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[ >> NEXT, My hull goes 3-D and gets its number]

Christine makes a Puddle Duck Racer

Being perfectly satisfied with my little Skerry,
I decided to make a new boat.

WHAT is a Puddle Duck Racer??!

photo of puddle duck racer

Quoting the Puddle racer website:

"The PDRacer is a one design racing sailboat that is basically a plywood box with a curved bottom, and is the easiest boat in the world to build. Free plans, ... all boats must have have the lower 10" of their hulls be alike, but the rest is up to the builder. You can put any type of sail rig or underwater fins that you wish. Also the interior and deck above 10" is completely up to you.

A simple hull can be made from 2 sheets of plywood, titebond II glue, and latex house paint. It only took me 10 hours to make the basic hull on my boat. The sail can be made from polytarp, or borrowed from another sailboat. You could literally make a complete boat for $100 or less using materials that came from your local Home Depot. Or, there are many different ways and configurations you could use to build your hull."

So far there are over 900 hulls registered as of 2014. (You can get a hull number once you have gone 3-D). My Boat Hull Number is: #457

photo of puddle duck racer being pirate style

WHY build a Puddle Duck Racer?

For Fun!!!

WHERE will I build?

The nice thing about building a 8 feet x 4 feet boat is that it will fit just about anywhere. So far I've been working in the basement and then in the back yard. It's moved to the garage now. My long suffering Nick is eyeing his shrinking garage with alarm.

Can it actually sail?

This is the surprising part. YES. It even can plane.
Because of it's footprint it is extremely stable. Various people have developed sailing rigs and leeboards or daggerboards that have performed extremely well for an 8 foot box. Crazy groups have taken Ducks to Gulf of Mexico races. Texas 200, Everglades challenge

There is an active building community hell-bent in experimenting and just plain playing.

To be class legal the lower 10 inches have to conform to the official shape. Everything else is pretty much open for experimentation and sometimes just plain silliness.

2 puddle duck racer boat with cool paint jobs

Sails for the Puddle Duck Racer

The triangular sprit also known as leg of mutton sprit and a few other names is often seen on Puddle Duck racers. It's easy to make out of polytarp and allows for a clear deck free from low head banging spars.

There is no regulation class sail for Puddle Duck Racers and just about every rig has been tried.

Some puddle ducks sport ridiculously large sail rigs. Because the boat is so stable it allows for lots of experimentation.

There have been lots of fun paint jobs as well.

I Start Building My Puddle Duck Racer

I have quite a lot of odd materials so I'm going to use them up. In particular some very nice quarter inch baltic ply. The bad thing is that it comes in very odd sizes and is not 8 feet long. I cut some scarf joints. (I have a page explaining scarf joints here.)

Since I already have other boats I'm not in a hurry to get on the water. So I can play during the build and indulge in my love of tinkering.

photo of puddle duck racer being built.

Sides have been cut out. Since I am working with non standard plywood I have a joint.

I have cut out the sides from baltic plywood I had left over from making my kitchen cabinet doors. It comes in panels 5 feet x 5 feet. This is 6mm thick and has 5 layers. It is heavier than the mokume I used for my Skerry but I had it. Since the Puddle Duck Racer is designed to be quickly built out of 4 x 8 feet panels I was sort of shooting myself in the foot using odd size plywood! I had tested it for waterproof qualities and it had passed the 1 hour boil test.

I made the joint using Dynamite Payson's method of just butt joining the 2 sheets and putting a band of fiberglass stuck down with epoxy along the joint. It works very well at least for this thickness and this plywood.

Just about any kind of plywood has been tried. Not surprisingly good plywood lasts longer and is easier to use while bad cheap plywood fails more often, has voids and warps. In between plywood can work very well though. Good quality exterior would be OK, marine ply is best.

Unlike the stitch and glue method of building, this boat is made by attaching small pieces of wood to the edges and gluing the panels to it. They are called chine logs. At 3/4 inch square they are not very big logs!

You can see my sides have the chine logs attached.

I had some trouble bending my chine logs to fit the curve of the bottom and in the end I split it and laminated 3 strips. It's much easier to curve 3 thin pieces, then glue them together. It's more work though. The wood I was using was left over douglas fir and it is quite stiff.

Gluing Bottom

Here I am gluing 2 smaller panels to make the bottom. I did one side, let it set then did the other side. I probably could have devised a way of gluing both sides at the same time but the delay was not important. It's been warm here and I found that the cling wrap I used actually stuck to the epoxy resin. I had quite a lot of trouble getting it off. This had never happened to me with this resin before.

I made the panel over-sized. I figured it would be easier to trim after rather than having to align perfectly. My epoxy was setting off very fast because of the warm weather.

Detail of side joint

Detail of the joint, you can see the strip of fiberglass covering the butt joint. So far it has been very solid. I think it would be stiffer than the surrounding plywood but I'm not having to bend it much so there is no reason not to use this method of joining plywood. It's generally known as the Dynamite Payson method.


emails: Christine

This web site reflects my personal ideas and doesn't represent anyone else's point of view.