Draft 6" centerboard up
Draft 22" centerboard down
Sail area 140 sq ft
A good question to ask would be why make a boat, especially a wooden boat? Well, I've always liked traditional sailing craft and boats. As a kid I would make model ships, either from kits or not. I bought my first canoe at the age of thirteen and put sails on it a year later. It wasn't until much later in life that I decided the time was right to have sailboat. I first thought I would have one made. I contacted a marine architect about plans and soon realized the cost would be outside of my reach. So, I began reading and looking at plans and decided I could afford to build my own.
I had known about skipjacks for a number of years and liked their lines and
clipper bow. A shoal draft boat such as this would be the practical since
it would live on a trailer. Cost was always a prime consideration, as well as
ease of construction. So this seemd the right type of craft for me.
I studied several plans that I ordered from the Smithsonian Institution, National
Museum of American History Ship Plan List and liked the "Messenger", a poacher's skipjack oyster dredger, circa 1900 from the Chesapeake Bay.
I spent many hours studying plans and looking at lines and construction details. During this time I read Howard Chapelle's books Boatbuilding and Yacht Designing and Planning, as well as several others.
I began building the boat in the spring of 1994 and worked weekends on it during the summer months. It was too cold to work on it during during the winter as my Chicago garage was unheated. I finished it in June 2003, and launched it June 29th of that year.
All in all, it wasn't especially difficult to build. I was a cabinet maker for
a while, so much of the woodworking was second nature. Some of the joinery was
challenging, but patience and careful chisel work went a long way. Scarfing
long narrow pieces of wood was new to me, but became easy as well. I was
always careful to get the correct angles and bevels, but the greatest
challenge was fitting the bottom pieces at the bow where the "V" bottom made the transition to vertical at the stem.
It was necessary to fiberglass the bottom and top sides to avoid swelling and shrinkage from launching and retreaving to and from a trailer everytime I sailed it. Fiberglass and epoxy resin are not difficult to use, but I found I needed care mixing it. Carefull Planning before starting and working in an unhurried manner were essential to fiberglassing.
I canvased the decks as was traditional for such craft. It gives an eye pleasing workman like appearance. Care needs to be taken here to ensure that the paint soaks thoroughly through the canvas so it lays flat with no bubbles.
A concession to my original plans was installing forward and aft decks with
water tight bulkheads for positive floatation. This meant adding side decks and hatches fore and aft.
Though It hasn't happened quickly, I've enjoyed and found great pleasure making
Louise Marion. With forethought and careful planning She's come together
perhaps not with ease, but certainly not with difficulty.