Ian Oughtred design rowing skiff, built by Julian Burn, boat-builder from Totnes in Devon for the present owner in 2004 but never launched.
The boat was commissioned as a tender to the owner’s yacht to be carried aboard on his round the world voyage.
Following a hip replacement, the owner has finally decided to part with her rather than just admire her.
There are a lot of boats out there on the water, up the creeks hidden in boatyards and garden sheds: many make you wonder why anyone ever paid good money for them, a few are really quite nice and a small handful are works of art. Ian Oughtred has produced a wide range of “modern” yacht and boat designs all taking their inspiration from traditional proven designs but with a modern twist.
This boat is absolutely exquisite in her construction and her condition and there is as much pleasure to be had just in the ownership of a boat like this as in the use. Planked in clinker plywood, 7 strakes each side edge glued with epoxy resin glues and the whole structure sealed inside and out with epoxy resin.
The advantage is a monocoque hull which does not leak and will not suffer shrinkage usually associated with traditional clinker boat construction when left ashore. The sandwich was then cut in half on the band saw so that the mahogany now exposed on the inside of the plank matched it’s opposing number on the other side of the boat both in grain and colour. A short bilge keel at the maximum bilge point, capped with stainless steel runner spreads loads and takes friction if the boat is landed on a beach.
The keel is armed with a full length stainless steel protection which is carried right up to the stem-head.
2 thwarts provide 2 rowing positions, a midships thwart for solo rowing and a forward thwart when a passenger is carried in the stern sheets. Pair of light-weight, varnished spruce straight blade balanced oars secured in the boat by a padlocked strap through the thwart. Ive been drawing a few sketches on graph paper the last few days and ive came up with a 12ft row boat but im stuck on a few things and dont really want to commit trying to build one untill ive all the proper info incase i make a balls of it. Im wanting to know can i make the cedar strips thicker than whats used on canoes just to give it that wee bit more strength. Im only at the desgiun stage but im finding it abit difficult as i think i should be using 3d diagrams instead of 2d which im currently doing. Any help would be great because ive got the itch to build something else after succesfully building a plywood canoe last year.
I am thinking the transon will have to be soild plywood to hold it all together thus allowing the use of an outboard engine either petrol or electric. A number of years ago I built a Gillpatrick laker but wanted to make some minor mods to the shape. Sorry if this sound negative, I don't want to dash your hopes but it would be a shame if you put a lot of effort in and were unhappy with the end result.
There used to be another free hull design tool called Carene which is less powerful but easier to learn. Thanks for your replies ,ill take in everything that use you say however im determined to design a boat and build it out of cedar.
Here below is what im going to do now, ive seen something different online and took a few tips of it and designed this. I personally would buy a set of plans for a boat similar to what you want to achieve, not to use to build your boat but to study the shapes and spacings of the forms, see what they have done.
If you modify what is already a proven design you have the peace of mind that you have based it on something that works and tailored it to your needs. If you do go with your own design then I would go down the scale model route, you dont need to build the whole boat just the forms and a few strips to see if the lines look right. Thanks for your replies ,ill take in everything that use you say however I'm determined to design a boat and build it out of cedar.
Yes but our ancestors were building boats on the back of generations of past experience, often going back hundreds even thousands of years. Before I spend any more time on this, could you have a look and make sure I havent made any errors please.
Looking at your drawings, they dont look out of place, infact they look like some stations that i see people on teh net working of to make their canoes.
Just had another look at no1 on your drawing, would you think that theres to much of a peak on it. Tumble-home is the term that describes the way that the top edges (gunwales or gunnels) of many canoes curve in towards the centerline.
Tumble-home is not used in a rowboat where adequate beam at the gunnel increases leverage for the rower by spacing the oarlocks well apart. The excessive beam together with the tumble-home suggests a craft intended for a specialized purpose, possibly delivering extremely heavy goods such as guns to a ship that involves maneuvering through very narrow and congested waters at slow speeds. In general small changes to an existing, successful design can be made without too much risk. As stations 4,5,6 are all exactly the same height, there is a corner on the top of station 4.
However, if you fix the problems at this stage, you will be much happier when you finish building. The problems you have here arnt insurmountable, but you really do need to deal with them before you start building. Have a look at your measurements and modify your sketches with that prog, then come back and I will do my utmost to help you further.
The Acorn skiff in all its length variants is a true Whitehall type modest load carrying rowing and (careful) a fast sailing skiff, no compromises. Several have been built with sliding seats, most notably a very good 15 by John Willoughby, that I fell out of very ungraciously many years ago.


