Saturday, March 18, 2017
Since sailing back from the Caribbean, this last May, to our home base in the Bahamas, I have immersed myself back into the Flats skiff world. I had all my old drawings and a nice big desk to draw from. The best thing for me has been really good instant WiFi. In the Caribbean WiFi can be very slow.
I've had an agenda of redrawing all my past designs and to finish off a few more of my current ideas.
Along with doing this I have been reading lots of the technical flats skiff threads on the Micro Skiff site and others. I read mostly about discussions of my past designs and others that I personally know, to see what others are saying and to try and learn from them like everyone else. It can be very informative, especially if you know the skiff very well. I have been in a few of the others' designs so it's a good way to see if the public sees what you are seeing.
The thing I find a bit tiresome is wading through the same behind-a-fake-name guys that spew advice on everything, all the time. Eventually you get to see the skiff they are using and it's so far out of the thread's format it makes me wonder, "Why are these guys not designing and building their own masterpieces?" I have been making a mental list of these Trolls and their real life skiffs. It helps to weed out these guys from the real info in the threads.
With this train of thought I will share my thoughts here on two new skiffs being introduced to the skiff market this month. Lots of the technical skiff threads revolve around the high cost of new skiffs today and how they relate to what is perceived to be the top end company's of this market.
I have said before that I feel the high costs of these skiffs are there because this small niche market can bear it. I am almost finished with a blog that will explain the complete breakdown of the cost of skiffs today. It's complicated because of the material factors used in the different skiffs and the overhead of each individual company. What you will see and hopefully understand is the yarying profit margins of the high end skiffs to these two mid range costing skiffs. It all comes down to very similar hulls,hardware,engine and trailer costs. This is very obvious as all technical skiffs are very close in dimensions, and use pretty much all the same hardware. The first factor after these initial costs are the labor to build the skiff, then the overhead of the shop. The over head is the rent or mortgage, advertizing, insurance,and all the little costs that can add up. After all this is spent you then have profit for the owners and investors. Of course all this is obvious.
The two skiffs talked about today come from opposite coasts of the flats fly fishing world.
The SABINE SKIFF built in aluminum is from Texas and the fiberglass composite ZERO DEADRISE SKIFF is from the east coast of Florida.
Both will fish each other's waters equally well. Both skiffs have been designed by the people that are selling them and are building themselves. Both skiffs are being introduced into the market place with understated personal pride. All involved are not claiming to have reinvented the skiff market with lots of hype and hoopla. They are just simply saying," This is our-my skiff. It's well built, it performs as stated, and we welcome you to meet us and go for a ride and see for yourself."
I am a big believer in sharing information and ideas in the skiff world. I feel that everything in the small skiff world is a refinement of a previous idea. It all benefits you, the consumer. We will look over these two skiffs and their respective ideas and refinements of the craft we now call TECHNICAL FLATS SKIFFS.
It's all refinements of previous work. Heres a 40 year old small skiff with an upper outer chine. Yes it's all been done before but now it's being done better.
DISCLAIMER.... I feel I need to say this to satisfy all the trolls on the Micro Skiff sites.
As you can see on this blog site I don't have any advertisers. I do not have any affiliation with any company or products what so ever. I feel that magazines and blogs that sell advertising will have a bias when writing.
I do know the Littles in person and have talked many times by email to Thomas Hay. I have been able to see the behind the scenes making of their visions. I asked permission to do this post on their respective craft. They will read my post here just like you.
I did though get 3 free hats and a nice tee shirt at the Miami boat show last month from 3 flats skiff company's though. Hells Bay, Chittum, and Piranha Boatworks.
I gave a Chittum hat I got to my new son in law's best man, Desmond, a few days ago. He lives in Zambia. Desmond is graduating from collage next month. He will be going into the mining industry in his country with a degree in engineering. He and my new son in law used to race 4 man shells in their school's rowing team.
The object of this blog is to give my personal backstory to these builders, high light what I see in their craft, give a couple of suggestions I see on some details, and most of all, explain why these two builders are the future of the flats boat designing and building world.
