December 2020 Archives - Small Boats Magazine

Tom Pamperin takes us along on a short Mississippi River cruise to explore Lake Pepin, part of Wisconsin’s “West Coast.” Our editor also rowed a bit of the Mississippi farther south back in 1985, and shares his recollections of spending the holidays while cruising. The Atlantic 17 dory, designed by Jon Persson, and the 13′ Good Little Skiff, designed by Pete Culler, are the focus of our Boat Profiles; and a battery-powered air inflator and a SOS-flashing rescue strobe get a close look in our gear reviews. A special Technique article features five practical tips for boat, trailer, and shop. Our Reader Built Boat comes from the River Thames, built to pass the time during a lockdown.

Not Home for the Holidays

While the holiday season is best spent with family and friends, this year many of us will have to forgo the usual gatherings. Our editor takes a look back to 1985 and a Thanksgiving and a Christmas spent while rowing the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Good Little Skiff

Pete Culler's perfect boat

The Good Little Skiff is Pete Culler’s response to a call in 1970 for rowing enthusiasts to design the perfect boat. Ben Fuller takes a look at the 13’ version of this versatile flat-bottomed skiff for sailing, rowing, and sculling.

Atlantic 17 Dory

Jon Persson's fast double-ender

Jon Persson’s Atlantic 17 Dory is a 17’ double-ended pulling boat with plenty of speed, the seakeeping qualities of a gunning dory, and very simple plywood-on-frame construction. Christophe Matson reports on the Atlantic 17 he built.

A Quarantine Cruise

Wisconsin’s West Coast by sail and oar

When travel restrictions prevented Tom Pamperin from getting to his usual cruising grounds, he looked for possibilities closer to his Wisconsin home. Over half of the state’s western border is created by the Mississippi River, so he set out to cruise a section of Wisconsin’s “West Coast.”

Five Practical Tips

A handful of useful projects

Five of our readers share tips they came up with for sailing without steering, rowing with better visibility, restoring rusted steel tools, making a portable vise, and making trailer launching easier.

DeWalt’s Cordless Air Inflator

Quick, precise tire inflation

Kent and Audrey Lewis have a fleet of boats that requires a fleet of trailers and dollies to move them around. A digital rechargeable air inflator helps them keep all of the tires pumped to the proper pressure.


A USCG-approved substitute for pyrotechnic flares

ACR recently introduced the ResQFlare, a floating, battery-powered, SOS-flashing distress signal that meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements, and, when paired with the distress-signal flag it’s sold with, replaces pyrotechnic flares.

A Skiff to Fill the Time

Boatbuilding during a lockdown

Richard Nissen lives on the River Thames and has surrounded his houseboat home with a fleet of small boats. Working on them is half the pleasure of owning them, so when the pandemic lockdown started, Richard started building a new skiff.

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