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 Jerry Jeff Walker

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • October, and the leaves are about to turn color. Well, maybe not so much here in Southern California, but across much of the United States and the Northern hemisphere the fabulous fall folliage will soon be in full flourescence (say that 3 times fast - "fabulous fall folliage in full flourescence"!). We at Glen-L are looking forward to the 2008 Gathering and we know that many of you are eagerly anticipating it as well. Be sure to read the Gathering 2008 article (below) to learn the latest so you don't miss out.

  • This month's WebLetter is a little light on photos and emails from our builders; we've looked into this serious matter and found that a great many of you have been very busy, out over the summer working on, completing and enjoying your fine craft out on the water! This is a good thing; a VERY good thing! We are glad to know that Glen's efforts at designing beautiful boats is paying off handsomely in building memories for you and your families.

  • Now that those of you in the Northern hemisphere have enjoyed the summer weather and your boats and boatbuilding, we sincerely hope that you'll honor us by sending us photos and stories about your experiences. The very best part of this WebLetter is always hearing (and seeing) about you, your families, and how boatbuilding and boating has enriched your lives. Sharing your stories and photos will not only educate and entertain our readers, but you'll find that you also will enjoy "reliving" the joys and pride of your own boatbuilding efforts.

  • Thanks in advance for your photo and story contributions. I'll keep my eyes peeled for them and eagerly include your thoughts and memories in the next issue of the WebLetter.

Until next month . . .      

Gathering 2008 - Last Call!

by John Brantuk

The time is here - only a few more days until Gayle and I are off to join a multitude of Glen-L boatbuilders at the 2008 Gathering at spectacular Lake Gunthersville, near Huntsville, Alabama, October 24 - 26.

I'm not sure of the count yet, but it appears that there may be as many as 50 or more of the Glen-L "extended family" and possibly a couple of dozen boats at the Gathering this year! This is truly becoming a grand annual event.

We hear that the long range weather outlook says that the highs will be in the 70's, lows in the 40's. They've had good rain this year so the fall colors should be breathtaking.

It's still not too late for those of you who'd like to come join us - having experienced last year's Gathering Gayle and I can do nothing less than guarantee that it is a mini-vacation/experience you'll never forget!

Everyone is welcome; whether your dream boat is fully completed or your boat is still just a dream, you will enjoy (and learn) the entire 3-day weekend.

All of us on the Glen-L team sincerely hope that none of you miss out on this wonderful treat of great people, gorgeous natural wonders, mouth-watering food and, of course, magnificent examples of boat-building by people just like you and me.

I think someone on the Boatbuilder Forum said it best when they said
"It's like a family reunion. Only, YOU get to choose your family!"


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."

Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

Alex Neymark - Crackerbox

Talk about a "perfectionist!" Alex Neymark, of Charlotte, North Carolina, invested 5 years (part-time) and 5000 hours to build his beautiful Crackerbox christened "Dejavu."

Alex constructed her with great love and spectacular attention to detail. The surface finish he gave "Dejavu" consists of 12 layers of marine varnish with a manual hand-sanding between each layer, and the last layer was sanded with 2500 grit sandpaper and then hand-buffed to perfection. Alex had extensive custom stainless steel accoutrements and details fabricated for his beautiful, beautiful craft.

We bet that Alex's "baby" inspires you as much as it inspires us - imagining yourself boating on a lake, river, or the ocean in a similarly well-crafted motor- or sail-boat as all the impressed onlookers envy your "good fortune" to own and enjoy such a fabulous boat.

The best part, of course, will be watching the expressions on their faces when you tell them that "I built her myself."

Editor's Note: See the complete construction photo timeline of Alex Neymark's Crackerbox in Customer Photos.

Alex and the Dejavu were recently highlighted in
the Charlotte Observer newspaper article
"How to build a dream -
Find a fantasy, add sweat, put in five years, then float away"
Way to go, Alex!

The Shipleys Visit Glen-L


This past August 12 we at Glen-L were treated to a visit by Mark and Don Shipley. Don (father) and Mark (son) recently completed an absolutely beautiful Zip that they brought with them to the Glen-L Global Headquarters/Command and Control Complex in Bellflower, California to personally meet Glen and (hopefully) get his nod of approval on their efforts. And 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 the Shipleys' craftsmanship and their "excellent example of bottom batten reinforcement" that he had me take close-ups which you will find here, along with all the photos we shot during Don and Mark's visit.

Mark and Don have provided a great "blow by blow" description of their boatbuilding project from start to finish. Review their Project Registry and Customer Photos to learn more.

