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The Building of Old Codger

Chick Ludwig

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Welcome you guys that have been following along over on the Main Forum Page. Now that I've settled on a hull design from B&B, I thought it appropriate to move over here. As you know, I've been contemplating a small power boat to cruise the mountain lakes over where I live in the Appalachians. I've appreciated you comments and suggestions. They've helped to sway my thinking to where it is now. This will be a project that will begin construction later in the spring. Gotta do a couple of other things first. Besides, it's too doggone cold to be out in the unheated (and unheatable) garage.
Here's my thoughts so far to modify the B&B Jessy 15 design from an open skiff to my Micro Cruiser. This is a brand new design from B&B that hasn't even been included on their website yet. It replaces the Bay River Runner (Power version of the Bay River Skiff.) There are three sizes, 12', 15' and 17'.
   1. Raise sheer 4 inches.
   2. Aft cabin b'hd. will remain at center frame.
   3. Berth top will remain same as platform except for a lower seat on the port side.
   4. Cabin top at 32 inches above DWL. Lots of crown.
   5. Forward end of cabin about 5 ft. ahead of Center b'hd. Hinged hatches at aft c'way, and fwd. end of cabin. Fwd. c'way similar to what I did on the OB-20 for access to the anchor on a  sprit. Cabin sides will be out at the hull sides, angled in like Mk-3s. (I hate the way they flare out on Michalak's AF4.
   6. Cockpit remains about the same. May need to adjust aft locker to fit gas tank(s). Hmmm, maybe carry the tanks under the bridge deck instead to help balance. I'll be sitting aft steering with the motor tiller---or maybe forward a bit using a tiller extension. the motor is an older Evinrude 15hp short shaft.
   7. I wonder if I can get away with building the cabin from 4mm ply to save some weight. No need to make top strong enough to support a person's weight.
Tom suggested that the bottom could be 3/8" rather than the 1/2" specified in the design. I'll talk to the Young Master about it.
There isn't an actual plan and profile drawing available yet, but I'll try to post the cockpit plan to give y'all some idea of the Jessy 15. You'll have to wait on the modifications for now. Just try to picture the changes in your head.



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Just for reference, I have built sailboats of the approximate size as the Jessy/Bay River Runner with a class regulation 1/4" bottom.   I'm not saying that this is ideal but these Windmills were raced hard for many years without breaking up.  They do have a V bottom but the only reinforcement of each side bottom panels was a single stringer which does not add a lot of stiffness.  Changing the bottom to 3/8" plus side tank/seats resulted in a structure that is multiple times stronger and stiffer than the thinner ones..   I consider a 1/2" bottom on such a boat way overkill and unnecessarily heavy.

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Congratulations on (finally) selecting a design!  I’ll be driving “up the mountain*” from time to time, to check your progress, and do a little heckling.


* I live 30 minutes away from Chick, at the bottom of the first of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  When the locals drive to Chick’s city, they say they’re driving “up the mountain”.

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I always look forward with great anticipation to Don's visits---even with the heckling! We have a good time together, not only with the boats, but also building and flying (Or at least trying to fly.) model planes.


Tom, thanks for the encouragement on the thinner bottom.

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I'll second the 3/8" bottom or even a 1/4" bottom with a layer of 12 ounce biax all over to stiffen it up a touch. It's speed (load) related for bottom thicknesses and I don't think you'll be pushing this puppy very hard, so the thickness reduction will just offer better fuel economy, of course at the lose of some penetration resistance, which can be solved with fabrics, if desired. Additionally, a few extra longitudinal stringers will help locally stiffen things up too, though the clutter up the bilge a little, but nothing a few well placed weep holes can't handle.

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I think I'm gonna go ahead and make the cockpit self bailing, so there can be framing under it. An added advantage to raising the cockpit sole is that the seats can be raised, too. This will give me better visibility over the cabin.


Also reconsidering leaving the berth at the same level as the bow platform. Lowering it will give better headroom. But it will also narrow the forward end, so I may have to scoot the aft cabin bulkhead back a bit to get my big feet some more wiggle room.


These are things that can be worked out once the hull is built. But it's fun to think and plan about it all. Talking with y'all keeps the "juices" running while I have to wait to get started.



"Addiction......the first step to rehabilitation is to admit you have a problem....."

Ha! Rehabilitation? There is NO hope! I'm hopelessly addicted. Not sure, actually, if it's an addiction or a disease. I've had it since building my first boat over 50 years ago!

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Ya got that right, Tom. Usually I've got them firmly planted in my mouth, though.

I just noticed this---" !&' Jessy ". In addition to big feet, I have clubby fingers. Shoulda been "17' Jessy".


I've been having lotsa fun planning things in my head as I lie awake at night. Raising or lowering the berths, same with the cockpit sole. "....to bail or not to bail, that is the question." Sitting headroom, or slouching. 1/4" or 3/8" bottom, with framing to reduce the span. Tiger orange or Thrillsbe yellow.


The plan is to start after a couple of other minor projects, and after it warms up a bit, but as I was scrounging around out in the garage---I mean shop---I discovered that I just happen to have 5 sheets of 6mm occume, and some 16' pieces of good 'ol poplar lumber, and a couple of jugs of poxy, and 2 or 3 rolls of glass tape, and plenty of air nails (No Vern, not nails made of air, or to nail into air, but nails for the air nailer.) Also some 2x to make a building cradle. Doggone, don't think I can wait much longer! You guys gotta keep it a secret though, don't tell Miss Debbie yet! She'll holler at me.  Or tear me up one side and down the other, get all over me like ugly on an ape, turn me every which way but loose, or....

