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

"Boats to Build"
Performed by Guy Clark

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • Labor Day already! My, how the summer has flown by. We know that many of you have been busy the past couple of months finishing up and enjoying your boats out on the water. Please remember to send us photos of your enjoyment, both in the building and the using of your watercraft. We hope that those of you who are so moved will write us a paragraph or two (or more!) that we can feature in the WebLetter, too.

  • We had a really nice visit by Mark and Don Shipley this month. Don and Mark brought their recently completed Zip to the Glen-L Global Headquarters/Command and Control Complex in Bellflower, California to meet Glen and (hopefully) get his nod of approval on their efforts. Nod, he did! The Shipley's have crafted an excellent example of the Zip, and impressed us all immensely. I took a number of photos of Mark and Don with their Zip along with Glen, Gayle, Darla and Buckshot in front of HQ. Glen was so impressed with the quality of their work and their "excellent example of bottom batten reinforcement" that he had me take close-ups which I'll share with all of you in our next WebLetter. Way to go, Don and Mark!

  • I can't tell you how excited I am that the 2008 Gathering is coming up! Gayle and I enjoyed ourselves so much last year (even though we weren't able to bring a boat of our own) getting to meet and to know so many of our builders in person! We expect this year's Gathering to be even bigger and better with all the new people and boats who are coming, and, of course, we are looking forward to again visiting with all the great folks we met last year.

    I was going to write an article about why no one should miss the Gathering, and as I was looking over the comments and photos from last year, that little light bulb above my head came on. I realized that instead of me telling you about the Gathering, what I really need to do is show you. So to that end you'll find photos and links to more information in the next article down in this WebLetter.

    Be sure to check out the comments and planning going on in the Boatbuilder Forum to get fully up-to-date on Gathering 2008. I'm told that in addition to the cabins and campground, the newly renovated lodge is now open, and it has an excellent breakfast and dining room.

    I sincerely hope that everyone of you will find a way to make it to the Gathering 2008. Whether your boat is fully complete, or is still in the "just a dream" phase, you'll find the Gathering to be a wonderful and enriching experience.
    See you in Guntersville!!!

Until next month . . .      

The Boatbuilder Gathering 2008 is Almost Here!!!

The 2007 Gathering was an enormous success and a tremendous amount of fun! Now it's time to start planning your routes, packing your bags and getting revved up for the Gathering 2008 this coming October 24th, 25th & 26th!

We're expecting just about everyone who attended in 2007 to return this year, and we hope that none of you let yourself miss out on this year's fantastic festival of food, friends, fun, fashion and flotation!

The photos below will give you just a taste of what a wonderful time we all had last year, but if you want more visit the following links to learn more about Lake Guntersville State Park and the surrounding area, what to expect when you get to the Gathering 2008, comments from those who attended and hundreds more photos from last year's Gathering.

2007 Gathering 1st Reports & Photos

2007 Gathering Photo Album

Guntersville Area & Lodging Information

Guide to Lake Guntersville State Park Camping, Lodging & Amenities

Editor's Note: If you don't see the thumbnails below lined-up side-by-side,
maximize your browser screen. Right click on an
open space then left click on "refresh."
I'm trying out a new technology and I haven't yet been able to
test it on all the browsers that are out there.

Now, there's really just one question you need to ask yourself...

I won't let anything keep me from attending the Gathering 2008, will I?

To learn more about this year's Gathering or to be more involved and even help with planning the event (if you wish), visit the Forum "The Gathering 2008."

Advice to an Offshore First-Timer


by Andrew Burton

F or years, Nick Thornton and I sailed together. We went through the junior sailing program, we raced against each other in dinghies and keelboats, and as adults we sailed many miles offshore together. During the spring of 2007, he called me about his son. "Sam's finishing high school and plans to take a year off," said Nick. "What do you think about taking him on a delivery with you this fall?"