Joel Weatherald built a nice one (Isola) a while back, proving that even a butcher (as he was then) can be a good Oughtred boat builder. Badger's extra length means that she is nearer to the size of the 'Three Men in a Boat' type of camping skiff, made famous by Jerome K Jerome's very amusing book. While there I got to row one of the oldest, amazingly the very one whose creaking, water dripping sounds are used by Pink Floyd in the opening to their 'Momentary Lapse of Reason' album. A bit of effort on your part, some leather on your oars and 'winter grease' on the tholes, and you'll be set! The design of the St Ayles Skiff was commissioned from Iain Oughtred by the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther, Fife. The kit design for the St Ayles has been thought through from the outset to produce a beautiful and comparatively easy boat that can be built by people with little or boat building experience. We do not want you to have to invest a fortune in tools, so for the most part, the tools required are those found in most keen DIYers toolbox. Sadly, the wherry plans won't fit your criteria; they have flat bottoms, pieced stems, etc. Mate they have been flat out with the Spring Boat Building School so prolly not checking the emails to closely. Funny about that Rick, I'd pulled out all my boxes of boating magazines and been going through them looking for the article on sheathing hulls and was prompted to think about building an Acorn or something similar as a row boat for now and a tender for the H28 when it's eventually done, then reality got the better of me and it soon passed!!
If you still want to go down the solid timber route I doubt you could get her under 85kg which is starting to get a bit heavy for moving around by yourself. This boat takes it’s inspiration from the American Whitehall skiff and has all their sweetness of line and delicacy of form. The plans used were for the Acorn 12’ skiff but the moulds were slightly spaced out in the construction to stretch the hull to 12’6” giving an even more elegant line. Opposing planks were then clamped and glued as a sandwich with a 6mm mahogany board between. The pads are fitted with nylon bushes to reduce friction and remove that awful clanking noise of loose rowlocks as you row.
I have gill gillpatricks book with free plans but im wanting to make a few changes if possible to make a cedar strip rowing boat and im wondering is it possible to use these plans as a sort of a guide or just draw up something myself.
Im thinking of using teh method gill gillpatrick uses when building his canoes with having some cut outs of ply wood and bend the strips of cedar around these and join with wood glue. My boat is 12ft long and 500mm high and will have a curve at the front and back of the boat but i dont know how much of a curve to put on it.
A sharp twist over a short length is hard to handle as you only have the leverage of the width to hold down the edge with a staple, and a strip which twists and bends is worse. You can start at the sheer line, or the keel, or work from the bilge towards sheer and keel.
It is intuitive and ideal for designing a rowing hull; if you can find a source on the web I recommend it. I cant see it being that difficult, sure didnt our ancestors build them without the tools and plans we have of today. Does anyone know if it will be acheivable building it with teh same thickness as gill gillpatrick uses with his canoes.
I cant see it being that difficult, sure didn't our ancestors build them without the tools and plans we have of today.
You have taken a conventional open canoe design and made it wider to create your rowboat design. It makes it easier to paddle a wide canoe solo, allowing the blade to be closer to the center thus producing less of a tendency to turn, and is very rarely used in specialized fishing canoes. In fact, in rowboats designed for speed which have narrow hulls the spacing of the oarlock is increased by the use of outriggers, where permitted by racing rules. The narrow sharp forefoot will grip the water, the flat stern will not, and when the boat starts any turn it will tend to slew around, making control of direction difficult or even impossible. This is only a guess and I am quite sure it is not your intention; I merely mention it to indicate that this is an unlikely looking design. In this case you appear to have increased the beam by more than double, chopped off what was presumably a canoe stern, modified the rocker without understanding its function in a boat and changed the purpose of the original craft beyond recognition. Our interests lean towards traditional styled craft, particularly glued lapstrake designs, built to order from the designer's plans.
The traditional lapstrake hull cuts through the water easily, whether you are rowing, towing, or motoring, An optional sail plan is also available. Peter Furze, serial Oughtred builder, rowed his 11'6" Acorn in company with co professional (medico) John Willoughby around Hindmarsh Island about 10 years ago, proving the point beyond doubt.
It's often been said that kids don't row anymore because modern boats, like the ubiquitous tinnies are so bad to row; same goes for most of the club sailing classes. It was interesting to observe how little that boat pumped as his weight shifted, as it does in a sliding seat, with each stroke. This a traditional rowing machine, with the capacity to carry one or at the most, two passengers. To get WoodenBoat delivered to your door or computer, mobile device of choice, etc, click WB Subscriptions.
Which unfortunately takes a couple of the other options that I'd seen of light weight cedar strip plank construction out of the equation. I'd sort of passed it over because of the weight and being a sail and our design, rather than specifically a rowing boat, with the thought that there always seems to be a compromise when you combine the two.