SABINE SKIFFS- The New Alternative
A year and a half ago Rachel and I were anchored on our sailboat in the Lee of the Island nation of Antigua in the Leeward islands. I posted on FaceBook about catching some Tarpon off our sailboat there. Brian Little commented on FB how he would love to do that someday. I posted back and said we had extra bunks, why not come down for a vist. Brian's wife Kaylor's dream is to someday move aboard a sailboat and take off. We had only met via FB.
We made plans and the next thing you know the Littles are spending a week sailing around Antigua with us. We swam with Tarpon, sailed, hiked, snorkeled, we talked skiffs, sailboats, projects and life.
I saw in this young energetic couple a thing that is being lost today in lots of our youth. That is the desire to build and do your own thing. To not want to buy retail but to rebuild something old that is still good or best of all to design and build your own personal vision of something. That being furniture in your home, a new kitchen or your own flats fishing Redfish skiff.
Both Brian and Kaylor hold down regular jobs but build their own house hold interiors and their own skiffs. Kaylor has her own blog about remodeling furniture and interiors. She does all her own work her self from building, sanding to spray painting.
Brian and Kaylor have been thinking skiffs for quite awhile having rebuilt, designed and built many small skiffs in their garage over the 12 plus years of their marriage. All of these have been successful craft. All done after a regulars days work.
I could go on and on. What you see here is along with a good friend and their building partner Jay Dore's concept and design of a quiet flats skiff but built in aluminum. Designing in aluminum has its challenges. To save weight and still be strong you have to understand its pros and cons, its limits to shape to still be light in build.
Brian has worked on a few craft over the years refining his designs. Jay Dore is a professional welder building his own designed INSTAGATOR boats along with the new SABINE line of semi custom skiffs. They started out in a garage but have now expanded to a bigger place with a few employees to keep up with the demand. Both Brian and Jay have worked together to refine the hull scantlings and build details to make their craft as light and as strong as possible in this no noise technical flats skiff.
I owned and used for many years an 8' 40 year old Grumman rowing dinghy built in aluminum. It's hull shape was two molded sides riveted together down the middle. It was a bit tippy because of its design when standing but rowed like a dream. It was indestructible to normal beach dragging up, rocks, oysters and all sharp, nasty, sea side stuff. I lent it to a friend and it was stolen. Otherwise I would have hidden it buried in a sandy beach nearby my house to dig up someday when I needed it. Aluminum can be a great material.
We all know this otherwise there wouldn't be millions of small aluminum skiffs about. Now the big question in flats flyfishing is going to be.... How noisy is it?
Truth is I have not been in this skiff. I can only say I trust what the Littles claim. I believe them but all you need to do is go for a ride and pole it on your own. The Littles will be show casing their skiff the next few months to get people the chace to see what they have created.
I will post their email below so you can ask them the dates.
The thing that I like about their skiff is it floats in a level state. It has an ERGONOMIC look.
What I want you all to think about is that if you have a flat bottom skiff design it will perform very similar to all the other skiffs of similar bottoms when running. The differences can be in how the ride feels being transmitted through the hull skin and bottom. I would love to go for a ride to see the difference between and single skin hull and a cored skiff. I feel that the aluminum skin will be very forgiving compared to a glass skin when touching the bottom. You will get the same scratches to your hull bottom but the alumimium will take it better. Just think..... This in not your average riveted skiff but a welded skiff with only a few seams. This type of building is virtually indestructible over time. Paint it camouflage and never paint it ever again as the wear and tear to the paint job will be reminders of adventures past. Really screw up and put a dent in the bottom, get out your bathroom plunger and do what you do when you mess up with your car. Very forgiving for the crowd that wants to hunt, fish and explore with a versatile skiff that's not worrying about a yacht finish all the time. With a cored composite hull build, if you abuse it you need to maintain it.
