"Damm Yankee" PM-38

by Russell
(West Central Florida)

I'm probably the one and only to build this boat twice.

My first build was when I was 19 years old in 1962 and then again in 2009.

The first time I built this boat I was only a kid and lived with my parents and two younger brothers on Long Island, New York.

I didn't have much money at the time and think I spent about one hundred dollars to build this boat.

When I finished her in the early summer of 1963, we installed a used 30 hp Johnson outboard that I paid $75.00 for.

I learned to water ski with this boat and motor combination.

pm 38
Step by step instructions for building the PM 38 using modern plywood building techniques and materials.

Since I only weighed 175lbs at the time, it was strong enough to lift me up and out of the water.

My younger brother and I had a good time with this boat in the Great South Bay of Suffolk County, N.Y.

I used her all through the summer of 1963 and have many good memories.

I retired in 2009 and was looking for a project since now I had plenty of spare time.

So I decided to build the PM-38 again.

She took about 40 days to build and that included rebuilding the trailer.

Just to give you an idea of how inflation ran up the cost of building this boat, I paid over $100.00 just for silicon bronze fasteners (screws, ring nails and a few bolts).

I now live in Florida and can go boating year round.

My girlfriend and I have used the Damm Yankee many times on the rivers, lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.

It is still fun and the memories continue to grow.

Comments for "Damm Yankee" PM-38

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Jan 02, 2020
Built in the 70s
by: Anonymous

Great looking boat.

My dad built this boat in the early 70s and we all learned to ski behind it using just an 18hp Johnson.

It took a bit to pull an adult on skis, so we soon graduated to a 35hp Johnson.

My fondest childhood memories involve this boat.

Was just 9 or 10 when I first learned to ski.

Turning, as I recall, when alone in the boat, one had to centre his weight in the boat when turning left.

When turning right, this wasn't a problem as the steering wheel was on the right.

We only fibreglassed the bow, but did add an angle iron for added strength on the transom as pulling 2 skiers at once started to pull it apart.

Also added a rear facing seat so the rear passenger could spot where the skier was.

Jan 03, 2019
by: Mark

I would go with the 40 hp motor.

Plywood sheathed with fiberglass won’t need to soaking to ‘take up’, so can be trailered.

You could fiberglass the inside but it would be very fiddly getting it around all the fraes etc.

You can add buoyancy if you wish.

Jan 01, 2019
Some technical questions
by: Bob F

When me and Dad and my brother built the PM38 back in the 60's I kind of remember at the time it said the max motor size was 45 hp.

Is a 60 hp Mercury too much for the boat?

I'm leaning towards a 40.

Just curious.

Also I saw some photos where someone created a modified V all the way back to the transom.

Will that add some stability to the steering?

The guy I saw with one in Somers Point Bay said that he had to add ski fins under the boat because the boat would turn but the motor kept going straight ahead it was that far out of the water.

What about 1/4" plywood on the bottom and then capping it with fiberglass mesh cloth for a few coats? It sure won't leak that way.

Will the PM38 leak, or do you have to do like we did with our old Chris Craft 14 footer and fill it up with water on land until the wood swelled up, then pump it out, drop it in the water, and keep it there all summer?

This is why I am leaning toward the capping it with fiberglass.

I prefer to trailer the boat and keep it dry between uses. No copper bottom paint.

Do you cap the inside as well?

One last question.

I understand major boat mfrs. are required to make their fiberglass boats sink proof by building in sandwiched foam.

Is that a regulations problem or are wooden boats exempt?

Thanks for your help.

I have a serious pang to build one of these again.

I have an 18 foot Donzi 2+3 circa 1987, but the PM38 has a special place in my heart.

Dec 09, 2018
Ski Rails
by: Mike

Hi Bob,

A pair of rails, one either side, running parallel to the keel should solve both your problems.

As an extra benefit they will help protect the bottom when launching and retrieving her.


Dec 08, 2018
Built a P38 with my Dad in the late 60's.
by: Bob F

This was my dream boat as a teenager growing up in Somers Point NJ during the summer.

