Robert's Florida Boatyard


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My Story

Like many folks, I've often dreamed of building my own boat. The reasons are varied. I certainly have never had a shortage of boats to use having owned two runabouts (15 ft and 18 ft), two fiberglass sailboats (22 ft and 27 ft) and an inflatable dinghy. My current fleet includes a 21 ft Center Console Hydrasports hung on seawall mounted davits behind my house and a 15 ft Jon Boat trailed to interesting canal infested areas for exploration. Living in Florida and on a canal provides everything I ever thought I needed. I say thought because I have two low bridges and an overhanging Australian Pine which prevent mooring sailboats.

I've always been fascinated by the designs of Phil Bolger. My first contact with his designs probably goes back to 1984-85 and his monthly column in Small Boat Journal. This lead to Dynamite Payson's books, which lead to WoodenBoat (Subscriber since 1988) which lead to me purchasing plans for Micro, his 14' ballasted mini-cruiser in 1990. As with many, I enjoyed studying his plans, but, alas, never did put saw to wood. I've managed to collect all but one of his books and find them to be fascinating reading. I must have re-read "30-Odd Boats" 100 times. I seem to have collected enough books about boatbuilding to qualify as a PhD in theoretical woodworking. I even read Chapelle's "Boatbuilding" all the way through; this is sort of the "War and Peace" of the hobby.

When I moved to Florida in 1994 (one of my big three goals in life was to live where heat was optional), I figured I would get around to starting to build pretty soon. Instead, I managed to move my 22 ft O'day sailboat into a marina where there was a move afoot to start a Yacht Club. Having been involved in a small club in Charlotte NC, I was quickly made a member of the organizing committee of the Bayboro Yacht Club. I was then volunteered to use my computer skills to create a database to manage our membership records, which led to my being elected secretary and responsible for the club newsletter. If you've ever been the person who has to manage the newsletter or the mailing list of a volunteer organization, you know how hard it is to get rid of this responsibility. Five years later, I'm still "assisting" in the production of this monthly document as well as managing the Access Database I created to do mailing lists, membership renewal billing, etc. On top of all this my good friend "Commodore Bill" managed to buy a failing Inflatable Boat Dealership, Suncoast Inflatables, Inc., in 1996. Being fascinated with all things marine, and a lover of Boat Shows, I quickly became a fixture as a "free" employee. This entailed computer tech support duties and attempting to become an expert in Quickbooks Pro as well as creation of a stellar (my opinion) cheap web site with a less than stellar (owner's opinion) logo and design. And no, its not finished yet. The dealership is no longer failing, but Commodore Bill and I now believe the old saying "to make a small fortune in the marine industry, first start with a large fortune".

The birth of my first child, Samantha June, in July of this year, led to a peculiar circumstance; I had to stay around the house A LOT more than I was used to. I never realized how much time I wasn't home, or how much "free" time I actually had before this occurrence. Being the lout that I am I began to invent reasons to reorganize the garage, leading to building of many shelves, a fabulous workbench and a motorboard to store my collection of (mostly) non-operating antique outboards. Lacking power outlets and lighting, a new circuit was added to my house electrical panel, conduit was run and seven new electrical outlets became available. This of course led to the purchase of the world's greatest tool, a DeWalt Portable Table Saw with folding stand and extensions. Suddenly, setting up and agonizing over my inability to make a straight cut in a piece of wood with a circular saw was no more. I began to think I could actually build a boat.

In September of 1999 I purchased plans for Bolger's Windsprint and 15'6" Work Skiff from H.H. Payson & Co. This web site will include building logs and pictures as work commences and, hopefully completes. In addition, you'll find links to various suppliers, FAQs (my opinions only) and items of interest to a builder of Bolger Boats.