Designer's Notebook: Battens

Battens are longitudinal stiffeners along the bottom or sides of a boat. The battens rest on top of the frames (in the "floating frame" type of construction) or notch into the frames. Battens should be from stock that is as robust as can be to conform to the hull contours. The battens begin at the transom and extend as far forward as possible. However, a batten should never end on a frame, as this will set up a localized stress that will often begin to break or crack the planking skin at this point. Instead, the battens should always end short of, or well past a frame.

Bottom battens are preferably not installed until after the side planking; it is much easier to wipe up any excess glue if the battens are not in the way.

Battens should preferably extend forward, and join to the stem or the chine. The battens must match the curvature of the plywood planking, and often the attempt to conform the batten to the shape and at the same time end it on the stem or chine are simply not compatible. There are several methods to enable the battens to extend farther forward or completely to their ending point, joining against the chine or stem. One of these is to slim down the batten in the forward portion, decreasing it in either width or thickness. Kerfing, splitting the batten in its horizontal plane past the severe bend, will also make the batten bend easier.

Battens that are kerfed are usually initially not fastened to the forward frames if they do not end on the chine or stem. This may also apply to battens which may not be kerfed. Let them "run wild" instead, as far as they will practically conform to the hull shape without unfair lines being formed later. The ends of the battens can be fitted with screw eyes and wires used to pull them down to the building form so as not to make contact with the plywood planking. After the planking is installed, the slit area of the kerfed batten as well as the contact area with the planking can be coated with glue. The wires to the screw eyes are released and the battens allowed to spring in place. The batten will probably not conform to the inside surface of the planking. Force the batten upward from the underside by hand or wedge with a wood member to the ground or floor. Screws can be driven through the planking and into the battens to force them together; machine screws work well if more force is necessary.

Laminations of plywood will conform to the plywood planking easily and can be built up to a thickness that could not be bent in place with solid wood. Plywood laminations glued on solid lumber battens eliminate splitting, particularly in high speed craft.

Notching or grooving the battens crosswise near the transom to allow bilge water to run to the center along the keel aft is excellent practice.

The location of the longitudinal battens is usually specified by the designer, although an excess of battens rather than too few is preferable. The bottom rigidity is increased considerably and stresses are widely distributed by these longitudinal members. Some consideration should always be given to the batten position. If possible, use them as cabinet junction points or for attaching plywood seat braces, motor well sides, or similar structural interior members.

Since the points of major stress in the sheet plywood boat are at the chine and keel joint, it is good practice to have battens adjacent to these members closer than usual. This will distribute some of the stresses on the screws in the chine and the keel member to the adjacent batten.

Bottom battens are most often bent flatwise to make the bends previously described. To increase the longitudinal rigidity, several methods can be used (see drawing below). Plywood webs extending between the frames from the side of the batten to the height of the frame will offer exceptional longitudinal strength. At the junctions of these webs with the frames, corner blocks are used for additional rigidity. A "T" batten section, built up from solid lumber will also strengthen battens between frames.

Battens on the side of a plywood boat are used when the side planking is thin, or the frame spacing quite large. Outer bumper rails will often suffice and actually be stronger than battens notched into frames. Side battens can ride on the outer frame surface, but are usually notched into the frames. Take into consideration the eventual use of battens for such purposes as fastening seats, interior cabinets, cabin soles, cockpit soles, etc.

See the article and accompanying photos immediately preceding for an excellent example of bottom batten reinforcement.


For power boats
Propellers are
The motive means
To go fast and far

Props can be made
Of aluminum or stainless,
Bronze, even plastic
Or materials nameless

Diameter matters
It can be small or big
Be sure to check if
It fits under your rig

Some props turn left
Others turn right
Some have a small pitch
Others take a big bite

Blades are numbered
Usually 2, 3 or 4
Though I have seen
Five blades and more

Cupping a prop
Is a means you can try
A curve in the lip
May make a boat fly

And then there is rake
That alters the trim
For less wetted surface
With more zip and vim

Factors for props,
I've mentioned a few
There may be others,
Some old or some new

So when picking a prop
Give it careful thought
To make your boat go
At the full speed it ought


Photos sent in since the last WebLetter...

Basic Boating Knots


The bowline (pronounced "bo-lin") is rightfully known as the king of knots. It is easy to tie and untie, increases its grip as tension is applied, and will never jam. It takes time and practice to learn, but the effort will be well rewarded. Use the bowline for attaching jibsheets and halyards to sails.

  1. With your palm down, hold the working end between your fore- and index- fingers, placing it over the standing part with your thumb.
  2. Twist your wrist so your palm faces up and a loop has been formed in the line.
  3. Pass the working end behind the standing part and then back through the loop. Remember, after the end passes under one part it must then pass over the next, Always alternating.
  4. Before putting into service, snug the parts up to make sure they are set.

