design by Phillip C. Bolger
Why A Bolger Boat?
build and use a boat designed by Mr. Phil Bolger is an experience
I look forward to. Mr. Bolger has hundreds of boat designs to
his credit, an enthusiastic following and is well recognized
in his field as a master of meeting the needs of the originator.
His boats range from the sleek, attractive and racy to the sublime
and even cartoon like. Described as genius by many he is a man
who takes responsibility for his work and is involved on a daily
basis with the builders of his designs as well as the clients
wishing new work. His well of knowledge is deep and the fountain
of fantastic, frugal and environmental ideas allow almost anyone
to choose, build and enjoy the boat of their dreams. Bolger
has a way of bringing out the realism needed to enjoy boating
in complex society.
Why the Houseboat #481:
of camping, campers and traveling frugally led us to the houseboat.
I always like shanty boats and always came back to a small,
trailerable, efficient box like designs of which there are many.
I had always liked the Hobo and its clones so when we found
out Bolger had a design it was easy to choose it. I had looked
hard at his Champlain and Bantam and liked them both very much
but neither met our realistic needs. We were almost convinced
on the Bantam before finding out about the houseboat. The Bantam
is an extremely efficient and easily handled boat suited for
smaller waterways, lakes and rivers. We felt that with a dingy,
2 bicycles and all our gear for cruising, the Bantam was just
a bit small. The houseboat has about 30% more flotation and
is designed more for longer periods aboard and more suitable
as a cabin when on the trailer or at dock. The 4'x8' front deck,
13' x 8' interior and a 3' rear deck provide sufficient space
for 2 adults to move about freely and ensure the basic creature
comforts of shower, head, closet, comfortable bed, eating and
food preparation area. The light weight would be easy to trailer
and a low power requirement would mean cheap cruising.
with Mr. Bolger by fax and phone was a pleasant experience.
His no nonsense, terse replies should be studied carefully because
they contain wisdom and are helpful in your project. Don’t
expect Mr. Bolger to cater to your boat building techniques
but anything within the plans will be addressed. The plans came
promptly by post in a blue tube and were clear and easy to read.
Since this plan was a earlier commission to Mr. Bolger from
Elrow Laroe, there were no building notes but a moderately experienced
builder should be able to complete the boat in 200 to 400 hours
depending on your skills and the level of finish.
Lots of Good Advice:
to many members of the Bolger chat group, and John Bartlett
aka Captjbturtle of Treasurecoasthouseboatrentals.com I was
driving home with 15 sheets of ½"ply, 15 gallons
of epoxy and 40 yards of 50" fibreglass. I had studied
the plans to death and plagued John with endless questions and
received some great tips from Mike Stockstill. The review of
all the Bolger posts as well as tuning in to the daily digests
gave me the confidence to start.
I had built 2 small boats using the “Stitch and Glue”
technique and helped with a third. This gave me the confidence
to start right away. The first step was to construct a temporary
table 8' wide and 20' long to build the sides and then the hull.
The table, once squared and leveled proved to be very valuable
to the easy alignment of the hull. After using the “Payson”
joint to connect 2 ½ sheets of plywood, reading the plan
and transcribing the measurements for the sides to the wood
was a snap. It took some time to layout the hard chines and
top frames but everything glued together well. I set the sides
together and made them identical by shaving the high spots with
a 3 ½” electric planer before fairing and glassing.
Winter set in early and the table was dismantled and the sides
stored to await the spring. Fortunately a family member had
salvaged a building years ago and had a supply of very dry,
straight spruce I could use. It was in such good condition I
ran it through a planner and ripped it to the various sizes
required for the floor timbers and framing. A long winter 2002/03
and late spring only added to the anticipation and hull construction
got underway early in May. The table was reassembled, the sides
set up and the floor timbers notched in and beveled where needed.
Both layers of ½" ply was attached using ring nails
and thickened epoxy. Fairing and shaping the hull before glassing
was easy with a 2" belt sander. All edges were given 2
layers of biaxial tape before glassing. I put a second layer
of glass on the forward 8 feet of the bottom, then added another
2' of ½" ply as a bash guard on the forward hull
bottom and another layer of glass. The three bottom skids were
laminated (2 layers) and glassed.
the capable assistance of John Bartlett, flipping the hull was
easy. We used a farm tractor a sling and used the table as a
slide. It took minutes and with many hands the hull was slid
into position for the interior and cabin construction
the hull in almost perfect alignment the interior construction
could start almost immediately. With the help of John we leveled
the cabin floor timbers and built the honeycomb of stringers
to hold the forward and rear deck. The forward and aft cabin
bulkheads were measured, cut and installed. At the same time
I epoxy coated the ply for the floor, coated and glassed the
deck pieces and the upper sides. Also by coating and glassing
the preconstructed forward and aft bulkheads we saved a lot
of finishing time after construction. The upright frames were
rounded, epoxy coated and then installed notching the floor
after carefully measuring for their position.