our fire.  The gangplank was a handy idea – no wet feet.


Argentinian BBQ




A magnificent sunset


We ate well, we figure we make good examples for our scouts – we came prepared with a BBQ rack and a small chainsaw for an ample fire.

Some of us slept aboard, others preferred to set up their swags (Australian for 1 person canvas tent/beds)

After another hearty breakfast we cleaned up, including some litter we found from a previous, less conscientious camper, and sailed back to the ramp.  This day I was much happier, the Chebacco runs well and we kept up with and passed the Seaway.


That is all 11 of us in the cockpit


It wasn’t my most serious sailing trip – but serious fun, with a group of guys and girls who are serious about teaching kids about the magical experiences you can have outdoors.



Chebacco News 57 – Tabernacle

 Mast Tabernacle 

Tabenacle 3

Chebacco designs all have relatively short unstayed masts.  They are easy to store, and quick to put up.  I really like Bolger’s thinking here – it always irks me that when I sail with friends in their trailer yachts, that you spend between one and two hours in the carpark setting up and packing away.  My Chebacco takes just a few minutes to get ready or to pack away.

There has been some discussion about the different ways to step the Chebacco Masts.  The original design had a short slot in the deck with an insert piece, the RD has a somewhat more sophisticated clamp at the partner with turnbuckles.  The cruiser introduced a tabernacle (hinge).

The Chebacco 25 has a 5″ x 20′ hollow timber mast and the design calls for an under/over retaining partner arrangement.  I was concerned that the mast may still be difficult for one person to step, so I decided on a tabernacle setup.  I further decided to counterweight the foot of the mast to make stepping and unstepping a one handed 10 second operation.

(I was inspired by descriptions of yachts and barges on the Norfolk Broads shooting bridges – getting the sail and mast down, getting under the bridge and then getting underway again in a few minutes.)

The mast is a birdsmouth hoop pine construction, 5″ at the step tapering to 3″ at the masthead.  The bottom 3′ is filled with lead shot (I think I managed to get 20kg in before sealing the filling hole with a wooden plug).  The hinge pin is set about 12″ above the deck so that the mast folds neatly on the cabin roof and is held by two stout Douglas fir partners.  These partners are bolted to a bulkhead which is further reinforced by a 6×2 crossmember extending from gunwale  to gunwale.  The hinge pin is 1″ solid stainless bar held with “R” clips on either end.  This size is not needed for strength but I am hoping the large diameter will reduce the wear in the bearing holes over time.  The bearing holes in the partners and the mast hinge block are lined with graphite filled epoxy.

All of the weight of the mast is supported by the hinge pin, the foot of the mast does not rest on a step.  The hinge pin does not go through the mast itself but through an offset hinge block that you can see in the photos.  This is partly for strength but also to make the mast stand while I am fitting the retaining pin.  When you lift the mast it gets to a point where the counterweight takes over and the mast stands itself up.  The retaining pin is a piece of rod that crosses in front of the foot of the mast through a couple of metal rings.  I jam a small wedge in between the retaining rod and the mast to stop any movement fore-aft.

It works!  My 10 year old son can step the mast in a minute.  I don’t need to store the mast for road transport because it is shorter than the hull, I just tie it down to it’s crutch.  I suspect my mates envy my extra hour and a half on the water while they are fiddling with shackle keys and gin poles.


P.S. you can also see the anchor/anchorman well in these photos, this is a feature of the Chebacco 25 only.  I have found this handy for standing in while raising the anchor or while working on the mast (as Bolger intended).  I have also found it VERY useful for storing children in …

P.P.S. dont forget to email me your Chebacco stories to publish <My Christian Name>


Tabenacle 4

Here you can see a hole in the bulkhead where I had intended to run a line from the base of the mast to a winch inside the cabin.  The counterweighting of the base of the mast instead made this redundant and much simpler.

Retaining pin holds the bottom of the mast in place

Retaining pin holds the bottom of the mast in place


Chebacco News 56 – Chebacco 25 has a new webmaster and a new look

Hi, I’m Andrew Yen.  IMG_7890I live in Victoria, Australia and I am passionate about Phil Bolger’s Chebacco boats.  Thanks Richard for all the time and effort (and money) you have put into the site over the years since taking over from Bill.  Now it is my turn to help Chebacco owners and builders to share their experiences on the web.  If you have stories to tell, email me <insert my first name>  If you wish to support the site financially please use the “donate” button at the bottom of each page.

Chebacco 25 launched

I decided to build a Chebacco 25, Easter 2010, despite there being no other examples to follow and no designer to ask questions of.  The design is described in Boats with and Open Mind (see the resources page).  It is glued plywood lapstrake, 25’4″ long by 8’2″ beam.  About as large as you would want to trailer behind a SUV.  The designed displacement is 2,200 pounds (1 tonne) and she has a split rig a little larger than the 20′ Chebacco.  The cockpit is huge, at 12′ long and the cabin is somewhat larger than the 20’ers cuddy.  The outboard is located centrally in a transom cut out and I have a 15hp Johnson that so far has pushed her just over hull speed flat out.  With the right conditions she might plane one day (Phil claimed a Chebacco 25 would plane with 15hp, but maybe he was overly ambitious).

I changed the cabin from a raised deck to a conventional trunk after struggling for weeks to get the plank lines and sheer line to “look right” on the raised deck cabin. I also borrowed the #540RD (Raised Deck Chebacco) rudder design and adapted the rig design from Bolger’s Martha Jane.  The birdsmouth mast is hinged in a tabernacle and the lower section is counterweighted with lead shot.  This means one handed 10 second mast stepping.  That is quicker and easier than anything else you see at the boat ramp.

I sealed the cockpit footwell from the interior of the hull and the planking stock ended up 15mm rather than 1/2″ (12.4mm).  Otherwise I tried to be as faithful to the original drawings as I could.

It took 4 years of evenings to build, over 40 litres of epoxy and lots of sheets of marine plywood – but she looks stunning.  She is called KHAOS, and was launched 27/7/2014 on Albert Park Lake, close to Melbourne CBD.  I suspect that this is one of the largest yachts to ever sail on this little lake and if I had asked for permission first I would have been told no!

Chebacco 25 0008

Start by building the moulds

Then add carefully measured and spiled planks

Then add carefully measured and spiled planks

The plank lines needed to be determined individually

The plank lines needed to be determined individually

The centreboard case is so large it required a winch to insert it into the hull

The centreboard case is so large it required a winch to insert it into the hull

The outer stem was made from a spotted gum railway sleeper

The outer stem was made from a spotted gum railway sleeper

the balanced rudder backbone is stainless rod - no welds.

the balanced rudder backbone is stainless rod – no welds.

The rudder shaft bearing is graphite filled epoxy

The rudder shaft bearing is graphite filled epoxy

The cockpit footwell is sealed - so no water can get inside the hull

The cockpit footwell is sealed – so no water can get inside the hull

Chebacco 25 10 010IMG_1583sIMG_1421sIMG_2684s


Sailing on Albert Park Lake – close to Melbourne CBD

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As far as I know this is the first and only example of the Bolger Chebacco 25 in existence.  Another hull, based on the Chebacco 25 design, was started in South Australia 18 years ago but, for personal reasons, is not yet completed.

I cannot speculate as to why no one else has taken up the challenge.  Sure she is a bigger boat than the 20’er, so it has been more work to build (maybe a lot more work).  But she is not much heavier when on the trailer and is easily towed by my SUV.  The biggest issue with the size is the required space to store and manoeuvre it on the trailer.  There is no turning space on my property so I have to reverse it from about 800m up the street and then up my driveway in order to park it.

But size has its advantages, I have comfortably sailed with 6 or more on board and have slept 3 in the cabin on one occasion.  A planned modification (removing a sail locker that is taking up valuable space and not being used) will give me 4 berths in the cabin.

Chebacco News 55

2011 “World” Pudleduck – Richard Spelling

Sorry, it has been quite a while since I have updated this site. You see I kind of get obsessed with things. I was building a house for me and the kids to live in. Then a tornado came and blew it away. So then I was re-building a house to live in…

thumb.0SSPX0090 thumb.0SSPX0114 thumb.0dscf1331 thumb.0houseedit1other things and picking up the pieces. (both literally and figuratively)

The only time I have had the boat out was a couple of weekenders to Eufala, which I write about in this issue.

Other than that, my current obsession is the 3D printer I built.

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It’s a Self Replicating Rapid Prototype Machine, a 3D Cartesian Robot using Fused Deposition Modeling. I call it “Bob”. To the right is the faucet handle I printed to replace the one that was busted by the tornado when it scraped the well house off to ground level.

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Also, my tractor had the good graces to die right in front of the shop, and to wait till after I used it to push the remanents of the old house down… so I had to fix my tractor so I could get the boat out… 🙂

Oh, yeah, and I’m Divorcing the wife I re-married. My “re-wife” as a friend calls her. I think I have learned my lesson this time.

Only misshap on the trip this year was that the exit off the turnpike was right after the toll booths. I mean like 25 feet. I was in the far left lane so I could use my pike pass, and there was NO WAY I could have made that turn. Oh, well. GPS sent me on a different route this year than it did last year. I have ignored it before to my peril, so I followed it’s instructions this time. Last year I almost blew a trailer tire. The second one, both from Pep Boys. Granted I am running them right at the load limit. I was able to put on the spare and limp to a tire place, who had real load rated trailer tires to sell me, so that worked out.

Well, also when I was getting the boat ready, I discovered the motor wasn’t pumping water out the tell-tale. I took it apart and just flipped over the impeller wheel for now, after greasing it up with a fancy teflon based greese. The fun part was the six hours I spent trying to get the bleeping lower end to fit back on. I finally gave up and went to bed. In the morning I got up, spun the shifter lever around 180 degrees, and it it went on like it was designed that way. Go figure.1IMAG0157

The messabout was held again at the Monies place at lake Eufuala. Better organized this year, with the tents in the back and even lined up. The Monies provide free food, but myself and others chip in cash to cover their expenses. Hopefully they do not take too much of a hit on the food costs.

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I could barely squeeze the truck and trailer through all the cars, and someone told me the ramp was un-usable, so I had to go to the state park down the road and launch. I walked up from the beach, where there was a LOT of boats, on friday night, just after dark. Beached the boat way on the end by a Micro that looked vaguely familiar.

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Walked up to the Monies place and there were people on a loudspeaker. How weird. Jim Michalak and two others were speaking about plywood… and it looked like they were selling raffle tickets. And t-shirts. Unfortuantly, these were WHITE t-shires. I have no businsess owning white t-shirts… They finished talking, and we all went to get food. Talked to Jim and responded that I had built a 3d-printer when he asked what was up… All the old friends were there, except Chuck

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Visiting with friends, Mia (ex-step grand daughter) make a new friend or two, I check email on my smartphone.

