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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Where am I Headed?

This seems like a good time to talk a little bit about my thoughts on my Joli boat build.

I know I’m treading on thin ice here as I’m thinking about changing an existing design and making “improvements”.

Yea right, what do I know about boat design? I guess that is another reason to build my Joli boat virtually first. Of course I won’t know the impact of these changes until I have a real boat in the water but at least I can explore some ideas and resolve some issues that come up before I’ve invested a bunch of time, effort, wood, and epoxy.

I’m looking forward to doing some more designing using the free Google Sketchup. This program will have some limitations when it comes to drawing boats, and in fact there are better hull design programs available, but I’m going to stick with Sketchup for now.


If you’re interested in boat design, you may want to check out DELFTship. Bruce Hallman of the Bolger Yahoo group is using this software to draw amazing isometrics of many of the Bolger designs. You can see his work over on Flickr. There is a free version of this software available.

The first thing that I want to try to modify is the cabin shape of the Joli. I’m wondering if curving the sides of the cabin in towards the top would give it a little more nautical shape or look. This would also give the roof a slight overhang that I think might look good. I realize that this will create some problems with building the boat upside down using Philip’s method of leaving the frames long to act as temporary supports. I’ll have to work on a solution for this.


I’m also thinking about building the frames more like a traditional raised panel wood door. I think I could use clear cedar deck material as the frames along with paneled inserts made out of pine bead-board. I think this would give a nice contrasting color below decks as well as a warm cabin feeling.


I’ve also collected photos from the web about different ways to finish the interior. I really like the look of flush fitting doors & drawers finished in a oil-based enamel paint. I don't think knobs are a good idea and I think there has to be some way to keep the doors and drawers closed while under way. I think I would finish the ceiling with the same pine bead-board as the frames, but I would paint this with a white oil-based enamel to keep it light down in the cabin.


I would like to use clear cedar deck boards on the floor of the cabin using the frames as the support much like a deck would be built in your back yard.


Well there really is so much more to dream and plan about but I better start thinking about where I might build a boat like this. I’ve got a carport out front that might work, and I’ve got some room in the backyard that might work. Our lot is 50’ x 100’ so this will take some creativity.

Stay tuned! 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let Me Introduce You

To the Joli that is. I can’t say for sure when I first ran across the designs by Philip Thiel, but it was nearly “love at first sight”.

The Escargot is probably the more famous of Philip’s designs. It was fantastic to run across Bryan Lowe’s online journal of his build experience. He is open and honest throughout the process of creating an Escargot boat from a pile of wooden sticks.

Unfortunately, there is very little information on the web about Mr. Thiel’s designs. There is discussion that there may be about 7 of these boats that have actually been built.

The Joli is a slightly larger version, (roughly 23’), of the Escargot with standing headroom below decks. This design has 2 single bunks forward, a double bunk aft, and a dinette in the center that could sleep 2.

I bought a set of Joli plans from Mr. Thiel in June of 2008. He’s been very responsive via snail mail, answering questions and providing additional information. Relying on the post office may seem a little outdated in the 21st century, but this is what works for him.

Philip’s newest design, (2008), is the Friend-Ship. This boat is roughly the same design as the Joli with a cover over the cockpit and helm.

Philip can be reached at the following address:

Philip Thiel

Sea/Land Design

4720 Seventh Ave. NE

Seattle, WA  98105