João Pereira builds a model Ella skiff

João Pereira builds a model Ella skiff 2 João Pereira builds a model Ella skiff 1

Please forgive me what might seem a bit of self-puffery – but I just love it when people build my little boats, even when they’re models for kids to play with in the shower.

João Pereira’s model of an Ella skiff certainly charmed me, and the Lego people are just about to scale too!

Here’s what he wrote:

Hello Mr Atkin!

I’ve recently come across the intheboatshed web site looking for boat plans and I was surprised by the amount of information available.

The idea of allowing someone to make a model before the real boat was very good.
I tried to build mine entirely with 4mm ply but it didn’t work. The sides didn’t bend easily so I used card-board from a milk carton for the sides and bottom. The frames, deck and gunwales are 4mm ply.

My kids play with it in the shower often because it is glued with Araldite, painted and varnished. I think it is a good test to check for defects and durability.

Best regards from Portugal,

João Pereira

Thanks João! That’s not a bad way to start kids with boats. I hope you go on to build the real thing. If you do, please keep in close touch so that I can help make sure it’s as successful as the bath toy…

Dylan sails his Duck Punt for the first time – and loves it

Keep Turning Left sailor and film-maker Dylan Winter has launched and successfully sailed his new Duck Punt for the first time.

He’s absolutely delighted with the little sailing canoe, which slips along as nicely as those made by earlier Duck Punters on the Essex coast. And there is the added bonus that he seems to be able to sail and film at the same time without falling in – which I’m pretty sure is what would happen to me if I tried the same trick.

Here on the upper floors of Towers, we’re cheering for several reasons.

It’s always great when someone successfully builds a little boat and enjoys it on the water, and the news seems even better when the builder is in the UK. Round here, amateur boatbuilding projects are nothing like so frequent as they should be, given how much water we have to play with.

I’m pleased, too, that the little Duck Punt shows clearly how effective narrow, flat-bottomed boats can be. The British tend to believe all boats must be round bottomed to be any good, and that therefore building a boat is just too complicated to be worth considering. Dylan’s little punt gives the lie to that myth, just as did all the other duck punts that came before it.

Still more than all this, the project is a tremendous example of cheap and simple sailing.

Here’s Dylan’s page linking to his Duck Punt film; links to John Milgate’s original plans are also available on his website.

PS – Fans of Dylan’s adventures should bag a copy of the latest issue of PBO magazine, which includes an excellent feature-length article by the man himself.

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 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