Boatbuilding news, building tips, and builder feedback

A place to share YOUR boat building story

Glen-L Marine Designs - 9152 Rosecrans Ave. - Bellflower, CA 90706

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • Hope you're all enjoying your summer. Whether you're building, boating, traveling, relaxing, or just dreaming about the next boat you're going to build, it's our sincere desire that you enjoy this wonderful time of the year with your family and friends.
  • Congratulations to Howard Katzman of West Bloomfield, Michigan. Howard's gorgeous Zip "Sea Biscuit" was pictured in the July/August issue of WoodenBoat magazine. Way to go, Howard!
  • Ed and Pat Skulski, who have built a truly beautiful Glen-L Cabin Skiff, were kind enough to write us a report (see below) on this year's Mystic Seaport Wooden Boat Show. Ed and Pat not only attended the show, but they also displayed their Cabin Skiff to the assembled throngs. It sounds like Ed and Pat had a great time - next year maybe you can join them at the show with your boat too?!
  • On a personal note, since I haven't heard any criticisms from anyone about the WebLetters, I guess you're all copacetic with what I've been producing . . . but please realize that I crave your thoughts on how I can better serve your needs. Don't be afraid to tell me "how it is" and what I can do to make the WebLetter more fun, interesting and valuable to you all!
  • What a country! - God Bless America!

Until next month . . .      

Report from the Mystic Seaport Wooden Boat Show

by Ed Skulski

My wife Pat & I had the good fortune to display our boat (a Glen-L Cabin Skiff design) at the "I built it myself" exhibit at the Mystic Seaport Wooden Boat Show this past weekend. The show was amazing, the craftsmanship shown on the "IBIM" boats was unbelievable and really humbled me. There were all types of boats there, ranging from sailing canoes and dingys to a 23-ft. sailboat. On an interesting note, many people recognized my boat as a Glen-L Cabin Skiff and many others said they liked the design because of the protection that the cabin gives in a boat of her size. Showing our boat and discussing construction details was great fun.

The photos attached are some of the many boats in the exhibit. Also enclosed are a couple of photos of three of the larger boats there. The tall ship is the Charles W. Morgan, a whaling ship built in 1841. This year it will be hauled out and a 3 1/2 year restoration of the vessel will begin. Mystic Seaport has the capabilities in equipment and craftsmen to handle this huge project (see Video below).

My favorite boat (after my own Cabin Skiff, of course) at the show was the Aphrodite. This is a 42-ft. fast commuter boat built in the 1920's for a tycoon who lived on Long Island and commuted to his office in NY City everyday. I have read about and seen photos of the boat for years but never thought I would get to see it close up. A crew member even invited my wife & I aboard to tour the entire boat. It is amazing and just the most beautiful man-made thing I have ever seen.

Mystic Seaport is a fantastic place to visit for anyone would loves boats and maritime history. I have included only a very small number of photos; you have to view their website to get an idea of the size of their boat and marine exhibit collection.

-- Ed
Wooden Boat Show Photos

Ed's Cabin Skiff Construction Photos

Video - Charles W. Morgan "The Last of Her Kind"

Featured Design: Dragonfly

As many of you are already aware, our master craftsman Allyn retired some time ago. At that time, knowing that replacing him with someone of like skill and talent would be nearly impossible, we made a considered decision to discontinue producing frame kits for our boat designs.

Upon making the announcement that we would be selling the frame kits still in stock and that once that supply was depleted there would be no more frame kits available, many of our builders took advantage of getting one (or more) "while the getting was good."

Gayle asked me to make the Dragonfly our "Design of the Month" in this WebLetter, because we discovered that 'way in the back of our warehouse, we have four frame kits for this exceptional design, already completed and crated up, ready to "kick-start" a few lucky builders' dreams!

The Dragonfly is a great boat that you'll find easy to build and a pure joy to use. It provides a very stable platform for fishing, duck hunting, or just cruising. It is much roomier than appears on paper, with hearty depth; the efficient hull gives excellent speed using modest power.

