News and Curiosities Archives - Small Boats Magazine

Sparkman & Stephens Breathes New Life into Downeast Peapods

(Paid Post)

Tradition of the Past Meets Innovation of Today

NEWPORT, R.I. (February 17, 2021) – Through a collaboration with Sparkman & Stephens (S&S), the Downeast Peapod company (a wholly owned subsidiary of W-Class™️ Yacht Company in Newport, R.I.) has given its namesake double-ended rowboat a 21st Century makeover. To stay true to the design and thus the heritage of these historic wooden boats, S&S (also located in Newport) scanned the original lines of a Jimmy Steele Downeast Peapod, which was built with plank-on-frame construction over 20 years ago. The company then used 3D modeling to re-engineer the hull (13’ 8” length, 4’ 8” beam) for strip-planked construction, using western red cedar and WEST SYSTEM epoxy.”

Little Schooner Studios

The historic Downeast Peapod has been re-engineered by Sparkman & Stephens.

“Downeast Peapods have long been revered as some of the finest, most sea kindly small boats ever built in New England,” said Downeast Peapod CEO Donald Tofias. “Now we can offer them in three versions that are about half the weight. They can accommodate four adults, and they row just as easily fully loaded or light – well-suited for a day of exploring coastal waters or hauling gear and crew as a tender to a larger yacht.”

Downeast Peapods were originally designed and built in Maine during the 1800s for inshore lobster fishing. Their shallow draft and easy maneuverability allowed them to travel in the rocky Maine waters where larger boats could not go. With two ends (visually suggesting a peapod), they were easily rowed in both directions, and lobstermen commonly rowed them while standing.

Graphics supplied by S&S

S&S scanned an original Jimmy Steele Downeast Peapod (right), then re-engineered it from a 3D model for strip-planked cedar/epoxy construction (left).

“We are proud to have had a hand in modernizing this timeless and beautiful New England icon while maintaining its design integrity,” said Sparkman & Stephens head designer Brendan Abbott. “Like its predecessor, the new Downeast Peapod is ready to serve the needs of this generation and generations to come.”

Hull #1 Splashed

This past Valentine’s Day, hull #1 of the new Downeast Peapods (S&S Design Number 2838) was launched at Newport Shipyard/Safe Harbor Marina in Newport, R.I. Representing “The Rolls” model in a three-model series, it was put through its paces alongside the original Jimmy Steele boat, named “Ponytail”, that had been patiently waiting to meet its new sibling.

Little Schooner Studios

Hull #1 (“The Rolls” model, right) was launched on Valentine’s Day in Newport and was put through its paces alongside the Jimmy Steele Peapod “Ponytail”, which was built 20 years ago.

The Rolls’ hull of strip-planked western red cedar and WEST SYSTEM epoxy is embellished with seats, floorboards, and sheer strakes of solid cherry, while the keel and frames are laminated locust. She is equipped with two Shaw & Tenney oars with bronze oar locks.

“It was Jimmy Steele’s lifelong dream to build a completely varnished boat, so it’s a nod to him that our first boat launched is exactly that,” said Tofias, explaining that in the old Downeast Peapods, copper rivets were used to attach the steam-bent wooden planks to the steam-bent wooden frames. With the new construction method, the rivets as well as more than 100 pounds of weight have been eliminated.

Jimmy Steele, who died in 2008, was the last of the great Maine Downeast Peapod builders. Tofias, a wooden boat enthusiast who also owns W-Class Yacht Company, acquired Steele’s Downeast Peapod company in 2007 and moved it from Maine to Newport. In 2018, Tofias also acquired Sparkman & Stephens, which has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1929 and is known as the most iconic name in American naval architecture and yacht brokerage.

Little Schooner Studios

The newest Downeast Peapod under construction in Bristol, R.I.

The Models

Downeast Peapods are Made in America with American wood and products. They are available in three models and can be ordered through the new website:
• “The Chevy” with all-painted surfaces.
• “The Cadillac” with varnished seats and sheer strakes
• “The Rolls” varnished inside and out.

For more information go to or contact Donald Tofias. President & CEO Sparkman & Stephens, LLC, 401-847-5449.
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Small Boats 2021

Small Boats 2021 is available now! From a vintage roadster-style runabout you can build yourself, to two sailing pocket cruisers; from a skin-on-frame Whitehall pulling boat to an outboard-powered skiff that can also be sailed or rowed, Small Boats 2021 delivers a fleet of fine trailerable boats that can be stored and maintained at home.

