Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rest in Peace
Phil Bolger

I was never a student to Phil’s designs but always respected his education, writings and spirit.

Gloucester Times: Boat creator 'leaves on own terms'

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Simplicity Wins Again

I’d been toying around with the Slider Cat by doing a little more modeling and some drawings when I realized why I liked the design in the first place. Simplicity. If you want something bigger you bring on all the bigger designs issues. Why not just choose some larger designs in the first place and save yourself some aggravation. Want an open hull design in the 30-foot range? Get the Wharram Tiki 31 plans out and build that. Need a pod on the deck for dry sleeping, cooking and lounging? Try the Woods Wizard (22 feet) or Sango (25 feet) designs. All of these are either demountable or in the case of the Woods boats can be folded up and trailered.

Each and every one of these designs has some component that just will not please every builder/sailor.

I don’t like the idea of sleeping in a coffin yet I want the openness only found on open deck catamarans. I would like to be able to transport the finished boat to any launch I desire without spending days assembling it. These are just a sampling of the dilemma every designer faces when trying to satisfy everyone with his or her design.

As for us? I don’t think we’ll give up on the Slider Cat idea.

At 1/12th scale the yellow hull is 16' and the blue hull is 20'.
The manikin is in scale and would be 5' 6"

Making her a 20 footer seems within reason and I have no doubt about using the stitch and glue method on the design. I was able to “peal” off the skin on the first half model and using those build a 1/12th scale using that method with no problems at all.

Demounting issues were easily overcome and I have a trailer idea that will work but we’ll talk more about that when the time comes.

The big issue now is what to do on deck. I have several layouts that will provide ample sitting/lounging room and one idea that would convert some of the space to a sleeping area although it provides no protection under sail. Note that at 20 feet there is room for a single bunk in the hulls but I refer you to the coffin referance above.

I need to set the sailing program for the design and stick to it. If your sailing offshore for extended amounts of time the open hulls would probably be a bad idea. If you’re just skipping beach to beach, they’re no problem. Is there a cover design that would second as some other purpose upon reaching the destination? What about a canvas solution along the lines of the Tiki 31 (see JOJO)?

Lets tackle the deck first. The wheels are turning.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What’s next?

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. All my concentrations have been on The SB18 project.

With financial resources for everyone drying up in the past year or so we have been dragging our feet as to what will be the next build after the SB18 is completed this summer. For us there is less to go around so we are looking at everything associated with the build in relation to its cost. Space to build can lead to spending more. Naturally larger designs require more materials. Other things are more in line with after the build is complete. The larger the boat, the more upkeep there is. Slip space to keep a large cat can be very expensive.

I recently wrote a friend that I might have a problem. I am a plans collector. Maybe there should be a support group for us? There are others out there and I know a few of them personally.

We now have in our possession five full sets and numerous study sets of catamaran plans and we won’t talk about monohulls on this blog but there are a lot of those in our filing cabinet. All the catamaran plans are a result of down sizing. We started with the Wharram Tiki 38, downsized that to a Tiki 31, and then switched designers to Richard Woods. His Sango is a nice 25 footer that can be stored and transported on a trailer. We looked at Paul Fishers Cat 254, a 26-footer with some good qualities especially in the building style. Then I ran across Ray Aldridge’s Slider, a 16-foot beach cat with some unique ideas.

Ray’s not a professional naval architect and doesn’t claim to be. He is creative and was determined to build himself a small catamaran for beach cruising and camping along the coast of Florida. In his own words “I designed Slider to be the most luxurious 16 foot open boat beach cruiser possible. Much of the luxury derives from the fact that Slider is a catamaran, and consequently has a very stable and level ride. Even more luxurious is the adjustable seating within the hulls, where much of the crews’ bodies are protected from the elements. The helmsman steers facing forward in a comfortable molded seat, using a steering line that runs around the perimeter of the center deck and hulls. Once at anchor, luxury takes the form of a fairly spacious tent, which allows two people to bed down on the center deck, with one cockpit and its seats enclosed by the tent, and the other cockpit open for access to the outside world". (Read more about the Slider on Ray’s blog here)

I purchased the plans (why not I collect them) and quickly saw promise to a whole new area of what may be acceptable in our own catamaran. I think the design is a little overbuilt and would work wonderfully as a stitch and glue project. Ray’s plans call for more of a skin on frame build and it is an easy enough way to build it but does add a little weight. I also think the beam could be increased and the hulls made to be demountable still allowing it to be trailered without special permits.