The hull bottom of the Dragonfly is flat in the aft section going into a moderate vee forward. This provides maximum buoyancy, and this boat can get to those shallow areas in the backwaters and slither over areas that most vee bottoms can't navigate. These hulls are remarkably stable; no severe rocking from side to side when moving across the boat. Plus, a stable casting platform allows the angler to concentrate on casting rather than on balancing.

From the standpoint of easy construction the garvey hull form has the advantage of simplicity. Its curves are all easy, ideal for Stitch & Glue plywood building with extremely little waste of material. From bottom to deck the building of the Dragonfly is an uncomplicated and very rewarding project.

I spoke with several Dragonfly builders to prepare for this article, and without exception each one of them gave very high marks to the ease of construction, the excellent design and performance of the boat, and the tremendous amount of fun they've been having, both building and using their Dragonflies!

Consider building and enjoying your own Dragonfly today, before all the frame kits are gone forever.

Learn more about the Dragonfly.

Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

Mark & Don Shipley - Zip

Good morning, John. I thought you and the rest of the gang would like to know that we launched yesterday morning, at Lake Piru.

Another ZIP is on the water! It was a little more windy than I would have liked, but we got in a couple hours of running and on one pass I saw 5,000 RPM. With the wind and the chop, I got the prop out of the water a couple of times. We couldn't get full RPM with the 13"-pitch prop, but the 11" really woke things up.

The attention we paid to getting the bottom straight must have paid off, because the boat jumped up on the plane with absolutely no porpoising. She does ride a little bow-high, so I suspect we need to re-trim the outboard. After we deal with some issues with the motor (unreliable idle), we'll head out again, hopefully under calmer conditions.

Motor troubles aside, it was a very successful day. We were the subject of a lot of attention from other boaters and all were amazed that we'd built the boat from plans. There's just something about a wood boat that seems to attract folks nowadays.

This was my first-ever drive at speed in a wood boat and I was amazed at the sound made by the water against the hull. I would describe it as the sound an acoustic guitar would make if someone were compelled to beat it on the water! It's definitely a smooth-water boat.

We should have our motor troubles licked pretty quickly and we'll get back out there again. I can see myself using up all my comp time at work this summer!

I have to say that this has been one of the most rewarding projects I've undertaken. Start to finish for everything (boat, trailer, motor) has been 14 months. Cost-wise, I think we have about $6,000 in this project, including the trailer materials and motor. This makes me feel really good, as a friend is about to dump $18K on a new Bayliner! As a bonus, I think I have enough scrap lumber to get most of the way through something smaller, so I just bought a set of "Imp" plans. It never stops...

Anyway, many thanks to you guys for all the support and for posting almost all of my craziness in the Project Registry. Thanks especially to Glen for a really nice design. We've had compliments from everyone who's stopped by, and while we like to think it's our craftsmanship, none of our efforts would matter if the design hadn't been right to begin with.

-- Mark Shipley
Thousand Oaks, California

Editor's Note: See the complete story of
Mark & Don's Zip in the Project Registry and photos in Customer Photos.

Designer's Notebook: Who's an "Idiot?"

The other day we received a phone call that has stayed in our thoughts.

A customer phoned and stated he had purchased our plans some time back but he couldn't understand them. He then went on to state that he worked with blueprints all the time but our patterns were "not clear." He kept repeating one particular point; he was "not an idiot" . . . we shouldn't think he was "an idiot," etc.

After listening to this monologue for a few minutes we suggested he expound on exactly what was his problem; he said it was with the patterns. More than one was on the same sheet and he couldn't tell which line was which. He had the pattern in front of him and we suggested he start off with any line and find the number or call-out for that part then continue along the line to identify the outline of the part. We further suggested he review the instructions for use of the patterns and possibly use a colored pencil (as stated in the instructions) to outline the particular pattern he wished to identify. He seemed to understand that phase but still couldn't understand the bottom planking pattern. Since that part was in two halves we suggested he look at the "Plywood Layout" sketch to get a reduced scale concept as to the shape of the part. Again he launched into a tirade that he was "not an idiot" and that WE made a huge MISTAKE. In an attempt to inspire confidence, we stated that literally hundreds of this popular stitch and glue design had been built by others just like him. That did it. He exclaimed "You are calling me an idiot" and hung up the phone.

