July 2017

From The Editor

Drifting Off

My last moments of wakefulness in bed would be colored by the failures I’d experienced during my day in the workshop. At some point I shifted my thinking as I drifted off to sleep and focused on the work ahead rather than behind. Anticipating and solving boatbuilding problems became my nighttime routine and a very reliable way to fall pleasantly asleep no matter what distressing things might have happened during the day.


Peeler Skiff

A lightweight fishing and utility skiff

The requirements were simple. The boat had to be light enough to tow behind a four-cylinder SUV, small enough to fit in a garage, and capable of getting two and gear the 50 miles from the south end of Lake Chelan to the north end and back again in the afternoon when the lake gets rough. Although there are many affordable aluminum and fiberglass boats that would serve the purpose, the boat had to be something distinctive.


Microcruiser and Adventure Racer

RoG was designed, in some part, for the 300-mile Everglades Challenge, a Florida thin-water endurance voyage, but for less grueling adventures the RoG is a charming miniature cruiser. It is just 15′ 3-1/2″overall, yet it has a deep, comfortable, private cabin with built-in bookshelves forward, obviously designed for a contemplative sailor. The cabin has sitting headroom and offers a chart-sized nav/dining table that drops down to seat level to form two full-sized berths.

Rowing the North Sea

Norway to Shetland by Faering

In the autumn of 2011 Erik Schouw-Hansen and I were discussing our next adventure. In 2010 we had sailed together to the Shetlands—Erik crewed aboard my 31′ sloop on the first leg of a voyage from Norway to the Caribbean and back. We were both born and raised on the west coast of Norway, so for our next trip it was natural to look westward across the North Sea to the Shetland Islands. We wanted to try something new and settled upon rowing a small, open boat across the North Sea the following summer. We set mid-June as our deadline to be ready for departure, and from that point we would wait for favorable weather conditions.

The Vintage Cherry dye transformed the very light mahogany—a cut-off is shown here— into a rich dark color that enhances the grain.

Water-based Wood Dye

Rich Color to Dye For

The outboard runabout, WORK OF ART, often stops people in their tracks when they see the deck with its beautiful, natural-looking wood color with sparkling grain highlights. No one has guessed that the wood under the varnish has been dyed.

Reader Built Boat

The loose-footed sprit sail makes sailing about as simple as it gets. Light summer breezes make for unhurried passages between islands.


Transforming the Traditional

After moving ashore from living aboard a schooner, and acquiring a wife and a small son, Michael Colfer of Bellingham, Washington, needed a smaller boat. He built a Nutshell pram and a Good Little Skiff, but then wanted a boat capable of taking on some more challenging weather in the more exposed areas around the San Juan Islands.


Stay-Afloat is a soft, sticky, wax-like material made of treated petroleum byproducts.

Stay Afloat Leak Plug and Sealant

Quick cure for small leaks

Stay Afloat is soft, sticky wax-like material meant to fix small leaks of the sort I get with my older lapstrake boats. None of my boats has suffered enough damage to let water aboard, but that’s a possibility worth preparing for. To test the effectiveness of Stay Afloat I wasn’t about to poke holes in any of my boats, so I made a gizmo that could simulate leaks.

The Veritas Cabinet Scraper has some subtle but significant improvements that make it easier to use than its predecessor.

Veritas Cabinet Scraper

Update to a classic

Woodworking raises a lot of dust. I have a collection system hooked up to the machines that create the most dust, but many times I can avoid creating so much dust in the first place by using a scraper instead of sandpaper. If the scraper blade is sharp and burnished to a curl, it will create crepe-like shavings and very little dust.

News and Curiosities

Video: The Pirogue Maker, 1949

This 14-minute piece of vintage film shows Cajun craftsman making a pirogue the "old way": Hewn of a cyprus log by hand; probably the last pirogue made this fashion.

Amazing Resource: Nick Schade’s How-To Videos

Nick Schade is producing beautiful videos that are helpful and chockablock full of information. Right now he's working on a strip-planed microBootlegger, but he's got other playlists and builds: A skin-on-frame microBootlegger Sport and a Petrel Play.

Natalie Warren’s Series About Great Places to Paddle

Warren shares both overnight and day trip possibilities with readers, and has all sorts of boaters in mind when she shares what she's found.

Wes Modes, Hazel the Dog, and Shanty Boat Living

Through video, photography, written stories, an art installation, and more he’s conveyed his experiences building the boat and living aboard it on a few different rivers over the past few years. In June 2018, they’ll be exploring and documenting the people and places of the Hudson River.

2018 Small Boats Annual on Newsstands

From 2017's articles here on the site, we've got the Coot dinghy on the cover, a nice selection of sail, motor, paddle, and oar articles, a guide to kits and boatbuilders, and an inspiring collection of Reader-Built Boats and their stories.

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