If you mean this one I've always liked it, keeping in mind its essentially a very wide, flat bottomed catboat with some obvious shortcomings.
This handy pocket cruiser has been designed for a client who wanted an ultra simple and cheap sailing cruiser for estuary sailing and which would get him across the Channel. A cabin big enough for two adults to sleep in and with arguably nicer lines than the larger Hartleys. Cheapest possible route to sailing; MacGregor (watch all the sail nuts spit on this one!) boats are as cheap as they come. So I'm sure you know that there is NO BOAT that can take you cruising cheaper than a good sea kayak.
A good friend of mine built a San Francisco Pelican and then sailed it from Bellingham to Olympia.
If you buy plans from a good designer, and find yourself 3 sheets of 4mm okoume ply, a gallon kit of WEST epoxy, paint, and some bits of hardware, and you can probably build a good kayak for about $600, with no skimping on materials. Theinvisibleworkshop weblogger, writer and small boat sailor Ben Crawshaw has been sailing the sailing version of the Ella skiff off the coast of Catalonia – and I am delighted by the review he has posted. His latest post brings the delightful news that his little boat has featured in a children’s book illustrated by artist Elena Val. For more about Ben’s adventures and his boat Onawind Blue built to my Light Trow design, click here.
Have you got news for us?If what you're doing is like the things you read about here - please write and tell us what you're up to. Classic Sailor is a new magazine about traditional and classic boats from ex-Classic Boat editor Dan Houston and colleagues that promises rather more coverage of the traditional craft around our coast.
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Follow me on TwitterLooking for something?This is a busy weblog, and what you're looking for is probably still here - just a little way down the list now. Our Faversham-based friend Alan Thorne can help with boatbuilding projects - constructing to plans in very tidy stitch-and-glue or more traditional techniques. He decided on the most unassuming of American traditional small craft forms, the humble flat-bottomed skiff.
Bevin’s skiff is offered both in kit and plan form from the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. The mast step and partners are simple pieces of joinery and form a solid support for the unstayed spar.
This is a boat that goes together in weeks of part-time work, not months, and many are assembled from kits over a weekend during family boatbuilding events.
I have supervised the building of four boats to this design as part of a fledgling after-school boatbuilding program for junior high and high school students.
Although there is no mention made of outboard power in the plans, it is a question I have heard from many. Christian Smith is a third-generation boatbuilder, and a circumnavigator, chainsaw artist, and general Renaissance man who classifies himself a “new old school Yankee.” He founded the New Bedford, Massachusetts-based youth boatbuilding program Greenfleet, and he cures his own bacon.
Bevin’s Skiff is chine-built, which is to say that longitudinal framing members join the topsides to the bottom. We have been building her each year, in Lewes, Delaware, on Father’s Day Weekend, with 6 to 8 families and affiliation groups. The delight-filled look on the faces of the young people in the building groups is priceless! For the younger family members, too small to participate in the actual building, we provide a Kids Corner, with games and crafts, and little toy boats, ready for painting to suit the whim of the child.
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The construction could not be more simple and rugged with pre-shaped hull panels and ply frames.