The other nice thing about alumimum is you can build one-off decks and hatches as all these skiffs are built from an origami start in the hull shape and then the deck is built from scratch. My advice to the Littles is to offer a standard layout and then have a structured options list as to making changes in interior layouts. Otherwise you will lose so much time with customers trying to redesign your vision. If they want more, it has to cost. Aluminum sells by the pound. Cutting and welding up costs by the hour. Eliminating welded seams is the goal to make a design simpler, and more cost effective.
They have refined this process quite well.
Brian poling Kaylor. Looks quiet. Nice, light, level and enough freeboard left. You might say this is just a clone of the other low Flatish bottom fiberglass flats skiffs out there. I see a refinement but in aluminum with all the build details figured out. Plus no mold so it can be improved very slowly without being stuck to a one shot hull design mold. When you have a Patent pending hull design you are stuck with that design. It's very hard to change course and go in a different direction. But with aluminum and not touting you have invented the wheel and nobody else can use your wheel you can then go in many suttle directions. I feel you will be seeing lots more aluminum skiff ideas from these three.
On their wedding day over a ten years ago in an early learning build design.
Brian drew up and built this skiff in plywood for their black lab. Kaylor is the painter in the family.
She will be painting your SABINE SKIFF.
One of their early skiff projects getting the final bottom on it. This was a cored boat built by them to Brian's design.
The rub rail dips to follow the slight spray catcher at the sheer. Because the rubber rub rail has a lip to its bottom edge this is a logical move. You could cut it off, install it straight and paint the sheer to match the hull. But I like its common sense look.
Now I see that if it was painted like the hull the gators might not see you coming.
Noted fishing guide Scott Sommerlatte went for a test ride and ordered one for himself incorporating a 35 hp Tohatsu jet drive to guide out of.
They call this the VERSATILE model. 17'-6" long with a 78" beam weighing in at 650lb or a bit more depending on the console used.
With a 4stroke 50hp she gets 35 mph with a 15 pitch 3 blade prop.
NOTE... I talked a few weeks ago to a past owner of a Hells Bay Whipray that had installed a 70 hp on his skiff. I asked him how fast it went with this engine top end. 38 mph. The best I ever saw was 32 mph with a Mercury 25 two stroke. The fact is skiffs reach a terminal speed but can go faster by losing weight and adding lifting strakes and such. Gain speed but complicate the bottom and maybe it's harder to pole about.
He went back to a 40hp and saw 36mph.
I have no experience in the foam that is being used today to overlay decks and such. I will buy some and install it around my helm steering wheel on the cockpit floor this year. I want to see how it holds up and if it absorbs water over time.
The foam on the tower top really makes sense to me.
Pretty bullet proof looking here. I would suggest to install as big a hatch drain tubing as possible 1-1-1/2" at least.
Going along in the back waters that they both love to fish, hunt and explore in their past all cored design the INCOGNEGRO. Look this build up at... http://www.microskiff.com/threads/custom/-designed-one-off-poling-skiff.16966/
I know this team will be coming up with new ideas for years to come. They are part of the new future of flats skiffs with young smart blood flowing into new visions to suit their personal needs and to provide affordable skiff options to others.
You can follow Kaylor's home building and decorating ideas and projects online at,
For more info on their skiffs,
I wish them well in this the beginning phase of their boat designing, building and selling careers.
ZERO 18 DEADRISE SKIFFS
Here we are catching up with what the talented Thomas Hay is up to. In a past blog I have written about Thomas and this skiff design he calls the ZERO 18 DEADRISE.
This is reference to the stern vee, or lack of.
Since I first met Thomas via emails a coulple of years ago showing me his skiff bottom before he made his mold he has been a very busy man. It has been a very pleasurable correspondence with Thomas showing me first hand his ideas and how they have turned out. Thomas works full time at Boston Whaler as their infusion expert and has been with this company for many years.
