SKIMMER - A pulling skiff with auxiliary power - Small Boats Magazine

SKIMMER -- A pulling skiff with auxiliary power

 Powerboats / Posted 4 weeks ago / 842 views


Skimmer is a 19-ft. sliding-seat pulling skiff with an auxiliary diesel engine.  The beam is 62-inches but the outboard oar pivots are at 72-inches to give enough radius for the rolling seat to allow full leg extension.  The oars are 10-ft. ash.  The boat has a tunnel hull, 17′4″ at the waterline drawing 13-inches.  The auxiliary is a 13.5 HP, 2 cylinder 479cc Beta-Marine turning a 10-by-9 prop.  As of November 10, 2020 there are 40 hours on the engine.

The design of the hull is my variation on Robb White’s variation on Atkin’s Rescue Minor.  Skimmer was featured in Small Boats Monthly “Reader-built Boats” in the March 2021 issue.

I have been using the boat in the estuaries behind Jekyll Island, Georgia since I finished it – the first year with oars alone while I saved up for the engine.  As a rowboat or pulling skiff it is, of course, heavy.  It was 500 lbs without the little diesel which weighs 190 plus the shaft, prop, muffler, battery, etc.  I am guessing it weighs about 750 lbs. For three years while I was building Skimmer I rowed a carbon-fiber Little River Marine Heritage 18 at 100 lbs.  In comparison, Skimmer takes a much slower stroke but the momentum carries the boat through the stroke.  I am 75 years old and I can pull a mile in 30 minutes without hurting myself.  If you want to get from point A to Point B or win a race this is not the boat but if you row for fitness, the greater resistance/fewer reps is the best way to stay in shape.  The sliding seat puts most of the work on the legs and back.  I find that my arms get a workout recovering those heavy 10-ft. ash oars.  If I were going to make a long trip I would compromise the aesthetics with a pair of carbon-fiber shafts with big Macon blades.  The slower pace of a big heavy boat has advantages.  You can walk around.  You can jump in from the dock.  You can cross a heavy wake of a fast trawler.  You can take people and dogs along.  You can fish.  If you get tired you can motor home.

It’s a safe boat. The heavy box keel, under the round chine makes it virtually impossible to capsize.  I planked the bottom with 1″ teak so I could beach the boat and leave it between tides.  The prop is tucked up under the tunnel hull so it stays out of trouble.

The boat has a swim platform.  I thought Skimmer might get some duty as a paddleboard/kite-board support boat offshore.  The swim platform lets a swimmer come aboard easily.  Find some nice water and the kids can come and go as they please.

The little motor has the advantages of diesel – reliability, low maintenance, fuel economy (40 miles/gallon!) and safety – reduced fire hazard.  I am especially pleased with the double-chamber water-lift muffler I made of 316 stainless steel.  Max RPM is 3600 but I usually run around 3000, that gives me about 10 MPH.

I used nothing but the best materials – frames and scantling are quarter-sawn white oak, the box-keel, decks, and rails are clear teak, and the strip built hull is sapele.  It has 10 oz. epoxy-fiberglass inside and on the bottom.  The freeboard is 4 oz. glass.  The finish is Epiphanes.  All fasteners are stainless steel and silicon bronze.

Let me know if you have questions, comments, advice or if you want to see dozens of construction photos.


  • Listing ID: 32049
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649 Old Plantation RoadNorth America,31527 Show Phone Number *****

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