Chebacco News 53


Rend Lake 2007 – Richard Spelling

For this messabout I get to try out my new (well, new to me) truck.

I have been in need of a bigger truck for a long time, the Toyota Tacoma, while a nice little pickup, is way too little to tow my boat on a regular basis. And there is no way four people can fit comfortably in it.

Bought a replacement, on eBay of course. Paid 2/3 of Blue Book for it. It’s a 1999 Dodge Ram 3/4 ton with the turbo diesel. BIG truck, big engine. It tows my 3500lb boat and trailer like there is nothing connected to the back of the truck. Even up the hills that call themselves mountains in Missouri, I can fly past the semi trucks in the “slow” lane doing 70mph uphill into a head wind.

And it’s big enough to haul everybody in the cab. I like it. It suits me.

This year my wife Pat decided to rent a room in the Lodge at Gun Creek, so she wouldn’t have to do the tent thing, and so she would have a place close to take a shower.


Sometimes at a messabout you get rained out. Sometime it’s to hot, sometimes it’s rainy and cold. Sometimes the wind blows so hard you can’t get on the water. Other times it doesn’t blow at all. I have to say, out of all of messabouts I’ve been to; the weather at this one was absolutely perfect. It was so nice, in fact, that Pat canceled her second night at the Lodge and spent the night on the boat with me.Of course, when we arrive, we discover that the park service has put in a nice new bathroom with many showers.

Friday, the first day of the messabout, there was perfect wind for sailing. Got out some, but as I pointed out several times to people who said “you are missing all the good sailing wind”, I can go sailing anytime, I come here to visit with other boat builders. Which is an interesting thing, as, generally speaking, homemade boat builders are an introverted lot, and not the most sociable people around. So a messabout is, in essence, a social event for anti-social people. Not an unfair assessment of a bunch of people who make their own boats, and spend more than a good used “production” boat would cost doing so.

There were lots of boats there this year, as you can see from the pictures below. Lots of good photos this year too, I’ve already updated my slide show screen saver at work. Even without photo shop, some of the pictures below turned out really nice.

I have done my best to match up boats and builders, but if anyone sees one I have misidentified let me know and I’ll fix it.

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Several shots of the two beaches where we pulled our boats up. Max taking a picture of Larry Appelbaum’s Swamp Yankee Canoe.

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David “Polytarp Sails” Gray (PD Racer with “biplane” rig)

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Some green catboat or something anchored next a schooner.

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Mike Zenker (Campanoe)

tn_daveboat_P1010013 tn_daveboat_P1010014 tn_daveboat_P1010015 tn_daveboat_P1010024Windigo 11, an original design by Dave Seaberg. Lot’s of interesting features on this boat. On the left note the scratch built roller reefing system. Next is the dagger board, complete with dumpster scrounged steel plate for anti-floatation weight. Middle right is a nice shot of the sheeting arrangement. Far right is a shot of the boat sailing; if you click on the image you will be able to see the anti-turtle ball on the top of the mast.

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Mounting procedures. This is Tom Hamernik in his Michalak Mixer design

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Max Wawrzyniak and his interpretation of a CLC kayak. Note the serious look on his face in the far right photo.

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Jim Tucker, cat-yawl Normsboat with sprit-boom sails. Complete with painters poles for sprits

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.Damn, he has more sail up than I have on my Chebacco. This is Philip Frohne in an Uncle Johns Skiff.

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My daughter looking bored, couple shots of me, and the cook organizing the potluck.

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Paul Ellifrit’s Oughtred Acorn lapstake. This one is so well built and so pretty I would be afraid to take it sailing, for fear of marring the spotless finish!

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Several shots of Jim Michalak’s Roar II rowboat.

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The intrepid Skiff America built by Kilburn Adams.


Bishop Curran sailing canoe. PVC pipes for amas.

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Initiate passing manoeuvres.

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Rob Rohde-Szudy’s Light Schooner manoeuvring for a landing.

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Steve Lewis’ Scout Canoe. Kewl toy. I especially like the choice of floatation material for the amas. Floaties, no less.

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Steve Lansdowne’s Wee Rob sailing canoe, Larry Appelbaum’s Swamp Yankee Canoe, and Mike & Linda Walsh (Cartopper & Wee lassie stripper canoe)

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Lonely Toto on the beach. Belonging to Phillip Reed I believe.

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Sometimes the most interesting thing about these events is not even the boats, it’s how other folks have solved common problems.

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Sunset and a pole punt.


Wayward Lass’ First Sail of 2007! – Jamie Orr

I’d been waiting since the beginning of October to get away for a few days in Wayward Lass, but a series of events kept me home. But I had enough unused holiday time for a good break over Christmas so I decided to go as soon as the holiday celebrations were over.

Wednesday, January 3rd, found Wayward Lass and I launching at Tulista Park in Sidney (on Vancouver Island). My plans were to sail across Haro Strait to the San Juan Islands if things looked good, otherwise to poke around the Canadian gulf islands until it was time to come home on Saturday. The light wind was just enough to carry us away from the dock so we moved very slowly at first, but the breeze steadily picked up and soon carried us to the end of Sidney Spit, about three nautical miles away. From there, it was seven miles of more or less exposed water to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. The forecast said I could expect moderate southwest winds, (15 to 20 knots) which meant I would have them on my starboard quarter – too good to pass up!

Once we were in the open, the wind rose to better than 15 knots (estimated) and with Spieden Channel (just outside Roche Harbor) lined up over the bow, Wayward Lass was soon making 6.5 knots on a broad reach. We might have picked up a knot from the tide, but otherwise it was all wind power. I could see one sail far to the north, but except for that I had the whole ocean to myself. The wind kept its promise, and a little over an hour later I was in Spieden Channel, preparing to beat through the northwest entrance to Roche Harbor. I was delayed, however, by a big aluminum, RIB-like boat that came speeding up behind, flashing a pair of blue lights to demand my attention.

I slowed Wayward Lass by letting the mainsail run free as the coxswain on the other boat throttled back, leaving our two very different boats bobbing side by side. The young fellow on the bow (why do they all look so young these days?) asked if I’d ever been boarded by the Coast Guard. I said no, but that he was welcome to come aboard. He said he would, but offered to wait until I was in more sheltered water. The wind was dropping though, and getting in was going to take a while, so we agreed we might as well get it done. There was more room to drift around out there anyway. I parked Wayward Lass by centering the mizzen while leaving the mainsheet loose, so she rode head to wind while drifting slowly backwards, a couple of the Coast Guard crew stepped across.

They were very professional and the inspection/interview took less than three minutes, but completing the paperwork took a lot longer! It didn’t help that Wayward Lass is unregistered, unlicensed and has no hull ID number — Canadian law doesn’t require any documentation for a boat (and motor) this size. I’ve never even painted her name on the transom. I’ve never had any problems because of having no documentation — the first time I sailed into a US port (Port Townsend in Washington), US Customs made up a number based on my name and birth date and that has been accepted by US and Canadian Customs ever since. It doesn’t appear anywhere on the boat, though.

I thought the Coasties might have been looking for marijuana, as I understand quite a bit of that enters the US by the San Juans, but they said they were just keeping an eye on who was entering the country. It must have been a pretty slow day for them, as we were the only two boats in sight.

After seven years Wayward Lass is pretty well equipped and we had no problem passing the inspection. I now have a nice yellow boarding form to wave the next time I’m stopped, although I was warned it didn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t be inspected again anyway. I got a kick out of seeing that one of the potential violations was a “manifestly unsafe voyage”. I wonder how they define that one!

Wayward Lass and I eventually entered Roche Harbor around 3:00 pm and found the Customs shack after a short search – they’d moved it, and the docks all looked different in any case. I couldn’t decide if they’d expanded or if the outside docks were just empty for the winter. I phoned Friday Harbor to clear customs since no one was in the shack, then I left again, planning to sail to Jones Island, another 3 miles or so. The wind was very light again, though, and it was getting dark. I realized that I was going to run out of daylight long before I reached Jones, even if I used the motor. I didn’t relish finding the bay and anchoring in the pitch dark, not to mention setting up the boom tent and all, so I turned back for Roche. The trip between Sidney and Roche Harbor had been entirely under sail, but now I furled these and started the motor. Just as well, since a heavy squall caught us on the way back to Roche, if I’d been sailing it would have been all hands to reef. As it was, it gave my new rain gear a thorough workout.

Once back at the dock, I put up the boom tent and prepared a good hot meal. The temperature wasn’t quite freezing, as I recall, but it was pretty cold. I got into my sleeping bag to keep warm as I wrote up the log and read for a while before turnign out the light. Before I went to sleep I listened to the weather forecast for the next two days and decided that I’d better go back to Vancouver Island before the next front arrived, otherwise I could be weather-bound on San Juan Island for several days.

I had arranged to meet a friend in the marina café the next morning, so I didn’t get away until after a leisurely breakfast. When I did set sail, I was still hoping to return to Sidney more or less the same way I’d come – this would have meant travelling slightly north of west. The forecast was for southwest winds, to change northwest later in the morning, so I thought I could sail northwest until the wind changed, then turn southwest for Sidney. At worst I thought I could reach Bedwell Harbour, on South Pender Island, where I could clear Canadian customs.

Expecting brisk winds, I’d put one reef in the mainsail before leaving, but as we were going out the northeast entrance the wind was light so I optimistically shook out the reef. Of course, once I was out in Spieden Channel it started to blow hard, harder than I would have liked even if I’d still been reefed, so I about-turned and shot back into the relative shelter of the harbor. Again I “parked” the boat under the mizzen while I tied in both reefs, watching to make sure we didn’t drift into the docks before I finished. The wind was strong even inside the harbour now, and was blowing from the west rather than the southwest – not good for going to Sidney. Even getting to Bedwell Harbour looked doubtful, and it would certainly have been a hard, wet and uncomfortable sail. Since I was sailing for fun, I decided to go with plan B (or was it C by now?) – to leave Roche Harbor by Mosquito Pass to the south, then carry on southwest to Oak Bay in Victoria. This would be about twelve and a half miles altogether, putting me about 15 miles south of Sidney. The wind would be fair and I would be back on Vancouver Island long before the front arrived.

I found a sheltered spot in Mosquito Pass and anchored while I tidied up the reefs, furled the main (still double-reefed) and put up the jib. The jib doesn’t work well with the main, as I don’t have a bowsprit and there isn’t enough space between the sails, but I thought the jib and mizzen alone would be well suited to the strong wind I’d experienced earlier. When I raised the anchor and started sailing again, however, I got a surprise. The wind was no longer even enough to take us out of Mosquito Pass against a weak tide, and I had to raise the main again, and shake out both reefs. Once we were out, the wind stayed light and Wayward Lass was only moving at about 2 knots. I hugged the shore until a big freighter went past, then turned towards Cadboro Point, at the north end of Oak Bay, just visible in the distance.

