A little classic to build this spring

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Forest & Stream skiff in Sweden

Forest & Stream skiff in Sweden Forest & Stream skiff in Sweden Forest & Stream skiff in Sweden

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 original scan

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 gmatkin@gmail.com to let me know how you got on with the little boat.

Early Forest & Stream skiff Early Forest & Stream skiff Early Forest & Stream skiff

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.

Motorised F&S skiff Else in Germany Motorised F&S skiff Else in Germany Motorised F&S skiff Else in Germany

Motorised F&S skiff Else in Germany

9 thoughts on “A little classic to build this spring”

  1. Yes, I was looking at the big boat, and thinking – why on earth has the owner spoilt that lovely, lovely stern with a gurt big outboard?

    I do like the Field and Stream skiff, but if you want a boat that shape why not build Conrad Natzio's Sandpiper, which is adapted for modern materials and designed for ease of construction?

    Which reminds me, my Sandpiper needs a bit of work done and the weather is far too nice for sitting inside. Must dash.


  2. I'm pretty sure the outboard is a temporary arrangement that normally gets hidden in a locker. With no engine and no prop in the water, I bet that yacht sails like a witch!

    The F&S skiff is rather smaller than the Sandpiper, and in any case I drew it in 1997 when there weren't so many alternatives around and it was much more difficult to identify the alternatives that were available. Certainly, I didn't know it existed.

    Nowadays there are quite a few well-publicisted alternatives, including Conrad's excellent Sandpiper, Jacques Mertens-Goosens' handsome designs, Karl Stambaugh's designs and several more from Selway-Fisher. In the F&S size range there's also Steve Redmond's Tetra.

    One less well known one I rather admire is the Stimson Urchin http://www.by-the-sea.com/stimsonmarine/smplans.h… , which has nice proportions and a lap that accentuates the impression of length, stiffens the whole structure and may even help to keep the boat dry. It's also significantly smaller than the Sandpiper.

    In our time, the problem with these old-fashioned vertical stem angled stern boats is that although they look nice and are relatively easy to build, they can't carry an outboard – for that, you need a rather more modern design of skiff.


  3. hi

    love the skiff

    what Im really after is finding the plans for the sloop behind her


    Ive been looking for a larger boat project and I just may have found it

    please tell me you have info



  4. Dan or B… I'm sure we'd all love a boat like that!

    I'm afraid I don't know anything about it, but it is of a style that is often seen in the Baltic and that area, so I'm sure such plans exist – though you may have to learn Danish or Swedish.

    If you do take on a project like this, intheboatshed.net would love to publish posts on your progress please!


    1. Yup. He's developed it a bit, but that's how boat design works; each new hull you see is a development of something before, sometimes by the same designer, sometimes by someone else. It isn't always obvious, and sometimes there are two or three or more hulls in there…

      The only things one could dislike about it are his rather bluntly stated comments about my version – but they may have been toned down since I last looked.


  5. The boat behind the little skiff is obviously a swedish skerry cruiser which exists in many sizes.

    They are named after their sail area in square meters and were developed in the late 19th century on the east (baltic) coast of sweden

    Beginnig from 22 sqm to 150sqm, but the most skerry cruisers does have 30 sqm.

    They have very long and narrow hulls, for example the 30er is normally 12m in length and just 2m in breadth.

    According to the picture i would say its a 30 sqm skerry cruiser because its four times longer than the little skiff.

    Best regards, Kai lueddecke

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