My friends had boats, and I was the only one without one.

When I got the plans from Popular Mechanics I was in heaven.

My brother built the transom, keel and ribs in high school shop class and then graduated and brought them home.

Me and Dad finished the boat in the garage.

We made a few adjustments like thickening up the transom.

Another change was creating a back to back seating arrangement so, a boat wide seat was facing front, and another boat wide seat was facing backwards.

We never got the boat in the water.

I have a pang to build another.

A few quick comments.

From having stored it on the back patio for a few years upside down, the hull towards the rear began to develop a bow in it which would create an air pocket.

So I am interested in any way to create a rib that would eliminate that problem.

Also I was working at Mayers Marina in Somers Point and gassed up one of these.

I was amazed to see one on the water.

The owner said he had to add ski ribs/blades two of them to the bottom because the boat was so light it would sit high out of the water, too high.

What would happen is he would turn the steering wheel and the whole boat would turn sideways while the motor itself would continue to move forward in a straight line.

So any way to alleviate that kind of problem?

I guess the ski ribs is the answer.

We painted ours white on the outside with a blue interior.

I also would like to think about making the top panels out of tongue and groove mahogany instead of plywood, just for a touch of the old Chris Craft vintage look.

Just a pipe dream at the moment, but I am full of love for this boat, and have the woodworking skills and tools to pull it off.

Any input is appreciated.

Mar 03, 2016
by: Brandon

Do you happen to remember what size 1 1/4" nails you used?

I can find the silicon bronze ones in #14, #12, or #10, but I have no clue if one is more favorable than another for this project.

Jan 18, 2016
Building 2 PM38's
by: Reg O'Keefe

I live in Sydney Australia and in 1960 my brother had a small runabout that we used to ski behind.

When the Popular Mechanics came out each month I would purchase it.

When I saw the PM38 issue I said to my brother that it looked interesting and to cut a long story short, he built it.

He even built the trailer and handmade disc brakes for it.
They were rare in 1963.

We used the boat for about 2 years and eventually a guy who skied with us pestered my brother to sell him the boat and it continued in good service with him for many more years.

That is not the end of the story as my brother then proceeded to build another PM38.

I do not think I ever skied behind the second boat as by then I had gone on to more powerful boats and barefooting and such things.

He still had the boat in the nineties and could still have it now as he was a hoarder.

I thought about that little boat a lot over the years and when I recently found the plans I made the decision I would build it, my excuse being that it would be for my grandsons.

I have decided to make it my winter project.


Aug 21, 2012
Pictures of the build
by: Russell

Now for the pictures

May 11, 2011
More Pictures of the "Damm Yankee"
by: Russell

Here are some more pictures of the PM-38 I built in 2009.

PM 38 Damned Yankee

PM 38 Damned Yankee

PM 38 Damned Yankee

I sold the original built PM-38 in 1964.

May 11, 2011
Mike, yes I did stray from original plans.
by: Russell

I made some minor changes to the original plans.

I used marine plywood throughout and increased the bottom 4x8 to 1/2 inch thickness.

The keelson was increased to a 2x4x10ft and the bottom battens I used a 2x4x10 cut in half.

Also doubled the transon thickness.

Also fiber glassed all the seams and bow.

I used a long shaft outboard so I had to increase the transon width to 20 inches.

Also used silicon bronze screws and ring nails throughout.

No windshield because it would increase wind resistance.

Used oak for the frames, skid rails, sheer rails and spray rails.

Used Titebond u1timate wood glue bought by the gallon and 3M 5200 marine caulk.

According to the GPS the "Damm Yankee" was clocked at 35mph with the 25hp outboard with me (220lbs) aboard.

With a lighter captain, I'm sure it would go the advertised 38mph.

May 11, 2011
Second Time
by: Mike

She looks superb, Russell.

Was there anything that you did differently the second time around (building wise)?

I know that isn't a fair question, I'm about the same age as you, I can remember my first time afloat in the first boat (canoe) I built, but I'm dammed if I can remember much about building her.

So put it another way, did you stray from the original instructions on the plans?

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