My guilty pleasure lately has been kicking back and pondering the Jim Michalak boat plans at the duckworks site.
I just love the selection, and the stories behind the origins and reasons for the designer’s creations. Jim (like Bolger before) is his own best critic and never hesitates to reveal, expose, or acknowledge the compromises or limitations that the design might possess. DARCYBRYN, Cabin Sailboat, 15' X 6', 800 pounds empty (Jim describes more about the design and rough water capabilities in the above link).
This summer I camp-sailed with a friend for 5 days aboard a Laguna in the Texas 200, and despite being a proa-guy I became quite attached to this boat. The Texas 200 is not a hard event to sail (though if you breakdown out there in that desert-cruise alone, you are potentially very uncomfortable) but we did have to tack up a channel for an hour or so one day against a stiff breeze. I am intrigued with the birdwatcher cabin concept (Bolger, or Michalak) but, I might need some more input and convincing. I really like the Mikesboat, and it takes a cheap walmarty type tent over the main salon no problemo, too. I have also personally seen the one Cormorant that is out there, the 32' cruiser, and it is awesome. Chuck can be a tough man go get in touch with, I heard it's his spam filters, and that they are set to DESTROY, or something like that. My AF4 was featured in WB's Small Boats issue a few years ago and I've gotta say its a really great design.
Right now the Caprice, built by Chuck Leinweber and currently owned by Chris and Kathy Tomsett of Texas, has just arrived and we are launching her for Sail Oklahoma.
I am the new owner of Chuck's Caprice, I think he forwarded one of your Emails to me but I couldn't find it again to make a reply.
I would love to see pictures of your Caprice, or any others pictures you might have from Sail Oklahoma.
We will have a photo, video and personal accounts article from many attendees on Duckworks internet magazine after this ends.
Chris and Cathy Tomsett will be here through Monday or Tuesday before we help them launch for their river voyage on the Arkansas River. Jim Michalak is in our back yard lecturing on leeboards and using a Mayfly to demonstrate on.
I'm right now completing, just in time for winter, my first boat, a CLC stitch-and-glue kayak. I grew up here in the Upper Midwest, surrounded by the culture of northern sport fishermen. Some kind of daysailer would probably be sensible for my next project, but I'm not getting any younger and I'd rather do a trailerable cruiser suitable for overnights on my neighborhood lakes and capable of managing some larger waters. I also wouldn't mind moving beyond the plywood stitch-and-glue universe and into some more traditional methods. Right now the Seil 18 and the Melonseed 16' really have my attention, but that preference for now is entirely aesthetic. Extremes yes, but either way, the wind will grind you down and wear you out and you will look for ways to keep the air still around just your head, to get a break from it.
Apart from keeping all your stuff dry whilst still having it accessible, a cabin provides a basic need that if you have with you on the water, will make any journey, big or small, more enjoyable, giving you more versatility in planning where you can go and how long you can spend there.
For little ponds, slow litoral rivers, and maybe the Rehoboth Bay under fair weather forecasts, it will do. I did my pond crossing as a younger man on the Nimitz, the most ambitious undertaking that can be foreseen at this time may be cruising the ICW at some point.
In my case, being able to get away without a trailer and the protected waters I have my eye on for next season coupled with a lack of carpentry skills make a modified Bolger box sensible.
I know much more experienced sailors who would swim any distance they could before sailing in a shoebox, just on general principles.
I agree on the creature comforts of a boat with a cabin BUT they are generally too big to haul up on a beach.
If your tastes are turning to open camp-cruisers capable of being rowed effectively you might check out the designs of Iain Oughtred. These are glued lapstrake construction which is pretty easy to do and looks very traditional. If I were your age and had my responsibilities (retired) I'd be thinking about a circumnavigation of Lake Superior in one of these boats. If you insist on this foolhardy course you may at least like to consider finding a real tent from a good outfitter and then design mods into the boat so you can pitch said real tent on it. Rowing a boat with a sleeping cabin might be difficult As mentioned earlier, a cabin boat can be hard to get on and off a beach outside of a few designs.
The Dovekie is a factory built boat that looks like it would meet the sail, row, camp requirements. I asked Jim Michalak if anybody had rowed any of his Birdwatcher cabin designs, he wasn't away of any for certain.