....or just look sad and hurt, disappointed, dejected, wondering about my sanity, maybe even consider having me committed. Yep, best to just let her keep wishin' and hopin' that I'll settle down and do all the little house and yard projects,  and stick with the various and sundry honey-do things that just seem to keep crowding out what's REALLY important. Or maybe she'll even approve of a bit of work on the "clunky old 'luminum family boat renovation project. But y'all know the important stuff that I'm talkin' about. BOAT stuff.

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What, do you have a problem building boats, or something? Ahem.


Hey, Chick, I have one serious question about the new motor cruiser. If you go moving around bulkheads and houses and whatnot, where is the sail gonna go? :)


Also, how in the HECK can anyone have that much boatbuilding stuff laying around the garop not turned into boats? There were two sheets of passable fir on the floor of my garop for 19 seconds before I realized they’d make that skiff we wanted... :)





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Well, Tiger, I know you raise serious concerns, but, the retractable outhouse will serve double duty as a sail. I'm thinking of using a pair of salvaged hydraulic rams from an old  Bascule Bridge that I found abandoned in the woods near here to both retract it, but also move it forward and aft to change the center or effort. Of course, partially retracting it will also serve as a reefing system.


Maybe it's time for a little history lesson to be inserted here. The bridge goes back to colonial days when the old Buncomb Turnpike passed through these parts. That was the first passage through these here Appalachian Mountains. The trail was original route that the Indians used to go to Florida to trade for the sugarcane to be used in their mountain sweet tea. They actually built their trail on the path created by the last of the mammoths before they became extinct from overhunting by those same Indians. Didya know that the Indians had trained saber-tooth tigers to track and kill the mammoths? Eventually the s.t. tigers themselves became extinct when the Indians discovered that they were killing old Fido, the name they gave to their canine campfire companions, the dire wolves. You ask, "What happened to the dire wolves.) I don't believe I've actually ever sen one of those." Well, I'll tell ya, those dang English Bulldogs that the first colonists brought over wiped them all out! (I learned all of this valuable histeorical knowledge while researching for information about the origins of Vienna Sausage.)


As for the wood, Miss Debbie has cleverly kept Red (Our Honda Fit.) parked in front of it so I couldn't see it hiding there. As y'all know, my memory ain't what it used to be, so I forgot that it was there. Now that I have found it, I need to figure out a way to move Red out of his happy sleeping quarters to make room for my project. That's gonna be hard as Miss Debbie most always goes out with me whenever we go anywhere in Red, and is bound to notice.


Tell us about that cool looking skiff. And add pictures. And, no, I don't have a serious problem building boats. My serious problem comes from NOT building boats. It's all Miss Debbie's fault!

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Oh, Chick, I can’t paddle anymore. It causes too much pain. Towards the end of a long day, I can actually feel the stuff grinding when I rotate my body. There ain’t much disc left in most of those lumbar junctions.


Rowing, so far, does not seem to aggravate me the same way, even if it does just suck compared to paddling.

”Oh, look, there’s where we were...” :)


The purple boat is awesome to row, but not with the childcub and human sized dog aboard.


Also, we don’t have any quick to use boats we can sleep right in the bottom of. See, all water below mean high tide is public land, here, so we can camp in the boat in places we can’t camp on land.

Me and tiny ain’t averse to calling sleeping in the bilge of a boat in your clothes under a tarp to be camping. ;) Plus, a boat pulled up in the shallows with a tarp over it don’t look like it’s full of folks. As much. Hehe.


I stole a whole bunch of inspiration from Jim Michalak. Well, I stole the open interior with canoe style thwarts. I’ll row sitting on a little ditty box with paired stretcher. Having no frames inside is really cool. The box and no frames I stole, gratuitously.


The shape? Well, I amalgamated about 14 different skiff panel layouts, tested a few shapes with balsa, then settled on my “own” middle ground shape. It’s the usual odd banana these things are, a shape that looks like it would be almost anything EXCEPT a boat. 

Likewise, I averaged mold forms, made one, bent, made another, bent, etc.


I think she may have a bit TOO much rocker, but I did want a narrow bottom. Well, narrowish. We needed just enough room to cuddle down there.


Alternatively, the boat will be used to row around The Queen of All Things. She already decided leaning against the transom with a refreshment is quite comfy, and I should hurry so I can row her around.


Then she asked if I was done with the other boat yet. Then she asked if I was done fixing up HER powerboat, yet...


Luckily, I recently replaced half the kitchen counters and installed a new sink. The other half of the counters (galley style) will be replaced soon, with a wooden butcher block top, and a custom cabinet.

Mind, I did the whole dining room with window seats this past year, new floors in the hallways and master (hardwood, tied into the original stuff), and a new bathroom, exclusive of tub, but I finally found a “new” tub.

And the rose garden, kitchen garden, never ending painting and repainting (I’ve added maybe 1/4” of paint to the living room walls)...


There will be PLENTY of time to sit still when I die. :)




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