A tale of two Ella skiffs, part 2

Kostas Dourdounas (from the photos I imagine he’s in Greece or nearby) departed from the Ella skiff drawings in several ways.

Instead of building the half-decked sailing dinghy that I drew on the Ella hull, he stiffened the rowing version of the boat and included extra built in buouyancy – and seems to have constructed a successful small boat. Congratulations Kostas!

It usually takes some experience to pull off something like that and while I am delighted the result is a very good looking little boat, I would still prefer people to build the Sailing Ella skiff as drawn. The plans are on the free boat plans page.

Here’s his report:

‘Dear Gavin:

‘Attached are some pictures of the Ella skiff I have built using both the sailing and the rowing versions drawings you provided.

‘I made several modifications on your original plans keeping the dimensions for the hull to the exact coordinate matrix.

‘I used some recycled pieces of wood for the gunwale and changed the number of frames. Plywood was purchased new.

‘Mast boom and yard are aluminium pipes sold by weight. They are light and durable, and also cheaper than wood.

‘The sail was ordered from a professional sail maker (I didn’t want to take any chances), and the dimensions were kept to the exact specs.

‘The boat sails well up to F4.5 on the Beaufort scale, and deals well with gusts. I have added foot straps, which help a lot when sailing on a close reach.

‘When running she needs some balance, so the dagger needs to stay lowered.

‘I have intentionally capsized her a couple times with one or two on board. She is easy to right by stepping on the dagger board. She stays afloat when turned over and some fast hand bailing is required if the water is choppy – otherwise there is no problem.

‘The project started Oct 2015 and finished April 2016, and I first sailed her in mid-June 2016. I worked mostly outside as I have no garage, and the winter was a pain to deal with.

‘I have no previous boat building experience, and had only done some small repairs in the past on dinghies. Also i am very limited in tools, just a drill a jigsaw and lots of grid 80 sand paper.

‘Overall, it is a pleasure to sail this little boat, and the kids like it as well.

‘Thanks for the free plans.


Thanks for the great report Kostas.

A tale of two Ella skiffs part 1: in Finland, Klaus Överlund builds a sailing Ella as drawn

Klaus Överlund built the sailing Ella skiff as drawn in the space of a month or so, and has sent over a report of his first outing.

I’m delighted that the boat worked without hitches – he must have had everything very well worked out, and that he didn’t capsize despite strong winds. Clearly he has the potential to be a very good dinghy sailor!

‘Ok, still alive after the first sail! The wind was quite heavy even though the lake we sailed wasn’t that big. It was blowing in average about 8m/s (18mph) and the max wind speed was 11m/s (24mph).

‘I hadn’t actually sailed much at all before – my only experience was limited to an hour sailing a Finn dinghy with my brothers.

‘I got the rudder in place and lowered the daggerboard. My girlfriend got in to the skiff and we rised the sail. We left the beach and were a bit nervous about how we would manage to sail without falling in the water. The fair wind got us to pretty fast speed and we went on about two kilometers. The skiff worked amazingly well despite the fact that we both were total amateurs.

‘The way back home was quite hard and took about an hour. At first beacause of headwind we couldn’t get any closer to home beach, but slowly we got used to the wind and the technique of sailing to windward. Finally we got our toes happily back to dryland.

‘Next time a slower and more steady wind would be nice to go on learning how to sail.

‘The boat and the sail worked fine and didn’t let us get into in troubles. I only have two photos from the beach because while sailing, all our attention was fcused on that. It’s good to share these projects.’


Thanks Klaus – that’s a wonderful report!


Philip Risacher’s Ella skiff dream photos

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Reader Philip Risacher sent me these photos of a great 1/10th scale model he made of my Ella skiff design – and I am of course completely charmed. Here’s what he says:

‘I started the model about four years ago, but it lay as a brown cardboard model until a few weeks ago when reading through Ben Crawshaw’s blog got me back in the mood to build myself a boat. Of course the “everything needed to build a full size boat” is not yet within reach, but luckily my eyes fell on my little Cheerios box skiff and my brain said “oohh, that could be quite beautiful.”

‘So I started back at it, first gluing on some mahogany gunwales, then sealing the whole thing with shellac, painting, thole pins, Samson post, and the hand made oars complete with Turk’s head knots and eyes to scare the sea monsters away.

‘Just this weekend I brought her out on the lake to take some pictures, you’d think she were big enough to sit in, but alas it is only an illusion. I hope some day to make a boat I can sit in. Thank you for the great design(s), so kindly shared with us out here in dream land.’

Here’s the giveaway:

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See more shots here.

Ella skiff plans are here.