About the Project

This site is about building a 28-foot wooden “trailerable trawler” designed by Mark Smaalders.  It’s a new design, so no one has ever built one before, although a slightly different design by Mark is now being built in Germany.

People as addicted to wooden boatbuilding as I am will not have to ask the question, but the “normal” person will undoubtedly wonder “why?” I could afford a boat made of fiberglass or aluminum or whatever, and go cruising off next week, but there I am day after day, sweating it out in the shop over a pile of plywood.

The simple answer is:  I want to have a continuation of the greatest experience of my life:  cruising America’s Great Loop, a 6,000-mile journey around eastern North America, with my son John on our beloved teak motorsailer Memsahib.  see: http://www.memsahibsvoyage.com

But while I miss Memsahib terribly, and dream about her frequently, my romantic side has a practical side:  1) Memsahib is a big, heavy boat, that I just can’t handle by myself anymore, and John is off at Miami University of Ohio.  2)  I don’t have any desire to do the whole Great Loop again — just the jewels:  the Canadian canals, the North Channel of Lake Huron, the Kentucky Lakes, the Florida Panhandle, the Keys, Chesapeake Bay.  3)  I don’t want to be gone all the time, and I want to time things so my non-cruising wife Molly or John can easily join me.

So Memsahib is gone to a great new owner in Puerto Rico , and Tardis is being built at my workshop in Guilford, CT.

Why build it myself, rather than buy?  Because that’s what I do now.  I was a marketing executive for media companies for 40 years, including some big ones, USA Today, USA Weekend and Actmedia, and some little ones where we either lost a lot or made a lot, and in the end came out at the positive side of the ledger.  But I led a parallel life after being bit by the sailing bug during college, when I learned that I could pass the physical education requirement by sitting in a sailboat.   I owned six sailboats over the years, then was bitten  even harder by the wooden boat bug 20 years ago.   I built three of them, restored two, and finally started a hobby/retirement business building boats after the Great Loop.  see:  http://www.madisonkitbuilders.com

People these days, and probably for centuries past, think about their “self image.”  When I look in the mirror I am increasingly aware of a me that is closer to my grandfather and my  uncles:  need a house, get out your saws;  need the combine fixed, get out your wrenches;  think the world needs the greatest slot-machine casino ever, build it.

Right now, I need a boat, so there’s a great big pile of plywood sitting in my shop.  So I think I can do this, even though my friends who hear about the project routinely bring up the NCIS guy with a boat in his basement that will probably never leave, and of course, Noah.

I guess we will all see.


memsahib at dock

Rigged Under Way

Memsahib on Tennessee River

Some of my other projects:

Auk1 sup final full

Boat1cropped (2)

CRM Chris 2

Jericho Bay Lobster Skiff

7 comments on “About the Project

  1. Dani
    September 18, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Oh this is so exciting!! I can’t wait wait to follow your progress on this huge undertaking. Also that’s a really neat business idea that combines fun and skill with helping people. I’m impressed!

    From the pics of your previous builds it’s obvious that Tardis is going be beautiful. Also, I love the name 🙂 We’ve added you to our “Friends” page with the rest of us refitters.


  2. Richard Beck
    March 21, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    I had worried about messing up a batch of epoxy and not discovering the error so I addressed the worry in the following way. On large glass jobs (hull, deck, etc) I would use a new unwaxed paper cup for every mix. I would either line them up in the order used, or number them. The next day I would verify that the epoxy remains in each cup had hardened, before throwing them away. I got lucky and didn’t have any that didn’t set up, but if I had I would have known it at least the next day, and about where the problem area was.

    Keep up the good work!



  3. Bruce Elfstrom
    January 11, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m I’m CT and am having a boat I designed built for me (no time) Boat is basically designed around the same goals you had. Like to meet up and talk. Im.in hadlyme ct. Drop me a note please


  4. Bob Hatcher
    March 19, 2018 at 12:39 pm #

    I need some info on that little dingy if you have it.
    I’ve considered one of Devlins other trawler type boats but just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Dingy first


    • memsahibsvoyage
      March 19, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

      The dinghy is a Micro Petrel. Easy build, inexpensive, nice plans. Don’t get the kit. You will need to learn some basic lifting and how to tread plans to build the bigger boats — or an Olga 28. If I hadn’t found my boat,, I would have had Sam stretch the Dunlinn to 26, or 8.5 beam and whatever length resulted.


  5. Jeff Cohen
    September 29, 2021 at 7:39 pm #

    Nice to meet you! Particularly love the little sharpie! Who designed Memsahib?


    • memsahibsvoyage
      October 1, 2021 at 10:50 am #

      Walter McInnis of the firm Eldredge-McInnis in Boston. A great designer, primarily of powerboats, but also the great schooner Eastward, and motorsailers like Memsahib. Little Vigilant is currently berthed in Mystic. Memsahib is probably a knockoff of the design Gros Morne by the Hong Kong yard that built her. More about Walter here: https://memsahibsstory.wordpress.com/about-walter-mcinnis/


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