Chebacco News 72 – Chris Smead’s Chocolate Moose Part 2

Chris’ project continues on through the pandemic – Great photos, well thought through build, it is going to be a sail boat comparable to any Chebacco out there. – it looks like there is a part 3 to come too. Chris writes:

I forget to mention that I glassed the bottom, all the way over the joint with the bilge panels. I did not glass around the keel  or the topsides. 

I started sewing the sails, a kit from Sailrite here in the States. This is the mizzen with panels joined but it still needs patches and all the edge work. My church was closed for a long time during the pandemic and it gave me a great opportunity to use the huge lobby floor as a sail loft!

I decided to paint the bottom before flipping the hull. I used latex floor enamel paint. It won’t have that glossy finish and maybe not the wearability of marine-grade paint, but it was easy to apply and clean up, as well as quick-drying and not so toxic to the people who live in my house (especially over the garage). Besides, this boat will live indoors, in my garage for the majority of its life! Painting revealed lots of imperfections to be filled and faired. That process is ongoing even today, but I had to get after the ones that would be harder to reach after the hull got turned over! Here I am getting ready to unfasten the hull from the strongback in preparation for turning over.

What a triumphant moment! Here we are basking in glory – a hull in one piece and right-side-up! I have a second-hand trailer shown here. It still needs to be fixed up, but I’ll block the whole thing up to continue working on the hull on top of the trailer. 

I took off the front part (tongue?) because it had to fit in my garage. Wouldn’t you know it – I had to park it diagonally because my garage door wouldn’t otherwise clear the bow in the upright position. My “manning-esque” bench came apart and got reassigned.

In this picture, I am preparing the FG tape on the inside seams.

I gotta tell you, it’s a surreal feeling when I look at the upright hull. That bow is so high! I didn’t expect it to feel like such a rise. Once I gained the confidence to step aboard, I spent a long time sitting in the cockpit just looking around. So happy!

This is a dry fit of the rudder box. I just had to install it on that square hole in the hull. Man, it was hard to start cutting that hole (mentally).

I did some framing next, for the cockpit and deck. I thought about making a bridge deck. My decision against it came from wanting to keep a large cockpit, and a plan to use the floorboards to make a flat platform in any configuration needed. 

Here you see the aft quarters and the framing just installed. You can also see the side deck, which overlaps the last bulkhead into the aft section a little bit. I did this because I couldn’t figure out how to make a trustworthy butt joint right on the bulkhead, so I’m going to make one here instead, with a patch of wood underneath.

Here you see the same method (if you can even dignify it by calling it a method) on the forward end. I also fit the cabin sides. I thought it would be easier to do this before decking.

I got some great advice from Jamie Orr about mast slot design and it helped me think about how the mast partner pieces must go together. I read some classic posts from discussing weather helm. P. Bolger reportedly experienced a sail on a Chebacco and found more weather helm than he would have liked. He said moving the mast forward 3 or 4 inches wouldn’t hurt. I agonized about this for a few days, tried some different pencil marks and clamping arrangements, and settled on 2.5 inches forward of the mark on the plans.

I made the roof from 2 layers of quarter-inch. You can see here I also made the seats (which are not yet glued down in this picture) and also the, shall we say, backrest. In the plans, this backrest extends upward into a vertical coaming. I’m going to attempt an angled-back coaming and attach it to the backrest.

Then I cut the companionway and mast slot out.

Someone gave me an old 3-pulley bandsaw that I finally figured out how to repair and use. I used it to rough out the Jonesport cleat.

I took a shot at the sliding hatch by first looking at some examples for bigger boats in “How to Build a Wooden Boat” by David C. McIntosh and Samuel F. Manning. Then I dumbed it down and cobbled this, keeping the rails in place while gluing so I don’t mess up the shape and the squareness all around. No, that’s not the roof – just some scrap scaffolding to hold the shape while the glue dries.

I tacked on the roof later and started thinking about how to make the windows. I want them to be simple. Bill Sampson reported (over 20 years ago on, “I did SYLVESTER’s portlights simply by cutting oval holes in the sides of the cabin and screwing1/8″ acrylic sheet on the inside, with some clear silicone sealant between.” I think I might do that and maybe put a plywood border on the outside? 

Here are the aft deck pieces and also the side benches being glued down.

