Boatbuilding news, building tips, and builder feedback

A place to share YOUR boat building story

Glen-L Marine Designs - 9152 Rosecrans Ave. - Bellflower, CA 90706

In this issue

GLEN-L Update
  • Summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere. We hope you're all making the time to get out on the water in the boats you've so lovingly crafted, or using the extra time the sun is out this time of year to make progress on the boat you're currently building. Whichever it is for you, we know that you're experiencing the kind of pure enjoyment that is only known by someone who is building and/or using a boat which they put together with their own hands.

  • Over on the Glen-L Boatbuilder Forum talk has already turned to "So, what's for dinner?" at the upcoming 2010 Gathering of Boatbuilders. Brunswick Stew, Low Country Boil, Alaskan Salmon, Butt Roast, Pot of Gold, Chili Cook-off, Country Breakfasts, even ELK are being discussed. If you're new to Glen-L or the annual Gathering of Boatbuilders, learn more about this fun, free event and seriously think about joining us this September 24 - 26 at Lake Nickajack, Tennessee. I mean, great people, floating cabins, beautiful boats, and ELK!

Until next month . . .      

"Like Sugar"

by Tim Major, Sydney, Australia


Until six months ago I had no interest in boats whatsoever. My wife Jane has long enjoyed sailboats from a time prior to us coming together around ten years ago so she has periodically raised the subject of boat ownership. Well, as I said, the interest has never been there for me nor did I feel comfortable relying on the elements to get me anywhere, so when the old "boat chestnut" was raised again recently I gave the notion further reluctant thought and conceded to the possibility of owning a boat we could enjoy together, enabling us to spend leisure time exploring Sydney's waterways. My only stipulations were that the boat have no sail, be of classic style and powered by an inboard V8 engine, pretty simple really, a sports car on water.

To her credit, Jane took the ball and ran with it. We attended an auction in early December 2009 that had some wooden boats up for grabs including a 1949 22' Chris Craft Sportsman utility and a classic 1961 16' Hammond clinker ski boat, both in need of some attention. Neither boat came our way (fortuitously in retrospect) but the experience stirred my interest and as I looked over these boats again after the auction I said to Jane "I'm sure that I could build one of these things".

The decision to actually look at buying a boat to restore was, in part, due to my need for a project outside work to focus on and as we drove home from the auction I became more certain of the fact that actually building my own classic timber powerboat would be an extraordinary experience.

The ensuing internet search for boat plans culminated in the discovery of Glen-L Designs and with time spent examining the many build options the Monaco had immediate appeal along with the possibility of perhaps building the utility version. The utility option will be decided on when I see how that 5.7 litre PCM engine sits down in the boat.


Glen-L Boatbuilder of the Month

Dave Lott - Riviera


Dave Lott, of Branson, Missouri, started building his Riviera on Fathers' Day, June 21, 2009, three years after purchasing the plans and patterns from Glen-L Marine Designs (according to Dave, "life happens"). His goal was to have the frames for his boat completed by Labor Day 2009, have the hull ready to flip by Christmas that year, and launch her on Memorial Day 2010. An "ambitious but possible" goal…

In the end he didn't make his goal of launching on Memorial Day due to two setbacks:
a. Weather - "it would not stop raining which prevented me from removing the boat from the shop across a soggy steep lawn"
b. A "messed-up" epoxy coating - "the day before I was planning to remove the boat and take it to have the clear coat applied, I applied a skim coat of epoxy which never set up. This set me back a week cleaning the hull off and resealing"

So the launch was delayed a couple of weeks. "…in the end, I missed a target day set a year in advance by a few days due to 2 quirky things. I can live with that."

Dave christened his Riviera "Midnight Cry" (see his blog for a full explanation of how he named the boat and his very detailed builder's log and photos). Midnight Cry sports a PCM 5.7L V-8 Marine EFI-multiport engine pushing out 343 Horses with a 1.23:1 down angle transmission.

It seems that Dave is very pleased with his boat. Here are his comments after the first couple of times he took her out on the water…

June 11, 2010: "What a BEAST. There is no doubt who is in charge on the water now and that engine - Oh, my goodness. It about threw my son out of the boat as we accelerated and hit 40mph before I knew what happened. I will never have to drink water again skiing. ALRIGHT"

June 12, 2010: "Finally, got out June 12 at 10am and ran Midnight thru her paces. Just one word can describe her - BEAST!!! The engine and performance is more than expected. At 21' and 3000 lbs the engine had no trouble pushing her well over 50mph even with 5 people, full tank of fuel and 120 lbs of sand ballast. Yes, that is right - almost 1000# of cargo. She irons out the lake with 1' - 2' chop. My other boat could not take this but Midnight just glides over the top of it all.