The looks of the birdwatcher genre alone would stop many folks from even entertaining the idea.


This kid did okay on a five day four night camp sailing adventure in his open boat and even slept under a makeshift tent on one night. Here's a really unconventional camp cruiser, Jason's Texas 200 boat with head, galley, and berth in an eight foot shoebox. Don't know that he slept in it, but another puddle ducker reported spending a night in his. 15.5 ft x 6ftx 6 inch draft, ballast is water in flooding keel, rudder is protected by keel, open cabin, only needs 3-5 horses to drive when wind fails.
Not sure about using a catamaran for a camp cruiser, but some have good storage in the hulls. I don't thing it's publicly indexed any more, if I recall I found it with the way back machine.
I was thinking of some storage in the hulls, as well as having multiple compartments for safety.
Now the thing that I have heard about windsurfer sails is that in some places there is quite a surplus of them and they can be quite cheap. Most windsurfsails around 5 to 6 square meters(53 to 64sqft) will fit a stub mast which is arranged vertical(parallel to Mixers forward bulkhead)with the leeboard down vertical as well.I made some simple wedges to insert in the mast partner changing mast rake.
Just finished a curved sprit boom from bamboo and epoxy since I noticed the windsurfsails do not have a nice shape with a straight boom on the "wrong" side. Note that it is all rounded, sort of a ball and half socket joint, with a loose lanyard to keep it somewhat in place but remember it is the force of the halyard pushing down on the yard that keeps the ball in the socket.
Walter has several windsurfer sails of different sizes ready to hoist but points out the problem of not being able to reef it.
IMB features a "Birdwatcher" cabin, full length with panoramic windows and a center walkway slot in the roof.
These boats can be self righting with minimal, or no, ballast because crew weight works as ballast. While I was sailing with Gerry, Bob's boat came out on the lake with four adult males and no sign of bogging down, showing that these fat pram shapes, very much like my Piccup Pram, can handle a lot of weight in the 13.5' length. I don't know if either boat had ever been weighed and the 350 pounds I quote as the empty weight is just a guess. The prototype Twister gets a test sail with three grown men, a big dog and and big motor with its lower unit down. To get WoodenBoat delivered to your door or computer, mobile device of choice, etc, click WB Subscriptions. As well, I saw a few other Michalak boats in that event, and grew to respect them, especially as their owners seemed so happy with them. Our boat was sailing on one of those balanced lugs set in the middle step, and the sail was reefed, poorly sheeted, and twisted (it was a borrowed boat that had come with one sail and no real hardware, so everything was rigged Neolithic style :-).
I have been very tempted with Laguna, but as i sail singlehanded a lot, its too much boat (for an open and unballasted boat). I have mailed Chuck from DWs about his impressions after building and sailing one,but i never got any replies from any mails.
Stretched to 18 ft, draft reduced to 3 in to produce the same displacement the KM rose to 1.58.
The explanations of KM and the metacentre of a hull that I have seen all use a transverse section to illustrate. But going down wind and catching a wave you can certainly feel like your planing and if you steer really carefully you can stay up on the plan for up to a minute before the wave moves on or you pass the wave.
I also got a chance to sail David Chase's mikesboat which was built by a pro and it seemed to sail just as well as my fathers.
Some of these so called makeshift boom tents that people make on their own look ridiculous and will never keep the mosquitos out. Those boom tents have allowed many shelter who can't or won't have a boat with a proper cabin. He drew oar ports into the plans for IMB, but two that he knows of use electric trolling motors. In Thailand localy manufactured exterior plywood is of good quality but heavy( Keruing wood is used).For the bottom I used 7 mm (35 lbs !
Nothing really new there as the old sharpie sprit sail is also difficult to reef, just to name one.
They sit low looking out through the windows (although standing in normal winds is quite acceptable). One of the ideas behind the boat was that it might be towed behind a compact car and I was glad to see that Gerry tows his behind a 1500cc mini SUV. Gerry's has the blueprint 104 square foot sail and Bob's uses the 114 square foot Bolger Windsprint sail available from Payson. Shown with the "ketchooner" rig, featuring his own polytarp sails, that is shown on the plans.
