OK, before you get all over me about being in the "real" world, just give me a minute to explain ;-)

I bought a set of plans for the Joli boat from Philip Thiel. Unfortunately, this is not the right "season" in my life to really start building a boat. So, should I just wait and dream, or should I make some kind of forward progress?

My intent here is to keep a journal of my progress. I'll be using Google Sketchup to build my virtual boat. I'm sure that along the way I'll run across problems that need solving, trouble keeping on task, and moments of inspiration.

I'll include pictures and video as I progress. Click on any picture if you'd like to see it larger.

Maybe I'm crazy, but follow along and see what you think

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sailing Off the Edge of the Earth

Yes, I’m back but just barely. I didn’t really sail off the edge of the earth.

Well maybe emotionally I ended up at the edge of the earth. Difficult things, turns in the road, unexpected changes. I think you get the idea. But I’m back now. At least a little ;-)

It wasn’t all a deep abyss actually. It also included a big cosmetic remodel on our home.

As most of you understand, it’s important to take care of the home front as we dream of boats. We’re raising our twin grand daughters and they were getting filthy as they crawled around on our floors. You know, 10 year old carpet can be pretty bad. It didn’t matter how often we cleaned the carpet, they were still getting dirty. Something had to be done.

It all started with an opportunity to snag 800 sq ft of Pine Pergo flooring from a model home in one of our developments. This house had not been lived in and the flooring was like new. The new owners didn’t like the rustic pine look so it was mine for the taking as long as I pulled it out.

More on this later.

I have been in steady communication with Bryan Lowe throughout this time. He really has become a great friend and it’s been fun to exchange “life updates” via e-mail.

Like me, Bryan enjoys a variety of adventures. It’s fun to think about and plan different things. Bryan actually started flying lessons again. Yes, he had started once before. This time he was learning to fly powered parachutes.

I’ve really enjoyed his Youtube videos of his lessons, his solo’s, and his first cross country. How exciting! I’ve also flown powered parachutes in the past so I knew how much fun he was having. He started a great e-paper, Mach None Flying

Bryan has kept shanty boats at the back of his mind during this time. He is the creator and moderator of the Shanty Boat Yahoo Group. Bryan also has a fantastic web site dedicated to shanty boats. The really great news is that he’s starting to write again. Check out his newest articles over at Shantyboatliving.com

It’s great to have you back Bryan, you inspire me!

I’m also looking at boat building again. I’ve got the old Virtual Joli files out again and am getting Sketchup fired up.

My ideas for the Joli build are somewhat unconventional so I’ve decided to build a scale model using scale versions of the tools and techniques. I bought a Dremel 4000 and a plunge router attachment for it.

I intend to build a 1/8 scale model of my Joli boat. This will be large enough to test and prove some of my ideas.

  • A 26.5' Joli would be about a 40” model.
  • A 4x8 piece of plywood that is 1/2" thick would be a 6"x12" piece that is 1/16" thick.
  • A 6' human or 72" would be 9".
  • A 2x4 (1.5" x 3.5") would be .1875 x .4375  or  3/16 x 7/16.
My friend from Germany, Dr. Klaus Silbernagl has a nice web site where he is documenting his ideas and model building.

I’ve also been in touch with Tom Sullivan from Northern California. He just purchased plans for the Friendship, another design by Philip Thiel.

He’ll be documenting his build over at the Shanty Boat Yahoo Group.

So you can see, there is activity going on. It’s good to be back.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Let’s Review Some Features

The PDCruiser is a rather small vessel that I’m designing for multiple uses. Expecting this boat to be the perfect boat for me is a real stretch. I think we all realize that there is a chance that it won’t do anything very well.

Follow along in my thought process as I explore needs, wants, problems, and solutions. Maybe we can work together to find the compromises that will develop into a truly useful boat.

I’m designing the PDCruiser to be rowed, sailed, and powered by a small outboard motor as well as being comfortable to sleep aboard.

This means the seating configuration needs to be easily changed depending on the mode. For rowing, I need a bench seat down the middle of the cockpit. For sailing, I need seats down each side. And for sleeping, the seats need to fold out of the way.

The profile views below show how I envision using the space available.

The forward cabin needs to have a companionway opening that is almost full width of the boat. This opening is needed when the boat is set up for sleeping. However, the forward companionway needs to have a hatch cover to protect and secure items if the weather or seas are rough. This hatch needs to be easy to remove, fold, and store when not needed. I’ll need to work on a good design for this.

