4400 miles on “The Little Boat That Could

Intracoastal Volume IV Tampa Bay to Venice

Another episode of this cruise log. Start at the beginning for the entire trip.

4400 Miles exploring America’s inland waterway, the "Great Loop" by small boat. This edition takes the singlehanded boat from Tampa Bay to Venice Florida and the whole series teaches you how to do it!


Various books on the Intracoastal Waterway available from Amazon.


>>> Unicat

A letter to the editor in the latest PassageMaker Magazine points out that boats aren’t the only alternative for exploring 🙂

Unicat makes expedition level "recreational vehicles". These are NOT your standard RV’s… these guys are made for off road, off the beaten path, extreme heat, extreme cold, whatever. They can be built on a variety of chassis with a variety of body styles.

This isn’t going to be your normal home-build, but I thought they were interesting.

Flapdoodle – another folding dinghy design

The Duckworks Magazine mailing list crowd has come through with another folding dinghy design that might be of interest. You’ve seen the “Origami Dinghy” (and the sailing version) all over this site. I’ve also linked to the Micro Folding Dinghy.

Now we have the Flapdoodle Dinghy. Described as “a no-nonsense rigid hardwood and ply 8 foot folding classic dinghy.” Its designed as a sail boat with a centerboard/daggerboard and flip-up rudder. The web site also states:

Designed after 6 years of research and testing to be as simple, rugged, and painless as possible. I will not claim this is an easy boat to build, but I made sure it could be built totally by one person with no assistance at any point. Every step will most likely be fun if you like to build things.

This is a “hard shell” folding dinghy that relies on metal hinges with PVC cloth (protected in a “groove”) for a waterproof folding mechanism. Looks like the design would be pretty versatile and tough, although might be a bit of a pain to build. Plans are quite reasonable. A Yahoo Groups mailing list is available for group support.

Ready for the water???

Well, its pretty much together… cloth has a few "rough" spots where its hard to get things around the curve. Note that this would NOT have been a problem if I wasn’t doing things different than designed 🙂

Yes, I know its nowhere near as nice looking as some others Origami 6′ – California Style, for example), but we had fun, learned some, and have something that will work for what we need.

We don’t have the keel "guard" or strip on, and we’ll see what we do about the "trimmy pieces" along the edges of the fabric, but it should definitely float now. No slick rope edging on the cloth, and I have some trimming to do at the stern (some of that you see is loose and needs trimmed down.

Its kind of a handful to pick up… an 8′ boat is bigger than I thought, really 🙂


Assembly at last

Well, nearly at the end… we got most all the wood put together, and most of the cloth on the craft this afternoon.

Anybody that’s following along looking for tips, etc. PLEASE note that I haven’t totally followed the directions 🙂

I’m sure that’s a designer’s nightmare, but us boat-builder types are independent and always have a thought of how to do it "better".

In the picture above, the floorboards are hanging down… this is because the bolts I had to fasten them to the rear floor supports which would have stopped them from flopping were too short. I’ll stop by the local orange box (Home Depot) and pick up more appropriately sized ones which will fix that.

With the earlier comments concerning taking measurements to the millimeter (literally), I still don’t see the need for that level of accuracy in some of this… at the end, you are propping things in place and fastening it together with strips of cloth… nothing wrong with that at all, but I don’t see that a measurement being off here and there really is that big a deal.

But, by all means, build it according to the instructions! Any deviation is my playing around, not recommended!

This picture shows the cloth mostly on. Here’s where I’m deviating (right now) the most from the design. I just can’t see the problem with letting the cloth extend farther up the sides of the craft to let that nice, very waterproof fabric protect that cheap, not great plywood. If I’m lucky, it will reach above the water line. I realize it will add to the weight, but that’s not high on my list of concerns.

I did run a line of glue (I used PL Premium for attaching the PVC cloth instead of silicone) along the edge of the side panels as specified, and then another at the edge of the cloth. If it proves to be a problem for the cloth to extend farther, then I can cut it back as the plans show and sand off the "extra" up at the higher spots on the sidewall.

Not that the aft and fore ends aren’t quite done yet, so you’ll note it hanging loose.

In correspondence with another builder, I came to the conclusion of using the PL Premium. I had it, wanted to use it throughout, although silicone would be obtainable easily. His testing found that the PL Premium, if dampened with a slight mist of water (lay a bead, spritz it) stuck very well to the PVC. Figured it sounded good to me… we’ll try. I put Dane (my handy little helper) to work wetting the glue and we put all the cloth on in just an hour or so.