Chebacco News 12

Chebacco News


Number 12, November 1996

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

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

The first ‘Glass-house’ Chebacco?

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

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

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

Lapstrake Chebaccos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Cobb

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

Another sheet ply Chebacco?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

John Tuma’s ‘Catfish Lounge’

John emailed me to say:

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

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


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

First, the model . . .

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Professional advice available

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

Weight aft, Mizzen Sails and Mast Boots

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

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


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


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


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

Peter Gray


And Finally . . .

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

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

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

Chebacco News 08

Chebacco News


Number 8, March 1996

ch82 ‘One Who Waits’

Was Marc First?

In Chebacco News #6 I opined that Peter Gray’s Gray Feather was the first amateur-built Chebacco to be launched. Mea culpa; Marc Lindgren of Minnesota has put pen to paper, pointing out that One Who Waits, his home-built lapstrake Chebacco hit the water in August 1994! This time, though, I’ll be more cautious and simply ask if anyone knows of an earlier one. Marc writes:

Dear Bill,
I’ll bet you are getting lots of letters in regard to the launching of the ‘first’ amateur Chebacco. Here’s some news for you. I launched One Who Waits, a lapstrake Chebacco, about a year and a half ago. On August 22, 1994 not only did I turn 40, but used the occasion to launch the new boat for the first time. We had a great party, with lots of well wishers present.
Construction began December of ’93. I know it was December because instead of doing the Christmas gifts in my shop I told my dear wife I’d do, molds were being cut and assembled. Setup and lining the ribbands progressed rapidly and before long strakes were being cut and glued. 1/2″ fir AC MDO (medium density overlay) ply turned out to be an okay substitute for the (much) more expensive material Phil suggested. Easy to scarf together with a hand power-planer. It seems very durable and doesn’t need fiberglass sheathing to avoid checking. All end-grain was coated several times. He recommended Tom Hill’s book on lapstrake canoes as an excellent reference to building this type hull. Laps were well primed with unfilled epoxy, glued with a cabosil/epoxy mixture. All fillets were epoxy/cabosil/microballoon. Smoothing the soft epoxy with a brush dipped in lacquer-thinner speeded the process. Much less sanding. Some galvanized sheet rock screws were used during planking as temporary ‘clamps’. I used a template cutter on the router to get the strakes out.
Hoisting the 4’X23′ planking stock definitely took two guys. An alternative to the router/ribband technique would be to utilize some cheap, thin ply to take the strake-shapes from the jig, tracing directly onto the planking stock. When I do another hull of this type this is the manner in which planks will be finished. Less lifting.
Turned the hull in April and began the interior work. Summer slowed the work somewhat. The long hours of winter-darkness lend themselves to concentrated building.
Spars are natural growth white spruce. My photos don’t show the forward hatch my son suggested we include. I’ll try to photograph the details and include them soon. Do the hatch! It doesn’t weaken the structure (if done properly) and makes the cuddy more inhabitable and interesting.
Took the boat to Lake Superior last summer for some big-water sailing. Didn’t go too far out but felt secure all the time. Prudently left harbor with a reef, ended the trip full sail and ripping along.
Part of the fun with this type boat are the engaging conversations that often occur. Comments heard include “how old is that boat”, “did you restore that” and “gee that’s a beautiful boat”.
I’d like to build another one this winter. Interested types call me for details.

Thanks for the news, Marc. I’m most impressed (and a little ashamed) that you started building about a year after me and launched less than a year later. Eighteen months on mine has still never had her bottom wet. Lots of useful tips there, too. It would be nice to hear more about the hatch arrangements. Here are some photos of Marc’s Chebacco:




Another Lapstrake Chebacco

Jerome McIvanie of Washington State sent me a photo of the lapstrake Chebacco-20 which he is building.ch81

He writes:

A year ago I started building the Chebacco 20′, lapstrake hull. 1/2″ okume plywood and WEST System epoxy.
I’ve never built a boat before but with three years of reading and a couple of weekend classes at the Wooden Boat School in Port Townsend, WA, I decided I was ready. As you can see from the picture, I did it upright.
I am a machinist by trade, and have built most everything that is straight, flat and square. This has been a real challenge. The kind of thing I need help with is what kind of fastenings (size) and where to put them.
Again, I would like to thank Gil [Fitzhugh] for helping me to get started.
Jerome McIlvanie

If anyone has any opinions about fastenings, please let me know and I’ll include them in the next newsletter.

