Chebacco News 17

Chebacco News

Number 17, September 1997

Bob Cushing launches the first Chebacco Motorsailer


Bob Cushing’s Chebacco Motorsailer Congratulations to Bob Cushing for building and launching the first example of the Chebacco Motorsailer – the ‘Glasshouse’ version referred to in Phil Bolger’s book ‘Boats with an Open Mind’. This version has a fixed ballast keel and no centreboard. The tiller is positioned to allow the boat to be helmed from within the spacious cabin. Bob writes:

We have sailed the Chebacco Motorsailer 3 times now and finally had some good wind on our last sail. With winds of about 20-25 kts and 2-4 ft waves on Seneca Lake in upstate New York we sailed downwind for about 15 miles. We had both reefs in as we were not sure of how wild it would get but as it turned out it was quite docile running downwind in these conditions – one reef would probably have been adequate. Speeds were in the 5-6 kt range as measured by the GPS. Speed under power with the 9.9 Honda have been measured by the GPS to be 7.0-7.5 kts max and 5.5 kts a more reasonable (i.e. quiet and comfortable) speed under power.

The boat is very comfortable with 7 foot berths, a dinette table to port, which can pivot to center, a kitchen area up front with sink, stove, cooler, food storage and 6 gallon water tank. There is a lot of storage space under the bunks and throughout the rear of the boat under the decks. A porta-john with pump-out capability is kept under the step, along with the toolbox. A small built-in fuel tank is behind this. Tinted Lexan windows were used throughout. The front-center opens and four Beckson round ventilation ports w/screens elsewhere. Trailing and launching is quite easy from a standard bunk-type boat trailer. Setup time is about 20 minutes – Take down and pack up about 30. This will be shortened by some 5 – 10 minutes with some simplification of procedures and fasteners. The mast is laminated from fir and weighs 60 pounds – not too hard to step – walk it up on the roof as one end rests in the tabernacle. The actual lifting/pivoting weight once it is in the tabernacle is probably only 30 – 40 pounds. The sails were made from a Sailrite kit. They are made from 5 ounce dacron and went together pretty easily using a home sewing machine and two people working together on large sections.

All in all a really nice little trailerable motorsailer.

Bob Cushing


Another view of Bob’s Chebacco Motorsailer

Phil Bolger writes:

Bob Cushing lights up our lives. Amazing, and wonderful, how fast he does good work. The boat looks nice and I am inclined to think it’s a better bet than the more-or-less conventional ‘cruising Chebacco’ we’ve been discussing. . . . the idea of sitting in shelter, right on the pitch axis and center of buoyancy, has a lot to be said for it.


Bob Cushing has built a number of Bolger boats, including the Fast Motorsailer and the Microtrawler. I understand that Bob’s Microtrawler is currently up for sale –


Bob Cushing’s Microtrawler – FOR SALE!

If you are interested in buying it, Bob can be contacted at 5998 E. Lake Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035-9323, USA, or at the email address above.

A Tool for fairing Epoxy Fillets:

Burton Blaise writes:

One of the great advantages of building hard chined hulls by the “tack and tape” method is that even amateurs such as myself can put a hull together with minimal time and effort. However, working on my Chebacco 20 hull, I found it difficult to cut the bilge panels with sufficient accuracy to give me beautiful, fair outer seams at the chines (where the bilge panel meets the topside and bottom panels). In fact, this type of building technique cannot do otherwise than produce ugly seams where

hull panels meet since the plywood edges are not bevelled to ensure perfect mating of the pieces. Therefore, such seams (especially outer seams) must generally be made fair before applying glass tape by globbing on putty (thickened epoxy) and then smoothing on with a putty knife or other straight edge to produce a nice, fair and eye-pleasing chine. (This also adds to the strength of the joint).

