Shenandoah Whitehall

The construction went quickly. Every major project I’ve ever begun has a hidden “gumption trap”—a difficult and unrewarding challenge that sucks the will to persist right out of me. This skin-on-frame boat was an exception. Each evening or weekend hour brought visible progress. In the end, I finished the boat in about 75 hours over three months, while also working a full-time job, raising a toddler, and making a pair of oars. A more experienced builder could probably finish the boat in 40 hours.

O’Day Day Sailer

The Day Sailer, no matter which model, is a very versatile boat, easy to rig, sail, transport, and store. With the mast down the boat and trailer take up just a few feet more than an average family car, so it can be stored in most garages, though the mast may need to be stowed diagonally. At the ramp, the Day Sailer can be rigged in under 30 minutes: step the mast, add the boom, bend on the jib and main, clip the pop-up rudder onto the transom and sort out the sheets and halyards.

Ed Monk Skiff

Ed Monk was a famous Seattle-based Bryant’s Marina was a local yard that outfitted fishing vessels, and this skiff was likely a working tender for these vessels that could be quickly built by the yard. The skiff is 13’6” long with a 4’8” beam and drawing only a couple of inches. The bottom has a slight rocker. The stem and frames are all straight, I thought the build would be a pretty straightforward, given that there would be so few curves to cut.

Salt Bay Skiff

Designer Chris Franklin set out with the intention to create a simple, sturdy boat. It was introduced in Getting Started in Boats, Volumes 7 and 8, supplements to issues of WoodenBoat in the winter of 2007-08. These issues were specifically geared towards building boats with kids. Thanks to the simple design and ease of construction, there is plenty of flexibility for personal modifications. Most Salt Bay skiffs are built as rowboats, but can be built as driftboats without a keel or skeg. They can be sailed, and the plans include dimensions and drawings for adding a leeboard, a rudder, and a sliding-gunter rig with boom and jib, though some builders have built the boat with the gunter without the boom, cat rigged without the jib, or with a lug sail instead of a gunter.

Chester Yawl

My search led me to Chesapeake Light Craft’s (CLC) Chester Yawl, a 15′ Whitehall-type rowboat. It has beautiful lines, and the complexity of the project seemed just right: enough to feel like an accomplishment without being daunting. The Complete Rowing Kit I ordered included CNC-cut parts of marine okoume plywood, epoxy, fiberglass, oarlocks, and a 68-page manual. I also ordered the optional second seat. To create full-length pieces, the rubrails have precut scarf joints and the plank pieces have tight puzzle joints that assure that the mating pieces are properly aligned and the curves of the planks will be fair.

Moccasin 14

anoeist Bill Burk, in an article linked to the Moccasin 14 page of the B&B Yacht Designs website, writes that he had built a Moccasin 12 and enjoyed it for day use and fishing but needed something larger to take canoe-camping at lakes in the Pacific Northwest. Regulations at the Bowron Lakes in British Columbia . . .


One of the better-known trailerable boats in Southcentral Alaska is the Tolman skiff. Designed by the late Renn Tolman of Homer, Alaska, in the early 1990s, the three models of the skiff have become a common sight in Alaskan waters. The beautiful power-dory-inspired lines and stitch-and-glue construction made the design very popular for new builders. Even those with little or no woodworking skills can take on these easy-to-build boats.Renn’s book, Tolman Alaskan Skiffs, details three models: the Standard, a 20′ open skiff; the Widebody, a 21′ 4″ version of the Standard with a console, a cuddy cabin, or a pilothouse; and the 22′ Jumbo, a cruiser that can support a full cabin with pilothouse. In recent years, the Jumbo, stretched by many builders to 24′, with its comfortable overnight accommodations, has been the most popular of the three Tolmans because of its usefulness in Alaskan coastal waters. Although the skiffs were designed for that area and the Pacific Northwest, they have been built and used from the California coast to the Florida flats and other parts of the world.

The Cosine Wherry

The Cosine Wherry is 14′ 2″ long with a beam of 52″ and should weigh about 100 lbs when built to the plans. It is strip-planked with 1/4″ x 3/4″ red cedar, and sheathed inside and out with fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Building time is at least 200 to 250 hours, though that will vary considerably depending on the builder’s experience, whether or not the strips are purchased or milled from solid planks, and how much detail is put into finishing touches. For my Cosine, I cut my own strips, sawed my own hardwood veneer for the transom, and laminated an outer stem that is not in the plans.


Like many of Welsford’s small-boat designs, the Sei combines a relatively narrow and flat bottom panel with three strakes of glued lapstrake planks over 1/4″-plywood frames. The hull is built upright on a simple waist-high jig, a feature that will be appreciated by anyone who has ever crawled under a boat to clean up dripping epoxy while planking. Unlike other popular Welsford designs like Walkabout and Pathfinder, the Sei doesn’t use permanent stringers along each plank edge—the plank laps themselves produce adequate strength and stiffness, as well as a lighter boat

Whitehall 17

The Whitehall is composed of 120 planking strips bent cold over molds. The instructions suggest the hull can be stripped with hardwoods (Honduras or Philippine mahogany) or softwoods (western red cedar or Sitka spruce). The plans estimate a mahogany Whitehall will weigh about 350 lbs. My boat, STELLA, has a cedar hull with spruce trim and weighs slightly over 200 lbs. A light skiff has many advantages. It can accelerate more quickly, go faster, and be more responsive—all of that adds to the fun. At launch sites it is easy getting the Whitehall on and off the trailer, and two can easily carry it.

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