As we left the land behind, the wind picked up again, now from the northwest but not as strong as before. I estimated it at about fifteen knots and perfect for a reach to Cadboro Point. I did think briefly of trying to beat back to Sidney, but we were even farther south now, and dead downwind, so I decided that would be a mug’s game. Instead, I enjoyed a fast return trip across Haro Strait, touching 7 knots when the tide turned and with the mainsail pulling like a train. It didn’t take long at that rate, but once behind Cadboro Point we were out of the main force of the wind and had no trouble sailing right in to the gas dock where the Customs phone is located. With that, Wayward Lass and I had completed another voyage, dock-to-dock, under sail. That and $2 will get you a cup of coffee, but so what –I do this for fun and I get a charge out of not using the motor. I paid for a night’s moorage, buttoned up Wayward Lass and called Maureen to come and pick me up. It’s a pretty nice cruise that lets you sleep in your own bed!

I had decided to cut my sailing holiday short, but I still had to get the boat back to Sidney, some 15 miles north. Friday’s forecast was for southeast winds, 15 to 20 knots, rising to 30 knots – the expected front was arriving. I could have brought the trailer to Oak Bay instead, but the public ramp has no real dock, only a sloping concrete pier disappearing into the water. The ramp is also wide open to the southeast so I felt that it would be a poor choice. Once I’d decided to go to Sidney, I had another decision to make. I could leave early and put up with the waves caused by the wind blowing against the tide, or I could wait for the tide to change but might then have to deal with 30 knot winds. I chose the first option leaving early.

Although I expected it to be fairly strong, the wind would be behind me. I used the motor to get clear of the marina, then raised the sails with a single reef. Getting around Cadboro Point was a close reach, and I took some spray before I was clear. The tide tables said the tide was running at 3 knots against me, but I stayed out of the worst of it by avoiding the roughest water, and got through the entrance okay. As I turned north, the GPS was showing 3.5 to 4 knots — the wind was about 15 knots, I think, and one reef was just about right.

Outside Oak Bay, there was a constant parade of big waves, or swells, coming with the wind on my starboard quarter. These had built up over 30 odd miles of open sea, and now were piling up as they came into shallower water. As well, the tide was pushing in the opposite direction, making the waves even steeper. I was more than a little nervous sailing over these, the motion felt like a roller coaster going out of control. Wayward Lass did a wonderful job, however, although her head swung around as the waves picked her up and played with her, that stubby winged rudder never lost its bite. Luckily our course meant the waves passed under us at an angle, otherwise we would have had to tack downwind to avoid ramming the bow into the wave ahead.

I had the centreboard down to help with the steering, but as we surfed down the waves, it was making a loud thrumming noise, and I was worried about the strain it was creating as we dashed along. Rather than risk breaking anything, I pulled it up and found it didn’t make a lot of difference to the steering – it might even have been easier with the board up. One thing was certain, though – it was a whole lot quieter and less stressful for both Wayward Lass and her skipper!

Looking at the chart now, I see this lasted for close to five miles, or about an hour – it seemed a lot longer. Holding a steady course was further complicated by the unusual number of logs and chunks floating around. The tides had been high (the full moon was just past) so a lot of wood must have floated off the beaches – this is the main hazard on the BC coast and requires a good lookout.

We had been doing over 5 knots over the ground since Cadboro Point, more or less due north, and I wanted to pass just west of the Zero Rock beacon. I thought I could see it, but wanted to be sure it wasn’t Little Zero Rock instead, which is further west and is surrounded by other, less visible rocks. One of the meridians on the chart ran right through Little Zero, giving me its longitude, and the GPS confirmed that I was well east of it. Quick and dirty navigation, but very useful when you don’t have a hand to spare.

Although the swells were gradually lessening in size and frequency, every so often a set of three big ones would roll through, just to keep the adrenalin flowing. (Adrenalin is not much use when you’re sailing. It acts as a super fuel for fight or flight, but the sailor can’t do either, he (or she) has to stay put and steer. Intravenous Valium would be far more use!) As D’Arcy Island came abeam, however, roughly half way to Sidney, both the sea and I were calm enough that I could pour a mug of tea to restore my sagging morale.

James and Sidney Islands were still between Wayward Lass and Sidney. Since the southeast wind picks up speed as it funnels between these islands, I decided I would go between James Island and Vancouver Island instead. As I neared the channel, I saw the only other boat I saw that day, a big skiff close to the Vancouver Island shore, going into the wind through clouds of spray. Whether by accident or design, they had timed it nicely, the tide had just turned and the sea was flattening out now that wind and water were moving together.

Going inside James as we were heading would have meant sailing by the lee, with the boom on the same side as the wind. This is never a good idea as an unintentional gybe can result. I didn’t want to gybe intentionally either, so I went the long way round, turning into the wind, tacking through it then turning downwind again. This put the wind on the other, safer, side of the sail. As we passed James Island the wind was strong but steady and the sea fairly flat, giving us the fastest sailing we had, about 7.5 knots and touching 8 once with a little help from the young flood. It had also been raining hard for some time now, but as we were running before it and my new foul weather gear is so much better than the old stuff, I was still warm and dry. Money well spent!

Once through the narrow bit I tacked the long way round again to reach in behind James, where I planned to heave to and drift while I ate my sandwiches. Unfortunately the bigger winds suddenly arrived, so I carried on instead for the Tulista Park ramp, now only a couple of miles away. When there was only about a mile left I turned into the wind again, centred the mizzen and rudder, dropped the centerboard and let the mainsheet loose. Although the wind was really starting to howl, Wayward lass stayed head to wind very nicely. I released the tension on the reef lines (to take the strain off the fabric), furled the main first, then the mizzen before starting Honda.

The breakwater only partially protects the dock from a southeaster and I didn’t want to try landing under sail then unless forced to. Even with the motor I didn’t want to make a downwind landing. As we came in I turned mostly into the wind but kept it on the port side of the bow so it pushed us sideways towards the dock while the motor kept us from blowing backwards on to the shore. It was sort of like ferrying a canoe across a river, but using wind instead of current to move sideways. The idea was sound, but on the first attempt I straightened out too early and the wind caught the starboard bow, pushing us away from the dock. On the second try I got it right and was able to step off with the mooring lines. I had to let the stern one go, though, because of the wind pushing on Wayward Lass and a very slippery dock (the sections were bucking in the waves too). I made the bow fast then went back on board to use the motor to bring in the stern. A fisheries officer came down and took my stern line but it was still raining hard and he left before I could recruit him to help get the boat on her trailer! It was good of him to come down in the rain at all.

The recovery was easier than I expected. A long line from the bow, led outside around the stern to the dock then to the after cleat, let me turn Wayward Lass around (actually the wind turned her but the line let me control her). Then, with the trailer backed in just far enough for the keel to land on the rear roller without floating over it, I walked the boat onto the trailer as if I was lining a canoe on the river. Some quick work on the winch and the excitement was all over. (What’s all that canoe stuff – I thought this was a sailing story!)

By the time everything was packed up and ready to travel, I guessed that the wind was doing all of the 30 knots that were forecast, but I no longer cared — I was feeling pretty cocky about how it had all turned out.

I didn’t spend any time relaxing at anchor in quiet coves, the way I’d pictured it, but except for that hour or so in the big waves, I’d had a great time. Even the waves were of value, letting Wayward Lass remind me how well she takes care or herself and her skipper.

Chebaccos rule!


Launch of “Three Rivers” – Ben Ho

The Chebcaao Three Rivers was launched on a cool but sunny Sunday with much
fanfare, under a beautiful sky with a light breeze. The local newspaper even sent a crew out to report on the story (building a 20 footer in one’s garage, in landlocked Waterloo is newsworthy!).


Lots of spectators providing guidance for backing the trailer…

Everything went quite well. I was relieved that the trailer launching & recovery was fairly straight forward, as the boat ramp at our sailing club has a very shallow gradient limited by the shore line. Prior to the launch I had taken the boat and trailer through a weight station at the local dump. The total weight comes to 2200 lb. The heavy-duty weighs 700 lbs including the spare tire, so the boat weighs at 1500 lb, about right, I think, given the 250 lb of marine batteries I installed for running the electric motor.


There she goes, floating off the trailer.


Now moving the boat to the leeward side of the dock to make it easier to set sails. She wants to take off! With a cross wind of about 5 knots, the boat takes a surprising amount of effort to hold on to with the bow/stern lines. My reference is my 17 ft Marsh Hen, which has a fairly high side for its length, and the Hen takes much less effort. Maybe I do need a crew…


Safely tied down….


The V-berth has a comfortable foam mattress. The ‘skylight’ hatch makes the cabin bright and cozy. One can rest down here after a hard day of sailing, read a book, take a nap…


The wind died (that was when the following sailing photo was taken), and we puttered around with the electric motor, sometimes with a full load of spectators. I like the motor! Nice and quiet, just turn the handle and it goes. The rudder is pleasantly responsive with a very tight turning radius. After a while the wind picked back up to 10 kts. She sailed well in this wind, and is extremely stable (again with my 17 ft Hen as reference). Response is slower than the Hen, which can be expected given two times the weight. Very sure-footed, comes about with no hesitation. At this wind there’s a slight weather helm, just about right. The mizzen doesn’t seem to do much, but I think I have much to learn yet about trimming the mizzen. I remember that someone commented on the webzine that the Chebacco can keep pace with performance dingies such as Wayfarers. Well, not quite. In light to moderate wind, Wayfarers can literally run circles around Three Rivers. So from that perspective I am somewhat disappointed. The raising/lower of the gaff takes more effort than I thought. Also, the gaff jaw rubs hard against the mast such that several spots were stripped bare of varnish, even though the jaw is covered with leather. I think I need to sheath the mast section with a piece of SS sheet. Does anyone else have this problem??

There are still a hundred other small things that need to be worked on, such as where to hang the fenders so they don’t destroy the rub rail….but overall I am quite happy so far, and am looking forward to taking the boat to some faraway lakes and do some serious gungholing…



May 2007



A new sheet ply Chebacco – Marston Clough, Vineyard Haven MA,

To: Richard Spelling

Date: June 20, 2007

Re: new issue

Hi Richard

My Chebacco, first launched briefly Sept 05 was used last season here on Martha’s Vineyard. Have not yet bought motor so haven’t ventured out of protected harbor, due to strong tides which require planning. I went out only once and was not able to buck the tide in light winds.

