Tag Archives: plywood boat

A sailing Ella skiff in Catalonia



Catalonia-based writer and sailor Ben Crawshaw (of Light Trow fame and theinvisibleworkshop) has got in touch to say that together with friends a chap called Bosco has built this example of the sailing version of the my 12ft flat bottomed Ella skiff design in his area – so far, Ben has only managed to photograph the boat but plans to sail it soon.

I had no idea – and my jaw dropped when I heard about it, and then sagged even more when I looked at the shots. (Click on them to see a much larger image, by the way.)

Folks are telling Ben that the little boat sails well, but I will of course be very interested in his verdict.

The photo shows that she has been built pretty robustly in the local style, but I can’t say I’m complaining! She looks great to me. Plans for the Ella skiff are here.

Ben Crawshaw finds an excuse to go for a sail in Onawind Blue – a little light food shopping



Shopping for salt in the next town along the coast? Why not, especially if the weather’s like this?

Over at The Invisible Workshop Ben Crawshaw indulges three of his pleasures, sailing his Light Trow, enjoying a beer with friends and delicious cooking…

Don’t forget his equally delicious-looking book on the Lodestar imprint is now out – click on the advert in the top right hand column of this weblog!

Ben Crawshaw’s book Catalan Castaway is available to order


I’m delighted to be able to announce that Ben’s colourfully illustrated 224-page book will be available from Lodestar Books in a few days and is now available to order, priced at £15 in the UK, £17 Europe and £20 outside Europe. [NB - this book is now debing delivered!]

It tells an amazing and exciting story, as the publisher’s notes make clear:

‘A sail-and-oar adventure in our own boat, one having the inevitable beauty of a form which accurately meets function – this is the dream of many of us. But Ben Crawshaw shows us that the dream is nearer to our grasp than we may think.

‘In Gavin Atkin’s Light Trow design he found an affordable boatbuilding project which would require the most simple and accessible of materials, and just basic woodworking ability.

‘Within months he was afloat in Onawind Blue, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his day-sails, beach-camping cruises and a challenging longer voyage, over a five year period on the Catalan coast of Spain, where he lives with his partner and young family.

Onawind Blue has been Ben’s passport to the traditional maritime community of the region, so in addition to her own exploits we learn of the indigenous boat types, many now endangered, and the dedicated band of people who keep them alive.

‘Ben’s increasingly ambitious adventures have sometimes made him draw on deep reserves of physical and mental strength, as has his personal battle with the ‘giant octopus’ of serious illness, happily now at bay.’

Read a sample chapter of Catalan Castaway here.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and his boat Onawind Blue, click here. Also see Ben’s excellent weblog, Theinvisibleworkshop.


How Onawind Blue came to live in Ben’s new beach-side bar (and can’t you just smell that food?)

Light Trow Onawind Blue now lives in a beach bar

Read all about it here; I’m guessing it may become a destination for small boat sailors.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and the Light Trow (including free plans for building this flat-bottomed sailing and rowing boat), click here and page back through the ‘older posts’ links.

PS – I’m reminded by reader Dale that Ben’s handsome new book Catalan Castaway will be out in a few weeks. If you let the publisher Lodestar Books have your email address, they’ll contact you when they start reserving copies about four weeks ahead of publication.

The Edge – a Mouseboat for teens and small adults

Mouseboats Yahoogroup member Tomasz has made me smile with his build successful build of my The Edge stitch and glue sailing dinghy design intended for teenagers and small – to medium-sized adults.

When I drew it, I described it like this: ‘designed to deliver the most fun I can squeeze out of a minimum of materials and construction work. In this case the main constituents are three sheets of 1/4in marine ply and a quarter sheet of 1/2in marine ply, some lumber and a sheet of polytarp’.

He describes it this way: ‘lively, fast and easy to steer. We did not observe her as tippy. You can easy climb into the boat from deep water.’

Well done Tomasz! I must say I particularly like the look of that lateen sail.

Plans for The Edge are at Mouseboats, and also at Duckworksmagazine.


The Ella skiff – a cheap and fun way to get afloat this summer

Numbers of people boating this year are on the rise, according to the 2011 Watersports and Leisure Participation Report.

The report commissioned by boating organisations including the Royal Yachting Association, members of the British Marine Federation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the British Canoe Union and the Marine Management Organisation showed an increase of 0.3m between 2010 and 2011 – as many as 3.2m people took to boats last year.

In this context I’d argue that the plywood boat Ella skiff – the photo above is a recent and very nicely made example built in South Africa  - represents a cheap, quick and fun way to get afloat this summer. Read all about it, and get free plans here.

Goat Island Skiff community produces a photographic calendar


The community of folks who have built Mike Storer’s Goat Island Skiff design have created a splendid calendar featuring shots of the boats.

The Goat is a 15ft 6in by 5ft plywood skiff with a growing following for both fast sailing under a traditional rig, and for cruising.

The cover photo of a sunset is by Christophe Matson. A commercial pilot, who built his Goat in New Hampshire, he has been cruising it offshore (on good weather reports) and camping on the rocky shores.

The second photo shows Mark Harvey sailing a Goat on Barton Water on the Norfolk Broads – we were there and I remember the day clearly. The boat was built by Mark’s father Richard, three or four years ago, and has a carbon mast. The photo is by Chris Perkins, himself a well known prize winning boat builder.

The third photo is of John Goodman and Mike Storer sailing in the Texas 200 event. Mike says: ‘We have about 250lbs of gear and water aboard a 16ft boat and John is a big guy, but we seldom dropped below 8 knots and spent a lot of time sitting on 12 knots. Reef early, reef often… it is a strong wind event.’

The calendar is available here; plans for the boat are here.