Booms and Downhauls

I wrote to Phil Bolger asking for advice that will be of general interest to Chebacco builders who are unused to gaff rigs with jawed booms. All rigs I’ve used until now (gunter, bermudan, standing lug) have required some kind of downhaul at the mast end of the boom, possibly in the form of a kicking strap or vang. It seems that such complications are not needed with the Chebacco’s rig. Phil writes:

Dear Bill,

I would not bother with a downhaul myself. A tight luff is not very important to a sail like this. No harm in it.
. . .
Phil Bolger

Some builders (Brad Story, for example) replace the boom jaws with a conventional gooseneck. Sister Krista’s Toulouma Too is like this (see Chebacco News #7).

Other Building News

Jim Slakov, of Sechelt, BC, Canada reports progress:

Thanks for the last issue; great as usual, and encouraging to see some finished products! I hope to be sending you some pics in the not too distant future. The molds are ready to assemble on the strongback, but work is keeping me from play lately, so progress is a bit slow for now. Congratulations on your nearly completed boat. When do we get to see some shots of her under full sail? I’m wondering if anyone will make their own sails? [See below!] I bought ‘The Sailmaker’s Apprentice’ but don’t know how I’ll feel about it when I get to that stage.

Jamie Orr (, also of BC, Canada sent me an e-mail the other day that shows he has been thinking hard about arrangements for the sheet ply Chebacco-20 he is building:

My name is Jamie Orr, and I live in Victoria, B.C., Canada . . .
I recently started my own sheet ply Chebacco 20 and recognise some of the concerns and problems mentioned in your newsletter [#5]. I am also building outside, but at this time of year I am contending with heavy rain and (just lately) freezing temperatures. The plywood shows some tendency to warp after the pieces are cut out with the heavy moisture content of the air. However, brute force and ignorance will probably continue to save the day. Luckily I am using ‘cold-cure’ epoxywhich will cure down to 2 degrees Celsius (36F) and ignores the damp. I used this on a strip canoe recently and was very pleased with the result.
One of the questions raised in your newsletter was where to put the portable toilet. I haven’t any brilliant ideas, but wonder if it might sit at the back of the cockpit, under an athwartship addition to the seats, right up against bulkhead #6. It would have to be moved to use it in any sort of privacy, but there’ll be little of that anyway.
As for the anchor, I plan to use a Danforth for its ease of storage, and keep it in chocks under the floorboards. My boat will live on a trailer, so I don’t want to leave any equipment visible or too accessible to passers-by.
Speaking of floorboards, I also plan to fasten a 3/4″ by 3/4″ rail along the fronts of the cockpit seats , so that the floorboards can be lifted up and placed on these rails, level with the seats. The whole cockpit area will then be available for sleeping in or on undeer a boom tent. In any case, I look forward to reading your newsletter again. I would be interested to know how the cat-yawl rig handles – for example, how does it heave to, if at all, without lowering the main? [Any answers sailors?] I have found heaving to of great help, as my family is too young to help much, and I was virtually single-handed when we chartered last summer.
I think that’s enough for now . . .
So long and good sailing,
Jamie Orr

I drew Jamie’s attention to the other issues of Chebacco News, on the Internet, and he wrote back:

. . . Yes, I have a shelter. I have a large (20X30) plastic tarp over supports attached to the house. They are 16 feet long, attahced about 10 feet up, sloping down to 6 foot posts at the lower end. The tarp is held in place by 16 foot 1″X2″ battens screwed down to the 2″X4″ beams and posts. The working area covered is roughly 25 by 15 feet, but hte ends are open so the rain sometimes blows in. I have not attempted to add end walls because of the added resistance to the wind. When necessary, I cover the work with more plastic tarps.
Just lately we’ve had some freezing weather, so the work has gone from slow to dead slow. However, Victoria has Canada’s mildest weather so I hope to get the side panels and bottom set up over the Christams holidays. I’m looking forward to this as it will set the shape of the boat and I’ll be able to see what I’m building.
While the weather’s been bad i’ve been building (indoors) Bolger’s ‘Elegant Punt’ with my seven year old son Alan. I chose this design for its simplicity and because it doesn’t need any toxic resins. He’s enjoying it, although we’ve had to pause for lessons in basics, such as how to hammer nails.
I’ll keep in touch on the building. I expect it’ll be pretty slow here until March or April. I hope you and yours have a merry Christmas and a happy Hogmanay.

