View Full Version : Bahama Mama

04-06-2003, 09:13 AM
Anyone have any experience with this design? Stambaugh, double chine with a flat bottom. Not unlike a large Swampscott dory, widened aft. Ketch rigged, thirty foot on deck, two feet of draft with the board up. Ply over bulkheads, epoxy fillets.

I've had the plans kicking around for years, and now I finally have a place to build a boat.

[ 04-06-2003, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
04-16-2003, 09:15 AM
I could be slightly one sided on this, but Gary, the guy you bought the plans from, is a good friend of mine. He sometimes guest lectures in my boatbuilding classes.

we have discussed the boat over many beers, And I have to say, It is one of the best cruising designs for first time boatbuilders.

It is made to be built in sporatic time periods, as home builders often have, and it is easy to build under a tarp.

If I didn't already know what I was doing, I would look very closely at that design. In fact, I still do look very closely at the design, as It is very quick to build for some one who already knows what they are doing.


Bruce Taylor
04-16-2003, 11:31 AM
Jack, I assume you're familiar with Joel White's favourable review of the design?

If not, see 100 Boat Designs.

To my surprise, White loved the concrete and rebar ballast ("Marvelous!" he writes).

04-16-2003, 05:31 PM
Hey thanks. It certainly exudes a straighfoward build. As I remember, one of White's few criticisms is that the berth flats aren't long enough, at just over six foot. I spent quite a few hours with the plans a number of years ago. Maybe it's time to dig 'em out again.

Bruce Taylor
04-16-2003, 06:33 PM
Yeah, White says the settee berths are a bit short...but I gather the V-berths are long enough.

It's an interesting design.

04-16-2003, 07:01 PM
It is an interesting design. I remember meditating on it, and, I think, getting a pretty good sense of its motion in a seaway. It would be quite easy to live on. It would go up on the beach, while still being quite able.

The only thing it doesn't do, as presently rigged, is go under short bridges. Well, I don't know I'd want to cross an ocean in it either.

Mike Vogdes
04-16-2003, 07:11 PM
Can't seem to find it on the Stambaugh page, is there some other place on the net it can be reviewed?

04-16-2003, 07:17 PM
I looked a bit ago too Mike, and couldn't find a link. When I bought my plans, ten years ago, I think the number was closing in on three hundred, with quite a few projects underway. But, I guess the fellow or couple headed for the islands doesn't have time to do the web.

The plans are, if I remember(they're in storage in MA), from RFC BOATS. Maybe Thad has a link? Or maybe Bruce could post from his book.

Mike Vogdes
04-16-2003, 07:46 PM
This must be it. http://www.databoat.com/Page_ProductDetail.asp?sid=151&pid=2951
Looks pretty nice.

[ 04-16-2003, 08:48 PM: Message edited by: Mike Vogdes ]

04-16-2003, 07:49 PM
Can you try that again Mike?

That's it, GFC Boats.

She is pretty sweet, for the type, methinks.

Thanks Mike.

[ 04-16-2003, 08:51 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

04-16-2003, 08:05 PM

Mike Vogdes
04-16-2003, 08:31 PM
Yes she does look like a very good choice.
I'm familiar with some of Karls designs and this one looks similar to his others. I don't know about the building her for 12K though, that seems a little light to me.

I'm curious why we have not seen this design here on the forum befor, I would think this would be a popular choice for alot of builders.

garland reese
04-16-2003, 11:03 PM
Mr. Clements (sp??) sent me some study drawings of this design when I purchased the study plans for MeadowBird a few years back. It looks like a nice boat indeed...........wish I had the wherewithal to manage such a large design.

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
04-17-2003, 06:42 AM
when I used to show at the wooden boat shows, Gary used to always stay on his meadowbird. When he guest lectures for my boatbuilding classes, he does a slide show on the construction of it.

That is also a nice boat.

I like a full keel Bahama mama better, though...