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This was the second annual “world” puddle duck gathering. Very reasonably held in October when it’s not so bleeping hot outside. Puddle Ducks are small square boat, a racing “class” boat, but interestingly only the hull lines are fixed, everything else is alowed to be changed. This basically lets you play designer as well as race your boat. Very Interesting, but not interesting enough for me to want to make one and race… lol

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Next day they had various events, which I ignored. Funny how I can drive hundreds of mile to meet friends and boat builders, then be unsociable… 🙂 I went sailing back to the ramp to pick up the things I had printed to show Jim et. al. Water level was much lower this year than last, with the dangerous hidden stumps at least sticking out of the water this year! Interesting that they were all about the same height. I assume oxygen lets them rot above the water line. I tried to avoid the stumps and the racing course.


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Lots of boats.

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Kids swiming. Daughter playing disaffected teenager.

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Chebacco Bluster – Randy Wheating
Hi Richard, here is a small article…
Bees on the High Seas
Well known Chebaccoist Jamie Orr and our friend and fellow small boat enthusiast Curtis joined me aboard Chebacco Bluster for a fall sailing day in October 2008.  We launched at the picturesque Gibsons Landing Marina.  Gibsons is a small town a short ferry ride away from West Vancouver, British Columbia and famous as the setting for the long running CBC television series “The Beachcombers”. 
With had no particular  plan beyond getting out on the water, we spent a leisurely morning tacking north against the ebbing tide of Shoal Channel .  It was one of those lovely sunny fall days with just a hint of chill and contentment in the air.  Just as we were breaking out the lunch Curtis noticed what appeared to be a bees’ nest inside the cabin.  I took a peek and sure enough it was.  When we were preparing to launch I just tossed our cooler and bags into the cabin with out really looking inside.  The bees must have moved in while Bluster was stored in the driveway under tarps.  I was pretty sure the nest was abandoned but thought in prudent to wait until we were docked before and closer inspection.  Nowhere to run on a twenty foot sailboat a couple kms away from shore! 
Bravely we continued on until reaching the New Brighton public dock on Gambier Island.  We tied up and went ashore to visit the quaint general store there.  Back aboard we motored back to Gibsons Landing where we secured a berth in the marina for Bluster.  My last duty was to bundle up and crawl forward in the cabin to knock the bees’ nest into a paper bag.  As we hoped, no live bees.  I did notice Curtis was well back but had his video camera ready just in case!  Thanks for a great sailing day Jamie and Curtis.
Randy Wheating
Chebacco Bluster
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Rigging – Skip Pahl

Hi Richard, Happy to send you some stuff. Here’s s shot of her on the day I finished the rigging.

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Chebacco 25 Downunder – Andrew Yen

Hi Richard,

I built my first rowboat on a dare from my pre-school aged son (see: ). Then my second son wanted to out-do his brother so I built him a sail-boat (a Bolger Cartopper). By then the boat building and the sailing bugs had bitten!

My dilemma was that I have three young adventurous children and my largest boat was an older 15′ trailer-sailer. I needed a bigger boat, a versatile trailerable boat with a shallow draft, occasional accommodation for five, easy to sail, good looking – and I wanted to build it. Over years of study I kept coming back to the Chebacco design. I like the look of the lapstrake version. But I had reservations about 20′. While much bigger than my current trailer-sailer I wondered if a growing family of five would find it too cramped.

This logically lead to a serious study of the Chebacco 25.

There were a number of down sides:

  • As far as I can tell only one has been built and that one was highly modified.
  • Phil wasn’t going to be around to give advice.
  • The design had not grown and progressed like the 20′ version has over the years.

But on the up side it was light for its size, small enough to tow behind my 4WD but with generous cockpit accommodation. And it was attractive. It has that Chebacco lineage.

Six months ago I started using the offsets in Boats With An Open Mind to mark and cut out the moulds from some scrap ply I had. Cost so far $0.

Then I made a building frame from left over timber from a construction project my company was working on. Cost so far $0.

Then I put it all together and it started looking like it might be a boat some day. Cost so far $0.

I had a decision to make – my investment so far had been about two months of evenings in the shed. This is the point where I was going to have to spend money. Susanne Altenburger wrote to me offering plans and building details as I was pondering whether to commit or not. She suggested that I could adapt the lessons learnt on the Chebacco 20 to the Chebacco 25 and gave me some clues as to how.

That did it. I realized that I had been committed since I first saw the design in BWAOM.

I have now scarfed the bottom and fitted a modified sternpost/rudder-stock housing. This rudder stock housing will accommodate a version of the Chebacco RD’s balanced rudder design (see Ben Ho’s description on

Iain Oughtred’s book on plywood clinker construction has been very helpful as I work out how all the part will fit together. Attached are some photos. Sorry that it is hard to stand back and take good photos when there is the frame of a 25′ boat in you 28′ shed! I will keep you updated as I make progress, or you can follow progress on a website my mate has started putting together


Andrew Yen Victoria, Australia

photos_004 Chebacco_25_064 Chebacco_25_034



(The hole in the bottom of the boat)

Launching went well and the mast was easily stepped using the mast slot. She floated well and looked good.

Then, WATER! But not where I wanted it: When my friend Pete and I sailed her away from the dock for the first time, water started coming up the rudder shaft and making its way down toward the cockpit. We didn’t notice it at first because we were enjoying the quiet sail and looking at the sail to check the shape and so on.

When I built the after-deck/rudder post support I epoxied one side but left the other side open so that I could check what I was doing when I installed the rudder shaft. I had drilled a hole to accommodate a two inch post as shown in the plans and built the rudder post box support to that size shaft but obtained and used a solid brass shaft a little more than one inch in diameter. Then when I installed the last side of the rudder post box I was not careful in sealing it- I figured I would like access to check on things. So while the rudder shaft surroundings were rugged they were not waterproof.

Pete and I removed the mizzen mast and partner, then the “after deck” and removed the side of the after deck support. I applied 5200 caulking as much as possible and had trouble free sailing after that. Until…

I borrowed a 5 hp outboard and mounted it so I could see if it would be enough to push the Chebacco against the wind and tide. Alas, the weight of the motor lowered the waterline at the rudder post hole and the forward motion of the boat combined to bring water aboard at such a rate that I had to pump continually while we motored back to the mooring. So the 5200 didn’t solve the problem completely. I was surprised at the amount of water that came aboard.

When Hurricane Ophelia threatened heavy rain I chose to haul the boat rather than worry about the rain settling the boat low enough to bring more water aboard.

Back on land I removed, again, the mizzen partner, the after deck, and pried off the still removable side. I know water molecules are very small, and there are lots of them (says Avogadro), but I was amazed by the flow of water into the boat.

I removed the rudder completely and studied the box that enclosed the rudder post. There were no obvious voids.

I temporarily stuck a piece of thin transparent acrylic over the rudder post box with some sticky window caulking stuff and covered the hole in the bottom of the boat making, in effect, a small but columnar aquarium. When I filled it with water the water level quickly dropped, leaking around the caulking.

I found a thicker piece of Plexiglas, bought a tube of 100% silicone caulking and scraped the gunk from experiment number one. I drilled six holes to screw the plexi to the frame, applied the silicone as carefully as possible and attached the plastic with screws. I waited overnight. I dumped more water into my tall thin aquarium-like rudder box and it seemed that I was in business. So it’s winter now in New England and in the Spring I’ll do another check. My current plan is to leave the Plexiglass in place since the rest of the after deck support is very strong. It is very ugly to look at because I used 5200 while the boat was still in the water and I got it all over the place. Also my woodworking skills are workboat level at best. This whole area is covered, though, by the afterdeck.

Moral: seal that rudder box well.



She was in the water for only about three weeks and I never fully tested her but I had a list of things to attend to. (I used the few days after launching to make a list of adjustments.) She sails nicely in next to zero wind but I have not yet sailed her with a reef. She has a neutral helm in light wind but rounded up quickly in small gusts. I don’t know how much weather helm she’ll have and won’t know till next spring because I hauled her two days before hurricane Ophelia was scheduled to perhaps dump rain on us.



Notes on making the mast for my Chebacco. – another unknown author

I’m sure many will find fault with what I’ve done but I had a good time with this project.

I needed stock for a nineteen foot mast, four inches around. Some others have had access to good stock from old buildings (or perhaps even trees!) but I did not.

I probably should have explored using construction staging planks but it was too late, I had already purchased clear pine at the suggestion of the guy who was helping me with the project. I sanded bevels for scarfs, imperfectly, (I had considered using a plane but thought I could sand them better- now I’m not so sure). I glued the scarfs with epoxy to get enough length – I made six long planks out of twelve shorter ones. I then epoxied three sets of two, and finally epoxied the pairs together to make the full blank.


I had access to a very large floor-model power planer so we planed the blank square. It looked great!


It was quite straight and smooth.

The plans showed a taper for the last few feet of the mast so marks were made on all sides of the blank. Then a straight edge was used to mark the taper on all sides. I was a little afraid to use a power planer at first, so a hand-held plane was used to remove stock on the first side. This was a real workout, even with a sharp tool, but it was quite satisfying. However, I tried a hand held power planer on the remaining sides and found that I could control the removal quite well and the results were probably better with the power tool. Once the taper was cut on all sides, both ends, the stock was ready for 8 siding.

The jig for 8 siding is easy to make. I cut a stick about an inch square from a scrap of 2×4. (I wanted enough thickness to hold the pencils without wobbling). I drilled holes for nails positioned at the outer edge of the mast blank. The holes were slightly smaller than the nails to grip them tightly. I then divided the distance between the nails (distance between the sides of the mast) into thirds and drilled holes to grip two pencils 1/3 and 2/3 of the distance between the nail holes (nails not inserted yet). I hammered in the nails which extend down the sides of the mast blank. I pushed the pencils into the jig so that the tips showed enough to make marks.


The jig moves along the blank, and when the blank tapers toward the tip the jig slides along at an angle and continues to make nice even divisions.



The hand held power plane was again used to remove the four corners down to the marks. Again I found the tool quite easy to control and I was able to get reasonably close to the marks. I was very happy because it looked like a mast (to me anyway). I decided I liked the hard sided look so I am not going to 16 sides and round. I’m just going to soften the hard edges leave it as is.


Chebacco News 39

Intro and flipping the CLC

A lot has happened since the last issue of Chebacco. I’ve finished the armor for the keel, flipped the boat, and am now working on the inside. Pictures and annotations below.

