By Jeff Norman - Crystal Lake, Illinois - USA

Dear Chuck,

I just wanted to thank you for the great site. I just finished and launched my Michalak “Family Skiff” this June/July. Her name is the “Karen Ann”. The plans were great and Jim was responsive to questions.

You have allowed me to easily find the products I needed to complete my boat; it took about a year and a half but it was well worth it. I built her in a one car garage. I give many thanks to my wife for letting me take up the garage through a Northern Illinois winter. I will never build a boat in an unheated garage again. When the time comes to build the next one, it will be a warm weather only project no matter how long it takes.

My plan is to do some cruise camping on the big flowages of Northern Wisconsin. My maiden voyage was on a small lake (160 ac.) near Tomahawk, WI. She performed well in a variety of wind conditions which gave me confidence for the next step.

For a true test, I took her to the Chippewa Flowage by Hayward, WI. The Chippewa Flowage is a 17,000 acre reservoir created in 1923 by the damning of the Chippewa River. It encompasses 11 natural lakes, 9 natural rivers. The "Big Chip" is made up of 233 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 140 islands making it a unique sailing experience. There are several areas that are miles across allowing the wind to build some waves. I sailed in mostly Force 3 to 4 winds with no fear of capsize in the steep chop. She was a dry and had a very solid feel. I was staying at a campground with a couple of buddies who don’t sail and they were both calm and comfortable while sailing in whitecaps.

The above pictures are taken from my buddies fishing boat out in the middle of “Pete’s Bar”, a great place for Muskie. (Doesn’t the sail from Duckworks look great?) I didn’t get a chance to camp from the boat because as nice as the weather looks in the pictures; it stormed three out of five nights. For my first camp/cruise, I want good weather. I am looking forward to some fall sailing. I hope to have a small mizzen completed by the time I have to put her away for the winter. Thank you again for everything. I have wanted to build a sailboat for years.

Jeff Norman
Crystal Lake, IL


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