Personally, I think that I could build a Bahama Mama for much less than $12,000. However, It would involve a used engine, used sails, and splicing my own rigging. I think that if you really were really on a budget and you had some where to build for free, and some tools, you could probably do one for $5,000 to $7,500.

Now, I emphasize that this would involve NOT buying stuff at the blue boat store, having friends with old sailboat hardware to donate, an old engine lying around, and maybe a couple of sails from Minney's. It would also mean not making many mistakes, and using as much local wood as possible.

Like I have said, I have spent many beers discussing this with the dude that sells these plans. He doesn't see one happening for that little.


Bruce Taylor
04-17-2003, 07:22 AM
Mike V., I'm pretty sure Bahama Mama has been mentioned before.

Jack, the more I think about it, the better I like this boat, for your needs.

It's a good-looking boat, and easy as pie to build. The doryish bottom would let her sit on her belly in a gunkhole, while taking the seas with some grace. The boat is self-righting to 120 degrees...not bad at all. There's some serious living space, there (good headroom, 3-4 berths), and you can build her at a reasonable price.

The fact that she can glide right up to a friendly beach is very, very attractive. I watched a humongous catamaran do that in Tobago Cays a few months ago, and resolved never to forget the beauty of shoal draft.

[ 04-17-2003, 08:24 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Mike Vogdes
05-01-2003, 07:58 PM
Just bringing this back to the top.

Jack, did you ever drag those plans out of storage for another look?

I'm curious what your estimate for materials would be ect..

05-04-2003, 04:17 PM
Hi Mike,

The short answer is no.

They are stored, along with most of my stuff, about six hours from here, and I've run into various logistical glitches in getting MOVED. It's starting to get old, this camping out.

I've been dealing with a sick dog who has surgery scheduled for this coming Tues., a one way truck rental that wanted a grand for a 15 ft. box van for three days and 350 miles, and a moving company that wanted twice that. I must figure it out, and when I do I'll have another look at the plans.

I think it a nicely proportioned, all ways, boat for its type. The estimated materials circa '93 was 12-20 grand, but you read Thadeus' comments above. Scrounging, using local wood, etc.

Personally, if I'm gonna build a major project like this I'm gonna use marine ply unless I have personal testimony about a construction grade. I'd think, for a simply fitted boat, still scrounging some, the twenty grand is closer to the mark these days. But I don't know.



05-05-2003, 08:41 AM
Originally posted by ishmael:
a one way truck rental that wanted a grand for a 15 ft. box van for three days and 350 milesBummer! I took a rental truck, similar size, one way from Lafayette, LA to Delaware, OH, 5 days, for about $650-$750, maybe a little less.

Wild Dingo
05-05-2003, 12:54 PM
Okay bump... I know yerve moved Jack so have yer found those plans? info mate info!! :D

Mike Vogdes
05-05-2003, 04:50 PM

I hope your dog fairs well in surgery tomorrow, hopefully its nothing too serious.

Your truck rental bill seemed a little high at first however I was talking with a guy who just discharged out of the army a few months ago who moved from Ft Rilley Kansas to New Jersey. He rented a 18' box truck from Penske and drove 1400 miles in 3 days, He was Quoted 2K for the trip, however they knocked off 900 because he delivered the truck to a depot just inside Delaware, not bad for an extra 60 miles.

This Bahama Mama sort of haunts me, I shouldn't even be thinking about another boat project just yet, but I would like to look the study print over. I'll probably send for it next week or so.

Robert Cox
05-05-2003, 07:38 PM
Thanks guys for this topic. I love the looks of Bahama Mama so much that I've tried to order the study plans. I've had problems getting them orderd through their website though. :( I guess I'll have to give them a call tomorrow.

I think it's destiny that leads me to build this boat. The Bahama's are just an 8 hours sail from Miami and one of my favorite sailing grounds. :D

I guess I'd better get the Vacationer done and out the way before I start on another boat though. tongue.gif



05-05-2003, 07:50 PM
I'd like to hear some more details from Thad, aside from those he's posted, re cost cutting.