When building I moved the mast forward as much as I could, which was maybe a foot; the base of the mast is right where the stem is faired into the keel. I sent you some ugly pictures of the modification of this last year at some point.

The finish of my boat is “workboat”, at best, but I did make everything including the mast and spars (with some help) and sail (Sailrite) and looks good from a distance.

There is still weather helm, eased by letting the mizzen off the wind. In fact the mizzen is very important in steering- if too tight in light winds, the boat has difficulty coming about. Steering upwind is likewise controlled by sheeting the mizzen more tightly.

A friend took a couple photos when I was not looking.

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Off topic: Admiral Dingy Attacked by Vampires – Admiral Dingy


The first time it happened was really a bad experience but nothing compared to the second time. They came upon me in Biblical proportions, the Creatures from Hell. I had just dropped anchor and was readying the Cruise Ship Dinghy and myself for a desired rest after our day of rowing. The surroundings were perfect, dusk would be coming soon, there were birds all around and Mullets were jumping. How pleasant to reflect back on the day’s events and the joys of the cruising life! Ah, the cruising sailor and his dream! The thunder and the threatening black clouds are rolling in. Now the extreme downpour of heavy rain and wind is over 50 knots. I sit inside of my coffin size ship realizing what a lucky sailor I truly am. Life is good and I love the experience of the storm at a safe anchorage.

Enter the Creatures from Hell and the nightmare begins! As I come out of the hatch to smell the roses and the gentleness of Mother Nature after her violent storm, reality hits me. I take a deep breath and something flies up my nose and all Hell breaks loose. I didn’t even see em coming! Let’s just say that I’m not overly dressed at this instant and while I’m wondering what is in my nose I start to feel something on my body stinging me. Then my brain kicks in and I discover that I’m in deep trouble. Something is attacking me with thousands of painful little bites and the bite sources are all over me. I start slapping them in self-defense and I’m killing ‘em by the hundreds. But killing thousands by the hundreds is not good or fast enough! I take my hand and place it on top of the intruders and rake them over in a killing stroke down the length of my body, removing and killing the attacking monsters. By this time I’m completely out on top of the boat and I dive into the water in an attempt to rid myself of the thousand-fold parasites. I stay under the water for long periods at a time coming up only to breathe; I find the brackish water somewhat soothing from all the bites. The fight is over as long as I’m in the water. Yet I know I cannot not stay in the soothing brackish water all night with the possibility of hypothermia setting in being ever-present.

My plan is to quickly go back aboard ship, climb inside, and close the hatch as fast as possible. After gaining the inside of the boat and slamming the hatch to keep those mean, biting bugs out, I grab a towel for double duty: to dry myself and to kill the enemy. Peace at last! Well, not yet! There are still a threatening amount of mosquitoes left inside. Oh! I happen to have some material (fabric) aboard that happens to be mosquito cloth. I’ll cover up with that and it should keep ‘em off of me.. Good in theory and it works. Well—almost. You see, if it’s draped over me, the mosquitoes can’t bite me unless the cloth is laying on me, directly on my skin. If that’s the case they just drill in and start pumping my blood. Well, I decide to give that a try; I’m desperate and will do anything to rid myself of those ruthless (but obviously not toothless) bugs. Not all the Vampires are on the outside of the cloth, some have manag ed to get inside the cloth and position themselves right next to my skin, and are poised to bite!

WHOOPS! The battle is not over! In fact, I can tell that this is going to be an all-night ordeal. The exposure from the sun and now the attack of the Vampires has left my skin in a burning, inflamed state. It has been hours now and I’m still fighting these blood-sucking Vamps. Sleep has not come my way, fatigue has fallen upon me and cruising is no longer fun. I never experienced this kind of action in the Hollywood jungles. I have now resolved that I will not continue cruising until I’m better outfitted to fight those unwanted visitors of the night. After all, there have been reported cases of West Nile Virus in this part of the world, and with the thousands of blood-sucking Vampires feeding on me; it’s quite possible that I have contracted that dreaded Virus.

So now I cannot help but wonder what symptoms I should be looking for and hope that they don’t surface within me. One thing that I fear most has now come to past. It’s not the monsters of the deep that scare me; nor the mighty beast from the forest. It’s the mosquitoes (or as I call them “vampires”)– that frighten me! If these little and I mean little mosquitoes are so bad, I’d hate to be exposed to what their big counterparts in Southeast Texas can do.. If the little ones bother and plague me so much, imagine what the bugs in the Amazon Rain Forest are capable of doing. I got off easy in this case. They could have been Killer Bees, or even Marabunta Ants that would have eaten my entire body in a matter of minutes. Not to mention those parasites (that I would rather not mention by name or species, and that I am sure that you have heard about) that get inside your body and feed off of your flesh until you die. I wonder how many deaths have been bug-related?

Enough of these tales of woe! Let’s go back to the beginning of the adventure and look at the really great side of the cruising life. The date is 15 August, 2006, and it’s 04:27 hours. This is the first day of cruising around the world in the smallest ship to ever do so. This is also the first cruise for the Cruise Ship Dinghy I will no longer think of her as a working sculpture but a ship of the Oceans and of the world. I will think of her as my safe passage to adventure, education, and the unknown. I have to admit that I have been talking to this Dinghy for more than 32 years now.. It will be a new kind of dialogue as we find our adventure together, circumnavigating Lake Sabine, which amounts to a round-trip distance of 66.5 miles with Toups Marina serving as starting and ending point.

As I cast off from the side of my beloved Neptune’s Castle, my 62-foot sailing ship I come to the realization that I’m leaving my home of more then 20 years. I will be passing on my position as her Captain to Darrelle– Daughter of Dingy– the little girl who once lived aboard her hull and deck. The little girl who played with her ship’s wheel and stood on her salon table and vied for attention at age two.

I’m sincerely wishing that Neptune’s Castle and Darrelle–Daughter of Dingy will have a long and adventuresome marriage together. They are both in their 20’s and have a life of discovery to find. As for me, I’m bound for the Intercoastal Waterways AKA The Ditch to find my adventure. About two miles down stream on Cow Bayou, the little ship cruises by Burton’s Shipyard and I am able to spot its proprietor, Fred getting his crew of yard birds ready to do their duty on repairing the ships in the Yard. I hope that he isn’t looking at the Dinghy too hard, because I just had one my first Dumb Dingy moves: I have managed to run aground on the little point at the shipyard! No big, I’m off and running and I don’t think that he even noticed my Dumb Dinginess.

The bridge is coming up as I thread the needle and row under the bridge. The Dinghy is now in open water with no more overhead obstructions. Now I can rig the mast and sail. After a very good show with my balancing act, it is done and the ship is rigged for running. Not really, just a few probs.with the sail that can’t be fixed at sea. That means no sailing! No prob. I have two 24-volt continuous-run motors. Not really, one is frozen and the other doesn’t have a shear pin, which can be fixed at sea. So I elect to:


, Row, row, row my boat, gently down Sabine—article_html_m53b1c5f1


–Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, living out my dream!

Rowing is something that I’ve hardly done with the Cruise Ship Dinghy. After I cut her deck and cabin off, I used to row her and found her to be a slow row. But she ran straight and true with her full keel. She is what she is: a cargo boat designed to carry a load, and now with her high freeboard, she is weighing in at about 2000 pounds and that’s with me in her! Take into consideration that she has her superstructure now and that means more wind obstruction with her higher center of gravity because of the mast, the wind generator and VHF and computer signal antennas. These have contributed to changing her motion on the ocean.

I’m starting to perfect my rowing with this craft, and rowing is something I’ve always loved doing. I started out this morning with a forward push type rowing. Although I do enjoy this rowing style, it is not the fastest. I do find it the most logical, though– and I also find it to be the safest style because I’m facing forward and pushing my one-ton boat forward with 10 foot oars. In short, I can see where I’m going without turning my head. The next style of rowing is standing with my back to where I’m going and pulling the boat forward. Oh, and in all of these rowing styles I will be standing. That’s just the way the Dinghy is set up and I don’t foresee the possibility of me changing it. Besides– I’m looking for a full-body workout. One more style is sculling with one oar at the center of the stern of the Dinghy. Also–I’m using the muscles in quite a different way by simply turning around and rowing backwar ds. So I’m man I’m getting my balance, my form, my rhythm, and style. One thing that’s not included in that workout “package” there yet is my deep, diaphragm-based breathing.

On down Cow Bayou I row, until I float onto a sand bar at the end of the bayou where she meets the ICW. That’s because about 35 or 40 black buzzards gathering in the trees and on the beach are glairing at me. They have my attention and I have theirs. As I look through my bino’s and see the intense, focused look on their faces, I can’t help but wonder what they’re bound to be thinking. Are those birds thinking that I’m carry-on for an afternoon snack? If so I’m dead meat! After all, there a lot more of them than there are of me–! So can you imagine these birds turning into hunters? Shades of The Birds by Alford Hitchcock!


Enough of the birds! I have to move on and the ship is hard aground. WHOOPS! I’m off rowing once more! Now the Dinghy is on the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) about another five miles to row and I’ll be settled in for the night. Anchor is set and I’m kicked back! Cool!

Then along the ICW come two of the wild bunch– Will and Willey Toups in one of the strangest boats I’ve ever seen–delivering beer and conversation from Toups Marina. Now this is really too cool! So we enjoy the beer and the converse and then the storm is upon us.



Six months after the attack of the vampires (mosquitoes), it’s time for Admiral Dingy to finish the circumnavigation of Lake Sabine. (Go to ADMIRALDINGHY.COM–the Ship’s Log Page and read Admiral Dingy Attacked by Vampires in order to familiarize you with what happened during the first part of this Voyage. (Some rather large problem that I had with those blood-sucking mosquitoes)!

I vowed that I would not go back to sea without protection from those merciless bugs. So simple enough, I thought: “I’ll call for the land yacht to pick up the Cruise Ship Dinghy! I’ll rig up a proper mosquito net, and put some bug spray onboard and I’ll be safe from those pesky critters. I’ll be back in the water in two days!”

I can see the Dinghy’s land yacht onshore. I think that this will be an easy out. All I have to do is back the trailer into the water, (I am getting better at that). So easy up, I’m learning. Well, I put the trailer into the water without too much problem. (OK–so there’s room for improvement, but I’m getting more gooder (Admiral Dingy term for better) at it. Defiantly better then the first time I tried to load the Dinghy. (To familiarize yourself with what I allude to here, go to the Ship’s Log Page at ADMIRALINGHY.COM and read the article titled Admiral Dingy Hanging in a Tree). Well– I manage to get the Dinghy on to the trailer without many problems. I tied her down to the trailer and took down the wind generator which sits high when the Dinghy is on her trailer.