I mentioned that I wanted to angle the coaming and tried to figure out a good method. A local guy has a J. Welsford boat (I think it’s a Pathfinder) and I stopped by his garage. His boat has beautiful angled solid coaming and I checked the angle and height, then tried to carry the idea to my boat. Here is the block beside the cabin, cut to about 10 degrees. 

I also glued little angled, cypress blocks right on top of Frame #5 to help hold the coaming and also to place an oarlock someday. I sat against the coaming for a while after the epoxy cured. They seem pretty comfortable! Fellow chebacconist Howard Sharp suggested I also angle back the benches for comfort, but I decided not to try because of all the drainage engineering it would’ve required. 

Here are the slots for the companionway boards. Some glue ended up curing in the slots and I didn’t notice for days after. I’m having to scrape as much as I can reach. Also, I’m shaving down the boards so they will fit the slot. 

These aft-quarter coaming pieces had to match the rest of the coaming in curvature, so I had to carefully brace them in the right position while gluing. I still haven’t worked out all the mainsheet traveller and mizzen sheeting arrangement back here. Plus, there will be some kind of hatch for storage. I made the clamshell vents too. 

I glassed the joint between the cabin and deck. I’m not sure if it was necessary, but it seemed weak and I didn’t want to worry about it. 

I named it “Chocolate Moose.” I’ve tried on all kinds of other names. Some were more cheeky, some were more serious, even borderline profound, but they didn’t fit. A moose is a majestic animal, brave, large, fierce, strong and peaceful. On the other hand, one can’t escape the fact that a moose has a certain, unavoidable tinge of ridiculousness woven into its very identity. Yes, a moose is ridiculous. I mean, just look at that nose and those big ol’ antlers! This mix of character reflects my boat, I believe.


(Rocky and Bullwinkle)

But even beyond these kinds of moose lies the best mousse of all! I mean, seriously, is there anything better? I doubt you could name a single better dessert. You might call it heaven in a cup. 

(Cooking Classy)

Andrew, sorry for the long-winded update, [Not at all! – Andrew] but let me leave you with a couple of questions:

1. I saw the pictures and videos of capsize testing using Jamie Orr’s Wayward Lass at the Wooden Boat Festival a few years back. When she was on her side, she floated high and water didn’t get into the cabin. She righted easily, it seemed. However, when turtles, she did come up, but completely flooded. With so much volume in that cabin and unsealed storage under the seats, etc., I don’t know how you would possibly add enough flotation to make her rescuable from a complete flood. Do you? it seems like the best strategy would be to make a mast float to help keep her on her side in the case of a knockdown. What do you think about this safety issue? 

2. Where and how do you attach the mast traveller? I was planning to use a simple rope one. Does it need to be tended while under sail? 

3. Do you have any suggestions regarding how to set up the boat to optimize its sailing performance? By this, I refer to the fact that, without a motor, I need the boat to be able to point well and sail well generally over a broad range of conditions. Any tips or rules of thumb? 

Chebacco News 23

Chebacco News

Number 23, October 1998


Peter Gray’s GRAY FEATHER with a bone in her teeth

Peter Gray, of Queensland Australia, sent me this wonderful photo of his sheet-ply Chebacco-20 GRAY FEATHER. Peter writes:

I have been sailing GRAY FEATHER a lot and the more I sail her the more I realise what a great design she is – so user friendly.

I entered a wooden boat regatta at Tincan Bay. There were about 25 boats in it. GRAY FEATHER won the prize for ‘Prettiest Boat of the Fleet’ (1 bottle of rum!).

Regarding your previous letter about topping lifts, this diagram shows how I did mine. The topping lift in this case also forms a lazy jack, making sail handling very easy. Floorboards – I completely sealed my cockpit, making it into a cockpit well. I use a small bilge pump to take the water out to the outboard well. This keeps the hull completely dry,

I have put a small headsail on the boat and have found that this helps her to windward very nicely – Not because of more leading edge, but because the headsail creates draft between it and the mainsail.

I am experimenting at the moment with a small bowsprit and putting a lightweight genoa on this, mainly for reaching and running. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Gil and Joan Fitzhugh visit Scotland

Gil Fitzhugh writes:

In eary July, Joan and I savored the opportunity to sail on Bill Samson’s Chebacco in Scotland. Unless Phil Bolger is a big name in Alaska, this is about as far north as his sphere of influence has yet reached. Scotland’s at the latitude of Hudson Bay; if you’re in a little unballasted sailboat in Hudson Bay, you’re not at the top of the food chain. Be reassured, however, that polar bears are not a threat in Scottish waters.