Making your own sails?

Being a thrifty Scotsman, I decided to save myself a few hundred quid and make my own sails. There are a number of good books on the subject, but the one I’ve used most is a booklet written by Paul Fisher. This is called “Sail Making for the Home Builder” and can be bought for £7.50 plus postage/packing from Selway Fisher Design, 15 King Street, Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12 6HB, England, phone/fax +44 1225 705074, or 01225 705074 in the UK.
I bought 7 ounce sailcloth – a 30 metre roll which is about twice as much as I need but it is very much cheaper to buy a whole roll. US readers should note that British 7 ounce is about the same as US 5 1/2 ounce. The Brits measure weight for 36″ wide cloth; Americans for 28 1/2″ wide (an old standard width for broadcloth).
My wife, Sheila, sewed the cloths together on her ordinary domestic sewing machine. The only problem she encountered was that the mchine had trouble gripping the very stiff hard cloth; still, with care, it went together okay. We ‘broadseamed’ the leading edge of the sail back to 1/3 of its width, on the seam that passes through the tack and a couple of seams either side. This has the effect of giving the sail some shape, when combined with convexity of the luff and leach. Incidentally, we’re making cross cut sails with the cloths perpendicular to the leach. It is equally valid to make vertical cut sails with the cloths parallel to the leach. It’s important to find out whether your cloth is strongest along the warp, or the weft, and to keep the strong threads parallel to the leach.
Many sailmakers carry broadseaming back to 40% or more of the width, but we decided to make the curve shorter in order to keep the ‘powerpoint’ well forward and help counteract the weather-helm which is a tendency of most Chebaccos.
We’re currently ‘roping’ the edges of the sails and applying reinforcing patches at the corners. This is being hand stitched because of the large number of thicknesses the needle has to pass through. It’s easy enough work, though and quite therapeutic.
We’ll keep you posted on how the sails turn out. Even if they aren’t very good, we’ll be confident enough to unpick a seam and re-stitch it for better setting.
I should mention that we sewed the sails for our last two boats and both worked perfectly well, with no obvious problems.

Keep in touch!
Keep your letters coming. Send them to:

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

Chebacco News 06

Chebacco News

Number 6, November 1995

Peter Launches!

Peter and Sandy Gray, of Queensland, Australia, have launched their Chebacco. As far as I can tell, this is the first amateur-built Chebacco to be launched. (If anyone knows this to be wrong, please let me know!) Congratulations to Peter for a great achievement.
Gray Feather afloat in the Noosa river.

Peter writes:
Dear Bill,
Well, it has finally happened. Our boat was launched on 31 August 1995.
It was a beautiful morning on the Noosa river as our boat slid off its trailer and into the water. She sat exactly on the waterline and looked a picture. I stood back to take a photo of her but our camera wouldn’t work. At that moment a person walked down to admire her and after seeing that our camera didn’t work, he offered to take some photographs for me (- he was a professional photographer). After the photos were taken, Sandy and I boarded the boat and motored off down the river.
. . . the sails will come later. She has an 8 hp long shaft Johnson outboard. I estimate that she cruises at about 6 kts comfortably.

Bill travels and Gil flips . . .

I was fortunate to be in the USA on business at the start of October and took some time off to visit Gil and Joan Fitzhugh in New Jersey, and Bill and Mary Parkes in Pennsylvania.
Gil kindly timed the ‘flip’ (ie lifting his hull from the molds and turning it right way up) to coincide with my visit. A host of neighbours and relatives turned out for the flip and they were fuelled by generous quantities of grog and grub supplied by Gil and Joan. The flip went without a hitch – apart from participants having to dodge acorns falling from 100 foot high oaks around the boat. I was particularly impressed that the hull lifted off the mold without a murmur – no screws had been left in; no glue had stuck the hull to the molds.
Gil’s hull is beautifully fair – the product of more hours of sanding and filling than I care to imagine – and the plank lands are sweet and fair to the eye. Now for the fitting out . . .
Gil Fitzhugh’s hull safely flipped and on its trailer.
Bill Parkes travelled from Mechanicsburg to assist in the flip. I went on to spend a couple of days with Bill and Mary. Bill is planning to build a sheet ply Chebacco. He has already built two Bolger boats – a Nymph and a Gloucester Light Dory. He took me rowing in the Light Dory on the Susquehanna river. Having rowed and admired it, I can understand why it is called Phil’s ‘ticket to Heaven’.
Sincere thanks to Joan, Mary, Gil and Bill for their kindness and hospitality to me during my visit, and particularly for allowing me to OD on boat talk with them!