We have never called a boatbuilder an idiot; primarily because we've never found one that fits the category. Everyone has questions and problems during construction. That's par for the course, and one of the pleasures of boatbuilding is overcoming small problems. But, boatbuilding is a new venture for many and a learning curve must occur. If this customer had read the "How to use Patterns" and the written instructions under "Bottom Planking" his questions would probably have been answered. It's human nature, however, for most of us to jump in without a complete review of the written text.

Does that make such a person an "idiot?" Hardly; after contemplation on this call the "idiot" was us. We should have kept on progressively taking from this boatbuilder each point in question. Our statement on previous builders was out of line; it did the opposite of what was intended.

We'd like to have this builder on the line again. Perhaps we could make it clear that our objective is to enable him to build a boat and have fun during the process. The many builders who have used our designs prove we succeed most of the time.

When we don't, we must be the "IDIOTS!"


Ahab was the well-known captain
Of a whaling ship of yore
His story is a classic sea-going tale
I guarantee it's not a bore

He set out upon a long sea journey
To seek a great white whale
He traveled half way round the world
His ship powered only by a sail

He desired most to catch that whale
Who had taken off his leg
Leaving him with one less limb
And a whalebone leg of peg

Ahab drove his ship real hard
To find that animal who maimed him
Through all manner of seas and storms
After Moby Dick as he had named him

The crew found that whale all right
And went out in smaller boats
But Moby Dick did smash them all
Soon none were left afloat

Yet Ahab killed the great white whale
Though it passed not easily
First it rammed and sank his ship
All, save one, drowned in that dark sea

The lesson of this story, please note
What sent Capt. Ahab down to Hell
The ship and boats he chose were not
Designs from our Glen-L


Photos sent in since the last WebLetter...

Why Do Dogs Love Boats?

by Robert Stephens

You'd skip breakfast, run through the unmown grass and figuratively leap at any opportunity to go boating. But would you literally jump at the chance? Would you chew on a doorknob and drool all over yourself, just for a ride?

Bo would. "As soon as he sees the bag packed with towels, he runs around the house, crying," says Amber McCrocklin, owner of the 100-pound yellow lab. Once Bo is on board McCrocklin's 22-foot Four Winns along Tampa Bay, he runs to the front of the bow, sticks his head up in the air and slaps everything in range with his tail. "I didn't teach him to like it," says McCrocklin. "For some reason boating is just fun for dogs."

Like Tosca. The toy poodle is all of 14 pounds soaking wet, which is precisely her condition when she frantically swims to her owners' MasterCraft as it idles into Lake Bell near Orlando. "She has to be the first one in the boat," says Renae Burtrum of the family pooch. "If she sees one of us wearing a swimsuit, she starts jumping straight up in the air."

Sounds like Pepper. The 2-year-old black lab impressed onlookers at the Boat Show Dog Trials in Seattle last September by jumping over a boat hook, weaving through six oars and bounding into a dock cart, among other tricks. Pepper didn't win the 32-dog competition, but she trotted off with something much better than the Pup Cup: a coveted ride aboard her owners' 35-foot Chris Craft, no doubt with nose held high.

Dogs are so wound up over boats that a new canine economy has sprung up. McCrocklin started making Paws Aboard dog ladders four years ago so dog owners wouldn't get scratched up trying to haul Otis over the transom. The business was so good that she started selling Paws Aboard dog vests in July 2005, and last year sold a whopping 25,000 of them. There's also the Pup-Head (a portable patch of fake grass for dogs who can't contain their excitement), Paw Pads (nonskid stick-ons so dogs won't slip on boats), Doggles (because no man lets his best friend get scorched retinas) and dog sunscreen (we may be headed overboard here, folks).