I had the bright idea (I thought) of offering Chebacco plans for sale on this website. I’ve had a couple of “where can I get these from” requests. I know that PCB&F have been burned by this in the past, so I was going to take my lead from Chuck Lienweber and Jim Michalak, and offer only the convenience of purchasing online, for a small fee and the credit card costs. I would take an order with Paypal, and fax something to PCB&F saying “send plans to so-and-so, check is in the mail). I faxed PCB&F with the idea.

Susanne called me and discussed, at length, this subject. “Why can’t they just send us a check?” seemed to be the gist of it. I did mention that JM’s plans sales have DOUBLED since Chuck started offering them online, but she didn’t seem interested.


There are now 20 boats in the registry. Wonder what the percentage is that aren’t registered? I think it’s traditional in statistics to use the SWAG method and just make up a number. Therefor, I degree that for every 1 boat registered we have 9 boats not registered, making the total number of Chebaccos something like 200…!

I’m hosting a messabout at the local lake here in the muddy waters of Oklahoma. Link to the left.

Jamie has two article in this issue, and I have two as well. Come on guys (and gals?), send in those articles. And pictures, lots of pictures! I understand that not every boat builder is a writer, but a few words and some pictures would be appreciated by all the readers. (Plus, pretty soon you will get tired of the pictures of me building the CLC!)

In this issue, I also have an article on the electronics for the CLC. I’m selling the LED regulator I made for the LED’s on my boat as a kit, so if you are wanting to play around with these super efficient and almost indestructible lights for you boat, you should buy one!

Also in this issue, I’m putting online an Adobe PDF file compiled by Mike Haskell. This is basically the entire Chebacco website, compiled and searchable! It is a 21mb download, so if you have a slow connection you might consider letting Google do your work for you and doing “ something to search for” at their website. Or, buying the CD from Chuck . No longer available for download from the site

Anyway, (again)

Here are the boat pictures

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Here is a friend of mine I enlisted to help with the metal work. I wanted the front half of the keel to be armored to take groundings. Mike here has a home forging setup, while I have a home casting setup. Here you see him prepping the 1/8″ stainless steel keel armor for forging.

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I could have just cut it off, but I wanted it to wrap up and around the cutwater, sort of like an icebreaker keel. Here Mike is forming the part that wraps around the cutwater. Note the forge made from a freon can, sitting on my sandbox.

1DSC00009 1DSC00010 1DSC00011Almost done, doing some trimming with Mikes heavy duty grinder, and doing the final fitting to the boat. On the right you see where I have attached the keel strip with a bunch of countersunk stainless screws and lots of epoxy.

2DSC00001_6 2DSC00003_5 2DSC00004_4Here is me working on the rudder, drilling the holes to attach the stainless to the rudder itself. I made the front of the rudder a bit wide, but some trimming with the flap wheel on the grinder and you can barley notice.

2DSC00005_3 2DSC00007_3 2DSC00009_3Here the rudder is in the middle of the sanding operations, and to the right it is attached to the boat. On the top of the right photo you can see the UHMW bushing that the rudder turns on. Under the top rudder support I’m going to put another bushing, with a flange fitting on the rudder post. I’m hoping the rudder will bear only on the UHMW poly and no on the wood and glass of the hull.

3DSC00004_6 3DSC00005_5 3DSC00006_5Lift, scoot, tip, lift, scoot, tip, etc. I learned from my mistake with turning (and dropping) the last boat. I built a frame around this one, lots of handholds, and with the frame it would sit on the side without being held. Made it into a two part operation.Here we are commencing the turning operation. We jacked up one side, and cut the “building legs” off, then let it down. One of the girls wanted to invite a bunch of friends over for barbecue, and I said it would be ok as long as they helped flip the boat. (We didn’t tell them till they got here. hehehehe) The designated camera person was late comming out with the rest of us, so I didn’t get any pictures of the canopy coming down.

3DSC00007_5 3DSC00008_5 3DSC00009_53DSC00010_33DSC00011_33DSC00012_2Over she goes! Didn’t drop this one. We are adjusting it to be centered on the canopy, and level (at least side to side, I made all the panels square with bulkheads, which are canted a bit. It’s not level front to rear, but that doesn’t affect anything) “NO! Don’t put a block under the rudder!”

Final tuning and adjusting.3DSC00013_2 3DSC00015_2 3DSC00016_2

Starting to move the canopy back in. Much to big for one person to carry, but doesn’t weigh much.Turning crew inspecting the boat. Yes, I know the power pole is slanted. It’s been that way as long as I’ve owned the property. Doesn’t seem to cause any problems.

3DSC00021_2 3DSC00023_2 3DSC00024_23DSC00025_23DSC00026_23DSC00027_2Six people hold the canopy, six more insert poles. Makes me glad the girls have so many friends!

3DSC00028_2 3DSC00030_2 3DSC00039Final tweaking, and tie the canopy back down.

4DSC00001 4DSC00003 4DSC00004The left two are pictures of the centerboard interior bracing. The CLC doesn’t have the bracing on the top of the centerboard case that the regular Chebaccos do. Notice the several layers of tape and generous use of epoxy putty. And, yes, I did cut the drain holes on the wrong side of the board. It will be under the floorboards, and the only issue will be small triangular area between the berths that won’t drain back. But, since the cabin is closed, doesn’t have a bilge pump anyway, and this will be covered by the floor boards, I’m just not worrying about it.

To the right you see the through hole for the rudder, and the aft well substructure. There would have been closed off spaces inside this structure for moisture to gather. The MDO and pressure treated is pretty good stuff, but I cut ventilation holes anyway. I’m putting two small deckplates on the bulkhead in the left of the picture. I know the plans call for this to be open, but I want the added floatation if the cockpit is ever flooded.

4DSC00005 4DSC00008 4DSC00001_2When I was building this section, I really noticed the lack of pictures of this particular construction detail on the web. Hence, you see lots of these pictures here! In the right two photos I have installed the walls to the aft floatation/storage boxes, and the framing for the motor well floor.

4DSC00003_2 4DSC00003_4 5DSC00006In the left photo I’m attaching the sides of the “seats” (which will also be the head ad galley). Attached them to cleats on one side, taped the other, pulled the cleats, and taped the remaining joint.s Center photo is my new power tool. He does a pretty good job, I can turn him loose on something and do something else myself. Very handy to have around, I would suggest you buy one. On the right you can see the framing for the top on the ground tackle compartment. I’m going to cover this over and put a Bomar hatch from Thrifty Marine (see resources) in. Rain and spray proof.

DSC00004 DSC00003 DSC00001Here you see pictures of the storage compartments I’m building. Not on the plans, but in a 20ft boat you can’t have to much storage. The compartment behind the seat will be accessed by opening the seat hatch, opening the deck plate covering the round hole, and reaching through the hole. Not the easiest access, but I’m thinking of storing light dried goods in there, maybe bread, that kind of thing.

The other storage area will be accessed through a hinged door over the galley and behind the head. For light dishes and toiletries, respectively.


You can see the layer of light glass on the bottom of the side of the seat, to protect against standing water in the cockpit.

***HEY, how did that picture get in here? This is the new bed I made the wife for the anniversary. It does show how boat work spills over into regular life. This was built in two halves, out of some of the spare 1/2″ MDO from the boat. Two halves so it would be easy to take into the bedroom. The lip around the top was filleted and glassed, so it would take the strain big people and little cats getting into bed.

Hi again, Richard

The weekend before last, Dad and I took a drive over to Bill McKibben’s place to say hello and see his modified glass-house Chebacco.  It’s going to
be BIG!  He’s going for comfort in the interior, raising the sides a foot over the already higher (I think) designed sides.  When the cabin goes on,
it’ll be big enough for full standing headroom!  There’s a vee berth going into the bows, with a galley along the port side, and a head compartment, I
think.  Also there will be quarter berths under the (shortened) cockpit seats.  Bill thinks more ballast will be needed to offset the added weight
up high, and is considering modifying the keel, and/or carrying inside ballast, maybe extra drinking water in portable containers.  There’s
certainly lots of room.


Bill’s braver than most.  The hull is from the Chebacco offsets, so the underwater shape is as designed, but for the topsides he’s working from the
model he made (Chebacco News #33, Feb 01), and the interior is in his head.  He says its all an experiment, but I think he’s pretty well
thought it out.  The model looks good and extra ballast should make it stable.  Beth said she prefers the fast motorsailor, since it will take them
home in a hurry if the weather turns sour, but Bill is quite keen on the new, slower boat.  It’s modelled after something he saw in Desolation Sound,
a power boat hull and cabin converted into a motor-sailor, with davits added for a substantial dinghy as well.  Bill says it combines everything he wants
into a tidy package.  The boat that inspired him was about 25 feet, and Chebacco is only 20, but I don’t think that’s going to stop him.  Including


Bill’s model looks good, so once the ballasting is worked out, the full size motor sailor should turn out well.  I’ve attached some pictures of the
progress to date — unfortunately I couldn’t get far enough away to show the whole boat at once, as it’s under shelter.  The frame at the stern may be
converted into support for the davits, or could be removed, Bill is still pondering that one.


Bill’s plans for moving the hull out of the shop may be helpful to someone  else — he is leaving the keel off, so he can put rollers under the hull and
just push it where he wants it.  Then he’ll add the keel once he’s got the boat clear of shop, yard, flowerbeds, and so on.

I hope I haven’t misrepresented anything here — if I’ve got it wrong, Bill, my apologies.



Hi Richard

I had a visit from fellow Chebacco builder Tom McIllwraith (from Halifax) on January 12.  He had occasion to visit Vancouver, and dropped in on a couple
of wet coast Chebacconists while he was in the area.  On the weekend before, he called on Randy Wheating to check on progress of Randy’s (as yet
un-named) sheet ply Chebacco, then last Saturday he caught the ferry over to see Wayward Lass.  Tom’s not a stranger to Chebacco sailing, having been out a few times with Fraser Howell in his strip built Itchy and Scratchy.

Tom’s done a lot of thinking about modifying his boat to make it slightly less Spartan in accommodation.  As well as angling the coamings for lounging
in the cockpit, he’s thinking about making the cabin wider – in line with the cockpit sides, I think, — and just a bit higher.  He and Randy had a
good discussion – here’s what Randy had to say:

“I spent a couple of pleasant hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon with Tom in the boat “shop”.

It never fails to give me a neat feeling to meet a kindred spirit, from across the Straight, country or world that has laid awake at night or
pretended to be attentive at a meeting while puzzling over some obscure Chebacco detail in his mind.  It is really a pretty small club when you
think of it.

