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 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 11

Chebacco News

Number 11, September 1996

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

Another launching!

Fraser Howell, of Nova Scotia, sent me the following message on 22nd July 1996:

Hello Bill,
I launched a week ago and have been out every day but one. It is the biggest dinghy around. She sails well, dry in all conditions so far, and easy to handle. We’ve had winds up to 25 kt and I’ve had up to 3 guests on board. In anything greater than 15 kt a crew adds welcome weight. I went out today, by myself to try it out with just the mizzen and the jib. It was surprisingly fast, approaching hull speed in 15 kt with no strain anywhere. Under full canvas there is some weather helm in higher winds, but I think the jib may be reducing this a bit. So long as the heel is kept to 15 degrees or so it tracks straight. I haven’t had any success getting her to self steer, so I may add a mechanism to hold the tiller.

I have no problem keeping up with or overtaking cruiser types up to 28 or 30 feet and can tack through slightly less than 90 degrees. The racier types are faster at this stage but I’m just beginning to learn how to handle her. She really moves with the 9.9 hp Johnson. I haven’t measured the speed but it sure is trying to plane under full throttle.

The beginning of a long partnership.

Fraser Howell

[Regular readers will recall that Fraser’s hull is strip planked – the first Chebacco to have been built in this way.]

He updated this on 31st July:

Hi Bill,

Your newsletter has been an important source of information and encouragement. I may not have selected this design without it. I’ve been sailing now for three weeks, and am in every way satisfied with the design. On Friday I leave for the first real ‘voyage’, 45 nm to a place called Mahone Bay where there is a wooden boat festival. Chebacco is easy to handle, fast, stable and handsome.

I think the jib and bowsprit are worthwhile, mostly because they allow neutral helm through sail trim (- I can induce lee helm by easing the mizzen). I find a significant speed improvement at neutral helm. I sheet the mizzen at a point further forward than the plan, and am often adjusting the mizzen sheets.

I like the fact that everything is manageable, Yesterday I was talking to the owner of a 22′ Brewer-designed cat. His mast weighs 300 lb! My solid sprice mast is exactly 40 lb.

Next time I get film developed I’ll send more pictures including the trailer. The boat is very easy to launch and retrieve from this rig.


Fraser Howell.

Fraser sailed the 45 nautical miles to the Wooden Boat Show at Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. When he got home he send me the following report:

Got back today. Great boat !! Stable. Easy to handle, and quite fast. I slept on board (3 nights). It was a little cramped. We would beach on an Island, explore, cook etc. and then retire to the boat. The bowsprit extends 14″ past the cutwater, following the sheer. It does nothing for the appearance of the boat, but I would not be without it. I don’t hang an anchor off it, I just use it for the jib.

We were cruising at 3 – 4 kt in winds of 10 kt or so, endlessly. On any point of sail, except wing-on-wing-on-wing the boat was tuned to self-steer fairly well (I was able to read). My procedure was to set the main and jib for the wind, and this included the out-haul , then set the mizzen for neutral helm. We wandered 10 or so degrees either side of the compass course. I kept the cb at approx 50 deg to the keel, except for downwind, when I raised it. It all worked. The boat is very sensitive to all of the adjustments, and when “in the groove” suprised some big boats. Mostly it is just satisfying to sail.

I think I could use a bigger jib, 50 sq ft.

Fraser Howell

Bill visits Bill (and ‘Sylvester’)

Bill and Mary Parkes, of Mechanicsburg, PA, were visiting relatives in Scotland during July and spent a couple of days in Dundee, with Bill and Sheila Samson. I (Bill Samson) had been in hospital for abdominal surgery a few days before they arrived, but with the assistance of my sailing buddy Donald McWhannell we were able to put ‘Sylvester’ (my sheet ply Chebacco-20) through her paces. Bill Parkes is planning to build a Chebacco and was keen to find out how it performed. We sailed the 8 miles or so up the Tay Estuary to Balmerino – the site of a mediaeval abbey on the South side of the river.

I fear I took advantage of my fragile state to do a creditable impersonation of Captain Bligh (another Bill) – “Peak up that gaff!”, “Scrub off that weed before we set off!”, “You’re pinching her!” . . . Nevertheless a good day was had by all and Bill Parkes was even more convinced that the Chebacco was the ideal boat for him.

A User-Friendly Arrangement

I had an e-mail from Jamie Orr about possible ways of arranging stowage, how to make the cuddy watertight and other matters of general interest. Jamie’s questions are preceded by ‘>’ signs, as per e-mail convention. The same message went to Fraser Howell.

>Now that you are both sailing, I have some questions about how to make
>Chebacco is as “user friendly” as I can.

>It sounds as if the mast slot is a useful item

I can’t imagine getting the mast up single-handed without it.

> Have either of you had any
>problem with leaks around the slot from rain or spray?