So why is an open-air ride, such as the one at the bow of a boat, the most exciting event to happen to Rufus and friends since hounds drove convertibles in the book Go, Dog. Go! ? When posed this question, Julie Corcoran, who assists with the Boat Yard Dog Trials for Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors, says, "Why do any of us like to ride boats? It's fun."

"Yes," I sniff, "but I have yet to see my wife scratch at the window or piddle on the carpet at the mere whiff of a boat shoe."

If anyone could give a good answer for why dogs dream of becoming hood ornaments and flag burgees, it's Dr. Stanley Coren, author of Why Does My Dog Act That Way?. "It's the smells," says Dr. Coren. "We have five million olfactory scent-detecting cells in our noses. My little beagle has 225 million in his nose."

But what's to smell at the front of a boat that's doing 35 mph?

"We're unaware of most smells on the water, but a dog can smell things underwater, even plankton," says Dr. Coren. "Scents are rising to the surface, one after another, like a video montage to us. Not all are pleasant, but to the dog each one is a 'Wow!'"

And with that we begin to understand not only the dog's love affair with boats, but also the reason Rusty has to jam his nose into every crotch in sight. Wow!

Reprinted from Boating Life, February, 2007.

Harold the boatbuilder

"When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it."

Shop Talk: Some Handy Tips

Power Tool Shelf

Besides providing storage for his portable power tools, this simple shelf solves another of Fred Nordby's (of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada) nagging problems as well — keeping the power cords from getting tangled up.

Each power cord fits in a separate compartment below the tool (see photo). These compartments are formed by a number of dividers that are sandwiched between a top and bottom.

The location of the dividers is determined by the amount of space each tool requires. Note: To allow the base of the tool to sit flat on the shelf, you may need to modify the top by cutting slots or drilling holes to acommodate blades or bits.

Screw Balm

Since his lip balm is always handy, Bill Johnson of Akron, Ohio, applies it to the screws' threads to make it easier to drive in the screws.

Shop "Pencil Cushion"

Peter Priestner's pencils used to have a mysterious way of disappearing from his shop in Chelmsford, Massachusetts — until he started using this "pencil cushion." It's just a piece of pipe insulation that fits onto a wall stud (see photo). Sticking pencils in the cushion keeps them handy and keeps the tips from breaking.

Power-tool Belt Clip
Have you ever wanted to hold a cordless screw driver, drill or other power tool on your tool belt while working? Here's a rig that is easy to assemble, doesn't get in the way and won't accidentally come loose from the belt. And with the rig you can remove a tool from your belt faster than Wyatt Earp could have using just one hand.

As shown in the drawing, use a bentgate carabiner as a hook to hang on a steel hammer loop. Carabiners are like a link of chain that can be opened by way of a spring-loaded leg. Rock-climbing stores and most hardware stores stock them. Thread the carabiner onto a length of 1-in. webbing that is then tied at the ends to make a loop. For this use a webbing knot that is known variously as a water knot, a ring bend, or an overhand bend (detail, bottom right of drawing). To secure the carabiner to the tool, pass the loop of webbing around the tool's handle and then through itself.

Recent email:

Subject: Just a Comment . . .
Date: 11 July 2008

Just a hello and a FYI. I stumbled on your page today; glad to see you're still around. I started one of your little racing designs in about 1967 or 68 when I was a 14 or 15 year old kid. Yep - in my mother's living room as the glue needed non-winter temperatures. She obliged, but was not very happy about it!

I eventually gave it to my cousin who shared it with another friend. Geeze that was a long time ago. I'm now 55. I used some of the mahogany I'd bought for it a few years later to replace the gunnels and deck on a plywood runabout I bought. That boat I still have.

Might check out your displacement cruisers sometime, but right now an older 27 ft. sailboat will have to do. I keep thinking...