Want molds for a lapstrake Chebacco?

Now that Gil Fitzhugh has completed his beautiful hull, he has a set of molds that are now surplus to his requirements. If you are planning to build a boat like Gil’s, you are welcome to take away his molds, free of charge, also saving yourself the hassle of lofting the lines full size. Gil would rather they went to a good home than put them to the torch. You can contact Gil at his home in New Jersey:
Mr Gil Fitzhugh,
Primrose Trail,
Mt. Kemble Lake,
NJ 07960


phone: 201 425 9010

Chuck Merrell on Anchors


Chuck Merrell of Seattle lives aboard ‘Tomboy’, a ‘Jessie Cooper’ designed by Phil Bolger, and is currently finishing ‘Wonky’ a steel ‘Tahitiana’ ketch which he bought half-built. Chuck is a self-confessed anchor-obsessive and emailed me with the following observations in response to the chat about anchors and how to stow them in Chebacco News #5:
Hi Bill, I usually singlehand, and even if there is someone with me, I generally wind up doing most everything by myself anyway. Singlehanded anchoring is always a problem if you have to leave the tiller to drop the hook, especially on a boat like Tomboy. Wonky wouldn’t be such a bad problem, but anchoring from the bow still takes a thirty foot run from the cockpit to the front end and back.
On Tomboy, I keep the anchor permanently mounted on the stern, and keep the anchor chain in a bucket in the cockpit. (I use 30′ feet of chain). I have the chain shackled to the nylon anchor rode which is led back to the bow, through the chocks and cleated off. When I’m ready to anchor, I have made up a little quick release device that allows me to drop the anchor out of its mounts as the boat is moving forward. I hold the chain bucket overboard so the chain doesn’t flail against the boat as it runs out. The rode follows the chain and the forward motion of the boat digs the anchor in and turns the boat in line with the anchor, then it can be backed down and set and adjusted at my leisure. The system works great, and you don’t have to leave the tiller during any part of the operation. I’ve done it dozens of times, and never have had a mishap under power or sail, regardless of how hard the wind is blowing or what the conditions. The way I have the anchor mounted makes it very easy to deploy, and the anchor always stays put even in heavy weather till it’s time to let it go.
That brings up the subject of what kind of anchor to use. According to what you say, Phil has recommended a 25 pound Plow, or an equivalent Bruce. Phil as you know is a “belt and braces” man, particularly when it comes to anchors. In my opinion, a 25 pound plow is almost 3 X overkill unless your local conditions absolutely dictate the choice. This anchor is better suited to a boat weighing about 6,000 lbs, not a daysailer less than a ton. A 25 pound plow is about the smallest you can buy, and Phil probably recommended it because he figured any Scotsman worth his Haggis would want to spend the money at home with Simpson Lawrence. I don’t like to use a plow unless I have a bowsprit and winch. They are heavy, and it’s easy to bang the topsides and pinch your fingers. A 25 pound isn’t too bad, but on a pitching foredeck, my 45 pound can really smash a pinkie and make dents in the topsides or deck. (I’ve designed Wonky’s bowsprit and rollers to work in such a way that there is no way raising an anchor will bang into the hull regardless of the conditions. You’ll see when I get the pix developed and scan them to you.)
Bruce anchors are nice in certain types of bottoms, and they don’t foul easily, and will reset in their own length if they drag. But they’re pretty expensive, and in general don’t perform much better than a Danforth type, especially to anchor a light boat like the Chebacco. Danforths and Bruce anchors are roughly for the same type of bottoms, but the Bruce is harder to stow.
I think that I would use an 18 pound standard Hi Tensile Danforth (assuming that a Danforth type will work in your ground conditions) with 30 ft. of 5/16″ BBB chain as my working system on a Chebacco. One thing is, with that setup, you could sit around and wonder if the anchor was holding the boat, or could you just get by with chain only (just kidding). A 1/2″ nylon rode would be nicer to hand, but 3/8 nylon would be plenty strong enough. A Danforth can be made to hang on a flat vertical transom like the Chebacco has. If you use the natural design of the Danforth, the flukes will fall away from the boat when stowed, as well as deployed, and never cause marring. You can use a second 18 Lb Danforth on a Bahamian mooring arrangement if you anchor in the river. You can leave the anchor rigged and hanging in its bracket when you are tied to your mooring, or when trailering down the road. This is a good system if you ever really need to anchor fast.
For comparison, on Wonky which weighs 20,000 lbs, I have the following ground tackle: 50 Lb Herreschoff, 45 Lb Plow, I built the following anchors: 40 Lb Danforth type, Two 40 Lb large fluked folding Yachtsman anchors, 18 Lb. Kedge, 5 Lb Kedge. 200 ft of 5/16 Hi-tensile chain, 200 feet of 5/16 BBB chain (given to me as a gift), and a couple dinghy anchors. For storm conditions I would becue the 50 Lb Herreshoff and the 45 Lb Plow. For Hurricane I’d also put out everything else, and all the chain. For nylon, I have 600 feet of 3/4″ Guess you get the idea that I like anchors and feel that you can never have too many, huh?
. . .
Have a good weekend.