The hull apparently is very fast. I believe the fastness is partially due to the paint by Supermarine. They claim that the paint lacks water friction and will add speed to the boat. I believe it is a function of both design and paint. The result is that the engine has reduced drag and is over-speeding. So I called upon my engine supplier who called upon the prop manufacturer. I am using a 13.25x15. They are increasing it to a 13.5x16 and 4 blade rather than 3. They believe this will bring WOT back down to 5200 RPM range. Right now WOT exceeds 6000 RPM.

The engine punches out of the hole in a boat length and pushes the boat over 40mph in less than 200 ft. I call that performance. It seems to dial into a very pleasant ride around 3200 and just hums. At this speed the bow is slightly up. The water breaks under the hull at the COB point. There is no spray into either cockpit (unless I do react too fast on the throttle).

Interestingly, I have been contacted by a person interested in buying her from me already.

And one final comment, 'Midnight is a little boisterous" someone complained. My thoughts on that issue - 'get over it'!"

Building the Glen-L Zip

by Paul Vernes, Bluffton, South Carolina

This is my boat "River Rat", which is my interpretation of your Zip design. It is my second Glen-L, as I built a 20' Vee Gull back in 1967, which I sailed in Cape Cod waters.

I started building the Zip on January 1, 2009 and launched her August 8, 2009, so it was pretty close to 7 months; as I am retired this was actually a relaxed project. It was great fun, kept me out of trouble, and I am already thinking about my next one.

My wife and I use this boat to explore and fish the beautiful (and practically deserted) "Low Country" waters here in the Hilton Head area of coastal South Carolina. These are tidal waters made up of rivers, estuaries, marshes, bays, and islands in an area that stretches from Charleston, South Carolina all the way down to Jacksonville, Florida. It is pristine, mostly deserted, and abounds with fish, porpoise, fowl, beaches, and the occasional alligator.

This planned usage of my Zip determined the open cockpit design that allows me to move around while fishing, and the need for a small, light, easy to trailer and launch boat that has comfortable seating for two and protection from the elements while day-tripping. With this setup, my wife can sit comfortably under the bimini top and read while I fish. It is ideal.


The wood I used in this boat was all obtained from local sources. The frames and windshield are made from red oak purchased from Lowe's, and the keel, battens, chine and sheer are local southern yellow pine which I had to rip and plane to size from full 1" x 8" 16-foot lumber obtained from a local lumber yard. To do this I purchased a portable plane from Lowe's. The plywood is ¼" five-ply marine grade mahogany which I was fortunate to get from a buddy here, whose boss built a cold-molded 60' sport fisherman using the material and had six sheets left over (which I got for half price).


Designer's Notebook: THINK before you fiberglass...

You are ready to apply the fiberglass covering to the boat you are building. All of the screw holes and imperfections have been filled and sanded smooth. You even took great care to minimize sanding over the Douglas fir plywood surface, as you knew that would accentuate the grain and cause more work to finish. The filled areas were hand-sanded. The area has been cleaned and you're ready to fiberglass…or are you?

Are all corners radiused? Fiberglass will not easily form around sharp corners, so be sure they're well-rounded. And, if you have any interior corners (such as on a catamaran), radius the junction with thickened epoxy or possibly a wooden cant strip.

What about preparing for the appendages? The bow eye has a flat base where it contacts the bow and the stem is rounded. That area must be flattened before fiberglass is applied, otherwise you will need to cut into the fiberglass. Drill the hole and fit the bow eye before fiberglassing.

Does the boat have an outer keel or skeg? If the bottom has a vee the area will need to be flattened. Or maybe you will cut a vee in the underside of the member to match that of the boat, but the angle is ever changing and mostly impractical to pre-cut. Or perhaps the vee is so great that it can't be flattened practically. If that is the case, as much of the area as practical is flattened. Thickened epoxy is applied to the area and the skeg or keel (contact surface covered with sheet plastic) is laid on the surface, forced down, and surplus resin faired from the keel or skeg to the planking. After cure, the skeg is removed. The area is NOW properly prepared BEFORE fiberglass is applied.

