When I was a boy growing up on Bayou Lafourche in southeast Louisiana, everyone spoke French and all the men around me were boatsmen. My uncles, cousins, and brother-in-law—all the men closest to me—made their livings with boats. Some of them were shrimp fishers, some oystermen, and still others worked boats in the oilfields. When I was 12, I wanted to go duck hunting, but I didn’t have a boat. One of those men, a shrimper and fur trapper who had built many boats (one as large as 50′), supplied me with his patterns and guidance for a pirogue, a 14′ double-ended flat-bottomed skiff made from a single 14′ sheet of fir marine plywood. In those days we could buy long sheets of marine plywood and beautiful bald cypress at a local lumber yard.After a few more wooden skiff and steel workboat builds, I decided in retirement to build another wooden boat. I was thinking skiff; at first, a skiff à joug—a Creole skiff made from four cypress planks with a yoke (joug) for forward-facing rowing. I decided that it wouldn’t have much utility today, but I still had that hull shape in my head.One day while searching the web, I came across a video of a skiff designed by Doug Hylan. He called it a Chesapeake Crab Skiff after boats designed for working in Chesapeake Bay. I thought, wow, what a beautiful little skiff, a working skiff much like those I grew up with. I went directly to his website and discovered that, in addition to that boat, he offered plans for a smaller version called Little Crab. I found it to be even more attractive than the Chesapeake Crab Skiff. Its profile, graced by the elegant sweep of the sheer, was just what I was looking for. I downloaded the study plans, looked them over, and I was sold. It was a gorgeous small skiff that I thought would be satisfying to build and, at the same time, help me recapture some of my skills as a boatbuilder. On top of all that, it could be sailed, something I had not done in many years and dearly missed, and it might even be small enough to cartop.

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