Best of luck to you all,

-- Dave Mikkelson

Subject: Our Zip
Date: 17 July 2008

Here are a few pictures of my recently completed Zip. It was my first boat build and I can't tell you how much fun it was building it.

Now that it is completed I am amazed how much attention and comments I get. Everyone wants to know what year model it is ? The older folks want to know if it is an old Yellow Jacket?

Thanks for the great plans, the information, and great products. I'm ready now to start another one, but having a hard time making my mind up which one to build.

Thanks again,

-- J.R. Lindamood
Malakoff, Texas

In a later email, J.R. added:

"Here is a little more to the story about my building a boat that you guys might find interesting. In 1957 my Dad had a plywood boat factory here in Malakoff, Texas. It burned after only a few boats were built and he and his brother never made it back to full scale boat building. He did help some friends build a few boats after the fire, but he went back to being a painter and a bricklayer.

Dad died in '93 and ten years later I retired. I always wanted to give boat building a try. I've had your catalog since '93 and looked at it for all those years before deciding to give it a try.

There were times when I felt that I had outside help, someone looking over my shoulder; that is one reason I have to build another one. I treasure that (outside help).

I have a few pictures of Dad's boats; if you would like to see them, let me know."

Subject: Boat Plans
Date: 20 July 2008

I have a set of plans from the other boat plan store. Their plans are hard to read and understand. They do not give any finishing information as you put the boat together. All notes and directions are hand written on the papers, and the drawings are very small.

Are your plans better than this? The other company provides no support; do you? I am a first time builder and need all the help I can get.

-- Stephen Rouse

Gayle answers:


Thank you for contacting us. It's difficult to really compare our plans with those from another unidentified company, so I'll just tell you about our plans and support.

Depending upon which boat you select, you will get a full set of plans, scaled to 1 inch = 1 foot, as well as full-sized patterns for the frames. These patterns can be laid directly on the wood and transferred to it to guide your cuts (instructions for this are included). Also included is a set of printed instructions which detail the sequential construction process. Some designs come with additional booklets, depending upon the type of construction for that particular boat. We believe that the package of materials we supply is very complete, but as with any new endeavor some terms may be unfamiliar to you so we've provided a glossary of terms on our website.

As for support, we have our online Boatbuilder Forum where you can find answers (from actual boatbuilders) to just about any question (almost every possible question you have has likely been raised by another builder before you), or you can even put questions to them yourself. You'll find that our community of boatbuilders is friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help. Of course, you can always email or telephone us here at Glen-L too.

One more thing; you might consider getting a copy our book 'Boatbuilding with Plywood' - I know that you'll find it is an excellent resource to help in building your boat.

I hope this helps - please let me know if you have any other questions."

Subject: Order
Date: 17 July 2008

I really like your website and your offerings are very impressive!! You provide truly unique service.

-- Conn Barbour

Subject: July WebLetter
Date: 1 July 2008

I enjoy your newsletters and this one especially since it had a tribute to the 4th of July! It's inspiring to see so many involved in boat building and the variety of craft they choose.

Keep those newsletters coming and thank you for such a fine publication.

-- Bob Allison

Subject: Thank you
Date: 1 July 2008

Thank you for the nice trip back to memory lane in Gayle's latest Glen-L email update. I too had similar past Fourth Of July's. It was really nice to read your nostalgic comments, and they brought back many fond memories.

Thank you so much and God Bless America !

-- Bob Roma

Subject: Designs and Instructions
Date: 25 July 2008

I think your designs and building instructions are just great. I have built 2 of your kayaks and we are enjoying using them.

-- John & Jenny Kerkvliet
Burrum Heads, Queensland, Australia

Subject: TNT Project
Date: 11 July 2008

In 2002 I had a letter and photos posted after building my TNT. Now, after years of good use it was time for me to put some work into it again. The interior epoxy was worn down in spots, causing some stains. The deck plywood was cracking and peeling badly, even though I had a couple fiberglass layers on top of it (a note to anyone about to build a Glen-L designed boat - use the highest quality marine plywood or hardwood planks intended for boat building). I used exterior grade plywood meant for home construction, and mistakenly thought the fiberglass and epoxy would work to keep it from coming apart.

