Black Skimmer under construction

Black Skimmer Black Skimmer Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer

Here’s one for the plywood boatbuilders among us. This is Nexus Marine in Washington USA, building American designer Phil Bolger’s Black Skimmer, which remains one of my favourite designs. I’m not alone, for I gather that some years ago another design legend, Iain Oughtred, told a Classic Boat interviewer that Bolger’s leeboard sharpie was one of his favourites also.

Nexus Marine building the Black Skimmer

Plans from Bolger’s associate Harold Payson cost just $40.

Devereux Books has published a book containing a chapter about sailing a Black Skimmer.

See Bill McKibben’s photos of a Black Skimmer he built in the mid-1970s.

Here’s an Answers about link that tells something of the sharpie story.

Woodenboat magazine senior editor Mike O’Brien commissioned the design.

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5 thoughts on “Black Skimmer under construction”

  1. I too have seen it elsewhere mentioned that Iain Oughtred praised Black Skimmer, so was surprised to see that for his recent sharpie design he chose to do an Egret "type", for Bolger wrote that his Black Skimmer design "could, and did sail rings around her (Egret) – blow high, blow low."

    Perhaps the Egret lines more approach the classic?


  2. I think the Egret is such a legend that it's difficult to think about entirely logically. What's more, the Black Skimmer is a different kind of boat, with its much greater form stability and transom stern. Many might think it wouldn't be quite as good as the Egret in rough water because of its wider flat bottom.

    Arguably, what the BS needs is an advocate who builds her, has some really impressive adventures and then either writes it up the whole experience or even better gets his best mate to do it, as Gilpin did with Munroe! If only I had the time, space and money needed for the first part, and the time and luck for the second! Impressive adventures have to be dangerous and so always include an element of luck, I think, and the difference between a good book and a big seller is probably partly luck also. A nice account of a few years-worth of holidays sailing the Thames Estuary including a few homages to Maurice Griffiths, Charles Stock, Howard Chappelle and Phil Bolger himself might do it. Now, a biographer like Gilpin would be even better. Who might want to take on that role, I wonder? 😉


  3. I now own that boat. She’s been a total pleasure to sail. Surprisingly weatherly, and has a well balanced helm.

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