The forward cabin also has a sliding roof and walls that slides rearward to enclose the cockpit to create a 7’ cabin for sleeping. You can see in the drawing below that this hatch ends up obstructing some of the opening at the top of the forward cabin. I’ll live with the duck under that this creates until I come up with a better solution. You can also see that the sliding hatch needs some more designing in Sketchup. The cabin has to be longer at the top than the cockpit or the sliding hatch won’t cover everything in the closed position.

The rear cabin is used as a galley and storage. This space can be easily accessed when the boat is configured for rowing, sailing, motoring, or sleeping.

I really like the look and ease of operation that a leg-o-mutton sail rig gives me and I like the idea of a main sail as well as a mizzen sail on the PDCruiser like the Squeak has below.

The rear cabin and the mizzen mast create a real problem for steering. I can’t use a conventional tiller on a rudder so I did some research. I found an old drawing of a vertical tiller mounted to one side of the cockpit that is connected by ropes to a hoop on the rudder. Now I’m wondering if I’ll need a tiller on each side of the cockpit depending on which tack I’m on while sailing.

The forward cabin and the high sides of the cockpit create some problems with getting in and out of the boat, especially off of a sandy beach. I think I just need to live with the limited forward deck access. I’ve considered hinging the cockpit sides so they can fold down. They are in place to enclose the cockpit when the hatch is slid rearward.

I plan to use lee boards for sailing instead of a centerboard since I want to use the boat for sleeping. A centerboard trunk would take up too much real estate on such a small boat.

I’m considering a foam sandwich construction method for the PDCruiser. Using 1/2” foam board sandwiched between 2 sheets of 1/8” Okume would create very light and strong panels. These panels would also add to the flotation of the boat in the event of a capsize or swamping. The finished side panels would interlock with the ends, sides and bottom creating a 3/4” overlap for sealing. The Okume could be finished bright or painted for protection.

Plans are still coming together for my adventure trip to Seattle to meet with Bryan Lowe. We plan on a 2 day cruise in the Snohomish river using his Escargot and his new mini shanty and then we’ll head over to the homebuilt wooden boat show on Lake Union where he plans to enter both boats.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The New Mistress

Yes, I’m courting a new lady, but only as a stepping stone. I’ve really been inspired by Bryan’s Blog about his Micro Shanty. He has designed and is building a neat little 8’ boat with a cabin for overnighting. How fun!

I was also encouraged by a post over on the Puddle Duck Yahoo Group from Bill Giles:

To all you lurkers out there,

I know you have never even thought about building a boat before. It is a really scary thought. And a sailing rig is even worse. What could happen? You could get wet. Do yourself a favor. Cut out 2 sides glue on the front and back, stick the bottom on, mount some oar locks and throw a 1 by board across the top and row what you just created or even use a paddle. The first time you push off from shore in a "boat" of your own creation you will be hooked forever! Understand all of the hard part has already been thought out. This thing works. There are over 300 of them floating around the world and that number is growing rapidly. Jump in with both feet (but not in the boat itself). I promise that no matter what happens you will not regret it. I have met many of the people here and they have told me their stories about the first time. It is worth it. You will never go back. You will amaze yourself. Even Andy Lynn sailed 200 miles in one of these and most people swore he would never go anywhere.

I need a nap now.


While I’ve really enjoyed the thought process in designing and drawing my Joli, I also realize that I want to get on the water. I follow the Oregon Coots vicariously through the internet but I think it’s time to “get real” ;-) They’re having so much fun getting together at various locations for their messabouts.

The Joli is going to be a wonderful shanty cruiser for me. It will have the size and comfort that will make it a great boat for longer trips. However, I’m not willing to wait.

I’m currently reading 3 Years in a 12 Foot Boat by Steve Ladd. This book got me to thinking about what I could do on a smaller scale to get me on the water.

I’ve also been following the exploits of a group of sailors competing in the Texas 200. An amazing feat in any boat, but these guys did it in 8’ Puddle Ducks. Wow! Some might call them real Duck Heroes.

The PDRacer site is jamb packed with information including notes about scaling up the design.

All of the things I’ve mentioned above have led me towards designing and building a 12’ shanty boat. I’m going to call the design a PDCruiser. It will have a center cockpit and will be set up to row, sail, and will include a small auxiliary outboard. The forward cabin will have a full sliding hatch with sides that will slide backwards to enclose the center cockpit. The rear cabin will contain a small galley and other storage. When the hatch is slid backwards, the cabin will be 7’ long, 44” wide, and 42” high at the tallest end.

In case you’re wondering if this virtual boat builder ever gets his hands dirty; Yes, I just finished building our front porch out of recycled cedar deck boards. I just love it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Boat is an Island

My wife Tina and I just spent 11 wonderful days wandering through the back country of Oregon with our vintage camp trailer. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Yahoo!