Small Boats 2021 is a 112-page print anthology of the quality content you’ve come to expect online from Small Boats Magazine. In addition to a variety of boat profiles, it delivers product reviews, adventure narratives, and reader-built boats in a book-quality magazine that you’ll want to reference for years to come.

Available for purchase in print or digital format from The WoodenBoat Store.

Cover Image by Alison Langley

David W. Dillion Plans at Mystic Seaport’s Website

Special thanks to friend-of-the-magazine Ben Fuller for bringing it to our attention that 37 drawings by David W. Dillion of 15 different designs have recently appeared on Mystic Seaport Museum’s website. The plans are now available for purchase, too.

From the archives: Read about the Woods Hole Spritsail Boat, one of the boats Dillion documented for Mystic Seaport.

From Mystic Seaport: “David W. Dillion was an engineering draftsman before establishing a career as a freelance boat documentation specialist. He measured and drew more than seventy boats up to a hundred feet in length and taught lines-taking at the WoodenBoat School and half a dozen maritime museums across the United States. His plans have been published in WoodenBoat and other periodicals. He was the major contributor to the Museum Small Craft Association’s publication Boats, A Manual for Their Documentation.

List of Available Dillion Plans

North Haven Peapod, 13’x 3’10″. Carvel planked.

Nova Scotia Gunning Skiff, 14’9″ x 4’2”. Carvel planked, double ender.

Five Islands Skiff, 15′ x 4’5″. Round hull, transom stern, carvel planked.

Abaco Dinghy. Owned by Lance Lee, carvel planked, transom stern. No centerboard.

Bindals Boat, 15′-10″ x 4′3″. Danish built in the Norse style. Owned 1985 by James S. Rockefeller, Jr. Study plans only to show construction details.

Whitney Gunning Float duck hunting boat for oar or scull, 15’7″ x 48″. Carvel planked, transom stern.

Rangeley Boat, Herb Ellis No. 2, 17′2″ x 4′2″.

Whitehall pulling/sailing boat built by Orvil Young during 1968-69 as a recreational boat for the schooner ROSEWAY of Camden, Maine, 16′3″ x 4′5″. Based on fig. 73 of Chapelle’s American Small Sailing Craft. Carvel planked.

Rangeley Boat, Herbert N. Ellis #3; a wide transom attempts to make a more stable outboard version.

Westport Sharpie Firefly, 12’3″x 4’4″. Flat-bottomed and cross planked skiff, centerboard, two planks per side.

Lighthouse Peapod, 14’2 “x 4’8”. Carvel planked.

Matinicus Peapod, Sailing, 15’ x 4’6″. Based on John Gardner’s plans and documented as-built by the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine. Lapstrake with centerboard.

Creole Skiff Gibben Dupre, 17′9″ x 4′9″. Built by Alexander Giroir at Pierre Part, Louisiana, in 1934.

Canoe by J.R. Robertson, 15′ x 30″. Built at Auburndale, Mass. in the early 1900s. Lapstrake construction.

Rushton canoe Ugo, 16′ x 30″. Smooth-skin lapstrake.

VIDEO Small Boat Tour: ESCA, 15′ Christmas Wherry

At The WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Connecticut, Scott Williams brought ESCA, his impeccably built Christmas Wherry to exhibit among other small boats for “I Built It Myself.” The sail-and-oar boat won Best in Show for owner-built boats in the Concours d’Elegance awards, and this video shows why.

Scott built ESCA’s hull with glued, lapped Okoume plywood on white cedar frames. She’s got a 1-1/2″-thick Okoume keel, a stem of white oak, and the transom and thwarts are of quarter sawn Sapele. The spars are solid, laminated Sitka spruce.

What does Scott appreciate about boatbuilding? Well, as a contractor and builder normally working on land structures with straight lines and 90 degree angles, boats give him the opportunity to “throw away the square” and to do the satisfying work of sculpting and shaping wood “to the perfection of the boat.”

Electric Fantail Launch DORA Available for Charter at The Center for Wooden Boats

Nora at Center for Wooden Boats' dock. White, sleek boat.

DORA, a beloved fantail launch at Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, Washington, is now available for charters.

