Hey, Michalakers (and beyond) -
Our Campjon is expected to explore the Wisla river near Warsaw.
Nobody sails here; the river is completely empty. It is wide,
wild, and rather shallow, and changes itself often. It’s
the last great unregulated European river. Navigating is not easy,
actually possible only with power. This is the first reason that
people take their boats north, directly to system of a dozen big
lakes ( big for our conditions). It's easy and quick. The second
reason is that power boating was forgotten here during the former
system, for both it's technical and economical aspects. Sails
were very popular and, according to heavy conditions on rivers,
were concentrated on lakes. Now we can observe the revival of
motor boating, but I'm afraid people think the same, and go north
to crowd with hundreds of other boats. The third reason for emptyness
on the Wisla is that commercial navigation doesn't exist here,
and people are simply used to seeing the river empty. I was always
thinking about navigating there.
I spent almost 2 years looking for a boat to explore theWisla
river. I found out at last that all boats I could see are like
other boats, and it was hard to choose the right one from hundreds
of the same boats with different details. I felt tired. The turning
point of my project was finding Jim Michalak’s designs.
These boats aren't like another boats. They just are. I`m talking
about their radical minimalism. Nothing unnecessary. What evident
solutions. I could relax. I think my Campjon could be named SUSHI
BOAT, either because of my love for Sushi Kitchen, or something
similar in her philosophy, look, and way of building as I believe
. Just put her upside down. Anyways, the boat navigates on the
Wisla river, Poland, and her name is FARAON. In the very beginning,
when only two or three lumber sticks were laying unconnected on
my garage floor, I was asked by my 5 year old neighbour Ania about
my boat’s name. “I don’t know,“ I answered.
‘Actually I don’t know how to build a boat’,
I thought. “And what would be your idea?”.”
Egyptian Pharaoh“ she said at once. No way to ignore that
The first boat which struck me was Harmonica; another one was
Jonsboat. I like the IMB lines too, but there was no sense to
think about sails. Finally I choose Campjon, deciding to “personalize”
her, following Adam Abrego. Questions and troubles started: is
it still Campjon or not?, would Jim accept it, is the cabin long
enough (how about 1 foot longer? how about 2 feet?, since I’m
5’ 7” inches high, something new for me). And what
about the cockpit, and so on. It is said “better thing is
the enemy of good thing”. At last, changes on the original
design are as follows:
1 - cabin longer by 1 foot
2 - cabin higher by 6 inches
3 - large windows
The final decision was based on
window configuration (smaller-bigger-smaller) depending on the
butt strap location, and what gives good results either inside
or outside the boat - I hope. This embodiment seems to found often
The best thing that happened to this project was when my old fellow
Wojtek H told me that he was looking for a boat to explore rivers.
I had already the concept and bought Campjon plans! The shipyard
is found in my garage, and the construction has started. We had
no experience with boatbuilding, but by following the design we
made progress with no big problems. Any doubts and questions were
immediately discussed at the Michalak Discussion Group on Yahoo,
and the results were always right. Members of the list were great
supporters. The biggest surprise was in using PL Premium glue.
That technology is quick, clean, no smell, and no hard post-gluing
works (just cut beyond measure of the glue with cardboard knife).
I was happy to limit the use of epoxy to the fiberglass bottom
and side panels, and the problems with it were connected with
cold weather here. Usually, I worked alone (as a free-lancer I
can regulate my work time opposite to Wojtek H). Sometimes the
building team was Ania and me as a carpenters for cutting out
the elements and assembling the hull, or Wojtek H and me to install
the bottom, or Jacek S, Wojtek H and me to laminate the bottom,
or Wojtek H and me to paint the boat. We made one more change
on original project that is not visible from outside: floatation
boxes with Holt covered access holes, which are necessary to register
I’m very happy with the boat, and hope that a stronger outboard
will let her show her abilities. I know this from Luke and Adam,
first Campjon builders. Now she performs with 3 hp. My own job
on design was making large windows, looking forward and to sides.
It works: sitting on the bottom you have a full view all around,
without disturbing the environment. The cabin is 3 feet high,
and it allows for good observation from the cockpit, sitting on
a folding chair or standing. I think Campjon can be further developed
according to expectations of users. In my opinion, a two foot
longer cabin for canalboating is worth trying, but you’d
better ask Jim Michalak first. My first plan was to build such
a cabin with narrow walkway, but I was afraid that I would miss
the basic jonboat idea which I like so much, and which is more
useful for riverboating where surprises are expected. Good communication
is better than good accommodation. Campjon has been just launched,
and has made her first circle in port basin and first river cruising,
ignoring short but heavy rain. Everything is fine. Wisla waters
are so low nowadays that we were sure we would be stuck in port,
but Campjon’s draft is perfect for that kind of water. The
outboard was a 3hp 2 stroke Yamaha; the crew was 3 men. There
is enough space for 2 people either in the cabin, or the cockpit.
Two persons can pass each other in the walkway with no problem.
3 hp powered the boat easily, and circulation was incredible small.
At last I understood why the bulkheads were originally named by
Jim as bulkhead 3, bulkhead 9, and bulkhead 14 (instead of the
1st one, the 2nd one and the 3rd one). It was one of the last
days of construction. Until that moment I was frightened that
there was still something I’d misunderstood, and I would
have a great opportunity to know the reason of it in the middle
of the river. At last I’ve realized that they simply lay
on the according foot of hull length! Another funny thing that
often happened to me was measuring one side of plywood element
using inches, and another one using centimeters. Finally, I’ve
appreciated using the feet and inches system for boatbuilding
as less abstract than metric.
I mean by this all colleagues from the Michalak discussion list
on Yahoo giving advice and describing their experiences. Let me
thank here all of you for your posts. Especially the perfectly
done picture building story by Luke Spreadborough, which was a
great guide to building this boat, showing the way past troubles.
I used these pictures together with Jim’s book. It can be
seen that Luke systematically pictured all details thinking about
the next builder, not about himself . Great job. And, of course,
I cannot forget friends here in Warsaw, who helped with roofing
for the project and with other troubles. Especially Jacek, who
helped much with epoxy works and motor problems.
Now we’re going to know the river and learn riverboating
rules. Wisla is a big river, and there are a lot of forgotten
interesting places to go . I’m going to explore southern
exposed banks near Warsaw for … (OK, let me write about
it next summer). Next year a bigger trip north or north-west.
My good fellow Wojtek H, who joined the project after being impressed
with Campjon’s minimalism, will take his boys to the landscape
park on the Biebrza river to observe nature and take photos (I
hope you’ll see them). In fact you can navigate almost everywhere
in Europe from Warsaw.
Thanks and best regards to Jim
Baginski from Warsaw, Poland.