Thoughts about Steel Boatbuilding

Steel is hard, cold, dirty, heavy, difficult, and noisy to work. It is also cheap, available everywhere in the world, incredibly strong so hard to damage (when you build to “stout,” not “theoretically strong enough” scantling sizes) but easy to repair if you do damage it, easy to find skilled labor to repair it anywhere

Troller Yacht Concept

The “Troller” (not Trawler) Yacht Concept This is condensed down from a couple chapters in my book The Troller Yacht Book, Norton Publishing, available mail order from me or from better bookstores anywhere. I suggest if what you read here makes sense to you then read the book! It goes into far more detail….. We’ve all

About My Northwest

A few thoughts about my Northwest…. Occasionally I get an overwhelming urge to again see some of the old time northwest things I was raised around and which are so rapidly disappearing, so get in an old Dodge pickup truck I own and drive over to the coast. For instance; the gypo mill and its

Wood Construction

Here’s a few drawings showing typical wood construction details from my plans. Wood boats are still perfectly valid, and while they suffer from poor resale value and can be harder to sell than steel or plastic, they have a lot of good points. This isn’t worth discussing and certainly not worth arguing about; it’s strictly

Backup Sailing Rig

You’ll commonly read about “emergency propulsion systems.” They take the form of “wing” engines, hydraulic drives, belts off gen plants, and other things that all share in common the dependence on some machine. I don’t go for that. If I’m further from land than I care to row my skiff back to, there’s only one

What I said about That

This page is a “discussion,” one sided I admit since it’s just me doing the talking, about various ideas and things I was thinking about or answers questions I get in letters and was to lazy to write several times over. Now allI need to do is say; “oh, well, read what I have to


Fuel Filter Installation Tip My friend Jim used to work on seagoing tugs and whatnot; big boats. He and I were out fishing aboard his old28′ Bayliner with a Yamar 27 HP diesel outboard and I noticed how he did the fuel filter. Installed AFTER the filter is a vacuum gauge. A casual glance shows

Cutting Disks

I’m frequently asked about “NC” or “Cutting” Disks. This refers to a computer disk that can be inserted into a machine, which then burns out every piece of the boat, delivering you a pile of steel that all you have to do is weld it up; no fitting, no pattern making. Yes, I can provide

Reduction Gears

Reduction Gear and Propeller Guesstimates…. My “theory” on prop sizing is that a prop and a reduction gear need to be chosen for the specific USE of the boat. I did an informal study of salmon trollers for sale to see what, if any, was a common reduction gear. These were both current and former

Ideas being worked on

Stuff Being Thought About…… There’s usually new stuff being at least talked about here, sometimes even being worked up. I used to post some of them on this page but then I changed my mind, and decided to add them to the main sites when (or if) they’re finished. Hey, it happens! Meanwhile, it’s fun

Estimating Materials Costs

Estimating costs I’m frequently asked materials costs of one of my designs. I don’t have a clue and if I did, I still wouldn’t tell you because I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong. Some of you might remember a franchise home builder/designer who sold “packages”that were way way less than was really needed. You

Polyester Resin on Plywood

Polyester Resin and Plywood Everybody who has been around boat yards since the 70’s is familiar with old home made plywood trimarans (usually but not always) with the fiberglass falling off in big sheets. As a result, polyester resin has got a bad rep as a plywood/cloth coating, and today most people use epoxy which

Boatbuilding Shelter

Some sort of shelter from the weather is nice to have, especially with wood boats. My Building Book describes building a visqueen covered shed but the problem with it is that if you live in snow country, it can cave in unless you have a hell of a peak. I’ve spent MANY nights on ladders,

Steel Hull Keel Coolers

Keel Cooling an Engine in a Steel Hull. A closed freshwater cooling system for a steel hull is pretty simple. It can be essentially just two heavy channel or half-pipe sections, welded to the side of the keel. A wood or glass hull will of course require something bolted to the hull.There’s no need to

Powerboat Sailing Rig

(4/01/01) A common question I get is a variation on….”hey; the sail rig on the DUCKS and the other powerboats you show with one mast looks weird; the mast is to far back. The headsail luff is raked to much and the foot overlaps the side of the wheel house so much it would need

Junk Rig Comments

I met Alex Burton at one of the early Pt. Townsend wooden boat shows, I think maybe 1980? He had one of the neatest boats I’ve ever seen, built on the beach up in British Columbia with a lot of driftwood. It looked straight out of 1960s Marin County California, which back then was one