Great! We’re on our way! Headed back to the mother ship by land with no problems! WHOOPS! Prior to departure, when Dumb Dingy did his walk around the land yacht and Dinghy to check that everything was secure, he forgot to look up! And you guessed it! About a mile down the road, it’s WHAM! BANG! Dumb Dingy has demasted duh Dinghy! I get out of the land yacht and there’s the Dinghy’s mast. It has been crashed upon, bent, slammed down and rendered useless. Only one thing to do now–and that is to build a better mast.

Now–five months later, I’m back and loaded for mosquitoes. I’ve got my mosquito repellent spray; I’ve got my net, and as added insurance, I have got my stainless steel sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun with nine (9) shots loaded. In this case, I’m not loaded for pirates but rather

for those pesky flying vampires. I get “mosquito shot”.

But enough about mosquitoes! I’ve made other advancements on the Cruise Ship Dinghy and still have much to do. One problem that I have not solved yet is the head, meaning the toilet. Yes doing “#1” is easy because I got me one of those male urinary receptacle things that even has a cap for safekeeping deposits. It works fine! I’ve cleaned it with bleach, and it’s ready to go. But ARRRR! What about dealing with “# two”? I do not wish to live with a bucket inside my coffin-sized Dinghy where there is barely enough room for a throne. Don’t wish to live with that either.

In reference to space, as I write this, I’m aboard Neptune’s Castle–the last boat that I will ever build or buy. This is my home for the rest of my life–until I get old and die.( That is if Davey Jones doesn’t get me first while I’m aboard the Cruise Ship Dinghy!) As I look around Neptune’s Castle, while I am in her wheelhouse, I think about her vast amount of space and compare it to the small amount of space aboard the Cruise Ship Dinghy. Neptune’s Castle’s wheelhouse alone has about 10 (ten) times more cubic feet then the inside of the Dinghy, and that’s not counting the engine room with that really kool diesel below the deck boards.

ARRRR—Neptune’s Castle’s got a diesel, and I really love diesels and the aroma generated by one is divine for this sailor!

Why do people call me Dingy? Answer: Just because I want to sail around the world in Neptune Castle’s dinghy? Actually I have had the Dinghy for 32 years and Neptune’s Castle for about 21, but The Cruise Ship Dinghy is still Neptune’s Castle’s dinghy.

Ahoy there Mattie perhaps I’ll see you on Lake Sabine in Southeast Texas tomorrow as I row, row; row my Dinghy on the second half of my circumnavigation of the Lake. AYE! ‘TIS THE CRUISING LIFE FOR ME!

We have been on station at the Pleasure Island Pier Landing for two days now, readying the Dinghy and watching the weather. The wind is coming from the southeast at about 20 to 25 knots–the exact course that I need to row into, to finish an about 66.5-mile row around Lake Sabine and make it back to Cow Bayou and the mother ship, Neptune’s Castleat Toups Marine. Needless to say, I can’t row into the wind with a 2,000 lb. Dinghy with about 30 inches of freeboard, (that’s the superstructure that is above the water line to the top of the cabin). That would truly be a Herculean task, one that I’m not up for.

What to do? Simple! Simply wait for the weather gauge to change with the wind coming from the west or southwest! Also–I wish to catch the incoming tide! With this strategy in mind, I splash The Cruise Ship Dinghy into the water at anchor to see what the weather will bring upon Dingy and Dinghy.

At 06:30 hours Sunday morning I awakened to a beautiful sunrise with just a zephyr of wind coming from the west. What could be greater than this? My next move was to ready the Dinghy for sea. The prep work had already been done; I just had to execute and get underway. I wayed anchor ready, my 10-foot oars, and started the long, grueling task of probably a two- day row, weather permitting. I quickly positioned the Dinghy for an exit out of the harbor with the wind right up my fantail. Who could ask for anything more? Aye! ‘Tis the cruising life for me!

I’m gone for the second half of the adventure on Lake Sabine (circumnavigating the second

half of it—I circumnavigated the first half last August) — and heading for the Louisiana side of the lake. It’s time to get the muscles to working; I used to do this on the dance floor. Just keep on dancing until going beyond the pain, I call this a burn in and then you can dance the night away. For me it’s the same on the Dinghy–just keep on rowing until I work through the burn and settle into a slow and steady rowing style that resembles a machine. I fall into my style and my rhythm; I have executed my mind set for the proper breathing. It’s the breathing that I lose, and then I have to come back and re-program it once more. I do this throughout the day; keep losing my correct breathing.

The wind is superb as I make my way down Lake Sabine. Some time ago the wind did a change in direction coming more from the south–which fit into my course so much nicer. Again I have the wind straight up my fantail gently helping the Dinghy achieve her destination. The scene is beautiful. The sun is burning down and bringing the temperature up beyond the comfort zone, I’m into a relaxed atmo enjoying being a cruiser.

The Dinghy is heading for the ditch–meaning the Inter Coastal Waterways. Everything is so relaxed, when off the starboard bow an alligator appears looking very primeval and stealthy. Not a large beast–only about 6 (six) feet long! The day has been good for me and Dinghy! Now I have this wonderful creature to ponder over. I wonder what he is thinking. Could it be that he also is having a wonderful day and is reflecting over same? OK–so he’s enjoying me and I’m enjoying him. So I’ll just take a break from rowing and we can look at each other. Well–I have been rowing diligently for hours and I’m feeling some exhaustion. I ship ores move my hands loosening up the fingers! This creature (the alligator) has been around since the dinosaur period without much evolution. I know that the females are excellent mothers—but the fathers are less than excellent–they have a tendency to eat their young. Just the same– the alligator has been able to adapt, with the exception of man’s influence. It’s peaceful sharing the moments at sea with the creatures, and with that thought in mind, I reach for my male urinal. Got to whiz! I’ve been putting this off for a long time since I have and am still contemplating the alligator, finding relief, and the simple joys of life! Something strange is going on as I begin to whiz. First, I feel something tingling, not painful just different, fuzzy, tickling! And I’m still contemplating the gator! I feel bobbles, crawly things engulfing my hand! Then panic sets in I’m looking at a major eruption, it’s as if Mount Saint Helen’s has blow her top! There is a bubble lava flow spuming out of my male urinal. By this time it’s all over my dink, the inside of the Dinghy, my hands, my jeans, and the bed which I’m standing on! I realize that there is only one thing to do, and that is to empty the urinal over the side!

I look at the gator while the thing is overflowing with long lines of what appear to be never-ending bubbles which seem to say to me, what’s the matter haven’t you ever seen a volcano erupt before?

Have to do clean-up after that fiasco! Coming back out of the hatch, I see the gator is still on station looking up at me, I’m suspecting the gator wants more entertainment from that goofy solo sailor. When I return to the mother ship, Darrelle–Daughter of Dingy explains that it was the chemical reaction between my urine and the bleach that caused the problem. I normally wash out my urinal with soap and water and leave the soap and water in to keep working until its next use. In this case I had used bleach instead of soap and water for the first time—and the non-stop bubble/lava-like flow was what resulted!

Coming up on the ICW rounding the corner, I’m watching the clouds—and they look threatening! I row about two hundred yards and Wham–! It’s happening all at once the: wind shifting to dead ahead in very quick fashion and I realize that I’m in trouble! The wind is now at about 35 knots–not a big wind– but something to be reckoned with! True! And over the side goes the anchor. Its set and holding, darkness is coming. This is almost the exact same spot the mosquitoes got me on the first half of the adventure of circumnavigating Lake Sabine.

But I will not let it happen this time. I have the Dinghy secured and then it’s back down below for me to stretch out my legs with a book in my face.

The next morning I’m off splashing and pulling with the oars. Around noon, I round the corner into Cow Bayou. It’s all an uphill pull with the wind in my teeth. I realize that only serious rowing will get me back to Neptune’s Castle! As I’m coming up the bayou, there is an ominous black cloud coming down, I see no rain, but I still don’t like the looks of this monster. Then wham! It hits, and over the side goes the anchor! The Dinghy is fastened; the Dinghy is ship-shape and I’m inside in record time! The storm passes quickly. I don’t. I take on the role of a wimp–just laying there relaxing, gathering strength. An hour and a half goes by before I man the oars again.

The adventure is over and no harm has come to Dingy or Dinghy–with the exception of the erupting volcano. Aye! ’tis the cruising life for me!



ARRR! Now that was fun, Matties! It all started when an e-mail arrived at ADMIRALDINGHY.COM from the infamous Shorty Penn.

ARRR!” says I. I remember that sailor from Lake Charles, Louisiana!

Twas a thing called a Mess-About that showed up at the Yacht Club that I belonged to at the time. What’s a MESS-ABOUT?

Well anyway, the message in Shorty’s electronic mail instructed the reader to:

Be at Port Lavaca this next weekend, unless you are dying or are in jail or suffer under the pain of death!”! Of death?!?

Attention on deck! When Shorty Penn talks, I listen, says I!

This chap looks as if he just walked out of the folksel on a clipper or a wind-jammer with a boatswain pipe around his neck in foul weather while rounding the Horn with sail changes on his mind! Save the ship! One hand for yourself and one hand for the ship!

Stand up and do your duty!

Misnomer. Short(y) Penn is not short; he is built as wide & as tall as a rudder on a coaler’s barge running the canals of Europe! With a pundit’s demeanor on his commanding face!

With that being said, (I’ll cancel the Buccaneer Parade in Corpus Christi to head to Port Lavaca for the Mess-About, just as Shorty ordered!)

After all, I have conducted the interviews and I have shot the photos for the articles that I intend to write about the Ships of Christopher Columbus:the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña.

I reason and plan: I’ll go aboard the Lady Lexington tomorrow (Friday, May 4th) and interview the crew for my future article on Corpus Christi. Yosa! Yosa! Yosa! I loved Corpus Christi– that Sparkling City by the Sea! Oh and I won’t ship Dumb Dingy aboard! (We have to leave for the Mess-About for fear of being put under the pain of death!

After dark on Friday, May 4th, the land yacht arrives at Magnolia Beach with the Cruise Ship Dinghy in tow setting low to the ground on her new trailer. Whoops! We hit a major bump! At that point, she needs a new one!

Dumb Dingy done did damage to the other one! (Read about it at on the Ship’s Log Page—in the article titled, “Admiral Dingy Hanging in a Tree”). Oh no what a comedy of mess-ups that was!

Aye”, say’s I! I’m finally going to see a real Mess-About! I’m not really sure what this is all about.

Suddenly, my thoughts are racing…Wow! Look at that Gulf of Mexico!

