Tag Archives: tack and tape

Dylan Winter gets to work on his Duck Punt

Dylan Winter builds John Milgate's Duck Punt

Click on the image to see Dylan’s video

I do like to see a man working. This is Keep Turning Left small boat sailor and film maker Dylan Winter building one of John Milgate’s Duck Punts

These little boats are derived from small traditional boats originally used for wildfowling, but are now raced and cruised by a bunch of enthusiasts on the East Coast.

The film shows how progress Dylan managed in a single weekend – and didn’t he do well? Very well indeed, I think, given that he had to make a frame first.

I hadn’t realised quite how far and fast enthusiasm for the Duck Punt design had spread when I posted about them more than a week ago. But this week I was tickled to learn that Wooden Boat forumite and regular boat plan tinkerer and computer modeller Flo-Mo has worked out a way of constructing one of these craft from two sheets of ply, and having made a paper model is about to make a birch-ply model prototype.

It’s fascinating to see people on the serious ‘proper’ wood-built boat forum getting interested in little plywood boxes like these; they’ve doubtless been helped along by the great photos and videos of these boats that can be found around the Internet.

Regular intheboatshed.net reader and contributor Brian Pearson is particularly interested in this development, and says the Duck Punt sailors are happy for folks to publish simplicated versions of the standard Duck Punt plans.

However, I’m still considering the question. In my mind there’s no doubt Flo-Mo’s clever cross-wise bottom panel layout will work, but my thinking is that given that ply is stiffer one way than the other and ply joints require materials and take time, I’m inclined to think I’d prefer to construct a bottom with length-ways running outer plies, and only one butt joint.

I also wonder how much the weight of the materials involved in John Milgate’s construction method as shown in Dylan’s video contributes to making these little boats practical sailors – only those experienced with these little craft would know, but I wonder whether a very lightly made all-1/4in ply stitch and glue Duck Punt might not be a little light and tiddly? Weight-wise it could be that the best approach to a frameless stitch and glue build for one of these boats might be to laminate a doubled bottom, or it might be that the whole thing is fine made from 3/8ths inch ply.

And then there’s the little matter of built-in buoyancy. I doubt the Duck Punt community will see eye-to-eye with me on this, but I really think some built-in flotation is essential – it could so easily save a lone sailor’s life one day, and then we’ll all be grateful.

This darn thing has got me going now. I must try to restrain myself.

PS – See the comments below for a link to more on Flo-Mo’s progress with this project.

Duck punt paper model

Paper model Duck Punt made from Flo-Mo’s ply layout

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Norman Fuller’s Ella skiff at the 2010 HHBR meet at Barton Turf

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Rowing for Pleasure weblogger Chris Partridge and Norman Fuller demonstrate the Ella skiff under oars and with an electric outboard.

Norman brought his Ella to the 2010 HBBR meeting at Barton Turf, and quite a few of us had some fun with it. These clips show Chris putting the little boat through her paces, while Norman demonstrates the outboard, which is a 12lb model that he has set up with control lines.

Free plans for the Ella skiff can be found on the Free boat plans page of this website – you’ll find a link to the free plans page right at the top of this page.

We try the rowing version of the Ella stitch and glue skiff at Barton

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Ella rows the Ella skiff; Norman rows his new boat; the designer has a go and, finally, my son Ewan takes her out for an electric spin

Norman Fuller took his rowing skiff Ella to this year’s Home Built Boat Rally event at Barton Turf Activity Centre, which gave us an opportunity to meet him and to try out his new boat built to my Ella design.

Norman turned out to be a charming and entertaining chap, and he has clearly caught the boatbuilding bug – having built the Ella skiff, he says, he’ll definitely be building more boats.

Like the design itself, the Ella is named after my daughter Ella, and turned out to be a cute and simple little skiff, just as the drawings in the free boatbuilding plans package promised – download the plans here.

The human Ella isn’t really a rower (although she’s a keen and able dinghy sailor) but has been charmed by the idea that a boat should be named after her, and was very pleased to be able to have a go.

When it was my turn to try the little skiff I was pleased to find she was easy and light under oars – not exactly effortless, but something that even a sedentary desk-jockey like me could expect to be able to row all day. You can’t say that of many 12ft flatties including those based on old-fashioned small American skiffs as this one is, but this boat was drawn with a narrowish beam of 4ft to ensure it would be as good a rower as it could be.

One thing about the event made me a little nervous, however – rowing enthusiast Chris Partridge was on hand. Like most of the journalist tribe Chris is usually pretty clear in his opinions, and is known to be generally unenthusiastic about flatties, so naturally I was a little nervous – what might the author of Rowing for Pleasure have to say to readers and other HBBRers about the Ella design?

In the event, he climbed in, sat down and casually made the little boat fly for a while while we all watched in anticipation. Things looked promising, but my fingers remained crossed.

Finally, though, I was relieved when he returned to the bank with the demeanour of a man who had just had a pleasant surprise and simply said ‘You can get quite a good lick out of her.’

That’ll do, I thought!

I’ve got some video of Chris rowing the Ella to put up when I get a chance to edit it. In the meantime, interested readers can see what he says about the boat on his weblog.

Builder Norman recently managed to pick up a 12lb-thrust electric outboard for £30 at a sale, and so later in the afternoon we had some fun with that. It isn’t quick – it glides around at maybe a couple of knots – but Norman told me this was the second afternoon’s use he’d had out of a single charge.

I should add that I’ve drawn two similar skiffs at 14ft (the Sunny) and 15ft 7in (the Julie) which should be even better, though I’d argue that the 12ft Ella would be a good first stitch-and-glue boatbuilding project for anybody, and one that few would regret building.

Another exciting development is that the first boat built to the sailing version plans is currently in build in the USA – and Ella and I are very keen to see photos of that one!

This boat is designed to be built using the stitch and glue technique – if you haven’t done this before you might be interested in my book Ultrasimple Boat Building: 17 Plywood Boats Anyone Can Build Sunny skiff 14ft plywood flattie plans or one of the other books on this topic available from Amazon Sunny skiff 14ft plywood flattie plans.