By Grace Ombry
A 37' powerboat is a bit of a luxury for a
self-employed handyman and jack-of-alltrades
like Carl Puehl. But he'd always
wanted to build a boat, and he decided to fill
the gap between what he wanted and what
he could afford.
What he wanted was Ted Brewer's design
#244, Quiet Times. It sparked Puehl's imagination
when he saw it featured in The Boatbuilder
magazine. He studied the design and
said, "I can do that."
Puehl saved that issue of The Boatbuilder and
started thinking seriously about how to make
Quiet Times a reality.
He already owned an aging powerboat. Unfortunately,
it burned fuel at the impractical
rate of 23 gallons per hour. Motoring up to
Tawas, a resort town on Lake Huron about
80 miles from his home in Saginaw, Michigan,
cost him $400 in gas alone. With an eye
toward retiring from working sixty-hour
weeks, he yearned for a boat he could afford
to take out on the water frequently during
Michigan's temperate months. His other criteria
were that the boat be comfortable, reliable,
and have a low environmental impact.
The Quiet Times design
Puehl ordered the plans and started modifying
the boat's design with Ted Brewer's approval.
He said Brewer was very accessible,
just a phone call away when Puehl needed to
ask him about making design changes.
As designed, Quiet Times is a 34', long-range
inland waters cruiser with a sharpie-type plywood
hull and a skeg rather than a keel. The
interior design is generous enough for a couple
to live aboard and can be built to accommodate
either inboard or outboard power.
|Fifty Plus is pulled from
the water after her second
season. The arc bottom
and skeg are
inspected after a quick
powerwash and she is
ready for winter storage.
Brewer designed the craft to be an economical
and easily built displacement cruiser for
the conservative yachtsman to explore North
America's numerous inland rivers and lakes.
In many ways, this makes it the perfect yacht
for a Great Lakes boater like Puehl.
Brewer gave Quiet Times classic 1920's styling
to attract positive attention and prevent
it from becoming dated. The design employs
marine plywood on sawn framing. All is fastened
with epoxy, bronze screws, and barb
nails. She has a strong arc bottom that is as
easy to build as a flat bottom.
In addition to being spacious enough for a
live-aboard couple, there is room for occasional
guests as well. The boat offers plenty
of stowage throughout, and the aft cabin is
large enough to accommodate a good-sized
|Puehl hauls Fifty Plus home for the winter to store in his pole barn. With its flat bottom, the boat loads easily on a custom built trailer.
The design modified
|Puehl pauses after completing the first few mahogany frames in the spring of 2002-the beginning of what would become a five-year long project.||The hull frames and stringers are completed. The hull's port side ½" plywood sheathing is installed with 12" wide butt blocks between the stringers.|
Puehl stretched the design from its original
34' to 37', spreading the additional three feet
over the length of the boat, because, he
jokes, "at 34' it would be for short people,
and I have long feet."
He also moved the engine from its original
position in the rear cockpit to beneath the aft
stateroom berth. This left the rear cockpit
unobstructed. Doing so allowed him to install
a straight-drive shaft in place of the
V-drive shaft the original design calls for.
This modification saved him about $3,000:
the difference in price between a
straight-drive shaft and a V-drive shaft.
Brewer designed Quiet Times to offer maximum fuel efficiency with either an inboard diesel of 25 to 40 horsepower, or twin 4-stroke outboard motors. She has a prismatic coefficient of .642, perfect for running at 8 or 9 knots at moderate throttle.
Puehl chose a 24-horsepower Bukh diesel. The shiny red engine was air-freighted from Denmark to Puehl's front door for only $500 in shipping.
He raves about the Bukh's mileage: it burns a mere 3 quarts of diesel fuel per hour compared to the 25 gallons per hour of regular gas the average 37' powerboat can be expected to guzzle.
In two seasons, he's put 2,700 miles on the craft and reports the boat has averaged 9 miles per gallon.
Brewer's design features an open bow cockpit and an enclosed aft cabin. Puehl flipped this arrangement, leaving the aft cabin open and enclosing the bow cockpit to create a cuddy cabin guest berth. He said he did so
"for reasons anyone familiar with the Great Lakes would readily grasp."
Indeed, on the often choppy waters of Lake Huron an open bow cockpit might provide an inhospitable environment in all but the best of weather.
He trimmed the bow cabin with a warm, almost glowing, unidentified (possibly gum, he said) wood salvaged from the Sixties-style living room walls of a home he'd helped remodel. He said he'd had the wood for years
and always knew he'd use it for something special.
The rest of the interior is bright-finished mahogany and all wood is encapsulated in WEST SYSTEM® epoxy.
The modified open rear cockpit creates a generous platform perfect for fishing, grilling, and sunbathing.
Puehl meticulously recorded each step of the construction process with photographs. The earliest shows him posed with the first boards of mahogany shipped to his home. In total, he used 60 4x8 sheets of Philippine
mahogany plywood, ¼", ½", and ¾" thick.