Fraser’s stripper . . .

Fraser Howell continues to make astonishing progress on his strip planked version of Chebacco. He sent me a whole bunch of photos of which a small selection are included in this newsletter. The captions are supplied by Fraser.
Here is the bottom, while fitting the CB case. The roughed out laminated stem is just beside the case. You can see that I built up the base of the stem where it will bear on the bottom. This stem enlargement made it easier to fit in a free-standing fashion. I fit it with a 1/2″ stainless steel post that passes through the stem enlargement and the keel ( – I had just broken a molar repaired in a similar fashion). You can also see some distortion of the bottom due to moisture. At this point the ‘boat’ went back into the shed, dried out and came back into shape. I then turned it over and applied the 1/4″ ash veneer in epoxy.

Some time later, transom, main bulkhead, stem and molds ready to be aligned. You can just see the untrimmed edge of the bottom veneer.
A successful rolling crew. I don’t know why the rest of them are smiling, I’m the only one with a beer.
Fraser’s other photos show details of the stripping process, scarfing of strips, breasthook and knee and various views of the hull. He writes:
I made the seat supports, after cockpit bulkhead etc. out of 5/8″ exterior ply. There are two partial bulkheads on each side to support the seat. I placed them at mold stations. This allowed me to use the mold profile rather than scribe them. The forward and after bulkheads were scribed to fit. All bulkheads were epoxy filleted and taped with 4″ wide 10 ounce cloth. I put in all that internal structure to stiffen the hull for the roll-over and hold the shape. Molds 3 and 4 were left in for the same reason.
Presentlly, I’m planing the 1/8″ ash veneers. I will lay them at right angles to the strips, stapled in thickened epoxy. I’ll then fair and seal the hull exterior to leave it through the winter . . .


Alessandro Barozzi sent me this photo of Nencia, his lapstrake Chebacco which has no cabin.
I fear I must apologise for getting the builder’s name wrong. He is Casavecchia (not Casavecellia). I was also wrong when I described her as an ‘open’ boat. She is mostly decked, with a self-draining cockpit. She is certainly a most attractive boat and may give some of us pause for thought as to whether we really need a cabin, when she looks so good without one.
Alessandro has been out of action recently, with surgery to his right arm. I hope he makes a full and swift recovery so that he can continue to enjoy his sailing.

Bill Samson’s Sheet Ply Chebacco

My own Chebacco is now complete except for spars, sails, outboard and trailer.
Bill’s Chebacco tilted to receive its centreboard and rudder.
The next two photos show the lower gudgeon (pintle??) for the rudder. This is made from galvanised iron. Note the nylon bush to take the downward thrust of the rudder.
Galvanized gudgeon before fitting (Yes- I know it’s countersunk on the wrong side! In fact it is countersunk on both sides.)
Gudgeon and rudder in place; bedded in liberal quantities of Sikaflex.

And Finally

This has been a great year for amateur Chebacco builders with Peter Gray getting into the water and Bill Samson hoping to follow soon. Please do keep in touch and let me have your news. Thanks to those of you who have sent me letters and photos as well as those who have sent financial donations to help keep this little newsletter afloat.

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

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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.

Chebacco News 03

Chebacco News

Number 3, April 1995

A Frequently Asked Question

Several of you have written to me asking for the address of your nearest neighbour, so that you can perhaps get together and chew the fat. My approach to this has been to contact the neighbour, and ask them to get in touch with the person making the query. That way, I’m not divulging people’s addresses without their permission. It would obviously save us all a lot of hassle if I were to send out an address list with the next newsletter. Those I have spoken to individually say they’d have no objection to this, but some of you might. If you don’t want your name and address to appear in the address list, please let me know right away. In the next newsletter I’ll publish the names and addresses of those of you who remain silent!

