The Metal Boat Society

MBS Rudder

Dear Metal Boat Enthusiasts,

The MBS Rudder is our online publication describing projects, adventures, and technical information about metal boats and those who appreciate metal boats.   Please let us know if you have anything to share.  This is YOUR magazine; we hope Members and non-Members enjoy it and encourage everyone to participate! Please send your contributions to 

G. Marggraff,  President of the Metal Boat Society

September 10, 2017


Gerd Marggraff

When Milton and Kathleen Taylor parted company with their gorgeous 50 ft steel trawler, they were looking for a light fast "play boat" that would allow them to comfortably explore the Pacific NW.   They first opted for a 30 ft Armstrong cat but found out quickly that it was both too fast and too small to meet their needs.  Being a committed metal boater and liking Armstrong's strong but unpolished vessels, they worked with Armstrong marine in Port Angeles to build a 42 ft cat.

When you see Wasabi at the dock, you immediately notice that she is designed as a commercial vessel.  The no-nonsense design and absolute functionality has a great appeal to many.  Milton carried this idea into the interior fit-out.  He kept simple lines through the interior.  One example is the galley which features a two door isotherm refrigerator-freezer and a Wallas diesel hot plate.  The galley appliances like microwave and oven are not permanently installed rather stored in the cupboard till needed.  The sette to port sits comfortably and has an expansive 360-degree view.  At the forward end of the bridge deck cabin is a steering station made for two.  From a second wheel on the aft deck, the forward and aft bow thruster system can be used to precisely position this 14 ft beam vessel. Designed as a semi-displacement boat, Wasabi travels comfortably.

Dual John Deere 4.5 liter 4045s comfortably power the vessel at 17-18 knots and burn only 2-3 gallons per hour.  Reducing the speed to 10 knots, the Taylors find fuel use is limited to 1.25-1.5 gallons per hour.  The engine rooms are spacious enough to do all maintenance work without needing a 3-D gimbaled arm.  I have worked on many multihulls where you basically have to "remove the engine" to do an oil change.  A spacious hatch right over each engine and additional Bowmar over the forward part of the engine rooms guarantee access.

Launched in 2015, I think we'll be seeing the Taylors enjoying their Puget Sound cruising ground on Wasabi for some time to come. 

September 9, 2017

30th Annual Metal Boat Festival

Gerd Marggraff

We'd like to thank everyone who attended the 30th Metal Boat Festival in Anacortes!   

This year we started the Festival with an introduction of all the attendees.  I was amazed by the variety and knowledge of our members. Interest & experience in metal boats and boating ranged from industry professionals to home builders to a bunch of folks outfitting/upgrading a metal boat they already own to a number of people thinking about purchasing metal boat.   

Our first invited speaker was George Bueller who explained his design philosophy for diesel ducks.  He started diesel duck design in the late 1980's when a couple asked for a live-a-board powerboat under 40 ft.  The basis of the design was an old time traditional boat with not too much displacement.  While the diesel duck has evolved over the years, they are readily identifiable around the world.  The main tenant of George's design philosophy is to 'keep it simple'---the exact opposite of the trend in the maritime industry where gadgets take center stage.

Next, John Baird and Richard Rodriguez from Zenith training provided excellent information on the maritime licensing and training programs.  Zenith has trained over 3000 people in over 35 states since 2003---from river guides to masters.   Fifty percent of their students take the training to get the wisdom of being a good mariner rather than to become a licensed operator.

Friday evening, we adjourned to the Cap Sante Marina and enjoyed visiting the metal boats presented by their owners.  The metal boats on display ranged from 33 to 65 ft.  Two had just returned from extensive cruising in the Pacific NW.   As usual, the planning of the Cap Sante Marina failed again and they had given away our barbecue pontoon.  Thanks to Steve Gallion who created a very nice dock-side meal in windy conditions.   The wind was made-to-order for the sunset sail which was enjoyed by one and all.

Saturday opened with an excellent presentation by Michael Kasten on computer-aided design and CNC cutting.   Computer-aided design takes a preliminary design as simple as a napkin sketch and helps make it a 3-D reality.  Modern computer programs combine excellent visuals with hydrostatics to give the designer complete control over aesthetics and buoyancy/stability.  Michael discussed in detail the enormous possibilities and labor savings during construction.  He also acknowledged that computer-aided design and CNC cutting has led to a loss of skills in lofting and detail work in many boat yards.  

Brion Toss gave a talk on rigging as well as led a fascinating dock-walk analyzing the rigging of the metal boats present at the Festival.  In his talk, Brion described the details of how rigging and sails help transmit energy to the boat.  He made the observation that we are in a transition from steel rigging to synthetics, not unlike when the British Admiralty transitioned from rope to wire rope rigging.  Today, use of synthetics is dramatically increasing, saving weight and potentially money.  One big step has been companies like White Hall who have been making bigger diameter synthetics for industrial use are now branching out to 1/4" diameters appropriate for smaller vessels.  The dock walk was an especially big hit as owners were presented with small mistakes in their rigging in front of the docks packed by attendees.  Brion was also planning to give a presentation on rigging a vessel in Disneyland but this had to be cancelled due to a long question and answer session.  Hopefully, attendees can enjoy this presentation next year.

After lunch, Loren, Georgia, and Brenda Murphy described the Mursea project.  They gave an inspiring presentation about their mission and the 98 ft aluminum vessel they have been building.  We will go into more about this vessel detail in a later article.

Vince Townrow was the last invited speaker of the Festival.  Vince gave an informative presentation on sail repair while cruising.  In particular, Vince brought a tool kit he recommended for every cruiser.  A lucky attendee also took home this tool kit in the evening raffle.  It was great to hear all the little hints from someone who learned the sail-making trade in both the loft and through his experiences as sea.

Tom Purdy and Curt Eckley then treated everyone to a barbecue salmon dinner.  After a relaxing meal, I gave a brief slide show on our circumnavigation on our 52 ft aluminum catamaran that we built in Australia.

Sunday morning attendees enjoyed a Forum question and answer session with  Graham Coombes, Michael Kasten,  Pete Silva, and yours truly. (right to left)  

At the general meeting which closed the Festival, everyone was overjoyed to hear that Candy Larreau, Curt Eckley, and Steve Gallion will be organizing next year's 31st Festival and in March Pete Silva, Lance Eckhart, and Steve Gallion will be leading a mini-Fest focused on building a custom aluminum dingy.

July 17, 2017

The Festival is only a few weeks away.  Thanks to Latitude 38, 48-North, and Pacific Yachting we seem to be spreading the word about this years 30th Metal Boat Festival. 

As we have to start organizing for the two dinners, I would like to ask those who are attending to please register or send me an email to   This will make planning a little easier for us. 

Thank you all for your encouraging emails.  We are all looking forward to an exciting Festival.  Also remember, we will be auctioning an aluminum dingy.  If you have any prized marine possessions that you would like to donate for our raffle, please bring them along!

June 11, 2017

The 30th Metal Boat Society Festival is 2 months away.  We are looking forward a great group of speakers.

Remember that the first 10 metal boats to sign up get free moorage in the Cap Sante Marina during the Festival!!!

Remember that the first 10 metal boats to sign up get free moorage in the Cap Sante Marina during the Festival!!!

May 21, 2017

30 Years of the Metal Boat Society!

Metal Boat Society was conceived  by a group of six couples who owned metal boats and met for lunch in Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, Puget Sound Washington.  Carol Parks, one of the founding members, describes this early history--

“The talk turned to unique products for metal boats (like certain kinds of paint) that needed to be used. Each couple contributed $20 to be used for advertising to locate other metal boat owners, with the idea of forming a group of metal boat owners. My husband and I worked nights, so we didn’t participate in any evening meetings, but there must have been quite a few to organize events. In the beginning, there were Saturday morning meetings in Seattle that drew at least 100 people to each meeting. Speakers gave talks about products needed for metal boats and boat owners got to meet each other. The idea of having a festival where people could show their metal boats was a popular idea, and the Metal Boat Festivals began in 1988. When Bill Johnson was elected to be the first president of the Metal Boat Society, he never fails to mention that it happened while he was out of the room. He did a wonderful job of overseeing the needs of a new organization.”

August 11-13 we will be celebrating our 30 years at this year's Metal Boat Festival (Festival 2017).

April 20, 2017

Richmond Boat Show Features Metal Boater!

The Metal Boat Society helped pitch in as boat docents for Randall Reeves at the Figure of 8 voyage display at the Richmond Boat Show.    There was so much interest in the project and his aluminum vessel, we could hardly keep up with the visitors!  Meeting Tony Gooch, another docent, who had circumnavigated twice on this vessel, was a special treat.  We estimate that 2,000 boating enthusiasts stopped to inspect Moli,  learn about Randall's voyage, and metal boats over the show’s four days.

(Featured in the photo--Randall's vessel Moli, Melissa Marggraff (MBS Secretary), Randall, Gerd Marggraff (MBS President), and Tony Gooch.

March 25, 2017

Metal Boat Society Member Featured in Richmond Boat Show

In the fall of 2017, our club member Randall Reeves will depart San Francisco for the first-ever solo-circumnavigation of both the American and Antarctic continents in one season.  The route will pass through all the world’s oceans, approach both poles, and round Cape Horn twice.  What would lead a person to want to make such an attempt and how in blazes does one prepare?   He chose for his voyage a round bilge aluminum vessel built by Dubbel and Jesse.   This vessel had done the first circumnavigation of the two Americas.  (see articles below)

Hear Randall's presentation on the Figure 8 Voyage at this year's Pacific Boat Show in Richmond, CA, and visit him on his high-latitude vessel, MOLI, which will also be at the show.     The Metal Boat Society will also have presence on his vessel and make visitors aware of the MBS and upcoming MBS Festival.