For example, the solid wood specified is fir. What woods local to the NE would he substitute?

What sort of ply?


Robert Cox
05-05-2003, 10:11 PM
ishmael, do you have the plans? What are they using the Fir for, stingers, cleats or other structural members? I used Fir exclusively on the Vacationer and found it very good to work with. Of course it's a very popular wood and easy to obtain down here. Depending on what the use was you could probably substitute any hardwood that was available in your area, such as oak, mahogany
or even ash.

On a boat like Bahama Mama, I would probably use Okuma marine ply but I would think you could get away with using cheaper marine ply if you intend to fiberglass the hull.


05-06-2003, 01:51 PM

One of the advantages of this type of construction is that there is very little solid framing. The main solid elements, as I remember, are a heavy, laminated stem, a one piece timber where the lower strakes meet at the bow, a laminated beam in the cabin roof to support the deck stepped mast, and the outwhales, which are the only framing at the deck edge. Then, of course the spars, which are specified sitka spruce in a box section. There are other smaller pieces, such as fore and aft cabintop stringers (no beams, the cabin top being laminated of three pieces of 1/4 ply if I remember) which double as a grab rail, inside.

All the rest, places you'd expect to find framing like the chine logs, transom or bulkhead framing, are fillets of epoxy covered in multiple layers of glass tape.

Makes me itch, just thinking of all that googe, glass and sanding! :eek: :D

Done right though, ala Sam Devlin's boats, with a few of my old cabinetmakers tricks thrown into the cabin, and it would be a handsome, practical and long-lived little boat. The later assuming I didn't run it up on a reef somwhere in the Bahamas. ;)

Just for point of reference, for the basic boat, assuming reasonable skill and motivation, the time estimate was 2000 hrs.


[ 05-06-2003, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Mike Vogdes
05-06-2003, 05:49 PM

Do you recall the hull thickness?
I would also use okume, at least on the hull and maybe doug fir for the bulkheads and such.

Another possible place to save some bucks would be some recycled aluminium spars. Theres lots of dying production sailboats laying around the boat yards that could be had for salvage. Diesels, roller furling, deck hardware, winches, stoves, the list goes on and on. Theres a few tired old glass boats in my marina that have been sitting for years now.

05-06-2003, 06:08 PM

I think, and when I finally have the plans I'll know: two layers of 3/4 for the bottom, two layers of half for the first strake, and 1/2 or 3/4 for the topsides. I think half.

The bottom is a M1A1 tank. In addition to the ply, it has re-bar reinforced, and scrap metal weighted concrete as the ballast. You build and fibreglass the inside and find and place the scrap iron with re-bar running through the bulkheads, and then pour concrete over it. With a further layer of glass and a wood sole over that. All well armored with several layers of glass outside.

Mike Vogdes
05-06-2003, 06:23 PM
Karl sure likes heavy plywood hulls. I was going to build his redwing 18 this past winter but had a hard time swallowing that amount of plywood. That little boat has 21 sheets of plywood in it with a one inch thick bottom. I supose its warranted in this boat though..

05-06-2003, 06:36 PM
I supose its warranted in this boat though.. Yeah! It's intended as a bullet proof bottom, the weight low and relatively easy to do for the home, 'mechanic'.

The integrity of that bottom is crucial. Making sure all is VERY well epoxied.

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
05-09-2003, 07:07 AM
OK, some specifics as to how I'd do her cheap.

Instead of doug fir (which goes for about $9 a BF around here, I would use atlantic white cedar, which goes for less than a dollar a board foot.

Instead of marine ply, I would go with BC yellow pine ply (since it's glassed in and out, anyway)
To make that cheaper, I would scrounge the tourist spots in the spring down here and snag the plywood that was used to cover the windows in the winter.

