BY PAUL BUTLER
As our summer training program grew, SBCSA needed more prams to accommodate all the
kids interested in taking lessons. During the last two winters, Gougeon Brothers has provided space in their boatshop for a Monday night boat building class. The classes were open to any member, including youngsters (with their parents), with no experience necessary. Class met 3-4 hours per night, twice a month, for three months. During the two winter classes, the students and instructors built five new plywood/epoxy Optimist prams to replace older boats and repaired or rebuilt the remainder of the fleet.
No building base, temporary frames or traditional ribs are necessary as the hull is reinforced with interior compartments held in place and made watertight with epoxy fillets. The large front and rear compartments provide seating, dry storage and bracing while standing, plus the safety factor of sealed emergency flotation.
The sheer is stiffened with a laminated gunnel structure, which absorbs the stresses of hard rowing, and multiple oarlock pin locations can be installed as needed. Drifting downstream, the boat can be rowed facing forward or aft for conventional rowing by simply turning around on the console seat.
Epoxy glued butt-blocks reinforce seams and effectively strengthen the hull in critical areas. The bottom is coated with a slippery epoxy/graphite coating allowing the lightweight hull to be dragged over gravel and launch ramps.
The full-length center “console” provides adjustable seating and rowing stations and structural hull bracing, plus an ideal location for an outboard motor well. It locates the motor efficiently in the center of the hull and also prevents “hobby-horsing” in rough water, and the motor can pivot so the prop may be lifted clear of the bottom while drifting through shallows. Even the smallest gas or electric motors will move the boat briskly, and remaining console compartments can isolate fuel tanks, organize gear or may be insulated with foam to function as ice chests.
Detailed, illustrated, step-by-step building plans that discuss options and material sources are available for $33. Pre-cut kits are also available.
Paul Butler Projects
PO Box 1917
Port Angels, WA 98362
Paul Butler is a renowned boatbuilder, designer, and author, familiar to readers of Small Boat Journal, WoodenBoat, Sail, Outdoor Life and other publications.
So the SBCSA started its 2001 season with 10 new and rebuilt prams all freshly painted and fitted with new aluminum rigs and sails. Although these prams are purposely somewhat overbuilt to withstand the rigors of training 40-60 kids each season, they are surprisingly lightweight and fast. The students and volunteers had a good time building them and learned a few things along the way. All of us involved with the Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association owe a sincere debt of gratitude to Meade, Jan, and Joel Gougeon, and GBI employees, for their support over the years in helping us foster and train the next generation of homegrown sailors.
Epoxyworks 18 / Fall 2001