Boat show details:
Times for my Randall's talks
  • Thursday, April 6   11:45am
  • Thursday, April 6    4:45pm
  • Friday, April 7   11:45am
  • Sunday April 9  3:30pm

Remember that the first 10 metal boats to sign up get free moorage in the Cap Sante Marina during the Festival!!!

March 18, 2017

Hawaii to Victoria--My Experience

by John Simpson


In September 1981, I was invited to join the crew of the Sundowner V (one of my designs) on the final (return) leg of their South Pacific cruise – Hawaii to Victoria (BC). 

The Sundowner V was built in Vancouver, B.C. by Horizon Steel Yachts Ltd. (Jake Fehr) for Mr. Ralph Higgins of Victoria, B.C. She was a 64’ pilothouse ketch of double chine steel with aluminum deckhouse, launched in June 1980 as a wet/sail-away kit. She was then sailed to Victoria for owner completion in through February 1981. Full credit is due Ralph, his father, and others who during the build at Horizon, pre-fabricated many parts and joinery in their own shop to transform an empty interior to a luxuriously outfitted yacht in a relatively short time frame. In 1981 the vessel was complete and sailing the Pacific Northwest waters in light and heavy weather, preparing for an offshore voyage slated for spring. It should be mentioned that these waters in winter are not warm and this enabled the theory behind the large comfortable wheelhouse to be put into practice. As it worked out, considerable sailing (and motoring) was done from the 'inside’ in a shirtsleeve environment - comfort was the rule rather than the exception. In March of 1981 the Sundowner V left Victoria for a 6 month voyage around the Pacific Ocean: San Diego, Mexico, Marquesas, Tahiti and adjacent Islands, finally ending in Hawaii in August of that year. It was in Hawaii that I joined the vessel for the voyage back to Victoria, B.C. a distance of approximately 2500 nautical miles (done in 17 days).

Now, a good storyteller could stretch a 17 day voyage into a book. I'm no storyteller so I'll limit myself to some of the highlights as they pertain to the performance and suitability of the vessel. I will also note some items that ‘impressed’ me on my first my ‘offshore’ cruise and how they compared with my 30 years of inshore and coastal cruising. 

The Sundowner V was conceived as an offshore cruiser which could be sailed short-handed and sail well, and yet has sufficient power to motor efficiently (top speed under power is 9 knots+). On our Hawaiian departure we hit typical trade wind sailing. Watch keeping between the four of us was divided into the Swedish Watch system comprising of two persons per watch; four hour shifts from 20:00 to 08:00 and six hour shifts from 08:00, to 20:00 hours.

Much to our pleasure, the vessel pretty well sails herself on reaching conditions and to our benefit, it was an ‘El Nino’ year so the N.E. Trades had shifted to easterlies. The Sundowner’s wheel could be adjusted, set, and the boat will hold course almost indefinitely. It was also during this phase of the trip that the spool furling (Famet) came into extensive use for every so often (about twice per watch) we would encounter a squall with winds & rain of up to 35+ knots.... one person could  shorten sails (genoa, main, mizzen)  quite easily, and wring them out again when the winds had reduced. Helm balance during these squalls remained good even though our angle of heel would go from 15° to 30° and the speed of the vessel would increase to 8+ knots.

After a week, the winds shifted to our stern quarter and increased to about 30-40 knots with waves estimated around 25-35 feet. We shortened sail and did some moderate downwind work maintaining an average speed of approximately 8 knots in surfing conditions. More care was needed on the helm as we were at the risk of “broaching to” but even in these situations, positive helm control was always there, although a lot of attention and effort was required. We finally streamed a belayed warp over the stern and this dampened the motion considerably. One little glitch was the automatic shaft break would not hold at surfing speeds (14 knots) and the propeller would free wheel risking transmission burnout and slowing us down. A crude fix: a large pipe wrench on the shaft coupling solved the problem. (not recommended)

After about three days and 350 miles the winds finally died and we reached the Horse Latitudes (Pacific High). This is where the engine came into its own as there was little or no wind and we could maintain an average speed of 6 knots under power burning about 2 gallons per hour. The five days required to cross the 'High' was well spent: checking over the gear, the sails, etc. in preparation for the westerly’s of the north Pacific. We also had some ‘me’ time to go swimming (one crew did ‘shark watch’ & remained on board with a rifle.)  I managed to retrieve a 12” glass net float.   

Our final leg started out quite well but over a period of two days the wind increased to 50+ knots.  Radio reception was not good so the only warning of impending weather was a rapidly falling barometer and the fact that the wind and seas were increasing to a very respectable size. In the worst of it, which lasted about 2+ days, the winds reached  force 11 (55-65 kn.) with gusts going higher, and the seas  were about 55’ and surprisingly close together, so confused  that ‘heaving to’ was ruled out. However, the boat rode it well and in spite of the fact that heeling angles often exceeded 40° very little solid water landed on deck or hit the wheelhouse. (This had been a very real concern of mine during the initial design stages as large windows and heavy weather don’t always mix). As if this was not enough, we occasionally appeared to surf sideways down the wave and get dumped into the trough with a loud ‘thud’. The skipper asked if I thought any plates would be buckled. Hmmm! During this 'blow’ we only had to go out on deck a few times (in safety harness,) to check sails & equipment , all other times the sails could be adjusted from the safety of the bridge (cockpit).  After the storm was over, the skipper, who is experienced in sailing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was kind enough to inform me that it was the worst blow he had encountered in his 25 years of cruising. He also said “our anemometer blew away at 75 knots but I did not want to worry you guys about it’” We later found out that we had been on the side of a typhoon. The last part of the voyage was running up the Washington coast. It was dead calm and motoring at night we had to deal with many large fishing vessels (90’ plus) retrieving nets under very bright flood lights.  While I have done this “net dodging’ in daylight, trying to determine which net and skiff belonged to what fishing vessel in the dark can be a real challenge -  especially with the distraction of flood lights. Add the anxiety of possibly fouling a net, it is easy to appreciate that we were all exhausted once we had cleared the fleet after 10 hours.   

These experiences reinforced the appreciation of the dangers associated with heavy weather and, surprisingly, some light weather situations. Yes, there is the violent movement created by rough seas and the confusion of some calm environmental situations but one also has to consider the fatigue that sets in after days of worry, lack of substantial food & sleep, and of course the very damp clothing. All can affect mood, moral, and judgment of the crew and applies to inshore waters as well as offshore.

After 17 days, we made Cape Flattery landfall and motored to Victoria, Upon docking I inspected the hull to see if any plating was buckled; none. The boat had taken everything and come out unscathed. While the voyage could be called un-eventful, we did encounter a good variety of weather. The boat performed admirably with the only surprise being the frequency that steering was done from the wheelhouse be the hazard heavy wind, rain, sun, or errant flying fish. (yes, they do hurt if they hit your face!) The builder should take a great degree of credit in that the hull finish was very good, as was the exterior finishing (teak deck and trim). All exterior steel was metallized with zinc flame followed by two primer coats of epoxy and four finish coats of two part polyurethane paint. Two years of service shows not a hint of rust or corrosion above or below the waterline. I also give great credit to the skipper, a first class ‘boss’ who managed his ship and crew well.

Lessons learned: (this trip & years of boating)

a) During our run in the Pacific High we saw this ‘glow’ on the horizon, and approaching us. Over the period of an hour it got brighter and brighter and looked like a lit-up cruise ship coming directly our way. Turns out it was an exceptional ‘moon-rise’.

b) Small boats are not that visible to large ships. We were approached and passed (about 2 miles distant) by a small cargo vessel. Even with our searchlight on the 600 sq.ft. mainsail he could not pick us out until we gave him some relative bearings. From his bridge, our sail just blended in with the white caps.

c) Big waves may not be bad waves. While sailing gently in the ‘trades’ we just rode over the waves without a care -  from crest, to trough, to crest. At the helm on one watch I looked aft and there was a container ship about passing about 4 miles off and taking big waves and spray right over the bow.  Gauging wave height can be difficult but one method can be comparing them to your boat length. Imagine our 64’ boat on end in a trough… the wave top would easily be amidships… so the waves are about 30’.

d) Our voyage was pre GPS. DED (deduced) reckoning is a viable navigation method during overcast weather when we couldn’t take a ‘sight’. I gave it a try and after one 150 mile segment we were able to take a ‘sight’: my position estimate was out by about 12 miles.    

e) Regardless of what you are doing, ALWAYS keep one hand on the ship. During one of our ‘blows’, three of us went on deck to sort out a jammed halyard. Once freed, one fellow held it with both hands, the boat lurched, and he swung out like a big pendulum: He would have gone over-board had he not hit the main shrouds. (And guys, answering ‘nature’s call’ over the side is a really dumb idea. Use your head and use the ‘head’)

f) I asked our skipper what the MOB (man over board) protocol was. He said ‘we search for 12-24 hours (more if you have a lifejacket) and then carry on.   

g)If you don’t have your sea legs and feel a bit woozy, stay topsides in the fresh air and so you can see the horizon. Crawling into a poorly ventilated bunk may not be a good procedure and if you can avoid medication it may be to your advantage. (I was ill immediately aft leaving Honolulu. The Molokai Straits had heavy winds, 20’ waves, and I stayed topsides. Once clear of land the seas settled down, as did my stomach).  1. Each boat has its unique motion and not all people can adjust to all motions  2. When you have adjusted to the boats motion your ‘rhythm is set. When you get on land again you will have to re-‘adjust’ – it feels just like motion sickness all over again: It took me about 2 days to get my ‘land-legs’.  

h)Some sea life can come at you. Errant flying fish in the face… might not hurt you but can really startle you. Or…a large fish (caught for dinner) thrashing around on deck with a hook in its mouth.

i) My boating experiences have given me a good appreciation of what danger debris can pose: Everything from a ‘dead-head’ hull puncture to flotsam clogging a cooling line.  Crossing the Pacific High was no different – just a lot bigger. I was impressed by the amount and variety of trash: plastic, nets, clothing, and furniture: And ship containers - when 90% submerged they look like a navigation aid from a distance and you sure would not want to hit one. You must be watchful at all times.

j)Passages can have their boring moments…. Lots of them. Learn to kill time, take books etc. and do some ‘ship duties’ to keep you occupied.

k)Good food at a regular schedule. Nothing can beat down moral faster than crappy food… especially if you can’t recognize it.  We were fortunate in that one crew was a professional chef and prepared simple but delicious dinners each evening. For breakfast, each of us took a turn as ‘cook’ each day and for lunch, it was a ‘help yourself’.

l)Watch system. The Swedish Watch gives crew a rotation over 24 hours, provides stability, variety,  and avoids the ‘rut’ feeling.  

m) “Cabin fever” does exist. Luckily, there were only four of us on a large boat and we each had our own ‘space’.


