View Full Version : Introduction/Garden Eel
I have been lurking here for awhile and wanted to take the time to introduce myself. I have worked wood for over thirty years and have built two boats previously. I have a well equipped shop including a full metal set-up. I am an architect by training and have subscribed to this sites sponsor since issue number #1.
I think I want to build a Garden "Eel" in cedar strip. I have had the drawings on my shop wall for a long time and I have carved a half hull. About 15 years ago I corresponded with a fellow from Australia who had built an Eel and he sent me a huge pile of construction photos so I have a pretty good idea of the scale of this project.
I am at the point in my life where I am looking for a serious woodworking project. I vassilate between building a Pitts Special aircraft or a new boat. Unfortunately I have no desire to fly, which puts me in an odd position, but I am looking for that kind of technical challenge.
I have definitely narrowed it down to a canoe yawl, and because I live on the prairies it has to be trailerable, I am at least 5 hours to decent bodies of water. Other boats on my radar are a "Wenda" or a "Rozinante" but, too big, me thinks. On the other side of the equation a Nancy's China (no, not a canoe yawl) appeals, but I think it would be a bit too simple to satisfy this urge. Some days even a Bolger Micro has a pragmatic charm. I want to do a yacht finish and aesthetics are important to me, I am looking for the Mercedes 250SL of the boating world.
Any opinions, pro and con, for this selection would be greatly appreciated.
11-20-2008, 04:00 PM
Are you planning to day sail or do you see extended cruises? If you plan on mostly day sailing I would say that the Eel would fit the bill rather well, with your choice between an open boat or one with a small cuddy as shown here:
A Rosinante is not a boat you would want living on a trailer, and it sounds like yours would be dry sailed for the most part.
Welcome to the forum! Beware of the bilge as foul objects can be found down there.
11-20-2008, 04:22 PM
Steve, welcome to the forum! I also have an architectural background, hate flying but almost purchased a Pitts (swapped for a boat, actually) just to park in my garage and fiddle with. Same goes for high performance cars and Harleys. Boats can be the same- lavish many hours to bring one to perfection and park it in your garage just to admire both your workmanship and the aesthetics- OR USE IT! Both goals never seem to work out as you may want.
Try to better define what you may find more appealing before starting your project. And please keep us informed. Best of luck:-)
11-20-2008, 05:17 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by a "metal setup" but if I could do it, I'd build a composite boat (metal frames) with double planking in a design that was as light and strong as possible. It would be a wonderful challenge and an unusual item.
Power or sail would be the next decision. A Baby Bootlegger type of powerboat (talk about Mercedes!) or a sleek drop-keel daysailer (challenging keel-hull metalworking) with a freestanding rig.
Perhaps consider having a designer work with you to develop the ideas and challenges you seem to value most? Rodger Martin comes to mind for sailing yacht design: http://www.rodgermartindesign.com/portfolio.php?item=40 or Paul Gartside in a traditional vein: http://www.gartsideboats.com/index.php
In the powerboat field, Charles Jannace or even Phil Bolger (Snow Leopard!) would be people I'd approach: http://www.jannace.com/yachts
I bet any of them would jump at the chance to work out a project with you.
Best of luck!
11-21-2008, 12:45 PM
I'm also smitten by the Eel. Small and light enough to trailer easily, some ballast for a little more solid feel than unballasted boats this size, and lots of strings to pull. Not to mention drop dead beautiful. There is another current thread asking people to list their candidate for "most beautiful boat". IIRC the Eel got some votes.
Notions I'm considering: 1) bilgeboards instead of centerboard to free up cockpit and cabin space, 2) pivoting rudder so grounding will not cause damage, 3) electric trolling motor with two 80# batteries under the sole and 4) (maybe) stretching length 10% to open up cockpit. I've modelled it in Freeship and it is possible to keep the same weight and vertical CG as the original 250# external ballast design with these modifications.
