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Building Sea Dog - Overview

Name of Design: "Alaska"
Designer: Don Kurylko
Builder: Bob Davidson
Name of Boat: "Sea Dog"

After giving considerable thought to just what kind of boat to build, I decided on a design that was based on the classic, traditional Whitehall hull design. The main reason I decided to build this type of boat was because I wanted a boat that would be good for both rowing and sailing. While the ability to add a small motor would be nice, it was not a necessary criterion in my decision.

click for larger picture of Sea Dog under construction
Sea Dog with the first 36 hull strips installed (18 each side)

According to John Gardner, in his book Building Classic Small Craft (page 214): "For those who want a boat of dual utility, that will give superior performance for both rowing and sailing, the Whitehall is as good as there is."

Now, when it comes to traditional small boat designs, John Gardner was a man who knew what he was talking about. For more than 25 years, until his death in 1995, he was Associate Curator of Small Craft at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT. Prior to that, Gardner had many years experience building small boats and teaching others how to build them. In addition, he wrote more than 850 articles on small boats that appeared in various publications. Together with Pete Culler, Gardner founded the Traditional Small Craft Association (TSCA).

When I read about Don Kurylko's "Alaska" design, I had an idea that it might be just the boat for me, so I ordered the study plans. Not only is the Alaska design based on the traditional Whitehall hull, the designer has had considerable experience using this type of boat as a beach-cruiser along the coast of the Pacific northwest. It quickly became clear to me that he included numerous important details that were based on many miles of experience in open rowing/sailing boats.

The Alaska design incorporates many features that are important for a small boat that will be used as a beach cruiser, i.e. a boat that is capable of travelling long distances along the coast and facilitates camping aboard and/or ashore. Numerous tie-down points are incorporated throughout the interior of the hull to facilitate safe, secure stowage of all equipment and gear that anyone would need to carry for any voyage lasting weeks or even months. The design includes the ability to add an on-board tent of enormous size. One of the early builders of Alaska spent 5 months traveling in his boat from Anacortes, Washington to Alaska and back. You can read about his experience on the designer's website.

Two very important features that the designer has carefully thought out in the Alaska design are provision for stowage of ground tackle including an anchor and lines, and for plenty of floatation to add to the boat's safety in severe conditons. The designer also includes diagrams and descriptions for a method of anchoring off-shore while still allowing access to the boat from the shore in spite of changing tides.

Based on all of this information, I decided that Alaska was the boat design for me, so I ordered the plans and started to build it. I have decided that the name of my boat will be "Sea Dog". It is taking me a fairly long time to build it because I do have a day job, I don't have as much energy as I used to have when I was younger, and I have a couple of young grandchildren to spoil. It is a labor of love, however, and it will be finished eventually.

I will be adding descriptions and pictures of the various phases of construction of "Sea Dog". Please keep in mind that these descriptions are simply my attempt to show and tell you how I built "Sea Dog" from the Alaska design plans. They are certainly not the only way to build a boat, nor are they necessarily the best way. They are simply a description of "my way", the way I actually built it. Some of the things I do may actually turn out to be the "wrong way", so don't count on my way being the last word on how to do it. I will simply be describing how I did it, and I hope you find the information to be interesting.