Press Release



On August 11 -13, 2017 the 30th annual Metal Boat Festival, sponsored by the Metal Boat Society will be held in Anacortes, Washington. The Festival is open to members and interested members of the public. The Festival will have a number of seminar speakers who are involved in designing, building, outfitting, and cruising on metal boats. The current agenda includes:  yacht designer George Buehler, N. A., Michael Kasten, N. A., rigger and author Brian Toss from Brian Toss Yacht Riggers, sailmaker Vince Townrow from Ullman Sails,  boat-builder Jim Betts,  builder of a 96 foot aluminum sailboat - Loren Murphy, surveyor John Baird on maritime licensing, a panel of metal boat experts answering questions on design, construction, and maintenance, and dinner-time presentation on cruising the South Pacific.

Festival attendees are encouraged to bring their metal boats to the Festival.  Free moorage at the Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes is supplied for Festival participants who sign up in advance.  Friday evening begins with viewing of participating metal boats followed by a club barbecue on the marina float and a sunset cruise on member’s metal boats.

The Metal Boat Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of information on planning the vessel of your dreams, building or purchasing the boat to fill your expectations, fitting out or renovating the boat you own, routine maintenance, cruising and comradery. 


Curt Eckley: (425) 223-6256, Festival Chairman,

Gerd Marggraff: (510) 828-1992, MBS President,

January 17, 2017

True Round Metal Boat Building, Part III

Fabrication of the Hull

D. L. Schaffer

Part One of this series on 'Bezier chine' introduced the general concept. Part Two illustrated the pre-fabrication of the transverse frames, longitudinal frames, and True Round shell plating. This section, Part Three, describes the ease of construction thru the assembly of the 'Bezier 12.5.

Assembling the Frame Structure :

Fabrication of the hull is started by aligning, leveling, and squaring of the strongback onto which the hull framework will be setup. Its dimensions are detailed in the architectural drawings.

In a bow and stern view the first pictures shows the transverse frames set up on the strongback. They are loosely held in place by the second longitudinal from the sheer and the (CVK) center vertical keel. It should be noted that the crossing between these members have been defined and transferred to all parts no matter if you are using full size pattern or CNC cut parts.

The next pictures shows more longitudinals added to the framing assembly. At this point the framework is fairly stable. Its dimensions and alignment can be easily tweaked to reflect the architectural drawings.

The next pictures shows the keel, which was pre-fabricated on its own building strongback, in place on the hulls framework. With the keel in position the hull framework is fairly stabilized. After a final dimension check the hull framework can be fully welded and cleaned before shell plating proceeds.

True Round Hull Plating:

Plating begins with one of the shell sections that have been designed to align with a particular transverse frame. It is preferably to start with a shell section that is near the center of the hull, and work towards the ends of the hull, alternating sides in their application.

The first plating picture shows a shell plate loosely clamped to the sheer longitudinal. Notice the half circles that have been pre-designed in the now preformed shell plating. These half circles indicate the crossing of the longitudinal frames and the shell plating. Additionally the back side of the plating has be scribed from the full size patterns with a line that coincides with its matching frame.

The next pictures shows that section on shell plating in its final position. Notice how nicely it aligns with the longitudinals and the theoretical chine or line of tangency between the true round section of the hull and the developable bottom plating which is presently un-plated.

Subsequent plating will be aligned between these initial plate sections. This procedure will removes any cumulative error that would be present if we plated the hull bow to stern, for example.

The next picture, from inside of the hull shows a plate so aligned to an initial shell plate located on a transverse frame.

The final plate, viewed from the outside, is an alignment between two, dead end, plating segments. The term 'Dead End' in metal fabrication applies to an alignment between fixed locations. Do to the accuracy of 'Bezier Chine' and plating procedures any cumulative error between dead ends situations are eliminated.

The last picture shows the same plate fitted to the hull. It should be readily apparent that Bezier designed plating fits seamless to the hulls framework. There is no cutting around the perimeter of the shell plate segments to align it to the framework or adjoining plating as with 'Radius Chine' construction. All plating fits seamlessly to framework and plating alike. Being true round to boot.

Bottom Developable Plating:

The bottom shell plating for the Bezier 12.5 is a developable surface and is templated in the same manner as a single or double hard chine boat.

Fairing the Hull

Do to the accuracy of Bezier Chine fabrication method only a skim coat of fairing compound is required to bring the hull to a pristine fiberglass finish. The first picture shows how the hull surface and weld seams are sanded smooth for final fairing. The left side of this picture shows each weld seam sanded to meet the normal surface of the plating, while the right side show the hull surface uniformly blended.

The following picture shows the entire hull uniformly Blended. Painting at this point could produce an acceptable painted finish, but not a pristine fiberglass finish.

For a pristine fiberglass finish the hull will need a relatively thin coat of fairing compound. This following picture show a hull with its first coat of fairing compound that establishes the low spot on the hull. The normal height of the hull surface is indicated by bare aluminum.

The Finished Hull:

This article is only a primer to introduce 'Bezier Chine' design and construction to members of the Metal Boat Society. More information on 'Bezier Chine' design and construction along with available designs can be had by visiting -

Full detailed construction and theory on Bezier Chine is available in my book "True Round Metal Boat Building". It is listed for purchase at ''.

January 16, 2017

Building Thor:  A 65ft StrongAl Sailboat

Gerd  Marggraff

In 2008, we gave up the search for a second-hand metal sailboat that was powerful enough to take us into high latitudes, be handled by a couple, make 200 mile-days under sail or power, and sneak into shallow harbors. We particularly wanted the flexibility of being able to beach our boat and not have to depend on boat yards for every bottom cleaning or fouled prop. A few years before, we sailed on an Antarctic 65, built from thick plate using the Strongall building method, and we were very impressed with the sailing performance. At the same time, we struggled with the idea of building a 65-ft vessel ourselves without having a full boatyard capability and crew; available finances also excluded the possibility of just ordering a hull.

Strongall was a great solution for us.  Strongall is a self-supporting aluminum hull building method based on thick plate scantlings with very little framing. It is perfect for cruising yachts because it provides greater hull strength than steel with approximately 30% weight savings. Until a few years ago, a French yard was holding the patent on it. Using this method, hull plates are precut to finish size and shape and are tacked together using a temporary jig. Another advantage of this method is the speed with which a hull can be created. Amazingly, our hull was together in 8 weeks—like magic! (But then the work started!) Being accustomed to building vessels to USL standards (I worked on a commercial boatyard in Australia), I decided to take the best of the Strongall system and combine it with standards of a commercial vessel. The design for a standard Strongall 65 is for a pleasure craft, but would not pass survey for a commercial vessel. Calculations for our 65 footer, showed us the scantlings of the vessel had to be improved.  Hence, we proceeded forward to build a Strongal-plus design.

Adding extra strength through water-tight bulkheads, extra framing, etc., added a little extra work, but added an enormous amount of safetor high latitude passage-making. I also redesigned the original swing keel to be hydraulic rather than manual. Six thousand pounds of keel is a lot to handle manually. Using hydraulics had the added advantage of stopping the keel from swinging back into its housing if the boat ever should capsize.

Thor is built from 22,000 pounds of 5086 aluminum. The bottom plate is 5/8” and ¾” making it strong enough to be beached. The rest of the hull plating is ½."  The deck and the pilothouse is ¼.” We cut and welded the plates together on a 65 foot long welding table.  At this point high accuracy required keeping the plate butts perfectly aligned.   This was also the first test for our welding machine set up and the certified welder who was doing all the hull welding during Thor's construction.  Several destructive and ultrasound tests were performed; we were very happy about machine and man after the perfect outcome of all the tests.

Three 20 foot sheets were welded together to form the bottom plate. After lofting the shape onto the plate, we cut the plate. As we had only one table, we built one plate after another, strategically placing them aside ready for assembly.

Moving the 65 foot plates was quite a handful. As  we had no overhead crane, we had to help ourselves with an A-frame and a forklift with a long loading boom. After all hull plates were prepared, the assembly started with setting the base plate to the correct shape. We set the jig(a set of blocks below the vessel) to form the baseplate into the right shape. One by one we added the chine and topside plates stitching them with tack welds and small braces.  It was quite amazing how easily things came together.  At this stage, it was a large advantage had time to arrange correct weld angles on the entire length of the plate butts.  Where a boatyard is always driven to consider profits, for us, the accuracy and the quality of weld joints was our highest priority. 

​The construction of Thor drew upon my lifetime of experience building and maintaining metal boats.   I chose my crew because of their youthful energy and experience working metal.  It was a pleasure to see the energy they brought to the project and how they inhaled the additional knowledge I could pass on.

One by one we added the chine and topside plates stitching them with tack welds and small braces. It was very important at this stage to check the correct angles to the lower plate and beam at several stations. Working with two full-time helpers, it was 8 weeks from the day the aluminum arrived until we had all 5 plates stitched together into the hull shape.