Surfin’ the Internet

Three or four of us have Internet addresses and communicate using eMail. It would even be possible for me to send out this newsletter (text only) this way. (I did try sending the last one, but the photos take up one helluva lot of space and the message arrives in lots of parts which are a hassle to reassemble.) Another possibility is that I could put it up on the World Wide Web complete with colour images; but I suspect that not many of us have access to web readers. Anyway, if you’re into the infobahn, my address is:

Let me know if you have any ideas in this direction.

“Boats with an Open Mind”

I recently got my copy of Phil Bolger’s new book (title above) which was published by International Marine of Camden Maine in November 1994. There’s a great chapter on Chebacco boats – the versions except the original cold moulded one, and including a “glass house” version with balasted keel, more freeboard and a huge cabin with glass sides – worth thinking about if comfort matters and you plan to sail in rougher than average waters. You can even steer it from inside the cabin! As well as this, there are another 74 designs, some old, some new. I must confess I devoured every word of it with great relish. Essential reading for all Bolger fans.

Lapstrake Construction

Last time I gave you a blow by blow account of how a sheet ply Chebacco could be put together. In order to redress the balance for lapstrake builders, Gil Fitzhugh of Morristown N.J. gives the following account of the method he is using for spiling and fitting strakes:

I’ve accidentally blundered into what I think is an easy way to determine plank shapes in glued lapstrake plywood construction. I haven’t seen this written up anywhere, so feel free to put it in the next newsletter. It assumes you are using a building mold the way Tom Hill does, in his book “Ultralight Boatbuilding”, with a series of ribbands to define where the planks go.

Unlike the Chebacco, Tom’s plans and molds are small. He uses 4mm ply, narrow enough to be clamped into place with C-clamps. He clamps some plywood in place and traces the shape from the back by tipping the mold. For me to do that in the Chebacco means getting under the mold between each pair of stations, tracing the shape onto cheap quarter inch ply, and spiling it onto solid gold occume plywood. The pieces are heavy and awkward and the process requires considerable agility. So, a better way.

1. Put the last plank, the one lying on the shop floor, in place on the boat. Mark off where the next plank will land and plane the bevel.
2. Buy, or scounge enough scraps of Mylar that you can tape together a long strip, roughly the shape of the plank, but wider. The joints between the pieces can overlap as much as you want and can be attached with masking or other tape, BUT THE JOINTS MUST BE FLAT. (- no wrinkles or bulges.)
3. Roll up your strip of Mylar, take it to the boat, unroll it and tape it over the space where the new plank will go. It only requires a few hunks of tape. The Mylar MUST LIE FLAT between the bevel of the previous plank and the next ribband. Since Mylar is dimensionally stable it doesn’t take compound curves, it will lie just as flat as the next plywood plank.
4. Standing in a civilised manner on the outside of the boat, make little marks every 4 – 6 inches along the bevel line of the prior plank, and the next ribband. If you want to do both sides of the boat use two different pencil colors.
5. Roll up the Mylar, take it into the shop and unroll it over the next piece of plywood. Using an ice-pick, prick right through the Mylar into the plank stock. Remove the Mylar, clamp a batten around the prick points, draw a line, cut with a saber saw, Voilà a plank!

When it’s time to do another plank erase the x marks and reuse the same piece of Mylar. After a while it’ll have a potfull of stray prick holes in it, but that won’t affect its usefulness one whit. If the plank shape changes as you move down (up?) the boat, you can untape your Mylar segments and put them back together again in a little different alignment. In between uses, roll the Mylar up and stick the end in an old coffee can – try that with 20+ feet of spiling board!

I find I can scarf up quite narrow strips of 12mm ply to get my plank blanks, by aligning them under the Mylar and jiggling them ’til they fit. Other than the garboards, which are wider on this boat, I find I can get two whole planks, a port and a starboard, out of a single 4 X 8 sheet. So it’s economical of material as well as time.


A Stripper Chebacco

Fraser Howell of Nova Scotia reports that he’s just started making a round-bilged Chebacco to the lines of the lapstrake version, using strip planking. Fraser has built a number of strippers, including canoes and a “Catspaw” dinghy, so he’s at home with the technique. He plans to strip plank the hull from half inch pine strips and then cover the lot with a diagonal layer of eighth inch ash (sides) and quarter inch ash (bottom). The whole lot will, of course, be epoxy coated.