Here’s a link to some of the pictures on Facebook if you’re interested.

I had intended to use some of this “down time” to get some more designing done on the Joli, but as you can see from the pictures, we were having too much fun to be staring at a computer screen ;-)

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t spend at least a part of every waking hour thinking about my boat. One can’t help but think on these things once you’ve been bitten by the bug.

Our trailer is about 13.5 feet long on the interior. That means that there has to be a place for everything, and everything needs to be in it’s place. That also means that there needs to be some routine so daily tasks can get completed. Things like bathing, brushing teeth, getting dressed, having that first important cup of coffee, and eating meals.

Any space in a 13’ trailer needs to be multi use space, so the timing of tasks as well as the conversion of space needs to be well orchestrated.

There are also limited resources within 13’. You can only pack so much food, or have so much water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. And that water has to collect somewhere after you use it. You’re also limited on what power is available. The battery will only last so long and then it’s time to hook up to “shore power”. The propane is also limited. Periodically you have to stop and get the bottles refilled.

All of these things would apply to a boat also. In fact, I think they may be more important on a boat. I spent our time camping thinking about how often I stepped outside of the trailer to do something.

How often did we use the bathroom in the campground? Sure it was just a pit toilet, but it was still out of the trailer. How about cooking on the barbeque or maybe washing hands? Or how often did we step out to sit in the lawn chair to “just get away” or maybe to find a nice place in the sun to do a little reading?

How often did I step outside to drain the dirty water? How often did I go to the water pump to get more water? How often did I get into the truck to get more supplies?

There isn’t much opportunity to do those things in a boat. You see, a boat really is an island. It has to be self contained. I felt like we were already experiencing that with our trailer. After all, it’s “self contained” and we’re usually “dry camping”, without any hook-ups. But during this trip I really realized how much more these things apply when you’re on a boat.

This post isn’t about conclusions or solutions, but rather just a little thinking out loud.

I did get a little further on my virtual build. The boat is back down to a width of 7.5 feet. I felt that this would allow it to sit lower on the boat trailer since it can sit between the tires and fenders this way. I know that I’ll lose some interior space but I think it’s an important compromise to make.

I received a nice letter this week from Myke who lives in Colorado. He’s building a neat shanty camp trailer and is already looking at his next project. Maybe it will be a nice Joli boat.

Hopefully, I can get back to some more drawing soon, or maybe it’s time to go boating! Sounds like Bryan is doing well on his micro shanty and he’s pretty confident he’ll have it ready for our excursion next month. I’m so excited!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It’s Too Long!

I was just sure I had settled on a floor plan that would work well for our family. The truth is, “not exactly”.

Things looked good on my virtual paper and some of the 3d stuff looked pretty good also, but I had a good wakeup call when we moved a friend’s 27’ fifth wheel trailer into the back yard for my daughter and her kids to live in.

Wow, this thing is big!

I hadn’t really spent much time thinking about storing my Joli and if I were really honest with myself, I think I’d need to admit that my boat will spend the majority of the time on a trailer.

So, the search started on the internet. I wanted to find some pictures of designs that I liked that were around 27’ long. I wanted to see pictures of boats in the water as well as on the trailer.

I found pictures of Bolger’s 29’ Tennessee. It’s a design I really like and I think it looks pretty good on the water. (Update  11/23/09! A reader pointed out that I had mislabeled this boat. It is actually Mark Van Abbema's 40' Mark V 39. 
Sorry for the error. Read more about it Here. 

But look what happens when you pull this boat out of the water.

I don’t have room to keep something like this and in fact I’m not sure it would make it up the driveway into our back yard. I need to consider the length behind the trailer axles as well as the length of the tongue. These things will really impact the places this boat could be towed.

I’m disappointed with this reality check. I had great visions of sharing extended weekend trips on the Joli with another couple or with our kids and grandkids. The combination of a rear double bunk and forward single bunks along with a dinette that makes into a bunk would really let us spread out. The truth is, we just won’t have that luxury.
I’ve re-drawn the floor plan, again! Things haven’t changed a whole bunch except for the elimination of the rear double bunk and making the head/shower shorter.

The rear cockpit is shorter now and more like a canal boat from Europe. The forward cockpit is longer and should provide a nice place to get outside.
I’ve been working in Delftship to see if I can learn how to draw hull shapes beyond the limits of Sketchup but I’ve also learned some new Sketchup techniques that apply to drawing boats.