The most practical tool for cutting the plates was a 7 ½” worm-drive circular saw with Tenryu aluminum cutting blades. Lubricant extended the blade lifetime so we only used about 9 blades to cut the 5 plates to size. We ended up with an extremely clean and accurate cut. After cutting, we pre shaped the plate edges using a standard hand planar with tool steel blades to get a 110 degree welding gap. This was rather difficult as you always had to watch the cutting amount otherwise the planar would grab and destroy the blades in a split second. Using this method, we ended up with a clean weld surface. For welding the heavy plate, we used a 350 amp Lincoln with a water cooled Cobramatic. A 250 amp Miller air cooled welder was used for tacking and later for detail work.

After the 5 hull plates were tacked, water-tight bulkheads, floors, keel, and centerboard case were added. To the original design, I added 3 water tight bulkheads plus a large water-tight engine room. From the engine room forward, the vessel has underfloor tanks holding 1200 gallons of diesel and 22,000 pounds of lead ballast in separate ballast compartments.  We separated the ballast from the aluminum with 3/8" fiberglass laminate.  After all, I had made a lot of money repairing corrosion problem areas on other aluminum boats and did not want to fall into the same trap.

For the superstructure, my wife insisted on a pilothouse. We both had admired Dashew’s Beowulf deck set-up so we fashioned our deck after his including using the pilothouse as an extension of the cockpit.   My wife insisted on having a cozy pilothouse for high latitude sailing so we I added a sliding door to protect us in cold weather situations.   This would prove to be one of the best design features!

Constructing the hydraulic lift keel with 4000 pounds of lead ballast took an enormous effort.   Any boat yard would fill the hollow keel with lead and rely on the fact that there never will be any water intrusion to create electrolysis pathways.   I wanted a keel that would never create problems for me or owners to come so I separate all ingots with a high density plastic.  After filling the keel with 2 tons + of lead, I welded the base plate and vacuumed filled the entire void with fiberglass resin. 

We took time to engineer the boat for short-handed sailing. We chose a 1013 Deutz Diesel with 250hp. It is the only engine of this size left on the US market that met Tier 2 and has no electronics. The Deutz 1013 is mainly used on commercial vessels and has a 100% duty cycle 24 hrs a day.  The engine lives in a large water-tight engine room, with standing headroom.

We added a bow thruster for ease of handling in close quarters. Three hydraulic winches have made sail handling painless in any weather condition.​  The big sail and storage compartment, adjacent to the anchor locker was more important to us than an extra few bunks.

We customized the fit-out to our needs. Our boat has only 6 bunks including a huge owner’s cabin forward and a guest quarters aft.   We created a very large owners cabin  with private bath/head that could easily be reconfigured back to the original four bunk design forward if there is need.  Our guest quarters is designed with a two single bunk crew quarter and a second master suite with separate bath/head aft.

Building a nice teak fit out, took as long as creating the aluminum hull.  Watching the weight of the fit-out, we chose to use Nida Core for all non-structural bulkheads and fit out.  This made the vessel interior look like the interior of a fiberglass hull under construction.   As I wanted to keep the quality of the fit-out high, we wanted to have all trims and framings in solid teak.  We were contacted by a retiring builder who had a truck load of old reject Burma teak doors up to 2 3/4" thick.   We are especially proud of being able to reuse this resource without adding the destruction of forests.

We constructed the boat 5 miles from the water.  As launch day approached a large truck, an even larger crane, and a police escort was needed.  This was the big day when everything came together.   Of course, a big celebration followed with all friends and helpers.

Our final major step stepping the mast.   Our deep thanks goes to Buzz Ballenger from Ballenger Spars for all his support.

​All totaled, Thor construction took approximately 6000 hours.   Like any vessel, she never will be completed as there are always goodies out there to be added!


By January 2017,  Thor has sailed approximately 7000 miles.  With her light displacement of approximately 60,000 pounds she has prove to be fast sailor.  We are extremely happy with the shallow draft.  At the same time, she has proven that with the keel down her windward abilities are amazing.


December 11, 2016

A few weeks ago we took out our boat, Thor, in the Port Townsend boatyard.  On my first evening walk through the yard, a cruiser with classic lines caught my attention.  I was very impressed.  On a closer inspection, I knew that a lot of effort had been put into the topsides.  This was an older steel vessel, but she looked like she had just come out of a fiberglass mold.  Being a fan of a classic vessels, I could not keep myself from disturbing the owners the next morning.    The owners, Michelle and Bill Bressler from Bainbridge Island, had been on the yard for 115 days.   But this was not it.  Over the last few years they had refurbished the vessel, putting significant attention into details.  Our Island is built like a small ship that was designed to be cruising the oceans with a small crew.

There have been two articles written on the boat.  The first was done by Sea magazine in May 1962, and the other by Passage Maker magazine in April 2008.   We have attached links at the bottom of this article if you are interested in more information.

-G. Marggraff



Our Island:  A Grand Old Lady

Michele and Bill Bressler

Our Island is a 65’ steel yacht with a 19’ 6” beam. She was built in 1962 by Skullerud and Son’s boat yard in Wilmington, CA and was based on a 55’ Art Defever design.  She was originally named Carman Maria, after the first owner’s wife, and carried that name through four owners. 

When fully fueled and watered, 6000 and 5000 respectfully, she draws 8’ of water with her full keel and displaces 127 tons.  She’s powered by twin Cat D333’s that are rated at 255hp each, and are cooled via the keel, which holds 115 gallons of coolant.  Exhaust is via dry stacks The mains are coupled to a pair of Twin Disc MG508 gears with a 3.39 : 1 reduction, spinning a pair of 39” x 32” Columbia three bladed wheels on a 2.5” shafts.  AC power is via a pair of 8kw Onan gensets with wet exhaust, and a pair of Outback 2800 inverters that are stacked so they will produce 220 volts.  The inverter battery bank has 16, L16 6 volt batteries, while the house bank has 4 L16’s.  Start batteries are 5 group 31, 12 volt units.  Engine controls and the heads are air operated, and are powered either by the main 220v air compressor, or the engine driven Bendix unit.  There is a 600 gallon a day watermaker in the ER.  She has Naiad stabilizers on her with 9 sq ft fins, and electrolysis has been controlled over the year by a Capac controller.  We had her audio gauged last year and the worst spot detected was .238 out of a possible .250.   The hull is 1/4” steel plate and ribs, while the house is 10 gauge steel plate and 1/4” framing. 


On the bow there is a spool, or fisherman’s style hydraulic anchor winch.  We use a 150lb plow anchor with 130’ of freshly galvanized 5/8” chain, coupled to 150’ of 5/8” SS cable.  There is 220’ of 1 1/4” three strand line and another 220’ of 1 1/2” three strand line coupled to 30’ of 5/8” chain and another 150lb plow anchor in one of the two deck boxes on the foredeck, just in case things get a bit stinky out there.  There is an anchor davit with a block and tackle to deploy the emergency unit.

The boat is heated via a 110,000 btu Olympia boiler in the ER.  There are nine different thermostatically controlled zones in the boat, and all lockers and drawers in the boat are heated via the Pex hot water lines that run throughout the boat.  Hot water is provided via either a 220v hot water heater, or an Everhot unit the runs off the boiler.  Both units are located in the ER.  We also have a few electric toe kick heaters in the salon and aft head.  These work well to take chill off in a hurry.  The boiler takes 20 minutes to spool up from a cold start.

Pilot House, steering is by a tiller stick, not a conventional wheel.  The boat was built this way from the beginning, which was quite revolutionary in 1962.  Engine controls are single stick Westinghouse units and are air controlled. 

Sea Magazine 1962.pdf

Passage Maker 2008.pdf

December 10, 2016

True Round Metal Boat Building, Part II
Bezier Chine Design and Construction

D. L. Schaffer

The first segment, of this paper, related to the development of 'Bezier Chine'. Illustrating the difference and similarities between 'Radius Chine' and 'Bezier Chine'. This segment will describe the Construction Platform and will concentrate on pre-fabrication of the primary parts of the hull, namely the transverse frames, longitudinal frames, and shell plating.

Bezier Designs are really 'Kit Boats' by way of CNC cutting files, Full size Patterns which mirror the cutting files, and traditional architectural drawings. These combined elements result in a great degree of versatility dependent on the construction material, your equipment, your skills and your budget.

With CNC files in hand you have the freedom to negotiate the best CNC cutting and material cost within your locality. You are free to choose having all or only some of the parts cut by CNC, or you could chose to cut or roll form hull parts using the full size patterns, since full size patterns and CNC files work independent of each other or can be interchanged in the pre-fabrication building process, again according to your skill, tooling and budget.

In a nut shell we are looking at two formats, CNC cutting files and full size pattern, that are used to define the transverse framing, longitudinal framing and shell plating.

To some builder it is obvious to use the CNC files and have all the parts cut, while other builder would disagree for any number of reasons specific to them. For example, Does your budget allow you to have your parts CNC cut or due you need to reduce cost by cutting and forming your parts by more traditional means.

Choosing between formats is dependent on you. It could come down to what equipment you have or are willing to invest in. What are your skills, for example, are you proficient with a hand plasma cutter. Let's look at some options other than CNC cutting as they pertain to the transverse frames, longitudinal frames and shell plating.

  • If cost is not an object Cnc cutting would be the way to go for steel and aluminum construction. A real labor savings.
  • CNC cost are based on the tolerance of the cut and the perimeter of each part, in inches.
  • As cost becomes more of an issue be aware there are many options to reduce cost at the expense of labor.
  • Aluminum can be cut using woodworking equipment. It is easy to cut. The Bezier 12.5's entire kit was either roll formed or saw cut using the full size patterns.
  • Roll forming of the deck beams, hull longitudinal, Center Vertical Keel and section of the transverse frames saves on CNC time.
  • Roll forming parts from steel or aluminum flat bar also saves on material cost over cutting the same parts from sheet material.
  • Depending on your equipment consider roll forming over saw cutting steel where applicable.

Cutting and forming methods

CNC Cutting: CNC cutting, shown below, is ideal for professional builders where labor cost is higher than cutting cost, but it could be a consideration for 'one off' builders.

