Chubby Girl has been the product of many years of thought and many sleepless nights. The original designs and models had a flat bow to give more volume for the length, but was changed to be able to better ride the waves and cut through head seas. Some of these subsequent modifications were done to also improve the stability and righting moment of the boat. The yellow side panel in picture 6 was the add-on to improve stability. Stability calculations support the idea that the boat should be self-righting if rolled by big waves. The last two pictures involve the keel modifications and design in the original Chubby Girl. This prototype was sawed up and put into a dumpster in February 2020 because I built her too heavily and she sailed poorly. About mid-February 2020 I started construction of a foam-core new Chubby Girl, which was launched on 29 June 2020
Talla Spaul, my ex-wife of many years, has been a strong supporter of this adventure, and has designed a series of Chubby Girl logos. As you can see in the different pictures, “Chubby Girl” has evolved. Jakov, who is a graphic art student in San Francisco, painted the logo, name, and home port on the hull of the original Chubby Girl.
A garage was rented at a friend’s house in Walnut Creek, California and construction on Chubby Girl was done at night and weekends. It took about 18 months to build the boat. The hull frames were cut from marine grade plywood, and the hull was covered in marine plywood and fiberglass, which was soaked in marine-grade epoxy.
The initial launching was both an exciting and very disappointing day. After all of the construction and transporting the boat to the boatyard for lifting and putting her into the water, it was a very exciting day to finally put her into the water. She looked beautiful sitting in the water at launch, but unfortunately, she was hiding a horrible secret. After the initial launch the boat was too unstable to even climb on, and was immediately pulled out of the water and returned to Walnut Creek for modifications. This was a very disappointing time since I knew I would now miss my pre-hurricane season window, and would have to wait until after hurricane season in the fall.
Jim Antrim, a local naval architect, was consulted on ways to make the boat more stable, and his recommendations have since proved to be reliable. Six inches were added to each side of the hull, and the keel was reshaped and made twice as deep and twice as heavy.
After the second launch, Chubby Girl motored to a marina in Alameda, and Kame Richards of Pineapple Sails designed the sails. Red sails were decided to be used to increase being seen during the day. Glenn Hansen of Hansen Rigging, fabricated and installed the A-frame masts, standing rigging, and running rigging.
Sea trials started in September — one month before the original intended departure date.
The first series of pictures shows the early framing and covering of the hull. The boat is first constructed upside down to make it easier to work on the bottom and keel. After that phase the boat is rolled over with ropes and pulleys and set on a construction cradle, where the hull, insides, and deck are completed. The white cutout boards are the cabin floor with access hatches to the bilges where the food and water are stored. In the third to last picture is the foam add ons that were shaped and added to the outside of the hull to make her wider and more stable. These were fiberglassed and epoxied once attached to the hull.
During the first launch, dolly wheels were put under the four corners of the construction cradle and with a come-along, Chubby Girl and cradle were pulled into a U-Haul trailer to take to the boatyard. My friend Connie Lee has a Toyota Four -Runner and she towed Chubby Girl to the boatyard — and also towed her back to Walnut Creek after we had to recover Chubby Girl from her disappointing first launch. For the initial trip back from the boatyard, a used trailer was purchased and modified to carry Chubby Girl that would also allow the modifications to be completed while on the trailer. After the modifications, Connie again towed Chubby Girl back to the boatyard for her second launching. After confirming that Chubby Girl was stable in the water, I motored her to the Hansen Rigging Marina for fitting of her sails and mast. The trailer was then sold.
A used flat trailer was purchased and modified to carry Chubby Girl back to Walnut Creek for her modifications after her disappointing first launch.
Again, Connie Lee towed Chubby Girl back to the boatyard for her second and final launch, The last three photos are of Chubby Girl at the Hansen Rigging Marina — getting ready for her mast and sails.
While the sails and rigging were being designed and fabricated, I worked on the inside — installing locking food storage areas under the floorboards, and building shelves to secure the electronics and a one-burner propane camping stove.
The “sheet to tiller” system was designed and tested, and a solar panel bracket was installed to carry the solar panel over the stern of the boat. There was insufficient deck space to mount the solar panel on the deck.
Closed-cell foam pads were cut and fitted to the floorboards to add some cushioning for the journey and for sleeping. Back up and navigation equipment, and first aid supplies were selected and stored in 1-gallon jars, which were strapped to the inside of the hull. This kept them dry during any flooding and provided some positive floatation to the hull. Tools and spare fasteners were stored and secured below the floorboards. — in order to keep the weight below the water line.
I will sleep in a synthetic sleeping bag in case it gets wet, and will carry a Mylar foil hypothermia blanket. I will also be sleeping on my immersion escape suit in case I need to abandon Chubby Girl. The water temperature off California when I leave San Francisco can be about 50 degrees F (about 10 degrees C), so I will need to address hypothermia concerns.
The first picture is the inside compass that is used for steering. The next two photos are with the mast up and testing the running and navigation lights. The last three pictures are with the sails up, and shows me standing up inside Chubby Girl.
After considerable sea trials and subsequent modifications, I came to the conclusion in February 2020 that the original Chubby Girl was built too heavily and when loaded with provisions and equipment, she sailed poorly. On the first of February 2020, I had her hauled at Berkeley Marine Center, Berkeley California, and salvaged what I could, and then sawed her up and put the pieces into a dumpster.
The new Chubby Girl is a foam-core vacuum-bagged fiberglass boat that is 9 feet length overall. The boat is constructed from the same hull mold for the bottom and top half of the boat and a small spacer is inserted between the two hulls. This construction technique allowed the boat to be built much quicker. There is no wood in this new Chubby Girl, and the completed empty new boat is about half the weight of the original Chubby Girl.
On June 29, 2020 the new Chubby Girl was launched.
After launching the new Chubby Girl, work was started on the interior, which included adding the electronics, wiring the interior of the boat, sorting and storing food in the bilge spaces, and installing hanging nets to hold clothes and equipment. Sea trials involved testing the sails, checking weight balance, and installing and testing a new wind vane.
With the extra weight, the waterline had to be raised a couple inches.