Cockpit cover:

One of Chebacco’s great strengths is its huge, deep cockpit. Unfortunately, cockpits in boats of this size can’t be deep and self draining at the same time. A cover is therefore needed to keep the cockpit reasonably dry. If the boat is kept on the water, a cover going over the boom would seem to be the right sort of thing. Brad Story writes:

. . . the ones I’ve seen go over the boom, with snap-up cutouts for the halliards and topping lift. This way it serves also as a sail cover. This cover was secured along the edge of the deck with eye straps. These straps along the coaming would work at least as well. They’d cut down on the cover flapping – though they might chafe the finish on the coaming edge. The cover is over the cockpit only, (though a tail extends fwd and aft to cover the sail). It’s held onto the eye straps with a piece of cord thru eyelets in the cover – a little tedious to put on/take off, but strong and foolproof.

And Finally:

We depend on you to tell us what is of interest, so keep these letters coming. Even if you haven’t started building yet, you must have given some thought to where you want to do it. Will it be in a garage? Or a tent? Or out of doors? Let’s hear your thoughts on these and any other matters of interest.

My address is:

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

Phone +44 (0)1382 776744 (Home)
+44 (0)1382 308611 (Work)
Fax +44 (0)1382 308877

Stop Press

Peter Gray’s Chebacco nears completion. It will be launched in Queensland, Australia. Peter has used 9mm ply for the decks in order to cut down on high weight. He plans to install a 12V bilge pump to keep the cockpit dry. He has made his rudder stock from 2″ dia steel pipe which will be galvanised. The mainmast is made from Oregon pine. Will this be the first amateur-built Chebacco to hit the water? Watch this space!

Chebacco News 01

Chebacco News

Number 1, September 1994

This is the first ( and possibly the only) CHEBACCO newsletter. The response to my intial mailshot was wonderful in quality, but rather underwhelming in quantity! My mailing list currently stands at eight and covers the globe very satifactorily – including Australia and New Caledonia as well as the US (NY and NJ). I fear I am Europe’s only representative in the Chebacco community.

The future of this newsletter depends on you, the readers. As you can see, it is made up of contributions I received in response to my mailshot, as well as my personal news. The possibility of more issues depends on whether you write to me telling me what you are up to; what may seem trivial to you could be of great interest to the rest of us, so don’t be shy! For example, let us know if you are currently building , or just dreaming over the plans. What version of Chebacco are you working on – hard chine, lapstrake or Chebacco-25? As you know , the drawings don’t come with a building key, so tell us how you are to build her. What materials are you using? Have you strayed from the plans in any way?

Send future contributions to me:

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

As you know, this newsletter is not a money-making scheme, so please feel free to copy it to anyone who might be interested – it’ll save my postage costs!

The next newsletter will appear as soon as I have enough material to make it worthwhile.

Turning Over a Chebacco Hull (almost) Single Handed

A couple of months ago I arrived at the stage where my hard-chined Chebacco hull was complete and ready for turning over for fitting out. She had been built in my bcak yard with a tree to one side and a hedge to the other. The hull had been built on stocks of reclaimed timber, about a foot off the ground.

One approach to this problem is to get half a dozen gorillas (or their nearest human equivalent) to support the hull while you crawl underneath, knocking away the stocks and dragging them out from under – hoping that the gorillas don’t get tired or bored meantime and drop everything on top of you. Once the stocks are away the team might be persuaded to flip the hull over without dropping it on its thin sheerstrake – although this can be tricky as handholds are not plentiful on the outside of the hull. The main expense of such a technique is a keg of beer to reward your patient strongmen.

This method sounded a bit nerve-racking to me, besides which it isn’t always possible to get all the gorillas you need at a mutually convenient time. I decided to try to do the job myself by rigging up a scaffold (gallows?) from which to suspend the boat while the stocks are removed ad ropes to pull which will turn the boat over.
The scaffold consists of two arches, or portals, which are placed over the hull, about 5 feet from each end. Each portal has two pulley sheaves let into its cross member (top) through which a long rope loop is threaded, going around the hull.