Working on my Chebacco 20, I was finding this to be a pretty demanding task, with a great deal of fussing and several successive coats of thickened epoxy necessary to produce a half-way decent looking outer corner. Thinking that there had to be an easier way, I eventully came up with an idea for a simple tool which enables me to create perfectly fair outer corners in just one pass. Perhaps such a

gizzmo is already known to the more initiated boatbuilders, but for the rest, here is my idea:

Take two tongue depressors or other flat, straight edged pieces of wood (e.g., paint mixing sticks), place (stack) one on top of the other, and drill a small hole through the two stacked pieces at one end. Then pass a short screw through the hole and tighten with a wing nut to create a pivoting point. You now hold a very simple device which greatly facilitates the task of fairing an outer corner or chine along a

compound curve on a hull. To use, simply glob thickened epoxy on the seam to be faired, then open the fairing gizzmo (spread the sticks apart) and rest the straight edge of one blade (or stick) on one of the hull panels and the other blade on the adjoining panel, and slowly, steadily draw along the seam making sure that both straight edges rest firmly on the panels at all times. The gizzmo automatically and smoothly adjusts to the changing curves and angles between adjoining panels as you go along the hull. The result is a perfectly smooth and fair outer corner or

chine in a single pass, with only minor touch ups to be done later. I’ve used this on the Chebacco hull and have found it to work like a charm! Once the resin sets, I then apply the glass tape and fill the weave with unthickened epoxy, according to standard practice. Hope this is helpful to someone out there!


Rigging a Chebacco:

Burton wrote to me again:

While I am nowhere near the stage of having to rig a Chebacco yet (as is quite obvious from my recent correspondence with the Bolgerphiles group!), I am starting to think about the details of the rigging. Now, I really have very little experience with sailboat rigs in general (my Gypsy’s rig is so simple that it does not prepare me for the more complicated cat-yawl rig of the Chebacco), and the details shown

on the Chebacco building plans leave me with more questions than answers. For instance, I’m not relly clear on what exactly lazyjacks are, or how to set up the toppinglift, nor do I know much about reefing and pendants & such. I wonder if, for the benefit of the uninitiated, you might consider devoting part of an upcoming “Chebacco News” issue to the art of rigging a Chebacco, perhaps even including some detailed drawings of how to set up her rig and some explanations of the different elements (sheets, halyards, cleats, pulleys – er, blocks, that is, etc.). I

suspect that we novices could stand to learn a lot from your own and other builders’ experiences – some food for thought at any rate.

Chat with you soon!

V. best,


My reply was:

Briefly, the halyards and the topping lift (which I have on the port side of the sail) go through blocks at the top of the mast, down to blocks at the mast foot, then back to cleats on the cabin roof at the front end of the cockpit.

The topping lift, if it was paired with another on the starboard side, would constitute a pair of Lazyjacks, which simply guide the gaff and sail down onto the boom when they are lowered, rather than falling off to one side. Lazyjacks often fork into 3 parts on the boom, to help gather the sail better. I’m not comfortable with lazyjacks because they need more line and complicate things. I like to get everything out of the way when I snug the boat away under its cover. The more lines, the more

complicated this would be.

A reefing pendant is a line which is attached to one side of the boom, just aft of the corresponding leech cringle which becomes the clew when the sail is reefed, is led through the cringle, then down to a block or fairlead on the other side of the boom, then led forward to a cleat where it can be cleated off when the sail is reefed. A similar pendant can be installed at the luff. When both of these are hauled tight, the sail is reefed all but the tying of the reefing points – which isn’t that important. With two lines of reefing points (as in the Chebacco’s sail) two pendants are needed at the leech, and two at the luff, with cleats for each.

That’s all I’ve got on my sail, apart from the mainsheet, which is straightforward.



Inexpensive epoxy

Dick Burnham writes:

After reading Reuel Parker’s “The Sharpie Book” I was newly informed that

only about 4 or 5 firms manufacture epoxy. Parker buys direct, it seems,

from Shell Oil. A place in West Palm Beach, Florida (admittedly distant

from Scotland) sells an epoxy (RICO?) in a 15 gallon kit that includes

hardener and resin for about $377? I called them on their 800 number and

seem to recall that it was about $30 – / gal. Which, if its the same, is

soooo very different from West epoxy at $80/. The name of the WPB place is

in the appendix of Parker’s book.

