Scottish Coastal Rowing Project grows to 19 St Ayles skiff boatbuilding projects

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Rowers trying out the original St Ayles skiff at Eyemouth last weekend

Alec Jordan of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project tells me that he received the 19th order for a St Ayles skiff kit this week.

Nineteen St Ayles skiff building projects in less than a year reflects a fantastic explosion of interest in the SCRP project since it began. See my post about legendary small boat designer Iain Oughtred drawing the plans for the St Ayles skiff for the Scottish Coastal Rowers here: Iain Oughtred draws the boat that will bring coastal rowing races back to Scotland. It appeared only in July last year!

Alec, whose business Jordan Boats makes up the kits, says that planning is well underway for the first regatta at Anstruther on 29 May, and that seven or eight completed boats are expected to be ready and on the water for the event.

He’s careful to observe that some of the teams won’t have had much time to practise rowing by that time and  however, and suggests the standard of the rowing should be a little bit higher by the time of the Portsoy Festival four weeks later, when there may be even more of the new boats competing.

Other news this week is that the first official women’s crew from Anstruther will have had its first practice.

A particularly striking development is that I gather there have even been expressions of interest in the SCRP from south of the border with England

st ayles, skiff, iain oughtred, rowing, scottish coastal rowing, alec jordan, jordan boats, plywood boats, boat kit st ayles, skiff, iain oughtred, rowing, scottish coastal rowing, alec jordan, jordan boats, plywood boats, boat kit

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Free plans for the Ella skiff now online and available to download

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12ft length overall by 4ft beam, by 400lbs displacement, designed for stitch and glue construction using 1/4in or 3/8in 4ft by 8ft plywood

If you build this boat PLEASE send me a report about how the project went and how it works on the water, together with photos! I’m at, and will usually be available to  provide online advice.

At last I’ve managed to find a few hours to make up a plans package! I hope it was worth the wait. In a mass of material like this there will no doubt be an error or two, so if you find any, please let me know and I’ll put them right.

For previous posts on the development of this little boat, click here and here.

From the notes:

The Ella skiff as laid out in these plans is a lightweight general purpose stitch and glue flattie skiff for use in sheltered waters with no strong currents or tides. It is not suitable for use on the sea or in hazardous waters.

It is meant to be a simple and quick stitch and glue building job of a size that is convenient for building in domestic garages made to take a small to medium-sized car, which probably describes the building area available to most people.

Like this boat? Send your comments to me at

The boat is designed with rowing primarily in mind, though it could also be used with a VERY small outboard of NO MORE than 2hp. Too many accidents take place because outboards of the wrong size have been used, and far too many of these are fatal. If a small outboard is to be used, the transom should be doubled to ensure it can support the weight of the engine.

The name came from my daughter, who has taken rather a shine to the boat – readers of will find photos of a model she has made.

Compared with the Julie skiff, the form of a boat like this must be strongly influenced by the need to work in a decent amount of displacement into a shorter hull, as anyone who compares the lines drawings of the two boats will quickly see. The Ella skiff is therefore a more curvy boat than her big sister, but I hope that her more jaunty sheerline lends a certain cuteness people will like. The stem is angled somewhat in order to turn splashes and ripples downward, for I know that dryness is an important part of comfort in small craft, especially for those unused to boating.

Sailing enthusiasts will note that I have not drawn any details for a sailing version of this boat and I would prefer that no builder should add a sailing rig to this bare design. Boats like this should not be converted for sailing without serious thought about the safety and construction issues.

However, my daughter has asked me to develop a sailing version for her, and at some point I intend to do so. The design for this boat will feature a good amount of built-in bouyancy for safety, will be half-decked, and will probably have a balanced lug rig for ease of sailing.

This boat has been designed by an amateur with no qualifications in boat design or boatbuilding and should be regarded as experimental. The designer accepts no liability for any loss or accident that may result from following these instructions or plans or from any loss or accident that may follow from using this boat.

Click here to download the latest version of the free Ella skiff plans.

PS If you’re looking for a longer, sleeker but equally easy to build rowing skiff, click here.

PPS There’s now a 14ft version, the Sunny skiff. Click here.

This boat is designed to be built using the stitch and glue technique – if you haven’t done this before you might be interested in my book Ultrasimple Boat Building: 17 Plywood Boats Anyone Can Build or one of the other books on this topic available from Amazon.

Panels drawings and coordinates for the 12ft flat-bottomed Ella rowing skiff

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Ella skiff, panel plotting, sheet 1

Tonight, I’ve finally managed to find some time to make a little more progress on the plans for the stitch and glue flat bottomed Ella rowing skiff. We now have four drawings to show where the panels that make up this stitch and glue-built boat fit on three 8 by 4ft sheets and one 4ft by 4ft sheet of ply; and we have four tables of coordinates to enable builders to markout and finally cut out their material, create the necessary taped or butt-strapped joints  before beginning assembly.

I won’t explain how stitch and glue works here as there’s a lot of material available on this both on the Internet and in books such as my Ultrasimple Boatbuilding – the only thing I’d say is please don’t try the process without reading about it properly first. That way lies sticky madness, strange-shaped boats and epoxy glop that won’t go off, as at least some people have found in the past. Just check the forums…

Here are the drawings files you’ll need: Ella skiff plans.

A few warnings are required here.

Prospective builders should be aware that I am not a qualified naval architect and that my plans are amateur and experimental. I accept no responsibility for any injury or loss arising from building or using this boat and I urge builders and users of this boat to do so with care.

This boat is not for use on the sea or in any hazardous conditions. It is a small boat suitable for rowing on small lakes and slow-flowing rivers. It may be rowed but should not be used with an outboard of any kind unless the stern is doubled and otherwise reinforced. Even if that were done, it would be dangerous to use an outboard of more than 1hp. This boat is not designed to hydroplane and should not be made to do so – far too many fatal accidents occur each year beause some bozo thought it was fun or safe to put a large engine on a boat for which it was not designed.

I would also ask builders that if any coordinate creates a line that does not appear as it does in the drawings to contact me immediately. You may have found an error, and will need corrected measurements to be able to go forward. Also, I will want to correct anything that is wrong for the sake of future builders. In general, if you build this boat, please contact me at Especially with the first few boats built, I will want to be in close touch in order to ensure the boats are successful and the plans cause no problems.

These plans aren’t entirely complete – for example, they don’t show where the oarlocks need to go, or specify the gunwales or inwales – and I haven’t written my usual short essay yet. All of that will come.

Finally, if after all this you are still interested in building this small, simple and perhaps elegant little boat, I would strongly suggest that you build a model first! Read all about making a model here and here. There is also more on the Ella skiff design including the preliminary drawings here.

PS – It’s become clear that depending on your build, some folks will find the thwart a little high – if that could be you, it will be a very simple job to make the seat lower if you do so at an early stage.

Complete plans will follow, so why not subscribe to