Manual Saw Cutting:  I am going to group a number of cutting methods under saw cutting. It could be a vertical band saw, a hand plasma torch, oxygen-acetylene torch, abrasive cutting wheels, or any other mechanical tools that cuts, shapes, and notches parts.

Saw cutting aluminum, using the full size patterns, is a very practicable option over CNC cutting. The below drawing shows the full size pattern for the keel shell plating being transferred to sheet material. Steel on the other hand, due to its hardness, needs some consideration.

The below picture shows a small aluminum part being saw cut in a vertical band saw, what was transferred to sheet material from a full size pattern.

Roll Forming:  Roll forming is another fabrication option and especially useful in steel construction. Roll forming was used to form the longitudinal frames of the Bezier 12.5 even thought they were aluminum and could be saw cut. They were rolled formed from flat bar to save material. Using flat bar and roll forming reduces material waste to near zero.

Roll forming parts are accomplished by simple a rolling device. A light two point device, below, was fabricated to roll the light longitudinal frames and deck beams of the Bezier 12.5

For heavy work the below three point rolling fixture will easily roll 1/2" x 4" steel flat bar. The principle and operation of this tree point device is the same as the light duty rolling machine except a hydraulic jack is used instead of hand pressure alone.

Primary Pre-fabrications  

Transverse frames:  Below is a CNC layout for mostly transverse frame one a 48' x 120' on sheet material for the Bezier 12.5.

The drawing below shows a full size print out of a single frame section. Where applicable only half the frame is given since the other side is a mirror image.

Below is an actual long plot, up to 50 feet, of full-size parts.

Below that is a completed frame assembly which was fabricated from a full size pattern.

Longitudinal Frames:  'Bezier Chine' uses a longitudinal framing system where closely spaced longitudinal frames are supported by broadly spaced transverse frames, were the shell plating is supported by and welded to the longitudinal frames.

Longitudinal frames can be Cnc cut, saw cut or rolled formed. Each method is fully detailed in my book 'True Round Metal Boat Building'. Below is an example of rolled formed Longitudinals using the full size patterns

True Round Shell Plating:

The Shell plating is the heart of 'Bezier Chine' design and construction. It is pre-engineered to fit seamlessly to the hulls framework in a consistence, predictable and fair manner.

Shell plating can be Cnc cut, saw cut or hand cut using plasma or oxygen-acetylene torch. Below is a typical shell pattern for the Bezier 12.5.


The number "21" indicates that this pattern is the 21st from the bow.

  • The word "Sheer" at the top of the pattern indicates that this edge is the located at the Sheer Line, while "Chine Long", at the bottom, indicates the chine longitudinal.
  • On this particular pattern there are approximately 20 horizontal lines which represent the three (3) degree bend lines. A press break will be used to form this pattern to the curve of the hull along its girth.
  • The "Cross Lines" associated with the numbers 21.937 inches and 21.477 inches are reference dimensions aiding the forming process by providing the corner to corner finished dimension after all the horizontal lines have be bent at three (3) degree angles.
  • The curve line (marked Frame #7) running vertically and curved near the center of the pattern locates the intersection of shell plating with transverse Frame #7. All shell patterns with this type of line will be aligned to its corresponding transverse frame.
  • Boot Strip Lines (really marked on the other side of the pattern) indicate the painted boot stripe. The lower line of the boot strip is 1/2" above the design water line.
  • Notice the small half circles along the vertical edges of the pattern. They indicate the location on the shell plating where it crosses a longitudinal frame. They also provide a place to tack weld the shell plating to the longitudinal frames.

  • Pictured below is a pattern being formed in the press break. My book 'True Round Metal Boat Building' detail the entire shell plating forming process.


    In review, we have cut and assemblied the Transverse frames, rolled the longintudinal frames and pre-fabricated the true round shell plating. In the next segment we will fabricate the hull, just like an old time 'Erector Set'. Before that, a look at the architectural drawings.

    Architectural Drawings

  • Fabrication and construction advances have not diminished the necessity for architectural drawings as they are an integral part of the Bezier curve design platform. They provide considerable architectural information that cannot be conveyed in Cnc cutting files and full size patterns alone.

    The customary architectural drawings are: the lines drawings; sailplan; exterior plan and profile; Interior arrangement plan and profile; and construction plan and profile.


A traditional version of the "Line" drawing is supplied. They are not needed for construction, but they complement the design package.


This drawing is a good visual of the Deck plan, the two watertight bulkheads, floorboards, and seating.


This drawing is a good visual of the transverse and longitudinal frame placement.


Represented in this drawing are the eight (8) transverse frames which support the longitudinal frame work.


This is one of the most important of the Architectural drawing. It provides the location for the transverse framing system.


Depending on your needs you may need a Cradle. Here is what I used.

November 24, 2016

Building  Sisu:   A Tom Thumb 24   Part I

By David Cass

My boating began on my dad's 19 ft lightning and Lyman power boat at our family camp on Lake Champlain.  While I liked sailing, my real passion was hiking, rock and ice climbing.  This began to change when I read about Chris Goetze's adventures sailing to Labrador on a 26 ft sailboat and Bernard Moitessier's book entitled “The Long Way.”   Gazing out on those beautiful waters, while on a business trip to the US Virgin Islands, convinced me that one day I had to build a steel boat and travel by sea.   My 39 year career in welding repair and fabrication and 22 years of service in the Coast Guard Reserve (qualifying as small boat coxswain), gave me the skills and knowledge to make my project a success. 


I chose the Tom Thumb design because it looked sea worthy, appearing like a miniature ship.  It is a steel version of S/V Seraffyn, Lin and Larry Pardey's boat.   Although I did consider aluminum, cost and welding a vessel in a make-shift boat building shelter ruled it out.   Sisu was my first boat building project and I learned along the way as my project progressed.  My hope is to give others the benefit of my experience and options for their projects.


A snowy start & a metal strong-back

I built the strong-back out of steel.  I felt it would me more rigid than wood, but well worth the extra cost.


The up side down approach worked well when it came to plating.  The bottom plates needed little to hold them on the jig.


Fabricating the frames on a large layout table in my garage using the paper patterns, was tricky.  The weld shrinkage when tacking up the 1/4x2 flat bars, demanded attention to accuracy, but paid off in the end.


I used hot rolled rather than cold rolled because the steel yard suggested the oil residue left from the rolling could be a problem when painting time came.   However, cold rolled produces a “better” product.


In a way I wish I could have prefabricated full length hull pieces on my layout table, to get them very flat.  Alas, working alone with only a com- a- long to lift and place them ruled that out.

I ground out and welded the hull seams with .035 solid Linde wire using Argon - CO2, mostly in a spray mode.  The weld was so smooth and hot, I back stepped to control warpage.

The 3 pintle rudder was tough to line up.  I ended up building 3 rudders before I was through.

After the basic hull and cabin were welded, the grinding completed, the next step was the tedious and dirty job of sandblasting and painting.   The next two photos show some of the safety gear I used, the positive pressure respirator, used blasting and painting and the disposable Tyvek suit, very effective in keeping fumes away from my skin and eyes, only used when painting. Not shown is the oil less air compressor, to feed the respirator. I was not able to find a cartridge type respirator for this type of paint, I suspect they do not make one. In regards to this I contacted paint companies and they referred me to respirator manufacturers and they did vice versa.  A local company in Vermont, who painted ferry boats told me what they used, namely the PP respirator and an isolation suit.

The Forman also offered a suggestion of a " work boat finish " vs a yacht finish, as it would look better touched up than the other. By this he meant an epoxy primer topped with a standard enamel. I have been happy with the results. I used a construction type compressor, 185 CFM, diesel powered, with a water separator in the airline, a 200lb. Pressure tank blaster, it held (2) 100 lb. bags of Black Beauty, medium grit. While I knew the surface profile could be measured with a certain type of meter, I also read that medium  grit used at the pressure I planned to use, namely full on, about 100 PSI, blasted to near white or better would give the desired profile. My experience was that after the second use the grit was less effective, so I used a lot of it, my guess about 60 100lb. bags totaling 6000lbs. A big mess to clean up, mostly by covering it with sand. I was later to find out how poorly rough welds and sharp edges hold paint and much later I read about painting steel boats, " perfect surface preparation is just barely good enough", well put and true. I used Awlgrip ( yacht paint) polyurethane in the interior below the waterline and Interlux above and all the exterior. I sprayed the Awlgrip, it has very good wash in and painted easily. The Interlux I mostly rolled and brushed. It took more coats of paint than I had expected to get good coverage. Between the paint and blasting costs I wonder if that cost more than the steel ! The ballasting was next, I purchased the scrap lead from a local yard, in relatively small amounts, lead is so heavy.


The ballasting was next, I purchased the scrap lead from a local yard, in relatively small amounts, lead is so heavy. The photo shows the coal fired melting pot I fabricated, with the attached blower, the old door is a wind break. Not shown is the box fan to blow away fumes. Interestingly plywood and 2x4's made good molds, as the melting temperature of lead is not really that high. This part is a bit dangerous because of the fumes, less obvious is what happens if moisture is trapped in a piece of pipe or a container placed in the melting pot, it explodes(!!), spraying hot lead all over the place. This only happened once. I cast the pieces as small as practical, for easier placement in the keel. A funny thing happened when I picked up one load of scrap, it contained various small vials, about 1 inch by 3 inches, with a blacked out and disguised nuclear symbol, and the name of a rare earth element, I found out later was used in nuclear medicine. I got a little scared and made some phone calls, the hospital, EPA and the NRC. I was relieved to find out the lead container was to protect the medicine from the environment, not the other way around.


In conclusion I got it painted, it has held up well, 23 years, only now showing more spots of rust that I need to keep after. A product I have found to neutralize salt that may be present in scratches and bare spots is, Chlor- Rid. It comes well recommended by a local surveyor and the ABYC contact person, largely unknown to the paint companies and local metal boat builders.  I would like to hear from others who may have used it.


