Mark Napier’s Julie skiff


In South Africa, Mark Napier has built a Julie skiff adapted for a sliding seat, and loves it! Here’s what he says:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘I built a rowing boat based on your Julie skiff design. I fitted it with a sliding seat and use it to troll for large mouth bass.

‘Being my first boat, I made a few mistakes. Fortunately, I discovered that my father has a friend who is on his fifth boat, so he gave me tips on local suppliers of decent epoxy and varnishes.

‘Stitch and glue is not big out here in South Africa. The epoxy supplier is nearby in Durban, luckily.

‘The boat has turned out really nicely. I made some minor changes to the foredeck and transom – I wanted to fit two sliding seats on the boat, but I realise now that that’s going to be tight for comfort.

‘I power it with a 2hp outboard as well, which works great, especially when I keep the weight well balanced. I wouldn’t mind getting a sneaker motor later.

‘We have the Albert Falls dam 15 minutes down the road – a wonderful setting. Good fishing too.

‘The sliding seat is just wonderful. I started rowing (sculling) last year, but was looking for something where I could include my two young daughters. I considered many designs, but settled on yours due to its simplicity. It is so awesome to row for brilliant exercise, to be stable in the boat and able to enjoy the scenery around us.

‘Many thanks for making your designs available to the public.

‘Kind regards,


The boat looks great and the lake is even better! What a handsome lake to have just 15 minutes from your home.

It’s great to see another Julie skiff on the water and to have a builder so pleased with the boat – Julie herself is delighted as well. I trust Mark realises those girls will likely need little boats of their own one day when the can swim well…

Plans for the Julie skiff, a lightweight and easy to build stitch and glue plywood skiff developed from traditional flat-bottomed skiff designs are available here. There is of course no need at all to have the complicated sliding seat arrangement if you don’t fancy it – for most of us a simple thwart, and oarlocks and oars will do nicely.

What’s more if you’d prefer a smaller boat, the Julie has sisters at 14ft and 12ft.

Light Trow Mk 2 plans now available!

Light Trow, plans, plywood boat, Gavin Atkin, boat plan

I’ve been waiting for Water Craft magazine to publish its Grand Designs series story on the Light Trow before releasing the Mk 2 plans – they’ve also been publishing a two part article by small boat adventurer Ben Crawshaw about his adventures in the Mark 1 boat.

But now the big day is almost upon us, it’s at last time to let them loose on the public. Download them now – click here for the zip file of drawings etc. There are plans for making a model here.

For more on the Light Trow including Ben’s exploits and the origins of the design, click here, scroll down and go back through the  posts.

Osbert Lancaster’s Firth of Forth weblog

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Osbert's boat

Osbert’s nicely shaped John Welsford designed Walkabout dinghy

I’d like to draw attention to Osbert Lancaster’s weblog, Firth of Forthy by sail and oar.

He’s recording two projects at the same time: setting up a new canoe and kayaking club and building one of John Welsford’s Walkabout cruising dinghies. Of these two, I think it’s safe to say that the Walkabout is the most difficult – but there’s no doubt that Osbert is surmounting his challenges and turning out a beautiful looking boat. As one of his neighbours said: ‘You must be fair chuffed.’

Osbert’s a member of the UK messabout group UK Home Built Boat Rally.