Tom and I swapped many ideas and modifications until the moment of truth when we each confessed to our biggest “oops”.  That is, a mistake that
has passed the point of correction.”

(I’m not including any “oopses” here – I’m sure every boat’s got one or two, but when 99.9% of people look at a boat, they see only the big picture, not
the details.  Good thing, too. — Jamie)

I have to agree with Randy about the kindred spirit part.  Since I got involved in building and sailing Wayward Lass I’ve met a whole raft of
interesting people, and have learned a lot from them as well as enjoying the chat.  The internet and this newsletter are great tools for this, of course,
but the personal visit is still king.

Tom and I hoped to go for a sail, but when we took a look at the Strait of Juan de Fuca, just after he arrived at the bus depot, it was a mass of big
whitecaps – no way!  The marine forecast was still showing gale warnings, although things were supposed to ease later.

We headed to my place, and had a solid session of boat talk, climbing around Wayward Lass.  After that, and a bite of lunch, I phoned my dad up in
Sidney, about 15 miles north and around the corner from the Strait.  He obligingly went for a short walk, and phoned back saying that it didn’t look
too bad, the racers were out and he hadn’t seen any reefs in their sails. So we hooked on the trailer and drove to Tulista Park in Sidney, my
favourite launch ramp.  Dad came out to see us off, and for Tom’s benefit, I timed the rigging-up, from stepping out of the van to getting back in for
the launch.

Rigging up took 28 minutes on this occasion, a bit over the average, but not a whole lot.  I’ve only once come close to 15 minutes, when I’d put
everything away properly the time before.  This time, we started with a disorganized collection of ropes and sticks.  I’d only laced on the mizzen a
couple of nights before, not very well as we found, and all the ropes were just dropped in the after lockers.

Honda started on the second pull, and after an interesting 180 between the pilings, thanks to the wind, we headed out.  The wind was pretty well from
the west, straight off the shore, so we put up the sails right away and shut down the motor.  I’d put them away with a reef still tied in on Boxing Day,
and we left that in.  Because we would have to beat back to the ramp, we took a quick turn to windward, just to see how strong the wind really was –
no problem, the single reef was enough, maybe 20 knots of wind, but not much wave action because of the wind blowing away from the land.

We headed easterly, towards Sidney Island, with its mile long spit and friendly lagoon, on the other side of Sidney Channel.  The mizzen wasn’t
very helpful while running – with a strong wind it tends to push the stern around.  However, I kept it up because it helps us heave-to so nicely.

After a while, we became aware that the wind was picking up.  The way home was now patterned with white, and looked quite different.  We turned to
windward again — and gave up any thought of going all the way to the spit. We’d have had a very long beat home if we’d gone on.  Wayward Lass was
sailing well, but going against the waves threw up some heavy spray.  Tom got into the Cruiser suit, but not before he soaked up some of that spray.
Going to windward in these conditions, I was glad to have a second body for ballast – he kept the worst of the spray off me, too!

It was wet, but we made good progress.  However, after a long tack to that brought us near the shore, but still quite a ways north of the ramp, there
were a couple of very strong gusts.  These challenged our favourite designer’s assertion that nothing short of “hurricane force winds or heavily
breaking seas” will tip a Chebacco.  Rather than chance becoming the first Chebacco ever to capsize, I let the mainsheet run free, and we hove to for
the second reef.  The only other sailboat in sight at the time was a biggish one (40 feet?), and it was reefed down too.

Tom must have wondered if I really knew what I was doing.  The reef lines (pendants?) for the second reef were still in the cabin.  I got them out,
and tied the tack down quickly enough.  However, to get the foot tight enough it was necessary to rig the clew reef line properly, from boom to
reef ring back to boom then pull it tight to the cleat.  Meanwhile we were sailing merrily backwards at about 3 knots, away from our destination.  I’m
not entirely sure why, but every time I was about to tie off the end of the clew reef line, after all that leading here and there, the bows would swing
off the wind and the boom would fly out to the side.  I eventually got the reef tied, but it was a real circus there for a few minutes.  I think the
mizzen luff and snotter weren’t tight enough, as the wind was making bags in the sail – also I had to pull the boom inboard to run the clew line through
the ring, rather than letting the boom fly loose.  Bottom line is have your reefing lines rigged before you need them!

Wayward Lass was fine again with the two reefs in.  I estimated the wind at 25 to 30 knots at this point, no idea what the gusts reached.  Take this all
with a grain of salt if you want, it’s only a guess.  The waves were much less than they would have been if the wind hadn’t been off the land, since
they couldn’t build up on such a short fetch.  I poured Tom a cup of tea and put it down beside him (he was steering now) but it promptly went into the
bilge.  Tom very nicely said he was too occupied to drink it anyway.  I poured a cup for myself, but it was full of salt spray almost immediately,
so I gave it up too.  Not too long after, I suggested that we’d had all the fun we could take for the day, and since it would take quite a while to work
our way up to the ramp, we might start motoring.  Good old Honda started again without complaint, and it was down sails and home.

Tom assured me he’d enjoyed the afternoon (I hope you weren’t just being polite, Tom.)  I enjoyed it myself, despite feeling like an idiot at times –
out of practice and very disorganized.  Another time we’ll suit up completely at the start, and rig all the reefing lines too.  Oh, yes, and I
won’t leave cups of tea unattended!  Still, it’s got me all fired up again, and I’m planning some more sailing as soon as we stabilize a couple of new
projects at work.

I see I’ve got a bit carried away talking about the sailing (again! – call it a character flaw.)  I really meant to concentrate on Tom’s visit,
because, as Randy pointed out, it’s great to see Chebacconists from other parts of the country (world?).  It was fine meeting you, Tom, and I hope
anyone else coming out this way will call, and maybe we’ll get them out for a quick one too.

Tom, I also hope you’ll will write up your building experiences and tell us about what modifications you decide on, and let us see some pictures.  The
world can’t have too many Chebaccos!

Jamie Orr


There once was a man, who spent much more money than he should have, to have LED lights on his boat. This is the same man who decided he HAD TO HAVE a CNC router, built one from scratch, then used it twice.
Anyway, for no particular reasons, other than I thought it would be cool, and I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving the anchor light on all night, I decided I MUST HAVE lights on my boat that were based the new, ultra efficient, bright white LED’s.
I bought my LED’s mainly from, They run, according to the spec sheet from Nichia, at 3.6-4v and output 5600 mcd (mili candela, whatever that is) in a 20 degree fan.
I had originally planned to have eight of the lights, masthead, forward red, forward green, aft, two cabin lights, and two reading lights. Also, I had planed to run 12v to the lights, and do the voltage conversion there. Red and Green lights would be using red and green LED’s.
I read everything I could find on LED flashlights, and LED lights. There is a lot of information on the ‘Net on the subject. A lot of it worthless. One site recommends using a 7812 voltage regulator and three of the LED’s in series (so each gets 4v). Bought eight of these, the next day someone pointed out that the specs for this regulator require the input be about 3v over the output voltage. I.E., I couldn’t run it off a 12v batt and get a consistent 12v out of the regulator.
So, I had the bright idea of using the 7808, which puts out 8v, and having TWO of the LED’s in series. When the eight of these arrived I wired one up on the breadboard and presto, I had light! Wired eight of the LED’s up, and left them on. When they say “bright white” they mean it, had eight spots behind my eyes for hours before I decided I needed to wear shades to play with these things.
I left the 8 LED’s running and had supper. Afterwards, I discovered that THREE of the things had burned out!. What the BLEEP!?!
Some carefull checking determined that with the two in series, the voltage drop over one would be, say 3.9v, and the drop over the other would be, say, 4.1 v.
So, I figured I needed to drive the blasted things with EXACTLY 3.6v. There is a problem with this, this is apparently an odd voltage, there is no “78036” or whatever. So, I decided to make my own variable voltage supply, one for each light, and go to town. Bought, again, eight, LM317’s, and associated resistors and whatnot. Wrote a spreadsheet to calculate the values for the resistors so I could have the thing put out 3.6v. Wired it up. Plugged LED’s in and they were DIM! A little checking and it turned out that any kind of load on the thing and the voltage would drop…. Net research showed other people having the same issue, but couldn’t find a solution. Still a mystery there.
Time to step back and think about this. Maybe I should just have one voltage regulator, and wire 3.6 v to the switches, and out to the lights. I could do some kind of current regulator, but I wanted the simplicity of running the same voltage out to whatever light I wanted, and just hooking up as many LED there as I needed. Dug and dug and dug. Found a national semiconductor manufacturer who has a wonderful website with all kinds of information on it. They sell an IC that looked like, with a little work, it would make a wonderful regulator for the boat! (about this time I’m thanking someone for the VoTech electronics I took as a kid, back in the day)
A little soldering, a magnifying headset, some tweezers. Presto, one central, efficient, source of 3.6 volts for the LED’s lights on my boat!
BTW, I’m selling a kit to put these together. Kit price is $75, follow instructions at the “store” link to the left.
The kit uses a surface mount board the manufacture sells, with all the regulator components on it. The board comes from them fixed at 12v, and I use a magnifying headset, tweezers, and a pointy soldering iron to change it to work as a variable voltage source, to get 3.6v for the LED’s. The kit includes an etched board to mount the manufactures board on (as a daughter board) and all the hardware needed. I’ve removed the 2.7k itty bitty surface mount resistor and connected a wire to go to the variable resistor on the “mother” board.
DSC00005 DSC00006 DSC00007
As you can see in the pictures, I’m using a nice fancy, bulkhead mount enclosure. Got this, and lots of other neat stuff from Give them a look see, they have neat stuff!
After all this, I discovered that the bright red LED’s I was going to use for the red bow light wouldn’t work at 3.6v. They go dim and get hot.<sigh> I guess I’m putting white LED’s in the colored fixture.
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Here are some pictures of the masthead light with and without the cover. I bought the Series 25 fixtures from Boaters World, the price was reasonable, and I wouldn’t have to make them.
PCB&F writes (what does it say when you start referring to people by their initials?). The designer of the Chebacco light cruiser, Susanne Altenburger’s (who just denied that the Chebacco was “her” boat, in a rather LONG phone call), writes that you should use “two 6V deep-cycle batteries capable of around 215 Ah at 12V”. Now, were am I going to find those things? Nothing in the marine stores, nor in the auto shops. Can’t buy them online, the shipping would kill me. Walking through Sam’s club one day, but what do I see on the way out but a 6V, deep-cycle, 215 Ah, GOLF CART battery! Yippee! And, the things only cost $45 each. Nonstandard size, though. Will have to make my own box for them.
A 32watt, flexible, solar panel will top off the batts, and keep them topped off when the boat is in storage mode. I could have saved quite a bit and went with a hard panel, especially as it is going to be mounted on to of the cabin and there is no danger of it being walked on. However, the hard panel were looking awful heavy. 33lbs for some of them! So, I decided I needed the flexible, light weight ones.
There is a story here, these things were going for around $300 on ebay, and everywhere I saw them. Caught one on ebay with a buy-it-now for $240. GOT IT. Hurrah! Saved money!
Then, I was discussing solar panels with my friend Chuck, and he said he got his from here:
Guess what, they had my panel too. FOR $187!!! AHHHG!
Then, when writing this article, I looked again and found the flexible panels at the above URL for $296. Huh? Read the description for the $187 panels. It appears that these are basically the flexible ones, in a frame. Same technology, but added weight of an aluminum frame and a galvanized steel backing! They weigh 10.6 lb, where the flexible one weights 4.7 lb. So, for an extra $53 I purchased a reduction of 5.9lb in the weight of the panel. Will it make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. But, any weight I can save above the CG counts!
Will put a clear window in the tarp that goes over the boat so the batts charge in when the boat is in storage, as soon as I figure out a cheap way to do this. May use the storm window sealing kits from the Home Despot or something.
Anyway, a 6.5 amp SunSaver charge controller will make sure I don’t overcharge the batteries, and I’ll get the 5amp alternator option when I get the motor.
2DSC00001 2DSC00003 2DSC00005_2
I had originally planned to run conduit for the electrics, but as you can see in the picture, I didn’t. I decided they would take up two much space, and instead ran the wires as shown. I was carefull to pre-run any wires that would be in closed compartments.
Here you can also see the plumbing for the bilge pumps and the drain for the built in icebox. I went from the pumps directly to 1/2 flexible tubing, to try to minimize the drain back when the pump is off. The bulkhead and there’ll fittings I made myself, from scratch!
Nice to have your own homemade foundry and machine shop!