Nothing drastic. My main source of leaks is water running down the mast itself
since I haven’t fitted a boot yet. As I keep the boat on a mooring, the slot
cover is held in for the season by 10 screws. I put a little silicone sealant
around it to stop leaks. Clearly, this’d be less convenient if the mast was
taken down after every sail.

> How does the slot
>affect the boot or other seal around the mast/deck join?

It’d make life difficult IF you have a boot. The design of Chebacco means,
however, that water running down the mast collects for’ard of bulkhead #1 and
doesn’t get on your sleeping bag. I sponge that area out every few weeks.
Note that the plan doesn’t show limber holes for bulkhead #1. I’m not sure
whether this is intentional, but it helps to keep water out of the sleeping

> While we’re at
>it, do either of you have a good idea of how to get a quick and easy seal on
>a mast that is put in and taken out every sail? I may be a little paranoid
>about this, but a deck leak caused a major problem in our first sailing
>holiday — being cold and wet is acceptable on deck, but not in your bunk!

See above. I noticed that the Dave Montgomery Chebacco at 29 Ferry St.
Gloucester has duct-tape around everything. It’s not very elegant, but is easy
to put on and rip off every time.

>How do you find the storage? I know it’s a daysailer, but I plan to load up
>the family and camping supplies for weekend voyages — and even for
>daysailing, its nice to keep wet and dry gear apart. Did either of you put
>in the hatches in the after deck? (Your pictures may have shown that, but I
>often can’t get pictures on screen.) I am toying with the idea of putting
>lockers in the cockpit seats — these would probably leak in heavy rain, so
>would drain into the cockpit. I would keep them shallow ( 3 – 4 inches) so
>that they do not interfere with the ventilation shown in the plans. There
>would also be dry storage in the bows if I can get a good mast/deck seal.

I didn’t put hatches in the after deck. I did buy some plastic screw-in
hatches but decided to hold off putting them in until I feel the need for
space. Sister Krista’s Chebacco DOES have hinged rectangular hatches on the
after deck. She keeps things like fenders and life jackets in them. I notice
she doesn’t batten them down when sailing! On the other hand, the volume under
the seats of her boat is completely sealed, so there’s no lack of buoyancy.

The under-seat volume on my Chebacco is accessible from inside the cuddy – I
built EXACTLY according to Phil’s drawings. There’s LOADS of space there – I
keep an anchor and a couple of fenders at one side and a pair of 8-foot oars
and sleeping mat at the other. I’ve also put net ‘hammocks’ under the side decks
in the cuddy and these hold lots of odds and ends. I keep a toolbox and water container
in the cuddy, which can be moved to the cockpit at night. The far end
of the under seat space can be got at with a boathook! I keep my main anchor alongside the
foot of the mast ahead of bulkhead #1. It’s used so seldom that it isn’t a
hassle for me.

>How is the cockpit for lounging around? Do the cockpit coamings make good
>backrests? I thought about sloping them back a few degrees, but that cuts
>down the seat and/or side deck width, as well as complicating building. (I
>won’t comment on the wisdom of departing from the plans — the Bolgerlist is
>covering that quite well at present!)

I find that the cockpit built according to plans is fine, apart from the need
for a cushion on long cruises! I went sailing with Bill Parkes when he visited last
week and I stretched out on one side for a snooze while Bill helmed!
The drawings of the lapstrake version DO show sloping coamings, so it’s
up to you. Sister Krista’s boat has vertical backrests that stop at deck level and
sloping (3/4″) mahogany coamings above that. So you really lean on the coamings,
which stand proud of the seat back.

>Finally (for now) what is your experience with the weight of the motor and
>fuel in the motor well? I asked Phil Bolger about this, and he recommended
>a light motor, and suggested an electric would be powerful enough.
> Presently I am planning on a Honda 5 hp four stroke at about 60 pounds dry,
>plus whatever fuel I can carry in the well, and still sail well. The well
>is also a possibility for the anchor, but the weight is getting up there
>then. Fraser, you have a 10 hp — does the weight affect your performance?

The weight of my 4HP Mariner is negligible in terms of trim. In fact she trims
an inch or two down by the head even when the motor is there. Trim is perfect
once I am aboard and sitting at the tiller. Thinking about it, your engine, fuel and
anchor together weigh less than a crew member.

>I’d like to see discussion of this sort of thing in the Chebacco News.
> While I reserve the right to make my own mistakes, I always like to hear
>how others have dealt with the minor problems that crop up. For example, I
>will eventually want to build a tender, so your experience with these would
>be good to hear — I plan to ask about tenders on the Bolgerlist as well as
>there appears to be a wealth of experience, not to mention opinion, among
>the list members.

I’ve almost finished my June Bug and will report on its performance in a future
Chebacco News. Mind you, the perfect tender is a function of where you are
sailing. I need to row a couple of hundred yards out into an estuary which is
frequently rough and has strong tidal flow so I need something stable which
moves fast under oar. Clearly a Shoebox would not work for me.

