The Fleet

“The Fleet” sounds better than “Boat Hoarding”.  These are my first three boats:


Lauren on the Lake took 2 years to build because I was learning the process.  The single biggest challenge was realizing that boat building was easy.  I took so many time-consuming precautions that weren’t needed.  For designing the hull, I used free boat building software: Delftship.  It’s excellent software.  For my kind of boats, it’s unnecessary.  The plywood did not bend as I planned it to, and the boat looked completely different.  Another unneeded task was the mold I created to shape the plywood around.  More on this in a future post.   The point is, I didn’t know what not to do to build Lauren on the Lake.

My first boat was the most expensive and time consuming.  She was also the least stable and most leaky.  At the same time, she was (I think) the prettiest and the one that taught me how to really do boat building.

For Grant in Fair Wind, I applied the lessons from Lauren on the Lake and swung the pendulum in the opposite direction.  She is an ugly, functional and cheap boat.  When Lauren was successful, as in – didn’t sink, I felt a surge of confidence and completed this small, simple utilitarian boat in short time.  The Grant was build with hope of sailing, but I didn’t expect her to sail. On the first launch, I felt confident enough to stand up and paddle like a paddle board.  I added a sail and rigging.  This boat had a lot of firsts:

  • First boat I could sail.
  • First boat that could hold 2 adults.
  • First boat that could handle rough water.
  • Only boat that could fit in my SUV with the kids and car seats.

Because of heavy use and outdoor storage, the Grant and Lauren are retired and no longer can float.  I’m going to preserve a piece of each and recycle the rest.

Rowan Swischen den Wolken is my workhorse (playhorse?).  After the Grant worked out, I wanted to combine my first designs and make a 14th Century German Cog replica.  A relative later suggested adding the dragon head.  Not historical, but it looks great.  The Rowan fits entirely inside my SVU, provided car seats are removed.  This is my least leaky boat and best sailor.  Structurally, she is also the strongest.  The drawbacks are lack of room for a passenger and lower stability.  The Rowan is my go-to boat for half-day fishing outings.  With her, I learned to manage a square rig and learned that these boats are stable enough to catch fish.  This is also my first boat built with lapstrake and frame construction.

And Number Four:


The Otto is my passenger liner.  The design is inspired by the 15th Century Caravel.  In Spring, 2016 I wanted to make the largest and cheapest boat in the shortest amount of time.  This boat was built in 8 weeks over weekends and evenings, using the cheap Luanne Panel instead of plywood.  She is leakier than the Rowan, but is by far my most stable.  I reserve the Otto for larger lakes near town and longer fishing trips.  This boat easily holds two adults, but isn’t difficult to paddle.  I’ve had to experiment with keels.  The Rowan was built from the keel up, and hence has a strong frame that grips the water, but the Otto’s keel was made as an afterthought.

I plan on keeping the Grant and Otto as long as possible.  Summer, 2017 I am building an unnamed boat that will be given away to either my wife’s family or to a church auction.  The plan is to document the process and write a book about it.

Here is the initial plan.  Notice no software needed:


Expect more on each of these boats in future posts.

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