Uncomplicated builds for those who just want to get afloat rather than spend much longer build times on things such as glued lapstrake. But, as I have reported somewhere before, that boat pounded its way upwind in a series of short-tacks that all ended in shallow water -- the 'come about' command was the leeboard line pooing from the cleat.We made it to the camp site ahead of everybody that day because of the Laguna's flat bottom allowing the skipper to risk very shallow water on a short cut and literally sail across wet grass (which probably cut an hour from our tacking).


Yet we sat all day on those side-seats leaning back against the gunwales (PFDs for back-cushions) and I never felt better, and the skipper seemed just fine (though he is not a complainer).
Im sure Chuck is a nice fellow, anyone who is a rampant boat builder like he seems to be are normally good blokes! My father, Brother, and I have built 10 of Jim's boats and commissioned 3 and they are all great.
I still have another summer to go before I get my 3rd week of vacation and can consider going to SO. There are two recent excellent threads regarding camp cruising sailboats that might be of interest. To provide enough physical comfort for your aging bones you will want a hull that can support a cabin that provides good sitting headroom above settee berths. It alone can decide whether your day on the water is an enjoyable and memorable one or a life threatening situation. Was enjoying my dinner when a couple of Hobie Cats came into the bay & hauled up on the beach. Then Duckworks sends me an email about the order and then I send the plans right from me to you.
But they are meant to be used with limber masts that are not supported in the usual way, with a step and partner. But Walter's rig has an advantage there in that with the release of the halyard, the sail and its yard all drop down relieving the boat of all that weight and windage up high. At the Conroe (Houston) messabout I got a chance to look over his boat plus the only other IMB I know of built by Bob Williams.
I used to worry a bit about running a leeboard on a full cabin boat like this since handling must be done by remote control, so to speak. Garth is using a small lug rig for sail, not the sharpie sprit sail shown on the plans, so I will continue to carry the design as a prototype boat. I have to say the Family Skiff has been used more this summer than any of other boats, its just quick to set sail and go,very light and so still sails in light winds, and i have found a paddle is better than rowing! For the price of a set of plans it is nice just to buy a set and be able to build them in your head.
The only time you ever have trouble with a Yawl rig is when you forget to let the mizzen sheet fly before tacking.
18 - 20 foot length would be about right, especially if you have ambitions to sail bigger water.
They fit in a socket on the surfboard, pivoting freely there in all directions, and are held upright by the skipper who hangs on to the sprit boom, which in the windsurfer's case is a double curved wishbone that can be handled from either side of the sail. He sent this copy from "Gary Dierkings book "Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes" showing the set up with original mast,boom and universal joint". IMB, which is small with a light bottom, should reliably self right from 60 or 70 degrees and in the test described above self righted from a full 90 degrees of roll.
Even the family skiff will slams upwind,so i can only imagine what the flatter boats are like!! I have not tried it with the outboard yet, but i know in a small chop its gonna be a slammer. But it was fast, easy to sail, carried a weeks worth of camping supplies, and I did capsize once and was able to get it righted and sailing in about 30 minutes.
My situation is not much different from yours and I would not be comfortable with something as minimal as most of the open camp cruisers.
What Walter had done was support the windsurfer sail pretty much as it was intended, with a limber mast that was stuck somehow in a flexible step and held upright with a stub mast, in the usual Mixer mast step and partner, in a manner that was both strong and allowed the flexible sail system to work.
Both had added low inside seats which made them more pleasant to use to the point that I will show some seats on the plans.
Still a great little camp cruiser, no reason why you couldnt fit a hard Scamp style dodger and a canvas extension , those cockpit seats are really big enough to sleep on.
We will spend the next few weeks sailing, drifting and motoring down to Pine Bluff Arkansas. I finished all the spars for a balanced lug but then I built a stub mast(60mm square cross section) and use my old windsurf sails on a bamboo spar which is pulled up to the stub mast through a 2 to 1 purchase.Works rather well.
I was worried when I drew IMB that the headroom would be minimal so drew no seats thinking the crew would sit on the floor, as with the original Birdwatcher. It points very high into the wind, but with a 4 foot wave and going against the tide it was hard to make much VMG. I've never seen a need for a lanyard to pull the board up although I've seen several rigged that way.
The Dovekie design had elaborate cam operated levers in the cabin that operated the leeboards and I thought that all very clever.
But in talking to some Dovekie owners I found the internal levers are not universally loved since they can often be in the way.



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