My Bolger Brick Sailboat - Kitty Litter Express

Shorty Sailboat >> Article By Shorty

There is a small 200 acre lake about 5 minutes from my house that I like sailing in. No matter how hard I try, employing every trick I can, can't seem to get my Vagabond 17 sailboat setup in under 20 minutes. What I needed was a small boat that I could quickly take down to the lake, slide it into the lake, drop the mast in the sleeve and go sailing. That way if I had a spare hour or two, I could get in some sailing.

"It's disconcerting that these box boats do everything better than elaborately modeled boats of the same overall dimensions, if they both carry the same load". --Philip C. Bolger

Originally I didn't want to make any changs from the original plans, especially since the members of the Bolger Yahoo forum continually stated that any deviation from the original plans would end in disaster. This advice ended up being complete baloney, as it turns out, sailboats are very forgiving as to their configuration and they are very easy to modify, yet still end up with a good working boat. Then I went to a messabout at lake Conroe and saw Tim Webbers June Bug with MANY modifications from the original plans.

Internal Chines - External chines look easy to construct with, but they provide a lot of turbulance in the water.   I figured the brick was going to be slow enough, so everything I could to to increase speed would be welcome.

Deck at bow and stern - The original plans called for little triangles at each corner to brace the box shape.   I had plans to enclose floatation air boxes at both ends so a deck from the beginning made sense.

Centered mast - The offset mast looked like a neat idea.   Since I was going to have a deck, I went ahead with a mast in the middle.

3 skids - It's storage location was at the front of my garage on the floor, and dragging it around on the concrete would really scratch up the bottom. I decided to attach 3 skids so I could drag it around as much as I wanted, and when they wore out I could just replace them. That skid is still on there and holding well. The skids also help prevent the bottom from flexing, also called "oil canning". Later I switched over to using a trailer.

After the last coat of paint dried on the hull, we dragged it out into the yard and my daughter went fishing for pretend sharks. Notice my specialized sail. I personally developed this sail design from a concept that was brought to fruition thru the masive power of distributive computing. 897 volunteers allowed me to run a screen saver program on their computers which did the computations to reveal the perfect shape for my Para-Umbrella-Sail, other wise know as the PUS. Coincidentally, optimum shape of a PUS is exactly mimicked by a beach umbrella available at Walmart for $11.95.

After I got the basic hull together, took it out and rowed it around. I sat on the bottom and tried to row, but because she has 24" tall sides, I could barely see over gunwale. It was rowable that way, but it wasn't that comfortable.

Then I tried sitting on top of a cooler, and that worked really well. Picture this, it was about 7am, there was a slight mist on the water which was glass smooth, the fish were biting at the surface, the lake was empty except for a couple of fishermen down the shore. I am out on the water in a craft I built myself. A dream has been realized.

I rowed around for 2 hours. Upon getting home I emailed a picture of my brick (the umbrella one) to my friend Tim and told him how I had built it (he didn't know about it before that), taken it out for a test row, and it had sank in the middle of the lake. Bad joke - he showed the picture to his wife and then they had a short discussion of "how could a wooden boat sink?". Tim wasn't sure how, but he figured if anyone was capable of that, it would surely be me. :) I had left for the mall with my family when Tim got the email - he promptly called and left a message stating he had his boat trailer hooked up to the car and ready to come rescue my ill fated brick. When I returned home and called him back to tell him it was just a joke, I could hear his wife in the background - boy was that a bad joke, and was I in trouble. The next time Tim and I went sailing she sent a present along with him. It was an empty one gallon milk jug to provide floation so Tim wouldn't get any more emails like that.

The sides are 24" high, and while cozy feeling, they really are way too high to see over properly, and provide a bunch of wind resistance. The rocker shape is very round, and wherever you put your rear end, the entire hull will then change pitch to match your seating location. Also I overnighted in her once, and the extreme round rocker really did a number on my back. There are no floatation chambers in the original plans, so if I accidentally capsized & swamped, I would not be able to recover the hull in deep water.

The brick I built helped me see how wonderful box boats are, and I created a new sailing class called the Puddle Duck Racer. For more info see:

Although the Brick and the PDRacer are both box boats, there are many differences between them. For a partial list, see: Differences between the Brick and the PDRacer