Initially designed for millionaires, the Passagemaker skiff is also ideally suited to thousand-aires like me. In addition to being a manageable “investment” at $1,349, the Passagemaker proved to be less onerous to build than I originally imagined. On completion, this skiff lived up to its touted versatility and its ability to carry loads and loads of all kinds of boating stuff.The Passagemaker was created by John Harris, chief designer and president of the Annapolis, Maryland, based Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) at the behest of PassageMaker, a magazine catering to anyone interested in big, expensive, power cruisers. “The editor was very specific in what he wanted the boat to do,” Harris recalls. The design had to be small and light enough to be easily hoisted, probably in davits, onto the stern of a trawler-style cruiser. Its length was to be 11′7″ and include the option of breaking the down into two parts, each with its own watertight integrity, and easily reassembled. It had to be robust enough to carry three people and all their gear comfortably and safely in protected waters where the mother vessel was likely to be anchored, moored, or docked. It had to be propelled easily with an outboard motor, oars, or a sailing rig, and, finally, it had to be good-looking.Undaunted by such a tall order, Harris self-imposed a 100-lb limit to the skiff’s dry weight, a goal he more than met by bringing the Passagemaker in at just under 90 lbs. This was achieved by drawing on the handsome form of traditional Norwegian prams and using modern materials and boatbuilding methods. The lapstrake design of the original prams lends itself to CLC’s LapStitch method for stitch-and-glue plywood. The overlapping joints are self-aligning and offer plenty of gluing surface area and an attractive appearance. Using mostly 1/4″ (6 mm) stock for the four strakes, bottom, and other pieces helped keep the weight down, while fiberglass cloth and epoxy added stiffness and durability. By the time the design was ready for the CNC cutter, Harris was well on his way not just to meeting all of the PassageMaker magazine specifications but also to creating a boat that would have a broad appeal. He introduced his Passagemaker in 2005, and since then CLC has sold more 500 of the kits.

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