Solar panels at CWB make a ride on NORA carbon neutral

DORA gets her batteries charged by solar panels on the roof of CWB’s new Wagner Education Center. The panels produce enough energy meet CWB’s needs and provide a net credit from the city’s electric power utility.

In the late 1880s, refinements in the steam engine, as well as new technologies such as naptha, gasoline, and electric motors resulted in the creation of a new type of watercraft: the small power boat. Pleasure fantail launches of the late 19th century inspired Oregon Naval Architect Pat Spurlock to design DORA, the electric launch at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats (CWB). She’s powered by an electric motor and control system produced by Elco, the descendant of the Electric Launch Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, which was founded in 1893 to produce electric launches powered by early dry-cell batteries. As small gas engines became more reliable, interest in electric boats faded, the company changed its name to Elco and switched to producing gas-powered launches and cruisers until the late 1940s. In the 1970s Elco was resurrected to produce electric launches and drive systems.

DORA was built by the students in the Maritime Carpentry Program at Seattle Central Community College. Wood and other materials were donated by Bob and Erica Pickett (once owners of Flounder Bay Boat Lumber in Anacortes, WA), Bob Duggan, and his nephew Mike Foley. The boat is named after Dora Duggan, Bob’s mother.

white motor launch on lake union with four passengers

DORA’s quiet electric motor and low freeboard make for a quiet, close-to-the-water experience conducive to enjoying the urban beauty of Lake Union.

A recent installation of AGM (absorbent glass mat) deep-cycle batteries and a new 48-volt system, DORA now has more power and tops out at 6 knots instead of 4, charges twice as fast, and can operate up to 40% longer.

Operating between mid-June and mid-September, DORA takes up to six passengers for charters with a USCG-licensed captain at the helm. More information is available at the Center for Wooden Boats.

NOAA Releases New Version of Chart No. 1

The chart of charts has been updated. This article at NOAA’s website details the revisions that appear in the new version.

As always, the chart is available for free download through NOAA’s site, and they say that you can buy the new printed version through four approved printers and distributors. Chart No. 1, “describes the symbols, abbreviations, and terms used on paper NOAA nautical charts and for displaying NOAA electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) data on Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS). The document also shows paper chart symbols used by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and symbols specified by the International Hydrographic Organization.”

NOAA Office of Coast Survey

Chart No. 1 as a booklet. Image courtesy of NOAA.

Coast Guard Advises Labeling Paddlecraft, Free Labels Are Available

Orange reflective sticker with space for your information from the US Coast GuardU.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Operation Paddle Smart

The free sticker available from the U.S. Coast Guard looks like this.

In the recent Atlantic Coastal Kayaker, they shared a couple of important advisories from the U.S. Coast Guard regarding free labels and what happens if they find a small boat unlabeled and unmanned. Here’s what the USCG says:

The Coast Guard urges paddlecraft owners to properly secure and label their vessels. Coast Guard crews treat every unmanned-adrift vessel as a search and rescue case and immediately launch a search for potential mariners in distress.

Every unmanned-adrift vessel is treated as a potential distress situation, which takes up valuable time, resources and manpower,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Brook Serbu of the 13th District Command Center, Seattle, Washington. “When the craft is properly labeled, the situation can often be quickly resolved with a phone call to the vessel owner, which minimizes personnel fatigue and negative impacts on crew readiness.”

Helicopter and boat crews individually search an average of two hours per response and a similar amount of time is spent by other government agency personnel. Additionally, Coast Guard command center and 911 center personnel spend an additional four hours investigating the incident.

Coast Guard officials encourage all paddlecraft owners to label their vessels using a permanent or waterproof marker covered with clear, waterproof tape for increased durability. You can also check with a local outdoor recreation retailer or Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla to obtain a Paddle Smart Identification Sticker. At the very least, the label should include the name of the vessel’s owner, a number to reach them. and a secondary point of contact. In the event that the vessel is adrift, crews can use that information to contact the owner and avoid launching an unnecessary search. If the owner of a vessel is unable to be located after a reasonable amount of time, Coast Guard crews are forced to destroy the vessel or turn it over to the state for disposal.

Mariners who encounter unmanned-adrift vessels or other hazards to navigation are encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard District Command Center or via VHF-FM Channel 16.