I built Sisu in Vermont and launched her in 1993. Today, I am happily retired in North Carolina and continue to enjoy Sisu on the Pamlico Sound.  Sisu, a name highly regarded by my Finnish ancestors, lives up to her name.  It means courage, heart, steadfastness of spirit, guts, determination, resolve, and tenacity.

November 23, 2016

Customizing a Bruce Roberts Voyager 542

by Remek Czarneki

The boat I am building is a kit of Bruce Roberts’ Voyager 542.  Approximately 15 years ago, sitting at the computer I had decided to google sail boats…one web page led to another and I ended up at Bruce Roberts’ website. The limited knowledge of what is involved in building a boat and good price for the mild steel kit from Bruce Roberts led me to purchase it. The reason why I chose steel over an aluminum hull was dictated mainly by the price difference and the misleading information about the difficulty with welding aluminum.  After taking a few welding classes and getting some practice, welding aluminum turned to be not as difficult as advertised.  Looking back,  I wish I went with aluminum especially when one considers the savings by not painting the boat.

Why 54 feet? I have seen several 40’ foot boats at the boat shows and they typically did not offer enough head room for a 6’2” person. Also, to entice my wife with the idea of cruising. I needed space for all the home comforts like washer/ dryer, head with a bath tub etc.  Honestly I don’t mind having these comforts as well.  I would rather spend some time on maintenance of the boat systems than live without them. My sailing experience is limited to lakes and Polish coast of the Baltic Sea.  I decided to go all out and build a big boat because I figured that I will not have enough time to start with a smaller boat and then graduate to something bigger.

Construction of my steel Bruce Roberts Voyager 542 involved a lot of detailing.  The winch mounts are one of those

details that must be attractive and done right.  A lot of us have done it the old way, cutting and trimming till they fit.   With the help of my computer-savvy nephew, I moved into the modern age.

First, I measured the lengths and the angles of all surfaces which the winch mount pipes intersect. Then with assistance of my nephew, who is an AUTO CAD expert, we drew these surfaces and the piece of pipe which will create a base for the winch.  After moving the pipe on the computer screen to the proper positon so it intersects the sides of the coaming, we selected the intersection area and printed it out.


The print out was too large to for one letter size sheet of paper and since I don’t own a large size printer, we drew reference marks and put it together from four letter-size sheets.  We also marked the lines on the drawing to indicate the angle changes of the coaming. This helped to position the pattern on the boat.


The rest was easy.  We cut out the shape of the intersection from the printout, pasted the four pieces together with scotch tape following the reference marks, taped the pattern onto the side of the coaming, marked it with soap stone, and cut it out with a plasma torch.


The result was amazing to me.  After I put the pipe through the cutout, I ended up with a perfect fit for welding.


We have used the same process to run the 10’ long stern tube through my full keel. Even though the intersection of the 5” O.D. tube and the keel was more than 4’ long it worked just as well.

I have made a few layout changes to the Roberts' design.  I shortened the aft cabin by one frame and devoted this space for a lazarette where the hydraulic steering equipment, diesel cabin heater, folded inflatable dinghy, etc. will be located.   I also added an eye brow over the pilot house windows.  I have decided on using one large primary anchor instead of two small ones, like can be seen on many production boats.  To prevent the bobstay from slamming while launching the anchor, I am going to have two bobstays.  In the photo above, they are represented by the two yellow ropes.  Using this configuration, anchor can be set and raised without interference from a centrally located bobstay. 

As my project continues,  I hope to post updates.

October 29, 2016

True Round Metal Boat Building, Part I
Bezier Chine Design and Construction
D. L. Schaffer

About the Writer :

Let me introduce myself as this is my first submission to the Metal Boat Societies' online magazine the 'Rudder'. I have a 30 year plus career in architectural metal design and fabrication. I began as an apprentice metalworker, moved to pattern development, progressing to CNC programming, then design. I have, built several plywood and steel boats. I studied yacht design and graduated from Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology in 1991. I have contributed several articles on steel construction methods which you may have seen in 'Boatbuilder' magazine.

Merging my architectural sheet-metal design and development experience with my interest in boat design I developed a metal boat construction method I call 'Bezier Chine' design. It is a design and construction method that facilitates the building of true round or compound curved boat hulls by the same standard sheet-metal fabrication practices used in hard chine designed metal hulls. 'Bezier Chine' design expands on the concept of 'Radius Chine' design. To understand the difference between 'Bezier Chine' and 'Radius Chine' let us first review the qualities of 'Radius Chine'.

'Radius Chine' design and construction:

Before 'Radius Chine', most sailboat displacement hulls were designed single or double chine because true round and or compound curved hull designs were skill prohibitive for most amateur and many professional builders. True round hull construction, particularly the application of shell plating to the hulls framework, requires knowledge of arcane and artistic skills. Skills that only a few professional metal boat builders possess let alone an amateur builder.

The needs of professional and amateur builders motivated designers to develop a construction method for rounded displacement hull forms. The method would have to be practical in application and eliminate the cumbersome skill requirements of true round or compound curved hulls. 'Radius Chine' design filled this need. It is a comprise design hull configuration that only emulates a true round hull design by placing a single constant radius section at the turn of the chine that is designed tangent to the upper surface or freeboard of the hull, and to the lower surface or bottom of the hull. This non-developable section of the hulls surface is approximately developed by applying it to the hull in vertical segments along its length. While technically not being true round, it was an appropriate beginning.

In practice, the segments along the length of the hull are all pre-rolled to the defined radius. Each segment is then custom fitted around its perimeter to adjoining segments and to tangent locations at the theoretical Longitudinal between the upper or lower developable surfaces.

'Radius Chine' simplifies the fabrication process allowing the average builder who may have previously limited themselves to hard chine designs to build a rounded hull shape.

There are however, hull design limitations that are inherent in 'Radius Chine' design and construction. Besides not being true round, by its own nature the design method restricts hull shape to a single constant radius between two developable surfaces. This concept and geometry forces most of the curved section at the turn of the chine below the design waterline, making the hull look slab sided.

In the below section sketch of a typical 'Radius Chine' design we can clearly see that most of the rounded form is below the design waterline, except near the stern of the boat. If you think about it, what is the point of having a rounded hull form if you cannot normally see that curved section. Even with these restrictions to hull form 'Radius Chine' design and construction is a good first step towards true round construction for all builders.

'Bezier Chine' design and Construction :
Two years ago I wanted to prove the 'Bezier Chine' design and construction method so I built my "Bezier 12.5"; a small, curvy, aluminum, tumblehome design. In short, if this curvy little boat can be built using the 'Bezier Chine' construction method, any other true round hull shape would be a breeze.

Need is the 'Mother of Invention'. Since 'Radius Chine' design could never define or build a classic true round tumblehome hull design like the "Bezier 12.5", it caused me to systematically develop 'Bezier Chine' design and construction by way of established architectural metal working procedures and current day technology. 'Bezier Chine' is the next logical step, resulting in a true round construction method that is simple, consistent and predictable in both principle and practice.

'Bezier Chine' builds on the concept of 'Radius Chine' construction. While both methods divide the shell plating of the hull in length into short segments. One difference between the each method is the shape of the segment. 'Radius Chine' use a single radius for each segment, while 'Bezier Chine' uses computer developed free-form curved segments that vary in form along the length of the hull to produce a true round shape.

Hull Plating Arrangements :

'Radius Chine' has only one hull plating configuration, a single constant radius shape between developable surface. There are three Hull Plating arrangements used by 'Bezier Chine' design and construction referred to as Types One through Three.

A Type one hull design places the true round section of the hull between two developable surfaces, just like 'Radius Chine'. This arrangement would be most appreciated and familiar to 'Radius Chine' builders. For that reason, it was the initial arrangement used to develop 'Bezier Chine' design. My Bezier 28 uses this configuration. It can be identified by the two theoretical tangent lines in the section view. Notice the amount of hull curvature that remains above the design waterline compared to a radius chine design.

A Type two design configuration runs the true round section from sheer line to and including the turn of the chine. This arrangement begins the true round surface at the sheer line and continues curvature around the turn of the chine. Features such as tumblehome can be incorporated into the design. My Bezier 12.5 uses this arrangement. 'Radius Chine,' by its own nature, could never be used to define such a hull.

A Type three arrangement would run the true round hull from the sheer line around the turn of the chine to the Fairbody line of the hull. A type 3 configuration is a logical extension of the Type 2 arrangement, bringing the 'Bezier Chine' method full circle. There are no theoretical chines where adjoining surfaces need to be tangent to each other. From a design point of view a type three configuration is much easier to layout. From a construction point of view it would require a little more labor to plate the hull.

While I have built several plywood and steel hard chined boats, my aluminum constructed Bezier 12.5 shown below was my first experience in accomplishing a true round hull form. I have no artistic or special skills typically required to building a true round hull by traditional arcane methods. 'Bezier Chine' design and construction is about building compound curved hulls through time tested metalworking methods back by mathematical equations. There is no guess work for the builder. The true round hull below can be built as easily as a hard chined hull; every part is pre-engineered including the shell plating.

The next segment details the pre-fabrication of all the major hull parts, specifically the transverse frames, longitudinal frames and shell plating. In the third segment, the fabrication begins.

Bezier Chine in a nutshell :

'Bezier Curve' design and construction does not use any of the traditional arcane and obscure skills such as line heat, hand forming techniques, the English wheel or explosive and hydraulic forming. The shell plating is shaped using a standard cold forming "Press Break" process. The method is simple, consistent, and predictable. There is nothing vague about the method.  Bezier Chine Design develops full size flat patterns and or CNC files to define all the parts of the hull. Information such as bend angle, forming lines and reference dimensions needed to form the flat patterns to their three dimensional shape is provided. All parts are referenced to each other and will fit together easily with minimal adjustment. The pre-engineered design and fabrication method enables an average person to build a true round bottom hull using the same skills as required in hard chine construction. The result is the unmistakable beauty of a round hull - an uninterrupted graceful line curving to meet the water.