(So, I guess only people in Australia can build 25ft Chebaccos… Looking good Simon! -Ed)

G’day Richard , a couple of pics of the boat .

Cheers Simon.

MuddyMay01 MuddyProfileMay01

Chebacco News 26

Chebacco News

Number 26, May 1999


GINA – on Kangaroo Island, Australia


Colin Hunt, of Victoria, Australia, sent me this picture of GINA – Clive Colenso’s lapstrake Chebacco. He reports a good, dry boat which has been surveyed for charter hire. The waters around Kangaroo Island can get pretty rough. GINA has the cockpit modified to be self-draining with approximately ½ cubic meter of underfloor stowage for outboard, anchor etc.

Colin asks if anyone has the offsets for any version of Chebacco on a computer file in .DXF format? This might lend itself to CNC routing, to allow mass production of Chebaccos!

Chebacco –25 . . .

Simon Jones (also in Australia) reports:

I’m building directly onto the bulkheads which I have moved to new stations , I am intending to rig her with a jib and a small bowsprit to accommodate anchors and larger foresails ( reachers etc, ) the interior has been enlarged to give full sitting headroom and quarter berths as well as a big double forard , taking out the centreboard has allowed me to cut the keel down to a flat keelson reducing draft and giving me a nice companionway to stand in with the hatch open , ( I’m just running thru all the alterations I can think of here ). I have closed in the cockpit at the stern to give me a large lazarette for storage, the cockpit is still 7′ long so plenty of day room … I have jumped up the deck height 6″ all round and instead of a flushdeck style cabin I have changed to the standard box cabin as in the 20 with a 5″ side deck (just enough for one foot, the other using the cabintop) while this is pretty thin its enough to go forard if necessary, however I hope to use

my forard hatch for most foredeck work . I’m keeping the mizzen as I have always found them to be worth every penny.

I’m currently epoxying everything as its obviously easier than doing it after construction, and I hope to have her in the water before the end of the year as I have the luxury of being able to work on her pretty much full time.

Your idea of having a Chebacco meet sound great! … I’d love to fly over to Canada and be in it…. That’s one fantastic cruising ground they have there and a chance to sail there should never be missed (falling in the water however is a one off!…. your firth would be warm by comparison) ok …I wont bash your ear about it all any more … I’ll be sure to get piccies to you when I have them.

Cheers Simon.

Well! This’ll be one interesting boat. As far as I know, it’ll be the very first Chebacco-25 to be launched. Watch this space!

Plywood – your views –

Tim Fatchen – yet another Australian, writes:

[WBS in Chebacco News #25
“So – Write to me about your ideas on plywood. I’ll fess up first – I
used pretty cheap Far-Eastern ply labeled BS1088, though it was
clearly nothing of the kind. It has frog-hair thin outer veneers, and
thickish inner ones. On the other hand the glue is certainly
waterproof and there are few if any voids in the inner veneers. My
theory is that glass/epoxy sheathing would make it acceptable, and
so far I’ve had no problems (3 years after launching). Let’s hear your

Bill, you clearly took the road favoured by the elite. From your
description of the plies, we fairly clearly used the same source for
Flying Tadpole in 1991, except ours was a grade down and didn’t try to
pretend to BS1088 (unless the BS stamp was added later to boost sales).

Nevertheless, still good waterproof glue and very few voids despite the
froghairthin outer plies. After seven years of abuse in Flying Tadpole,
the only problems which have arisen are two or three spots where
checking of the top ply has occurred (a series of slits about 1/2 inch
long, look like razor nicks) and we haven’t bothered doing more than
give them a lick of paint. Longevity was helped by through epoxy

Our Nymph, even older (1989), was made from the same ply. Even more
abuse, sits for months at a time under the oak tree, gets roughly hurled
onto decks of houseboats occasionally, always makes landfall on sharp
stones lurking in the mud…Various nicks, dings and scratches in the
bottom, brutally neglected, but still absolutely sound (and originally 3
coats of epoxy inside and out, but no fibreglass).

In both cases, the ply was very heavy, though – I suspect mangrove wood
as the inner plies. Only real objection to it is that it’s a dog to work
compared with gaboon – splinters. I’m reminded of this as we’re still
using odd leftovers of 1/2 inch (not as good as the 1/4 inch was for
voids) as backing plates for deck hardware, battery boxes etc.

So that’s seven and ten years respectively of both use and neglect, the
latter being harder on boats…

Tim & Flying Tadpole

A few notes on the Chebacco’s properties

By Giuseppe ‘Pippo’ Bianco

Like most of the CN readers, I’m particularly intrigued by Phil Bolger’s designs and I have purchased plans for the Micro, Long Micro and Chebacco. The latter is very close to what I need: the most boat which conjugates sheet plywood construction, easy transportation, launching and hauling with a trailer, comfort and safety. I’ve not been able to find any data like righting moments and seaworthiness index for the Chebacco, so I decided to try to compute them by myself. After all, I’m a scientist by profession, so, I said to myself, this shouldn’t be too difficult… Well, that is true only in part. A complete analytical description of the interaction between a sailboat, the wind and the sea waves is almost impossible, and probably the only way to get comprehensive and reliable results would be building the boat, stuff her with instrument (like inclinometers, accelerometers, strain meters), sail it in a variety of conditions while recording the data, analyze them and draw the proper conclusions. I’m pretty sure that nobody carries out such measurements except maybe large, well funded designing companies working on super racers involved in world class competitions. So, in the amateur’s world, one is forced to use a mixture of common sense and a few empirical formulas.

A few basic numbers are needed to make a first assessment. Carl Adler (early readers of the Common Sense Design’s Newsletter will recall him as the Micro prototype builder) runs a great interactive sail calculator on the WWW which allows direct comparisons between any pair of sailboats listed in his database, recently integrated by myself with the relevant data for the Micro, the Long Micro and the Chebacco. The URL of his page is

The parameters one needs to know for each boat are the length at water level (LWL), length out all (LOA), the beam, the displacement and the sail area. For the Chebacco those numbers read as follows (in metrics, yeah):

LOA=5.99 m; LWL=5.04 m; Beam=2.26 m; Displacement=789 kg; Sail area = 16.35m2.

The sail calculator crunches those numbers and rapidly comes out with the following sentences for our boat (compared hereafter with the corresponding data for the Micro and Long Micro):

Category: racer. Carl classifies the boats into four categories: racer, racer/cruiser, cruiser/racer and cruiser, in descending order of performance. Micro classifies as racer/cruiser, while Long Micro gets a cruiser score.

Capsize Ratio: 2.5. This number is an indicator of a boat’s ability to resist to the capsize: a value lesser than 2 is considered good; the higher the number, the more vulnerable is the boat. Micro gets 2.0, Long Micro 1.8, so both are stiffer than the Chebacco.

Hull speed: 5.5 knots . This figure depends only on the LWL. Micro 4.7, Long Micro 5.3.

Sail area displacement ratio: 19.5 . This is an indication of how powerful a sail plan is with respect to the vessel’s displacement. Values around 18 and higher indicate high performance boats. Micro gets 17.5, Long Micro 23.5.

Displacement length ratio: 170 (light). Micro sports a huge 411 (heavy), Long Micro an average 274 (moderate).

Length to beam ratio: 2.24. Micro gets 2.21, Long Micro 2.63. A value of 2.7 is considered average; 2.2 is low.

Motion comfort: 10.6. This numbers depends on a complex way from displacement, length and beam: the higher the number, the more comfortable is the boat. Micro gets 17.8, Long Micro boosts a 20.1.

Be warned that sometimes the ratios above are not plain ratios, but rather complex expressions involving odd powers of the parameters. A good description of the formulas used to compute the above parameters is given in

Well, the empirical formulas above confirm what the Chebacco sailors know already about her being spirited. Her capsize ratio is apparently not so good, such as the motion comfort index which is worse than the Micros’.

Not content yet with these numbers, my next step involved some more in-depth analysis. There are two ways to do that. The first is the old-fashioned one: grab a (modern) scientific calculator and a ruler, make measurements on the plans and compute the sought-for parameters, following algorithms commonly found in books on boat design. The second consists in modeling the boat in a dedicated computer program, which in turn will do all the number crunching. Commercial hull design programs are very expensive and barely worth the expense by an amateur: the free demo versions are, in my opinion, almost useless. Luckily enough, however, there are a few nice complete programs around, available free of charge on the WWW. The ones that I know better are Carene40 and Carene50 by Robert Lainé, Hulls by Gregg Carlson and Hullform 6S by Blue Peter Marine Systems. The Carene family is nice and robust, but it’s a bit lacking when one needs to compute the static properties of a boat. Hulls is great, with the only possible exception being the limited number of sections allowed to model a hull. Hullform 6S is probably the best and most complex, yet relatively easy to use, but unfortunately it doesn’t perform the plate development as the first two. On the other end, it’s not limited to hard chine hulls, and comes with a nice user’s manual.

