Wrapping it Up

The boat is built, it works well (though it's only ever been out in very light winds) and it did indeed win a prize at MASCF 2013. Now the fun really starts. It's time to learn how to sail a 2-masted fin-keeled schooner. There's lots of rigging to tweak. All the wooden spars will be replaced over time with hollow carbon fiber, like the main boom. The blocks will be replaced with handmade wooden blocks, albeit with stainless steel pins and modern UHDMW plastic sheaves, for a look more compatible with the old sailing canoes. Sometime in the future there will be a circumnavigation of the Chesapeake Bay.

There's one question that I've been thinking about a lot - whose design is this? One way to approach this is to go by what Bolger himself said. Boat designer Jim Michalak wrote in his newsletter,

I recall in the old Small Boat Journal a reader writing to Phil Bolger, who had a regular boat design essay each issue, whether he could simply scale up a given design (of a dinghy in this case) to get something more suitable for his use. Phil said, "Yes, go right ahead." But added such a change would give a new design and that the reader, not Phil, would be the boat's designer.

By that criteria, it's my design. However, even if Bolger had wanted to deny paternity for support reasons (he couldn't have wanted every crackpot who was arrogant enough to change his designs bothering him for rescue from their folly), I think that Puzzled Mullet turned out close enough to his original intentions that he'd have to acknowledge it. The pictures below show Puzzled Mullet along with the entire Singlehanded Schooner fleet whose pictures appear on the internet or have been sent to me by sailors. The tanbark sails and the natural wood finish are the only immediately obvious distinguishing features, though a closer look will reveal others. Interestingly enough, size is not one of them.

Puzzled Mullet's lines and sail plan are pure Bolger. The dimensions and scantlings, though, are mine, as is the conversion to stitch and glue. The carbon fiber spars, their design as well as the materials, are also mine. The jib roller furler, while not something I'd consider essential to the design of the boat, is an important safety feature that appears only on my boat (though after this I suspect it will be showing up on others). The drop keel concept is Bolger's, but the foil and construction, especially the wood-enclosed ballast are mine. The rudder foil is also mine, as well as the rudder's mechanical structure. The rudder and keel profile is Bolger's.

While I tried to respect Bolger's design intentions, there was one that I deliberately ignored. Rather than using cheap lumberyard materials, I went for premium material in most cases. That was partly because I was in an artistic mood when I built this boat, and partly because lumberyard materials have so deteriorated in quality since 1987 that I felt they were unusable.

So I think that the answer to the question of whose design is it is - both of ours. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had a chance to collaborate, albeit posthumously, with one of the great small boat designers of the 20th century. He provided the original theme, I composed a variation on it. In a way, actual ownership of the design doesn't really matter. Bolger's is available for sale either in book or more detailed plan form. My plans will never be for sale or otherwise available. Anyone who wants to duplicate the scaled version can buy the plans from Bolger's business heirs, dig out a calculator and have at it.

Image courtesy of Mike Thompson from his build blog at Building the Single Handed Schooner
Puzzled Mullet launch as sailboat.
The one that started it all - Tony Groves' original Singlehander Schooner. Image courtesy of Duckworks Magazine
Singlehander Schooner in San Diego, details unknown. Image courtesy of Justin Pipkorn.
Susan Davis' Shrike, a Canadian Singlehander Schooner. Image details unknown.
Puzzled Mullet. Image courtesy of George Krewson.

Copyright © 2014 László I. Mórocz. All Rights Reserved.

Schooner home