October 15, 2016

Our MBS club member, John Dearden,  sent me this article about one of his recent projects.  I very much appreciate his input for the Rudder magazine. Unfortunately, for those who would like to order one, John has several on back-order and is dreaming of semi-retirement.   If you find the follow article inspirational, you might have break out your own welder. 

If someone wants the plans for these mini tugs they should contact Berkley Engineering. These plans cost $110 for this design and are quite extensive and should be easy to convert to aluminum construction.  Their website gives a lot of information and ideas as well as plans for other size mini tugs. It does also contain information on some John's  mini tugs as they both have reciprocal links to their sites. 

- G. Marggraff


John Dearden

I have built a number of aluminum mini tugs based on the Berkley Engineering ( "Candu-EZ" designed for plywood construction. I redesigned this to be built in aluminum and also increased the length by one foot and later by another 6" in the middle section to give more room in the cabin. Power has been either by inboard diesel or by various versions of outboard motor.

The first outboard version was built for a California client and was used as a serious tug for towing oil spill booms and general small towing jobs. It had a 50 horsepower four stroke Honda engine fitted with a "Handler"nozzle. This gave plenty of thrust and allowed it to plane at 22 knots to give it a fast response time.

Other outboard versions were with a Mercury 15 hp and lately a Lehr 15hp propane motor. I mount the motor in an outboard well so that it swings up inside the hull


The inboard version was fitted with an 11 horsepower Universal diesel producing a little over the hull speed of 4 knots at a very economical fuel consumption. A keel was fitted to be wide enough to accommodate this engine allowing it to be fitted within a box under the helm seat as well as putting weight low and giving an almost level line for the propeller shaft.

I have had enquiries that have lead to other ideas about powering. One would be electric power which would be suitable for short range use. It would also be possible to fit a diesel powered saildrive such as the Volvo Penta, Yanmar or the Beta Marine and Sole versions. These engines would fit nicely in the space of the outboard well.

As this vessel is under 6 metres it must comply with Transport Canada or US Coast Guard regulations such as positive floatation which is contained under the side decks, the bow and stern lockers and under the cockpit sole.

Most interiors have been fairly basic with bare aluminum, but the last one was fully insulated and lined. This version also had Diamond SeaGlaze windows and door as opposed to windows set in rubber seals and plywood doors.

The plans as purchased from Berkley Engineering give the expansions for all the parts. As these are intended to be cut from 4' x 8' sheets of plywood I join some of these such as the sides together to utilise larger sheets of aluminum.To lengthen the design I add a section amidships. In order to keep weight down most of the hull is built of 1/8" except the bottom which is 3/16" but could probably be cut down to 5/32". I start by assembling the hull upside down. The rubbing band is 1 ½" pipe and the sheer 1 ¼" pipe. The bottom rubbing band is 2" hull stiffener.

Most of the hull is build similar to the wooden plans. One difference is the bottom framing which is 6" deep throughout the hull except for a walkway in part of the cabin. Floatation foam is fitted in this space and the section in the cockpit is high enough to be self draining at least when she is lightly loaded. In the latter case I have a valve to shut off the drains and use a pump if necessary.

October 9, 2016


Dear Metal Boaters:

This year is the 30th anniversary of the founding of our Metal Boat Society (MBS).    The club has come a long way since the founding metal boat families in the Puget Sound came together to form the MBS “for the purpose of providing a forum for the exchange of information to assist members in the construction, maintenance, and operation of their boats.”    As the new President of the MBS, I am committed to maintaining the tradition of the MBS to support metal boating.  Together with my wife who is the MBS Secretary, we will be focusing our efforts on recruiting and improving communication.

I encourage you to join our new Metal Boat Society Facebook group and take a look at our recently updated website.   Of course, we are continuing the Forum, but we also have established a new online Rudder magazine.  Unfortunately, the club has chosen to discontinue the MBQ due to few submissions of articles.   We are all very appreciative of the time and energy Dylan Bailey put in to produce MBQ.

Since taking office, I also have been personally reaching out to past and present members.   I have been impressed with all the interesting projects and adventures I have heard about.    I was also impressed there are so many young people out there enjoying their first metal boating experience.     However, somewhere in the past a lot of the contact between our members has been lost.

I am asking the members to contact me concerning input for our online Rudder magazine.   Many times I have heard that you thought your project was not interesting enough to write about.  The overload from media leads us to believe this.   However, you also probably realize that metal-heads like us are little different---we like to talk to other boat enthusiasts about our project’s failures and successes and wonderful experiences after we finish our projects.   

To expand the network of metal boaters, I also ask that you reach out to other metal enthusiasts in your area and let them know about the MBS, our website, and Facebook page.  The more metal boaters we can connect to our Society, the more information will be available to make our projects and adventures more successful.   At the same time, I would like to expand the Society beyond technical information to metal boating adventures.  This way, we can gather together and stay in touch with a larger group of like-minded people.

If we have not talked yet, I hope I will be able to reach you in the coming months.

Fair winds & following seas!

Gerd Marggraff, MBS President

October 5, 2016

Preparing Your Boat to Head South
Dylan Bailey

The following is a list to prepare your boat to head offshore. Even if traveling in the Intracoastal Water Way your boat needs to be prepared for rough weather, groundings, and mechanical breakdowns. Here is a list of items that I recommend checking and doing
before getting underway. This list can be used for power or sail. I am sure there are items I have left out. If you think of other things to add, send me an email. Before I have left on a voyage on my boat or a client's boat I have always performed a full day or two inspection of the boat. It never hurts to hire a professional, such as a marine surveyor, mechanic, and rigger to assist you in ensuring your boat is safe.

All Boats:
• Have the boat surveyed or inspected if you are not comfortable doing yourself.
• When was the last time you hauled out? Do you need to paint the bottom?
• Rudder bearings and seals need to be inspected.
• Steering cables & pulleys need to be inspected and greased. If a hydraulic system: fill system, bleed and inspect for leaks.
• Anodes “Zincs” need to be checked.
• Thu-hull fittings: inspect. Do valves turn freely. Is the valve ball turning along with the handle?
• Inspect all hoses and hose clamps.
• Engine shaft, propellor, and stuffing box need to be inspected.
• Batteries: inspect, are they holding a charge, are they secured?
• Ship’s compass should be checked and adjusted for deviation.
• Have the engines serviced.
• Have generator serviced.
• Polish the fuel.
• Ensure you have plenty of spares for your engines.
• Lifelines: inspect for corrosion. Inspect fittings for cracks.
• Ground Tackle: inspect your anchoring system. Is your anchor large enough and do you have enough anchors? Practice your anchoring before leaving. Secure all anchors before heading offshore.
• Inspect dock-lines and fenders.
• Electronics: ensure all are working and know how to use them.
• Tools: ensure you have what you will need.

• Go aloft, or hire a rigger to inspect the rig. Use a Scotch Brite pad to clean fittings and a magnifying glass to inspect all fittings.
• Inspect the chainplates, above and below deck for corrosion, cracks and water intrusion.
• All Sails: stitching, reef points should be checked by a sail maker.
• All running rigging, blocks and inspected and replaced if necessary. Winches should be serviced.
• Have a heavy weather plan and practice it before leaving.
• Carry: spare blocks, line, cotter pins, and seizing wire.

Safety Items to have Aboard:
• VHF radio, fixed and handheld. Have a handheld VHF in your ditch bag and ensure the battery is charged.
• Satellite Phone.
• Barometer.
• A messenger such as SPOT.
• AIS: ensure if you have one it is registered.
• EPIRB: ensure the registration and battery are up to date.
• Handheld spotlight.
• Handheld compass.
• Binoculars.
• Life jackets & safety harnesses for all crew members.
• Inspect jacklines.
• Whistles for the crew.
• Strobe-lights for the crew.
• Man over board pole with flag and life ring or horse shoe with at least 60' of line.
• Approved fire extinguishers in working order and securely mounted.
• Assorted flares as required by USCG. Remember this is a minimum. Have more on the boat and in your ditch bag.
• Marker dye.
• Hand Held Horn.
• Signal mirror.
• Ensure all running lights, spreader lights, navigation lights and masthead strobe are working.
• Assorted flashlights with spare batteries.
• Knife.
• Soft wood plugs readily available.
• Drinking water.
• Ensure all pumps are operating. Have a manual bilge pump.
• Life Raft: ensure it is inspected.
• Dinghy, with oars.
• Heaving line.
• Boarding ladder.
• First Aid Kit.

September 26, 2016

Attached is an excerpt from the BLOG of our MBS Member, Randall Reeves, who is just finishing his test sail with his 30 year old aluminum sailboat.   (See August Rudder article)  FYI.  Randall has renamed his boat MOLI.

Discovery of Abandoned Sailing Vessel WAVE SWEEPER

by Randall


Sept 25
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 15

Noon HST position: 41.50.33N by 137.12.05W
Miles since last noon: 171
Total miles of passage: 2098
Avg. Miles per Day: 140
Course: ENE
Sail: Running under large genoa
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW to SSW 20 - 25
Sky: Mostly clear
Bar: 1017
Air Temperature: 76 degrees
Sea Temperature: 65 degrees


I'm in the cockpit. I don't know why. I look up and off MOLI's port quarter and to the west, mast and sails. Maybe four miles distant. Hull down. A sailboat.

My first thought: SOLACE! Steve and crew have, in fact, repaired their pedestal steering and are underway these past 24 hours. She's faster than MO, but that's too fast. Last report put her over 200 miles to our stern.

Second thought: something's wrong. Even without binoculars I can see that the sail set isn't working. With binoculars and from the top of the larger waves, it's clear the genoa is luffing terribly.

What are the odds I'd encounter a sailboat here that was making due east for the coast and that I'd see it just the moment its crew lost control of the headsail?