The bottom is constructed of three layers of five-ply mahogany, and the hull is protected by 15 mils of epoxy on 6 oz fiberglass on the outside.
|Puehl applies the last of 3 layers of ¼" plywood to the bottom, before adding a layer of 6oz fiberglass cloth to the hull's exterior
|In November of 2002, using an ingenious tackle arrangement, Puehl turned the hull over to begin work on the topsides.
|The deck is completed and the cabin sides take shape. The deck is two layers of ¼" plywood, the sides, one layer of ½" plywood. In 2003, the engine installation was also completed.
Alone in the pole barn behind his modest
home, Puehl worked doggedly for five years,
putting in an estimated 5,000 hours-in addition
to working 60-hour weeks-to complete
the trawler he would christen Fifty
Plus. The only outside assistance came from
a friend who helped him machine and weld
the rudder and drive shaft.
|The galley under construction. Throughout 2004 work continued on the interior cabinetry and building of the fuel, water and waste tanks.
Building a boat this size is "grueling work,"
Fifty gallons of WEST SYSTEM epoxy went
into the construction. The resulting craft is
"This boat doesn't squeak," Puehl said.
"It's a monocoque structure, like an airplane. You
hear stuff crashing around (under heavy
weather), but no squeaking. The bulkheads
are all glued in. It's extremely rigid,"
He said he was most surprised that even
when Fifty Plus is pulled out of the water on
a boatlift, she doesn't groan or creak as most
large vessels do.
|Puehl laminated the deck and cabin roof beams in a custom jig. The jig produced beams in an arc with a 21' radius.
|The laminated cabin roof beams are in place.||The cabin top, two layers of ¼" plywood, is installed. The boat was close to taking up all of the available space in one side of Puehl's pole barn.|
|Windows and hatches are installed and building of the interior cabinetry is well underway.|
|The exterior begins to look more finished with the rub rail installed and the bottom painted. In the spring of 2005 Fifty Plus was sitting on her custom trailer and moved the roomy, center bay of the pole barn.|
|A custom-shaped sink fits a tight spot in the head. The seams of the plywood sink are joined with fillets and it is encapsulated in epoxy.
Puehl had a fifth-wheel trailer custom made
for Fifty Plus, and he stores the boat in his
pole barn. Because of this arrangement, the
boat doesn't need antifouling paint. The hull
is instead coated with Graham Ceramic™ house paint. He finds the ceramic paint easy
to keep clean with a scrunge pad.
Comfortable accommodations were important
to Puehl. He put a lot of thought and
attention into the interior details. He sewed
all seat and berth cushions himself on a
quilting machine. They are expertly made
and covered in a soft, stain-resistant
He also made all the window treatments of
mildew-resistant lawn chair canvas he bought
on sale at a fabric store. He designed them to
attach with Velcro, negating the need to install
One nifty custom feature is the custom-
shaped sink Puehl constructed for the
head. He made it out of wood encapsulated
in epoxy. The seams are joined with fillets.
The boat has "great livability," he said. The
autopilot, when set to about seven miles per
hour, allows him to wander around the boat
once he's out in open water.
|Puehl's meticulous nature is evident in the detail of his electrical and plumbing systems.||The little engine that could--the 24 hp Bukh diesel, designed strictly as a marine engine. It turns a 3-bladed 18" diameter prop|
|All of the systems are controlled at the steering station in the cabin.|
The gauges he ordered came with a 9' wiring
harness, which was 17' shy of the 28' the wiring
needed to travel. Fortunately, as a licensed
electrician, Puehl was equipped to rebuild
the harness with fatter wire to go the
full distance from the cockpit to the engine.
Some of the environmentally friendly and
economical finishing touches he put on Fifty
Plus include a high-efficiency refrigerator,
which he insulated, and incandescent-corrected
fluorescent lights to illuminate the interior.
A pair of 6-volt golf cart batteries supplies
all of the boat's electrical power.
One of Puehl's proudest moments came
when his insurance company's marine surveyor
inspected the boat and awarded it an
The boat was launched in 2006 at Bay Harbor
Marina in Bay City, Michigan. Puehl's children
came to the event and helped him christen
Fifty Plus with a bottle of Asti Spumanti.
Puehl's advice for would be boat builders: "If
you don't like sanding, don't build a boat."
|The open cockpit of the original Ted Brewer design was replaced with a cozy V-berth.|
Quiet Times Specs (modified)
|In the spring of 2006, the nearly finished Fifty Plus is unveiled. Everything is complete except the painting of the cabin roof, which was finally completed outside of the confines of the pole barn.|
Power—24 hp Bukh diesel
Propeller—3 blade, 18"d × 12"p
Tanks—water, 95 gal; fuel, 105 gal; waste, 69 gal.
Epoxyworks 26 / Summer 2008
Copyright 2002, Gougeon Brothers, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in any form, in whole or in part, is expressly forbidden without the consent of the publisher. EPOXYWORKS, Gougeon Brothers, WEST SYSTEM, Episize, Scarffer and Microlight as used throughout this publication, are trademarks of Gougeon Brothers, Inc., Bay City, Michigan, USA.