Fetch; Boat Building School, part 2

by · January 9, 2013

November was coming along and sailing opportunities were dwindling. Winters in upper Michigan tend to be pretty harsh, so everybody moves their boats in storage. Having two feet of snow on a saggy tarp isn’t the way to go. I was fortunate to find covered storage in a building with a concrete floor; nice and dry and no critters. I took all the gas and water out and rolled her in.


Fetch in storage


The school was closed during the thanksgiving week,so I took a flight to Port Townsend to spend some time with my family and friends. We stayed in the house Sofia and Gary are building where the woodstove kept us nice and toasty. It was good to see everybody again and we were able to continue a 5 year tradition of thanksgiving diner with friends.


thanksgiving diner with family and friends


Sofia’s and Gary’s place


I stopped by Maritime Center, my old stomping ground, and said hi to the folks I used to work with. Two Scamps that were started during Scamp Camp in August were getting the final bits and pieces put on. The peapod that has been in there for years got a few new planks and the Spitsgatter of the local sailmaker, Sean Rankins, was inside for repair. Another neat boat inside nearing completion was the Eun na Mara, a trailer sailer designed by Iain Oughtred.


projects in the North West Maritime Center


Eun na Mara


At Haven Boatworks I found most of the usual suspects and had a chat with some of them and it was as if I never left. I used to work there of and on for several years and liked it a lot. They were busy with all sorts of repair. The local schooner Adventuress was undergoing major reframing and planking on the port side. Almost every year another portion of frames and planks get rebuild till it’s all done.




stern repair


some of the Haven Boatworks crew


After a few ‘mandatory stops’; certain cafés, Rose Theater, Thai restaurant, time was up and back I went to snowy Michigan. Not a familiar sight to see my camper covered in white powder.



wintery view from cottage


Inside the school however, the floor is heated and life is good. I’ll show you a few pictures of the powerboat I mentioned in the previous post, the Rescue Minor.


lofting table


Hans, Ed and Andy laminating the transom with vacuum bag



installing frames against the molds


laminating the chine


lining off planks lines


glueing Sapele overlay on transom

fiberglassing the bottom


good view of the tunnel


We needed green (still wet) oak for frame stock and rails for our projects and James (our shop assistant) offered to cut some trees down in his woods. He lives in Grand Rapids and owns a wooded lot just north of there. There is a cabin, a wood shed and a big barn that he and his family built and a nice little brook in back. Quite a few folks in Michigan own a piece of land in the woods or by a lake that they use in the summer.

After hauling it all to the school on a big trailer the oak got sawn up by a sawyer who has a portable woodmizer.


James’ cabin in the woods




nice brook in the  back


oak logs ready for the sawyer


making sawdust


whaleboat frames bent on special jig


After Christmas break we’ll start to build a fifth boat called ‘Katie’, a traditional looking 20’ gaff sloop designed by Harry Bryan. This will give the students experience with a more substantial backbone, ballast, decks and cabin.


Gaff sloop Katie that we are going to build



The first semester was ended with a nice Christmas dinner offered by the school for students and local guests.


christmas dinner at the school




The first few days of Christmas break I joined Andy and his family in South Haven. It was nice to spend those days with nice folks and we had a chance to go ice skating on an ice rink. I just had to see the dutch windmill in Holland Michigan, since I spend 6 years of my life restoring those in the Netherlands. It was an authentic windmill imported from Holland. This part of Michigan was founded by dutch immigrants and one finds a lot of street and town names with dutch names.


christmas at Andy’s family


Andy’s house that he built


authentic dutch windmill in Holland michigan


like the good old days..


wild turkeys


The drive back up north offered some nice winter scenes.


looks like Elm trees



winter colors


back in the U.P.


Back at the school I had a week of uninterrupted time to dedicate to drawing up plans for Fetch. A guy in Australia (Bruce) wanted to build one and asked me to make a set of plans. As I was drawing we started to make some changes. Bruce wanted a cutter rig with a furler on a short bowsprit in order to easily take away fore sail area without having to go on deck. We raised the sheer to make up for the fact that Fetch immersed deeper with the additional structural weight and ballast. His brother David Gregor, who for a while had been playing with ideas to modify the Fulmar and the Wayfahrer, suggested to widen Fetch’ design in the stern. He suggested to ‘insert’ a long wedge as it were, 10” wide at the transom and coming to a point at the stem. At first I thought this was over the top, but after looking at it some more and making a few sketches, I started liking the idea. It would give Fetch more beam for stability, more cabin space, more room for the outboard so the rudder linkage wasn’t needed anymore. By moving the cabin and cockpit aft a bit everything just got roomier. Same sail area and hull length as Fetch and same seat arrangement. This is what it looks like so far.


uninterrupted time at the drawing board


sail plan of expanded Fetch


expanded Fetch with more room in cabin and cockpit


more beam and height


same folding seat



my new motto


Discussion8 Comments

  1. Gary says:

    Hi Kees,
    Its always a pleasure to read your blog. James’s cabin sure reminds me of my old days growing up in Minnesota. As does the snow, of course. I’m going to try to learn more about the Great Lakes shrinking. Scary. Great photos and drawings.



  2. Hetty Prins says:

    Hee Brother!!
    I have read your blog! Great how you managed to get your favourit job again!
    Lucky you. I am curious if this boat you are going to build with those friends, will be ready before you are going to travel again!
    Good luck with is all and a lot of more happines!!

  3. David says:

    Good to read and see images appear again in your blog. Interesting to hear of the Fetch design bulking up. Lain Oughtred OK with that? Are you advancing on your own designs, particularly Loon?

    • kees_prins says:

      Iain is ok with, we’ve been communicating all along about the modifications.
      Loon is coming along, soon I’ll make a set of plans.

  4. David says:

    Thanks for the update.

  5. doryman says:

    Yah, Kees, I’ve been wondering about Loon, too. If you get a chance, send me a note, eh?

    michael b.

  6. Hallo Kees,
    Net je blog weer een keer bekeken, erg leuk om te lezen wat je aan het doen bent.
    Leuk dat je die baan hebt: eigenlijk net als ik.
    Ik heb een baan als leraar bootbouw op het Hout & Meubileringscollege in Amsterdam. Door de crisis kan ik niet meer alleen met het beetje inkomen uit de Bootbouwschool rondkomen. Is een leuke school maar een beetje groot.
    De Bootbouwschool staat nu op een laag pitje.
    Ik zag op een foto een leraar die iemand het loften uitlegde en er lag een boekje naast. Hoe heet dat boek? Is dat goed te gebruiken voo die doelgroep. Is het een boek dat in de handel verkrijgbaar is?
    Ik moet alles zelf bedenken, er is geen prettige literatuur in het Nederlands.
    Heb je al meegekregen dat de Klassieke Schepenbeurs in handen van de Hiswa is?
    Heb binnenkort een bijeenkomst over de toekomst daarvan. Ook De Spiegel is in andere handen. Wim is aan het stoppen.
    Ok. Groeten en ik ben benieuwd naar je plannen met Loom!

  7. Mark says:

    Fantastic article, love the boat building photo’s…the designs look great!

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