The Ski King was designed by company founder Glen L. Witt—a keen water-skier and a boat designer—in 1953, the year he went into business selling plans and kits to home boatbuilders. Although he enjoyed boating in his own Ski King for many years, at some point sales of the plans diminished and they were removed from the Glen-L catalog. But in 1976, Dwain Colton of Portland, Oregon, was keen to purchase a set of Ski King plans which, luckily, were still stored within the company’s archives. As it turned out, Dwain didn’t complete his Ski King until 2003, but the plans are now in Glen-L’s online catalog and “even made it back into our print catalog, which is something that I don’t remember ever happening before,” said Gayle Brantuk, Witt’s daughter who now runs the company.
I met this great bloke, Ross Lillistone, a classy sailor, designer, and builder of boats, at a boat show in 2005 and asked him to sell me plans and give me guidance in the selecting and building of a couple of small boats—a 9’ Sherpa that I rigged with a balanced lugsail and 10’ Fish Hook rowing boat—both from designer John Welsford. I’d been happily sailing then with a new cohort of like-minded sailors, but I eventually realized that I needed a faster, more versatile, but still simply rigged boat.
The traditional craft documented in Howard Chapelle’s books are well known, but a number of his drawings are tucked away in the Smithsonian Institution. Among the turn-of-the-century East Coast workboats in their files, catalogued as HIC303, is a handsome 18′ crabbing skiff. It has many of the characteristics associated with working skiffs used by Chesapeake Bay crabbers of the era: a shallow deadrise hull, a large skeg and centerboard, a transom-hung rudder, multiple thwarts, a foredeck with washboards down the sides, and a low coaming around the cockpit.
While ocean-voyaging catamarans have been the main focus of Wharram’s design work, his plans catalog includes a few smaller boats suitable beach cruising. The Tiki 21 that was recently profiled here in Small Boats Monthly crosses the line between the two pursuits but is still a bigger boat than many people want to build or trailer. The Hitia 17 and the Hitia 14 are based on the same hull shape and design concepts as the Tiki 21 and her larger sisters, but the Hitias are open boats. They are lighter, simpler, and less expensive to build, while retaining the sailing characteristics and performance of the cruisers. While the smaller Hitia 14 is strictly a daysailer, the Hitia 17, with its dry-storage holds and kayak-style cockpits, features real camp-cruising capability for sailors who don’t mind roughing it a bit.
ryn Morgan has spent all his working life at sea, but until now he had never had a boat of his own. For many years he had his eye on an 18′ Plymouth Pilot, a fiberglass production boat with lines based on a 1930s pilot vessel that operated out of Teignmouth in Devon, on the . . .
graduated from college with a degree in art, so when I took up boatbuilding a few years later the transition came naturally. There is something quite sculptural about hulls and oars, spars and sails. Joe Greenley of Redfish Kayaks has doubtless made the same connection. While he is well known for his artistry with strip-building, . . .
There is something magical about the classic styling of decked runabouts that ushers us back to an earlier, more elegant era. Obtaining a genuine classic isn’t going to be in the cards for everyone, but there is an alternative that blends their style with modern affordable construction and just the right amount of whimsy. The Runabout 14 (RB14) designed by Jacques Mertens-Goossens of Bateau.com is one such craft.
The search for a boat to build, which ultimately led me to the First Mate, started with a list of requirements. The boat had to have straightforward construction that is quick and economical. At the launch ramp it had to be quick and easy to rig, launch, and retrieve singlehandedly. Afloat, it had to be, above all, a rewarding boat to sail, but also a pleasant and capable rowing boat serving as a comfortable cruiser able to look after itself and the crew. And I required, of course, elegant good looks. In the First Mate, Ross achieved all of this in spades.
The Ebb is easily moved under oars, though its light weight made measuring its speed difficult. Weighing well under half my weight, the Ebb followed Newton’s Third Law of Motion and had and equal and opposite reaction to the swing of my torso back and forth. The boat sped up during the recovery and slowed down during the drive. Rowing solo I could at a lazy pace and make 4 ½ knots, an average of several runs in opposite directions in a currentless cove. Ramping up to a sustainable aerobic pace, I held 4 ¾ knots, and at a sprint, with the GPS fluctuating through several decimal points, I made an average top speed of 5 knots.
The plans are highly detailed and provide illustrations for almost every step of the process. The plans include a materials list, down to the last fitting, and an epoxy technique manual depicting everything from laminating to fairing. The plans call for 18 sheets of 1/4″ marine plywood and one sheet of 3/4″. My Tiki 21, BETO, took around 10 or 12 gallons of epoxy and a good helping of mahogany and Douglas-fir.