The Cutter Sailplan

Thoughts about Sailplans and why I like Cutters for cruising Most of my sailplans are moderate aspect, with multiple reefs, straight leach mains without battens so you can easily reef without the need to turn the bow into the wind, self-tending headsails; heavily and simply rigged. Many of my designs, even larger ones like DRAGONFLY

Glassing Large Hulls

A common question I get is how in the world are you supposed to put an epoxy coating on a large plywood hull that’s sitting upright? The fear is that the resin will all run off, the cloth will slide off, and the result will be a mess. I never thought to hard about it

Bulb Bows

Bulbous Bows? I get an awful lot of mail asking about putting bulbous bows on my designs. I personally have always thought they were strictly hype for small boats. The cost to build them is far more than simply adding a couple feet to the hull, something which DEFINITELY helps “performance.” But of course when

Fuel Tank Drains

Diesel Fuel Tanks I got this interesting letter from Peter Eikenberry, an ex-US Coast Guard guy working with vessel standards. He points out that my perception that all fuel tanks had to exhaust (drain)from the top did NOT apply to diesel! This is good news because since fuel floats on top of water, all the

Learning to Weld

GETTING STARTED IN WELDING; 3 welders yakking. Here’s my friend Darold Brekke, third andLast generation of the Brekke Metal Company, shown here as the1982 Ballard Calendar Pin-up boy. He’s working a forge in this photo. If you don’t know what Ballard is, well, today it’s mostly a Seattle yuppie neighborhood but back until maybe 1990

Steering Systems

The simplest and least expensive steering system is a stick attached to the rudder. But that usually means sitting out in a cockpit when you drive and that can be miserable, so many people, especially with power boats, want some sort of a steering system. The easiest way to do that is simply order anew

Welding Sequence

Back in the 1970s or 80s (I forget) a new crab boat was launched near Seattle. It got maybe 50 miles from the dock on its maiden run to Alaska when suddenly a plate or two “blew” off and she sank. The reason was the “Welding Sequence” had been wrong, and stresses had been built

Articulated Rudders

Ross Anderson didn’t install a bow thruster in his 45-Plus DUCK. Instead, he went for the “Articulated Rudder” shown here. Ross can cut donuts with the boat, bringing it into very tight situations without problems. Of course he also knows what he’s doing but just the same, this rudder idea greatly helps close quarters handling.

Engine Room Temperature

Dry Stack & Engine Room Temperatures 10 years or so ago a new fiberglass fishing boat in Seattle, on its maiden trip, suddenly caught fire in the engine room. The crew ran her on the beach and were OK, but the boat was destroyed. The cause they believe was excessive non-vented heat from the dry

Lam Sails

I’m pleased to be working with Dennis Lam, of Lam Sails. Founded in Hong Kong in the early 1960’s, Lam Sails have become one of the largest lofts in the world with over 1500 employees at this writing. They make cruising and racing sails for all sizes of boats from huge yachts down to wind

Bilge Keels

Bilge Keels to Dampen Roll ? The following is my reply to a guy who is having a new 462 DUCK built and asked me about fins, or “bilge keels,”as they’re called, to dampen roll. I don’t think much of the idea!Since I get this question every now and then I decided to post parts

George’s Turkey Visit

11/17/08 Link to the 41-Plus Diesel duck Visiting Imir My beautiful friend Arzu and I, having dinner. In October, 2008, I braved the trip from our quiet Island home to the Seattle airport. After more hours than I care to spend again soon, I landed in Istanbul, Turkey. I spent a night there, and as

Self- Bailing Pilot House

When the fleets of little fishing boats were large here on the west coast we’d occasionally see a boat with the windows knocked out. “Occasionally” is to strong a word; rather, once in a great while we’d hear of it. Thinking back, you know I only remember one. The use of the “We” is not

A Viking Funeral

Ron Blower’s Viking Funeral My friend Ron unfortunately died when he was just in his early 60’s. Ron was among other things, a talented artist. His wife Donna is just as creative, and she sent Ron off in the Old Way. Above are Viking metal figures made by Ron, guarding the funeral Long Ships. The


CARITAS was a grand motoryacht from New York that ended up on the west coast. During WW11 she was seized by the government and used for coast patrol. After the war she kicked about, and in the late 1950s, a guy bought her and dragged her ashore to make a gift shop. I’ve stopped and