For rigging, I would get discarded yacht rigging that is too long, and cut the swaged ends off (which is the part that goes bad) and make up new rigging (for free).

for any trim, I would use locust or walnut instead of mahoghany.

for masts, I would either use a cedar tree, thoroughly seasoned, or scavenged aluminum masts.

get the idea?


05-09-2003, 07:35 AM
Thanks Thadeus,

But I think substituting cedar for fir in the structural pieces would be a mistake. I was wondering if oak might be used, or even ash, if well sealed.

John Bell
05-09-2003, 08:46 AM
A bit of a hijack here...

In the latest MAIB, Phil Bolger presents "Yonder" a 30' centerboard cruising yawl. While I doubt it could built anywhere as cheaply as Bahama Mama, it's still doable by an amateur. Construction is strip plank over plywood bulkheads. I'll se if I can find a picture to let y'all see. For real cruising, it would be my pick.



05-09-2003, 10:02 AM
Mr. Phil always makes me smile. God bless 'im. :D

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
05-12-2003, 09:23 AM
the douglas fir on the Bahama Mama doesn't seem as though it would have very large loads on it.

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
05-12-2003, 09:24 AM
the douglas fir on the Bahama Mama doesn't seem as though it would have very large loads on it. But, oak is available for $1 a board foot around here, and ash isn't much more...If you know where to look.

05-17-2003, 09:36 AM
Originally posted by ishmael:
Anyone have any experience with this design? Stambaugh, double chine with a flat bottom. Not unlike a large Swampscott dory, widened aft. Ketch rigged, thirty foot on deck, two feet of draft with the board up. Ply over bulkheads, epoxy fillets.

I've had the plans kicking around for years, and now I finally have a place to build a boat.

05-26-2003, 05:47 PM
Just fiddling here.

What would you think about blowing this design up about 15%, building it in steel, modifying the cabin so that it ran all the way to the sheer and perhaps forward and aft a bit, and rigging it with a schooner junk rig?

Where would I look for a NA who could take my sketches and ideas and make them work?

landlocked sailor
05-27-2003, 06:35 AM
Hey Ish, take a look at Karl's SHOAL DRAFT 40 design. Rick

Steve Paskey
05-27-2003, 06:43 AM
If you're seriously interested in doing it, why not ask Karl Stambaugh? He has the skills to design steel-hulled boats (some of his larger power cruisers are in steel), and he seems to be quite willing to modify his stock designs to suit a particular client's needs. (Several of his stock plans started out as modifications of another design.)

Plus, he knows the boat, and undoubtedly has info on her (in his head and his files) that isn't reflected in the plans. Thus, he'd be starting out two steps ahead of an NA who was looking at the plans for the first time.

05-27-2003, 06:52 AM
Few photos are seen of the construction sequences for a boat of the Bahama Mama type. See pictures at tantonyachts.com showing such a process. Click on Drawings; design #946;page 8.

05-27-2003, 08:03 AM
Thanks for the responses.

Stambaugh is the natural NA to approach about such modifications.

My reasons for contemplating the changes.

Building in steel would give me some new skills. Building a boat this size in ply and expoxy is not something I would be excited about.

Expanding the boat 15% for a LOA of approx. 34 ft. would make it big enough for a couple to be comfortable aboard for extended periods of time. Though the literature on the boat claims six foot of head room, that's at the aft end of the cabin only. The expanded boat would (I think) absorb the added weight of steel construction better than the the thirty foot overall as now designed.

With a 'bullet-proof' hull, deck, cabin and cockpit I'd feel more comfortable wandering offshore, perhaps even crossing an ocean. Though I don't know what the steel construction would do to the stability curve.

Tell me where I'm wrong.

P.S. The shop I have was built for welding. To modify it so it would be useful much of the year for epoxy and googe would involve insulation, a heating system etc. Money I'd rather put into a boat.

