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

Instead of our usual update, here is a special greeting
to you all from us at Glen-L...

Until next month . . .      

Building the True Grit

by Ray Macke

Just wanted to let you know I have "finally" taken time to update my True Grit Building Log. I had just been too busy building and now messing with the new build to add any info but am now trying to catch up. All topics below "Prep and Painting" are new and I hope affords a view of the steps involved in finishing the project. I do have plans for another page or two and will let you know when they are done.

I have to say we are really enjoying the new boat. It is a completely different type of cruising than I have done with the Cabin Skiff. Because of her slower speed it is very laid back. At 7 mph things don't happen very fast so more attention can be given to just enjoying the surroundings and scenery. Plus the comfort of the boat tends to really spoil you…no ice chest to worry about, very quiet, a head just steps away, room to get up and walk around and stretch, PLUS a real shower with hot water at the end of the day! Both my wife and I are loving it.

I have been asked many times if I will now sell the Cabin Skiff and the answer is no. Even if I wanted I don't think I could. To me it would be like selling your child - the boat is very much a part of our family. Plus I still plan to use it when my wife is not in the mood to cruise and I want to cover some river miles. The good old CS will be there to provide the fix I seem to often need.

By the way, nice to see everyone at G4. It was another great event as it just keeps growing and getting better. Looking foward to seeing you at G5!


--- Ray Macke

Chapter 14 - Which Engine?

Now that I was nearing the end of construction there was a major decision that needed to be made. The choice of power had been in the back of my mind from the beginning but now required a choice. I had narrowed it down to a short list of three engines, all 60 HP outboards. From the beginning I did not intend to push the hull to planing speeds as the purpose of this project was to provide long distance travel with reasonable economy. I was looking for upper end displacement speeds plus a little more when needed. My research indicated that 60 HP would provide performance envelope I sought so I decided to limit the power to that amount.


Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

Bob Atwater - Thunderbolt

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Bob Atwater, amateur boat builder who purchased a set of plans for the Thunderbolt in September 2004. I still appear in both the Project Registry and Customer Photo sections of the Glen-L website. I last contacted you in September 2005.

Since purchasing the plans I have bounced in and out of the hospital like a golf ball on an interstate highway. During the long periods of convalescence I always had thoughts on how to work out parts of my Thunderbolt project to occupy my mind. Continuing health issues and other priorities stretched a two-year project into six years. My wife's tolerance and patience have far exceeded even my expectations.

While there is a certain satisfaction to having essentially completed the project (the final product is pretty neat!), it does not compare to the fun and enjoyment of hands-on working on the project. Many happy hours (and a few frustrating ones) went into my Thunderbolt.

I have supplied a large number of photos along with a narrative for each photo. I hope that the pictures and narrative might give another amateur boat builder some ideas and/or food for thought. Most importantly I hope people realize that "if that old guy can do that, then for darn sure I can too!"

Passing by at a leisurely 80 mph

Many thanks to Glen-L's staff, Paul Miller, and the Boatbuilder Forum for their valuable assistance. Building a boat is truly a wonderful experience, which absolutely assures that we will meet some very neat people that would normally not cross our path. The memories of building and running the Thunderbolt will last forever.

Bob Atwater
Seneca, South Carolina

Editor's Note: See Bob's photos and the narrative of
his Thunderbolt build and on-the-water trials in Customer Photos.

Lt. Dawson's Ski Tow

Al Dawson graduated from the United States Naval Academy with the class of 1955 and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy. As a young Lieutenant he built this Ski Tow from Glen-L plans in 1962.

The keel is white oak and for the rest of the boat he used Philippine mahogany. Al used hand tools (almost exclusively) for the build; nails in the frames are stainless steel and all bolts and wood screws are bronze.

The deck covering is made from Naugahyde and is the original covering. All topside fittings are stainless steel. Overall length of the boat is 15 feet and the beam is 6 ½ feet. The design is a runabout with a semi-v bottom; with the present 50 HP Honda motor she does about 35 - 40 knots and gets up on plane in only about 5 seconds.

Lieutenant Dawson built his Ski Tow working only evenings and weekends, and completed her in about a year. For his continued love of woodworking and enjoyment of working with beautiful woods, Al gives all credit to his Kentucky high school industrial arts teacher.