Bill Lives in Dundee, a small city pleasantly situated on the north shore of the Firth of Tay. Translated into North American, that means the estuary of the Tay River. It’s helpful to learn a few words of Scots: ‘firth’ means estuary, ‘strath’ means valley, ‘dun’ means fortress, ‘Islay single malt’ means ambrosia, ‘Damn! I missed the mooring’ means come about and start the engine before we go aground. See how easy it is?

Summer in New Jersey often means hot, sticky, sultry, stagnant air with 2 miles visibility in sunshine. Summer in Scotland seems to be cool, mostly overcast, breezy, with 20 miles visibility sometimes lowering to 4 miles in light rain. Always be prepared for rain. If you’re lucky, you won’t get it. We were lucky both days we sailed. And the sailing is grand. Both days we needed to take in a reef – a tremendous improvement over listening to limp sails slatting in almost no wind. Forget shorts and a T-shirt – you sail in jeans and a sweatshirt. And sunblock, because there’s a lot of UV coming through that cool overcast.

Our longer sail came on a Saturday. Had we been underway by 9:30, we could have beat upriver on a flowing tide to a beach about 7 miles away, had lunch, and then run home on the ebb tide. To these two American slug-a-beds, 9:30 still felt like 4:30 am, not an hour at which we’re prepared to sail (although, in July, 4:30 am local time in Scotland is full daylight). So we got a late start, and had a fun time beating up-river through the first of the two great bridges over the Tay (the road bridge). By the time we got to the second (railroad) bridge, there was no help to be had from the tide. We were still beating and the bridge was playing hob with the wind. So we turned around.

Going upwind, the Chebacco tacked through a precise 90 degrees on Bill’s compass, and made very little leeway with the board down. (Our only prior Chebacco sail had been in Sister Krista’s TOULOUMA TOO, whose board was stuck in the up position – she made considerable leeway.) Bill can tie off reefs in the middle of his boom, so reefing was a relaxed operation. On a dead downwind run, the Chebacco was very easy to steer. It could be a popular boat for hijacking by polar bears in Hudson Bay, since the cockpit will comfortably hold Papa Bear, Mama Bear and a whole passel of cubs.

There were dolphins in the Firth of Tay. This surprised Bill, who hadn’t seen them before. Since we were there, they’ve apparently taken up permanent residence. But remember, guys, we saw ’em first.

If you get to Dundee, ask Bill to take you sailing. You won’t have to ask him twice – his family aren’t sailors, and Bill likes company. You’ll have a blast!

Fraser Howell experiments with Jibs:

Fraser writes:


Fraser <>

Hello Bill,

Itchy & Scratchy has been having a busy summer. Everything is holding up well. I’ve been trying out different jibs in an attempt to reduce the weather helm when beating. I have a short bowsprit, so I have the ability to fly something bigger than the optional 30 sf jib shown on the plans.

Yesterday we rigged up a Laser M sail, which has a shorter luff than a regular Laser, and is 65 sf. The winds were < 10 km, so not a real good test. The boat balanced well on an almost neutral helm, and was faster. The laser sail sets nicely and gives good overlap. I can’t say for sure that she points higher. The best sheeting point is about 1 ft forward of the cabin bulkhead, 4″ in from the gunwhale. This is quite a bit busier rig , a handfull for the solo sailer, and draws some attention.

We will continue evaluations, but so far I am convinced that the Chebacco is a more capable sailer with a bigger jib. I’ll update you later.

I hope that this doesn’t spawn any gaff-rigged lasers.

Fraser Howell

I was concerned at Fraser’s report of weather helm, which has never been a problem with SYLVESTER, so I sent this reply:

Dear Fraser,

Readers of Chebacco News will be interested to read about your weather helm and your experiments to cure it.

Funnily enough, I’ve never had serious weather helm – nothing that’d make my tiller-arm ache anyway. I’ve helmed a Wayfarer in a good blow and that’s much worse. The worst I’ve ever encountered was an 90-year-old 50 foot yawl, where I had to take the main sheet end around the tiller to give enough purchase to hold it. It was a plank-on-edge boat which belonged to ‘Titus’ Oates of the Scott expedition and that type is seldom guilty of severe weather helm. It had been re-rigged from gaff to bermudian at one stage, so maybe that was the reason, though I can’t think why.

