The virtues of a flat bottomed skiff

The virtues of a flat bottomed skiff

I think this is an impressive video that includes a couple of very nice ideas.

My little stitch and glue skiff designs – the 15ft 6in Julie, the 14ft Sunny and the 12ft Ella – are all ply, not ply with a planked bottom, but they will still have many of the important properties of these boats, including useful rowing characteristics. And the plans are all free…

Building a Connecticut-style outboard skiff

This, British chums, is how they build a flat-bottomed outboard skiff on the other side of the Atlantic.

I’m sorry about the odd layout, but it seems to be how the latest version of WordPress and Jetpack seems to be doing it – no doubt they’ll change it shortly as the revisions usually come pretty rapidly.

The Brits tend to believe that flatties don’t work as boats because there are so few in our boatbuilding and boat-using tradition, but it ain’t so. Admittedly the British coast is probably not the best place for a beamy flattie like this one, but it represents an easily built, inexpensive and affective model for more sheltered areas.

With a building method that involve using a Spanish windlass to form the stern, you might say it’s another fine example of how people elsewhere in the world do things in very different ways!

In fact, this is an example of the famous plywood Brockway skiff being built by – among others – Tim Visel, aquaculture coordinator at The Sound School at New Haven.

The Brockway skiff was in production at the Brockway Boat Works in the Floral Park section of Old Saybrook, Conneticut for more than half a century, and became popular on the Connecticut River, New England and the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1982, Mr. Earle Brockway agreed to have plans produced for the 16ft extra-wide version of the skiff to be used by US aid and Peace Corps efforts. I think this boat has a remarkable pedigree!

Plans for the Brockway skiff are available here, some additional material is here, and Google Images reveals some nice photos of finished boats here.

My thanks to Susan Weber and Tim Visel.

Sharpies and a skiff up for auction at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

sharpie 1


sharpie 2 sharpie 3 sharpie 4

sharpie 6 sharpie 5


An email from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has reminded me just how much boat types vary around the world – and it has to be said that the contrast between the form of the curvacious-lined and heavily built Whitstable oyster smack Emeline and the sharpies of the East Coast of America, also often used for oystering, could hardly be greater – as the shots above show.

The photos from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum depict a series of boats given to the museum for sell for fundraising.

Apart from the 34ft sharpie and the 20ft Chesapeake sharpie shown at the top of this post, there’s also an example of RD Culler’s Good Little Skiff design up for sale, and an example of L Francis Herreshoff’s widely admired Rozinante design canoe yawl. These too are very unlike the general run of British boats – we do have our own small flatties, but there aren’t many of them and we don’t generally think of flat bottomed boats as being desirable.

It’s worth checking out the geography of the Chesapeake area to get a sense of the waters for which some of these boats were developed.

There’s a lot of other stuff up for sale by the museum – the auction is to be held on the 31st August, and the boats for sale by the museum are listed here.

Good little skiff 1 Good little skiff 3 Good little skiff 2

Good Little Skiff 

Rozinante 3 Rozinante 2 Rozinante 1