To brush up on converting the plans to stitch and glue method I went back through Sam Devlin’s How to Build Any Boat the Stitch-and-Glue Way. I made up a half mold to get the panels and will now build a scaled up version as a test. I want to go to about 20 feet at a minimum, increase beam, work out demounting issues and maybe toy around with a deck pod. With the SB18 project on hold while epoxy cures I should have the time to do this.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

In Connecticut they sure know their boats...

Well as you may very well know I had been anticipating the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Connecticut this past weekend. I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the event and came home with a renewed enthusiasm for boat building and some pretty good ideas as well.

I made a quick go round on Saturday morning to see as much as quickly as possible and snap a few pictures, then I would be able to make my way back round and concentrate on what I was most interested in. Well I ended the first go round with some 220 plus photos of which more than half are worth keeping. You may view most of them in no particular order at also note these are unedited and not cropped.

I can’t even begin to name the number of designs that were represented. Of most importance to me however was the presence of the multihulls at the show. Perhaps they are at last being accepted as equal in complexity and style to the monohulls. I spent the day talking with builders mostly, I’m not one to talk with suppliers much, and most everyone was genuinely excited to talk about their boat

One of the boats we have considered was to be presented at the show. The Tiki 30 a James Wharram design and built by David Halladay of Boatsmith of Jupiter FL. Their web address is if you would like to know more about them. The boat was extremely well finished and they had made a few minor modifications from the plans that seem to work well. First and most noticeable when you walk up is the teak foredeck that replaces the net or trampoline found on most forward areas of multihulls. Another change was the widening of both seats that run down each side of the cockpit area providing what should make for a very comfy place to not only sit but take afternoon naps as well.

They also moved the outboard motor-well forward by a few feet allowing better movement around the cockpit and making the motor covering into a usable workspace or table. Seeing this boat has made me rethink some things about what we may want on our own catamaran. More on that another time.

Later that day on a little ½ hour ride around the harbor aboard the Sabino a 1908 coal-fired steamboat I met a older gentleman from Austin and as a fellow, although displaced, Texan I listen as he told me about his own boat building experiences which culminated with a couple of river boats of quite some size. I believe his last name was Fowler; he said he “was no gentleman though he was a damn attorney”.

All of this was enough for a day at a boat show but it got better. I had decided early on to attend the Tribute to Multihull Pioneers Banquet Saturday evening and was killing a little time before the event. Being at the show by myself I sat down at a table where I thought I would be able to see and here well enough but off to the side as not to get in the middle of strangers. As I sat for a moment a gentleman came and sat at the next table over and pulled out some papers from his jacket. It was James Wharram looking just a little nervous reviewing his notes for the presentation. I watched the people come and go drinks in hand mingling. Hanneke Boone, James associate came over and as well as a few others and “Trimaran” Jim Brown sat down with them. The couple across from me noticed they were beginning to serve dinner and I joined them in line to get a plate. Jim Brown has lost a good deal of eyesight and was asking for help when someone stepped in to fill his plate as I left the line and returned to my table. A voice from over my shoulder asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said no please fell free without turning around to see whom it might be. In a soft but firm voice the gentleman said “I’m Dick Newick”. I said, “I’ve heard of you”. He asked what my association with the tribute was and I explained that I had just recently become interested in multihulls and the opportunity to here the designers and pioneers speak was my only reason for attending. We talked about my interest and he pled his case as to the benefits if a tri vs. catamaran. He was attending with the owners of one of his designs and they also showed great interest in by project both present and future. Regrettably I have forgotten their names. Dick left me with the impression that these designers are regular guys with a passion to better the boating community by providing designs to fit the needs of an individual rather than everyone past and future that will sail a boat. He asked that I contact him before we begin to build our multihull and I most certainly will. I regret that I was unable to meet up with him the next morning as he requested to review some ideas but my flight did not allow the time.

I could make a short article of the event but should spend more time getting the SB 18 project back on track. We hope to get the hull completely glassed on the underside this weekend while we have a few extra days.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Boat show plans arranged..

