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.

Belle Daysailer

After I saw the photograph in the calendar, I searched up BELLE and found that Dan Gonneau, the designer/builder, had written a blog post that was a stream-of-consciousness diary about his inspiration for exactly the kind of small boat I was looking for. It sketched out the big decisions, the tiny details, and the material choices that went into the boat, and the craftsmanship that infused her every plank, frame, and joint. Classic lines with a modern aesthetic—I was hooked!

Parker Dinghy

Having had my sights set on building a plank-on-frame rowboat in the 12′ to 16′ range, I was immediately sold on the Parker Dinghy when I saw her lines. I ordered the plans and set about lofting the boat and picking up all the patterns for the backbone and transom as well as building the five molds required. The plans call for woods all native to New Brunswick, a nod to the way Lindon Parker would have built them, and perhaps to Harry Bryan’s belief in using what’s around you. I was building this boat in the Pacific Northwest and had a different array of wood species to choose from. I found a nice piece of tight vertical-grain western larch for the keel, deadwood, and sternpost. Though it’s a softwood species, it is quite hard and rot-resistant.

Classic 17

On the day SADIE was launched, the wind was light and there was a slight chop off Lyme Regis. With five of us on board and the engine at 5,000 rpm, SADIE achieved a top speed of 21.9 knots. Steve’s concern that his aft seating arrangement might give too much bow-up trim was proven, and so two of his crew crouched in the cuddy to keep her level. The ride was a bit bumpier there than on the aft seat, so Steve plans to install some internal ballast forward.

Morbic 11

I contacted François Vivier in the fall of 2016 to inquire if his Morbic 12, designed for lapstrake plywood, could be built with strip planks. He replied, “Yes, with some modification,” and asked me more about my requirements to make sure the it would meet my needs. After discussions on weight, cockpit arrangement, rowing ability, and rig, he decided a new design would be in order. We agreed to go forward with a Morbic 11 as a lightweight strip-built hull with a balanced lug rig, daggerboard, kick-up rudder, buoyancy compartments, and a bit of dry storage.

« Previous PageNext Page »