The boat remains with her original builder who still uses and cares for it in Lusby, Maryland.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Al, and thank you for your service to our country.

Editor's Note: See the rest of Al's beautiful handiwork in Customer Photos.

Designer's Notebook: When Are Butt Blocks Installed?

So 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, 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 is then installed while mocked up on the boat or removed to a flat surface and the butt block applied. Planking for 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 boatbuilders, 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, 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 install 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 glue-less 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.

That "Ole" Evinrude

There it sat, upright on the transom
Squat, ugly and not at all handsome

Evinrude was on it, painted in red
"First in outboards" that's what it said

Five hp it promised, to those that dared
To try and tame that outboard nightmare

Scary it was, to my eight year old mind
A rope sat on the top, it dared me to wind

Gas cock turned on, speed lever to "Start"
In my mind I thought "Is this really smart?"

Spark lever advanced, wind on the rope
The knot goes in the slot, don't be a dope

To choke it, I put my thumb over the hole
For air to the carburetor as I had been told

And then, with a mighty eight year old heave
I pulled on the rope till it came off the sheave

With a POP and a BANG, it started to run
To keep it running, I gave it the gun

There was no neutral, only forward to stay
So the boat started speeding, fast and away

Roaring and shaking, it moved right along
Two cylinders singing that old outboard song

On across the lake, I went with a shudder
Steering with the outboard, there was no rudder

As I reached the dock on the far other side
"A job well done", I thought with some pride

I had ventured out alone across that big lake
For the present I bought that was ready to take

My folks would return soon and find a surprise
I wanted to give them something especially nice

Our winter home was a cabin in the woods
But we had few decorations or holiday goods

I got just what we needed, I figured with glee
You see, my cargo was a big Christmas tree


Photos posted since the last WebLetter...

Waterless Boat Parade Shines

by Lou Ponsi

Villa Park, California - Despite having no water, the city's annual boat parade was buoyed by bright lights, an infectious spirit plus Santa on a Harley.

"It is called the Villa Park Dry Land Yacht parade because there are boats of all sizes in the parade," parade chairperson Teri Brooks Elmendorf through an e-mail. "It is a take-off on the harbor parades but with no water."

People go all out on decorating their boats" Elmendorf said.

The parade, which wound throughout town and ended at the Towne Centre, was started by a group of residents in the early 1980s as a take-off on the Newport Beach boat parade, Elmendorf said. The parade was held two or three times and fizzled out.

In the 1990s, a committee of five residents started the parade again and it has been going strong ever since.

Local civic groups offered food and refreshments, and a booth was set up to collect DVDs for troops in Afghanistan,

The decorated boats were eligible for seven categories for trophies.


Harold the boatbuilder

"Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash."
--- George S. Patton

Shop Talk: Savvy Storage Tips

Tool Apron Storage

Mount tool apron pockets to a wall or door - Tool aprons can be modified to store nearly any tool or household item. Just sew a variety of pocket widths in the aprons, then mount the aprons by screwing a wood strip through the top of each and into a wall or door. For hollow-core doors, use hollow anchor fasteners to hold the screws firmly to the door.

Screw Storage

Use a clear water bottle with a pop-up lid. - If you keep screws in a coffee can, you're probably used to the screw points pricking your fingers. The can also collects dust and dirt. Instead, buy a clear water bottle with a pop-up lid and pour the screws into the bottle with a funnel. The screws stay clean, and you can shake them out of the bottle one at a time.

Pointy-tool Pincushion

Store router bits, drill bits, screwdrivers, awls, pencils, Allen wrenches and hole saws in a chunk of 1-1/2-in.-thick rigid foam insulation. To make this pointy-tool pincushion, just glue the foam to 1/2- in. plywood sized an inch wider than the foam. Be sure to use foam-compatible adhesive (PL 500 is one). Then press the foam into place and let it dry for a few hours. Punch holes for the accessories by rotating a small-diameter Phillips screwdriver or an awl at a slight angle into the foam. The tools will widen the holes to fit as you push them in. Screw the plywood to a shop wall over your workbench and load it up!

Recent email:

Subject: 2011 Calendar

Thank you so much for sending me a copy of the 2011 Glen-L calendar. What a joy to see my boat as "Miss April"! I will keep it in my "Katey Jane" notebook as a keepsake. I plan to go on-line to order three more copies to give to some of my family members--one to the two granddaughters for whom the boat is named.

