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Thread: Kittiwake by Rabl

  1. #1
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    .....pulled the dusty old book off the shelf for the first timer in years- leafing through and this one caught my eye......- shes 24 feet long with an 8 foot 9 inch beam....looks to be shaped and built like a deadrise skiff to me with a cross planked bottom- think Id eliminate that detail and try to lighten her up a bit- Rabl says she could be pushed with a 20hp to 60 hp( inboard) any thoughts on putting in a well and truning her to an inboard outboard?.........I have been thinking of building something like her to cruise the southern intracoastal in my retirement years.....any one built her or seen one?...

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    ...here is a fairly poor quality image of her.....


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    There's probably quite a few choices in this size range. How about Antonio Dias's Tautog, 25 feet long, not as beamy, only 7 feet, but designed with a well for an outboard 15 - 25 hp in the first place so no modifications required.

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    ....same boat.....fishing version.....Id like to extend the cabin accomodations on this version and make a low slung ICWW cruiser......



    [ 03-10-2004, 10:40 AM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

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    ....there are things about each of the boats Chum and Tautog that I like....first offf I like the look of both of them....and I like Tautogs design for a 4 stroke outbord and narrow-road trailerable width......other than a Boston whaler type hull I have never seen a tunnel hull, and wonder if the small negative gain in draft would be worth the extra effort in building her and inefficiency in wasted bilge and possibly cabin space?....with fuel doing nothing but getting more and more scarce thus pricier by the week, it will be imperative for me to push my boat with an ultra economical power plant.....another thing I like about the Tautog is the head up forward....why use precious space aft in the cabin for 10 minutes of the day body functions?......thanks for showing me these designs each looks like it has some great ideas.... here is a link to the Tautog

    web page

    [ 03-10-2004, 06:03 PM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

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    I think it would be really cool if somebody built one of those old Rabl or Atkin cruisers. Then again, this is nice:

    It's the Redwing 26 by Karl Stambaugh. His website is www.cmdboats.com

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    Interesting - all the boats depicted resemble each other to some extent - and also some Sam Devlin designs...
    Surf Scoter 25'







    Black Crown 29'


    [ 03-10-2004, 11:49 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

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    ....I like Devlins designs though Im a bit unsold on the stich and glue thing.......the biggest draw back to the design in my eyes is the weight......I want a boat I can pull off a sandbar if need be with a bit of help....

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    ...I really like thaose Stambaugh designs too..so many choices.....is that what is called a "steadying mast" on the Devlin boat...

    .....as an aside I met Sam at a PBB show in Florida a few years back.....heck of a nice fella.......

    [ 03-11-2004, 09:01 AM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

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    ....do you have any more information or pictures of the boat Jeff?.......

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    ....Jeff, I still havent figured out my scanner yet......those pics of Kittiwake were photos I uploaded .........

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    ...thanks Jeff....actually I had googled up both these articles myself.....Im still wondering what this thing looks like.......

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    Kittiwake is a great design. If I were to build her, I would build her cross-planked. This is a strong, durable and easy to repair building method. I would also try to use a single piece of timber for the keelson. You might increase the length to 28-30ft or so to gain more room below. I would recommend an inboard engine. Less trouble all around. A 30-40 hp. diesel would give you plenty of usable power, a cruising speed of 6-7 knots, burning a gallon of fuel an hour. The picture shows an Atomic Four. Many of you will disagree with me, but this is a great engine. I have cruised many hundreds of miles with this engine. It is easy to maintain and repair and economical to run.

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    The difference betwen Kittiwake and all of the other designs is noted in the very first email. She's a deadrise boat. That's the distinctive design quality. Eliminating it is more than removing a "detail". And the other boats are nice, but.....

    By deadrise boat I mean she has a Chesapeake style sharp forefoot profile, the old bugaboo of non-Bay builders. It is this hull design that sets it apart from the other standard shallow vee bottom cruisers we see everywhere. And converting it to a flat bottom would produce a very different and possibly unpleasant vessel. The other boats mentioned are, well different boats.

    If I liked Kittiwake, I'd just build Kittiwake as designed. Paint it white with a red topside bead and a copper bottom, and then go crabbing or fishing for croakers, weakfish, and blues.

    Steve Redmond
    www.sredmond.com

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    ....Steve....the detail I was referring to eliminating was the cross planking on the bottom......I dont care for leaky boats....I would prefer a single sheet of ply for the bottom or if the shape is non conducive to that then cold molding the portion that needs it.....but traditional cross planking and the inherent problems with it are not what I would consider desirable in a boat of my own......