I find with the Chebacco that if the heel is kept to 12 degrees or less (reefing if necessary) then weather helm is slight. My mainsail has its maximum depth well for’ard – at about 30% of the way back from the luff. I’m sure that must be significant. Modern sails usually carry their max depth at about 40% back.

The trim is also significant. Weather helm is reduced by keeping the weight well back. Mine trims down by the bows a wee bit (I think my mast’s a bit heavy) but I keep the anchor amidships – nothing heavy up in the bows and the crew (if any) sits well aft.

I’m not sure about mast rake. Mine is almost exactly vertical.

The other thing is how tight you sheet the mizzen. My mizzen is cut dead flat and I harden up the snotter to keep it as flat as possible. I find that fine control of weather helm (on some points of sail) is possible by adjusting the mizzen sheets. Close hauled in a force 2-3 it’s possible to lash the helm and let her take care of herself for quite long periods. For example, I’ve done that and gone below to tidy up and she’s maintained her course for 20 minutes or more.


Fraser elaborated:


Thanks for the detailed reply. I’ve been keeping the weight as far forward as possible. My mast weighs exactly 40 lb. and the outboard plus gas is close to 100 lb. I can’t tell without making it come true, but I keep thinking that I’m submerging the bottom of the stern, and slowing things down.

I now never hestitate to reef. I reef before whitecaps. The weather helm is terrible when you are overpowered. I’ve been caught in the “death roll” running before a freshening breeze, quite out of control until I got her around into the wind. Normally the weather helm isn’t too bad, and its easily handled by the tiller comb. Just about the time when I am thinking of putting in a reef, I have often had 8-10 deg of weather helm, and that causes cavitation off the rudder. I am hoping to be able to carry more sail longer with the bigger jib.

I also find the mizzen to be critical to the helm. I haven’t experimented much with the main shape by tinkering with the peak halyard and the outhaul. I also adjust the centerboard, from all the way down beating to almost all the way up running.

Lots of other things to try yet, but so far I am suprised that PB was not more encouraging of a larger jib.

As far as going out to sea, I have to get into open water to go anywhere but Halifax. The most interesting sailing areas are one or two days sail in either direction along the coast. I haven’t yet gone out of sight of land though.

The further one goes out the more big marine life there is. We’ve seen several kinds of whales and porpoises, sun fish, leatherbacks, and swordfish or tuna(not sure which).



So there we have it. Phil Bolger was the first to notice that a Chebacco could be prone to more weather helm than he would prefer, and suggested to makers that it would do no harm to move the mast forward 3 or 4 inches. If you sail a Chebacco, what’s your experience?

Ed’s hull

You’ll remember Ed’s amusing account of buying a Chebacco hull from Burton Blaise in Canada, then importing it to the USA [Chebacco News #21]. Here’s a photo of Ed strapping the hull onto his borrowed trailer at the start of the journey:


Ed makes all secure. Note the boy and the dog – both mentioned in the story!

Ed writes:

I’ve attached a couple pics of the Chebacco hull when we were loading it at Burton Blais’. I’ll hope to get some in process shots soon. Thanks for your earlier reply. I’ve decided to go with the Brad Story cockpit sole. I was thinking of doing a teak grating anyway so the pine boards will probably be a cheaper alternative. Now I’ve started on the cabin. The 1×2 lower supports for the sides are in, and I’m going to start fitting the sides tonight. The drawing is a bit sketchy here though, are the tops of the sides cut straight? or is there a concave cut in them? The drawing shows a concave, but I was assuming the natural bend might do that anyway. What did you discover on yours?

I sent Ed this reply:

RE the cabin sides – They are indeed concave along the top (and convex along the bottom, too, where they follow the sheerline).

My procedure was to cut them oversize, then fit the bottoms first, to the framing you’re putting in. Once you’ve got this line, then you can measure the height of the sides at intervals, from the plan, above this bottom line (allowing for the thickness of the deck) and then cut them to their final shape. I’d cut out the windows at this stage, too – Much easier than when the sides have been fitted.

Ed emailed later:

Just an update and some observations. First, the cabin top is on as well as the decks and in fact we’re just about to be ready to apply some exterior glass and epoxy.

As well, the centerboard is glassed and covered with a second layer of thick epoxy and will be test hung this week. Pictures of both are in the camera at this time so God knows when they’ll get processed.

