Glen-L Bo-Jest

The three pages of plans were clear, but required extra study for me as this was my first plans-built boat. (I had previously built an Adirondack guideboat from a partial kit.) The plans were well drawn, and the full-sized patterns for the frames were accurate and required no fairing during assembly. The 16 pages of accompanying printed directions were thorough and easy to follow. The plans provide details for the installation of an inboard motor—specified to be no more than 10 hp with a weight of about 240 lbs—and the option to configure the stern to take a 5- to 10-hp outboard. I built the outboard version to use the space in the pilothouse that would be used by the inboard-motor housing.

CLC’s Team Dory

While the boats are designed for four rowers and a coxswain, we take the Team Dories out with only two rowers and a coxswain. We balance the boat with one rower at the bow and the other at the third seat. They have oars of different lengths—the boat has a narrower beam at the first seat—and produce an imbalance in thrust, by the coxswain can easily maintain a straight course with a slight angle on the rudder. Rowing with a crew of three has little effect on the speed of the boat, but can often be faster than a full crew of five.

Song Wren

A cruising sailboat in the 20′ to 22′ range resides at the high end of the spectrum that most amateur boatbuilders can realistically aspire to. Go bigger and you need time, money, space and skills that few of us have. But there’s a delectable spread of choices at the level just below the impossible dream—plans by at least a half dozen highly regarded designers. Of these, Sam Devlin’s Song Wren 21, was, in the end, the most compelling. I had already built two smaller stitch-and-glue designs from Devlin Designing Boat Builders, so I felt comfortable with the process.


The original faerings were built by hand and eye, and had slowly evolved during hundreds of years to meet the local conditions and particular purposes. Iain carefully studied every design and photo he could find, realizing no two faerings were alike. He had a commission for a boat smaller than the original ones, and after absorbing all he could find on the subject, he began drafting his own interpretation of the faering, adapting the structure for glued-lapstrake plywood.

Campion’s Apple 16

The Apple 16, a five-strake stitch-and-glue balanced lug yawl designed by Thomas Dunderdale of Campion Sail and Design, came closest to being everything I wanted. The classic lines and balanced lug yawl were just what I was looking for and the somewhat flat aft section of the hull allows the boat to get up on a plane. I’m a sucker for a plumb bow, so as soon as I saw pictures of the Apple 16, I knew it was for me.

Oughtred’s Auk

The Auk is an Iain Oughtred design that dates back to 1984. He was “just looking at traditional boats and trying to produce an ideal version of an 8′ tender.” It was a smaller version of the Puffin, a 10′ tender he had previously designed; he gave the Auk a generous beam for its length and a particularly pronounced sheer. “I tend to agree with Uffa Fox that you should have a good strong sheer because it is stylish and it helps keep the water out,” he said. After selling about 250 sets of Auk plans, he redesigned it about 10 years ago to be “a refined version of the same thing with a couple of inches more beam,” and has sold a further 116 sets of plans since then. It is designed primarily as a tender with carrying capacity of three or four people “in sensible conditions,” but he gave it a balanced lug rig for sailing. 

Oxford Wherry

Despite the author’s budding workmanship and a few errors, he finished the project with a beautiful, shapely hull sitting in his garage. He says the building process was very satisfying because the design was simple, yet elegant, and the instructions were thorough but not overly complicated.

Super Sailfish

In 1946, Alex Bryan and Cortlandt Heyniger had combined bits of their first names to create Alcort, Inc., and the first sailboat that they designed, in 1947, was the 11’7” Sailfish, built in Waterbury, Connecticut. The Sailfish had a beam of 31-½”, a crew capacity of 300 pounds, and weighed 82 pounds. The volume of air enclosed by the hull and deck made the boat virtually unsinkable. A 65-square-foot lateen sail provided ample power. The boat gained immediate popularity after the LIFE article and within a few years the original design was lengthened to 13’7” and widened a bit to 35-½”. The larger Sailfish flew a 75-square-foot sail, weighed 102 pounds and had a crew capacity of 400 pounds

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.

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