  16. #16

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    Generally Chesapeake style deadrise boats are not suitable for plywood planking at the forefoot area.

    Cross-planked boats are not leaky when swelled unless defective. Or any more so than other planking methods. An inboard engine log will leak in a plywood boat. Condensation will form in a plywood boat. Deck leaks will not care what material the hull underneath is made from.

    I think water and diesel fuel sitting on plywood in a bilge has a worse effect than it does on good heavy crossplanked tarred yellow pine. I have never seen an impenetrable billge coating, including epoxy.

    Nor even an advisable bilge coating where traditional style heavy timbers meet planking. There is always heavy vibration where an inboard has been mounted. Plywood must join to keels and bearers in this area. You cannot prevent a variety of liquids from residing and penetrating here into the wood itself and in cracks between structural members.

    I say this having designed built and used plywood boats for 33 years. I use plywood, but I don't think of it as an advantage over conventional planking for traditional types of boat and boat construction.

    It is applicable for certain boats designed specifically for it. Generally light weight glued encapsulated structures. Each material works best in some applications and not others.

    A Kittiwake built exactly as designed, well maintained would have a very long life. I've often read that large plywood boats have an average life span of about 15 years, and I believe it.

    Steve Redmond
    www.sredmond.com

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    ....I plan on trailering this boat in and out of the water....I dont care to wait for her to swell up so I can shut off the bilge pump every time I put her in.....cold molding is a good bet in the for foot area .....my experience with ply wood hulls is some what different than yours- 15 years average life span? sounds sorta like an idiot was maintaining the boat...... while I might prefer a traditionally built Kittiwake , practicality dictates a different method of building for me.....I appreciate your thoughts....

    ...are you saying condensation will form in a ply hull but not one of solid timbers?.......

    ...your Elver is a pretty boat.....why the plywood bottom here?......and will not condensation form in a boat of strip planking?.....arent your strips basically encapsulated in epoxy?.....

    [ 03-20-2004, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

  18. #18

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    "....I plan on trailering this boat in and out of the water"

    Your search for a plywood trailerable powerboat makes perfect sense to me. Plywood is a reasonable choice for light trailerable boats designed specifically for the construction. I have no prejudice against plywood.

    Like you, I'm fond of Kittiwake, -- which is why I joined the discussion of this design (rather than a discussion of trailerable plywood boats). I think she works perfectly for her intended purpose and construction, and I'd love to see someone build her Chesapeake style as designed.

    Kittiwake would be a mismatch for your own personal boating requirements. Obviously, Kittiwake is not a plywood trailerboat.

    "...are you saying condensation will form in a ply hull but not one of solid timbers?......."

    Nope. I was saying that like other forms of planking, a simpe plywood plank substitution of a traditional vee bilge inboard boat will sooner or later see water in the bilge from several sources. I think you probably agree with that.

    "...your Elver is a pretty boat.....why the plywood bottom here?......and will not condensation form in a boat of strip planking? .....arent your strips basically encapsulated in epoxy?....."

    A light small non-inboard flat bottomed sailboat designed for trailering and for compposite construction from the plank keel up is a different case than a 24 foot inboard powered traditionally framed heavy scantling keel deadrise cabin cruiser in which consideration of plywood planking has merely been substituted as a "what if" proposition. I thought I'd bring up some of the reasons why that might might not be a good idea.

    We could get into a long discussion of design methods especially applicable to plywood and light scantling glued construction, but the Gougeon Brothers have already done an authoritative job of this in their book "The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction" which I would recommend.

    There are many special requiremtnts for building for longevity in glued-up boats. As there are for pieced fastened traditional boats. Merely substituting plywood where scantling plank is called for is not the improvement it may seem on first glance.

    Steve Redmond
    www.sredmond.com

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    Kittiwake would be a mismatch for your own personal boating requirements. Obviously, Kittiwake is not a plywood trailerboat

    ....obviously not as Rabl shows her built, however I see no reason why she could not be redesigned as a plywood hull.....

    ....I have read the gougeon brothers book.....parts of it several times, though I dont think much of the explanation of lofting which they present.....

    ...I also believe ai mentioned introducing a motor well into the Kittiwake design in my original post.......