And later in that report: “The Coast Guard offers free ‘If Found’ decals to mark gear or you write directly on it,” said a Coast Guard spokesperson, Sector Honolulu. “The information on the sticker can allow responders to determine if someone is in distress more quickly and help us get your gear back to you.”

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and at select marine retail and supply stores. Similarly, if you lose kayaks, surfboard or safety equipment such as lifejackets, please report it to the Coast Guard to help our search and rescue specialists deconflict possible distress reports. The self-adhesive labels are retroreflective and highly visible at night in the light of a flashlight. If someone finds your strayed gear, you might get it back and, by calling the phone numbers you list, the Coast Guard will know not to go looking for you and your boat.

The Only Commercial Ice Boat Builder in Maine

Here’s to Bill Buchholz, owner of Apache Boatworks, who was featured in the Portland Press Herald for his work building ice boats in Maine. This winter has been a banner year for beautiful ice, so it’s been an exciting time for ice boating there.

It’s typical for an ice boater to build their own boat or to take careful care of a vintage one, but Buchholz has been responsible for making the sport more accessible to people who otherwise might have been daunted by building their own boat and rig.

If you have an interest, check out the Chickawaukie Ice Boat Club website for meetups in Maine. They’re also connected to ice boating clubs in other regions, and could steer you in the right direction should you be from another region and are looking to break into a thrilling sport with a wonderful social community.

Pocket Skeeter’s cockpit. Credit:

Man Who Crossed Bering Strait in Dinghy Deported from Russia

John Martin III had originally been planning to sail to China aboard his 8′ Walker Bay dinghy, but he ended up in Russia two weeks after his departure. He’s now been deported about six months after his arrival, and has written blog entries about his time there.

Many people sharing this story or reading the background have found that Martin’s past is both complicated and dramatic. From a small-boat standpoint, he’s very lucky to have had a safe arrival and a safe deportation from Russia, but it also demonstrates how boats are taking care of us probably just as much as we’re taking care of them.

Walker Bay dinghy and gear laid out on a tarp in RussiaJohn Martin

The 8′ Walker Bay dinghy and gear John Martin had with him.

Across the Bar: Dave Getchell, Sr., Founder of Maine Island Trail

From Doug Welch of Maine Island Trail Association:

“It is with a sense of loss and reverence that I must announce that Dave Getchell, Sr. passed away at home Saturday night at age 89. A self-effacing soul, ‘Getch’ called himself co-founder of the Maine Island Trail, although he was our de facto leader.

“In 1987, following a period of exploration of Maine’s state-owned islands in his trusty tin boat, TORNGAT, Getch declared, ‘In studying this bounty, it occurred to me that here was a rare chance to develop an outstanding waterway for small boats.’ He further suggested that this unusual ‘water trail’ could be managed by the people who used it: The Maine Island Trail Association. These ideas met with mixed response, with some 500 people joining MITA in its first year and others expressing concern. Undaunted, Getch and his followers (you) persevered and multiplied for the next 30 years with the result being the Trail and organization we know today.”

Raise a pint to Getch today, and have look at his article about the trip that launched the trail.

His full obituary follows:

David R. Getchell Sr., 89, author, editor and outdoorsman, died as he wished, at home and surrounded by family, Nov. 10, 2018.

Over the course of 22 years, he was managing editor and editor of the Maine Coast Fisherman, National Fisherman, and founding editor of the Small Boat Journal and the Mariner’s Catalog in Camden. Later, he co-founded the Maine Island Trail and created the Georges Highland Path, a 40-mile hiking trail system in the Midcoast, for Georges River Land Trust. In 1994, he edited and was lead author of The Outboard Boater’s Handbook.

Active in the founding or operation of several nonprofit environmental organizations, he always made time for his favorite sport of surf fishing. He also partnered in 1980 with mountaineer Geof Heath of Hammondsport, N.Y., in a month-long two-man climbing expedition of 400 miles along the Labrador coast in an 18-foot open boat.

In the early 1980s, he and his wife, Dorrie, made a number of long bicycle trips, the most ambitious being a five-month, 8,000-mile cross-country tour to the West Coast and back to Maine. Both considered this a high point in a happy marriage of 67 years.

Getchell was born in Bangor, the son of George V. and Nettie R. Getchell. He graduated from Bangor High School, attended Bowdoin College and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in journalism. He served in the Army as an infantry training officer.