Here’s a little information on the Woodenboat Show Multihull Pioneer Tribute honorees. I have made all my arrangements and will be able to attend. This feels like a milestone as for the past several years something has always gotten in the way of getting there. What a great year to finely get to go.

“Trimaran” Jim Brown has been designing multihulls since the 1960, since his association with another pioneering multihull designer, Arthur Piver. He is best known for his work, with John Marples, on the Searunner trimarans and as inventor of the Constant Camber boat construction method. Jim also designed the Windrider, a rotomolded trimaran for Wilderness Systems. His article on Multihull Pioneers appears in the May/June issue of WoodenBoat magazine.

Meade Gougeon is the co-founder of Gougeon Brothers, boatbuilders and manufacturer of WEST System epoxy and Pro Set resin. He is a pioneer in the construction of modern multihulls, having developed many of the protocols used in modern wood-composite construction. Gougeon-built boats accomplishments in the world of multihulls (and monos) are legion, and include the fastest time in the world speed trials of 1979 (in the 60' proa Slingshot), a 1976 Olympic silver medal in the Tornado class, and a Little AMERICA's Cup win in the C-class catamaran PATIENT LADY in 1977.

Walter Greene is one of New England’s leading yacht designers and builders. He began sailing multihulls in the early ‘70s. One of his early multihull designs won the Route de Rhum race in 1978, which quickly established his name in Europe. In the 1980 OSTAR, Walter built the Dick Newick-designed MOXIE for Phil Weld, who won the race to great acclaim. Walter founded Greene Marine in Yarmouth, Maine, in 1980, and continues to design, build, and sail multihulls to this day.

Dick Newick broke with the “plywood box” norm of modern multihull design when, in 1971, he specified cold molding for his trimaran THREE CHEERS. The boat had a one-piece, totally integrated crosswise bridge, or “wing aka,” to connect the three hulls. THREE CHEERS met a tragic demise on a risky, ice-riddled route in the 1976 OSTAR Race. She was, however, a harbinger of things to come. The boat gave rise to MOXIE, sailed by Phil Weld and built by Walter Greene. MOXIE won the 1980 OSTAR, cementing Dick Newick's legend.

James Wharram was one of the first modern multihull designers to test his creations by crossing oceans. He introduced the seafaring, home-built catamarans to the masses. Over almost five decades, some 10,000 builders have purchased his plans. Wharram recently completed a circumnavigation, with design partner Hanneke Boon, in the 63' SPIRIT OF GAIA

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wooden boat show at Mystic Seaport…

I’ve been busy with the SB18 build, as you know if you follow our other blog and am affraid I have neglected this one.

We are still very active in perusing the catamaran and just when I think we have it pinned down we see something else. Time is running out on decision-making and I have a new conundrum.

I ‘m trying to get to the Wooden Boat Show up north but am having a hard time getting my plans in order to pull it off. I’ve wanted to go to this show for years but it just doesn’t seem to work out. It’s always a busy time for us at work and you have to get the jobs when you can but, this year I’m determined to get there.

Not only will there be the usual boat displays and vendors hawking their goods but none other than James Wharram himself will be in attendance to be honored at the Multihull Pioneer Tribute. Other honorees include, Jim Brown, Barry Choy, Meade Gougeon, Walter Greene, John Marples and Dick Newick. I have read many of the above designers books or seen their plans and would feel I had been in the company of some of the greatest influences on multihull design and engineering of our time.

It is also a good possibility that there will be some completed Wharram boats and this could very well make up our minds which way to go. One builder has released a note that they will be bringing a Tiki 30. I am unsure of this boats state of completion but it would be of great interest. You can see more about this builder here

If you would like to know more about the show check out

It seems an easy enough task. Hop on the plane and go to the show. I just have to make it happen.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Side tracked already...

Well we haven’t started one boat when along comes another.

We knew from the early research that the building process would take several years to complete. We sold our Catalina 27 at the end of last season and now that spring is in full bloom we’ve got the sailing fever rather than stray to far from the plans we have decided to build a smaller boat to get on the water by fall. It is by know means a dingy but a mono hull 18’ sport boat known as an SB18. If you would like to know more about it you may follow our blog on the build at This will also let us do some building with similar materials and try some new techniques as well.
We of course continue to keep everyone abreast of or plan search and eventual build on this site as well.
© 2008-2009 Greg Johnson