March 2021 Archives - Small Boats Magazine

In the midst of a worrisome winter, our editor found reassurance in photos he took of kayaking Palau’s island paradise. The most capable pleasure craft often have practical origins and John Gardner’s Down East Workboat and Roger Crawford’s Melonseed Skiff are good examples. Last autumn, three former college oarsmen get together to row a stretch of Oregon’s Willamette at a pace decidedly slower than racing. Tom Hepp shows how building a mock-up of a new design makes it possible to work out the bugs and create templates before the real boatbuilding begins. We take a look at heavy-duty spur grommets and a multi-fuel camp stove, and our Reader Built Boat is a first-time boatbuilder’s beautiful and innovative shallow-water skiff.


A lesson in history

Palau was the site of an historic battle during World War II, and while some remnants of the fighting remain, most are now concealed by lush forests, white coral sand beaches, and turquoise waters.

Down East Workboat

Blending seakeeping ability with speed

John Gardner’s Down East Workboat is an 18’ version of a type that has proved useful on the Maine coast for vessels in many sizes up to 30’. With a 25-hp outboard at one-third throttle, it planes easily at 12 knots.

The Crawford Melonseed Skiff

From a 19th century gunning skiff to a classic sailer in fiberglass

Roger Crawford was once asked to repair an aging wooden sailing skiff and was so impressed by its sailing abilities when he had it afloat again that he used it as a mold to produce the boat in fiberglass. Decades later, his Melonseed Skiff is a classic.

A River Row

Oregon’s Willamette River

Jordan, Jon, and Hart were all on the same crew when they were in college, training for years to row as fast as humanly possible. Two decades later, with their 30s now trailing astern, they were content to lower the stroke rate and enjoy the scenery on Oregon’s Willamette river.

Making a Mock-Up

Trying a boat on for size

When Tom Hepp designs a boat he wants to build, the best way he has found to avoid unpleasant and expensive surprises is to build a mockup. For his 17’ pocket cruiser, it allowed him to try the boat on for size, work out the bugs on inexpensive materials, and create a full set of templates.

Spur Grommets

Sturdy eyelets with bite

Small boat cruising can involve a lot of fabric: sails, dodgers, covers, and tarps. The grommets that work best for outdoor use are spur grommets, with teeth that grip the fabric. They’re stronger than ordinary grommets and have their own tools to set them.

nCamp’s Multi-Fuel Stove

Cooking with gas, alcohol, wood, and more

This sturdy stove, made of aluminum and stainless steel, folds to make a compact package, is easily stowed, and can burn a wide variety of fuels. You can use liquid or gas fuels for clean burning and wood when there is nothing left in the cans.


A rowing skiff with an auxiliary diesel

For his first boatbuilding project, John Carswell took on a boat with a complex strip-built hull that has a box keel to keep the boat upright while the tide’s out and a tunnel to protect the propeller when motoring across shallows and weeds.

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