He is survived by his wife, Dorrie; his son, David Jr., of Camden; his daughter, Heidi, and her husband, David Perkins, of Lincolnville; a sister, Virginia E. Naugler, of Hartford, Conn., two granddaughters, Ali and Holly Perkins, of Lincolnville; two nephews, Robert Verrier III of Cumberland and James S. Naugler of LaCrosse, Wis.; a niece, Michelle Verrier, of Cody, Wyo.; a sister-in-law, Barbara Hall, of Westbrook; and two cousins, Betty Heald of Lincolnville and Marjorie Lucas of Florida. A niece, Martha Kaul, of Lincoln, Neb., predeceased him.

A celebration of his life and work will be held Nov. 18 at Bay View Point Event Center, 18 Spring St., Belfast, from 1 to 4 pm. Donations in memory of Mr. Getchell may be made to the Maine Island Trail Association, 100 Kensington St., 2nd floor, Portland, ME 04103; the Georges River Land Trust, 8 North Main St., Suite 200, Rockland, ME 04841; or Friends of Baxter State Park, P.O. Box 322, Belfast, ME 04915-0322.

Teaching With Small Boats Association Wants YOU

The TWSBA Steering Committee has reached out to say that there are regional meetings coming up in 2018, and they’re looking for a few things. Get involved with this great organization by taking part. They say:

  • They need your input for planning.
  • They need you to present and share the work you’re doing.
  • And, they need you to show up.

New England—July 28 in Boston (It’s really soon!)
Contact: Kelly Crawford,
Here’s a link to their flyer.

Mid-Atlantic—November 3 in Philadelphia
Contact: Gary Lowell,

Great Lakes—In October
Contact: Bill Nimke,

Northwest—Planning an event in the Fall
Contact: Robin Mills

Bay Area—October 18, Berkeley
Contact: Inka Petersen,

South—Still trying to see if there is “critical mass”
Contact: Maury Kaiser,

Canada—November 3rd in Halifax

Video: Popular Norwegian Video of John A. Andersen Now with English Subtitles

The Norwegian Coastal Federation, Forbundet KYSTEN, has translated a very popular video of theirs. Watching it gives an inside look at boatbuilder John A. Andersen’s pram-building class, and a portion of what KYSTEN is all about. New main titles in English serve to narrate unspoken portions where captioning helps the viewer understand the action, and of course there are new English subtitles for the various speakers. The photography is beautiful, and we envy the students, who get to spend a year building their own boats in a special shop with a master boatbuilder.

About Forbundet KYSTEN:
“The object of the association is to work to strengthen our identity as a coastal people, to maintain, transfer and develop traditional knowledge and practical learning (crafts, seamanship etc.) and to improve the standards of protection of our coastal culture. The local branches rally people from their communities to restore or build replicas of boats that are representative of the particular areas heritage. The original intent was to fix or build boats. But the focus has evolved. The scope of its activities has widened constantly.”

Video: The Pirogue Maker, 1949

Rick Pratt, a friend of Small Boats Monthly, sent us this tip:
“This short 14-minute film made in the swamp country of South Louisiana in 1949 was funded by Standard Oil. It shows Cajun craftsman making a pirogue the ‘old way.’ Hewn of a cyprus log by hand; probably the last pirogue made this way.
Note the serving of Cajun coffee in demitasse cups with tiny spoons.  It’s a tradition down here that still endures. If you haven’t ever had it, look out. Made in ole time ‘drip pots,’ it is sweetened in the pot. It’s thick as motor oil and super sweet. The areas along the bayou and the people looked much the same when I started working the oil patch.
A lot of the time, oilfield people (known as ‘Texakins’ by the Cajuns no matter where they were from) had to have an interpreter so they could communicate with the guys I worked with in the oil field. Just about everybody was Cajun French. A lot of the older guys couldn’t (or wouldn’t) speak English. Step back in time and check out  the full-length video.”

Here’s the minute-long trailer:



Amazing Resource: Nick Schade’s How-To Videos

Funny video title: Stripping to MusicNick Schade—Guillemot Kayaks

Nick’s got some great titles for his videos in these series.

Nick Schade has been documenting, on a day-to-day basis, his process for building Guillemot Kayaks‘ designs. The latest is a build of the microBootlegger Sport, a beautiful and sleek double paddle kayak. Here’s the whole playlist on YouTube, which will play the next episode automatically when you finish one.

