The Candlefish has comfortable seating for the family and plenty of freeboard.Thomas Rowley

The Candlefish has comfortable seating for the whole family and plenty of freeboard.

Scott Rowley, his wife Amy, and their daughters Elli and Livvy live on Steamboat Peninsula, near Olympia, Washington, at the south end of Puget Sound. The aluminum boat that they’d been using was getting on in years and needed to be retired; with the waters of Eld Inlet just beyond their back yard, going without a boat was out of the question. When Scott saw our Boat Profile of Devlin Designing Boatbuilders’ Candlefish 13 in our April 2015 issue, he decided he’d build one as the family’s next boat. He had done some woodworking, but had never built a boat before, and he looked forward to the project as a pleasant diversion from the pressures of his work as a pediatric dentist and the stress of having a new office under construction.

When you've used truck-bed liner to paint a boat you don't have to worry about dragging it up on the ricks. Thomas Rowley

When you’ve used truck-bed liner for paint, you don’t have to worry about dragging the boat up on the rocks.

He called Sam Devlin, who happens to live just 4 miles away as the crow flies, and ordered a Candlefish 13 kit. The package arrived with all the pieces for the stitch-and-glue construction of the 13′ 4″ skiff. He set up shop in the garage after agreeing with Amy that her car would still have its spot in their two-car garage and Scott would park his car outside. Scott was at first daunted by the challenge of turning a stack of flat plywood panels into a three-dimensional curved structure, but as he proceeded with stitching, the transom and the bottom and side panels came together easily and the hull took shape more easily than he had anticipated.

What was designed as a hunting skiff serves as the family's water taxi, getting to shoreside destinations quicker than they could drive to them.Thomas Rowley

What was designed as a hunting skiff serves as the family’s water taxi, getting to shoreside destinations quicker than they could drive to them in their car .

Construction took bit longer than he had expected, which is to be expected, but the work was enjoyable and his daughters enjoyed seeing the boat take shape. When the hull was ready for finishing, Scott visited Sam for his advice. Sam encouraged him to use a tough-as-nails truck-bed liner. It would protect the hull when the boat was hauled up on the cobbles, and also the cockpit when the kids would get aboard with sandy shoes, or their dachshund, Tina, would be set in the cockpit with sandy paws.

The Rowley's home waters provide views of Mt. Rainier, Washington's tallest mountain.Thomas Rowley

The Rowley’s home waters provide impressive views of Mt. Rainier, Washington’s tallest mountain.

After LADY LOUISE was launched on the New Year’s Eve last year, she’s been kept busy. Taking her out is a pleasure in itself, but she gets the family many places in less time than they could drive. Ice-cream and Sunday brunches at the Boston Harbor marina are just five minutes away by boat, almost straight across Eld and Budd inlets, while it takes 45 minutes to drive around the inlets to get there. Olympia is 7 miles away by boat, 17 miles by car, so in good weather the skiff is a reasonable way to get to a downtown restaurant, and a much more enjoyable ride. A rope swing on Harstine Island and the state park on Hope Island are other popular destinations for the Rowleys. They also do a bit of crabbing with the boat and use LADY LOUISE as a tender on overnight excursions aboard their sailboat.

Sam may have had three hunters and a moose in mind when he designed the Candlefish 13, but LADY LOUISE does very well with a family of four and a dachshund.

Have you recently launched a boat? Please email us. We’d like to hear about it and share your story with other Small Boats Monthly readers.