Some observations,

You mentioned I think about getting a slight dip in the cabin top when you put on the ply. If this is in the fore / aft plane, I got the same even with extensive supports. I think IMHO that it is due to the flex of the ply over the designed cabin top “sheer” for lack of a better term. It appears to me to be unaviodable, but I wonder if making the rise of the cabin top a bit higher would make it better. Anyway it doesn’t look to be

an insurmountable problem.

I’ve cut in the storage under the seats and am preparing to install the shelves/ lockers whatever they are. (holes from the cabin back under the port and starboard benches.)

I’m planning on epoxying the bilge area up about 12 – 14″ from the bench front up the side rather than epoxying all of the interior wood surfaces. I have heard that if water intrusion does occur in plywood epoxy’d both sides that there is no way for it to dry. (similar to the osmosis problem in GRP. But, if the interior is left un epoxied the wood can dry from that side. Anyway that’s my theory.

Not much other news from the frozen north. I figure I’ve got about 5 weeks till the first snow flurries so I’ve got to get her watertight before then.

I replied that most makers epoxy both sides of the ply and that a good layer of epoxy is needed in the bilges, where water is likely to collect, even if you have a cover over the boat.

Jamie Orr makes progress:

From: “Orr, Jamie” <>


The pictures of the big turning over are going in today’s mail.

We’ve had a great August, the weather’s been perfect for boatbuilding. I wanted to spend the full month at it, but the rest of the family had some ideas for the holiday as well. As a result I only spent about two weeks building, more or less full time. However, for change, I’m fairly happy with the results. I fitted both the cockpit and the cabin dry, and now I’ve pulled them out for final sanding, sealing and inside

painting. Finished up the sanding last night and I’ll be putting in the seat fronts and starting to seal tonight. The motor well and after quarters are in place as well, and all decks are ready.

After reading about how difficult it was to bend your cabin roof, I laminated mine out of two layers of ¼ inch. I spread a sheet of plastic over the cabin area, and laminated the roof in place. The first layer was split down the center, and the second was done by centering the plywood on the roof, with two little pieces added at the sides. I used the same technique as I did laminating the bilge panels – holes on 8

inch centres in the top layer, with screw driven through these to squeeze out air and excess epoxy. I also tacked the edges to the cabin sides through full length ½ inch ply pads, first folding the plastic up over the work. I finished by putting small clamps on the overhanging edges. This was probably totally unnecessary by after all the rest, but the neither the clamps nor I had anything better to do. It worked fine, and now the roof is sitting all ready to drop into place.

I’ve decided against the mast slot for now, although I might put in the framing under the roof for later, if wanted. I am going to put in the hatches in the after quarters, and will borrow ideas from the sea kayakers to secure them. I expect I’ll use nylon webbing across the hatch covers with a rubber seal under – there are some effective looking cams available to snug up the straps if needed. I’ve also bought two of

the Beckson circular access hatches for the rear half of the seats, so I can use that area for storage as well.

How did you install your portlights? I’m thinking of routing out the ply by the thickness of the lexan, and using silicon sealer with an oval “ring” covering the edge. The available bronze ovals were the wrong size, so I think I’ll try cutting my own out of 1/8 sheet brass, (but that’s for another month.)

I’m also working out where to put mooring cleats, fairleads and so on, as the deck will need reinforcement underneath, and it’ll be easier to fit before the deck’s glued down -any suggestions on placing these fittings, now that you’ve had a couple of seasons sailing?

Looking forward to the next newsletter – hope you’re having a good summer and getting in lots of sailing.

P.S. A point for the newsletter about taping the seams. I started out using fibreglass tape, with finished edges. This is very convenient for handling and doesn’t fray, but doesn’t always lie down easily because of those edges. I didn’t buy enough at once for the whole job, and when I ran out I started cutting tape sized pieces out of scrap 6 oz cloth. I found these were much easier to put in place, and needed less sanding to

smooth the edges later. I never did go back for the rest of the tape, and I’ve managed to use up a lot of scrap.