I decided to use Hullform 6S to do my analyses. The first step has been to input all the sections as described in the table of offsets of the Chebacco’s plans. This is quite straightforward. I did that using the 42″ water level as baseline: the end elevation view of the resulting hull is shown in the figure below, where on the right half is the forward view and the left half is the aft view. The scale is in meters. This is very close to the drawings on the original plans, even if admittedly not perfectly fair. I didn’t consider the keel to keep things simple.

chebend (2)

Now, in order to perform the static analysis, one has first to balance the hull. I found that my synthetic hull balances very well (i.e. the pitch angle is very small) using the center of buoyancy positions given in the plans, with a few cm tolerance. Using a nominal displacement of 789 kg (1740 lbs.), the plans indicate a bottom draft of 0.193 m, while I find a bottom draft of 0.205 m. This is a difference of 12 mm. Alternatively, to sink the boat at the nominal draft, the displacement would have to be 710 kg (1565 lbs.). I don’t know which one is the correct number. Please note that this is the bottom draft (canoe body draft), not the keel draft.

The nice thing with Hullform is than one can compute the righting moment as well as other parameters for any heel angle. Let me warn you however that my analysis is oversimplified. It doesn’t take into account the combined effect of masts, sails, crew position, wave effects, and so on.

Another warning here: the righting moment computation requires knowledge of the position of the center of mass of a boat, around which the boat rotates when heeling. Longitudinally it has to be in the same position of the center of buoyancy, but the unknown here is its vertical position. This is tough to compute and actually, in the real world, it moves together with the crew and all the stuff on the boat. I first set the center of mass of the Chebacco on the waterline plane, but I’m not sure whether this is true or not. According to Bill Samson, this is a bit too optimistic, so, following his suggestions, I’ve performed the same calculations two more times, respectively lifting the center of mass by 0.1 and 0.2 meters.

Last warning: apparently Hullform treats any hull as if it was completely decked at the sheer level, even if there is no mention of this in the user’s manual. The Chebacco is not decked for a good part, so my results are optimistic.

Nevertheless, after 111 runs of the program, here are the plots of the computed righting moments with respect to the heel angle for three different vertical positions of the center of mass, referred to as VCG (vertical center of gravity).

Image6 (3)

My first (VCG=0.0 m) synthetic hull gets the sheer into the water at about 35 degrees of heel. It is apparently self righting up to about 115 degrees, but over that angle it goes all the way down to settle upside down. Looking at the numbers, there is no chance to right it back by pulling on the centerboard… Note also how the curves move downwards when VCG increases, indicating the well known effect of worsening stability. For VCG=0.1 m, the sheer at midships gets submerged at an heel angle of about 40 degrees, and the righting moment vanishes at about  degrees. Finally, for VCG=0.2 m, the sheer gets under water about 45 degrees and the boat is self righting up to about 95 degrees of heel.

An important number used to assess the stability of an hull is the ratio between the area under the curve with positive righting moments to the area over the curve where the moments are negative. In our first case (VCG=0.0 m), this ratio is about 2.7, reasonably good, but it goes down to 1.9 for VCG=0.1 m and to 1.3 for VCG = 0.2 m. After having computed these and several more parameters (actually Hullform does everything), one opens “Principles of yacht design” by L. Larsson and R. E. Eliasson at page 54, enters those numbers in the equations therein and computes a magic number, called the Dynamic Stability Factor (DSF). The Chebacco’s parameters for VCG=0.0 yield DSF=11, placing our beloved boat among the “inshore” vessels. This classification, endorsed by the International Standard Organization, classifies vessels into 4 categories following the water conditions they’re qualified for: sheltered (DSF<10), inshore (10<DSF<25), offshore (25<DSF<40) and ocean (DSF>40). The most penalizing for the Chebacco is the so-called Beam Displacement Factor, which apparently indicates that the beam of the Chebacco is too wide with respect to her typical displacement. However, increasing the displacement is not that effective in getting better figures for the DSF, and this apparently confirms that Phil Bolger and Brad Story are right (surprised?) when they say that additional ballast would be useless in the Chebacco. On the other hand, a slightly narrower beam (e.g. 2.0 m instead of 2.2 m) would have boosted the DSF to much more seaworthy values. The situation obviously worsens for VCG=0.1 (DSF=9), and for VCG=0.2 m (DSF=7). Hence, based on the above criteria, the 20′ sheet ply Chebacco is marginally qualified for inshore waters.

It needs to be said however that this flaming of the wide beamed boats came after the infamous Fastnet disaster in 1979, in particular because those boats are more easily capsized due to the action of big (b-i-g) and breaking waves and, when capsized, are more stable upside down. I don’t think that any Chebacco sailor would ever try to test his boat in really bad seas, so watch the weather forecasts… In any case, like Bill Samson said elsewhere in the CN, this reasoning is academic because there’s no notice yet of a Chebacco having been capsized.

Given the flared sections of the Chebacco’s hull, I tend to think that the computed DSF values are a bit underestimated, and I would conclude by saying that those boats “…are very good in rough water and forgiving in squalls and with prudent and skilled handling and not exceptionally bad luck would get over the North Sea, or the ocean for that matter; but by present day standards they are inshore and fair-weather boats”.

P.S.: for those who didn’t catch it yet, the last sentence is Phil Bolger’s opinion on his Chebaccos. I’m by no means an expert in boat design, and my speculation should only be considered as the result of a few pleasant hours of work of an amateur boat builder during a rainy week-end. Nevertheless, I would love to hear PCB’s opinion on this “paper”…


Lars Larsson and Rolf E. Eliasson 1994. Principles of Yacht Design. Camden, Maine: International Marine

Howard I. Chapelle 1936, 1994. Yacht Designing and Planning. 2nd Edition. New York, London: Norton

Philip C. Bolger 1994. Boats with an Open Mind. Camden, Maine: International Marine

Tabernacle and Bowsprit

David Neder writes

I am located in the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin. About 90 miles NNW of Chicago
or twenty miles due west of Milwaukee/Lake Michigan.
I am attaching photos of the “Anna C”.

Bow with tabernacle and short sprit.

Since the boat will be trailered and I am too long in the tooth to wrestle with a mast, I added the tabernacle. Its section modulus in both the x and y axis is twice that of the mast at the pivot

Materials: 1/2 Fir Marine Plywood, Ribbon strip mahogany plywood, mahogany, red oak, West Epoxy, Fiberglass. Two part poly-urethane paint on the exterior. Interior is paint with Acrylic paint with a fungicide. Construction is taped seam.

David J. Neder

And finally

David sent some other images, too, but there’s no more room in this issue. Neither is there room here for all the plywood-related comments, so they’ll have to be held over as well.

Please send your contributions to me, Bill Samson, 88 Grove Road, Broughty 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 10

Chebacco News


Number 10, July 1996


‘Sylvester’ hits the water!

Bill Samson names ‘Sylvester’

Your editor’s sheet ply Chebacco-20, ‘Sylvester’, hit the water for the first time on 6th May 1996. This is the first Chebacco to be launched in the UK and is now nodding at her mooring in the Tay estuary, here in Bonnie Scotland. “Why ‘Sylvester’?” I seem to hear you say. (Or, possibly, “What a bloody awful name for a boat.”) Since the Chebacco is technically a cat yawl, and catboats are almost non-existent on this side of the pond, I decided to call her after a well-known cat. My tender, when launched will, of course, be ‘Tweety Pie’. I’ll now bore you with some excruciating detail.

It’s always been a worry to me that she might not get out of the garden. I’d made models and tried it out with them, but it was never clear that it’d get around the dogleg by the garage. I planned to hire a crane to lift it over the garage, but when the crane arrived, it was 4” too wide to fit down the drive. After a couple of nights tossing and turning I got a rusty old dinghy trailer, with collapsed suspension, and moved bits of it around so that the Chebacco might fit. She did fit, and was even nose heavy when I put some junk up for’ard in the cuddy. She JUST made it past the garage (an inch to spare) with help from my glamorous assistants, Sheila and Esther. Since the trailing arrangement didn’t quite meet the letter (or even the spirit) of the law, I decide to launch when traffic was minimal – at 5 am. Three friends, Louis, Donald and Paul were mad enough to get up at that ungodly hour to help. I trailed her down to the harbour (just a mile from home) without incident, at 5 mph. I drove back home for the tender (a very heavy 15 foot skiff) and spars, sails, outboard etc. The mast was raised (Phil’s slot works well) and gaff, boom, mizzenmast and sails were put in place. Everything was raised on shore to make sure the ropes weren’t tangled up.

Sails up on dry land.

She slipped quietly into the water and we moored her in the harbour temporarily:

Moored in the harbour at Broughty Ferry, Scotland

We then motored upriver to my mooring (which had been prepared previously) hooked her on and nervously left her to it.

First impressions:

Several of you have asked me “What about the weather helm?”. I am happy to assert that it hasn’t been a problem for me. I’ve been out sailing in ‘Sylvester’ nine times to date, in conditions ranging from flat calm to force 5. Weather helm only becomes noticable when she heels a lot. When I’ve had a crew sitting on the weather side with me this has never happened. Sailing single-handed she begins to heel uncomfortably under full sail at about force 4 and the answer is either to spill wind or take in a reef.

On the wind she points high and makes good progress to windward. I’ve sailed in company with ‘Wayfarer’ dinghies and do as well as them to windward, and somewhat better off the wind. I’ve even sailed alongside a 25 foot (heavy) Bermudan sloop and did better in a force 2/3 wind. I daresay the sloop would have done better in a heavier blow.

For the record, my mainsail has maximum draft about 30% back from the luff and the mizzen is cut dead flat.

Downwind, some concentration is needed in heavy weather to keep her running straight. Her performance is exhilarating when surfing down good sized waves! She has little or no tendency to roll when in a dead run. Gybing is straightforward and gives me no anxiety (even when it is accidental). On the wind, she tacks like a dinghy; with no tendency to stick in irons.

A New Chebacco?

Phil and Susanne wrote to me a few weeks ago:

How much interest do you suppose there would be in a “cruising” version of the Chebacco, with a longer cabin, a shorter cockpit, and a raised deck for more space inside and more reserve buoyancy? . . . It seems offhand to be workable without major changes in the class.

