It’s the LITTLE boat you’re meant to look at,
darn it! Not the BIG one!
Judging by the mail in my inbox, the boat-dreaming season is giving way to the boat-building season just a little before the buds open.
So I thought I’d pull a rabbit out of the hat – free plans for a little plywood dinghy anyone can build, but which happens to have classic proportions and an appealing, old-fashioned look. It could be built using the old-fashioned method using internal chine logs, or by stitch and glue.
It might appeal to model makers too, and in any case I’d argue that it’s always worth building a model before going the whole way to a full-sized boat.
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About the time I started to play with CAD and hull modelling software, someone – I think it was Craig O’Donnell of the Cheap Pages – kindly sent me some scans of a little sharp-bowed from a copy of the magazine Forest & Stream dating back more than a hundred years. He knew I was interested in understanding sharpies and skiffs at the time, and thought this one would catch my attention.
He was right. Not only was it a sweet boat, but I could see it making a nice early project for someone just learning to work CAD software. Click on the image below for the scan he sent me:
Forest & Stream skiff
There was just one snag. A sharp-bowed skiff under 8ft in length was too small for most purposes in the late 20th Century. We humans are bigger and heavier than we were a hundred years ago, and I felt a larger boat was needed. In converting the F&S skiff plans to using CAD software, I also scaled it up a little to around 10ft and made it available over the Internet. Download a zip file containing my drawings and some early user photos here. The critical might care to consider how well I did, given that it was my first serious attempt at using the software!
I’m delighted to report that the boat’s been built several times now, and that I’m pleased to see that each boat has been different in interesting ways. The latest is still the Swedish example built by Martin Beckmann shown at the top of this post. Click on Forest & Stream skiff builder’s story to read his account of how the project went. He also tells us about his wonderful Nordisk Kryssare 5½ yacht, by the way.
The images below came from the first builder about ten years ago now. Please forgive their quality, as we didn’t all have such nice cameras in those days!
If you’re out there, by the way, I’m sorry to say that I long ago lost my records of who you are and how to contact you – so please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how you got on with the little boat.
An early F&S skiff
And then I heard about Else, a motorised F&S skiff further enlarged to 12ft and fitted with a lawn-mower power pack. Built by a couple of young lads in Germany, I think she could provides inspiration for a small fleet of cute little low-power home-built skiffs. Click here for Maik’s Forest & Stream skiff story.