September 2021 Archives - Small Boats Magazine

Coracles are made of twigs and twine, tiny and tippy, and yet have an appeal that has lasted millennia. Dynamite Payson’s Instant Catboat and John Brooks’ Ellen get a close look in our Boat Profiles and Tom Jackson looks back at the 15-year history of the Small Reach Regatta. Changing gears for rowing into a stiff headwind gets easier with a second snap-on oar collar. A take-apart cart for canoes and kayaks and stout water bags for ballast or flotation get reviewed. Patrick Blake, 11 years old, carries on a family tradition and builds his first boat.

A Coracle

The history of coracles stretches back to Roman times, as much as 2,000 years. Made of sticks and string, small and shaky, there are still things to be learned from building, portaging, and paddling one.

Ellen 12

Pretty in plywood

This 12’ glued-lapstrake skiff, designed by John Brooks for oar, sail and outboard, is a complex boat, but detailed plans and a comprehensive 281-page book devoted to it pave the way for a first-time builder.


Bolger's adaptation of the Beetle Cat for tack-and-tape construction

Phil Boger designed the Bobcat as an adaptation of the legendary Beetle Cat for tack-and-tape construction to put a small, stable catboat within the reach of amateur boatbuilders.

Fifteen Years of the Small Reach Regatta

A retrospective

After 15 years, the Small Reach Regatta has come to the end of a long and successful run. Tom Jackson was there from the very beginning and takes a look back at the popular Maine Coast cruise.

Downshifting Oars

Snap-on oar sleeves for rowing into a headwind

Rowing into a headwind can put a strain on the rower. Jim Tolpin devised a clip-on plastic sleeve and button that gives the oars a lower gear to provide them with a greater mechanical advantage.


An easily stowed cart for canoes and kayaks

The C-Tug from Railblaza has wide non-pneumatic tires for easy rolling over sand and knocks down for stowing in a small space.

Ballast Bags

Heavy-duty water bags for ballast or flotation

Heavy-duty water bags made for keeping canopies from blowing away are well suited for adding ballast to a small boat in need of fine-tuning of trim. Filled with air, they can provide buoyancy for safety.

Patrick’s Scow

A boat for Bliss Creek

Patrick Blake of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is 11 years old and the sixth generation of his family to take a serious interest in boats. In the company of his little brother, father, and grandfather, he built a little scow for the creek that runs through the family land.

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