The wind is up perhaps 20 to 25 knots and Dumb Dingy got us lost on one of those country roads with lack of pavement. Guess he got aboard after all! Can we talk dust? It is everywhere; the entire land yacht is covered in and out. Tomorrow is another day. But for now, it’s into the sea for me to enjoy a bath in salt water. AYE, ’TIS THE CRUISING LIFE FOR ME!

Once out of the water, I hit the hay and fade into the sleep of night…


Late! It was mid-morning before I stuck my head out of the hatch! Some mess-abouters had arrived; and more were on the way. By mid-day, they were all there!

All the mess-abouters—and their boats! Some transported them on trailers. Some on the tops of their cars! Some carried them in pick-em-up trucks! So there they were–boats of many descriptions!

ARRR! Now that got my attention span. Got to go check these boats out! There are a myriad amount of boats of many descriptions! Rowing boats, sailing boats, sailing boards! But I don’t recall seeing any power boats.

While discovering the boats, I also discovered the guys who built them! Indeed they were into design and craftsmanship!

What I found even more important and interesting, is that they are collectively a group of sailor-boatbuilders. I profoundly wish that I would have had knowledge about a group such as this when I was building the Cruise Ship Dinghy.

Having been a dancer, actor and moviemaker did not train me for the job of being a craftsmen in boat building.

But anyway, while at the Mess-About, I learned much about the intricacies of boatbuilding…of various parts and things to do.

Probably the most important knowledge I gleaned from the Event was how to tabernacle the mast. Now I have applied that useful piece of information to practice by actually having done it! It was easy and it works! Simple! I just didn’t know how to prior to the Mess-About.

Now another question pops into my mind: When at sea in a storm, should I leave the stayless mast up with the junk rig sail down and tied? Or should I bring the mast down and lay it into its cradle? Experience will tell!

In closing, I wish to thank all of the sailors at the Mess-About!

There were great boats! Great sailors! Great conversation! And I learned! SO THANKS!

If you’re a boat builder or sailor, I strongly advise you to find a MESS-A-BOUT in your area and go! You’ll enjoy the experience!

I wish I had learned about them sooner!

Admiral Dingy


Stealing Horses launched – Dick Burnham

Here’s a photo of gaff peaked with self made blocks working — this taken when test “sailing” in our driveway last season.


Stealing Horses finally floated off the trailer, twice, but she was at last at home. Not that that pivot pin covers didn’t leak or that the forgotten tape and epoxy at bulkhead limber holes didn’t ooze water. But all that is hopefully just part of the learning experience. We have her on a lake, at least for this season, in southern Vermont where we hope to learn the ropes, and to get into the sailing of this wonderful design. Later we’ll plan our escapades on the coast.


A photo with a view of Stealing Horses from the transom with the British Seagull (a noise generator but a trusty outboard) hanging out. Sails a mess, but what did we know?

Our 2nd (and last) launch was in flooding conditions. We learned to disconnect trailer from truck, to rope trailer to truck and … let that trailer roll! Actually we had to push it a bit to get into water deep enough to float boat off the trailer. It went well if with hearts in throats.

Astute viewers will note that the blocks are self built, that the masts are hollow “bird’s mouth” spars. Here’s a rundown on materials:

Raka epoxy, fillers, f’glass tape, etc.(Larry is a good helper) BS6566 Meranti marine grade plywood from Noah’s Screws,bolts,rods from Merton’s Fiberglass in Massachusetts (Joe is a great help) Sails sewn by Ulla from Sailrite kits (Jeff will hold your hand until you’ve finished sewing…) Kirby paint for topsides and Salty Dog tar finish for rubrail (George or Bill know what it is that they make for you) Hamilton Marine for line, fittings, fenders, varnish (Captain’s) and such


Dick and Ulla in western Massachusetts and now constant visitors to a lake somewhere in southern Vermont!

Chebacco News 49

News, questions, and boats for sale.


Well, the long anticipated calendar is a bust. My preferred publisher was having health and technology issues. I may still do one using cafe press, but since I only received one order for the one that didn’t work, a calendar really isn’t hight on the priority list of things to do. Been kind of quite, only took the boat out once since the last issue. You would think that being unemployed would give me plenty of time to do that, but for some reason it didn’t work out that way. I plan on going to a couple of messabouts this summer, I’ll take pictures and write something up about them.

Let’s see, we had vandals posting all kinds of php based scripts in the registry, taking advantage of the facility that was there to allow you to post pictures. I’ve locked down the registry, so if you want to edit your entries, or add a new one, just send me an email with the relevant details. You can also send a picture, if you want, and I’ll include it.

Speaking of email, I was getting 300+ spams, and at least 20 trojans, a day, do I’m bouncing all email sent to my old email address. I posted the new email address on this site, but it wasn’t a couple of days before I started getting spam and worms again. I believe they scan the web and dig email addresses out of webpages. Working on that theory, I have implemented a script based form to send me email. Sorry for the inconvenience. If you are wanting to send in an article for publication, just send me an email with the form and I’ll tell you my direct email address.

We have ten articles this issue, if you include this news sheet. One if even a contribution about writing contribution, (a meta article, an article about articles! hehe), by Chuck Leinweber of Duckworks fame.

Thanks for all the contributions for this issue, and I hope you enjoy it.

Chebacco Richard


Noted a mizzen comment by Donna D’Agostino and Vincenzo Ciminale in Italy.  Pass on to them the notation a windsurfing boom for their mizzen ashes snap on in a minute, can be extended to multiple lengths and can be hyper lengthened with 1″ thin wall aluminum tubing.  It would get them out of the business of “walking the boom” as they tack.
Dave Godsey

Chebacco’s for sale:


Free time and boat cruising – Richard Spelling

Well, my 9-month sojourn into the ranks of the unemployed is finally over.

I’m working night shift, on an Air Force base, 100 miles from the house, but it beats the alternative.

You know, I always thought that if I ever became unemployed, I’d just fall back on my non-IS skills, or take some low paying IS job. I found out the hard way that the companies with the lower paying IT jobs are all bargain shopping, and think you are over qualified if you have more than one certification. If the first thing they ask you when you send them your resume is “what are your salary requirements?”, this is a bad sign. Or they want you to have a BS in computer science, 10 years of experience, and then want to pay you $10 an hour…

As for working non-is type stuff, I tried that. Still have a going concern manufacturing variable output forge blowers and DC motor kits. Of all the things I tried in an attempt to rustle up money during my “vacation”, building those was the most enjoyable, and made a decent profit. And I tried a bunch of things, from mowing lawns, to doing handyman work, to doing computer consulting, to putting in concrete slabs. All doable, but not enjoyable, partly do to the physical labor involved, but also do to the fact that they involved starting over, and wasting all the time and money I’d spent getting my degree and certifications.

The kicker was calling the “work force investment” people for retraining, and being told I couldn’t go to any CDL or welding classes because I had a BS degree. (!)

Let’s see. Still don’t have a car/boat port to put the chebacco under,   I’m currently using a “super tarp” I picked up on ebay. Basically a gray tarp, but not the cheap crap you get at Wal-Mart. Speaking of Wal-Mart, anybody remember when shoes lasted more than a month before the sides came apart? Sandals lasted almost as long? Remember back in the day, before Sam died, when you could return stuff to Wal-Mart if it broke? Ah, those were the days.

Anyway. Invitation to my wedding: “Oh, by the way, I’m getting married. Jan 1st, 2005, First Christian Church, Pryor, Ok. I’m marrying the preacher. Elvis will be there. You are invited.”

Yes. I got married. Again. To my ex-wife. Hey, there are no rules; I can do what I want. Besides, you really don’t know how important things are to you till you almost loose them… which is another story. And yes, Elvis was there.

So, I’m living in OKC, and in Mannford, and in Pryor. I stay in my apartment in the city during the week (horror of horrors, I hate it), go to the cabin in the woods on the weekends to work on blowers and controllers, and go visit the wife and kids in Pryor once a week. Well, shit, life sure was less complicated when I was unemployed and single. As my wife/ex-wife/wife used to say: “This damned job sure interferes with my free time!”

Incidentally, one of the options I was considering, if I didn’t find a job, and the money ran completely out, etc, was to go sailing and just not come back. Extended cruise. Got bored at work last night and got to wondering how far I could have gotten in my 20ft semi-open boat. Some reading on ocean cruises leads me to think I need to stay away from open water… <nervous laugh>

Then I got to trying to figure out how big a boat I would need… I think I like the idea of sailing into the sunset much more then I like the reality of it. I’m definitely a fair weather sailor, any waves over a foot or two just slow the boat down and annoy me. And big movements of the boat are only fun on occasion.

Maybe I do have the perfect boat. Keep this job long enough to pay everything off, then maybe instead of sailing into the sunset, I should hook the Chebacco up to the back of a nice tow vehicle, and head off to non-open water! hehe Wonder how big the waves get on Baja?

Anyway. I’ll write a more boat-oriented article for the next issue. If you don’t think I should be writing non-chebacco related articles for this webzine, feel free to write the editor… 🙂

Or, even better, send in your own boat/chebacco related stories, and I’ll publish them instead of boring you with the editor’s life!

Laters, fair weather, and stay employed.


Bluster, San Juan Islands – Randy Wheating


Hi Richard

Thanks for all the work on the Chebacco News.

I have attached a photo of Bluster motor sailing into Hale Passage, San Juan Islands.

This was taken by Gary Powell while under tow.  Gary and his daughter Kate were sailing his engineless dory as we were all returning to launch ramp from our very enjoyable Small Boat Rendezvous on Sucia Island this past July.  The wind had died off so we just tossed them a line for the final leg.

Fair winds,

Randy Wheating

Port Moody, BC



Chebacco Progress – Howard Sharp

Dear Richard,

Daytime temperatures of 10ºF, not friendly to epoxy work, have brought my building progress to a halt.  I’ve tried electric blankets, a small
electric heater under the boat running 24 hours a day, but it’s still below freezing in my uninsulated garage.

I started in April of 1993, as I see from the letter Phil Bolger sent with the plans. I decided on lapstrake construction, which I was already used to.   Building has been slow, as work and family obligations take precedent, but I am close to flipping the hull at last.

I lofted the boat full size, simultaneously working out the planking layout, using the method Iain Oughtred describes in his lapstrake building manual.  I was able to loft the permanent bulkheads with the plank lands, so I could build them into the boat.   I’m using meranti ply from Noah for all the lower strakes and the bulkheads – anything which may end up being submerged in water.  The rest will be occuome. The meranti is a little splintery, but I believe it has more natural rot resistance than occuome, and I’ve actually found fewer voids in the meranti than the occuome.

