My Take on Philsboat click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By Mike Mulcahy - North Star, Alberta - Canada

I was looking for a design that was small and light to trailer, yet had a cabin roomy enough to sleep 2. And it had to be self-righting. It seemed like an impossible combination until I discovered Jim Michalak’s birdwatcher designs.

It wasn’t quite so simple though. I’m tall and have back trouble. I wasn’t sure I’d fit in one of these boats. But the more I read, the more I wanted one. I decided to get plans for Philsboat and see if I could rework them to something I’d be comfortable in.

I experimented with leaning a piece of plywood against a wall and figured out that if the side panels (which your back rests against) were flared out 3” it felt pretty good. But when the side panels are flared out they won’t meet at the bow unless they’re extended. So, as long as I was making another scarf joint, I decided to stretch the whole boat about 10%.

I started making models and was busy all one winter drawing and cutting and taping cardboard. By spring I had a small fleet.

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I started making models and was busy all one winter drawing and cutting and taping cardboard. By spring I had a small fleet.

(click images for larger views)

Building kept me happy all the next winter (part of fall and spring too). Not long after the ice came off the local lake, I was ready to launch.

Building kept me happy all the next winter (part of fall and spring too).

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I was pleased with my final design. The cabin was kept at 8 ft long with the extra boat length creating a forward compartment. I originally thought this could be used for a porta-potty (my wife really fell for that) but so far it has always been filled with gear. I slanted the windshield, hoping to save a few mpgs when towing. I don’t use the draining foot well in back for sailing, but it’s very handy when boarding or docking, and I sit back there when using the yuloh.

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I was pleased with my final design.

 
The cabin was kept at 8 ft long with the extra boat length creating a forward compartment.

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I don’t use the draining foot well in back for sailing, but it’s very handy when boarding or docking, and I sit back there when using the yuloh.

The boat has been a great success. My back feels fine even after a long day of sailing (my butt gets sore though). I’d been skeptical about the single leeboard but it works super. We’ve rolled the boat on its side many times for fun. And there have been a couple of real unplanned knockdowns. We just have to shift our weight and she rolls right back up.

We’ve rolled the boat on its side many times for fun. And there have been a couple of real unplanned knockdowns. We just have to shift our weight and she rolls right back up.

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When I first saw these designs I wondered if I’d like sailing stuck inside a cabin all day, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. With the open slot the cabin is breezy and cool and the visibility is even better than in my sailing skiff where the sail always blocks part of the view.

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When I first saw these designs I wondered if I’d like sailing stuck inside a cabin all day, but it doesn’t feel like that at all.

 
With the open slot the cabin is breezy and cool and the visibility is even better than in my sailing skiff where the sail always blocks part of the view.

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She’s turned out to be a great sailer, fast and surprisingly close-winded for a low-tech design. I love the junk rig for its ease of handling and great performance, but that’s a story for another article.

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She’s turned out to be a great sailer, fast and surprisingly close-winded for a low-tech design.

 
I love the junk rig for its ease of handling and great performance, but that’s a story for another article.

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My wife was originally skeptical of the nontraditional design but now appreciates the comfort of the cabin. We’ve spent many nights in the boat, both on the water and in campgrounds.

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My wife was originally skeptical of the nontraditional design but now appreciates the comfort of the cabin.

I didn’t consult Jim Michalak until I was midway through construction. I felt kind of embarrassed by all the changes I’d made, but he didn’t seem to mind. In the process of building I came to realize Jim had put a lot of thought into making a design that was simple and straight forward and that my mods complicated things quite a bit. I like my changes but I think a Philsboat built to plan would also be a great sailor and camp-cruiser.

I didn’t consult Jim Michalak until I was midway through construction. I felt kind of embarrassed by all the changes I’d made, but he didn’t seem to mind.

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I like my changes but I think a Philsboat built to plan would also be a great sailor and camp-cruiser.