There's nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (River Rat to Mole)

I like boats. I own a 17 ft. fiberglas ski boat and I water ski. During my 70-plus years, I've cruised and raced sailboats, built two sailboats, built a kayak, raced Hobie Cats, M-20 scows, Thistles and Lightnings at the national level, etc., etc. I've even been a part-owner in a 83 ft. antique wooden yacht.

But some of the most fun I've had on the water was when I was a teenager visiting southern Wisconsin lakes, messing around with small outboard-powered hydroplanes in the mid-1950's.

In recent issues of the A&CBS's Rudder, there have been articles and photos describing how a renewed interest in small wooden hydroplanes might "hook" the next generation of wooden boat junkies.

In the Spring, 2006 issue Marty Loken wrote about his experiences. Follow-up articles and letters followed.

I'd love to see my now five year-old grandson have some good times messing around in boats. Here are some images of the kind of boat I'd like to build with him.

You'll notice differences in the boats pictured here. I think the design has changed over the years and I'm not really sure all the changes have been for the better. "Glen-L Marine" offers plans for $67.00. They now call their boat "Minimaxed." A number of on-line forums desribe performance with various size motors. And one builder says the "tapered" cockpit has harmed performance when compared to the origianl "square" cockpit.

Here's what Glen-L says about their design on their website (

"MINIMAXED is a fun boat. It's not intended for rough water and will be wet in a chop. But it's a boat kids love, yes "kids" of all ages enjoy it. This isn't our opinion, written to enhance the boat; it's a fact reported by the many builders.

"This is a safe boat. There are watertight (foam filled optional) compartments that will support several hundred pounds even with the cockpit full of water. And with a beam half the length, the boat is exceptionally stable.

"Simplicity of building and a lot of boat for the buck were undoubtedly major attractions for the original and this holds true today. We've simplified it even further and utilized modern composites and materials unheard of in the sixties. Full size patterns are furnished for virtually every part in the boat that isn't a straight member; this includes bottom, sides, and deck.

"No complicated building form is required. The hull is formed by patterned framing members that are an integral part of the boat. The construction takes advantage of Stitch-n-Glue construction to eliminate shaping, beveling, and fitting many components. The main part of the building is conventional plywood construction as was the original.

"The MINIMAXED requires only three sheets of standard 1/4" x 4' x 8' plywood plus a few solid lumber strips. Use the full size patterns, duplicate them to the wood with transfer paper and you're on the way. An ideal father and son or daughter project with the reward of lots of fun when the project is completed."

In an article (which may be the original) the following is claimed: "As to performance, Minimax will plane a 165 lb. man up to 15 mph with a 3 hp outboard motor. With a 10 hp and over, the hull planing area diminishes until Minimax becomes air-borne and rides upon the motor's caviaation plate.

Here, in pdf form, is the five-page article:

If I do build a Minimax, I'll be on the lookout for a steering wheel rig, a deadman throttle and, of course, and outboard motor.

Another pretty good web page by Grant MacLaren
with a hit counter by SiteMeter:

(Made on a Macintosh, of course)
This page was first posted March 12, 2007.