If you’re building one of Nick’s boats in particular, then this is obvious gold, but there is a lot to glean here for anybody wanting to know more about strip-built or skin-on-frame boats. In an average of 20 minutes per episode, Nick gives a level of detail that both seasoned and beginner boatbuilders will appreciate, as he shares his own personal take on all sorts of aspects of the build, through the entire process, from buying the lumber to doing the finish work.

Not only do you get to see a professional in action, but you get to see Nick screw up, then tell you what happened, and how he fixed it. One episode, “Ruining Expensive Lumber,” certainly got us to click and watch, and he gracefully and openly admits to having accidentally ripped some strips in the wrong direction, yielding some undesirable grain orientation. This is the real deal.

Nick launches his skin-on-frame kayakNick Schade—Guillemot Kayaks

Nick launches the skin-on-frame kayak he built in another series of videos.

These are beautifully produced videos that are helpful and chockablock full of information. Be sure to check out these other playlists and builds: A skin-on-frame microBootlegger Sport and a Petrel Play.

Have a look at our review of Guillemot’s Noank, a sliding seat pulling boat.

Natalie Warren’s Series About Great Places to Paddle

Canoe & Kayak did a 26-town rundown of places to paddle that they called the Best Paddling Towns of North America. They weren’t done with the sweet suggestions, though.

They continued with a series they call “(Next) Best Paddling Towns,” articles by Natalie Warren , wherein she takes readers to great places for adventures in small boats. Warren doesn’t only tell in pictures and words how these places look, she also gives tips about coffee shops and other local gems to visit, cool towns and trails along the way, and about the passionate organizations that maintain the amenities mentioned.

She’s great about the nuts-and-bolts information about those amenities and the ability levels needed to have a great trip in each place. Warren shares both overnight and day trip possibilities with readers, and has all sorts of boaters in mind when she shares what she’s found. For example, lodging options bridge the spectrum from bed and breakfast stays for your fancier adventure to camping for your humbler excursions.

Where do you go to read about new places to paddle, sail, row, and motor?


Wes Modes, Hazel the Dog, and Shanty Boat Living

Visual artist Wes Modes uses a replica he built of a 1940s shanty boat to tell stories. Through video, photography, written stories, an art installation, and more he’s conveyed his experiences building the boat and living aboard it on a few different rivers over the past few years. This past summer, he and his crew wrapped up their most recent trip, which took them down the Sacramento River. In June 2018, they’ll be exploring and documenting the people and places of the Hudson River.

“Using research from fieldwork on the Upper Mississippi River and experiences from a variety of rivers in the midwest and West Coast, my goal is to create a powerful tool to reexamine the issues currently and historically faced by people living or working on the river,” Modes writes of his mission, “with particular attention to the invisible stories of native people, working people, people of color, and women, to create a multi-perspective and multi-path take on historical narrative, and to challenge assumptions about the importance of the commons and the role in society of people living at the fringe.”

Read and see some beautiful stuff on his site, “A Secret History of American River People,” and catch a glimpse of his faithful companion Hazel.



2018 Small Boats Annual on Newsstands

Check your local newsstand, because the printed 2018 “Best of” Small Boats Monthly, which the home office calls Small Boats Annual, is ready. From 2017’s articles here on the site, we’ve got the Coot dinghy on the cover, a nice selection of sail, motor, paddle, and oar articles, a guide to kits and boatbuilders, and an inspiring collection of Reader-Built Boats and their stories. Can’t make it out to your local newsstand? The WoodenBoat Store has you covered.

Coot Dinghy under sail on the cover of 2018 Small Boats Annual.

Small Boats Annual is on the newsstands.

Pro Tip for a Gift Idea: Small Boats Monthly subscription for your loved one, and the physical copy of the 2018 Issue as the wrapped surprise for the holiday.

Bonus Pro Tip: With your subscription to Small Boats Monthly, you’re able to look up anything in the archives, 2018 and further back. That means if you’re reading the Annual and wonder what the discussion in the comments section was like, or if you have more questions, you can search it up because it’s all yours when you’re logged in. ENJOY!