    ....I dont see the point you are trying to make about water gaining entrance into a v bottomed boat built of plywood......I dont think that any boat, (except one built of glass) which has a v bottom will be impervious to water intrusion for ever, however I have learned some tricks over the years to keep it out.....it does require maintenance .......but maintenance is what it takes to make a boat last better than 15 years......

    ....While I have the same charm, allure, and nostalgia induced feeling of fuzziness over the prospect of the traditional building method shown by Rabl, I dont see why the method of buiding is beyond change to accomodate modern methods and materials...thereby making her suitable for use other than as a museum piece or rich mans toy, while leaving the lines of the hull basically unchanged......had I waterfront property with a strong dock I might feel different.....

    [ 03-21-2004, 06:19 PM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

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    I would like to say I agree with every thing Steve has had to say. I have been this close to building a Kittiwake for some time, but an Arno Day lobster boat got in the way. I have been involved in building and restoring Chesapeake Bay Deadrise boats and can attest to their merits. Moreover, yes, they can be built as tight as any other type of traditional wood construction.

    On the other hand, if you want to redesign a plywood boat around the idea of Kittiwake, go at it. It's your time, money etc. You might also look at Arch Davis's Jack Tar and Jiffy. They seem to fit the broad idea.

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    I've often read that large plywood boats have an average life span of about 15 years, and I believe it.
    Well, I dunno - there are a lot of plywood boats around MUCH older than that. For five years, until I moved in 2000, I sailed a Thunderbird that was built in 1969 out of Berkeley, and she still has no major problems. She's not really large (26', 4000#) but is at least as big as Kittwake. I think if you use decent materials and do reasonable maintenance (essential with any wooden boat) a plywood boat can last as long as any other type.

    That said, is converting Rabl's Kittiwake to plywood construction (with a cold-molded forefoot) a good idea? Well, it could certainly be done, but it seems to me that there are a lot of perfectly good similar designs already worked out for plywood, particularly from William and John Atkin. If I were looking for a trailerable powerboat this size, I'd start there. Here's a link to their site - Check out "Russell R." and "Ninigret", perhaps "Little Effort" also.

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    That said, is converting Rabl's Kittiwake to plywood construction (with a cold-molded forefoot) a good idea?
    ....Is it a bad Idea?...and if so why?....there are literally thousands of designs out there which could conceivably fit what I want, but what if I like the lines of Kittiwake?.....should I settle for something which fits the bill or live the dream of building what I want?....I have built a lot of boats and seen many others built....while I am not a certified NA I dont believe rabl was either....if he was I doubt the first builder down on the bay who eye balled up a deadrise skiff was and that is basically what Rabl has copied....I think a bit of common sense and a score of years of hands on experience in building and repairing wooden vessels will go as far as a paper hung on the wall by some youngster fresh out of the NA school......

  23. #23
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    Is it a bad idea?...
    No, not IMHO. If you really really like that particular boat, why not? The forefoot may take a bit of work, but with a moderate amount of common sense and epoxy I think it'd be fine. Multiple thin layers of spiled plywood planking in the forefoot would work instead of solid veneers also.

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    Wink

    “while I am not a certified NA I don’t believe Rabl was either”

    http://www.cornellmaritimepress.com/srabl.htm

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    I think it's best to try to treat other people, with respect, and answer questions in a positive way, even where we may have alternate opinions.

    In that spirit, let's look at a few of the problems that such a conversion might run into. They are not necessarily insoluble, but they need to be addressed by any builder contemplating a change to plywood in an established design.

    The first is that of converting a deadrise forefoot into cold-molded (glued laminated veneer with alternating diagonal plank direction).

    I'm speaking of the traditional angular forefoot profile and a chine that comes in to the stem roughly parallel with the rabbet. This shape produces a lot of twist in the forward bottom sections. This was handled traditionally by hewing extra thick scantling planks of reasonable thickness, and by the Chesapeake style hewed chunk forefoot blocking.

    Cold molding usually relies on convex sectional curvature to create adequate inter-veneer pressure while gluing. Normally staples are used to hold the plank layers for gluing. Normally also, the veneers are run diagonally and in alternating opposite directions.

    If you attempt this type of construction on a winding concave surface (and if you attempt to alternate grain directions in a skipjack or deadrise forefoot there will be both concavity and convexity, despite the appearance of straight sections), you may find yourself in the thick of partially cured epoxy and the following problems:

    It is difficult to pull in the second layer of plank adequately to the first. Staples will not hold in thin stock, but tend to punch through, split, and tear out of the first layer, releasing the second planks which spring away, rather than lay against the first. This is not what occurs in normal convex molding.