I was a little surprised that he'd trust his eldest to me - after all, Nick knows my whole history - but I'd done something similar at Sam's age and was delighted to pass on the experience. I'd recently been hired to skipper the late Sir Peter Blake's former around-the-world raceboat, Ceramco NZ, a Farr-designed 68-footer, from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Virgin Islands for the winter. There would be plenty of room for a young and strong - if inexperienced-crewmember.

Sam grew up sailing on his family's Santa Cruz 27 on Wabamun Lake, near Edmonton, Alberta, but he had little idea what to expect offshore, so I thought about what I wish that I'd known before my first passage.

"One of your highest priorities should be to stay warm and dry."
Our route from Newport to Bermuda to the Virgins is furrowed with wakes each fall, but that doesn't mean it isn't challenging; in fact, it can be dangerous (while we waited out weather in Bermuda, two people were lost as they tried to abandon their boat 300 miles south of Newport in the remnants of Hurricane Noel). It would be chilly when we left in late October, but that's when hurricanes become rare and before winter storms become too frequent.


Designer's Notebook: When Are Butt Blocks Best Installed?

S o, you've decided to use butt blocks to splice standard plywood panels to the length required for the boat being built. Good choice; well done, the junction should be virtually invisible with the joint stronger than the plywood, and it's relatively simple to do.

But, when are butt blocks best installed? One way is to fit the plywood planking on the boat, butting the joining parts together. The butt block can then be installed while mocked up on the boat or removed to a flat surface and then the butt block installed. Stitch and glue boats are almost exclusively fabricated off the boat into a single long piece. Most often the builder will be working, in this type of construction, from patterns or dimensional layouts and fitting over a framework is not required.

Joining plywood panels, after fitting, is feasible in conventional plywood construction but has disadvantages. After joining plywood off the boat, the resultant planking will be difficult to handle. Not a great problem if you have a team of basketball players as helpers. Most builders, however, have limited help and placing the large panel against the side or on the bottom of the boat will be difficult.

Fitting one panel in place and then fitting the subsequent one on the boat is easier. It's nice to fasten the first panel in place, and then install the butt block on the end of the first panel. This works great on the bottom flatter areas and fitting the butt blocks between the bottom battens is much easier. However, if there is any amount of athwartship arc, the butt blocks may flatten the junction and a subsequent panel may not take the same curvature, and in some cases a bump will occur. This can be eliminated by fitting joining panels together on the boat, and installing the butt block while the planking panels are in place. Climbing under the boat to install the butt block is not a fun job, but that's what brothers-in-law are for. A dry run can be made using glueless joints and temporary fasteners. If you can get by without getting the brother-in-law involved by all means do so; he'll still be handy for sanding fiberglass.

Vintage Outboard Motors

Vintage outboard motors
From days and days gone by
Are a part of boating history
Loved by many boaters such as I

You know the ones I mean
Two cylinders or maybe one
Protruding into the breeze
No cover to spoil the fun

With names like Neptune,
Spinaway, Waterwitch and Elto
The ubiquitous Milburn Cub
And the ever popular NO-RO

To start one required practice
And the patience of a saint
To pull and pull on a knotted rope
And keep pulling without complaint

But when it ran, it did just fine
To move that old wooden hull
Though many thought it was a fad
The outboard's fame was no bull

Such engines are older than I am
But one and all, they filled the bill
Just things of aluminum and steel
Yet they still give me a thrill

So if you build a classic craft
For proper power without doubt
Consider a vintage outboard
For your retro runabout


Photos sent in since the last WebLetter...

Presidential Candidates at the Helm


by Barb Hansen

If you could choose a boat for each of this election's current and former U.S. presidential candidates which type of boat would you choose for him or her?

I've always tilted toward presidents who, in my mind's eye, are in a boat. George Washington crossing the frigid Delaware with his soldiers in the dead of night makes him a star forever in my imagination. Teddy Roosevelt paddling a canoe down racing rivers is a boating hero, too.

