Category Archives: Small boats

Faversham Nautical Festival fun in the sun…


Well, it was everything you’d expect, with boats, music, stalls and people, and what’s more the sun came out! Well done, the folks of Faversham!

The voyage of the Southern Cross – Howard Rice aims to tackle Cape Horn in a 11ft 11in boat

Southern Cross adapted Scamp

Howard Rice famously rounded Cape Horn in a canoe many years ago – and now plans to do it again, but this time in an 11ft 11in boat designed by John  Welsford. The drawing shows how he’s adapted the boat; the original plans of this popular can be purchased here.

Read about the project and Howard’s thinking here.

A tale of two Ella skiffs, part 2

Kostas Dourdounas (from the photos I imagine he’s in Greece or nearby) departed from the Ella skiff drawings in several ways.

Instead of building the half-decked sailing dinghy that I drew on the Ella hull, he stiffened the rowing version of the boat and included extra built in buouyancy – and seems to have constructed a successful small boat. Congratulations Kostas!

It usually takes some experience to pull off something like that and while I am delighted the result is a very good looking little boat, I would still prefer people to build the Sailing Ella skiff as drawn. The plans are on the free boat plans page.

Here’s his report:

‘Dear Gavin:

‘Attached are some pictures of the Ella skiff I have built using both the sailing and the rowing versions drawings you provided.

‘I made several modifications on your original plans keeping the dimensions for the hull to the exact coordinate matrix.

‘I used some recycled pieces of wood for the gunwale and changed the number of frames. Plywood was purchased new.

‘Mast boom and yard are aluminium pipes sold by weight. They are light and durable, and also cheaper than wood.

‘The sail was ordered from a professional sail maker (I didn’t want to take any chances), and the dimensions were kept to the exact specs.

‘The boat sails well up to F4.5 on the Beaufort scale, and deals well with gusts. I have added foot straps, which help a lot when sailing on a close reach.

‘When running she needs some balance, so the dagger needs to stay lowered.

‘I have intentionally capsized her a couple times with one or two on board. She is easy to right by stepping on the dagger board. She stays afloat when turned over and some fast hand bailing is required if the water is choppy – otherwise there is no problem.

‘The project started Oct 2015 and finished April 2016, and I first sailed her in mid-June 2016. I worked mostly outside as I have no garage, and the winter was a pain to deal with.

‘I have no previous boat building experience, and had only done some small repairs in the past on dinghies. Also i am very limited in tools, just a drill a jigsaw and lots of grid 80 sand paper.

‘Overall, it is a pleasure to sail this little boat, and the kids like it as well.

‘Thanks for the free plans.


Thanks for the great report Kostas.