    Edges of the second planks laid in the very rapidly curving areas will also tend to curl away from the the lay of the plank. For these reasons it will be difficult to prevent voids between layers, because there is inadequate pressure in a highly twisted concave stapled structure.

    The degree to which these problems arise depends on the actual hull shape of the particular boat. And the way the planks are laid out. But generally you can expect some real pain in an attempted deadrise conversion here. It's a case of a simple idea, but a difficult reality. If successful at all, the tendency will be to actually create an altered shape, as the planks will not lay as designed.

    Another problem: straight conversion of an existing design to plywood by simple plank substitution generally produces a more flexible boat between frames. This is often exaggerated by the greatly increased cost of plywood and the assumption that because it has stronger cross-sheet strength, scantlings can be reduced from the original plank size. It is also created by the fact that it is difficult to find plywood over 3/4" in thickness, and impossible to work in extra-long lengths if it were equivalent thickness. Short lengths require butts or scarfs, which add to the problems.

    The flexibility problem is resolved in plywood boats SPECIFICALLY designed and framed to provide adequate panel stiffness. But where a builder has simply substituted plywood planking (as a "detail") in a larger power boat, the hull may be too limber and the ply may work or pant between frames. This exaggerates another common difficulty with plywood.

    Through-fastenings into frames can be well plugged in thicker scantling plank, but plugging can only be shallow in plywood of 3/4" thickness without weakening the plank. The working of the flexible panel over the frame location gradually opens the plugged area to water penetration and rot and corrosion occurs. This is not a maintenance problem, but a constructional problem.

    I say these things not because there aren't numerous exceptions, or that it is impossible to design or build a good long-lasting plywood boat -- obviously I believe it is. It does requires an understanding of what is required at a specific design level. I have surveyed many ply boats where various problems created by non-ply methods of design and construction (not just poor maintenance)have shortened their life. This is the reason for the poor average showing.

    Unfortunately plywood is not a rot-resistant material, and is subject to rapid deterioration where any construction problems arise. The thinness, crossed glued plies, and possibility of voids increase this. It is definitely more sensitive to local attack, and therefore requires attention to detail at a design level.

    In a small light boat, it is possible to employ adequate ply thickness for stiffness, to produce a largely glued structure, as opposed to a fastened structure, and to encapsulate to try to prevent rot or other problems. This will work as long as the coating isn't breached and members stay glued and essentially immobile in relation to eachother. This is easier to do on a small boat than a large one, since the plank thickness can be substantial in proportion.

    Larger cold-molded boats utilize rounded forms to generate stiffness in panels. This is taken advantage of in minimizing framing, (which a flat panel plywood boat cannot do). Also, with these boats great care is taken in proper design to minimize framing scantling thicknesses -- generally no glued part is over 3/4" in laminate thickness to minimize expansion problems which can easily break glue-lines. Keels are specially designed to prevent separation from the hull palnk. These are indeed molded hulls. Kittiwake was not designed with this approach, obviously.

    I do not say that a person cannot build Kittiwake with plywood. Certainly with enough work and advance knowledge of the problems that are likely to arise, a boat that at least looks the part can be built in any method.

    I also don't actually want to discourage anyone from their dream, or from personal experimentation.

    I do have an admiration for the original design as built. I don't believe that is any more an impractical project, or more expensive, for that matter, than an epoxy/plywood boat of similar capacity.

    Steve Redmond
    www.sredmond.com

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    THANK YOU - STEVE REDMOND for a good lesson in CONSTRUCTION TECHNICS.......

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    ...Steve....from the start of your latest post I take you find my comments disrespectful....sorry if you feel so...they were not meant to be.....

    ...back to boats.....I havent built a boat yet (from the littlest pram up to my largest attempt which was 30 plus feet)....which was not a challenge at some point.... every one is different and the challenges chang....if it were easy, every one would be building boats and that would leave us professionals searching for a new vocation......the forfoot area may prove out to be a bit tricky, but my mind already has some ideas formulating which may give some on this here forum shudders- glass will lay around just about anything and will take and hold a screw quite well-...if a few layers of glass need to go into the for foot area in order to maintain the shape as designed, I wont be losing sleep over it....maybe even a male mold made of glass forward of a problem station so that wood veneers may be molded over it...vacuum bagging something like this is not out of the realm of possibility either.....I have yet to meet a difficulty that I haven't been able to overcome when it comes to boats......ps- Ive built cold molded boats and built models of deadrise type skiffs so I follow you on the concave sections....I just dont see it as an insurmountable problem...