The stem and the transom are locust.  I happened to have some lying around, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it – it’s very hard to work with, and of course very heavy.  However I’m  confident that the stem on this Chebacco will never rot and will demolish just about everything that it meets.    The transom runs straight across to include the motor mount, like Brad Storey’s boat.  I didn’t understand the implications of this until I found out that the 10º angle on the original design accommodates the default mount on most outboards!    For me that’s still not a dealbreaker, as it’ll be stronger, and I think it looks better.  The boat will have an 18″ bridge deck.    I’m toying with idea
of an electric propulsion system, and I’m still wondering whether or not to build a small bowsprit, partly for use with a jib, but mainly as
a cathead for carrying an anchor.

As soon as the weather warms up I’ll be putting dynel on the bottom and garboard, and I’ll paint the whole using Kirby’s enamel.

The name I’m not sure of yet.  Loosey Goosey springs to mind (along the lines of Itchy Scratchy).

Love the website.

All the best,

Howard Sharp.

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The last boat I built – 10 years ago!  It’s an Iain Oughtred design, Ptarmigan, 11′ OAL.  The Chebacco fits into the garage with 2″ to spare,  My dream has always been to build something bigger – say about 4 tons.  The sheer size of the Chebacco has been a lesson in what I can expect if I go ahead with something bigger.


A Blustery Weekend on the Sunshine Coast – Randy Wheating

Lisa, Jacob, Sam and I spent a windy and wet at times extended weekend, August 20-22, with our Chebacco Bluster on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. This well known boating area is northwest of Vancouver and for us involves a one hour drive on either side of the Howe sound ferry crossing.

A heavily loaded Bluster was launched at the Halfmoon Bay public ramp and we were under way by 12:30 Friday. We motored a northwest along the coast via Welcome Passage to Smuggler’s Cove Marine Park. With its narrow entrance and various rocky arms this park is described in our guide as resembling an alpine lake. The boys went for a swim while we anchored for lunch. The new rope style boarding ladder was tested and works fine.

Next we motored a short distance to Secret Cove, a large three arm cove containing an assortment of marinas, private homes, and such. Tempting to stop at the ‘boat-in’ pub for a quick pint…

A quick trip across Welcome Passage lead to Buccaneer Bay Marine Park, situated on a narrow strip of land connecting North and South Thormanby Island. We landed at low tide and portaged our gear and provisions across the beach to a sandy and but fairly exposed campsite. Bluster was anchored just off the beach where she swung merrily at anchor in the 15 to 20 knot winds. The kids explored the beaches while Lisa and I set up camp before kicking back.


Lisa in the galley, Buccaneer Bay Marine Park

Saturday dawned gusty and wet – not great family sailing weather. Fortunately for us my friend Ryan with his kids aboard their 37 foot steel ketch ‘Makoolis’ joined us and we were able to seek comfortable shelter with them. Unfortunately for Ryan, he anchored a little close in and became good and grounded on a sand bar with the falling tide. We tried all the exciting stuff like rowing his 65 lb CQR anchor to deeper waters and winching away but alas, lost race with the tides. The remainder of the day was spent drinking wine, playing cards and preparing dinner (those gimbaled stoves really work) up to a 30 degrees angle until the tides released us. No damage done. Of course if we were in a Chebacco we would have just jumped in the water and pushed her off, but I didn’t rub it in.

For the second night at anchor I set the mizzen and this did wonders at calming Bluster’s swinging in the winds. Having no experience in exposed anchoring I was very pleased with holding and reset abilities of my 5 kg Claw (Bruce copy) anchor when the wind shifted through 180 degrees overnight.

With a stiff onshore breeze we executed a near perfect (if I do say so) team beach extraction on Sunday morning:

  1. Broke camp and assembled the gear just above tide line.
  2. Rowed Fib (dingy) to Bluster, furled mizzen and warmed up engine.
  3. Raised anchor and motored to position where winds would blow Bluster onto beach near gear pile.
  4. At the point where there was still sufficient motoring depth dropped anchor then moved to windward stern cleat.
  5. Paid out anchor line until bow hits sandy beach then made her fast from the stern cleat which would held Bluster’s bow onto the beach and prevented a wind from turning her beam on.
  6. Lisa and the boys smartly relayed the gear to boat where I stowed it below.
  7. Team scrambled aboard and I hauled us off the beach with the anchor and spun the bow to the wind.
  8. Hauled Bluster to deeper waters where Lisa fired up the engine and powered us away.

Moderate westerly winds and swells from the Straight of Georgia met us as we exited Buccaneer Bay. Bluster had a great run down Welcome Passage under mizzen and jib after which we finished off the day exploring Halfmoon Bay and checking out the Merry Island lighthouse.

I was very pleased with the performance and balance of the jib/mizzen sail combination. Considering the gusty conditions and the fact that we had the kids aboard this reduced sail area gave us a comfort level that allowed us to just enjoy the ride. Our close reach speed (GPS) averaged three knots. The addition of the reefed main would have likely improved the performance but we were in no great hurry. Jacob and Sam split their time between snacking in the cockpit and below where they played cards, read and wrestled. Lisa manned (womanned?) the helm the entire homeward leg while I fiddled with the lines, charts, cameras and such.


Jacob, Randy, Sam

Hauled the boat out at the public ramp, prepared and ate a late lunch, kids went for a final swim and we were able to catch the 4:00 pm ferry and be home for the evening news.

A terrific family weekend adventure.

Randy Wheating

Port Moody, BC, Canada


MASCF St. Michaels MD – Ed Heins

This was my first trip to the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival In St. Michaels.  In fact it was my first small boat gathering (messabout, gawkabout, BSabout) of any kind, and I was planning to present my long suffering project Chebacco  “Boudicea”, to the boatbuilding world.   I’m sure this was painfully obvious to many of my on line contacts, who diligently waded through ubiquitous questions and pre launch drivel.  I, by the way, suffer from all the common boatbuilder maladies; procrastination disorder (PD), designer second guessing syndrome (DSGS), complete confusion complex (CCC), and ham fisted knuckle busting wood butcher disease (HFKBWBD) sometimes known as ($%$&#@!!).   In addition to those common ailments however, this past September I was also suffering from a significant case of butterflies about dragging this project four plus hours around the infamous DC beltway, and an irrational fear that assuming we negotiated the trip without problem, that surely the Chebacco would reward my seven years of labor by, if not sinking outright, at least exhibiting some indication of my complete lack of skills, acumen and abilities.   Thankfully, none of that happened.


Departing New Market Virginia at about 3PM Friday Oct1, we cruised sedately along I-81 and I-66,  spent two hours creeping the 30 odd miles around DC on the 495, sat in the predictable Friday evening bay bridge traffic and arrived St. Michaels at about 9:30 PM.  We had reservations at the Best Western in town, and that seemed like a great place to park.  I’d made contact with Dick Burnham previously to give me a hand with the launching, and the next morning as we drove through the Maritime Museum parking lot, his red pickup fell in behind.  We launched at the town ramp next to the St. Michaels inn & marina, just around the point from the museum.  Seeing the festival for the first time and approaching from the liquid side is pretty spectacular.  The Museum has about three piers and they’d added a floating extension at the end of the tee on the largest to accept more boats.   We found a space to squeeze in at the very end of the tee and rigged a couple fenders to try to keep from sharing paint with the museum.


We were in good company.  A Bolger Lilli, a folding schooner,  a Jesse Cooper, and some of Jim Michalak’s designs.  (Maybe next year I’ll cartop my “Tween”, one of Jim’s sailing dink designs, which was my first project).  Chesapeake Light Craft were there in force.  I was surprised that my wife, Debs, having existed with her things being squeezed into half our garage for so many years, seemed to think we should take on a CLC sweetwater 16 canoe. Like I need encouragement…..


Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to take Dick & Ula Burnham out for a spin. .   I’m very interested in seeing how Dick attacks some of the Chebacco’s rather quirky bits as he finishes “Stealing Horses”.  It would be great to see a couple of these cat yawls sailing together someday.  Although we didn’t have much air to play with, I was completely satisfied with the way the Chebacco handled.   We were able to tack, jibe, I guess we found virtually every point of sail and I’m pleased at how close winded she is.   Later that afternoon, Richard Elkan of London & “Sylvester” dropped by the end of the pier and we again made a cruise around the area, this time with the rest of the Heins family aboard..  Whereas Dick and I have no idea what a Chebacco should perform like, I was pleased that Richard didn’t seem surprised as we sailed sedately through the moored boats.  Then again, I managed not to get him wet, or hit him with the boom, so his expectations may have been low.   At the end of the day though, it’s great to talk face to face with the  owners and builders we’ve exchanged emails with.


So many other things at the show; John Welsford was great as expected,  the Redwing that’s in the current WoodenBoat magazine was there, my son enjoyed the kids activities.  I’ve got nothing but Kudos to the folks that organized and made the show happen.   Only thing that could have been better, maybe a couple more Chebaccos?  Maybe next year.


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Chebacco Update – Ben Ho

Hello Richard,

I am making slow but steady progress with my Chebacco, mainly building the major components first before I start on the hull which will take up most of the available work space. The following are a few photos on items that I’ve done differently.

Center Board: Instead of using lead, I’ve sandwiched the CB with 4 long pieces of ¼” mild steel. It should make the CB much stronger and hopefully will better withstand a lateral grounding. The total weight is about 60 lbs, a bit heavier than the standard construction.

The glued up and shaped plywood CB:


Center channels routed in for the two steel bars to lay flush. One side of the bars is threaded to accept the through-bolts. Sitting at the corner is the hinge assemly that will go on the CB trunk.


The CB sheet will go through this U-bracket. Since the bracket is gripping the thin edge of the CB, I made it 6” long with 4 through-bolts in order to spread out the load. I specified a small eyelet to tie the line, but the welding shop decided that it should be a larger hand-hold instead. Oh well.


The CB glassed, dry fitting in the CB trunk.


These S.S. T-nuts are ideal for holding the mounting plate on the trunk:


Gluing up the CB trunk; the white piece lining the inside surface is counter-top laminate. This stuff is incredibly resistant to abrasion – I run my sander with 60 grit paper on it for 2 minutes, with no visible wear at all!


The completed CB with a couple of coats of Interlux paint. To protect againt wear & tear, I build up a ¼” finger of epoxy along the bottom edge. A half-oval bronze strip will be further added on, once I figure out where to get them.


Chebacco Raised Deck


Sometime ago I commissioned PB&F to modify the Chebacco, mainly to enlarge the cabin by lengthening and raising it, and to move the after-deck back by the same amount in order to keep the cockpit length. The Chebacco Raised Deck is the resulting design. I subsequently decided to stay with the existing plan, because I’ve already started on it and also I prefer the old look. However some design changes are excellent ideas which I’ve gone ahead and implemented on mine. I will cover some of them here.