Watch: Building and Using Oselvar Boats

Vidar Langeland, a Norwegian photographer, sent us a note about a 20-year-old boatbuilding non-profit he recently joined. The Oselvarverkstaden—The Oselvar Workshop—seeks to preserve traditional Norwegian boatbuilding skills by building new Oselvar boats and documenting and repairing old ones. The Oselvar design dates back at least 500 years and was used in the inland waters woven into the southwest coast of Norway and for a time were disassembled and packed for shipment to the Shetland and Orkney Islands. A few years ago, the Oselvar boat was named Norway’s national boat and the design serves as an icon of the country’s deeply rooted maritime tradition.

Vidar has filmed an informative video about the boats and the workshop. He wrote to us recently to let us know what he’s doing at The Olselvar Workshop, after he read Jaime Gallant’s piece about Ulf Mikalsen

Drake Raceboat Plans and Kits Are Now Available

Christopher Cunningham takes the Drake Raceboat for a spin.

When we reviewed the Drake Raceboat in our September 2017 issue, designer Clint Chase was studying the prototype, putting the finishing touches on the plans, and preparing to produce kits. The boat is now available both as plans or as a kit.

Those of you who enjoy rowing a go-fast boat might enjoy the Drake Raceboat. Our review pointed out: “The boat is quite easy to accelerate; a half dozen strokes and it was off and running. I did some speed trials in a marina where there was neither current nor wind. With a lazy, relaxed effort I easily maintained 3-3/4 knots; a sustainable exercise pace brought the speed up to 5 knots. Fluctuations in GPS speed readings… in the lightweight Raceboat spanned at least 1-1/2 knots—I’d estimate that the boat’s sprint speed averages out around 6 knots. It’s a fast pulling boat. While the Drake Raceboat is designed ‘for the greater speeds in race conditions,’ you don’t have to compete to appreciate the boat. It will give you an exhilarating workout and reward improvements in your stamina and technique, but it’s not so high strung that you can’t take it out for a relaxing outing.

With winter coming on, it’s a good time to retreat to the shop for a boatbuilding project. By spring you could have a Drake Raceboat ready to row. You can now order plans or kits from Chase Small Craft.

The Drake Raceboat’s sprint speed averages out around 6 knots. “It’s a fast pulling boat.”

From the review: “The Drake Raceboat kit includes all of the computer-cut plywood parts for the boat as well as engineered wood panel pieces for the building forms.”

Sights from the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival XXXIV

by Anne Bryant

After a full, nutty day at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, I headed over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Maryland, for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. I pulled into the entrance, lined with a tent city full of small boat enthusiasts; I felt right away that compared with the bustle of Annapolis, the change of energy suited my needs.

Here are some photos from my visit there. It was Sunday, the day after the big race and regatta, and so things were packing up, slowing down, and moving on due to a lightly threatening forecast.

Our Fearless Editor, Chris Cunningham, has traveled to this gathering in the past, and we plan to re-establish our connection with this fantastic gathering in 2018. A workshop? A beer social? We’re not sure yet, but get excited.



I also happened by the relaunching and re-christening of BELLE, a Herreshoff 12 1/2-inspired small sailing boat designed and built by Daniel Gonneau. With her more open layout inboard and with no internal ballast, she’s quite different from the design of her keelboat cousin, but no less gorgeous. Her new owner first saw her in the Calendar of Wooden Boats and thought she’d be just the boat for him. When she came up for sale, it was a dream come true for him.


Canadian Winner of World’s Best Teacher Promotes Kayaking With $1M Prize

Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher in Salluit, Canada, who recently won a $1 million prize for her contributions to education, and, in particular, to the Inuit community there, is channeling that fortune into connecting the rest of the world with kayaking and other aspects of Inuit culture. Her hope is to turn eyes to the ailing communities of the Arctic Circle and to instill pride in the people back in Salluit. She’s also provided funds for her students and other community members to travel to Nova Scotia to learn how to kayak.

Her students praise her for the trust she’s fostered with them in her project-based educational approach. Many of them have a difficult home life and her aim is to have an impact on reversing the high suicide rates found in her school district.

Below are two videos, one is about the student kayaking program, and the other is a beautiful short film about her approach to teaching. Read more about the kayaking program that she’s launched on the Thames here.


Sydney Flying Squadron to Visit Annapolis, MD

This just in from the news ticker:

The National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) announced that sailors from the Sydney Flying Squadron, Australia’s oldest open boat sailing club, will be visiting Annapolis on September 13-17, 2017 to participate in a race regatta featuring classic American Sandbaggers and historical Australian 18-Footers. The Squadron is shipping their own fleet of historical 18-foot skiffs from Australia to Annapolis specifically for this event. They will also race their boats in the 8th Annual Classic Wooden Sailboat Rendezvous & Race on September 16-17.