Seeing another sailboat has sufficiently small odds. But there's nothing due east except Crescent City, California, a fishing town, and due east is the wrong heading given coming weather.

I wait five minutes. No need to bother them if they're on the foredeck, I think.

Five minutes later the sail is still beating. I call on channel 16. I call repeatedly. No answer.

A sinking feeling in my gut. I have to go.

MO is running fast. Winds have been 20 - 25 SW and SSW for several days. The wave train is large and long period; seas 10 and 12 feet and breaking happily. Really beautiful stuff. But it makes for slow action on deck. The starboard genoa pole is still out from yesterday, a vain hope, and to port and out free, the large genoa. It takes fifteen minutes to pull the pole, rig for the number #2 jib and tack about.

It takes another twenty minutes to work up to the vessel's position.


Here's what I wrote to Joanna and my friend, Kelton, immediately after the sighting...


Date: September 25, 2016 at 4:18:49 AM PDT

JO, KELTON, which ever of you can get to this first. URGENT.

I have discovered a *possibly* abandoned vessel, a sailboat, adrift, sails out and torn.

Urgent because vessel does not appear to have been adrift/abandoned for very long.


Abandoned Vessel Position: 41.49.463N. 137.20.131W.
Sighting Time: 1100 Hawaii Standard Time.
Sighting Date: Sept 25, 2016.

Vessel Approximate Course ESE.
Vessel Approximate Drift Rate: 2-3 knots.

Vessel Name: Wave Sweeper.
Vessel Port: Vancouver, BC.

Description: Sloop. 30 - 35 feet on deck. Yellow hull. Fiberglass. Home-built dodger of wood. Jib out and torn to ribbons. Main out and boom down and in water, sail also torn. Main hatch open. Boat appears to be dragging a drogue from quarter lines; drogue not seen. No dinghy seen, though a kayak on coach roof. No life raft seen, nor place for canister observed on boat deck or rail.

Action: Multiple hails on VHF, channel 16, upon approach and departure and via air horn upon passing by. No response.

Scan of area found no other debris or sign of raft.

I made two close passes and have departed the scene assuming boat is abandoned.



I was still panting when I wrote this. Reading every sentence aloud. Typing as fast as could. Hurry, hit send. Good.

Because you just don't know. It all looked so fresh. No weed on the hull. No bird shit on deck. The kayak at the ready. The BBQ on the rail. Hatches open. I half expected someone to come popping from below. He'd offer me a beer. "Hamburgers up in a jiffy, mate. Sorry about the mess."

Except for those awful sails. The banners of ghosts. They could only mean disaster. Loss of control. Loss of self. The kind of panic that unhinges a person in a second.

Something terrible had gone down here, and it looked like it had gone down yesterday.


Joanna immediately contacted our local Coast Guard station, and they routed my email and photos to the Offshore Rescue Unit.

Here was the response...

From: RCCAlameda1
Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2016 2:44 PM

Ms. Bloor,

The Sailing Vessel WAVE SWEEPER was the subject of a Search and Rescue case from July 19th of this year. The master of the vessel was rescued and brought safely to shore.

Thank you very much for your report.

United States Coast Guard
Rescue Coordination Center Alameda


I had been trending slowly NE under deeply reefed jib. Waiting for word. Waiting for orders or release. Release from responsibility and that horrible dread.

When the note came, relief. I had misread the signs. That's OK. The story had ended well, at least for the man.

I opened the big genoa and we flew free again. Hull down, that dead boat astern. Sails still beating their warning. Then she was gone. I breathed in. Shake it off, man, shake it off...

Because a sailboat is rocket ship traversing vast, open space. This is its chief attraction and its chief danger. Because after a time one becomes as comfortable with the space as with the rocket ship. One feels a familiarity, a kinship...with both. Or worse, one feels a certain invincibility. One forgets that the thin fuselage of the ship is the only thing keeping doom at bay. That the space is alien and uninhabitable. That it does not wish harm; it does not wish, but that it is prone to random violence. That it eats your mistakes for breakfast.

That in a moment it can be over.


September 19, 2016

29th Annual Metal Boat Festival

Graham Coombes

The 29th Metal Boat Festival, held in Anacortes the first weekend in August, featured a number of excellent Member presentations. 

·         Lance Eckhart described techniques for repairing severely rusted hull sections and also presented a photo-narrative on Northwest Cruising Grounds.   

·         Steve Gallion talked about buying the challenges of buying and financing a homebuilt boat (including tips for buying, selling, surveying and sea trialing a metal boat and the compromises you might encounter). 

·         Steve also talked about redoing a steel hull bottom paint system in a large boat yard---the planning, boat yard procedures, costs, removing old coatings, coating selection, and coating application. 

·         Campbell Good and Jennifer Handley described their (mis) adventures bringing their vessel the “Camdeboo” back to Victoria from Brisbane, Australia.  Over the two years, eighteen crew joined them, ten of whom had never been offshore. 

·         Kristofer and Becky Burton talked about their world cruising family sailing offshore on a 47 foot Gary Mull-designed aluminum performance cruising sailboat, living aboard with children, provisioning for long voyages, and all wireless navigation alternatives.

·         There was a presentation on cruising the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers on a uniquely designed metal craft.

·         Also there was a report the Spring Mini-Fest describing the work of fourteen Members under the expert guidance of Pete Silva to build an aluminum dingy the origami way.

The evening BBQ, dock walk, boat tours, sunset sail, and discussions of metal boating projects/adventures were enjoyed by all.

By the conclusion of the festival MBS, MBS had a new board, including:

·         Gerd Marggraff as President whose main functions will be communication, coordination, and recruitment

·         Lance Ekhart will continue as the Vice President and be the local Anacortes presence helping with the festival arrangements

·         Steve Gallion will continue as Treasurer,  will work to make the website easier to use, and is interested in being part of the festival committee

·         Graham Coombes will continue with Forum

·         Melissa Marggraff will continue as Secretary and help with communication by serving as editor of the MBS website

·         In addition, Pete Silva, Rick Hearn, Roger Larson, and Tom Purdy agreed to be part of the MBS Board taking on various duties throughout the upcoming year. 

The group also agreed to shift the MBS Quarterly to a more modern website news format,  agreed the new MBS board should consider organizing a special 30th Annual Metal Boat Festival the second weekend in August next year, and in celebration of the 30th year of MBS, making the last 30 years of MBS Quarterlies available to all MBS members.   We give special thanks to the previous editors of the Quarterly, most recently Dylan Bailey, who did an outstanding job writing for and editing the Quarterly this last year.

                                                                                                                                                                                        August 30, 2016

GJOA and the Figure of 8 Voyage

Randall Reeves

The Figure 8 Voyage, a solo, non-stop, passage of some 35,000 miles, will be the first small boat circumnavigation of both The North and South American continents and Antarctica in one season.

Course of the Figure of 8 Voyage


From departure to return, The Figure 8 Voyage will require roughly a year to complete, so planning is everything. Whatever I need for survival must be on board. This includes sufficient food, drinking water, fuel for cooking and warmth, durable clothing for all climates, medicines and first-aid equipment, a supply of tools and enough spare parts to repair any failure.

Gjoa underway in Alaskan waters, July 2016


Success is dependent upon traversing some 25,000 sea miles through the Pacific, Southern and Atlantic oceans so as to arrive at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage just as the route opens. Arrive too early in the spring and the passage will be clogged with ice; arrive too late and there is a chance of being frozen in before making the exit at Bering Strait for the return to San Francisco.

MBS Member Randall Reeves


The Figure 8 Voyage puts me many months in some of the planet’s most difficult ocean. Gales in the south will be replaced by ice pack and icebergs in the north. Mental toughness will also be necessary. I will be cold and wet many days and always short of sleep. The pressure to push the boat must always be weighed against keeping the boat and myself safe. And then there’s a year of being alone.

Gjoa in the NW Passage, Summer 2014

History of Gjoa

This brief history of Gjoa / Taonui / Asma may go some way to explaining my initial and continued attraction.  Gjoa was built in Germany in 1989 for journalist, photographer, adventurer, Clark Stede, who, with Delius Klasing sailed then-named Asma around the Americas (west through the Northwest Passage, east about the Horn) between 1990 and 1993.  Their book, Rund Amerika, is aboard, and is simply full of boat construction details, outfitting details, route details, weather details … all in German. I can’t read a word.

Asma was sold and renamed Taonui in 1994 and helped her owners crisscross the globe for 16 years,   I first encountered the vessel in my transit of the Northwest Passage in 2014.  Little did I know that in 2016, I would be her owner and we would be on a test sail from Alaska to San Francisco Bay via Hawaii.

Builder: Dubbel & Jesse, Norderney Germany

Year Built: 1988/1989

Material: Aluminum

Keel: Full with cutaway forefoot

Length Overall: 12.44m (41 ft)

Length at Waterline: 10.31m (34 ft)

Beam: 3.46m (11 ft)

Draft: 2.22m (7 ft)

Ballast: 8,000 lbs, approximate

Displacement: 30,000 lbs, approximate


Aluminum Plate Thicknesses:

Keel: 10mm (3/8″+)

Below Waterline: 8mm (5/16″+)

Above Waterline: 6mm (~1/4″)

On Deck: 5mm (3/16″+)


Rig: twin headsail (outer genoa 135%, inner genoa 110%, both roller-furled) sloop with an additional removable stay for storm jib, running backstays

Mast: Selden with double spreaders, mast steps and twin pole attachments


Engine: Bukh DV48, keel-cooled.


Tankage: 800 liters diesel (211 gallons) in two outboard tanks under the pilothouse; 700 liters (184 gallons) in two tanks in the keel.

Heat: gravity-fed Refleks diesel heater, matrix fan heater run from engine.

Insulation: original foam sheeting insulation, about 1″.

Steering: Tiller-steered using either a Monitor windvane, or autopilot (using either satellite compass or fluxgate compass input).

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