Sam Devlin’s Cackler wears camo well, but if hunting’s not your thing, it can easily take on a different look and different duties: Its 14′4″ garvey hull and unobstructed cockpit are eminently adaptable. Sam recalls: “I did the original work on the Cackler design years ago—about 1984—and did the design as a combination shop skiff and hunting skiff. The evolution was directly from my other duck-boat designs, with higher freeboard but retaining the decking that gives the reserve buoyancy and seaworthiness. A garvey-type hull allowed easy walking off the front of the boat when beaching, and effectively gives a larger volume to the interior without additional and unusable length. With the first one built I knew, in my humble opinion, that I had a winner.”The Cackler I spent some time with was built at Devlin Designing Boat Builders for one of Sam’s regular customers, John Heater, a 95-year-old Bainbridge Island, Washington, man who has owned four other Devlin boats ranging from a 9′6″ skiff to a 31′ cabin cruiser. “In his more than 25 years of owning Devlin boats, John’s boating needs have changed over the years,” writes Sam, “and with this latest build he really wanted a small and fast boat that would be seaworthy enough to keep him aboard in all kinds of weather and conditions and would allow him to explore the Puget Sound waters around his island home safely.” Meant to be seen and enjoyed rather than concealed in the marsh, John’s boat looks good in gleaming dress whites.

At rest, the Cackler offers a stable platform for fishing or hauling pots.photographs and video by the author

At rest, the Cackler offers a stable platform for fishing or hauling pots.

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