The skiff you see here is his after a real job hobby project. He has many innovative ideas that I feel will be soon absorbed into the semi custom skiff world as they are extreamly practical. What I like so much about Thomas is he is doing his own design and build with his own cash on his own time and terms. He is not going around spouting words like... PROPRIETARY METHODS AND PATENT PENDING. Thomas has quietly built his craft and is now offering it up to the public for sale if someone wants to order one.
In today's world of the big name skiff company's and their followers-devotees going at one another online as to who invented the wheel first this is so refreshing.
Oh and Thomas is going to collage part time too to finish a degree as he works the night shift at BW and who needs to waste daylight hours.
I will take a tack here now before we look at this first ZERO 18 DEADRISE skiff out of the mold.
Most all my blog posts revolve around the Technical skiff world. I want to say here that I feel that the main point of a technical quiet shoal draft dry riding stable easy to pole skiff is in all its details. Wew, that's lots of things to put into a sentence and a small craft. I feel the aim is to get to the fish, to catch them and to have a good time doing this. To do this and have all the above work well these craft need lots of design details that are not used in day to day craft. Hence they can look very radical by today's standards. To me as long as they work well who cares. And if they can look practical in their own way too that can make them look "right".
I love classic sailboats but they can be very cramped, wet and time consuming to own.
Boats are compromises, I like the looks of this skiff.
Several of the top end skiff builders today claim they invented the upper spray rail and all its greatness.
I say phooy to them. A plastic surgeon invented breast implants to help women after breast surgery but he sure did not invent the breast. To claim you have a patent pending on a spray rail you designed is the same as saying I like ONLY ONE TYPE of breast and all the others are obsolete.
Well I will say I like all shapes, styles and designs of......spray rails. To me there is no claim to one in particular, but some can work well with certain vessel shapes.
The above spray rail looks fantastic to me.
This look to me is the new norm in modern day spray rails.
I feel you can say upper spray rail designs have gone along like the silicone fake boob market in America with bigger is better. This set fits this skiffs proportions well to my eye. A dryer skiff will make you a happier fisherman at the end of a day on the water with a pair like these.
The spray rails I designed into my lastet LITHIUM design are a bit bigger. We will see soon enough if I went the way of America.
Nice balance here. That's a big engine at 70 hp but that's the new normal today.
Thomas added a bunch of things to this his first hull build to showcase some of the details he can incorporate in his builds. This is one for the baitfish take your catch home crowd. Notice how he puts the gas powered spring lifts lower fastening in the gutter instead of in the bait well to help stop corrosion. See the hinges, total gasket fit.
A nice 20" Redfish awaiting it's fate. Thumbs up or down? That's a lot of water weight in there. This added weight won't mater if you are a bait fisherman. If you are a fly fisherman only then most likely that fish will be let go in the sea without touching it to live another day. To me this detail makes this the coolest flats skiff option out there today. Just think of how much entertainment your young kids would have with this. Or you.
The console seat is removable to be used as a forward casting platform. For two guys fishing this is nice because you can use this and not have to be looking through a permanent casting platform on the bow. When running you can sit side by side on the short runs once at the fishing grounds.
All rigging is to ABYC standards incorporating resettable breakers and no fuses.
The battery sits in an aluminum billet tray.
Nice details for the trolling motor plug. As is all the deck parts to Thomas's deck mold they be added or left off.
Please go back to my past blog about the start up of this skiff design to see how all the hatches and parts are put together in his skiff. This to me is what I have hoped to see in others. The sharing of ideas with others freely. I feel that building a set deck mold today with a curved crowned deck looks nice if its executed perfectly. If the hatches sit crookedly then it ruins the whole look. By going this way you are forever stuck with that One deck mold. With Thomas's flat deck and his movable hatch moldings he and you have lots of options to work with. This detail will set him and his shop apart till others catch up and adapt to his innovative process and thinking. To me this is brilliant as you can have a smaller shop with less molds and pass on this savings to the customer. You can't do this with a crowned deck mold.
This is the first skiff out of his mold and is his test model showing many things in one skiff. The weights and drafts will change with a simpler model inside and his next building.
