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by Ed (Chief Redbear) Davis - Melbourne, Florida - USA

Part One - Part Two

In the beginning, the build starts with the boat right side up. Frustration soon followed. The keel was laid on a strong back, and the frames at station 3, 6 and 9 were placed. Then the lower chine! It wouldn't take the bend. It was a good 6 inches short of the front point of the keel.

Photos do not enlarge

This photo was taken without frame 3 in place. What to do? You can't move the chine forward; the curve won't fit on the keel. Cut the keel to the chine? That won't work either, the other panels would all be off. Re-cut the lower chine! Then start anew. I decided to flip the build to give my back a rest.

I'm now standing up or sitting on a low stool.

It's hard to bend the slats to shape. I found I could put my clamps on them to give me leverage. Bend it down then tighten the cable tie. Worked fine.

Well I came to the same place as before! Something is still short. Also there's too much wood on the lower chine. I cut every three inches to release the woods stress. I needed 5 cuts. Six slats, that's too much wood. I've now butchered the plans and the wood to make it fit.

Note the upper chine is 4.5 inches from mating up! When aligned with stations 3, 6 and 9.

I've repositioned the lower chine by almost 3 inches each side. The stations now are not aligned with the keel stations. It lies beside the lower chine well all the way to the stern. When the transom is placed excess wood will be cut away as required to give a shapely fit. 12 ft tug= 11ft???

I have to go forward, too much money has been spent on wood to stop now.


Gunny Sarg Highway says "Improvise, adapt, overcome" -the tug will be built!

I'm a US Navy Chief Petty Officer we have been "improvising, adapting and overcoming" since the first Chief of the boat in the English Navy. There is no way a mindless piece of ply is going to stop my boat build. Get out the saw and make it fit as shipwrights have been doing for years. They didn't have plans.

NOTE! See past Duckworks articles on ship building during and after the Revolutionary war.

It may not be a pure Gill 12, but it will be a 12ish foot tugboat.

Going forward, sand, peanut butter, tape epoxy, sand, peanut butter, tape epoxy, etc.

Mike said she would get stiffer as the stations are buttered, and so it does. At first if you shook the side ,the stern would be going one way while the bow went the other. Like an excited dog, tail wag one way, head the other.

I can't tell you what is wrong between the plans and my build, only that we parted ways and I'm moving forward. The lower chine station "0" measurement up from base line is not right. Should station one be further back? Is station one measurement wrong? That was my first indicator something was wrong. My flex batten too draw the curve of the lower chine before cutting was way off between station "0" and one and two. Not the expected curve. I've not made a lot of boats but my eye said it was off. As I said I'm going forward.

It's looking more like a boat all the time.

Not only am I working on my boat, but I'm also polishing old Navy skills. I've joined the Banana River Power Squadron. I've finished "Boating Safety", Seamanship, Boating Electronics 101 and 102 and last Wednesday started Piloting class. I recommend these classes to anyone new to boating. Their designed for the newbee to make you a better boater as well as a safe boater.

Just last weekend a family from Marathon Fla went out in 15kt winds 8 ft sea state and only one life jacket was reported found by the Coast Guard. That was on the 4 yr old. They lost their 79 yr old mother. The other 7 family members spent over 20 hrs clinging to their over turned boat. Just to go fishing for Columbus Day weekend.

If you haven't had a Safe Boating Course check out the United States Power/Sail Squadron near you. Safe Boating to All.

I don't want anyone to get me wrong. Mike Gill is a great guy. His boat Patricia Ann (or Gill 12) is a great build. I'm just new to this wooden boat building thing. So I can't identify the problem with the bow measurements. The plans are ok to use, just use your best judgment for the bow. It would be nice if someone with more experience gave the boat a build. I'm looking forward to getting mine in the water. She'll be the "Violet Mae" after my wife of 44 yrs.

Vi passed away last January and even with the problems of the bow I'm having fun. This is helping me to have something to do and think about. It's helping keep an old sailor out of the bar.

Well, How goes the build?

Slowly - so far I've just gotten the shears attached. That puppy dog wiggle is gone. It now shakes as one unit.

All of the panels for the hull are set in, just waiting for the epoxy to kick.

Then the tape for seams will go on.

Note the blocks! I used those to pull the sides in to line.


Close up shot.


It's not really 12 feet but quite close.

Next turn her over. Glass the bottom, sand, filler, sand, etc... Graphite in the epoxy for below the water line, to lessen damage. Classic paint job, a tug should look like a tug. Navy tugs are just like the ships - gray. Commercial harbor tugs are black, white and red or all of the above.

I've got to turn her side ways to go thru the screen. I'll need more help!! Once out the work can start on the cabin.

I needed a trailer to tow with. The Harbor Fright boat trailer looks like it will do. It's a kit. I can do a kit. Some of you have used them and used them well.

I want a single berth in the cabin. Hopefully, an "Air Head" potty system to shorten that late night walk before bed. It's such a pain to walk across the camp ground or pier end before bed.

Small galley with two burner stove, manual pump water faucet, holding tank underneath. Pots, pans, food storage.

Two batteries for power, air pump for the horn (tug Boat must have an air horn), space to store extra fuel, hanging locker, nav table, compass, charts, marine radio, EPIRB, life jackets, ships lights, flag mast, mount for Squadron pennant/cocktail pennant, fire extinguisher and TV/radio.

Ka-ching, Ka-ching, there goes my money. Oh well, I was not going to leave anything for the kids. I can still sell the house. Looks like I can move aboard the boat. Once I sell the house, I can quit my job! Now the plan comes together!

I know why the Puddle Duckers are always wondering where the Rum went. They've been sailing with Captain Morgan.

Ahoy - it's a long way up the coast of Texas.

You say your boats not done yet? What's keeping you?

You know Noah was 75 when he started his boat. It didn't rain for one hundred years. Can you imagine the ribbing he took? One Hundred Years, of course it was 450 feet long and had room for his whole family plus their pets (a pair of each).

Keep your build and boating safe. Stay tuned for the next chapter where Chief Davis tries to put all that stuff in a 12 foot boat. I think Noah had an easier time with the pets.