Chebacco News 14

Chebacco News

Number 14, March 1997

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

We hit the posh mags:

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

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

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

Pete Greenfield Publishing,
TR12 6UE,

Some Questions about Chebacco Building:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


News from Germany/Connecticut:

Bill Meier emailed me with an update on progress:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Meier

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

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

Wanted – A Chebacco boat:

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

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

And Finally:

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

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

News, views, photos etc to me

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

Chebacco News 13

Chebacco News

Number 13, January 1997

‘Sylvester’ ghosts home at sunset.

Taped Seams – How many layers?

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

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

Cruising version of the Chebacco 20

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

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

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

Bob Cushing’s high-sided Chebacco

Transom and bulkheads are in place on the keel and bottom

ch134The ballast keel and bottom are constructed first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lapstrake Chebacco is turned over!

ch137 Jim Slakov and friends turn over the hull

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

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

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

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

June Bug – a perfect tender

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

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

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

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

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

A successor to Black Skimmer

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

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

Rigging a Chebacco-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main sheet is 1/2” braided line.

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

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

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

‘Toulouma Too’ for sale:

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

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

Chebacco News 12

Chebacco News


Number 12, November 1996

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

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

The first ‘Glass-house’ Chebacco?

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

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

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

Lapstrake Chebaccos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Cobb

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

Another sheet ply Chebacco?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

John Tuma’s ‘Catfish Lounge’

John emailed me to say:

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

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


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

First, the model . . .

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Professional advice available

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

Weight aft, Mizzen Sails and Mast Boots

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

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


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


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


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

Peter Gray


And Finally . . .

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

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

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

Chebacco News 09

Chebacco News


Number 9, May 1996

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

More from One Who Waits

In the last issue Marc Lindgren told us about the hatch he built into the cabin roof of his Chebacco-20, One Who Waits. He has sent me a bunch of photos of the boat which will be of particular interest to builders of lapstrake Chebaccos.
. ch91
Marc spiles the shape of the main bulkhead

The cabin top showing the hatch

View of hatch from inside the cabin

Another view of the cabin top

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

Weather helm . . .

Phil Bolger sent me the following letter:

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

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

‘Jib-booms and bobstays!’

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

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

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

News from British Columbia

Jamie Orr writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You tell ’em Peter!

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

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

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

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

and . . .

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


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


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

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

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

Further news and thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Chebacco News 08

Chebacco News


Number 8, March 1996

ch82 ‘One Who Waits’

Was Marc First?

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

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

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




Another Lapstrake Chebacco

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

He writes:

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

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

Booms and Downhauls

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

Dear Bill,

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

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

Other Building News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making your own sails?

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

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

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