A couple of points of interest. I did SYLVESTER’s portlights simply by cutting oval holes in the sides of the cabin and screwing1/8″ acrylic sheet on the inside, with some clear silicone sealant between. Jamie’s method sounds much nicer! As for cleats and fairleads – Jamie’s right in that they MUST be through-bolted. Woodscrews eventually give out (as Gil and Joan will testify – the air was blue when a mizzen fairlead on SYLVESTER let go in July!). My suggestions are:

  • cleats on the cabin top for hallyards and topping lift
  • turning blocks near the mast foot to take the halyards and topping lift back to their cleats
  • fairleads at the quarters for the mizzen sheets
  • cam cleats for the mizzen sheets, after they’ve passed through the fairleads
  • cleats on the side-decks near the rear of the boat for tying up alongside, and for hooking on a tender’s painter
  • If you have the Jonesport cleat at the stem, as shown in the plans, then that’s your for’ard mooring cleat – otherwise a hefty cleat is needed in the foredeck.
  • Apart from these, I have a block and camcleat on the aft end of the CB case for the mainsheet, and a couple of cleats on the coaming for lashing the tiller amidships when I’m on the mooring.

And finally

That’s all for this issue. Please keep your news, photos, stories, questions etc coming in.

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

Broughty Ferry,

Dundee DD5 1LB,


email –

Gil Fitzhugh,

44 Primrose Trail,

Mt Kemble Lake,




Chebacco News 21

Chebacco News

Number 21, June 1998


SYLVESTER scoots along in a sea breeze

Why so late?

You’ve probably noticed that this issue is about a month later than usual. The explanation is that there wasn’t enough material from our readers to fill an issue until now. Anyway, there’s some good stuff now, so I hope you’ll find it’s been worth waiting for.

Reefing (again!)

I’ve made some very simple modifications to the reefing system on SYLVESTER that make reefing under-way a much more managable process. In essence, all I did was to move the horn cleats for the pendants to a point about mid-way along the boom; making them easier to reach without leaving the cockpit. The pendants at tack and clew are left in place at all times, and just hauled in (tack first) as the occasion demands, just as Brad Story described a few issues ago.

I had a chance to try it out in anger last weekend; I took in a reef when things got blustery, and shook it out again when things quietened down a little. It worked very nicely.

Building the Coach-roof

Builders tell me that one part of the plan that takes a lot of thought is the construction of the coach roof. Here’s how I did it.

First of all I put on the cabin sides – just cutting and trying until they fit, not forgetting to cut the elliptical holes for the windows before finally gluing them in.

Next job is the framing for the roof – not too difficult joinerywise, but it takes a bit of study of the drawings to figure out what’s needed, allowing for the right clearances for the mast slot and hatch hole.

This is all faired up in preparation for the top going on.

I made the top from 1/2″ ply – it takes a LOT of bending – Two layers of 1/4″ might be easier. The top is made in two halves – port and starboard. I glued and screwed it to the centeline first – LOTS of screws to make sure it stays down.

I found, when bending the curve into the top the framing started to sag, so I placed some temporary props between the framing and the bottom of the hull to try to minimise this sagging.

I then applied glue to the rest of the framing and applied my full 180+ pounds around the edge as I put in the screws. This is the hardest bit, because if you stop half way through, with not enough screws in, it’ll just pull out and spring up. I’d recommend a screw every 4 inches or so.

Finally I removed the props and there was a little sag in the roof. No big problem, but it does mean the hatch sides need to be convex along the bottom and require a bit of fitting. Once the hatch sides are on, and the framing of the mast slot, the whole thing is as stiff as you could wish for.

I hope this is helpful.


Cabin sides in place and framing for the coach-roof completed

Jamie Orr Pours Lead in his Centreboard

Jamie writes:

Here are the lead pouring pictures.

First, some reminders:

  • Pick a dry day or work under cover. Molten lead will splatter if it contacts moisture.
  • Clean up your work area. It’s obvious from the photos I could have done a lot more in this regard. (Also, I think we could have had the stove in a less vulnerable position, so it couldn’t be easily knocked over. On the other hand, it didn’t get knocked over, and was at a convenient height. Take your pick.)
  • Lead stays hot for a long time, watch your fingers.
  • Wear protective clothing, and don’t breath the fumes.

Now, what we did.

We drove four big nails into the edges of the hole in the centreboard to anchor the lead. This was only just barely enough, and the lead was a bit loose after it cooled and shrank. Some epoxy around the edges fixed that.

A piece of steel plate was clamped to the underside of the board. I wire brushed the plate as it was a bit rusty, but didn’t do anything else. The books favour some blacking or soot, as well as preheating the steel, to prevent the lead from sticking, but we had no trouble with it. The board was carefully levelled on sawhorses.

