Boat Designs by Bolger and Atkins (updated)

I have selected five boat designs that I feel are interesting or note worthy, either due to simplicity and the ease with which they can be constructed, or simply because I found them fascinating.  The first is the Dogsbody, an Atkins designed workboat built with simplicity and safety in mind.  The second is a Bolger design, a miniature steel tug meant for work in areas such a the sounds of the American Northwest.  The third boat is the Micromouse by Atkins, a boat that is so simple that it could be mass produced by a single person.  The fourth is another Bolger design, the Microtrawler, designed for work, leisure, and maybe brightening someone’s day with its appearance.  The final boat is a unique Bolger design called the Iceboat, which, as the name would suggest, is meant for sailing over the ice.micro Minature_Steel_Tug microtra1 homemade-ice-boat dogbodymain

Boat Designs

The Dogsbody

  • The dogs body is a small, fairly simple boat that was designed to be built by people who have little experience with boat building
  • The boat is fairly lightweight  and should be easy to construct with the same methods we used to build the Gypsy
  • Clearly designed as a utilitarian boat, the Dogsbody was designed to be able to mount a small outboard motor and has storage compartments built in to its buoyancy      chambers, which could be used to store any tools that would be needed in      an emergency.
  • The compartment on the bow of the vessel is intended for storing the fuel tank, a design choice made      presumably to balance out the weight of the boat’s operator.
  • The Dogsbody is a very stable, difficult to sink vessel thanks to the presence of two large buoyancy tanks located on the sides of the boat
  • These tanks can also be used as benches, and as stated before have two storage compartments locate amidship
  • The boat uses an eggbox construction, with the bulkheads located inside the buoyancy chambers, presumably for aesthetic reasons, as well as to reinforce the tanks’      structure and prevent catastrophic hull failures
  • The design places safety and utility over performance, so this is not a boat in which one would go blasting around the lakes, but is rather a leisure cruiser, and perhaps a      serviceable fishing boat


4 Sheets 4×8 ft 3/4 in plywood- $159.52

1 quart epoxy- $60

50 ft of 2 inch Fiberglass Tape- $30

Zip ties- $2

1 gallon marine paint- $40

Total- $291.52


  • Lightweight
  • Difficult to sink
  • Very stable
  • Can mount an engine


-Heavier than other similarly small vessels

-Egg carton construction can be quite complex for beginners

  • Can’t hold more than two or three people safely
  • No option for a sail

Source: Ultrasimple Boat Building by Gavin Atkin

Miniature Steel Tug

  • A fascinating little vessel, the Minature Steel Tug is a 16 foot boat designed by Bolger for heavy work      that doesn’t require a full tug
  • Well beyond the scope of this ISP, it is still an interesting design that is worth taking a look at out of curiosity
  • The boat features a boxy keel designed to accommodate a heavy diesel engine of Chinese manufacture,  though it is likely that any similarly sized engine can be fit into the engine compartment
  • The Tug features an enclosed cabin that accommodates the wheelhouse and a table down below for social meetings after work



Welding Gear


Diesel Engine


Drive Shaft


Cost: Beyond ISP budget, probably $15,000 at the minimum




Highly Versatile

Good Towing Capacity


Requires experience in metal working

Extremely heavy for a boat of its size

Good Diesel engines are rather pricy

Source: Boats with An Open Mind by Philip Bolger

Micro Mouse

  • A small, bare bones boat, the Micro Mouse is the bare minimum of what can be considered a boat.
  • Designed to be built by people with absolutely no prior experience in boat construction, the Micro Mouse was designed with younger people in mind, being light and simple so that it can easily be beached and retrieved and will require fairly little      maintenance
  • The Micro Mouse is also very inexpensive to build, requiring only one sheet of plywood and some epoxy      to construct, and only about one or two quarts of paint to finish.
  • Stitch and Glue construction, so few tools and even fewer previous projects are needed to successfully assemble the kit
  • The boat lacks any apreciable cargo space and is incapable of supporting an outboard or sails, but given the intended audience of the Micro Mouse these are non-issues


One sheet 3/4 in plywood- $39.88

One Quart Epoxy- $60

25 ft Fiberglass tape- $15

zip ties- $2

2 quarts marine paint- $20

Total- $136.88


Extremely simple

Extremely lightweight

Can be built with a minimum of tools by nearly anyone


Extremely small

can barely hold one adult

Can’t hold anything other than its passenger/crew member

Source: Ultrasimple Boatbuilding by Gavin Atkin


  • As with the Miniature Steel Tug, the Microtrawler is beyond the scope of this ISP, but it is an  interesting vessel that is certainly worth examining
  • the Microtrawler is designed to  glide through the water with minimal effort thanks to a vertical bow and sharp waterline
  • The trawler is equipped with two transom berths and a miniature kitchen, allowing the crew to rest comfortable while the boat is out on the water.
  • The microtrawler utilizes an outboard engine hooked up to an internal fuel tank for propulsion, and navigation is accomplished at a small wheelhouse located over the cabin
  • The trawler’s hydrodynamics could cause the boat to flip over should it be given a powerful enough engine, but it is unlikely that anyone who would desire a vessel such as  the microtrawler is going to be looking to use an ultra-powerful engine in its construction.
  • Compact design, only 14.5 ft long, but complicated and expensive for its length




Marine Paint



Cost: Beyond the scope of this ISP, at least $12,000



Fast for a boat of its type

very comfortable for the crew and any passengers who may be aboard

Can be used for work or leisure



A little funny looking

requires a great deal of boatbuilding experience

Source: Boats with an Open Mind by Philip Bolger



  • Technically not a boat, the Iceboat is still a Bolger design and is quite fascinating
  • The Iceboat is very simple and can be built by anyone who has has experience with building boats
  • An excellent sailing option for winter time when lakes are frozen over and boats can’t be deployed


  • Half sheet of 3/4 in plywood-      $20
  • Steel skis
  • Mast
  • Canvas sail

Cost: probably around $600


  • Ultrasimple construction
  • Easy to use
  • Very light
  • Can be taken out when lakes are      solid ice


  • Can only travel on ice
  • fairly low cargo capacity
  • only holds two people


Source: Boats with an Open Mind by Philip Bolger

One thought on “Boat Designs by Bolger and Atkins (updated)”

  1. The iceboat in the picture is a DN60. The DN is not a Bolger design. It’s a single sailor -racing class boat. A motivated novice builder can certainly build one in about 250 to 300 hours These are very fast one-design craft. Based on class membership numbers, the most popular iceboat design worldwide. Check out for more info on the DN. If hard water sailing is an interest it’s difficult to ignore a DN bit it’s not instant and it’s not Bolger.

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