Epoxy Woes!

Burton Blaise has been having problems with epoxy. He sent an email to the Internet Bolgerlist – read on:

I desperately need help from all ye bolgercolleagues experienced with epoxy . All summer long I’ve been using epoxy (a 4:1 mix from Gelcote International) quite successefully in assembling my Chebacco 20 hull. In typical warm summer weather, the epoxy would cure within about 24 h, to the point where it could be sanded. Occasionally, the epoxy would remain sticky even after curing for 2 days, but this sticky stuff (which I assume is amine blush) would come off readily by wiping with a wet cloth, and the epoxy could then be sanded.

Recently, however, I’ve been experiencing some difficulties with the same epoxy, and frankly, I’m at wits end to know what to do. About a week ago I did a few last touch ups (fairing and filling) with the epoxy and taped the last few seams around the keel. After 3-4 days of curing, I washed the sticky surface thoroughly with water as usual. I should point out that, other than being sticky on the surface, the epoxy seems to have hardened. When I started to sand, I noticed that the sand paper was clogging very quickly, and that the epoxy was not sanding into a fine dust (as it has been during all previous sanding sessions), but rather was either not sanding at all or just coming off in little waxy bits. In fact, in many spots the recently epoxied surfaces remain hard but tacky. I’ve tried washing several times with water, and even with acetone , but the surface remains tacky (even at the present time, fully one week since

the epoxy was applied, it remains tacky and cannot be sanded). When I tried scraping the epoxied surface using a cabinet scraper, I get a very thin gummy film coming off but nothing else. Washing with acetone followed by scraping does not improve things. Now, I’m pretty certain that I’ve measured the resin and hardener correctly, and in fact am using the same approach (and materials) that have worked well all summer.

The only thing different is that we have been getting some cooler, damp weather lately (particularly at nights, when its been going down to about 10 C), with a few rainy days. However, we’ve also had some warm days where the temperature in my tarp boatbuilding shed should have been more than sufficient for curing epoxy.

Well, now that you’ve read my sad story, could some kind soul please offer me some suggestions on how I can deal with this problem? Right now I’m stuck at this stage, since I need to be able to do some sanding before I can apply the final glassing over the entire hull. I’m especially anxious to complete glassing and painting of my hull by the end of September, so that I can turn her over and make some progress on the deck structure before having to call it quits for the winter. Is there anything that can be done, or has something gone horribly wrong with my epoxy, or my technique, or whatever?

Sure looking forward to some suggestions from y’all. Many thanks in



The Internet Bolgerphiles duly replied and the conclusion was that the problem was probably caused by a slight excess of hardener in the epoxy mix (a lesson for us all!). The solution that was adopted by Burton was to scrape off the bad epoxy. He tried a cabinet scraper, but the best solution was to use fragments of broken glass as scrapers.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any other theories/solutions, please send them to me and I’ll include them in a future issue.

Butt Block Woes:

You’ll recall that in the last issue, problems were reported with butt-strap joints giving out when the panels were bent into position. Jamie Orr comments:

I used the same plywood butts on my Chebacco that Burton did, but reinforced them with 1″ #10 bronze screws. This also solved the clamping issue. The soft bronze is nice because the screw can be countersunk without worrying about breaking through the other side, the point is easily ground off when it does break through. Although Burton has fixed his problem, adding screws might provide more peace of mind.

After looking at the sailing pictures, I feel inspired all over again. I’m having problems staying on my time line, but still plan to flip this Summer.

Jamie Orr

A later email said:

I thought I’d add another comment.

When I joined the pieces of bilge panel (first layer of 1/4 inch), I did the first joint on the boat. This was OK, but for reasons since forgotten, I took the panel off (only tacked on) and did the second one on the flat. I think that if I build another boat in this style, I will do all the butt joins flat, as it’s easier to clamp. Also, the edges beyond the buttstrap can be easily edge glued and will then stay in line rather than twisting apart and having to be held in place when fastening to the hull.