My own view is that the ordinary Chebacco-20 suits me nicely. A nice big cockpit for lots of folk daysailing is worth more to me than a seldom used roomier cabin. On the other hand the big cockpit is a pain in that it isn’t self draining and so I need to fit a cover over it whenever I leave the boat on its mooring. Room in the cabin is adequate for a short-arsed individual like me though I can see the attractions of more head-room and possibly room for cooking, reading charts, permanent potty site and so on. Nevertheless, if I was starting over I’d still go for the sheet ply Chebacco-20.

In order to quickly sound out a sample of Chebacco fans, I sent an email to some of you for your reaction. Here are some of them, in no particular order.

Gil Fizhugh writes:

I think Phil’s proposed cruising Chebacco would be an improvement.

The main drawback of the 20-foot Chebacco now is that they’re awfully cramped for those of us who aren’t “short arsed” [Gil is quoting my own description of my stature back at me – B.S.]. Joan used to enjoy camping. She hasn’t done any since she’s known me because I’m turned off by the whole idea. I’ve thought it might be fun to spend a night in the Chebacco once in a while, dry under the roof and with a potty close to hand. I wouldn’t have to lug my sleeping and cooking accommodations to where I was going to use them, on my back. But the Chebacco cabin is going to be awfully tight.

If the 25-foot plans had been available when I started, I probably would be building it now. I presume the materials would cost 30% or so more, including a bigger engine. Spread out over the number of years I’m managing to fritter away on this project, that’s not a big deal. (If I had to add 30% in a lump sum on top of the already high cost of having a Chebacco commercially built, it would be a very big deal indeed!) The 25-footer has the reserve buoyancy and enough cabin space for two tall people to be comfortable – well, almost. There remains one major problem with the 25-footer: it’s beyond the size and weight that can comfortably be towed by an ordinary car. My boating suddenly gets much more expensive if I have to buy, feed and maintain a Ford Explorer for 100% of my driving, because the Subaru can’t do the job in the 5% of my driving that’s done with a boat on the back end. Not many family cars weigh 2 1/2 tons and have 6-liter V-8’s any more.

So the proposed boat would be roughly a 20-footer with the cabin space of the 25, the sacrifice being a small cockpit instead of a small cabin. This would be a 2-person boat (or singlehander) all the time, because daysailing with more than two adults in a little aft cockpit would put too much weight in the tail, wouldn’t it? Still, if I were starting over, I think I’d prefer such an option – a boat well- balanced for sailing and camping for two, rather than great for sailing for six but cramped for camping for two.

I’m curious about what Phil means by a “cruising” version. If he just means one that’s comfortable for more than one night on board, the proposal is an improvement. But what’s the extra reserve buoyancy for? I hope my boat will be adequately buoyant for sailing in Maine, Cape Cod, the Chesapeake, . . . Is the new one to be an offshore boat? Through the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas? Still an unballasted gunkholer? I shall try to open my mind so Phil can pour his genius in.

Best regards,


Fraser Howell writes: Bill, I agree with you. I like Chebacco as a “camp cruiser”. I don’t like the boxy version of the Chebacco that was shown in P. B.’s latest book, although I have been thinking about a self-bailing cockpit, but that would be a later modification.

Brad ( says:

This sounds like a good idea to me at least. I think if I could only have one boat I’d rather daysail a cruiser than cruise a daysailer.

Jamie Orr writes:

. . . my first reaction is “no thanks”. I think this is because the current version is close to my idea of the perfect boat. Any design is a host of compromises, and I like the choices already made. These are (not in any order of preference):


  • Trailerable – light with no ballast, shallow keel, not more than 20 feet overall.
  • Shallow draft for ease of landing on interesting beaches, islands.
  • Big cockpit – that’s where most of the time is spent – I won’t give that up.
  • Simple to rig – no standing rigging certainly meets that one!
  • Simple and relatively inexpensive to build.
  • A place for the crew to get out of the rain. I feel the boat already has the ability to cruise if helped
  • out by a boom tent or tent ashore. If two can cruise comfortably for 10 days in a 16 foot canoe, a
  • Chebacco should be palatial, even for four. (Mind you, the raised deck sounds like it could be a good
  • idea.)
  • Good looking – the lines caught my eye back in 1991, and I still find them attractive.


Right now I’m still building my Chebacco, so most of my likes and dislikes are based on prejudice, not experience. We like camping, so a minimal approach seems right. Otherwise for serious cruising I would probably look for a larger boat altogether. In that case I would go the whole hog and look for an enclosed head, galley arrangements, and four berths below. I would probably charter a boat like that once a year, and keep the small boat for daysailing the rest of the year.

If I was to dream about a cruising Chebacco, I would abandon the 20 foot limitation – how about a 30-footer with the same proportions and sail plan – maybe an inboard engine, a self-draining cockpit if it could be done while keeping that sheerline . . .

Of course, I’d have to dream up some added cash, too.

Jamie Orr

Bill Parkes says:

What prompted PCB to propose the cruising Chebacco idea? It strikes me as an excellent notion. I very nearly fell for the glass-house version. There is, I think, more cockpit space than I would ever need in the Chebacco-20.

What is he proposing?


  • conventional plywood or lapstrake?
  • long ballast keel (like the glass-house version)?
  • a cabin configuration like the 25?


Happy sailing!



So there we have it. We await developments with interest . . .

Who’d be a boat designer?

Chuck Merrell of Seattle reads Chebacco News. He lives aboard a ‘Jessie Cooper’ that he built himself and is thinking of getting into the boat design business. Reading his letter makes me appreciate what Phil has to put up with! Now read on . . .

Hi Bill,

Having inserted a toe into the idea of the design business (after telling myself I’d never do it), I’ve grown to believe that Phil’s policy of having an unlisted phone number might be a stroke of genius. Ted Brewer also went through an un-listed phone period lately.

As late as yesterday, I had a meeting with a potential dinghy plans customer, and the conversation went like this:

Him: “Gee, that’s a neat design, I’m gonna build one . . . but whatja put that keel on it for? I’d build in a centerboard if for no other reason than the trunk would support the athwartships seat for my girlfriend, and other seats so I could haul me and two others to the beach from my cruiser, you know drink beer, toss a shrimp on the barby–all that.”

Me: “Well, the idea behind this dink is that it is to be sailed primarily by oneperson, and you’re supposed to sit on a cushion with the inside of the boat uncluttered so you could move around and it would be easier to sail–not to mention lowering the center of gravity by sitting in the bottom on a soft cushion.”

Him: Well, it looks pretty light . . . but I’ll bet that if I put my 25 horsepower Evinrude on the transom that sucker’d really really fly, maybe twenty or twenty five huh?”

Me: ” Not really, the bottom of the boat is designed for sailing speeds, and the aft sections are prismatically correct for lively go-fast performance and helm stability particularly on a down wind run.”

Him: “How fast is “go-fast”?

Me: “Well, even though the boat is only seven and a half feet long, you could probably get six, seven knots under good conditions.”

Him: “God, that’d take forever to get from where I anchor in Mystery Bay to the store for a beer run. Maybe I just ought to just buy a Livingston. They don’t row very well, or sail very well, or tow very well, but they’ll handle three grown-ups (!?) and two racks a’ beer with three or four inches of freeboard, and still make 20 knots with my 25 Evie. Still . . . those Livingston’s are pretty pricey . . . I bet I could build yours for a hundred bucks if I could get the plans for ten bucks or so, whadda ya say”?

Me: (Mentally filling out an Employment Application for the shoe store down the street) “Well, actually, I don’t really think this is the boat for you, but why don’t you ask about Livingston’s at the office. I think they have a couple used ones you could get really cheap”.

Him: (Heading for the door) ” Wow! Really? Terriffic! Great! Glad they sent me over! They told me you really know what you’re talking about! Hey, gotta check that out . . . maybe a lee board, you know one of those snap on kind like on a Livingston might be better than that keel, though. I know about this design crap. I been ‘bashin’ the Sound since you were in diapers. Catch ya later!”

**Fade To Black**

Bottom line: I’m not sure that hostile criticism from those in the diaspora stands up especially in reference to a “trial baloon”. The war waging inside me right now is: “If I were going to do this stuff for profit, should I (like 95% of the other designers) meet plan buyers at the door with sheep shears, suffer the inevitable lumps with aplomb and have a much better looking exchequer at years end?


Photos from Australia:

Peter Gray has sent me some photos of Gray Feather, which is now fully rigged. He reports that he is very happy with her sailing performance, especially in heavy weather.

Gray Feather as a swimming platform?

ch108 Peter has put a box for the anchor under the side deck.

Stop Press: Peter entered Gray Feather in the Sandgate Gaff Vintage regatta and was placed 7th out of 19 boats (on handicap).

And from Canada . . .

Fraser Howell is making excellent progress with his strip-planked Chebacco. She’s strip planked in half inch fir, with 1/8” ash veneers epoxied over the strips and sealed in epoxy:

The coachroof is strip planked and veneered

Fraser’s strip-planked hull has been veneered with ash

Fraser’s rudder is welded up in aluminium

Stop Press (27 June) – Fraser plans to launch any day now!

And finally . . .

That’s all for this time. You may have noticed there’s been a longer gap than usual since last time. I can really only print what you send, and since there’s been little news, I’ve not had much to put in. PLEASE send me your news to ensure bumper issues in the months to come.

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

Chebacco News 05

Chebacco News


Number 5, September 1995

It’s time, once more, to report on Chebacco-related news around the world. The weather here, in the UK, has been superb – four weeks of continuous sunshine and counting! No excuses, then for lack of progress in outdoor boatbuilding.

We’re on the Internet!

As I mentioned last time, I was trying to get a World-Wide-Web page set up with Chebacco News in it. It’s there now. The address to connect to is:
for newsletter number 4, and
is this one.

Another internet ‘club’ that should be of interest is ‘Bolgerphiles’. If you’d like to participate, drop an email to
who, in real life, is Chris Noto, of Sweetwater, Tennessee.
Some of you have already found Chebacco News on the net and have told me they don’t need me to send out the newsletter to them any more. This is fine, and saves on printing costs and stamps BUT all readers of the News should feel part of the ‘club’, whether they read the electronic version or get the paper copy in the mail. I’m interested to hear from you however you come to be reading this.

Anchors, toilets, mast jackets, . . .