[ 05-27-2003, 09:10 AM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Mike Vogdes
05-27-2003, 10:43 AM
Bruce Roberts has some pretty nice steel designs available, maybe you could find something more your liking there. I know what you mean about building something in steel vs large googe, plus steel is very forgiving.

Maybe this could have some possibilities, the price is right.


I like the Bahama Mamma as is, in googe. It would be a big project but doable, your changes are pretty drastic and would change the design so much that you may as well find something a little closer to what you have envisioned. Just my 2 cents...

Dave Williams
05-28-2003, 12:06 PM

I'm very glad to hear you're still thinking Junks. Once you go there you will never go back.


05-28-2003, 06:11 PM
That is one ugly boat Mike! smile.gif

I guess part of my question comes down to whether or not a shallow draft centerboarder is practical in steel. Maybe I should take the question to the steel boat forum.

I agree, Bahama Mama is a nice collection of design considerations. But I don't think I want to build this size project in ply and googe. Hours and hours of googeing and sanding, living in tyvec and respirator, yuck.

But I have no experience welding, so maybe I'm just 'greener grassing' matters.

Robert Cox
05-28-2003, 06:41 PM
ish, I helped my father build a Roberts 53 back in the 80's. It was built of steel.

I'm building a wooden boat now because at this time it's easier to build from wood and we no longer have the metel working tools we once had.

I will admit that now that I've worked with both I would rather build from steel. The finish work is much easier. Sort of.

Think of this:

Wooden boat: Sanding
Steel boat: Grinding and sandblasting

Wooden boat: Screw and glue
Steel boat: Welding

Wooden boat: cutting with table, band, hand saw
Steel boat: cutting with acettalean or plasma torch

In short, many of the things you think you might be getting away from are still there in working with steel. You ever had your eye scrapped to remove grinding slag. When grinding that hull you'll need full tyvec suit and head protection. Not just eye protection. I had that protection (I thought) and still had my eye scrapped 3 times.

Now I don't want to turn you off but if you've not worked with steel you may not realize that in some ways it's not any easier than wood. Plus, you will be learning a whole new set of skills. I actually do consider this a plus. :D If you've never stick/arc welded before, find someone to teach you that works with heavy steel welding everyday. You're going to depend on your welds to hold your boat together and you don't want just an "OK" weld. You want a "good" weld with no pin holes.

If you still want to do it and want to learn how. I say, go for it. Once you learn how to work with steel I think you'll like it. As I said, don't think it's easier than working with wood, it's just differant.


Mike Vogdes
05-28-2003, 07:09 PM
Yea Jack that thing is pretty dreadfull..

Think square footage!

What do you want for 800 bucks?

Seriously though, I see these things on e-bay and such, and wonder how much stuff could be salvaged off of them. Engines, running gear, spars, winches, ports, the list goes on and on. I know much of it is junk but I bet the hull is probably worth that much in scrap.
If you want to learn to weld you can start by learning to burn first. You could atack that big ugly monster with a cutting torch and reduce that thing to scrap in no time, salvaging all the useable parts as you go. Maybe a dumpster on one side and a flatbed on the other.

Dave Hadfield
05-29-2003, 09:46 AM
Dreadful? What do you mean, dreadful? Long, skinny, shallow draft -- it's great. Mind you, I see it as it could be, not as it is.

It's got potential!

Mike Vogdes
05-29-2003, 06:38 PM
Sorry Dave, maybe a bad choice of words, how bout, tired and beauty deficient.

11-24-2012, 07:23 PM
Hi all, I'm new to the forum, and this thread is what bought me here. I have a set of study plans and a dream to build a Bahama Mama down here in Tasmania, as I've finally got the space to do it. Before I go buy a set of full plans I wanted to do some costing for the timbers of the hull. Could anyone with a set of plans help me with a copy of the bill of materials? I did email Stambaugh, but what with foul weather and all haven't heard back. I really only need to know size and quantities of ply sheeting and timbers for the hull. Cheers all.