FDR planning D-Day on the USS Sequoia is locked in my memory. JFK racing his PT109 is also. I remember seeing a picture in the newspaper of George Herbert Walker Bush holding up a striped bass caught from his Cigarette. I prefer to picture him as an Air Force fighter pilot.

So what kinds of boats do you see this last crop of candidates piloting, and does it look like they know what they are doing at the helm?

I know that at least two really are boaters. Mitt Romney and his sons were applauded a few years ago for jumping on their personal watercraft vessels and racing to the rescue of a family whose boat had swamped. I read that John Edwards, who was about to become John Kerry's running mate in the last election, ran aground at night in his boat with a Kerry advisor aboard.

But other than that, what we see is what we get, and we gotta guess.

I know Senator John McCain was in the U.S. Navy but he flew a fighter jet. Now in my mind he pilots a classic single engine trawler, his labor of love. Its name is Never-say-die.

Here comes a go-fast Scarab, black with red flames painted along the hull. There goes Rudy Giuliani. Was that a big gold chain around his neck or a gold necktie? This boat is called Flame-Out.

Mike Huckabee has invited friends for a Sunday ride in his pontoon boat. They are tooling around Greer's Ferry Lake on a hot, Arkansas day, cooling off with lemonade.

I see Romney at the helm of a classic yacht with lots of varnished teak and polished brass. He buys his crew matching polo shirts embroidered with the name of the boat. The name on the stern is Capital Management. Cradles and davits hold a bevy of PWCs plus an inboard ski boat. All ready to launch and run at a moment's notice.

I gather that John Edwards was able to tilt the lower unit up and power his boat off of that Carolina low country mud flat. The picture is kind of fuzzy but I think it's a walk-around cuddy. The name on the side is not clear. Something like Class Warfare.

Barack Obama is in a Harvard rowing scull with a collegiate crew in matching shorts and polo shirts with cable knit letter sweaters tied preppie-style around their necks.

Hillary Clinton has hired a captain and a crew to take her here and there in a no-wood-whatsoever fiberglass motor yacht. Intercoms connect two master staterooms, one marked "Hill" and the other "Bill."

I can't help it. Ron Paul is rowing a dinghy with one oar. Dennis Kucinich is drifting in the main channel in an inflatable that's losing air and he's screaming "Look at me! Look at me!"

George Washington is still my captain.

Editor's Note: The writer's comments/opinions/guesses are not necessarily those of the editor, Glen-L Marine, nor any of its employees or owners.
We do think the article is funny, though...

Harold the boatbuilder

"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new."

Shop Talk: More Handy Tips

Cord Wrap

To keep power cords rolled up when not in use, keep them tied with elastic ponytail holders. The best holders for this are the type with a small plastic ball at each end (see photos).

You can find them anywhere beauty supplies are sold
for about $1.50 for a package of six.

Sharp Tool Holder

Boatbuilders sometimes use a number of small, sharp tools for scribing, marking, and cutting workpieces. But it's hard to protect the blades of these tools if they're stored loose in a drawer or toolbox.

To protect the sharp edges but still keep each tool close at hand, make a small knife and tool holder.

It's nothing more than a piece of dense foam insulation (blue board). And to keep the block anchored to your workbench, build a wood frame to fit around the foam. When the foam gets too chewed up, just flip it over.

Circular Saw Crosscut Guide

A circular saw is a great tool for making quick crosscuts. But notice that I didn't say accurate crosscuts - that's a different matter. Guiding a circular saw through a square cut can be pretty hit or miss.

A solution is to build a simple guide box that guarantees a square cut every time. The exploded drawing on the right shows the basic design. The workpiece slides into the box through openings in the side. Guides attached square to the top of the box are spaced to match the width of the saw shoe.

With the stock in place, you simply line up the your layout mark with the kerf in the box and push the saw through the cut, as shown in the detail drawing (a). The guides do the steering. And now you can claim that your circular saw is handy for making both quick and accurate crosscuts.

Recent email:

Subject: WebLetter 103
Date: 1 August 2008

Hi John, Gayle and all at Glen-L.