A bend joins two ropes. The worst way of doing this is with a square knot, which can slip or come apart. The best way is with the sheet bend. It is easy to tie, strong, secure, and works well with ropes of dissimilar sizes. If you are going to remember one bend, this is it.

  1. Make a loop in the end of one rope. If one line is heavier than the other, make the loop in it. Pass the end of the other rope through and around the loop as shown.
  2. The working end should exit the knot on the same side as the loop's short-ended side.
  3. You may have noticed that the sheet bend is similar in construction to the bowline, so it can
    be tied in the same manner.


In order to secure the boat to a dock or secure a line to the boat you will probably use the cleat hitch.

  1. Take the line to the ear of the cleat furthest from where the line comes from (the load).
  2. Take one wrap around the base of the cleat and then start a figure eight across the top of the opposite ear.
  3. Finish with a half hitch turned under so that the line is coming away from the cleat in the opposite direction from which it came in.


The clove hitch is for tying to pilings when there aren't any dock cleats. Its best feature is that it can be easily tied when there is strain on the line, as there might be when docking in strong winds. The first turn around the piling is usually enough to hold the boat, keeping everything in place while you finish tying the knot. This is essentially a temporary knot, and may slip if the direction and strain on it changes.

  1. Take a turn around a piling.
  2. Take a second turn, this time crossing up and over the standing part of the line and the first turn. Tuck the end under and through the crossing you just made.
  3. Pull both ends to snug up the knot. For a more permanent knot add two and a half hitches around the standing part of the line.

These nautical knots, used when berthing a large vessel, docking your yacht, tying up dinghy painters, and managing sails are all aimed at safety and reliability.

The emphasis for boating knots is on reliability, matched with the ability to untie each knot fairly easily.

Click on the knot illustrations above to see an animation of the knots being properly tied, and to find more information about their applications and limitations.

Harold the boatbuilder

"If you screw up,
just cut a new one"
-- Glen-L Boatbuilder Stefan Karakashian

Shop Talk: A Few Clever Tips

Glue Roller

A lot of woodworkers like to use a paint roller to spread glue over large surfaces. But instead of using an ordinary roller cover, cut a piece of PVC pipe to fit over the roller cage.

The PVC pipe gives a more even and smooth application, and doesn't soak up the glue like a paint roller would. Clean up is easier, too. Just let the glue dry on the pipe, and then chip it off. Now it's ready to be used again

Magnetic Clamp Pads

When using pipe clamps, use a block of wood as a clamping pad. The clamping pad helps prevent damage to the surface of your project when you tighten down the joint. Problem is, it's always difficult to hold the block in place while tightening the clamp.

To solve this problem, attach small magnets to your wood blocks to keep them in place while you tighten the clamp. To secure the magnet to the wood block, cut a recessed hole on one side of the block (the same diameter as the magnet) and then epoxy the magnet into the hole (see drawing). The magnet holds the clamping pad in place, leaving you with both hands free to align the clamp on the workpiece.

Pegboard Clip

Cutting from a parts list? Making a note of things to pick up at the hardware store? This simple pegboard clip (shown at left) will keep the list from getting buried. Drill a hole through a clothes pin and glue in a short length of 1/4" dowel. Then insert the pin into a standard pegboard.

Division Made Easy

Sometimes we need to draw lines on a workpiece that divide it into equal-size parts. To do that quickly and accurately, without a lot of mathematical calculations, use this simple trick.

Let's say you want to divide a 2 ¾" wide board into three equal parts. Start by hooking a tape measure over one edge of the board (anywhere along its length). Then angle the tape across the board until an increment that’s easily divisible by three aligns with the opposite edge of the board (3" in this case). Now mark your board at the 1" and 2" points along the tape. Your board is now divided into three equal parts.

Recent email:

Subject: Tiny Titan
Date: 29 August 2008

I received my plans in good order today. Thank you very much. The plans look very complete and easy to read.

I raced the Tiny Titan (we called her "Saucy Shingle") in 1965. It is still my favorite boat of them all. I beat a lot factory hulls with it back in the 60's and still love her.

I raced AB hydro over 40 years ago and plan to build another one this winter to play with. Nice winter project.

Thanks again,

-- Edward W. King
Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada

Subject: Double Eagle
Date: 29 August 2008

I purchased plans for the Double Eagle in 1989 or early 1990 from you.

The boat performed admirably. I built it in 3/16" aluminum and modified the gunwale with a broken sheer. I grossly overpowered her with twin 90HP outboards. My buddies nicknamed it the "drag boat" due to almost violent acceleration from a start. Top speed was 41 mph.