I want to see how my Joli shape is developing beyond the flat floor plan I’ve been working with. Here are the steps that I used to move into 3D using Google Sketchup.
This is done much like you would if you were carving a boat out of a solid block of wood. In my case, I’ll be carving a half model.
I started by using the rectangle tool to draw a rectangle that is the overall length of my floor plan by ½ the width, (23’ 7” x 4’).

I then used the push/pull tool to turn my rectangle into a block by pulling up the face to the overall height of my Joli, (82”).

Now it’s time to do a little drawing on the faces of the block. I started with a view of the top and used my floor plan to draw an outline of my Joli. Next, I used Philip’s original plans to get an idea of the amount of rocker on the bottom of the boat. I used the Bezier tool to draw this arc on the side of the block.

Now for a few tricks. I had to copy the shapes that I drew on the side of the block. I pulled these away from the surface and will use them later. The original lines on the side of the block need to be deleted. Now I can use the push tool from the top to remove the “wood” from my block that is outside of my lines. Use the eraser tool in conjunction with the ctrl key to smooth the curves and remove the vertical lines by clicking on them.

The next step was to pull the face of my rocker shapes through the block. Now another important trick. I selected the block as well as my rocker shapes and used the intersect tool to tie them together. Next, I deleted the lines and faces that would remove the “wood” from my block that is outside of my lines.

Here’s a picture and a short video showing the curved hull shape. There are some things that didn’t draw out correctly in Sketchup but it does give me a good idea of how some of my “enhancements” will look. The current drawing doesn’t show the outboard motor and cover yet. I’ll continue to work in Sketchup as well as Delftship to further develop my ideas.

I had a nice chat with Bryan Lowe tonight on Facebook. It was good to touch base with him again. Look for an update on his blog soon. It looks like I will be able to get together with Bryan for the Homebuilt Wooden Boat Show in Seattle during the last weekend in July. I’ll take a couple of extra days off so we can spend some time cruising the Snohomish river in his Escargot.

Friday, April 17, 2009

But I Want it to Look Like a Boat!

Today’s title is to be repeated with an appropriate whining tone. I should know better than to be whining or sniveling here, but it’s really true, I want my Joli to have a pointy bow and a rounded stern.

It’s my virtual world here, so I guess I can create what I want.

I’m excited to report that I can make it pointy and still reasonably simple by sticking with a flat bottom with a slight rocker, a single chine, and vertical sides.

My inspiration comes from a recent launching of a 17’ Candu-EZ tug built by Dennis Banta.

Doesn’t she look great in the water! You’d never know this was a slab sided, flat bottomed boat until it’s sitting on a trailer.

You can see more about this design at Berkeley Engineering.

I’ve been studying tug boats on the internet to learn more about this shape and design. Another example is Sam Devlin’s Godzilli 16.

You can see in the picture below that Sam’s tug has a slight v bottom forward.

Ok, one more just for fun. I really like the looks of the Maddy 18 designed by the MacNaughton yacht and commercial design firm.

Certainly more complicated to build, but the picture above gives me some good ideas about what I think makes a boat look good.

I’m going to spend some time working with the sheer line on my Joli. I can see that it can have a big impact on the end result.

I’ve been working on the floor plan again and I think I’ve settled in on the final version. The boat ended up almost 27.5 feet long. I’m not completely happy about this, but when I draw out the interior dimensions of the furnishings, that’s what it takes. I could eliminate the rear double bunk and probably get the length down to 24 feet. I may draw a version of that if there’s any interest.

Starting in the rear, the double bunk has to be 74 inches.

Next comes the dinette. This makes into a bed, so that section is 74 inches.

As we move forward, the next stop is the head. This has been reduced to 36 inches. If I didn’t start making some sacrifices, I’d end up with a mega yacht!

And finally, the forward bunks. I’ve made these 78 inches long so that there’s room for someone to sleep who may be taller than 6 feet.

My newest idea now has the rear cockpit only 36 inches long. This really resembles the narrow boats or canal boats of Britain or France. This area will now be primarily for the helm and will include a decked area above the double bunk for reclining.

I took some measurements and figured that I would like 24 inches of open area at the bunks to sit upright. Since the companionway ladder is also included in this area, I decided that 36 inches between the end of the cabin and the first bulkhead would allow enough room. The front of the cabin has the same issue, so 36 inches between the front of the cabin and the bulkhead between the forward bunks and the head. The forward cockpit ended up at 66 inches. I’m excited about the additional room available here. I will design it more like a cockpit with a lowered floor in the center and bench seats on either side. There should also be room for a nice locker in the bow for ropes and an anchor.

Now that I’ve settled on a floor plan, I’m ready to start working with hull and cabin shape. I will be back ;-)