Because Chebacco’s hull is very beamy, I had to raise it , stocks and all, by about a foot, so that the sheerstrake would clear the ground when the hull had rotated through 90 degrees. I did this by levering one side of the stocks off the ground using a 12-foot length of 2 by 4 as a lever, and while it was raised, my long-suffering next-door neighbour inserted concrete blocks under the legs. I repeated this operation on both sides until the hull was sufficiently high.

The next step was to complete the rope loops around the hull and through the sheaves on the scaffolds. I used three eighths inch diameter polypropylene rope for the loops and knotted them using a carrick bend, which is less likely to slip or come apart than a reef knot or bowline. The knots have to be placed so that they will not pass through the sheaves as the hull turns over.

Trestles were placed under the stem and transom in order to prevent the hull crashing down if the rope loops gave out when the stocks were knocked away. The stocks were knocked away and dragged out from under the hull without mishap, leaving the hull hanging upside down under the scaffold.

I pulled gently down on the rope loops, which obediently ran through the sheaves. After about 80 degrees of rotation, gravity took over and the hull swing (too) quickly over into its right-way-up position; about a ccouple of feet off the ground. The 2 by 4 lever and heaps of old car tyres were brought into play to allow the knots to be undone and the hull lowered, one end at a time, to its final resting place on wooden blocks.

News from Builders

Gil Fitzhugh, of Morristown NJ, is building a lapstrake Chebacco-20. His chosen method is to build a mould from temporary bulkheads and ribbands placed where the strakes will overlap. In this way he is able to ensure that the lands will form fair and even curves before starting to cut out the strakes. The method is described in Tom Hill’s book, “Ultralight Boatbuilding”. The main snag with this method is that the permanent bulkheads need to be fitted after the hull is lifted from the mould and turned over.

Another good idea from Gil is the way he built his (inner) stem. It is laminated from mahogany and includes the mast step. In other words, it extends all the way back to bulkhead #1. Gil’s keel, too, is laminated; the front and rear sections from (I think) 3/4 inch thick fir, and the cheeks either side of the centreboard from 3/4 inch oak. The laminations are horizontal.

Gil writes:
The wood’s expensive, but it’s available locally . . . Epoxy has made it possible for Klutzes like me, who aren’t in a hurry, and who aren’t building in quantity, to make a good boat out of wood that Nat Herreshoff or Colin Archer wouldn’t have bothered cutting up for the fireplace.”

I must add though, that Gil’s photos of the keel and mould show that his workmanship is anything but “klutz”-like.

I understand that Gil is to use sapele marine ply for the hull. I guess the result will be a real gold-plater when it hits the water.

Peter Gray of Queensland, Australia is well advanced on the construction of a hard-chine Chebacco. When he wrote to me in June, the Hull had just been finished and he hopes to finish the boat around Christmas this year – a good time to launch in Australia, I should think.

Peter is using exterior grade ply, WEST system epoxy and stainless steel screws and bolts. He’s also scouring second hand boatyards for authentic fittings.

Allan Bell of Fairport NY is currently dreaming over plans for a lapstrake Chebacco which he plans to start constructing in a year or so. I hope he will find Gil Fitzhugh’s experiences (see above) helpful when the sawdust starts flying.

My own Chebacco is a hard-chine one. She’s built from Far Eastern marine ply. This is pretty inexpensive (about $30 a sheet if you buy it in quantity) and has alarmingly thin outer veneers. I used the same stuff for a skiff I built 6 years ago and, coated with WEST epoxy and 2-part paint, it has been entirely satisfactory and hasn’t needed repainting in all that time (apart from the odd ding). For tree wood I’m using reclaimed red deal (a fairly resinous pine/fir) which is reasonably durable when it is coated with epoxy – and pitch pine (longleaf yellow pine) for floors. I’m using copper boat nails for almost all my fastenings. I have built the hull strictly according to Phil Bolger’s plans, right down to the hollow keel. I finished the outside of the hull with one layer of 6 ounce glass cloth in three coats of epoxy and 2-part paint on top. Under the waterline I used standard antifouling paint applied directly on top of the epoxy.

The fitting out of the hull is almost complete now. One snag I came across was that the half inch ply for the cabin top was tough to bend and resulted in some sagging of the framing. If I was to do it again I’d probably laminate the roof from two layers of quarter inch ply.

One final point – I used 22 sheets of ply for the entire boat. Brad Story does it with 15 but he makes the keel and floorboards out of tree wood and, on his gold platers, the coamings and cabin sides are made of solid mahogany (about 3/4 inch thick, I think).