The lead had been previously used to seal the removable top on a 45 gallon drum, so it came as a thick strip about an inch thick. Dad bandsawed it into chunks while I set up the board. We fired up the backpacking stove, put the pot and lead on, and put a 3 lb coffee can over the whole thing (both ends cut out of the can!) with an air space at the bottom. The can acted as a heat reflector, wind shield, and chimney for the stove, greatly increasing the heat to the lead.

It took about six minutes to melt 2/3 of a pot of lead, or about 6 lbs. Beeswax is supposed to help impurities float to the top of the lead, but they seemed to float up quite well without help, so I didn’t bother with the wax after the first lot. A tongue depressor removed the dross nicely. I found the easiest way to hold the pot was with vise grips, ignoring the bail, at least for this pot. (The pot was bought originally for bullet making, from a sporting goods store.)

I didn’t pour the lead all at once because I only had a small stove and pot. Because the first (learning) pour was on the small side, we had to do a very small fourth pour. Also, this last pour was delayed, so the lead already poured may have cooled a bit. In any case, this last, fairly thin pour didn’t bond as well to the already poured lead. When I started to level the excess, the edges tried to come up like the edges of a pancake whose middle is stuck to the pan. After I had the excess levelled, I drilled two corners and put one inch wood screws in them. Along with the epoxy already mentioned, this fixed the problem.

As an aside, I found the best tool for levelling the lead was the electric plane. I did a final finish later with the belt sander when I was fairing the edges of the board. The lead didn’t seem to hurt the plane – if in doubt, rent. Note that lead shrinks as it cools, so it should finish about 1/8 inch above the surface when poured.

Altogether, this made a nice change from epoxy, and was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.


Melting, and pouring the lead.

George Cobb’s hull nears completion

George Cobb, of New Brunswick, Canada, sent me a bunch of photos of his beautifully crafted lapstrake Chebacco-20 hull. George writes:

I enclose photos going back to March ’97. I started Aug ’96 but spent most of that winter on spars, CB & trunk, rudder etc. working in the basement. As you can see from the photos, my shed doesn’t have enough room to build a boat of this size. Most of the construction went smoothly. Some trouble lining off the lap lines becuase I didn’t have room enough to stand back and look at them.

In the latest photos I am in the process of applying epoxy & the fiberglass to the deck. I have just started on the cabin. I laminated a rounded front as I did not care for the pointed look in the plans. I made very few other changes to the plans. Still have cockpit coaming, cockpit sole, toerails and rubrails and various trim pieces. All hatch covers are made except for the one for the companionway. When finishing and trailer are included I doubt if I will be launching this year.


Starting planking – note the ‘lining off’ battens.


The turnover ceremony.


Starting to fit out the hull


The cockpit nears completion

Ed Heins buys Burton Blaise’s hull

So I was pondering the next project, either a Light Scooner, a Chebacco, or one of the sets of Jim Michalak’s plans that are residing in my “projects pending” file, when lo and behold, Burton Blais posted an unbelievable deal for his Chebacco hull which made up my mind all at once and made me the newest builder on the Chebacco news list. The deal was even more attractive, as Burton, up in Ontario, is only a few hours northwest of us here in Frostbite Vermont. Burton, by the way has done a magnificent job thus far. That about covers the upside of the situation.

The downside? Well, convincing my wife Deb, was the next step. Of course it seems Deb, beautiful flower of English womanhood that she is, was somewhat less than overwhelmed at the marvelous opportunity of having yet another “bloody ship” in her back garden. Fortunately, the age old solution of providing a “quid pro quo” of greater value than the object in question, (this time in the form of a tennis bracelet) worked to perfection and the necessary political groundwork had been laid. Which then left only the logistic issues to be solved.

Downside #2, we had no trailer to transport this beast. After a caucus with Bill Samson about trailer requirements, however, I petitioned a friend to loan me the trailer from his 15′ plastic puffin which theoretically just got me enough snubber to axle length to balance the Chebacco. One small problem it seemed however was that like most Vermonters, maintenance on said trailer had been sadly neglected, so before embarking I had already rewired the lights, changed out one wheel bearing and being a Vermonter myself felt that I could get by with just repacking the other 3. Mind you I had never seen a Chebacco up close and personal, so I’m envisioning at this stage, how this is going to fit.

