Phil Bolger used to do a feature in Small Boat Journal where readers would send him a letter asking about
boat designs. He would reply with a discussion and with what he called
cartoons. These were drawings to illustrate
his points of discussion. Many of these letters and responses were collected into the book
an Open Mind . In that book, the letters and responses were
lightly edited, and if the cartoons had
been developed into working drawings, those were used instead of the original cartoons.
One in particular caught my attention. It was a letter from Tony Groves which originally appeared in Small Boat Journal in November 1987, issue 33. It asked about a pair of seaworthy single-handed schooners, one for him, one for his wife. Bolger's response was a delightful little double-ended sharpie with a bald-headed knockabout gaff rig. Unlike his light schooner, this one carried enough ballast (in the form of 100 lbs of lead in a drop keel) that Bolger deemed it sufficiently seaworthy to sail between the Southern California mainland and Santa Catalina Island.
Unfortunately, though, the boat was not quite what I was looking for. For one thing, at 19 feet 4 inches long, it would not fit in my 18 and 1/2 foot garage. Also, it was an old-fashioned plywood on frame, glues and screws boat. If Bolger had still been with us, I would have dropped him a note asking about the possibilities of modifying his design to address these issues. Sadly, he had decided to take his leave of this world 2 years before and was unavailable for consultation.
Having built a few boats and being an autodidact in mechanical engineering and composite structures, I decided to try modifying his design myself. This is the story of the modification and the construction, launch and sailing of the resulting boat.