Thread: "Birdwatcher" style boats
5th Dec 2008, 12:46 PM #1
"Birdwatcher" style boats
Given the sun that we experience in Australia I would have thought that "Birdwatcher" style boats would have taken off but so far their acceptance here seems to be very limited. I'm wondering if anybody out there is aware of any in Australia.
I'm building one, a Jim Michalak designed Scram Pram and I know there is a Bolger Birdwatcher on the North Coast of NSW and a guy building a Jim Michalak IMB in Perth but that's all I'm aware off, any others maybe?
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6th Dec 2008, 01:16 AM #2
I love the look.
I love the concept.
One of my favourite chapters in Bolger's BWAOM.
There was a BW at the last Goolwa WBF, but I don't know where it came from.
Impressions from a 30 second visit:
I couldn't handle living on the floor, and it lacked sitting head-room for me using a seat.
For me, and possibly others, BW is a fantastic concept which is let down by its real-world ergonomics.
It's also much more boat than I need or can afford...
But I still turn to the BW chapter frequently and day-dream.
BW is also unheard-of outside hard-core Bolgerphiles. A lack of marketing & club
racing success dooms it to obscurity, I think.
6th Dec 2008, 12:47 PM #3
Most designs that have a limited appeal will have an accordingly small market nitch. BW as a concept is interesting, though I don't like the application in reality, if you sail in a warm environment. My few rides on a BW has been in the summer months in a tropical climate. It was a greenhouse, when relief from the unrelenting sun was what I wanted most. In more temperate environments, I can see it's appeal. This says nothing of the ergonomic issues, which haunted me as well.
6th Dec 2008, 07:56 PM #4
Well, someone who has been in a Birdwatcher and someone who has seen one close-up is pretty good evaIuation I guess.
The ergonomic thing I agree with; sitting on the flat floor does not appeal, however Scram Pram has raised ballast tanks that form a low seat so the ergonomics with that boat are maybe not as challenging to the more mature (like me!)
As I haven't finished the boat I can't say how the heat will be but I notice that Bolger says that in a Colorado summer it was cooler inside a WDJ Schooner (another of his BW types) than on deck; the WDJ has an outside cockpit as well. But interesting that in the tropics there may be a different experience.
Protection from the sun is a really big issue though, at least for some and I think that is one of the strengths of the concept. Not the only one of course but significant just the same.
Thanks for your insights guys
7th Dec 2008, 09:18 PM #5
I'm personally not convinced to "birdwatcher cabin" which is discovered especially as a "sunshine protection" (in my country cabin is more as a "rain protection" than as a sunbrella) but my friend Wojtek Baginski build Jim Michalak's Campjon with raised birdwatcher cabin for Vistula river cruising - he used his boat on autumn and winter too, than "birdwatcher cabin" was great as a "cold wind protection", and he appreciated capability of walk thru cabin without clambing...
There is a photo:
PS: My another friend designed and build his own unconventional boat for Vistula river motosailing - it have "birdwatcher cabin" too (but with firm plywood closure panels).
8th Dec 2008, 06:41 AM #6
Sun & Rain
Thanks for the reply
I can certainly see the advantage of the Birdwatcher cabin for cold climates but I'm wondering why you say that you are not convinced of its value for sun protection, I guess.
I have seen the Campjon pictures on Vistula over at Duckworks Magazine but a sailing boat is supposed to have a better flow of air off the sail (at times, at least) which is also supposed to improve air-flow and assist in ventilating the cabin space.
Interesting to see these different reactions to the concept, though.
8th Dec 2008, 07:04 AM #7
Tell to the truth I considered to build one from Michalak's sailing boats: Frolic2 for example - she is interesting, light, easy to build and able for rough water - but she has "normal" cocpit and "birdwatcher cabin" which can be replaced by conventional cabin - better a lot for rough water IMHO!
For sunny day cruising "birdwatcher cabin" is OK in my opinion, but not for long term cruising in my country (latitude over 50 N) - we need enclosure against water - rain and seaspray for sleepingbags etc. a lot more than sun protection.
8th Dec 2008, 11:34 AM #8
Sun & Rain
Yes, I guess that having protection from rain's important but then with a proper canvas type clip-on cover over the centreline opening in a Birdwatcher style boat you would have that and yet still be able to operate the boat as a sailing boat. At least, that's the theory.
Frolic 2 does have the open down the middle cabinbut only as far as the cockpit and it isn't high enough to produce significant bouyancy when heeled right over, so it isn't really the same thing as a Birdwatcher. The capsize tests done with IMB show the water-tight integrity (at least in flat water) of the type, and I believe that Phil Bolger & Friends have a video of a Birdwatcher I sailing which shows just how safe the system actually is.
8th Dec 2008, 12:15 PM #9
I am not aware of any of Jim's BW boats in Australia, i.ve seen a report on at least one in New Zealand (the pointy bowed IMB one)
Reports indicate there is an airflow off the sail which circulates through the cabin slot. Southern states in the US it pretty hot as well.
The original Scram was designed with a huge sail- are you building to plan?Charter boat? What charter boat!?
8th Dec 2008, 07:38 PM #10
Well, as you may have suspected, no, I am not building the boat to have the huge original rig (173 sq ft) nor indeed even the smaller 150 square foot rig that was included in the plan. You see, Jim designed a cabin and cockpit version of the Scram Pram hull with water ballast tanks and 600 pounds of water ballast but with a much smaller sail than even the smaller sail on the Scram plans - just 138 square feet.
So the smaller sail coupled with double the ballast got me thinking that the rig off that boat should be suitable for the Scram, and so wrote to Jim and asked his opinion; he was enthusiastic about the 138 square foot rig and was even able to offer a never used second-hand sail that was suitable and at a reasonable price, too.
So I'm going with that but haven't even started on teh spars as yet, still doing the hull basically. Photo below (I hope)
8th Dec 2008, 07:56 PM #11
Frolic2 is more similar to conventional sailing dinghy with cuddy and can capsize easier.
8th Dec 2008, 09:09 PM #12
8th Dec 2008, 09:20 PM #13
Here are some plans for a bird watching boat.Cliff....if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail...
8th Dec 2008, 09:29 PM #14
Birdwatcher interior photo
Sorry but really mucking this up a little - should have explained the picture above ; it's the interior of the Bolger Birdwatcher built by Jim Michalak so the comments above about ergonomics may be more evident with this photo.
The picture above of the Michalak Scram Pram that I am (slowly) building shows the ballast tanks - at least the starboard one and the smaller central tank.
Oh! and the name of the cockpit and cabin version of the Scram Pram hull - Blobster
9th Dec 2008, 01:50 AM #15
I think that pic pretty clearly shows what I meant about the ergonomics.
Wonderful boat for people who can comfortably sit on the floor.
No head-room if you need to get the bum off the floor to allow for creaky joints.
I can't sit on the floor for long at all, so have regretfully consigned BW to the
"wouldn't it be nice if..." pile.
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