>Thanks for “listening” — looking forward to your comments in the News.

>Jamie Orr

Jamie sent the same message to Fraser Howell. Here’s what Fraser had to say:

Hello Jamie; That slot is not worth sealing, at least not for me as I’ll be raising and lowering regularily. I put in a sliding cover that matches the mast diameter. Rain, no spray, yet, comes in, and is held in the forward area by the bulkhead. I sponge it out as required. For storage under the cockpit seats I installed the 8″ Beckwith (sp) circular hatches, at about $20 ea. That is big enough for tent, sleeping bags, extra life jackets etc.

The difference between a 10 and 5 hp engine is not great, 20 lb or so. a full gas tank for the 10 hp is another 50 lb – but to store gas, where else but far aft. I don’t know for sure what affect the bigger engine + gas tank has, but the boat does not seem sensitive to those kinds of weights. It also is not sensitive to the jib, but I’m not sure yet. Outboard power-wise 5 hp will do well. When I go more than half-throttle I dig in – at full throttle I almost plane. (maybe I do plane, a bit,I haven’t measured the speed)

I considered angling the backrest as well. I almost did. I haven’t spent enough time in the boat to be sure one way or another.

The boat is very easy to launch, recover, and trailer. It is lighter than it looks. Despite that, I lost it off the trailer into it’s cradle. It came off the trailer as fast as the winch handle could spin, collapsed the cradle, and hit the ground. It hit rudder first, digging in several inches. I dug it out, propped it up, and found – no damage at all ! Aluminum !

The reason I hauled it out was that after a week in the water the centerboard was sticking. I found that the plywood cheeks had completely delamiated from the core. Aluminum !

I’ve glued it all back with sikaflex and through-bolted it. Ready to relaunch by Saturday. For a tender, while at the moor I use a Bolger cartopper.

Fraser Howell

News of another Sheet Ply Chebacco

Jim Stewart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, sent me an update on the sheet ply Chebacco he is building:

Hi Bill,

This is a test of getting info to you, through email. It is more for education of me, than testing new and exciting technologies.

Progress on my sheet-ply Chebacco has progressed a small amount more than shown in the pictures. I have finished construction of my support structure. Vacation time is taking me away from home, and Boat-Construction. My wife, Cathy, and our 2 children, Jimmy and Megan all went together on a sailing lesson, while we were vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. A truly excellent place, for all things boat-related, and one-heck-of-a nice place in general. Well we all enjoyed the sailing, Cathy had the instruction, I watched the kids, the kids enjoyed the whole thing. I’m getting materials ready to start on the stem, and I’m thinking ahead to scarfing together my first large piece, the topsides.

I’ve really enjoyed all your work on the Chebacco News. I love all the pictures, they convey a great deal of information, and hopefully My boat looks half as good as Sylvester.

I hope you can decipher the images! I’m going to look at those cabin roof curves again…!!!

Jim Stewart

Bulkheads and Moulds for Jim Stewart’s Chebacco.

Lapstrake Chebacco – Spiling in the bulkheads

Gil Fitzhugh has started spiling in his bulkeads. Here’s what he says:

Spiling is a lot easier, though no less time-consuming, than I thought it would be. My joggling stick is about as low-tech as you can get. I cut it from a paint stirrer, and it looks like this:

The hook on the end helps it get into the angles between the lapped strakes. I did the forward bulkhead first. I had some scrap ply I clamped into place, used the joggling stick, transferred the points onto the good plywood (or onto mylar film first, then onto the plywood) with an ice pick (another favourite low-tech tool).

Gil tells me that the notches in the joggling stick help to locate it accurately against the marks when transferring the shape onto the good plywood. If, like Gil, you use the building molds as the ‘scrap plywood’ at this stage, they may well be full of holes and other obstructions, so you may only be able to get a partial mark with the joggling stick or may have to use the stick upside down and the notches are particularly useful for identifying the correct orientation for the stick. Gil goes on:

Put a pencil dot on the good plywood at the point of the joggling stick every time you’ve aligned the stick with marks on the board. Then connect the dots . . . you should end up with a pretty reasonable representation of the inside of the boat. Even so, the fit isn’t perefect. I find I have to trim off pieces of the bulkhead with a sharp chisel. Sometimes I end up with too much clearance, but not by a huge amount. I’ll probably just trowel in a wad of thickened epoxy, and declare victory!

Chebacco News 06

Chebacco News

Number 6, November 1995

Peter Launches!

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

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

Bill travels and Gil flips . . .

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

Want molds for a lapstrake Chebacco?

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


phone: 201 425 9010

Chuck Merrell on Anchors


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

Fraser’s stripper . . .

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

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


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

Bill Samson’s Sheet Ply Chebacco

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

And Finally

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

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

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Chebacco News 01

Chebacco News

Number 1, September 1994

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

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

Send future contributions to me:

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

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

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

Turning Over a Chebacco Hull (almost) Single Handed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News from Builders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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