    [ 03-22-2004, 03:49 PM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

  28. #28
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    if he was I doubt the first builder down on the bay who eye balled up a deadrise skiff was and that is basically what Rabl has copied....

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    Unfortunately plywood is not a rot-resistant material
    ...Rabl calls for cedar or pine planking.....cedar may be more durable than doug fir, but getting good cedar free of defects is nigh on impossible....in addition it has problems all its own....I doubt anything but fairly unobtainable heart pine from the long leaf species is as rot resistant ( in the pine family that Rabl called for) as doug fir....
    .... I just can not help but feel you are trying to turn the boat building/designing process into something akin to a magical right which only the priveledged few who hold a degree can enjoy....I just dont see it that way....and can generally find as many holes in your arguments as you can with mine.....respectfully of course....

  30. #30
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    Dutch we had a somewhat parallel thread in January ,did you see this ?

    http://media5.hypernet.com/ubb/ultim...c;f=2;t=003150

    I converted the traditional herringbone planking of the 24 footer I'm working on to glued double diagonal planking .This allowed me to use plywood without altering the lines to accept full sheets . The plank can be 2 ft. or wider in the flat after sections . Bunging of fasteners was not an issue for me . I nailed the first layer to chine and keel with bronze ring shank and stapled the second layer using an air gun and steel staples with the pressure set to sink them slightly . Epoxy and xynole sheathing over all . The keel was 6 by 6 ,but I laminated it up .

    I planked the first layer in the traditional manner. As the run of the chine diverges more abruptly from that of the keel going forward the twist in the plank increases and you're forced to use narrower and narrower planks. I actually used 1by4 for my first layer , maybe you would use 1/2 in. ply? Anyway , when a 3 1/2 in. wide plank will no longer make the twist thicker solid sawn stock is planed to the twist and installed as covered by Chapple and others . Sounds like you may have done this before . These edge glued plank , when faired make a perfect subbase for 2 layers of 1/4 in. by 3 1/2 in. cold molded veneers, concavity and all. It forms the male mold you were thinking of .Aft the second layer is 1/2 in. ply , angled opposite layer one .

    Molding the concave sections WAS a bit of a trial ,the key was having the solid faired substrate and Lots of the 9/16th in. plastic Raptor air driven staples . I think the Raptor staples are invaluable for working this detail . Fairing each layer with belt sander and long board grinds away some of them , and they sand beautifully . If some stick through to the interior they'll sand off harmlessly as well.



    [ 05-20-2004, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

  31. #31
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    Another Atkins boat similar to the Kittiwake is the 24' Martha Green.
    http://www.atkinboatplans.com/
    under "inboard cruisers"

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    ...thanks for the heads up Bill- hows that boat coming along?....and for the Martha Green too Mike....

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    Well Dutch no frames cross the keel in this model but I'm fitting a number of bulkheads.They've been tricky to fit with lap strake planks ,sheer clamp ,and chine log to joggle around .Of course the builders on the Bay would make short work of all this , passing remarks in Elizabethan English as they worked no doubt. Can only do my best .I can be dogged if nothing else . Bud Mackintosh's directions for fitting such things have been a lifesaver .

    I pulled out Rabls' book in response to this thread and did a double take when I saw frame 5 .I hadn't looked at the Frame Details closely before and hadn't realized he's offering two different bottom forms here . One he calls a simplified bottom with a hard chine run all the way to the stem ,as Steve has mentioned ,and one with what Rabl calls a Sharp bow ,like my boat has .He praises the sharp bow as producing a better sea boat ,and suggests it's better looking .I assumed you were going that route ,or have you decided ?

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    ...I hadnt decided Bill...I always do complicated fits using narrow pieces of luan plywood hot glued to each other to take the shape of the piece that I'm seeking.....not as artsy and crafty looking as youre doing it (as a tick stick) but its a hell of a lot faster and in my experience gives better fitting pieces as well..........

    [ 03-23-2004, 12:20 PM: Message edited by: Dutch.Rub ]

  35. #35
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    I've always liked the boat and Rabl's vision of the dungaree clad owner. On page 197 of my dog eared pages Rabl says: "The question of plywood is bound to arise. Use it if you desire. The thickness should be 1/2 inch throughout.....etc. etc.."

    I hope we see pictures of your version in the coming years, what a nice boat.

    Dave Wright

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