One of the biggest changes is the whole area near the transom. The rudder is now a balanced rudder with a tab forward of the rudder shaft, increasing the overall rudder area by about 25%. Due to the larger rudder and also the last bulkhead having moved aft, the keel skeg is no longer directly supporting the last bulkhead as in the original design. Hence there’s a fairly complex ‘backbone’ added to strengthen up the whole section:


The transom backbone is a solid piece 2.5” thick, supporting the mizzen mast, rudder stock, and the slop well. The design calls for this to be one continuous piece as part of the keel. The rudder runs through the center of this piece. The small hole to the right of the ‘backbone’ is the drain. The cockpit is now a raised, self-draining cockpit.

I find it too cumbersome to have such a huge, complex keel, so I broke it down and built the transom backbone as a separate component, with a large part that goes below the bottom panel and will be solidly glued to the keel later:


Bushings for the rudder, made from high density polyurothene (i.e. kitchen cutting board), and a stopper ring cut from 1/16” SS tube that fits the outer diameter of the rudder stock.


Another deviation from the original design: I am concerned about mounting the rudder on a plate that protrudes a fairly long distance from the keel. What if some 300 lb gorilla sits onto the rudder while the boat is on a trailer? Instead of mounting the rudder off the keel, the transom backbone is a much better alternative. It provides a strong, balanced position to hold the stock with simply a stopper ring. The ring is glued to a PVC cap to provide a larger surface area, which rides on a nylon bushing. The bottom bushing shown in the picture is to be half-recessed and screwed onto the bottom panel, to protect the rudder from going up and grinding onto that area.

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That’s it for now. Time to get back to work!




Chebaccos Three! – Jamie Orr


That’s Bluster in front, Wayward Lass on the left and Full Gallop on the right.

(Randy Wheating photo)

Last July, a fleet of small boats rendezvoused at Sucia State Park in the San Juan Islands. It was a great weekend, and you’ll find various accounts of it on the web, my own was posted on Duckworks in September. But what is of immediate interest is that there three Chebaccos in the fleet. These were Bluster, built by Randy Wheating of Port Moody, BC,Full Gallop, built by Chuck Gottfried of Springfield, Oregon and Wayward Lass, built by me Jamie Orr, (that’s me) of Victoria, BC.

Wayward Lass and Bluster have both been seen in these pages before. Chuck’s Full Gallop, however, is brand spanking new, being completed and launched only one week before landing on Sucia! How well she looked and sailed shows the massive effort made by Chuck to finish in time for the gathering.

All three boats are the sheet plywood version, but they aren’t identical. Wayward Lass is built as designed, but both Chuck and Randy made changes here and there. The most noticeable being that both made the cabin bigger and added a bowsprit. Randy also built a tabernacle/step for the mast, with standing rigging, while Chuck made his cockpit self-draining by raising the cockpit sole (floor). A benefit of the self-draining cockpit, besides the obvious one, is a lot of storage space. When cruising in Wayward Lass I’ve found storage is tight – we have to move all our stores to the cockpit when we want to sleep in the cabin.

Here’s Wayward Lass (green) and Bluster (white) on the beach at Sucia, among some of the other boats. Chebaccos are a little heavy to pull up and down the beach, but they have no problem nosing in to load and unload. A stern anchor can be helpful getting off again. (John Kohnen photo)

Here’s Wayward Lass (green) and Bluster (white) on the beach at Sucia, among some of the other boats. Chebaccos are a little heavy to pull up and down the beach, but they have no problem nosing in to load and unload. A stern anchor can be helpful getting off again.
(John Kohnen photo)

But Chuck and Randy can speak for themselves and describe the changes they made.

Here’s Chuck, about Full Gallop

Full Gallop incorporated several modifications, including a raised cockpit sole, raised and widened cabin, a bridge deck, curved seats and footwell sides, and a bowsprit. The raised sole was inspired by the need to keep the boat at a dock, and so be self-bailing thru Oregon’s rain. The added plus was a huge storage space under the floor, accessed by a watertight plastic hatch.


Full Gallop’s cockpit,…

…her sloping cockpit sides and her stern.

…her sloping cockpit sides and her stern.

Here’s the bowsprit rigging.

Here’s the bowsprit rigging.

This shows the height of the cockpit sole.

This shows the height of the cockpit sole. (John Kohnen photos)


The cockpit floor is an extension of the rear ‘slosh pit’ floor at the stern. I didn’t want thru-hulls, so extended the floor such that it would drain thru large limber holes and out the stern. The floor extends forward to a bridge deck that’s set even with the centerboard trunk, with the bridge deck ending about 4” above the cockpit floor level. The floor is pitched about 1” overall, to drain to the rear.

The bridge deck extends 2’ back from the rear cabin bulkhead, and is designed with access on one side of the C/B trunk from outside thru a weatherstripped lid, and the other side accessed from inside the cabin. Part of the cabin bulkhead was removed to provide the inside access, and the area reinforced.

The result is vastly increased storage under the cockpit sole accessed thru the watertight hatch, and additional storage inside the bridge deck, accessed on one side from the cockpit, and the other from inside the cabin. The storage areas are quite deep, averaging over 14” deep in most places, and low in the hull. The shallower footwell doesn’t seem to be a problem, as the coamings are generous and the seats relatively wide.

I set a full-length carlin to support the deck, cabin sides, and seat backs and coamings, with decks approximately 9” wide at the cabin. This let me slope the seat backs outward and cabin sides inward, primarily for aesthetics. A mahogany block is set at the transition between seat backs and cabin sides, which align only at the deck level. The cabin is 2 ½” higher in the back and 2” higher forward, and probably 6” wider throughout. I installed heavy breasthooks to support oak mooring bitts and a bowsprit that butts to the front of the cabin, with that area and the area of the mast slot heavily reinforced with ply and oak gusseting. No gorgeous Jonesport cleat, like on Wayward Lass!

I flew a jib from the bowsprit until I pulled the luff wire out of it. I’ll experiment with setting the jib flying, tho I use a rope stay to steady the free-standing mast. In all, the modifications are not readily apparent unless you’re familiar with the design, but all made good sense for my needs and work passably well. I value the storage, and yes, Jamie, you can sleep below without moving everything!

Now, from Randy, about Bluster

Starting from the bow and working aft are some of the personal modifications I have worked into the construction of Bluster


Bluster’s cabin roof has been raised two inches from the drawings and the sides extended out flush with the coamings. These changes add to the interior space at the expense of side deck width, reduced to about eight inches, which with the toe rail has not been a problem move forward.

A small bridge deck straddles the centerboard trunk with cut away in the bulkhead to allow access to this storage area from the cabin.


This is a plank style bowsprit (overall 1.25”x9”x26”) that is contoured on the inboard end to match the curve of the forward cabin top face. A galvanized steel, two part bracket is bolted to the forward end as an attachment point for the forestay. The 5 kg Claw anchor resides on a roller in the center of the plank, aft of which is the main mooring cleat. The 15 ft chain and 150’ x 3/8” anchor rode pass through the side deck via a deck pipe and are stored in a bucket within the forepeak.

Here’s the bowsprit…

Here’s the bowsprit…

... and here it is again.

… and here it is again.

(Randy Wheating photos)


Tabernacle and Rigging

The tabernacle was welded up from ½” aluminum that is through bolted astride a double thick (one inch) bulkhead. The mast pivots on the upper bolt and the lower bolt is inserted and fastened once the mast is standing. The 1/8” ss shrouds are attached to galvanized chain plates with turnbuckles and are left in place when the mast is lowered. The forestay attached easily to the bowsprit bracket via a pelican hook. The gaff bridle is also made of 1/8” ss wire rope. Setting up is fairly simple – the mast is manually hinged into place, the lower tabernacle bolt inserted (temporary hold). The forestay in fastened via the pelican hook. Boom and gaff jaws and two sail luff ties fastened to mast and hoist away. In the lowered position the mast, boom and gaff with sail attached, and mizzen rest in holding fixture on the cabin top and a crutch in the cockpit.

The tabernacle was welded up from ½” aluminum that is through bolted astride a double thick (one inch) bulkhead. The mast pivots on the upper bolt and the lower bolt is inserted and fastened once the mast is standing. The 1/8” ss shrouds are attached to galvanized chain plates with turnbuckles and are left in place when the mast is lowered. The forestay attached easily to the bowsprit bracket via a pelican hook. The gaff bridle is also made of 1/8” ss wire rope. Setting up is fairly simple – the mast is manually hinged into place, the lower tabernacle bolt inserted (temporary hold). The forestay in fastened via the pelican hook. Boom and gaff jaws and two sail luff ties fastened to mast and hoist away. In the lowered position the mast, boom and gaff with sail attached, and mizzen rest in holding fixture on the cabin top and a crutch in the cockpit.

(Randy Wheating photo)

Transom and Motor Well

The motor well is slightly smaller than show in the drawings to just fit two Honda gas tanks, one forward and one aft of the mizzen/rudder post. The transom is constructed from one piece with a simple cut out for the 5 hp Honda. Holes in the transom facilitate motor well drainage. The stern deck is also a single piece with cutouts for the mizzen and rudderpost. There is no cut away between the cockpit and the motor well as shown in the drawings.

 (Randy Wheating photo)

(Randy Wheating photo)


Other Modifications
  • Blocks on gaff halyard and centerboard pendant to ease lifting.
  • Wooden strips on seat fronts to fit cross boards that can then hold floorboards flush with seat tops creating a huge cockpit sleeping platform. Boom tent to follow.
  • Watertight inspection hatches on cockpit bulkheads (accessible from cabin and lazarets) to create a usable yet watertight compartment.
  • Tiller extension for comfy steering.

Now it’s me again – Jamie speaking, I mean.

I haven’t given a lot of details about Wayward Lass, since there are several articles about building and sailing her already. But if you want to compare Randy and Chuck’s modified boats to what you’ll get by following the plans, look back through some previous newsletters. There’s a good picture in the last issue.

I like the bridge deck idea, I considered this myself, but decided against it. Don’t remember why, now. The wide cabin is a popular idea – other builders I’ve corresponded with or met have spoken of making the cabin as wide as the cockpit. The raised cabin would be welcome when you’re inside it, but I think it would have to be very carefully done or it would spoil the beauty of the design. That said, however, I have to admit that both Full Gallop and Bluster look pretty good!

The hulls on all three boats here are built as designed, at least below the waterline. Apart from weight and how it’s distributed, the only things left to make a difference in performance are the sails.

