Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Favorite little boat

The Echo Bay Dory Skiff

I recently built another quarter scale model of the EBDS as part of an eventual workshop. Unlike my first model of the boat, which was just hull panels stitched together to check the lines, this one is a full build; all parts are scaled down to one quarter size. Additionally, the rig was modeled. It was fun to build I have a nice addition to my living room space!

Echo Bay quarter scale model with sprit rig
Boothbay High School students are making progress on their second EBDS build from plans and full size patterns. These two boats they built were actually the first ones of the MkIV version of the boat. Their first boat was sold to a couple in Gardiner and the second one will also be auctioned off.

Boothbay Regional HS students' build as of April 2015
The Echo Bay Dory Skiff is about as much fun as I have ever had in a 12' boat. It sails and rows beautifully, weights just over 80lbs, and can be built within a week from a kit with two people, I miss my skiff but will build another!

EBDS at rest in Mystic, CT.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Planking the Deblois Street Dory

Deblois Street Dory Building

Bar Harbor, Maine

Planking the hull

I spent the last 24 hours in Bar Harbor helping a customer get the planking going on his DSD. He has been pining after his own D' Street Dory for a few years and is very excited about his project. We met at the Small Reach Regatta, where he and his wife row and sail their current stitch-and-glue dory. He wanted to build a real dory and one with more performance and capacity than the others available. He chose the DSD!

Hull #1 built in 2007, on the shores of the Maine Coast

He set up the strongback very accurately, scarphed planks, and got everything ready for my visit. I arrived at 11am and after the 10-cent tour of his new, beautiful, custom house perched on the edge of Acadia National Park, we got to work. By 8pm we had the garboards fit and glued and looking perfect. Pretty good time for 2 people going hard at it and taking a lunch and dinner break, too. Garboards are often a two-day project because they can be the trickiest to fit.

The latest mkII version of the DSD under construction on MDI

The DSD kit is available, just give a call at 207.602-9587 or email

Friday, January 16, 2015

Drake 19 hull #1 built on Cape Cod

I took a pleasant 3 1/2 hr trip down to Wellfleet, MA, way out on the arm of Cape Cod, to meet Walter Baron of Old Wharf Dory Co. and see the first ever Drake 19 "in the flesh".

Walt of Old Wharf, boatbuilder on Cape Cod

The boat looked great to me. I was so pleased. Even as the designer, I was struck by how much boat there is; it is 19'2" LOA afterall. Designed to be an open water, cruising rowboat for one, the boat would also make an excellent tandem rowboat for rows in the harbor or in more open water.
Drake 19 rightside up.
The interior has two side tanks on either side of the sliding seat system. The tanks will help the boat be self rescuable, with some additional flotation in the ends, The rails slide right into precut holes in the frames of the boat. Everything fits just so.
Sliding seat system integrates into the CNC cut structure of the boat
After this build, and with a few months to finish out the drafting and writing of the manual, the boat will be available as a kit.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Calendar Islands Yawl

The Calendar Islands Yawl (CIY) has been built. Hull #1 was built in Minnesota and is a success. Launched late in the year after only about 6 months of part time building on weekends, the owner is really happy with the project and the boat. See his Google + site for pictures of the build.

CIY hull #1 on sea trials, September 2014.

Now, the work is on my plate. The next steps are to take the information from build #1 and make some revisions to the computer model, draw up plans, and set up the kit for retail sale. I hope to do this early in 2015.

The CIY is a sail-and-oar dinghy designed for single- or double-handling in conditions that can be found on the Maine Coast. We wanted a boat that handled well going to windward in choppy water, easy to roll up a beach on the Maine Islands Trail, and could still go fast. Moreover, when the wind goes, we wanted to enjoy the row back to land, rather than dread the row. The CIY is available with a centerboard or a daggerboard.

Hull #1 under construction: after the turnover, May 7th, only 6 weeks after kit delivery!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy Summer

Paddling & Rowing Season is upon us

Gear up. I thought it would be good to discuss this summer some aspects of using boats and get away from all the design talk for awhile. I recently bought a new Bell Magic fast, solo canoe and have only taken it out once, but loved it. Until I finish my next rowboat design for racing, I'll mostly be paddling. This boat is fast and beautiful. Made of Carbon Fiber on the outside and Kevlar on the inside with Ash and Walnut gunwales and thwarts, this boat is not only light and responsive, but strong and beautiful. I couldn't be happier

The new Bell Magic being launched on the Saco River. It looks tippy, and is a little bit, but I quickly got used to it.

Paddling my new canoe on the Saco River just above Saco/Biddeford

For rowing and paddling I really recommend tush-for-your-cush. These GelSport seat pads have been great and allow me more hours on the water in comfort. I can't recommend them enough!

GelSport cushion: this is the rowing one. They also make one for Dragon boats and I use that one for paddling my canoe.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NEW! Drake 19

On the Drawing Board

New Drake 19 for tandem rowing, cruising and expeditions

For Fixed Seat or Sliding Seat Rowing

This new version of the Drake Rowboat -- my first design/build project -- really combines all that I have learned as a designer and rower and builder over the years. She is intended with the following brief:

-- fast, stable cruising rowboat
--capacity for two people and gear
--fixed or sliding seat capable
--can sleep aboard on platform under a tent 
--sailing downwind is possible

Drake 19 modeled in Rhino

An important aspect of the boat is its simple sliding seat system : 7/8" o.d. stainless steel pipes run for and aft with 15" of separation on center. The pipes are integrate into the CNC cut structure. A plywood seat-roller floats over these pipes. Any oarlock system can be used, including leathered-round oars, Douglas oarloacks, C2 oarlocks, or the folding outriggers by Shaw and Tenney. However, I think for voyaging in open water that oar-on-gunwale will be the best way, using traditionally leathered oars in horn-oarlocks or to go with pinned oars. I do think 9-9 1/2' oars would be fine for experienced rowers, using folding outriggers to get the spread for the longer oars.

Midship section of the Drake 19 showing the sliding seat system.

The floorboards are show both sitting on the inner keel as floors and raised up and sitting on the pipes to make an over 8' long sleeping platform that finishes flush with the side tanks. These side tanks double as a sleeping platform and as flotation, making the boat self-rescuable in a capsize. 

Keep posted for 3D work which starts very soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cool features of my kits

I'd like to discuss, in the next few months, a few examples of groovy ways to engineer a boat kit and build a boat. The first photo shows the side girders of the CNC cut strongback. This has been one of the gbuildest aspects of creating kits. In a few hours time, the strongback can be built and the chipboard molds attached via precut slots cut in mold and girder. If you make "Spock hands" with your left and right hands and insert left into right, you'll get a good idea how accurately and easily a CNC cut strongback is to set up. Even  these two dogs were able to do it, no sweat!

The second photo shows the chipboard bulkhead supports that slot into the girders and then are locked into alignment with a long batten which slots into the supports and automatically squares up the set up. These chipboard components are made out of 1/2" and 5/8" Advantech chipboard which stays quite flat. These chipboard components DO NOT become part of the boat.

The third photo shows the bulkheads and other marine plywood components of the boat mounted on the setup. Notice how the strongback catches the top of the stem so it locks into place. Anyone who has mounted a stem in 3d space over a strongback can immediately see how nice this is! You can also get a better sense in this shot how the supports slot into girders.

Next time I'll try to get some additional close ups of the alignment features of the building jig unique to my kits. These photos are courtesy of Jim Levang building hull #1 of the Calendar Islands Yawl. His build is at