Of course, if you are fastening to the hull at the same time, the last point doesn’t apply, but I try to tackle only one thing at a time.


Progress report

Jamie Orr also reports progress:

Hi, Bill

I’m at the stage of “designing” my sails, and thought I’d touch base with you. So far you’re the only builder I’ve heard of who also made the sails as well.

I think you said somewhere that you cut the mizzen very flat. Was that dead flat or only relatively flat? Can some shape be induced by slacking off the snotter?

On the main, I started out thinking that I would use a vertical cut, very plain. However, now I’m thinking that it might be more useful as a learning exercise to go the whole nine yards, with horizontal cut, roach, battens and all. I’ll probably change my mind a time or two yet, as I’ll be doing the mizzen first. This is all winter work — I’ll start as soon as the weather becomes a problem for boatbuilding.

On the boat, I now have the hull glassed (six ounce), except for some work on the keel. One of the high points of the hull was carving the stem — it always feels so good to work with real wood after a long spell of plywood and fibreglass. I used the band saw to cut the profile and rough out the taper, then block plane, spokeshave and chisel to finish it off.

I laminated the bilge panels out of 1/4 inch plywood. I glued and fastened the first layer on, and let the epoxy set up before I started the second layer. To guard against voids between the layers I pre-drilled holes on eight inch squares, in the outer layer only, after the pieces were cut to shape. I rolled some unthickened epoxy on to both layers, then spread a generous amount, slightly thickened, on the outer piece (outer, because it was lying flat and so the epoxy couldn’t drip or drool). I started with the

middle piece, and started fastening from the centre of that, using self tapping, pan head screws to draw the layers together. Working outward both ways from centre helped make sure that air and excess epoxy got pushed out.

When I put the end pieces on, I started fastening from the butt joints and worked to the ends of the hull.

The screws were number 8’s, and almost none of them stripped the threads in the hole. Where this did happen, I just rammed another one through both layers, right beside it. At the butt joints, I put them in four inches apart and got a nice tight joint each time. Butts were about a foot away from those in the first layer. I used a cordless drill to drive the screws. Power is almost a necessity here due to the working time of the epoxy, especially in mid-summer. I used 287 screws altogether, and it took a solid four hours, with no breaks, to do both sides, from the time the first batch

of epoxy was mixed. My dad helped position the panels, but we only had one drill for fastening — I had a back-up drill on hand, but it was too new to use near epoxy unless the first one failed!

I filled the joints at the edges right away, so that if any blush formed, it wouldn’t be deep down in the joints where my sandpaper couldn’t reach. The joints were already sealed with masking tape on the inside.

I have a big clean up planned, so I’ll try to remember to take some pictures when I’ve done that — the site is not suited to well laid-out photos, but we’ll see what happens.


On the subject of sailmaking, I replied:

Yes the mizzen is cut DEAD flat. It assumes some shape anyway, especially if the snotter isn’t twanging tight, and more if the snotter is slackened.

I cut my main with horizontal cloths, broadseaming the seam that goes through the tack and one either side, down to no broadseaming at the peak. You need the double-reefed main to set as flat as possible, therefore broadseaming at the peak is a bad idea. I carried the broadseaming back about 30% of the way from the luff, to keep the maximum draft well forward, to avoid weather helm. It worked! Likewise, the

curves on luff and foot should have maximum depth about 30% up/back from the tack. These curves were about 6″ deep, but that was just guesswork on my part. I’m not sure whether more, or less would be better.

Bolger Plans

Plans for all versions of the Chebacco and all other Bolger designs are available from Phil Bolger and Friends Inc., Boat Designers, P.O.Box 1209, 29 Ferry Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, USA. Phil enthusiastically recommends Dynamite Payson’s books. They are ‘almost a necessity’ for building many of his designs.

And Finally

That’s all we have room for this time. Please send me your news:

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

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