Phil Bolger mentioned in a recent letter that he would favour a plough anchor – Bruce or Delta for example weighing 25 pounds or more with 200 feet of rode, for a Chebacco. I’ve had letters from a couple of you wondering if I had come across a good way to stow an anchor on board a Chebacco. To my mind the foredeck is rather small to accommodate a hatch, so although the anchor could be stowed up in the forepeak the dirty weedy thing would have to be brought through the cuddy, dripping on your nice floor or sleeping bag!
Personally, I don’t think the forepeak of a light displacement boat is the best place to hold anything heavy. The nearer the anchor and other heavy gear is to the centre of the boat, the happier I am. My plan is to keep the anchor(s) under one of the side benches, getting it in and out through the access hole from the cuddy through bulkhead 4, and the rode on the other side to balance things out. Admittedly, it will drip momentarily in the cuddy but this should be a minimal problem considering the short distance from the access door to the cuddy entrance.
Another possibility you may like to consider is to replace the ‘Jonesport’ cleat at the stemhead by a short bowsprit/cathead to support a plough anchor ready to drop at all times.
If you have any other ideas, we’d like to hear them!
Jim Slakov asked about the anchor, and also about where to keep a portable toilet. He also wonders if anyone has thought about how to arrange a mast jacket. Do you favour mast hoops or lacing for the luff of the mainsail? Again, let us hear your ideas on these or other matters of interest.

How much does it cost?

People embarking on the building of a Chebacco wonder how much it’s all going to cost. I’ve had a couple of letters about this and thought the answer might be of general interest.
The cheapest way to go is to use exterior-grade ply. In the UK this will set you back about £500 ($800) for the 22 sheets needed if you follow Phil’s drawings to the letter, including hollow keel and ply floorboards. The 10 gallons of epoxy needed cost £750 ($1100) in the UK, and the glass cloth £200 ($350). If spars are made from reclaimed wood the cost is negligible. Fittings vary a lot, but making as much as possible yourself (wooden cleats etc) you can probably get away with £200 ($350). The sails would cost about £600 ($1000) ready made, but you can buy the cloth to make them for £130 ($200). Paints and varnish (house paints) will cost about £100 ($160), giving a grand total (assuming home-made sails) of £1880 ($2960) very approximately.
Going the Rolls Royce route with Bruynzeel ply and pricey paints, top class sails and so on could easily set you back four times that much. A lot depends on whether you are building her to sail yourself for the foreseeable future, or are more interested in her resale value when you move on to your next boat.
My own approach was to try to spread the cost as much as possible, so as not to have to shell out too much cash at once. As a result, the ply I’ve used is of a very modest marine grade, but I’ve gone to town on the best paints and varnish (2-part linear polyurethanes) which, unlike the ply, can be bought as and when required. Hopefully, too, they’ll provide good protection for the ply, such as it is.
Depending on how you intend to sail her, you may want to buy a trailer ($1500 or more) and an outboard motor ($800, but second hand motors are often available much more cheaply).

We have a sailor!

At last, a Chebacco sailor (as opposed to builder/dreamer/. . .) has joined our ranks. Alessandro Barozzi of Valfenera, Italy owns a Chebacco built by a builder named Casavecellia. My Italian is very rusty (- it never was shiny -) but I gather from Alessandro’s letter that his Chebacco is the lapstrake version, rigged as per the plans, but built as an open boat, without the cuddy [Alessandro – please correct me if I’m wrong!].
He writes that members of his club describe her as ‘a poem – the most elegant boat on Viverone’s pond’. ‘Nencia’ (for that is her name) nearly came to grief in a ‘Valdostano’ – a powerful wind sxweeping down from Mont Blanc – when she broke away from her mooring and blew away towards the rocky lee shore. Fortunately, she ended up in a quiet corner, bobbing around with some black ducks and only a little scratch on the paintwork to show for her adventure.
Alessandro mentions that she has some weather helm, and is thinking about adding a jib to help her balance better. He also finds her slow to tack, but I suppose this is understandable given that she has a long shallow keel, unlike a conventional centreboard dinghy. Finally, he says that she sails well, with satisfying speed, even in the lightest wind. ‘
Nencia’ is Casavecellia’s second Chebacco. The first one he built was strip planked, Bermudian rigged, had an iron centreplate and an inboard diesel engine (if I understand the Italian technical terms correctly). Alessandro believes that it was a mistake to stray so far from Phil Bolger’s drawings, and made sure that his own craft was much closer to the designer’s intentions.

A Tender for a Chebacco.

As my sheet ply Chebacco nears completion I’ve started to ponder the practical aspects of sailing her. I’ll be keeping her on a deep-water mooring in the Tay estuary and may be a couple of hundred yards from the nearest launching slip for a tender. This can be a fair old distance to row when wind and tide are unfavourable. I wrote to Phil Bolger asking if a stretched ‘Nymph’ might be suitable. He replied suggesting that
[The June Bug] is the best tender design that I know of if you can live with its looks: fast rowing, quick to build, a good carrier and stiff to get into and out of (a weakness of Nymph). Weight about 100 lbs. They’re good sailors, but the rig is too much clutter in a tender.
I also asked him about how a Chebacco would row, if caught out in a calm with a busted outboard (or no outboard at all). He replied:
I imagine a Chebacco would row quite well with, say, nine-foot oars. They have little if any more surface than a Dovekie, which I’ve rowed many miles at three knots. Chebacco’s geometry would not be as good, and think out carefully where you will stow the oars! I would have a long paddle, actually probably a six-foot oar. . . . If you tow the 14-foot tender, you can row that . . .

Windward Performance

You’ll recall that Mark Raymer was considering building a Chebacco-25, but was worried about how well she’d sail to windward. Phil writes:
On the windward performance of the Chebacco-20, it is as good as the sails, which need to be cut with a good flow. Given that, they are close-winded and spirited. The 25-footer is no doubt undersparred for light weather, when she is supposed to use the engine without inhibitions. I’m most confident that she will give a good account of herself in any fair sailing breeze, and that the speed with which she can be rigged and unrigged will add more to her mileage than would a better drifting ability.

My own view is that close-windedness is a matter of what you’re used to, and whether you intend to sail in company with more close-winded boats. For example, I don’t think that Chebacco was ever intended to sail close-hauled with a heavily ballasted fin-keeled bermudian sloop with a bendy mast. I currently sail a 15 foot lug-rigged flattie. I’m always contented with her performance when I sail alone. I sometimes sail in company with racing dinghies like Wayfarers and Enterprises and while the flattie gives a good account of herself on a run or a reach, she’s soon left behind on windward legs. Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree with Phil about rigging time – I can be on the water and away 20 minutes before the racers, which makes up for a lot!
Thanks to those of you who wrote to me about this. I have passed your letters on to Mark.

Fraser’s Stripper

Fraser Howell of Nova Scotia is making excellent progress with his strip-planked Chebacco hull. He writes:
As of today the strip bottom is complete except for the veneer, which is next. I lost some time due to moisture. I was building upright, outdoors. We had some exceptional rains, and the pine strips had warped, mostly I think because of moisture from the ground, as it was under a waterproof cover, with no floor. I moved it to my shed a week ago , and happily the original dimensions returned (whew). Everyone who the bottom out of plywood was right. My method is not cheaper, and requires probably ten times more work. If there is an advantage it is that the final bottom thickness will be one inch. said to make
Given the bottom, here is the sequence I plan to follow;
1. loft and cut molds out of inexpensive plywood sheathing for every station, except transom and #5 which are made from good marine ply
2. make c.b. case, again from good marine ply
3. align the molds and stem on the bottom with the c.b. case inserted in #5, #6
4. brace the molds and epoxy the c.b. case and #5 together, permanently attach stem, #5 and transom to the bottom
5. strip plank the hull
6. turn it over, smooth the hull and apply 1/8″ veneer in epoxy
7. smooth the veneer layer, coat with epoxy
8. turn it back over . . .
I have laminated and roughly bevelled the stem, framed the centerboard case, and completed half of the molds. Having a great time. I got Bolger’s latest book, enjoyed ot a lot.
Looking forward to an exuberant description of the sailing performance.

Fraser also enclosed some detailed sketches of how things are to go together. I’m afraid they are a bit beyond my Microsoft Paintbrush ability, so I’ll summarise what they are about:
The c.b. case has a really neat frame – the for’ard part is made from a straight piece of wood, slit lengthwise several times by bandsaw, glue put in the slits and the whole lot bent to shape forming a strong, laminated member.
The strip planking is to start from the chine, with the first plank being glued to the edge of the bottom. Fraser has cut a set of little bevel guides from the lofting so that the edge is accurately bevelled to accept the first plank.
The strips will be scarfed on the boat with Titebond glue and galvanised finishing nails.
The c.b. case will be finished flush with the pine strips on the outside of the bottom and the edge grain of the ply covered by the 1/4″ ash veneer. The cheek pieces of the keel are made of solid ash and are through-bolted to the logs either side of the c.b. case inside the hull.
There is a mold at each lofting station – not just at bulkhead positions.
There are some photos later . . .

Gil’s Boat

Gil Fitzhugh is making good progress with his lapstrake Chebacco-20.
All the planks are permanently in place, and I’m sanding, filling, sanding, epoxying, sanding, . . . Maybe another couple of weeks and I can paint the hull. The I’ll dragoon some neighbors, ply them with beer and flip the boat. Working outside in the spring and summer gives new meaning to WoodenBoat’s euphemism about building from ‘organic materials’. There’s the bark, twigs, dead leaves and seed pods that land on the work. There’s the flies, spiders, inchworms (2.54 cm worms) [Gil’s practicing, in case ‘The Boatman’ asks him to write an article] that crawl on it. There’s gypsy moth larvae, that feast on leaves and excrete little pellets on everything. All this organic material gets caught in the crevices, or lands in wet epoxy, and leaves residue in the boat. Some of it is, at best, wood by-products. And some is two or three incarnations away from having recognisable vegetable origins.
How much of my $70/gallon epoxy ends up as sanding dust?

[Gil should count his blessings – epoxy costs £75/gallon on this side of the pond!]

And finally

Keep your letters and emails coming. These form the substance of this newsletter. Remember that what may seem obvious or mundane to you could light the way for someone else. Jim Slakov writes:
Keep up the great work: newsletter #3 was the best yet. Of special interest to me was Gil’s method of planking, and the pictures of the two Chebaccos. You wouldn’t believe how I obsess over every detail, especially Story’s version: I like a bit of wood showing, and his lower hatch slide-logs, although that extra height looks good in Bolger’s drawings . . .

Write to me, Bill Samson, with your thoughts, experiences, ideas, dreams, . . .
Bill Samson,
88 Grove Road,
West Ferry,
Dundee, DD5 1LB,


The bottom of Fraser Howell’s strip-planked Chebacco – note the screw caddy!

For’ard end of Fraser’s keel cheekpieces

Aft end of keel

Planking in way of centerboard case

Bill Samson’s Chebacco – screw hole plugs to be trimmed.

Bill’s boat, cockpit looking for’ard.

Bill’s boat, cockpit looking aft.

Rudder; post made from galvanised 1″ mild steel.