To the uninitiated, the boat looks somewhat like , well..., a box. The hull cross-section is, in fact, perfectly rectangular - something which leads many observers to underate the design and write it off as a crude and simple piece of work.
Well, Micro is a very simple boat to build, but only a genius - someone like Phil Bolger or Naval Architect C. Raymond Hunt - could design such a hull and make it work well (Phil Bolger was heavily influenced by C. Raymond Hunt, among others). It takes understanding to get the best from Micro and her free-standing cat-yawl rig, but if treated properly, she is an exceptionally good performer, while at the same time being cheap and quick to build, self-righting and self-bailing, roomy, and comfortable - all in a 15-1/2' x 6' x 18" package.
|Cricket - a Micro which I built back in late 2001/early 2002.|
|In this photo you can see some of Micro's unusual features - flat bottom, extreme rocker, and rectangular sections. Very few people could design such a boat and make her a success. Very few people understand why the hull and rig work so well.|
This particular Micro has been back to my various workshops on a number of occasions in order to have cockpit modifications made, and to have repairs carried out. Most recently, she came back to me after having been in collision (head-on) with a concrete floating walkway/wharf beside a boat ramp.
The damage was fairly localised around the bow transom and forward topsides, but Micro has a wonderful self-draining well, right between the bow transom and the forward bulkhead of the cabin, with a strong set of floorboards filling the space between the bow and the cabin bulkhead. The floorboards are at approximately the level of the painted boot-top (i.e. the division between the green and cream just above the waterline in the photo below).
|My youngest boy, Steven, standing in the forward well back in 2002. He is standing on the forward well floorboards.|
|Looking aft at part of the damage inflicted to the forward cabin bulkhead by the floorboard assembly. The boxed opening at the far left of the photo is the cabin ventilation opening - lets air through but keeps water out...|
|External damage to the starboard side of the bulkhead after initial paint removal...|
|......and the same on the port side. Doesn't look too bad, but represents serious structural damage on close inspection from inside and out.|
Micro has a primary structure made from 6mm/1/4" marine plywood for the most part, with a substantial amount of 3/4" framing timber throughout in various widths. The boat relies on her large volume and surface area for her structural strength, and is well designed from an engineering perspective. However, like many aircraft, she is structurally strong, but vulnerable to point impacts.
|Damage to the bow|
|Damage to the bow.|
I may write more about the repair process use on this boat in a later post (no promises), but here are a couple of photos of the structurally complete repair, with only a few remaining paint details to be finished.
|Just some painting to be done over the white two-pack epoxy primer/undercoat visible at the forward end of the keel, and some black boot-topping to be painted as well.|
The moral of the story is to build your boat properly in the first place, and repair her with care if the need arises. Have an open mind and be prepared to be inovative and to improvise. There is no reason why a home-built plywood boat should not last several lifetimes, even if damaged along the way. In fact, if you are not under too much time pressure, the process can be both challenging and rewarding.