This spring and summer I took off all the hardware on the boat and sanded it down. I applied a couple coats of epoxy over the interior and exterior, and used some fiberglass to patch the deck. With a foam roller I put several coats of epoxy paint, immediately following up with the tip of a foam brush to smooth out the bubbles that were formed. I found using the top of the line paint with the least expensive foam applicators to work best. The engine was sanded and spray painted with the manufacturer's touch-up paint. I used automotive pin-striping over the worn stripes of the original decals, which were still in good shape aside from that.

Thank you everyone at Glen-L and to all the boat builders who posted your projects and inspired me to go ahead with my projects. I now look forward to getting much more use out of the boat in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York State!

-- Luke Stryker
Penn Yan, New York

Editor's Note: See the "before" and "after" photos of
Luke's TNT in Customer Photos.

Subject: Young Captain
Date: 27 July 2008

This goes to show that you are never too young to take over command. The little ones just love to cruise.

-- Mika Sato & Rick Klemm
Delta, BC, Canada

Subject: The USS New York
Date: 17 July, 2008

The name "New York" has been borne by at least seven different U.S. military ships, most recently the nuclear submarine USS New York City, commissioned in 1979 and retired in 1997. Construction on another ship bearing that name, the 684-foot amphibious assault ship USS New York, began at a Shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana, and on 1 March 2008 the new vessel was christened there. It is expected to be commissioned in 2009.

It is the fifth in a new class of warships - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

The vessels bow stem is said to incorporate 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center which was melted down at a foundry in Amite, Louisiana (a photo of employees pouring the molten scrap steel can be viewed here).

When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there.

"It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up."

"It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

The ship's motto? -- "Never Forget"

Please keep this going so everyone can see what we are made of in this country!

-- James Patroni
Cape May Court House, New Jersey

Editor's Note: I invite you all to visit
the official USS New York web site to learn more about
her construction and history, and to view more pictures and videos.

Also, visit the USS San Antonio web site. This is one of the USS New York's sister ships which is already in action at sea. Scroll down to the thumbnails at the bottom of her home page and you'll find some spectacular pictures.

Subject: I Love this Doctor!
Date: 21 July 2008

-- Sam Neely
Green Valley, California

eMail of the Month

Subject: Squirt
Date: 5 July 2008

I finished the boat (Glen-L Squirt) just in time to enter her into my neighborhood's annual 4th of July parade!!! It was a great day, partly cloudy with an occasional breeze, perfect in the shade of one of the many huge oak trees. My wife and son rode in the boat during the parade; it was awesome. Best float for the 59th continuous annual neighborhood parade goes to.....THE BOAT!!! Pulling her during the parade I heard several "WOWS, OOOOOs, look at that boat, she's beautiful." I'm still not sure if one guy was taking about the boat or my wife... Anyway, it was a perfect way to finish the build and a great conversation starter, not to mention Glen-L will probably be getting some new customers (I hope).

I did have to get a little creative during the build. I used bricks, clamps, straps, screws, whatever I could find in my garage to hold, bend, etc. My garage is also small and detached from the house so I didn't have much room to move around the boat during the build. I made do and I'm glad I did.

The BEST advice I can offer to someone looking at these photos and who is debating as to whether or not they can build a boat is to read and review the Boatbuilder Forum. More often than not, if I had a question, someone has already had the same question...check it out.

Now I just have to put her into the water and check everything out before trailering her over to Heber Springs Arkansas or up to Paris Landing state park in Tennessee close to Kentucky.

Hope to send more photos with the boat in action and to tell the story of what has kept me on track to complete the boat.


-- Chris Stamey
Memphis, TN

P.S. We plan on coming to the Gathering, boat included!

Editor's Note: With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in.... And then the trouble started.

Shut up. You know it's funny. Now send it on to someone else and make them smile.

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