Bolger Chebacco (in lapstrake or strip planked) would be a good option too but, to me anyway, just doesn't have the sex appeal of the Eel.
Wenda and Rozinante are great looking too but too heavy & high to trailer easily.
I think it would be fun to build an airplane too but the cost of a construction or pilotage error is just too high for my comfort level. Maybe I'll go back to RC some day.
Good luck on whatever you choose.
If you grease the skids with plenty of pictures you can get a world of good advice from the forum.
11-22-2008, 09:15 AM
Steve, I too have admired the Eel for years, and have finally started building one. I can now go out to my garage and get lost for obscene amounts of time admiring molds on a strongback.
You mentioned communicating with an Aussie about the Eel. In the 2001 WB Lauchings section, there was an Eel built by Roger Dahlberg down under with a winged rudder. This interested me as I sail on the Chesapeake Bay where it is real easy to run out of water. It would be good to have a rudder than didn't stick down so far. I tried to get up with Roger, but was never successful. Any chance it is the same fellow? If so pictures and specs on the rudder would be greatly appreciated. I've figured I would build the boat as drawn and play with rudders later.
If you could figure out how to post those construction pictures that would be great
11-22-2008, 02:36 PM
I think the Elf would be terrific, right up until the day it was finished, then 5 hours to water, hmm. If you do not really want to fly, then this is probably not a good choice especially if you are thinking of the Pitts but it's what I would build if I had the time and resources and a wood and metal shop, and the midwest is probably the safest place to fly.
It has wood
Gentlemen, apologies for the delay in my reply, I was sent out of town on business shortly after I posted this. Thank-you for the wonderful replies, I am certain now that I have chosen the right boat for my needs, I just have to decide now, on when to pull the trigger to begin building.
Dave Gray; Yes mostly day sailing with the odd over-nighter, I realize the cuddy on an Eel is small and there is the centerboard to complicate things, but I am pretty sure I can live with that. My previous boating experience tells me that the cabin was used mostly to store stuff and as a place to keep the refreshments. I think if you fitted some custom storage to allow for convenient "picnics" that this would go a long way to feeling satisfied with the use of this boat. I also think you could make the berths tilt up longitudinally to provide backrests for an awthwartships backrest, that could allow for people sitting in the cuddy to face out to the cockpit, when they wanted shade. (I am sailing in the desert, rain is rarely the issue)
Mgeorge; I like your thinking, as to keeping machines around as sculptural devices. Just not sure if I can spare the garage space these days. Still as you say, it is a distinct possibility, and a person is allowed to play with his "Toys" anyway he wants to!
rbgarr; By full metal set-up, I mean machining, as in metal lathes, milling machines, but no distinct welding stuff (Yet, anyway!, I am always looking for excuses to buy new tools). I want to stay with sailboats as this is what I have experience operating. Your idea of commissioning a custom design is interesting and I hadn't thought of that, certainly something to think about.
mcdenny; I hear you on the bilge boards, my first sailboat had them and they worked well, certainly would help in the cuddy. I wish Bill Garden was more accesible, I think I would put that challenge to him. I like your thinking on electric aux. drive and I am going to research that, somehow hanging an outboard off the side of an Eel just doesn't work for me.
RandyC; In the photos I have, the Australian fellow(Nic Marinos, Launchings 1993, 1994?) had devised a kick-up rudder, it utilized cords running inside the shaft to tilt the rudder blade. I have seen this same design on Oughtred plans, just try and keep the same blade area.
PhilipM; Thanks for the tempting photos of the Piuma, definitely had not see that one before, and it would appear to be quite a challenge for the woodworker/metalworker. I am for sure bookmarking that one, maybe when I finish the Eel?
Thanks all, again, for the advice! The next hurdle to clear is the justification for the expense. Looking at Ads for used boats made of the "other" material, tends to stop one in their tracks. Still, I guess millions of golfers have never been paid for their time spent on the links! (well maybe Tiger)
Will be back to this forum often for additional advice.
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