Cruisette: Builders' Diary

Ron & Devy Porter

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Welcome to our builders' diary!

Devy and I are building a Cruisette, a Glen-L Marine design. The basics are pretty straightforward: it's a 15-foot outboard-powered wooden boat. The plans are developed for plywood over conventional framing, making for a light, strong boat that should be relatively easy to build. The plans call for a 'cutty' cabin (basically a place to sit or sleep and not much else), and that is one of the attractions. I'll use this instead of a tent when I go on the occasional fishing trip with 'the guys' and it will serve as emergency shelter if it should happen that we get caught by a storm away from our cabin at Prairie Lake Regional Park (approximately centered in this map; zoom out to get a sense of size for Lake Diefenbaker). However, the main reason that I selected a cabin cruiser is to make it possible for Devy to come boating more often. Her rosacea makes her very sensitive to heat, sun, and wind, so making a sheltered place to ride was a critical consideration.

I also feel that having a cabin dramatically improves safety in the unlikely event that we're on open water when a freak storm hits. Lake Diefenbaker has been known to toss up some pretty big waves with very little warning, but most people seem to think that 2 feet (crest to trough) is a big wave. I've taken my Merry Wherry out several times in those conditions, and in 2 years I've only once felt that the water was too rough to handle safely in that boat. A 'real' boat should be just fine, especially given that the front half will be fully enclosed. In the worst case, we should be able to race to safe harbour in relative saftey and stay overnight in relative comfort (Lake Diefenbaker has lots of safe harbours and is seldom more than 2 or 3 miles across).

As I said, the basic boat is 15 feet long, but there is an architect's note stating that lengthening by 10% to 16.5 feet is permitted through the simple expedient of increasing the frame spacing accordingly. That is but one of the customisations planned, although we're not going to get too crazy with things that affect the weight, balance, or handling. Since the architect rates the 15-footer as capable of handling a 60hp motor, I think that we'll try to go to that. Lenthening it a bit should increase the power it can take, but the performance characteristics with 50hp on 15ft sounded pretty good, so 60hp on 16.5 ft should be OK. And I don't think we can afford anything more powerful anyway :) [Update: due to the fact that the stem was pre-cut as for a 15 footer, we've had to scale back slightly to an estimated 16 feet].

We live in an apartment so we had to find a shop. Fortunately, I work for a great company, Crestline Coach Ltd., and they graciously allowed us to use a corner of one of their buildings as a shop. In addition, the R&D manager is going to help source the aluminum for the trailer--and do the welding! Crestline's main line of business is the construction of custom ambulances, most based on all-aluminum bodies designed and constructed on-site, so neither materials nor expertise will be hard to come by!