Bolger Light Schooner – A step-by-step construction pictorial of my 1999 Phil Bolger Light Scooner

December 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm  |   Boat Building Projects,

Plans for the Bolger Light Scooner are described and reproduced at reduced scale in Dynamite Payson’s book “Build the New Instant Boats” (McGraw-Hill International Marine 1984). There are a few dimensions to be scaled, which appear to about 1 mm = 1.55 inch. If you’re not a draftsman, you might want originals, available from Payson (and I assume Phil Bolger) at true scale.

Bolger provides a simple panel expansion for the sides and frames only, so you have to panel the bottom and deck to fit – probably a better idea anyway with such a large but simple boat. I entered the patterns and cut them out in Tyvek on my plotter/cutter, then nested them on the plywood sheets by hand.

I used SuperPly , an exterior, yellowish South American plywood, more expensive than ACX fir, but less than okoume, etc. The plans call for 1/4 inch on the sides and 1/2 inch on the bottom. The framing is all #2 pine and construction grade spruce, epoxy filleted and sealed. The frames were assembled with 3M 5200, epoxy everywhere else. Fastening all around is by 1/4″ galvanized pneumatic staples from 3/4″ to 1-3/8″ long. The bottom is epoxy/glassed over with 4 ounce glass to toughen, seal, and fair it. The sides are sanded and painted ‘work-boat fashion’ with 2-part epoxy, the interior with skid-resist latex, and the deck varnished. There is no cockpit grating (yet), but it would be a welcome and dry addition.

I ordered two 3″ by 17′ tapered aluminum flag poles for the masts, which are light and look better than expected. The booms and gaffs are all of clear Douglas fir, with Bolger’s minimalist hardware approach with things like wooden boom jaws instead of metal goosenecks. We cut 3 sails of 4 ounce Dacron on our plotter/cutter and Sailform software, and a nylon staysail. The halyards are low-stretch StaySet X and sheets 5/16 yacht-braid.

I fit running lights, all-around lights on both masts, a 750 gph bilge pump, and a self-powered thru-hull Moor speedo. A little solar panel to top off the pair of 26 AH surplus gel batteries would be great.

Sailing
She sails like a big dinghy – light and fast, but stable and docile. She planes easily off the wind with bursts of 10+ knots, especially with the staysail set. The helm provides plenty of authority; easily balanced by trimming the jib. She does seem to point a little higher on a port tack; maybe it’s the off-center centerboard. In any kind of breeze, you will want a crew of 4 or 5 – plenty of room and jobs to do, and you’ll need the ballast to keep her upright. We are thinking of adding some trapeze’s to the main mast for the kids.
The staysail is a pleasure to set and strike, relatively small and on a short hoist. The gaff rigs offer a challenge, or at least a change of pace, to trim well. We found the sheet purchases too light in a breeze and added another turn each (to 3:1 on mainsail and 2:1 on foresail) and some nice cleats (Ronstan RF5) to the back sides of the masts. The halyards want a fair bit of tension, which is difficult to get just right on simple deck cleat, so these have been turned at the deck to jam cleats.

Capsize?
You betcha! Our boat is light, and our original floatation of 4″ foam under all decks was just suitable for floating awash (no surprise). This, of course, means you have to go to the shore and bail her out. So, I would definitely, positively, recommend closing the bow, midsection, and aft lockers if you want to think about getting back underway quickly and on your own.

Links

  • Bill Water’s beautiful Scooner was launched in October, 2004.
  • Bolger Discussion Group. Join our informal Phil Bolger Discussion Group for fans and builders of Bolger’s designs and share your opinions and questions.
  • Tim & Flying Tadpole II’s The Light Scooner is the definitive resource for this 1980′s Phil Bolger design. .
  • Jim Evans built the Light Scooner Allison Might in his 3rd floor apartment – pretty funny stuff.
  • H. H. “Dynamite” Payson builds many of Phil Bolger’s prototypes and publishes books and plans, including the Light Scooner.
  • Fiberglass Coatings of St. Pete, , Florida have great deals on a low-allergy 1:1 laminating epoxy and a convenient pre-thickened 2:1 epoxy.
  • Bolger Sneakeasy. A step-by-step 1997 construction pictorial of my Phil Bolger Sneakeasy.