Building a Mixer


The Boat

The area where I live is essentially a swamp. Aside from the big bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, there are hundreds of smaller lakes, creeks, ditches, and canals that are inaccessible by larger boat. Having gotten a taste of these gems-within-the-surburban-jungle before in a canoe, I figured that a small rowboat/sailboat would be just the ticket for further exploration.

Now, a sailboat and a rowboat have opposing requirements. Rowboats tend to be narrow to reduce wetted surface. Unballasted sailboats need beam to counteract the force of the sails. So a boat that is made for both rowing and sailing is normally considered to be good at neither. But that doesn't stop designers from trying and customers from buying.

Enter Jim Michalak (pronounced like metallic only replace the "t" with a "k" sound). As an amateur boatbuilder and designer who hasn't quit his day job, Mr. Michalak has the disease of an engineer--always tinkering. In amongst his rowboats, sailboats, powerboats, and many combinations is the Mixer.

Here are the specifications.

Length:   12 ft.
Beam:   3.8 ft.
Displacement - Empty:   90 lbs.
Sail Area:   68 sq. ft.

What attracted me to the Mixer was:

  • Short length - which translates to light and easy to carry,
  • Large cockpit - can carry 2 people in more comfort than my Sunfish,
  • Floatation chambers - essential in my view,
  • Fixed Leeboard - leaves cockpit uncluttered, and
  • Balanced Lug Rig - intriguing sail that keeps the spars short.

Now, after spending over 2½ years putting together Egia, constructing a 12 ft. dinghy would be just too easy. Or would it? Originally intending to build 2 different boats at once, I deferred to just working on one. Good thing, since putting together the Mixer has taken over 1 year.

The construction details of the Mixer will not be as detailed as my log of Egia. There are so many other resources on building these smaller craft that I felt I'd just be repeating what others have already written. And most are written better than my meager talent can produce. So I'll just give a brief chronicle of activity and talk about my numerous changes that make a mockery of the designer's hard work. Oh, and maybe a few pictures, too.

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