Thomas goes along with what I look for in skiff design and engineering. That is that whatever weight you can keep out of a hull build you can use when adding other weigt options back in to keep your skiff strong but still at its designed weight and draft.
With this in mind he will change core thicknesses here and there and will only infuse his skiffs using flat perforated core and not Kerfed core panels.
In a 1" grid of grooved or Kerfed core 1/8" wide x 3/4" deep you can get up to 144 cubic inches of resin which adds up to almost 5/8 of a gallon of resin in 32 square feet of core. A typical skiff can have close to 180 plus Sq. Ft. In just the hull skin. This adds lots of weight that if using modern infusion technology can be avoided.
Take a good look at your skiff builder today and see what's up. This simple detail fact frustrates me when I see my old skiff designs and others being built with Kerfed cored vertical bulkheads. These should be plain cored and not have this extra weight. The big builders have lost track of what's going on. All the onces add up to many pounds which means your skiff will not perform the way it's being sold to.
For someone that's looking for this type of flats skiff I suggest taking the time to see Thomas and this skiff in Edgewater, Florida. There is no doubt in my mind that you would be getting a very personalized skiff built by the owner, designer and builder of the highest quallity and craftsmanship available today.
At a competitive price.
Go look up more info at;
So ends my tale of two skiff builders with similar goals going after the same fish but in different mediums in their craft. My hat is off to these young designers and builders that have taken it upon themselves to make their own visions and dreams come true on their own terms. The best thing is it's like putting yourself through collage on your own and coming out debt free with a degree as they have not bought another mans existing company, or spent tons of money with many other's advice and input to get started.
They, like I, and all the others throughout time, have looked around at what has been done and what's being done now and have refined what they liked and have improved on the process so that they and the consumer will benefit.
Thanks, well done
Posted below is a simple time line showing how a quiet shoal draft idea in a flats skiff has progressed.
It's all been good with all its refinements.
Dave Exleys Super Skiff sales add. This was the Banana River skiff with an absolutely flat bottom.
The deep vee version would come later. Date 1978
A skiff design of mine I built for Charlie Causey in core in 1996
Flip Pallot poling with me on the bow for a sales picture in the new WHIPRAY skiff. Date 1998
DEADRISE SKIFF..... 2017
I want to hear the DRAKE SKIFF story and others....
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, March 13, 2017
This past summer I received an email from John Royall of Texas in the USA. John asked if I would design him a flats skiff to fit his personal requirements, and could he have the rights to be the only one to build his skiff? Sure John.
John is a shipwright and works on sailboats and any other types of water craft that needs rebuilding. At heart John is a power boater and a past flats fishing Guide. This skiff would be his reentry back into the Key West fishing Guiding circuit.
What John wanted was a shallow draft design that would carry a 115 hp outboard in a slotted stern, Be able to be poled with a level deck angle with himself and at worst 3 other big guys on board in 6-7" of water. It had to be able to make the run to the Marquesa Keys from Key West which crosses channels that can be pretty rough at times in the winter months with its big chop in the currents.
He wanted big easy simple hatches, self bailing cockpit, a simple center console with a removable cooler in front and he wanted this design to have as Classic a skiff style as I could come up with but still incorporating my hull bottom design ideas.
And best of all he wanted to build this skiff in wood epoxy.
John said this skiff might be his last build and he really wanted something good to look at and to have lots of curves.... But still be a very practical flats skiff to Guide and fish out of.
This is the kind of design commissions I like to get. It's nice to have clients that really know what they want. John wanted the skiff to be 18' long. As you all know I'am a list guy so the first thing I did was make up my weight list. Ugh..... Lots of stuff going into this skiff hull. This boat would be poleable but at down wind and reaching conditions mostly with a full load. This is what I would consider a large scale technical skiff for heavy loads. My displacement numbers came to with a full load at around 2,200 lbs all up. I am glad I would not be poling John's clients around.
