Geoff Jones in Minnesota builds an adapted Julie skiff



Geoff Jones built this pretty chine log and cleats version of my Julie skiff design (see the plans page for the free download).

It is intended to be built using the stitch and glue technique, and I fear the two sides may have closed a little near the bow as a result of Geoff’s approach to the construction – or am I seeing the effect of a wide angle lens on perspective?

Geoff went the way he did because he wanted more internal space than my original plans allowed, but overall the result is still a good looking and handy little rower. I’m particularly pleased by Geoff’s comments, which would no doubt also apply to the stitch and glue version:

‘It’s a pleasure to row, and well suited to the lakes, swamps, and rivers here in Minnesota – the “Land of 10,000 Lakes“. I chose your design because it appeared to be the best compromise between qualities I desired – sleek when lightly loaded, but with good reserve buoyancy, shallow draft, and light enough to portage and car-top. With my family of four and a dog, it drags its transom a bit, but still has plenty of freeboard (for calm waters) and rows well.

‘I’m still convinced that it was a good choice on all accounts. It has lovely lines, too, for all of its hard-chined flatness. I’ll eventually rig it for sailing or add a tiny outboard to increase my mobility, but for now I’m having a great time rowing.

‘As a side note, rowing a boat is actually a fairly exotic thing to do here. Canoes are everywhere, but rowing is almost unknown, except for the occasional rubber dinghy or out-of-fuel motorboat (if they carry oars at all). Canoeists seem baffled when I fly past them (one man at the oars versus two paddling a canoe). The only annoyance is that I have to trouble myself to acknowledge all of the shouted compliments I get on her appearance, all of which are really due to your design.

‘You may certainly post on In the meantime, I’m looking forward to spending more time on the water. Thanks again for setting your plans adrift on the internet.’

Many thanks Geoff – that’s a super endorsement! And, by the way, Julie herself is thrilled – and very pleased that you’ve chosen one of her favourite colours for the hull.

I see no reason why other builders should not take a similar route to Geoff, so long as they’re happy to live without built-in bouyancy.

However, I think it’s necessary to point out that the temporary frames need to be good and rigid, that it might be wise to have the remaining frames (probably 2 1/2 or 3in by 1in) rising all the way to the inwale. A stringer at thwart height on the insides of the frames to complement the chine log a little further up each side might also be useful, not least because it could be useful for supporting the seats.

Also, for the sake of rigidity around the rowlocks, it might be worth having a frame in place either side of the central thwart.

If I had time, I’d like to draw up something like this, as I’ve threatened to several times in the past. However, there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of me getting around to it in the forseeable future…

7 thoughts on “Geoff Jones in Minnesota builds an adapted Julie skiff”

  1. You are correct that the sides have closed in near the bow, by about 2″ (5cm) at its worst point. Everything was correct until I installed the inwales, which of course wanted to remain as straight as they could toward the ends. I had taken out the temporary frames, since it didn’t seem to need them after the permanent ones were in. I didn’t notice the problem until the glue had cured and I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble it would take to correct it.

    I probably should have solicited your suggestions about framing before building, rather than after. My experience has now led me to similar conclusions, but perhaps I wouldn’t have learned as many lessons if I hadn’t tried to do things my own way.


    1. I’ve learned quite a few things that way too, so you have my sympathy and understanding.

      I guess you have the consolation that with only you in the boat, it might just go a tad faster with that ‘modification’… So have fun and be happy with your good looking boat!


  2. A successful week for your designs! Two of them prove that they are working brillant. Congraculations! Next to music and writing there seems to be a third career open for you.

  3. Fantastic!
    I’m now not so in the dark with my build, although mine will be closer to Gavins plans. Decks and buoyancy are good things in saltwater!

    1. I’m with you on the buoyancy thing,. I chose to omit built in buoyancy because I wanted the space for cargo. When camping, waterproof bags with tents and sleeping bags, securely lashed down, would provide buoyancy. For unladen trips, canvas bags containing lorrie inner tubes inflated under the seats does the job. I actually do not bother with that for rowing or motoring in good conditions on our narrow waters. Sailing is another matter.

      I think that Gavin’s deck is brilliant in many ways, but I have some reservations about it (relevant only to my use of the boat). The forward seat has proven to be valuable in multiple ways. Obviously, it allows more passengers to sit comfortably, but the real benefit is in trimming the boat. With relatively little rocker, She’s very sensitive to fore/aft trim. With a pasenger, rowing from the center thwart is a chore because the waterline is shortened and the transom drags. Rowing from the forward station, in spite of the narrower oarlocks, is appreciably better. Two rowers with a coxwain is pretty luxurious.

      The other consideration is that with an outboard motor, it would be difficult to trim the boat with the foredeck. With a passenger forward (or a 5 gallon bucket of wet sand) the trim is about right, and she’ll go into quasi-planing mode with my ancient 3hp motor if there is a light chop.

      That said, the relatively slight rocker makes her very fast under oars for a single rower – surprisingly so – and lessens the draught, which is an important consideration for me.

      I speak only of my peculiar set of compromises, and of course everybody has their own. Were sailing a primary consideration for me, I would definitely have stuck closely to the original plan. that said, I am well-along in making sailing gear for her, but for opportunistic rather than primary use. I’ll post a report on that eventually, but work is keeping me too busy for the present.

      1. Thanks Geoff – you’ll appreciate that the boat was drawn up to be a good rower, and for reasons we’ve covered before your boat has slightly less rocker than the designer intended! Still, I’m delighted you’re having fun with it and look forward to hearing how you get on sailing her.

        Let me know if you need any of my words of wisdom on how to arrange the mast, daggerboard case and rudder.


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