Thanks for this issue, haven’t finished it all yet , but had such a good laugh at some of the humour, and the tips on tidying up the tools area is great, the report on the WoodenBoat show is first rate, I could go on blowing your trumpet.

Love it , I know why I wait for the Glen-L every month and his effort is further demonstration, THANKS.

Cheers from Melbourne, Australia,
-- Brian Mc Gowan

Subject: Newly Completed Tubby
Date: 31 July 2008

Here are a few pictures of my newly completed Tubby Tug. My son max and my daughter Madeline had a great time launching our newly built boat.

I need to give you some background on this boat. I am a high school wood shop teacher who has been building this boat off and on for several years. Over the years I have had hundreds of people (students, parents, fellow school employees) ask me if this boat was going to float! I answered every time by saying "Yes, it will float!" I had many skeptics tell me that my boat was going to sink. If I would have only placed a bet with them, I would have been able to build this boat at their expense, because it floats like a dream.

I want to let you know that I had a great time building the Tubby Tug for my kids to enjoy. Boat building is contagious!!!! Thanks a bunch for a great boat design!

-- Jason Stange
Cadillac, Michigan

Editor's Note: See more photos of
Jason's Tubby Tug in Customer Photos.

Subject: Overseas Regards
Date: 1 August 2008

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all there at Glen-l for a great newsletter and a fantastic website. I find them very inspiring.

Kind Regards,

-- Simon Bell
Norwich, England

Subject: Fins/Gayle's eLetter
Date: 10 August 2008

Dear Gayle,

The "fins" were interesting, I remember a Chris Craft Continental at the Royal Motor Yacht Club in Sydney when I was at school near by, the envy of all.

I have included a picture for your collection just to show the influence of wood on the automobile .... No fins, but who cares; it is a 1939 Lagonda Speedster!

Makes boat building in wood seem like child's play & I pity the poor sod who had the dolly side of all those rivets.

Thanks for the updates.

-- Rene le Clercq
Sydney, Australia

Editor's Note: Read the story about and see more photos
of the 1939 Lagonda Rapide Tulipwood Boattail Racer.

Subject: WebLetter Comments
Date: 6 August 2008

I really enjoy the regular WebLetters from Glen L! They serve as an encouraging reminder to continue with the dream.

This month’s flash insert of the wooden runabouts added a fun touch.

It is noteworthy that not all of your readers/builders live in America, that people all around the world enjoy building and boating in the countries they love and call home.


-- Steve McAlpine
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Subject: Still Lovin' It!
Date: 7 August 2008

Since we had contact last I spent the better part of more than a year laid up. I'm doing much better now, although a sumptuous repast can now consist almost entirely of a single shrimp. That I've come through it all in relatively one piece is good news for me - great really - as my much beloved daughter has since given me a grandson who is rapidly becoming my best friend on this earth.

To my delight he is the stereotypical boy... hates silly toys but loves the real things; bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks and the like (and soon to add boats I hope). He has already proven his future masculinity by hiding in the stair closet to disassemble my daughter's vacuum cleaner! The look of pure unadulterated joy on his face as he proudly displayed two parts to me in his little hands that he'd wrested from the machine himself was, in itself, enough to make it up to me for his mother's shenanigans during her teenage years. Considering he's just shy of being two I'm damn proud of him and didn't mind one bit reassembling it for her.

Just such a misspent youth led me to my adult careers of first being a machinist and then a mechanical engineer. Toward the possibility of eventually inspiring him in a similar direction I plan to keep getting him quite dirty in my shop building things, including one of your boats.

We'll be building a boat or two soon.

Keep up the great work!

Warm regards,

-- Bruce L. Jones
Victorville, California

Subject: The Cracker Box
Date: 7 August, 2008

Good Morning.

My father and I built your hydro-plane design many years ago when I was a kid. It was one of the great experiences in my life.

I am now about to retire and have decided to rekindle the thrill by building a Cracker Box. A number of my friends have expressed interest and have requested that I build a boat for them.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. I look forward to commencing my project.

