In the summer of 2003 I began toying with the idea of building another boat. My Tolman Standard was in her ninth fishing season and I had just replaced the 90 hp two stroke with a new 115 four stroke. The motor was smooth, quiet, and my range increased to over 225 miles with a full load of fuel. This increase in range allowed me to hit outer bank spots I had only heard about and I was excited about the fishing possiblities.
When I finished the Madelisa back in '95 I didn't want to look at another power tool much less use one. But building her was one of the most satisfying things I had ever done and I knew that someday I would be ready to do it again. Eight years later here I am.
The plan is to take the Madelisa down to the East Cape of Baja or La Paz and store her there. This would allow us to drive without having to tow a boat or fly down and have our own boat to fish on.The new boat would be for fishing the banks off ofSan Diego and Northern Baja.
The idea for the design of the new boat had been rolling around in my mind for a number of years and was a result of my experience fishing the waters off San Diego. On a typical trip we would head south anywhere from 40-55 miles from Pt. Loma.
Because of the prevailing winds and swells out of the NW we could almost always count on a wet and cold ride back "uphill". A canvas and Eisenglass curtain worked only so well- what we really needed was a place to get out of the wind and spray.
But I didn't want to sacrafice the fishability of a center console and I didn't like the looks of a cuddy cabin. What I wanted to build was a full walk-around pilot house.
This website was created to document the construction of that boat from start to finish.
Landing a 107lb Bigeye off San Quintin 1999
Design of the Chula Rodhog
The Tolman Jumbo
The Tolman Jumbo is the third and largest Alaskan Skiff that Renn Tolman designed and published in his book,"A Skiff for All Seasons- How to Build An Alaskan Skiff" www.xyz.net/~mgrt. The basic Jumbo is 22ft long, 8ft wide at the gunnels and incorporates some design improvements over his previous models such as chine flats to knock the spray down, more freeboard and heavier construction.
After consulting with Renn and observing what other Tolman builders were doing, I decided that I would extend mine to a full 24ft in length. This added length would allow me to carry more fuel and run a larger motor than the max 115hp recommended by Renn.
My plan was to carry 104 gallons in two 52 gallon belly tanks and push it with a 140hp Suzuki four stroke. This motor is as light as many of the 115 four strokes found on the market and with the added horsepower I would be able to run at lower RPMs, saving fuel and maximizing engine life.
This combination would give me an estimated 375 to 400 mile range. Not necessarily something I needed off San Diego, but we will be trailering this boat down to Mag Bay in Baja and range is what you want when fishing in that area due to its remoteness.
Having two separate fuel tanks also gives me the option of using either the forward or aft tank as my primary- whichever one gives me the best weight distribution.
The actual design of my Tolman Jumbo was a result of a lot of research on pilot house boats. These included commercially built boats like the Albin, Steigercraft, Parker, Radon, Osprey and many others, along with privately built boats found on various sites on the internet.
My first inclination was to build a full walk-around pilot house with no cabin for bunks. As I went through the brainstorming process, I realized that if done right, I could have the fishability of a walk-around and still have a place to sleep.
But my number one consideration was that the pilothouse and cabin had to blend with the lines of the boat. Some of the best examples of this are the Maine down'easter lobster skiffs that blend the sweep of the bow with the pilot house/cabin. The "Miss Rebecca" shown below exemplifies that look and one that I hope to capture in the construction of my new skiff. The 24ft and the 2710 built by Eastern Boats www.easternboats.com also do a great job of blending the lines of the pilot house with the sweeping sheerline of their hulls.
Capturing this look would be my challenge with the hope that I will end up with not only a functional fishing platform but one that is pleasing to the eye. Life is too short to drive an ugly boat and I believe, like many others, that the Tolman hull is one of the prettiest on the water. Blending the pilothouse/cabin into this sweeping sheerline without detracting from the boat's lines would be my ultimate goal.
The Miss Rebecca
August 2003- Construction Begins
Gluing the engine mount onto the transom
The first design decision I had to make when construction started was what kind of motor cutout I wanted. All of the Tolman Jumbo’s I’ve seen under construction have a wide cutout to accommodate a kicker motor. In my experience I would rather have a “closed in” transom to limit the possibility of water coming in over the stern in rough seas, especially when drifting.
Thus I made the motor cutout for a single outboard which in this case will be a 140 Suzuki 4 stroke. With the reliability of the four stroke and my “Vessel Assist” membership, I don’t have a need to run a kicker for fishing the banks off San Diego. If I decide I do need a kicker I will add a bracket like I did on the Madelisa.
The stringers were cut out by ripping a 2 X 14 Microlam beam in two at a 12 degree angle. Microlam is constructed of a a series of 1/8 layers of ply that are glued and pressed together to produce a strong, stable building material. While it is considered “rough” lumber, it is strong and when covered with epoxy and fiberglass cloth, perfect for use as stringers.
The angle of the bevel changes from 12 degrees aft to around 37 degrees at the forward end of the stringer. This is to accommodate the changing angle of the bottom as it curves into the bow. I accomplished this by lofting the shape of the stringers and going at it with a power planer to achieve the needed angles.
Scarfing the bottom and side panels
Scarfing is a way of preparing wood so that you can join two pieces to create longer lengths than commercially available. By stacking the ½” layers of plywood and staggering them 1 3/4 inches, you plane the edges down until you have a smooth uniform surface. When it’s time to join the pieces together you simply turn one side over and slide it onto a panel that is face up. At that point you epoxy both faces, add microfibers to make a glue and clamp the pieces together.
What you end up with is a panel that is a uniform thickness and as strong as the wood itself. Using this method you end up with the needed lengths for the bottom and sides.
Lofting and cuttting out the shelves for the gunnels was the next step. Because of the limited room in my garage I could only fabricate parts that would not only fit in my garage, but allow me to transport them to the final assembly point at my boat club down at Mission Bay. I actually had to bring my boat with me to Home Depot so I could transport the beam for the stringers. When it was time to move everything down south I brought up the Madelisa so I could transfer the long pieces.
The forward section of the shelves were cut out of 1 1/8 sub-flooring ply. Really crappy stuff- but needed to get the curve required at the bow. The straight pieces in the back were ripped from a 2 x 10 and I then “planed” down using my table saw. I set the fence at 1 1/8 width and set the 2 x’s on edge. Made two passes and bingo I had the thickness down to the required measurement. From what I’ve read, no one has done it this way before but it worked good.
Permission was granted to build the boat at my boat club and I was given a nice out-of-the-way spot that had electricity available. I bought the cover from Costco and assembled the building jig. I was ready to start construction.