The historical 18-foot skiffs, considered by many to be the fastest class of sailing skiffs, began racing on Australia’s Sydney Harbor in 1892 and later in New Zealand. They’re called “Aussie 18s” by their owners.

The 18-Footers will be launching everyday at 10:30 a.m. from the Annapolis Sailing School and will be on display to the public at 11:00 a.m. on the mornings of September 13, 14, 15 and 16 at the National Sailing Fame docks. For complete schedule of events for the boats and their crew click here.

About the boats:


Skipper: John Winning
Original built: 1932
Modern build: 2000
Builder: Robert Tearne
Beam: 7′
When launched on the Brisbane River this revolutionary skiff was an instant success – Aust 18’ champion four years in a row from 1933 to 1937 (skipper Vic Vaughan). Revolutionary because she was a heel-less skiff type 18 footer with seven foot beam and a depth of only two feet.



Skipper: Ian Smith
Original built: 1947
Modern build: 2001
Builder: Robert Tearne
Beam: 7′
Dedicated to and assisted by the Beashel family, who were famous 18-footer sailors. One of the key marks within Sydney Harbour is named the “Beashel Buoy“ and the name “Alruth” is a combination of Alf Beashel and his wife’s name Ruth. Their grandson, Colin, represented Australia in sailing and was Australian Team Captain and Flag Bearer at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.



Skipper: David Swales
Original built: 1943
Modern build: 2007
Builder: Billy Fisher, Jr.
Beam: 7′
Original built in 1943 by Bill Fisher, Sr. and his sons Tom and Jimmy. It was club champion in 1944 and 1945 and State Champion in 1945 and 1946. Replica built by Bill Fisher, Jr. as a tribute to his family, from a model owned and passed down through the generations.

Trailerable Boats to the Rescue After Harvey

Water, most of the time, can be a blank canvas for adventure. We’ve seen the most recent demonstration that she’s also a powerful force to be reckoned with—a force with no scruples or biases—that has turned streets into riverbeds over the last week as Hurricane Harvey parked itself over the coast of Texas.

A Facebook user riding down Highway 90 the other day took this video of a long line of small boats being trailered into Houston to help with rescue efforts. If you’ve got a small-boat story related to Harvey, Small Boats Monthly wants to hear about it. If you’re one of the people who are able to help out, we wish you all the best for safety and success.

If you’re wondering what to do from afar, there are a lot of options. The Houston Food Bank will be doing a massive amount of work for years after the rain and flooding subsides, and here’s a great list of local organizations who are on the ground helping people, saving pets, and assessing homes so people can start putting their lives back together.

Stay safe out there.

Spokane Middle Schoolers from Marshall Islands Build for Summer Program

A sky-high view of fish lake, with canoes following the students' outrigger. Jesse Tinsley, Spokesman-Review

The winds were too light for sailing, but the students had fun paddling around Fish Lake.

In Spokane, Washington, Shaw Middle School students launched a Marshallese-style canoe with outrigger and sailing rig after participating in a summer program with a boatbuilding focus. There is a small group of immigrants there from the Marshall Islands, and the program’s aim was to help with communication, reading, and feeling more connected to both their heritage and to their school in the hope of increasing graduation rates.

Read the whole story at The Spokesman-Review.

Students paddle their decorated outrigger.Jesse Tinsley, The Spokesman-Review

The program was part-English class, part-boatbuilding and relevant culture class for students who might otherwise not thrive in the American classroom environment.

ICYMI: Ashley Book of Knots in Public Domain

The cover of the Ashley Book of Knots.

If you haven’t already heard: The Ashley Book of Knots, authoritative tome of marlinespike seamanship and compendium of the best knots to move farm animals around with, is in the public domain. First published in 1944, it spans 620 pages and covers 3,854 knots. The book was digitized  and added to a little less than a year ago so we can all enjoy it. You can find the various download options here. If you’d prefer to add a print copy of the book to your library, it’s available at the WoodenBoat Store.

Have you used The Ashley Book of Knots to complete projects aboard, add a Bristol touch to your boat, or to learn the basics? Tell us your stories in the comments.