The morning of May 16 broke sunny and warm, a lovely day for the drive. We headed west across Vermont, caught the lake Champlain ferry just north of Burlington VT and landed safely in Plattsburg, New York. From there we headed northwest up route 190 and transitioned to US 11 at Ellenburg Depot. We left US 11 at Malone NY ( a rather niceish town with a hellatiously big Kmart, best described as a Tescoish thing for our British readers). Anyway the significance of the Kmart is that there are none in our small locale so it was planned to stop on the way back

to satisfy her majesty’s shopping fix. US 37 leaves Malone and runs west along the Canadian border to where we planned to make the border crossing. All was well here until we discovered 25 miles of roadworks with no feasible means of avoidance. Hence, 25 miles of dust and gravel later we were back on rt 37 heading towards Massena New York.

Now, Cornwall Ontario is a small city. At least on the map it looks substantial enough to warrant a signpost on the freeway. However… as with our US mapmakers who show Canada as a big beige empty block above the US border, I suppose the powers-that-be assume that just a reference to “Canada” should be sufficient for the average ignorant yank motorist. Therefore, the only signpost along the road reads “Industrial Plants Bridge to Canada”. Now it seemed absolutely logical to me to think this meant “THE Industrial Plant’s bridge to Canada”. There was an enormous factory there, and it’s not unheard of to have a factory in these parts span the border. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it) Anyway, needless to say, 6 miles farther down the road we came to the realization that in fact this was the ONLY bridge to Canada. A clandestine U turn with a trailer across one of those “Emergency Vehicles Only”

median crossings and we were headed to Ontario.

Border crossing south to north was no big deal. The Canadian folks were friendly courteous and checked Molly the Bassett Hound’s rabies papers, and passed us right through. Burton God bless him had given excellent directions so the remaining miles were insignificant.

Until we arrived at the Blais’ estate and I got a look at the Chebacco, upside down on it’s building frame, and was appraised of the size of a completed Chebacco Hull. I would have sworn that it would never fit on the dinky trailer hitched to my minivan. Not wanting to admit defeat however, we pressed on and horsed the hull out of the temporary shed. With the help of a willing neighbor turned it was over for the first time. I have the feeling that if Burton had turned this over prior to my arrival, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance at the boat.

This was one pretty hull all trued up with the bulkheads and temp frames still inside. But onward….

Downside #3, Back to the Vermonters lack of trailer maintenance. It seems the trip had broken loose a couple of ancient weld patches and there was no way the trailer would have survived an overload condition in that condition. Thankfully another of Burton’s neighbors came to the rescue with a grinder and welding rig, and an hour later we were back in business.

Back to Burton’s, to load up the hull. Cripes it overhangs. Well at least the bunks fit more or less on the flat bottom although they’re somewhat short for the job. A bit of gerryrigging got her sorted and tied down & we were off back south.

Actually it trailed not too bad. There was a minor skirmish with the US customs who first after inquiring about my 2 children in back, (one boy, one dog, OK that put me off) then their obvious struggle with how they were going to get a Coast Guard safety registration certificate on an unfinished hull. (I’d love to see the exam for customs agent) Finally they acquiesced to the fact that this was really lumber at this stage so there wouldn’t be duty.

We made the obligatory stop at Kmart as promised, spent the night in Ellenburg Depot and returned uneventfully with only a few scratches in the paint to show for the ordeal.

This weekend, marks the building of a proper cradle and 8 strongbacks to horse the hull off the trailer and hopefully embarcation of further boat building exploits. Stay tuned. I’m a little overwhelmed at where to begin.


Ed Heins

For Sale

I want you fellow Bolgerphiles to be the first to know that Catfish Lounge [a Catfish Beachcruiser] is going to be offered for sail, er, sale, to make way for a Martha Jane. Price of the Lounge is $4,500, and includes an excellent Pacific galvanized trailer and a year-old Honda 2HP motor. If you have an interest, or are interested in learning more about the boat, send me e-mail. (Both the boat and I are in the San Francisco Bay area.)

John Tuma <>

What about an aluminium rudder?

Fraser Howell sent me this photo of his aluminium rudder. He is very pleased with the way it works. It’s very strong, too. It’s worth noticing that the rudder is in a particularly vulnerable position when a Chebacco is being launched from a trailer. Careless launching can mean the rudder hits the slip when the boat slides off the trailer. It is comforting to have a really strong rudder!


Fraser Howell’s aluminium rudder

And finally:

That just about wraps it up for this time. Please, please, please keep your news and photos coming. They are the stuff that Chebacco News is made of!

Bill Samson,

88 Grove Road,

West Ferry,

Dundee, DD5 1LB,