I'm not sure how I'll fit that in between Twister restoration and Folkboat maintenance but, I'll try somehow! Once back in Oz I'll probably get pretty caught up in the other projects so I'm not really sure when I'll get to do it.


Which raises a question didn't Iain design it for ply, going to traditional build may make it a heavy weight. On his return 2 years later he took delivery and the boat has sat on her trailer in a shed ever since, never been in the water.
She is of course ideal for quiet waters rowing on a summer evening although I am told that the designer rows his own Acorn skiff in the open waters of the Scottish west coast. When i draw my boat on paper, i have a straight line where my gun whales go , is this ok to do or will i have to have the same curve as i have on the bottom.
Check how it will look from various angles, and also draw in the planks to get a feel for how they will bend. Boat design is a bit of a black art, the 3 M?s (math, magic, materials) plus intuition and - for me - maturing experiences that I don?t always want to talk about .
I know my boat isnt going to win any awards for being efficent in all the ways good boats are.all im looking is something that ill be able to stick on my trailer and for it to float and look good. We're all on your side all the way, and none of us want to 'pee on your bonfire' but modern materials ie decent ply, epoxy, adhesives etc are expensive, so a mistake can be a very costly one. Also when you say about them not being teh same shape and as acurate as mine, thats ok, just as log as i get to have some sort of numbers to work to and that the boat will be ok for the water. It is not used when it is not needed, so it is not found in a large canoe intended only for multiple paddlers who can sit or kneel against the side, or a small solo canoe used with a double bladed paddle. Rowboats intended for racing where rules do not permit outriggers have narrow hulls up to the waterline which then flare out at the gunnels to achieve the same thing. The upward slope at the stern keeps the bottom edge of the transom out of the water, which is good, but if you take horizontal slices out of the hull, which are called waterlines, you will find that these turn abruptly towards the centerline at the stern. If you wish to learn and progress in the art of boat design, it is better to study books on the subject, or design and build small boats to learn in less time and cost, attend a college program on the subject or work with a professional.
There I got to row in one of the original boats two place camping rowing boats,, over a hundred years old. Anyway, I intend to build a model first to make use of my remaining time in Vietnam - should be only a couple of months.
I can get balsa or coral wood (whatever that is) from Saigon but I'm also going to have a run around some timber places in Hanoi today and see what I can find. I've done a lot of restoration work but I've never built a boat so I want it to be something I enjoy doing and I want it to turn out well. The forms were thick card and the individual planks edge glued and temporarily fixed with pins just like the real thing. I've built a small rowing boat and a canoe from their plans and they've both been cracking little craft.
Don?t try to draw them to scale, the lines will be too close, a scale plank width of 3 or 4 inches is fine and will alert you to problem areas. You need to take time to understand the reasoning behind the canoe design and the ways in which a rowboat design is different, not just in the beam and the presence of a transom. If, on the other hand, you simply want an adequate boat that will go together without much fuss and work well in the water and go home on a trailer, there are lots of plans for boats on the web, free and otherwise, that will do just that.
These 15' boats have been stretched to 17' by virtue of moving the stations equally; that would be even better. But it seems to me Fynes lets you post the pics to other websites such as this forum but CLC blocks them. I think anything light that I can cut and sand easily without many tools should be okay really.
I really like plywood but for this one I'm more inclined to go for solid timber, just for the exercise of doing it. It was a bit fiddly but well worth it because it showed a couple of ugly flaws in the lines. When you think you have it right, take the lines off the half-model and build a larger model to see how the full-size boat will go together. An upturn in a relatively flat bottom is seen in some rowing and sailing skiffs, but those craft are much more difficult to design than their simple lines imply.
One caveat; some free plans are ripped off from magazines of days gone by, they may be for adequate but old-fashioned and heavy boats which do not take advantage of the capabilities of modern materials and may need skills to build and maintain that you may not possess. The mods made were relatively tiny adjustments to the width of the bow and stern and I thought I'd made sufficient adjustments to the adjacent forms to gradually blend in the modified forms. How much trouble you will have depends on how many shape and construction changes you make to an established design, and luck. Equally at the bow the sharp upward turn of the bottom serves no apparent purpose, and again it will increase drag.
Several years ago I accompanied Peter Furze and John Willoughby as they rowed their home built Acorn 11'6" and 15'er, respectively, around Hindmarsh Island, the calcific and mud delta island of the mouth of the River Murray.
If there's anyone out there who knows what's going on with Duck Flat who could perhaps give them a kick up the tail feathers I'd be grateful or if anyone else can advise on how I can get a set of plans into Vietnam fairly economically I'd be grateful for that! I dont think there's much compromise to accommodate sail-they are a slippery and somewhat tippy boat. It's almost, if not totally impossible to just draw some shapes and have them produce a nice boat.




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