Looking forward to G-5 already!

Many thanks!

-- Kenny Cooper
Nashville, Tennessee

Subject: The Dream Lives On

My first contact with the Glen-L company was in 1986. When driving home one day I noticed that a neighbor was building a boat in his back yard. He was building the Glen-L Gypsy, and gave me his 1986 black & yellow Glen-L catalog, and I studied every boat in the book. And the dream was born to build my own boat.

In 1991 I got my second catalog (the green & white one), that's when I ordered the plans for the Sherwood Queen and my daughter was born. After telling a friend about my dream, I was suckered into buying an old broken-down boat to rehab. What a mistake; that set back plans for a few years. Then I went into business for myself and my free time disappeared.

But I have always had my Glen-L catalogs in my nightstand and have read your Boatbuilding With Plywood every January since it came in the mail, and I read Chapman's book on Sailing (the big blue one) every February.

Over the years it seems that each time I think it's time to get started on my boat, I order something new from you, and my business picks up. One year I even made a small skiff for the Christmas display in our front yard; I had Santa fishing for presents (somebody stole it from the front yard - hope they can swim)!

Over the years I have been collecting the tools and studying. Now I am ready to build the Canyak. I have had the plans for many years, but I hope to set my frames and keel the day after Christmas this year! And I will take photos every step of the way.

Keep up the great work, and I will keep ordering!


-- Ken Weikel
Louisville, Kentucky

Subject: Messing Around in Boats

Hi! I have been a fan of Glen-L for over 40 years and a person who "messes about in boats" for at least that long. One of my first boats was a Glen-L catamaran I built for my brother and hauled from Ipswich, Massachusetts to Florida behind my dad's car.

I have a new runabout built to my own design for my daughter because she didn't think she'd like sailing with my wife and I so much. One day while we were out, she leaned over and asked to take the tiller. The rest of the day we just puttered around Plum Island sound and enjoyed the water and each other. That's what it's all about.

Thanks to boating I continue to make connections with my wife and daughter, friends, other boaters, and the wonderful people at Glen-L Marine Designs.

Thank you.

-- Tom Doane
Ipswich, Massachusetts

Subject: Important Shared Experiences

Thank you so very much for providing me with the Boatbuilding 101 book.

I am very much a novice in boatbuilding (no experience what so ever) and I am like a sponge right now trying to absorb as much information as I can so that I can get up enough courage to tackle a major boatbuilding project. I have a feeling that I will soon be acquiring some of the other books in your library - especially the Boatbuilding with Plywood and the Boatbuilders Notebook.

The Sea Knight 17 has totally captured my interest. It jumped right off the pages of the 2011 Small Boats Magazine and grabbed my attention and will not let me go. I so much want to build it. My grandfather had a boat just like it when I was a young boy (I am in my early sixties now and about to enter into retirement) and he, my dad and I, on many occasions, would go fishing on the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada - back in the late fifties and early to mid sixties. Obviously, both my dad and my grandfather are gone now and it would be such a great tribute to them to build and run this boat. I also have 3 sons of my own and it would be great to share with them some of the experiences I had on my Grandfather's boat with him and my dad.

Thanks again for "Boatbuilding 101"

-- John McDonald
Thompson, Manitoba, Canada

Subject: Touching Lives

Hi Gayle,

Thank you so much for sending out your monthly WebLetter and your weekly newsletter. It makes us all feel like we are part of a large family so even though I am sure it's a lot of work, Glen-L is touching more lives than you can imagine.

-- Jelle Jordaans
Naples, Florida

Subject: Best and Fastest Runabout

I built the Glen-L Squirt in 2008 as a jet boat 11'8" long. The boat is all epoxy encapsulated mahogany and Marine Mahogany Plywood. The Jet power is from a Kawasaki 75SXI I purchased on E-Bay for $600. My total cost was a little over $5,500, which I think is pretty reasonable for the best and fastest little runabout in Charlotte Harbor.

By the way, I never could have done this without all the info available on your site.


-- David Streeter
Port Charlotte, Florida

A Nauga Story

In the story (above) about Al Dawson's Ski Tow, mention was made of the use of Naugahyde in his boat. If you've ever wondered about the origin of this wondrous substance which provides so many and various uses, please click to read the amazing and entertaining A Nauga Story...

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