Bluster and Full Gallop have jibs set on bowsprits – I think jibs on Chebaccos need the bowsprit to work properly. I also have a jib, built according to the sail plan and set with the tack at the bow, (no bowsprit) but I rarely use it as it doesn’t work very well. Going to windward, it luffs when it is not sheeted in and upsets the flow of air to the main when it is. It does work when boomed out for running, but it’s too small to be very effective. It showed some potential when used in stronger winds with the mizzen, and no mainsail, but I haven’t explored that fully. I think it might be useful if you’re caught out in bad weather and have room to run. I think you could reach all right too, but would make a lot of leeway.

I don’t plan to add a bowsprit, but I am considering a reaching (asymmetrical) spinnaker for light winds, as shown on page 131 of Bolger’s 100 Small Boat Rigs. This would be set on a spinnaker pole that would serve as a very long bowsprit. I’m still working out the details, but stay tuned.

Wayward Lass’ main sail is different from the others, having eight inches of roach – all other things being equal, the roach adds a little speed. The downside is that battens are necessary to support the roach, and the batten pockets chafe. I’ve replaced these once already because I made them too light and two of the three battens wore right through the forward ends.

Both Chuck and Randy built their sails from Sailrite kits, and are very pleased with them. I can confirm that they look great, and seem to set well. Quiet a few builders have used Sailrite kits for main and mizzen now, and all the comments I’ve heard have been positive. So if you can’t borrow the school gym to lay out your sail, or don’t want the design headaches, Sailrite looks like the way to go.

At Sucia we didn’t do any controlled tests or scientific comparisons (also called races), but one day everyone sailed over to neighboring Patos Island. Wayward Lass was almost the last to get away from the anchorage, so I was out of the action and didn’t even see Full Gallop and Bluster sail together. However, I heard they performed about level with each other, and both skippers came away pleased with their boats.

The next day we were a little more organized, getting all three Chebaccos out together so John Kohnen could take some pictures for us. Outside of the WoodenBoat article comparing cold-moulded, plywood and lapstrake versions, this is the only time I know of that three Chebaccos have sailed in company.

Three Chebaccos, with Sucia Island in the background. Bluster is in the lead, Full Gallop is in the middle and Wayward Lass is coming up behind. (John Kohnen photo)

Three Chebaccos, with Sucia Island in the background. Bluster is in the lead, Full Gallop is in the middle and Wayward Lass is coming up behind.
(John Kohnen photo)

We can’t say yet which boat will be faster. On this occasion, Wayward Lass had an edge, since Chuck was still getting to know Full Gallop, and Bluster was towing a dinghy – very small, but still a handicap. However, the rendezvous was enjoyed by everyone who attended and we plan to hold another in 2005. We’ll be sure to organize some real match (grudge) racing then, so stay tuned!


Racing Micros and Floating Sheep Bridges – David Lewis

Never have editors for friends.  “Write an article for me,” they whine.
“Where’s my article I bullied you into agreeing to?”  I swear, it never ends.

As if I didn’t have enough to do, what with keeping my sheep wormed and happy, getting my steers to the butcher, finding customers, building the  infrastructure for a farm while working full-time planning new telecom and  network systems for an entire company move.

Here comes Richard, “You live five minutes from a lake, and you have a  Bolger Micro that you haven’t sailed in two years.  Surely there’s a  sailing story in there somewhere.”

Uh huh.

Ok, let’s see.  Well, something rather amazing did happen the other day.
Not so much sailing as “rafting” but…

My farm is split down the middle by a creek which, with all the rain we’ve  been having, is not a small one these days.  There’s only one spot that is  passable by man or truck and you don’t do it without getting wet.

Now that’s just fine for my cattle, they’ll plod through anywhere that’s  below their chests.  But my sheep are a bit more finicky.  And shorter.

So I decided it was time to build a bridge.  Now shoestring budget that I  have, I wanted to do this for next to nothing.  In fact, free was a good  target.  I could have gone and bought a culvert, buried it to 40%, put  fill and cement around it, and had a decent bridge for, oh, I don’t know,  $2000, $5000, something like that.  Or I could use my muscles, my  ingenuity, and materials I already had and keep the cost below a hundred.

I have about two hundred railroad ties sitting around collecting sheep  poop.  Some of them are light (well, relatively light) and some of them  are so heavy I can barely get them into the truck.  Heavier than water in  other words.  Being a bit lazy, I used whatever weights happened to be on  the top of the pile.  Some were heavy, some were light.

I hauled fourteen of them out to the crossing and laid two parallel to the  flow and ten across those two.  I tied them together with three poly-ropes  and laid the remaining two ties crosswise on the lower and the upper end –  to make a two-sided “bowl” that I could then fill in with a layer of rocks  and dirt on top of that.  Then I began filling in either side with rocks,  the plan being to build up ramps that would be level with the top of the

I went and bought some threaded rod and some of those aluminum tent  stakes.  I would put two rows of threaded rod through the top two ties,  parallel to the creek flow.  I would drive four stakes down through the  top of the two ties.  This would help prevent those ties from pushing out  as weight was added between them.

Then there was about a week where I didn’t get a chance to work on my  bridge.  Then it rained.  Not heavy but it kept up for most of the day.

Then yesterday I went to put in my threaded rod.

I’m sure you’ve all figured out what happened.  Bridge gone.  Just not  there.

I started tramping down creek to find it.  I passed numerous spots where I  was sure it could NOT have passed, it being so shallow there.  I finally  found it about a mile downstream, hung up on a fence across the creek and  still tied together with the poly rope.

Knowing how heavy those dang things are, it still amazes me that it made  it that far.  Now I get to figure out how to pull the timbers out of  there.  Could a culvert and cement be in my future?


On Contributing – Chuck Leinweber


If you are reading this article, you probably had a few minutes to kill and happened here by accident.  Perhaps you have this site bookmarked and check it regularly for new material.   Maybe you’re sitting at your desk taking a coffee break, or using your laptop at the beach in front of a five star hotel with WIFI.  If you are here, you probably like reading about boats and boatbuilding.  Where do these articles come from?


There are literally thousands of people writing blogs.  Who needs more blather on some website?  How much is there that can possible be of interest to some boatbuilder? Admittedly, Duckworks does post something new each day, and the Chebacco News posts great articles, but we’d be willing to bet you would like to see more about the subject you are particularly interested in.


Which begs the question.  Do you have an obligation or better yet a desire to add your opinion or experience? As an editor, I can categorically tell you that if you take the time to put your thoughts down, they will be appreciated.  Not just by frustrated editors like Richard and me, but also by all the other folks out there who are waiting to read what you have to say.


Whether you want to write about a Chebacco or some other boat design, you may be unsure how to proceed.  Rule one.  Just get the words down.  Type one word and then the next, and keep right on going. What are some guidelines?  I thought you’d never ask.


Your readers want to know how you did everything, especially if you came up with a novel way of accomplishing some of the more tedious parts of boat building.  The process is always of interest.  Just this afternoon, I puzzled over the assembly sequence of the boat I am building.  The instructions given in the plans are not always minute, and can sometimes be called obscure, so the voice of experience (yours) is always appreciated.  And if you’d like to wax poetic, rant and rave, or better yet, insert some humor, please feel free.  Your voice is what makes what you write special.


If possible, include photos.  This implies that you thought you might want to write something before you started building or before you took that cruise.  We always carry a camera, except the one time we didn’t even know it was still in the truck until we were ten miles from out launch point.  A digital camera is especially nice for web articles, and also nice because you can take about a million photos and never need to load new film.  Let the editor know where you would like each photo to be placed in the article by numbering them and indicating where each should be.  Digital photos are easy to enhance, easy to crop, easy to save in a compressed format that web editors like.   Most of us have scanners and can also use regular photos as well.


When you are done, ask a friend, your significant other, or the guy sitting next to you to read it through.  It is always hard to critique your own work.  Have them check for clarity first.  Does it make sense; does it read smoothly.  If they have grammar skills, take advantage of them.  If you intended to be humorous, it is good sign if they laugh out loud.  If they ask you where they can go to start boat building, you know you are on the right track.  If no friendly readers are available, at the very least, RUN YOUR SPELLCHECK and read the piece out loud to yourself.


I will throw in a bit of grammar advice.  Don’t use the word ‘then’.  (And then we did this, and then we did that, and then she…..)  Don’t start a sentence with the word ‘and’ or ‘so’.  Get rid of words that don’t need to be there, especially if they repeat what you just said.  The words ‘very’ and ‘really’ can almost always be omitted.  .


Last but not least, a little abstract speculation about what makes one article stand out from all the rest.  The very best are like the ones you hear when sitting around a fire at a messabout.  The fish tales, the shark tales, the alligator tales.  The time you fell in and the boat sailed off without you.  Tell what really happened—don’t pretty it up.  We want to hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Let your personality, your opinions, your unique point of view loose in what you write.  Your public is out there waiting.

This website lives by submissions.  Richard depends almost totally on readers for content.  I happen to think that this makes for honest and real reading – the experiences of amateurs who get no pay for their writing and no commissions for any products that they promote.

Editors are pretty flexible, but we do have some druthers. We like to have articles in some form of text format. You can copy and paste the article into the body of an e-mail, or you can attach just about any kind of word processor file to an e-mail instead. A file on a floppy disk or CD mailed by regular snail mail will work. I have even typed up hand written material, though that is a bit of trouble. Pictures can be sent for scanning, and will be returned promptly. If you have digital versions of the photos, they can be e-mailed or sent on a disk. The best format is .jpg without too much compression. Send as many as you need to illustrate the article. We may cull a few.

If you have certain places you want pictures to go, simply make an insertion note at the appropriate place in the text <**insert boat01.jpg**> or let us do the picture placement. We’re pretty careful.

Thanks for taking the time to write up the details of your project. I assure you it will be of great interest to boat builders and wannabees.

Chuck Leinweber
608 Gammenthaler
Harper, TX  78631

Chebacco News 13

Chebacco News

Number 13, January 1997

‘Sylvester’ ghosts home at sunset.

Taped Seams – How many layers?

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

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

Cruising version of the Chebacco 20

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

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

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

Bob Cushing’s high-sided Chebacco

Transom and bulkheads are in place on the keel and bottom

ch134The ballast keel and bottom are constructed first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lapstrake Chebacco is turned over!

ch137 Jim Slakov and friends turn over the hull

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

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

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

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

June Bug – a perfect tender

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

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

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

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

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

A successor to Black Skimmer

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

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

Rigging a Chebacco-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main sheet is 1/2” braided line.

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

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

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

‘Toulouma Too’ for sale:

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

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

Chebacco News 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