Friday, July 13, 2012

Mayfly 14 Launching

As some of you know, I've been building a Jim Michalak-designed Mayfly 14 for a friend here in Australia. You can read more about the design using this link.

Mayfly 14 copied from Jim Michalak's catalogue
The building process was delayed by a number of issues, including having our house and workshops flooded. However, my patient friend waited cheerfully, and we have finally got the boat in the water.

Here I am holding Mayfly 14 while owner Tony snaps a photo.
For many decades I've been trying to convince people that flat-bottomed boats have lots of virtues, but that they must be designed properly. The standard comment is, "...flat-bottomed boats are easy to build, but very difficult to design...", and that is a fair statement. Unless the designer understands the critical relationship between bottom rocker in profile, and curve of topsides in plan view, the resulting boats frequently turn out to be very poor performers.

Jim Michalak has a wonderful understanding of flat-bottomed hull design, and Mayfly 14 demonstrates his mastery.

Mayfly 14 showing-off her well-designed hull shape and pivoting leeboard
On launching day, Mayfly 14 was loaded down with the weight of two large men and gear, but she sailed superbly right from the start. The boat was very light on the helm, demonstrated precise handling, and proved to be unusually close-winded. The last point was largely due to the excellent shape in her Allwood Sails, made by Joel McDonald.

Joel McDonald, from Allwood Sails, makes very good sails for traditional rigs
One of the particularly nice elements of the Mayfly 14 design is the amount of uncluttered sprawling room in the cockpit, made possible by the use of a pivoting leeboard instead of a centreboard. The leeboard is very effective, and the apparent assymetry is completely unnoticable when sailing.

A shot showing the pivoting leeboard in action. It works equally well on either tack.
Very simple sheeting arrangement. Note the straps and Fastex buckles used to hold the excellent deck-hatches securely closed. There is a large hatch in both the foredeck and the aft deck.
Everything in the rig is super-simple, and almost every component can be made from line and wooden parts
The boats travels well on her custom trailer, made with crosswise supports appropriate to the flat-bottomed hullform
Another shot showing the trailer with three crossways bunks covered with UHMW plastic.
A simple, cheap, and highly practical boat. Wholesome fun!


  1. amazing boat collection... very beautiful... thnx for sharing....

  2. Nice job on one of my favorite boats!

    Chuck Pierce

  3. Ross

    Really nice job, the workmanship shows through.

    Tell me, did you stick stricktly to Jim Michalak's plans, or did you 'tweak' them anywhere ?

    Just curious as I have ordered the plans for Mayfly 16.


  4. Thanks for all three comments. Simon, I stayed true to Jim's plans with one exception - I was concerned about the weight and bulk of the chine logs as designed, so I reduced their cross-section a fair bit, but only after having done a scantlings calculation using Dave Gerr's scantling rules to make sure that I was still above the minimum recommended size.

    1. Mr Lillistone,
      Beautiful build of Mayfly 14. I have just purchased the plans and am currently procuring the materials.
      Despite all the attributes of external chine logs I have always thought that they distracted from the aesthetics of the boat.
      Would it be too much of an imposition of me to ask how much you reduced the chine logs cross section and the resultant dimension?
      I will starting my build very soon and will be frequently referring to your Mayfly pics and comments.
      Thank you.
      Most respectfully,

  5. Excellent example of simple, effective lugsail rigging.