Just depends on your location, where you intend to sail, the waters and payload, and your design sensibility.
And on top of that I blew about $300 on a carbon fiber paddle that feels like a magic wand.
I find her very comfortable on this point of sail—wind over the stern quarter—I spoke to other crews who were worried about capsizing on squally downwind legs but this wasn’t an issue with OB as she simply accelerated as the gust came on. I always tried to sail away from the pack but all the same a constant look out was necessary and I found myself wishing (for the first time) for a crew member. Sometimes I could stay sheeted in and ride out the gusts hanging my arse over the rail but at other times I had to let her luff. But certainly for me she’s a cracker and is perfectly suited to my purpose of simple, singled handed sailing and cruising. The book Benedict by author Teresa Duran examines the issue of perfection, and is available from Canadian publisher’s Groundwood. Try scrolling down, clicking on the 'older posts' button at the bottom of this page - or try the search gadget! Taking inspiration from Uncle Gabe’s skiff, a Chesapeake Flattie skiff described by Sam Rabl, in his book Boatbuilding in Your Own Backyard, and the Westport Skiff, as described by Bob Baker, Joe and his crew built a couple of prototypes before settling on a design he liked. Since that time, more than a thousand have been built by numerous programs, family boatbuilding events, and individuals. The basic plans for the rowing version are very detailed and include a 26-page step-by-step construction guide that leaves nothing to the imagination. No jig or strongback is necessary, although several sawhorses will make the job go more easily. A more experienced builder with a little gumption could possibly bang one out in a week of nights.
The materials list plainly states that only clear-grained stock and marine-grade plywood are to be used, but, faced with cheap boat or no boat, we constructed our first from exterior-grade fir plywood, and the best 2x6s I could pick from the pile, all glued with PL Premium construction adhesive and fastened with stainless-steel ring nails.
Although best as a singlehander, one may carry a passenger as live ballast on the center thwart without too much loss of performance.
She received a high-aspect-ratio centerboard lodged in a trunk underneath the center thwart, along with a low sprit rig. As designed, the boat can carry 460 lbs, and I have rowed comfortably with two adult passengers in calm water without undue concern or incident. It’s stable and predictable, sailing best while the occupants are sitting on the cockpit sole.
The transom and quarter knees are robust, and one should be able to mount a motor of less than 5 hp. It can be built without epoxy—a big plus if one is building the boat with children or young adults who lack the protective gear and skill to work safely with this glue. You can also download the plans for free at WoodenBoat Publications if you promise to build the boat with a child. Given that you take the time to learn how to handle it well in open water (rolls, rescues, rough water paddling and piloting)and how to avoid the common dangers (fog, hypothermia and motorboats), there is no other cruising craft that can approach it pound for pound or dollar for dollar. In the past 4 years I've had more fun with that boat than any other I've ever owned, and taken it places no other type of boat could go.
I tacked carefully and she came round well… Sailing dead down wind with the daggerboard raised Ella became unstable and ached to gybe but by lowering the board a tad and turning slightly to windward she regained posture.
The boat has been built in almost all 50 states and in at least 12 countries around the world.
The boat is fastened with ring nails, and all seams are payed with marine adhesive sealant before assembly to ensure against leaks. In my experience, the sailing rig doubles the average construction time, but adding the trunk, daggerboard, rudder, and spars is well covered in the plan; for the most part, it’s a simple operation.
The boat went together fine, and is still going strong five years later as a trailer-sailer.


These modifications were made to make the boat more suitable to the high winds and rocky shores of Buzzards Bay. The flat bottom, combined with subtle rocker, makes for a very stable little boat—one perfect for beginners. If sailing will be the boat’s primary use, Joe recommends removing the aft thwart entirely in favor of more room for the skipper. Few boats to be used in May can be started in April, or May, for that matter, and the hull is as forgiving to build as it is on the water. I think she’s good like this because the boom and sail are low, because she is trim-critical and responds to your weight being in the right place, and because I try not to sail overpowered. Back in the 1990s, Joe was head of the Alexandria Seaport Foundation’s community boatbuilding program. Shaping the round-sectioned tapered mast requires the most diligence to get right but, with a little patience, it is not beyond the average first-time builder. However, one should always strive to use the best materials available, and I would not recommend those materials for a boat that will spend summers floating at the dinghy dock.
As intended, this is a boat for first-timers, but although simple, or perhaps because of it, Bevin’s Skiff will remain fun and useful well beyond the beginner stages. I recommend a Bevins project to anyone who wants to teach themselves to do some woodwork or build a boat.
The drawings now show details for a 6’ beam version as well as details of an alternative gunter sloop rig and a centreboard. In his travels as the head of Building To Teach, and The Teaching With Small Boats Alliance, Joe is constantly running into examples of Bevin’s Skiff.
Although it is possible to add a rig to an existing Bevin’s, it is highly recommended that both sets be purchased at the same time, as later modification would require undoing some of the prior work to the foredeck. The chine logs are then set in with more goop and ring nails before using the same technique to install the oversized plywood bottom.
As the boat is designed, three sheets of plywood will produce all the needed planking for one boat, along with one extra side plank. A second pair of oarlocks forward would help keep Bevin’s closer to her lines when carrying a friend.
As with many flat-bottomed boats, it is necessary to bring the weight down to leeward in light air. He wanted a boat that not only could be built anywhere by anyone, but one that would be worth building as well, and one he could teach with. The bottom is then taken down to meet the side planks and the boat completed by the addition of a plank keel, skeg, gunwales, frames, seat rail, foredeck, and seats—all of which are fastened using the same method.
That’s a boon when constructing multiple boats, but if you are building only one, the boat benefits from the higher freeboard.
The boat will tow well as a tender, but care must be taken to locate the towing eye as low as possible through the stem, or the bow will have a tendency to root. This allows the chine some extra bite, as the board alone proves itself insufficient for windward work at low speeds. In his mind, the boat would be simple to build, with no single step in the building process taking longer than 45 minutes.
Most are simple, some are fancy, and one, from the Midwest, even has a mahogany runabout-style deck. When the wind pipes up, it is best to forgo cleating the mainsheet, as gusts will require a quick ease to keep everything right-side up. The boat should maximize materials, and finally, the boat should be a stable and safe platform for its builders to use, together, to learn the basics of boating once complete.



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