The building of the Michalak AF4 Grande “MISSY”
By Steve Bosquette
Brunswick, Maine

In my previous “VOYAGE TO….” Articles I have expounded on why I had chosen the designs to build that I did and that they met some need or another. It is an interesting and enjoyable process each time I do it.

My 23 foot schooner “ELMER D. CURTIS” was the result of my desire for a schooner simple enough to build and also meet my need for a safe and stable boat. Various designs we viewed on the web. Since I couldn’t find just the right one I decided to design and build it myself. I’m not a boat designer but I used the ideas of Bolger’s instant boat series and cobbled together a functioning schooner that proved to be a reasonable success. She came about a little to hard for my liking but I had a great time in her. I sold her to a friend.

Before and during the time of the schooner I owned a Catalina 22 sailboat. Getting disillusioned with sailing, seeming to motor more than sail, I put her up for sale. By September of 2001 it seemed she would not sell because of the lateness of the season. I was hoping to sell her to build a Bolger MicroTrawler. Figuring that I couldn’t afford to build the complex MT and get the 40hp motor she needed too, I searched through the listings of available plans for an inexpensive powerboat to build instead. I chose the Bolger “Sneakeasy”. I really wanted overnight accomodations but settled for a fast, low powered (cheaper) design that I figured would be fun as an alternative to the sailboat. I could overnight on the sailboat when I wanted to.

As fate would have it I sold the sailboat 2 weeks after starting the Sneakeasy but was far enough along that I felt I should complete her. “KATIE” was launched in May of 2002. I had 2 great seasons with her. She was a safe and fast boat that turned many heads along the way.

The desire still remained for accomodations and I finally decided to sell “KATIE” and build a MicroTrawler. She was put up for sale and had some interest in her but had not sold her by the time the 2003 Kingston Messabout rolled around. We attended the Messabout, gave lots of rides, and had a great time. While there I had the opportunity to ride on various larger powerboats with accomodations. One was a Microtrawler. I had not seen one in the flesh (epoxy) before so was very interested in her. She was a stretched version build by Han Van , and a wonderful example of excellent workmanship she. Even with the 2 added feet I felt she was a little smaller than I wanted at this stage. Bob Chamberlain’s Bolger “HAWKEYE” , John Bartlet’s “TURTLE” and Han’s Bolger “Champlain” were in contention. There are no plans available for “TURTLE” and I felt the Champlain was too complex for me to tackle, although she had all I was looking for. Upon returning home “HAWKEYE” plans we ordered from Bolger.

“KATIE” was sold at the end of September 2003 and materials for the “HAWKEYE” were listed. I made some drawings for different cabin arrangements and even built a model. Something wasn’t quite meeting my desires. Something just a little bigger was needed since my garage could handle a 22 foot boat. Perusing Duckworks Magazine plans index section a search began for something 22 feet long, with the ability for accomodations. It needed to be easy to build. Jim Michalak has a great line of boat plans available which are well designed and easy to build. I decided on the AF4 Grande which is 21 ½ feet long and 6 ½ feet wide.

Those plans were ordered and work began immediately drawing different designs for the full headroom cabin I wanted. Various configurations were posted and opinions were received from the Michalak discussion group. I was having a hard time deciding on which cabin until one day I happened upon a picture of a Rosborough cabin cruiser. That was it! The concept was adapted to the AF4G design and the look and interior space desired was accomplished.

Rosborough Sedan


Construction Begins

I began construction on October 15, 2003. I laid out the frames and side panels per Jim Michalak’s excellent plans. My intent was to build the basic structure per plans and then add the the cabin after. I pretty much followed this plan except that the plans called for external chine logs and sheer logs. I chose to make internal logs which were more difficult but made for a smoother finished product.

The hull per plans only with internal logs

First attaching the cabin sides to the existing sides, I then installed the framing which basically eliminated the frames called for in the plans but retained the strength and integrity of the hull. The main bulkhead was moved back 4 feet leaving a 6 foot cockpit area. A 2x2 foot hatch was installed in the forward cabin and a flat deck was palced forward. The plans called for a Birdwatcher like walkthru but that would have been contrary to my full headroom cabin.

The darker wood is the shape the plans call for, covered with 6 oz. Fiberglass cloth and epoxy. The lighter wood is the cabin per my design, not yet glassed. By the way this modification was not approved by Jim Michalak.

Next the interior work began. I started with the large vee-berth by building a solid box structure. This stiffened the hull considerably. There was lots of storage built into forward area of the boat which was a nice added benefit. I will probably put two vented battery boxes under the vee-berth to help balance the boat laterally.

The galley area is an important feature that my wife Sally helped design. She wanted the cabin to be as open as possible so we agreed on a compact galley area. What you see below is the galley unit which will have a fold up section of the counter top. That will make a 3 foot by 4 foot work area. The two burner propane stove and dish pan, etc. will be stored below the counter. All folded down the galley will only take up 18 inches by 48 inches. We do not plan to have any built in sinks or tanks for water.

Having completed the galley rough-in the helm station was designed and constructed. I wanted to make the station solid and wanted it to help with the strength of the hull. A chart table was desired and an area large enough for my 24 inch ship’s wheel was needed. It needed to be such that the helmsman would be comfortable both standing or sitting.

One important design feature, which was vital, was a self draining cockpit. A very stiff cockpit floor was a must as well. The picture below shows my framing for the floor. It slants aft so cockpit water can drain. It is close together and braced laterally as well as solidly to the bottom. I used ½ inch plywood glued with PL Premium and screwed in place. The area will be covered with fiberglass cloth and epoxied. I plan to put a non-skid surface on the cockpit floor.

With the cockpit wood working complete the roof of the cabin was framed and covered by fiberglass panels obtained at Home Depot. When the boat comes out of winter hibernation a layer of ¼ inch Luan will be put on top of the panels and the entire cabin will receive 6 oz cloth and epoxy.

With the cockpit wood working complete the roof of the cabin was framed and covered by fiberglass panels obtained at Home Depot. When the boat comes out of winter hibernation a layer of ¼ inch Luan will be put on top of the panels and the entire cabin will receive 6 oz cloth and epoxy.

This concludes Part 1. An early May 2004 launch date has been set. Remember you too can build a boat! SURE YOU CAN!