The Barton Skiff 16ft outboard motor boat – more reports from the first builder Brian King

Brian King Gavin Atkin Barton skiff with tiller extension (though it was too long at this point)

stepping forward lowers the bows, lengthens the waterline and it goes faster Brian King Gavin Atkin Barton skiff at 6mph showing almost no wake


Pioneer builder Brian King has been getting to know his new Barton Skiff 16ft outboard motor boat and shows every sign of being delighted with it. Here’s how he put it when writing to the Yahoogroup gmaboatbuilders:

‘Excellent results today. I was extremely pleased with the skiff today. I am satisfied that I have achieved the goals that I set when starting the build.’

Brian’s been steadily finding out about how to set up and load the boat to get the best performance, first by getting the outboard motor’s angle right (with the prop well forward, probably in line with the outboard-support bulkhead included shown in the plans) and with the crew weight centred, even when the boat is lightly loaded.

To achieve this he’s started using an outboard motor extension made from plastic pipe, though I should explain that he’s made it a little shorter since the photo above was taken.

Both shots were taken near where he launches in Pembrokeshire; in one the motor is running at minimum rpm and the boat is travelling at 3mph. It made 5.5mph at half throttle where there was no wind.

Half a mile away, however, he was on open water and the wind picked up considerably – the wind reached 15 knots and with two miles of clear water upwind there were small waves and a small swell. Brian reported that the boat steered well (much better than on previous outings when he was sitting in the stern) and gave 5.5mph on three-quarters throttle and 7mph at full speed. Into wind and downwind changed the speed by about plus/minus 1mph.

‘7 mph equals 6 knots, which is the theoretical waterline speed for a boat 20ft long,’ he reported. ‘Bingo Gavin …thank you for your excellent design.’

The skiff is under 16ft long and a key aim in working up the hull was to enable it to beat the usual speed restriction on a boat of that length – and it seems we’ve succeeded.

A couple of days later Brian wrote again. ‘The last two evenings have been excellent. The weather has been very pleasant and I had two one hour sessions. Although the boat will go faster, I have been satisfied to motor at about 60 per cent throttle, which gives me 5 to 6+mph, depending on the wind and waves.’ An hour’s motoring used one litre of fuel.

The second photo above shows the boat’s wake at at 6mph – Brian says there’s almost no wake to be seen, which to him suggests low drag and high efficiency.

Thank you for investing the time and materials required to build the first example of this build Brian! It’s always a great pleasure when one of my designs is built the way it should be and then lives up to both the builder’s and the designer’s expectations.

Plans for the Barton Skiff are available free from this website – see the free plans page.

Brian King’s Barton skiff stitch and glue outboard boat made from plans on this site

Barton skiff

Barton skiff

Things are going to be quiet here for a few days, so I thought I’d just leave you with these shots of Brian King’s Barton skiff stitch and glue outboard boat made from plans on this site. Tootle-pip!

At last – construction drawings for the Barton skiff, previously known as the Low power skiff

Barton skiff construction drawings

I’m shattered, but it’s been worth it because I’m now ready to share the key construction details of my simple stitch and glue outboard skiff designed for use with a low-powered outboard of 5hp or so – and certainly not much more, not least because the prop won’t fit!!!

I should add that my usual caveats apply here. I have no qualifications to design boats and make no claims for the performance or safety of this craft. I accept no responsibility for any accident or loss that may be incurred during building or use of this boat. What I have drawn must be regarded as experimental.

If you’re still interested, here are my key construction drawings: Barton-skiff-plans-package (updated to v1.1 3rd Feb 2011) Expect them to add up to around a meg, as I’ve included dxf files for those who like that kind of thing. I guess they will also be useful for anyone who wants to check a particular dimension. If anyone finds an error, please let me know!

The notes are sketchy to say the least, but I have it in mind that the bottom and frames should be of 1/2in ply, while the sides can be of 3/8ths. I’d advocate using marine ply, covering it well with glass and epoxy, and using gapped inwales of 2in by 1in, with 1in blocks.

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.

See some earlier posts relating to the Barton/Low power skiff project:

Low power skiff – the nested panels
Poole canoes – the motorised flat-bottomed skiffs of Poole Harbour
A model of the Low-power skiff
New low-power skiff sketches and model drawings