Mark V-39 "Leah Gent"

We have finally finished our Mark Van Abbema designed Mark V-39. We have always heard you should build a dingy first to see if you really like building boats. Throwing all caution and good advice to the wind, we bought plans from Mark after he finished his boat and motored to Florida from Missouri. I figured that if his boat would go that far it must be a good design. I'm happy to say that after 2 years of nights and weekends we finally are on the water. Not only on the water but we have put 185 miles towards what will be a year long cruise from North Carolina to Canada with a stop in Key West and then back to North Carolina.

Any time you build a boat you hope people will like the way it looks. Right? No point in building ugly boats. We have had so many comments from the dock that one of our kids suggested we put a nickel in a jar anytime we get a favorable "Nice boat". The jar is filling up fast. We hope to put an extra month on the end of our cruise with the extra loot.

Having some concerns about the "pounding" I have read about with Sharpie designs, I asked Mark for some input. The answer was to the point. "Don't go into a head sea with more than 15 knots on the nose". Caution to the wind again, we have done this and it's not too bad for a while but it does get old, fast. Turn a few degrees off the wind and you can usually get to your destination by tacking upwind with less fuss. I did pull the boat back out of the water after we launched it the first time to install a bow thruster. Because there is little (make that no) boat in the water at the stem unless loaded there is a tendency to get blown sideways in a cross wind. The bow thruster makes me look like a pro when it comes to docking. Everyone said it couldn't be done in a boat with so little draft, just 7" at the front door. Caution to the wind a third time! It will work if you make the thruster think it's further under the water that it is by putting "eyebrows" between the waterline and the top of the tube openings. It sounds really technical until you realize we are just talking a really high priced trolling motor here.

Bow thruster installation



To sum it all up, Mark has done a good design that handles well in most seas, anchors in two feet of water and gets about 5-6 mpg at a 7.5 knot cruise on 60 hp. All this in a 39' boat that anyone with a little time, money and ambition can build in their back yard. Ok, building it in the front yard makes it easier to get on the trailer. We did it and you can too. Go build a boat!!

I'll let you know more after we get a few thousand mile on her.

Brad and Debbie Indicott
currently somewhere on the East Coast

PS: We ran out of time and had to buy a dingy. A plastic dingy no less............ maybe when I get back I build a "real" one.