The same method is used for the skid fin (if used) or the strut on an inboard. Think! Consider any hole or fittings that must be installed. Cutting into the finished fiberglass will require patching. And if you have painted the surface before preparation for the fittings you have a mess (lotta work) on your hands.

The word "think" is a good word to keep in mind in any boatbuilding project. A little time spent in using the noodle instead of the hands will pay off.

And, isn't thinking about the project in advance and solving it in your mind part of the fascination of boatbuilding?

(the long and short of it)

How long should they be
These slender pieces of a tree
To reach the water is a must
Too short would be a bust
But too long can be a pain
Awkward and nothing gained
Also watch where the handles go
Need room to swing to and fro
Overlapping or ends in line
Either way will work just fine
Blade shape, spoon or flat
Pick one and then that's that?
No, choose the wood for the use
Strength use ash, lightness spruce
Handles, tapered or barrel shape
Take your pick, but do not wait
Don't want the oars to tarnish?
Choose a finish, paint or varnish
Oarlocks and leathers, yet to decide
'Til oars arrive, I'll let that ride
Then a final choice, for oars fantastic
To pay for them … paper or plastic?


Photos posted since the last WebLetter...

A $10 - 10 Minute Steam Box

by Jack Dice, Stonington, Maine

I needed to bend some wood the other day. I was installing new gunwhales and inwales on a fiberglass skiff (an old "Plastic Pete's") that was molded with a rounded bow as many of those fiberglass skiffs are. The original wood had rotted away after one of those nice canvas covered town rub rails had been installed, collected water and never dried out. I was loath to build a real steam box just for the time it would have taken so I came up with this quick steam box, and it only took a few minutes and cost only about $10.

Buy a 10' section of 4" diameter Schedule 20 PVC pipe at your building supply yard. This pipe is used for foundation perimeter drains in the building industry. The pipe I got is distributed by Genova, is made by ADS, and is labeled "30001b Triple Wall". The wall construction of this pipe is corrugated just like a cardboard box but is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It will easily withstand the temperature of boiling water and steam at ambient pressure. Not only is it light but it has the great advantage of having a high insulating value. This is desirable because the steam will not condense as readily on the walls of the pipe and lose its effectiveness at steaming the wood.

Avoid buying Schedule 20 or 40 PVC pipe with a solid wall as it will not give you as effective an insulating effect. Buy a couple of end caps that fit over the ends of the pipe to close it off. The pipe that I purchased had a coupling molded onto one end that took a special cap on that end. As a cautionary note, you should never burn PVC because it gives off toxic gasses when ignited.

Now all that is needed is a boiling vessel, a piece of old garden hose (or suitable substitute) and a camp stove. The boiling vessel can be anything that will hold and boil a couple of gallons of water. I used an old five gallon galvanized can that I found at the junk yard that might have been used for kerosene or other solvent. An old metal gas can will work, but be sure to rinse out all the gasoline before putting it over a fire! A large sauce pan or Dutch oven would work as well. If you have none of these you can buy a cheap aluminum pot with cover for only a few bucks.

Drill a hole in the cover that is slightly smaller than the garden hose outside diameter so that the hose can be stuffed into it and seal itself in the hole. Drill the same diameter hole in one of the end caps near the edge of the cap so that the condensate will not form a puddle in the pipe and will run back into the boiling vessel. The cap should fit tightly over the PVC pipe. If a tight fit cannot be had, use duct tape to seal it. Tie the PVC pipe on a stiffening board and put it on some saw horses or anything to elevate it higher than the boiling pot with the far end of the pipe slightly higher than the inlet end so that the condensate will run back toward the supply hose and drain back into the boiling vessel.

Install the hose from the boiling vessel into the PVC pipe end cap (make it only long enough to go from the boiling pot to the steaming pipe and no longer), put a couple gallons of water in the pot, and put the pot on your camp stove. In the opposite end of the PVC pipe put in the wood to be steamed and then install the end cap. If that cap is tight fitting, drill a couple of small holes in it (1/4 inch) so that the steam will migrate down to the far end of the pipe and vent out.

I steamed two pieces of white oak 1/2"x 1"x 8' about an hour and they bent around the bow of that skiff not quite like limp spaghetti but close to it. Amazing!

Harold the boatbuilder

The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.

Shop Talk: Cheap Insurance and More...


Open up a dictionary and look at the definition of "cheap insurance", and you very well could see a pair of safety glasses. Your eyesight is priceless and good quality safety glasses cost about four bucks. The problem is the glasses are in your toolbox or under your workbench and you're too lazy or forgetful to get them every time you use your drill, power sander, chisel or planer.

