19′ Bartender

A Bartender with another builder modification has a cuddy-cabin roof supporting the windshield.

The Bartenders, in six models ranging from 19′ to 29′, were designed by George Calkins during the 1950s to negotiate the river bars along the Oregon coast. He died in 2008 at the age of 97. Bill Childs owned the rights to the designs, so we went to visit him in Bellingham, Washington.  Bill was kind enough to spend some time with us, answer all of our questions, and show us his cuddy-cabin 22.5-footer and some of the boats under construction in his shop. The Bartenders were even more beautiful up close, and I ended up buying a set of plans for the 19-footer. Plans are available for Bartenders up to 29′, but for me, the best boat is the smallest one that will do the job.


Beyond good looks, what does the Noank offer? How well will it handle in the afternoon southerly that’s common to Fishers Island Sound, the place the designer had in mind when he went to his drawing board? How is its calm-water performance? Does it track well? Turn easily? Is it slow or will it go? Is it fragile? Would it be hard to build? The short answer is that the Noank does well what it set out to do. It is fun to row, forgiving, and tougher than it looks.

15′ Sailing Dinghy

When it came to building a boat for himself for coastal voyaging in 2012, he naturally chose what was then the biggest boat in his range, the 14’ Sailing Dinghy, and adapted it for adventure sailing. It was on that boat that he made the first two voyages of his slightly madcap project of sailing around every offshore lighthouse in Britain. A potentially dangerous incident (a near-capsize too complicated to explain here) during a 120-mile offshore trip from Devon to the Channel Islands and back, however, convinced him he needed something a bit more seaworthy.

Glen-L Zip

“I am frequently asked why I built a boat, and particularly, why I built a Glen-L Zip. The first part of the question is easy to answer: I love to build things and I can’t afford to go out and buy a new boat, so a set of plans was my preferred starting point. And why the Zip? I was initially drawn to it because it has style and character, more than I’d ever be able to find in any boat on the market, whether or not I could afford it. But I didn’t have much boatbuilding experience, other than a stitch-and-glue plywood kayak I had finished, so I was unsure if a Zip would be within my abilities. As I searched the Web and corresponded with other novices who had successfully built one, it quickly became clear that it was the obvious choice.”

Milford 20

The diminutive yacht OYSTER, a Milford 20, is a modern take on the early New Haven sharpies that worked the oyster beds along Long Island Sound’s Connecticut shores. Inspired by Mark Fitzgerald’s FLORIDAYS in Reuel B. Parker’s The Sharpie Book, the 20′ 6″ OYSTER was designed and built by Neville Watkinson of Milford Boats in Christchurch, New Zealand, and carries either a cat-ketch or a cat-schooner rig.

Drake Raceboat

Clint Chase of Chase Small Craft wrote of the Drake Raceboat: “This was the first boat that I designed totally from the numbers.” It’s the third in his series of Drake Row Boats and, at 18′3″, it fits in between the Drake 17 (17′4″) and the Drake 19 (19′2″). While the Drake Raceboat has a familial resemblance to these two American-born relatives, I suspect that there is some Finnish blood in its veins. The fine entry, the ‘midship cross section as close to semicircular as you can get with four wide strakes, and the light laminated frames look a lot like they came from the boats Finns use for racing on their vast network of interconnected lakes.

Tango 13

The Tango Skiff has interesting hull extensions that create an attention-grabbing geometry aft of the transom. The additional running surface and buoyancy of the extensions appealed to me because of my previous experience in small outboard-powered boats. When operated solo, many of them with a conventional transom will squat under the weight of the motor and the skipper and set the bow pointing skyward.

Tenderly Dinghy

John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft came to WoodenBoat School here in Brooklin to lead a six-day class in building his newly designed Tenderly Dinghy and brought two finished boats with him. I jumped at the opportunity to see the progress on the boats, and to take the finished ones for a spin in Great Harbor.

Peeler 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.


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.

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