-- David Carnell

Subject: Glen-L WebLetter
Date: 31 July 2008

Hi! I read your WebLetter and I have not start working on it (boat) because no space in garage - waiting for VW bug to be sold before I try to start to build double kayak. So I can work in the shop for now - has been so busy this summer.

Thanks for the letter, fun to hear good letter. Have a nice summer.

-- Francois Leclair
Glen Walter, Ontario, Canada

Subject: Glen-L Order
Date: 4 August 2008


Thanks for letting me know that the plans are on the way. The most difficult thing about building a boat is deciding which boat to build!

I've searched far and wide on the internet for "just the right boat" and many were considered. What made the choice even harder was the fact that I have a 1953 Evinrude 15hp Super Fastwin that my uncle bought brand new. This outboard was lightly used and in near new condition and I wanted a wooden boat to match the engine.

Your website provides more info than any other and I even bought your Boatbuilding with Plywood book a couple of years back as a study reference.

Well, here goes...

-- Steve Terpstra
Billings, Montana

Editor's Note: I found a photo of a 1957 Evinrude 18 hp Super Fastwin (see above) and an advertisement for the 1953 Super Fastwin

Subject: Glen-L WebLetters
Date: 24 August 2008


I read your epistles with interest each month. You're doing ok for a Yank (no aspertions cast) - we do look foward to them. We Aussie's need to see how the rest of the world gets things done.

We are due to start our Jubilee after we move onto our new property near Bundaberg Q.L.D in '09 ... a few small mods to suit the tropics, need a big Barby out the back to cook the prawns on.

Keep it up mate,

-- Fletch (Peter Fletcher)
Brisbane, Austrailia

Subject: Interested in a "Zip" Boat
Date: 18 August 2008

I have just recently become aware of your web site and I am excited about the possibilities of building a wooden boat!! I have wanted to purchase a wooden boat for years, but they have become so expensive it has seemed totally out of reach. Your web site has given me hope that I could do what others are doing.

The boat that I am interested is the Zip, which is just beautiful!! I have looked at every photo listing that you show from each of your builders who have built the Zip. Of all the examples shown, the one that got me the most excited is the “Irish Rose” built by Mr. Tom Drake from Florida. His boat is outstanding!! It looks like a scaled-down Chris Craft.

Mr. Drake indicated in his comments that he would be willing to help anyone working on a Zip. If it is possible, could you send my e-mail address to him? I would welcome the opportunity to correspond with him to get information prior to starting a boat myself.

Thanks for your help with this and for showing me that I can own the boat of my dreams!

-- Herb Hill
Clackamas, Oregon

Editor's Note: Many of our builders are eager to help anyone interested
select, plan for, build and outfit their dream boats. Check the "Project Registry" portion of the Glen-L website to read previous and current builders' comments about their own builds and to get their contact information.

You also can learn a great deal at the Glen-L "Boatbuilder Forum" and even post your own questions to be answered by experienced boatbuilders.

I know you will find our builders to be very friendly and extremely helpful.

eMail of the Month

Subject: Please help me . . .
Date: 27 July 2008


I em from Croatia, I buy from you a scheme for boat Malahini which you sent me in 2005 year.

I have a litlle accident with detailed scheme (plan, design), 5 sheets. When I build my boat, I left a scheme (design) on boat. My dogs take the scheme end destroyed. In that case I asking you please can you send me that datailed sheets (plan) whit post ofice or e-mail, of course I will pay a cost.

In attachments I send pic of scheme (plan), boat where I stoped, end pic of my dogs (criminals).

Best Regard

-- Zvonimir Rakitic

Editor's Note: This should serve as a good reminder for us all to take good care of our Glen-L plans and patterns. It can be an expensive proposition if our children decide to make paper kites, or our wives (or husbands) decide to clean up our "mess" . . . See photos of the beautiful job Zvonimir is doing on his Malahini (in spite of the "criminals") in Customer Photos.

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