The solution is simple. Buy a half-dozen pairs today and keep one hanging on each tool or piece of equipment in your work area that could injure your eyes. That way you'll have to pick up the safety glasses before you can use the equipment and it will become second nature to put them on.


Make a waterproof container for your boat's Certificate of Number/Registration/Insurance papers, tools, snacks, etc. out of 3 or 4-inch PVC pipe. Glue a smooth, permanent cap on one end, and keep a threaded removable plug or cap on the other.

That way it's easy to keep tools and other items dry and out of the way. It's easy to bungee cord it to the floor or side of your boat or fasten under the seat.

Recent email:

Subject: Thank You from a Veteran

Hello, I've been looking at your plans for a while now (I sent you an email about 1 or 2 weeks ago asking a question).

Well I was not going to purchase a set of plans just yet because I'm not ready right now to begin building. When I went to your site today and noticed your support for the Wounded Warrior Project, that is what made up my mind to purchase now.

You see I'm a retired Veteran and I currently have a son in Iraq. Though I and other active and retired have our personal opinions on politics, the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen should not be held responsible as we are only doing the job of keeping freedom for America.

Your support during this Memorial weekend is much appreciated by myself and I just wanted to say thank you.

-- Eric Morehouse
St. Robert, Missouri

Subject: Item of Interest

Here's an example of how things evolve way beyond reason when folks have more money than sense!!! As you know too well, the Squirt is rated "conservatively" for a 10 horsepower motor... this boat was powered with a KG-7 Merc (factory rated at 10 HP but actually put out closer to 18 HP) before the SST45 (Evinrude 45 HP race engine) came along. This from a friend of mine in Texas. I hope he can keep it right side up, 'cause this Squirt is a prime specimen!!

Enjoy, and don't cringe too much!!!

-- Dan Crummett
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Subject: Glen-L Gathering of Boatbuilders

Hello I was wondering when you have the date set for this year's Gathering at Lake Guntersville. I have attached a couple of images from last year's Gathering.


-- Ty Smith

Editor's Note: The 2010 Gathering will be held just a little way's up the river from Guntersvlle at Nickajack Lake, Tennesse. We'll be staying at Hale's Bar Marina & RV Resort, September 24, 25 & 26, 2010. Many are planning on getting there by the 22nd or 23rd to get an early start on the fun.

To learn more about the 2010 Gathering or to be more involved and even help with planning the event (if you wish), go to our Gathering page and the Boatbuilder Forum 2010 Gathering discussions.

See photos of all our past Gatherings here.

Subject: We're Having a Ball!!!

Between the animation business, the TV station, and aircraft, the Wee Hunk is finally taking shape. Finally the good weather has arrived in Bermuda!

I had promised myself I'd never build another boat. My son looked at me one day and I realized he'd only be a young boy once. I've sent in a few pix of my 12 year old son and me working on it. He's quite Gung-Ho and we're having a ball!!! Thanks to Glen-L.

I've been around the internet, and no one designs boats like you. You should have for sale a small bronze Glen-L logo plaque that boat builders can attach to the topside. I know I'd buy one. It would probably read; "A Glen-L Design" and then underneath, small: "Bellflower, California."
I'd be proud to show it off.

-- Al Seymour
Sandys, Bermuda

Subject: Wanting to Build Another...

I got out of the navy in January, 1970 after three tours of Vietnam. I am still kicking so I guess that means something. I think it was that year '70 or '71 when I purchased the plans for the little MiniMost boat. It took me and my new bride about three weeks to build; we had so much fun building and driving it!

To make a longer story short, one of those all-too-famous hurricanes that we have down here took care of our Little MiniMost. I will be 62 next month November 15 and I have been wanting to build us another small runabout. We have not quite got our minds made up yet, but YOU BETTER KNOW IT WILL BE FROM Y'ALL.

We will be keeping in touch with you good folks.

-- Tommy and Kate Warden
Wiggins, Mississippi

A Fish Story

A guy who lives at Lake Conroe (50 miles north of Houston ) saw a ball bouncing around kind of strange in the lake and went to investigate.

It turned out to be a flathead catfish that had apparently tried to swallow a basketball which became stuck in its mouth!! The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to, because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface. The guy tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate it and release the hungry catfish.

You probably wouldn't have believed this, if you hadn't seen the following pictures:

I guess even catfish bite off more than they can chew sometimes...

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