Twins but Not Identical
Dave Pratt and Chuck VanDeventer from Sturgis, Michigan decided three years ago to build two iceboats they could
day sail with their wives. They originally “got the bug” when a used DN was purchased in 2004. But having one
boat for two people is like owning one horse – one person has to site on the fence while the other one rides. The
next year a smaller boat, similar to a DN was purchased. Fast forward to 2006 and the Wooden Nite was born.
They looked at several designs and finally settled on the Nite concept. Dave called John Ritter of S & R Marine and
got plans for the Nite but to his surprise the plans did not include plans for the hull. Chuck called Mr. Ritter back
and was informed that you had to buy the hull from him. The Nites race with a very strict set of specifications and
one of the rules is you must use their fiberglass hull.
The boys were note interested in racing and wanted to build their boats completely of wood.
They first found a crew of loggers skidding logs out of a nearby woods and bought several basswood logs right in
the field, took them to the saw mill and had them cut into 1" slabs. After cutting the logs they were taken to the kiln
to dry, then to Chuck's brother-in-law, bob Foster, to be planed down the 3/4".
All the component parts (mast, beam, spring board, and runner plank) were built from this basswood in Chuck's
wood shop. The metal parts were fabricated in Dave's metal shop. Then came the big job of building the hull.
Chuck and Dave both belong to the Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club east of Kalamazoo, Michigan and after asking several
members, located Dr. Steven Ginsberg who was very gracious and let them borrow his fiberglass hull for the
summer. Templates were made and the first boat was built and sailed (sans the finish and paint scheme) in 2006.
Chuck's boat was finished in 2006 and Dave finished his hull in fall of 2007. As stated in the title above the boats
are nearly identical in appearance but Chuck's boat is made completely of basswood. Dave's components were
made from basswood but the hull was made from luan plywood and cedar; plywood on the bottom and sides and
cedar strips on the top. Of course West System epoxy was used on both boats.
Dave was able to figure out a way to lower his seat about 2" and his steering set-up is a little different, but other
than that there is not much difference between them.
Dave and Chuck live in southern Michigan. If it's January and the lakes are just starting to ice over, it can't be too
soon for them.
Note: Text similar to the above and picture below were published in issue #29 of Epoxy News magazine.