I used the boat primarily offshore for 7 years and it is still in service locally. I hope you enjoy her picture.


-- Rick Huff
West Palm Beach, Florida

Subject: WebLetter
Date: 4 September 2008

Ha ha! I really enjoyed the boat video with the last year's Gathering. The music fit perfectly and I was touched by the interview with the father and son.

Thank you for such a wonderful service you offer and also over the time I've received your WebLetter feel like a friendship has developed.

Summer is coming to a close up north in Pennsylvania but it still is possible to "keep the boat afloat". Wish I could be at the 2008 Gathering but responsibilities (like a job) prevent this.

Keep up the good work and I will look forward to your next WebLetter.

-- Robert Allison

Subject: Phatwater Kayak Race
Date: 9 September 2008


My name is Randy Griffin and I paddle a Glen-L 17-foot Sea Kayak. I am going to enter it in the 2008 Phatwater Kayak Challenge on the Mississippi River this coming October 11.

The Sea Kayak is an awesome boat, especially for down river in big water. CNN is going to cover the race and if my boat shows up in any footage you are welcome to use it as you see fit.

I am a late 50’s paddler so I do not expect to win but the Glen-L has done really good on local paddles of 30 miles at a time.

I hope to send you some business and I am going to put a product review on I have paddled many nice kayaks but none quite like the Glen-L Sea Kayak.

-- Randy Griffin
Huntsville, Alabama

Editor's Note: Randy has let us know that he and his Sea Kayak will be at
the 2008 Gathering. We sure hope that YOU will be there too!

Subject: Deciding Which Boat to Build
Date: 4 September 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 "Boat Building with Plywood" book a couple of years back as a study reference.

Well, here goes!

-- Steve Terpstra
Billings, Montana

Subject: A Wonderful Boat
Date: 26 September 2008

A friend of mine noticed that you published my comments concerning the Sabotina, which I built some time ago. I am pleased. It has proved to be a tremendously wonderful boat.

I still have it, and it has held up well, being over 12 years old. I used a standing lug rig, which I find a lot more handy than a Bermuda rig. All the spars stow in the boat.

Here is a shot of the boat being sailed by my eldest, Jim, and our dog, Toulouse, in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Best Regards,

-- Andy Suhrer
Coos Bay, Oregon

Subject: "Awesome" Tunnel Mite
Date: 23 September 2008

I think we might have purchased the last Glen-L Tunnel Mite frame kit. My dad built the boat for my son over the course of the winter, starting in his basement and then shifting construction first to the garage as the weather warmed and finally to our cottage boathouse for installation of motor and steering. This was boat number four for my dad, who also built 20' and 26' sailboats over the years, but our first Glen-L design.

We live in Ontario and keep the boat on an island near Parry Sound on Georgian Bay, so we're subject to Canada's new 'Pleasure Craft Operator Card' boating regulations. These stipulate a written test to acquire the mandatory license required to operate a boat in Ontario, same requirements for kids and adults. The rules specify that up to age 12, kids can operate a boat with a 9.9 hp motor on their own, from 12 years up to 15 with a 40 hp, and from 16 on any horsepower motor. That meant my 10 year old son -- once he passed the test -- would be operating the Tunnel Mite with a 9.9 for a couple of years, but it's not a bad thing to keep the speed down a little at first [30+ kmph still achievable, though!]

While the merits of operator cards are debatable, the positive aspect was that my son was very keen to drive the Tunnel Mite on his own, so he was highly motivated to study, and ended up learning quite a bit of useful stuff on boating regulations, 'rules of the road,' navigation and safety. In time we may upgrade to a 25 hp motor which, judging from others' experiences, might get us closer to 60 kmph. At that point we'll probably go the added step of installing a remote throttle, but for now we've kept things simple and just use the 9.9's tiller [with a short extension] to control speed. Not a big issue -- once underway it is usually "full speed ahead"!

Our cottage has a sand beach, so we bought a light weight dolly from Seitech to facilitate hauling in/out. Seitech was very cooperative and modified an existing dolly to accommodate the Tunnel Mite's dimensions. We added a reinforcing crossbar at the back to better support the boat's weight, and used the largest size tires. Very easy now to pull the Tunnel Mite by hand out of the water and up the beach.

We've ended up with a very special boat, built by my dad for his grandson, that we will treasure and enjoy for a long time. Even the guys at our local marina said it was refreshing to see a home-made boat that has some personal meaning, as opposed to yet another store-bought jet ski.

And in my son's words, our Tunnel Mite is simply "awesome!"

-- Tom Schnull
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

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