With this worst case load number in hand and the request of being somewhere in the 6-7" draft area I started my sketches and my displacement calculations for the bottom of the skiff. I knew what my bottom was going to look like right off. I wanted a flatish pad to get her to plane off quickly and to use the hull bottom sections from station #7 forward to take the seas and chop when trimmed down.
To get the displacement I needed I went to a bit more beam and lengthend the hull to 19'. The added beam would make this a stable craft with big guys aboard fishing the choppy channels for Tarpon and the added length was needed to make this work. The stern well slot John wanted and he had also asked for recessed trim tabs. They to me have so many issues that I gave my case against them but said I would design them in if he really wanted them. I won out. That was the only thing that I asked not to do in his design request. The added length was accepted knowing that all the extra weight would really effect a shorter hull. John had fished a Hewes for many years and knew what a stern down skiff was like.
A Hewes skiff is a fine boat but it just needs to be engineered to get some weight forward to help balance them out. This means building a lighter hull and moving the fuel tank as far forward as possible. And hopefully using a smaller engine.
With the hull bottom fleshed out I then drew in my bow and stern. The slotted well aft I would make as short as possible but still be able to get the engine in enough to get the looks and to be under the tower a bit. Truth is the slotted stern causes noise, and makes turning when poling a bit harder but if filling in the added displacement is very small, about 79-80 lbs gained. I gained this back by lengthening her a bit.
Next I looked at my upper chine line and how far off the waterline it was going to be. This is a very critical line. If too low it makes the skiff much dryer but can cause noise in choppy conditions with a full load. If too high... Well you get the chance of more spray making it over and around its outer edge.
To me this means you have to look at full loads and then at mid loads. This means the difference of 1/2-3/4". I like to get my upper chine lines at about 8" off the water at full load.
Next thing I do is draw in the sheer heights fore and aft. This skiff was to look like a classic if possible.
I drew in a slightly reversed sheer knowing I would draw in moderate flair up forward that would flow aft into a tumble home to the stern. The deck would have 1-1/2" crown to it to make it all flow together.
The look I was after was a bit of Carolina and Sea Craft melded into a Morejohn bottom.
Building in wood VS a modern cored hull means slightly different hull scantlings. When using wood it's a more pleasant build for the simple fact that to me wood is a natural feeling material and it transfers this to you when working with it. When designing in wood you can use the woods fibers and longitudinal strengths to your advantage. This means the skiff can be very strong. One difference between wood and core is the weight difference. This you have to add into your design displacement calculations. It's easy by just adding up the Square ft. Numbers and comparing them against each other. The hull skins in glass can be the same in most all places. The hull is to be planked up in Cedar strips using epoxy resin as the glue and hull skin laminating resin. I like to dry screw and fit my Cedar strips to the building stations and then squeegee in the epoxy after the hull is planked up and faired. I then fair when cured, roll a resin coat over till all smooth and when cured I then dry fit my cloth layers and resin coat in. After the hull is glassed and faired I then remove from the building jig and do the same process on the inside. After this I install all the bulkheads and finish off the build. Ha this is the short version.
I am writing up a blog in detail on how to do this. Soon come.
By building in wood you get the satisfaction of putting together a hull that smells and feels like a real boat. With core it's kind of like looking at a big styrofoam coffee cup made up like a quilt. A great way to go but not as romantic.
When building a technical wood skiff the problem comes back to weight and how to save it with the big flat expanses of the deck and cockpit floor. In keeping with the wood theme I like to glue core to a 1/8" skin of high quality Occumee plywood and then add a single layer of cloth to this for abrasion and strength. This makes building a skiff like this similar to building a one off surf board. If done in the proper sequence there is minimal grinding and it all comes down to finish fairing.
I will be posting a blog on this and will be incorporating all this info into a book I'am putting together on how to build my way, or at least the way I have found to be quick, cost effective, not so itchy, and doable by anyone.
I did my calculations on paper and then made up my half modle. From here I drew out my hull lines and from these I refined to the final set that you see here. By using my half hull method I get to see this hull from many angles just like you can see on a computer screen but the bonus is I get to feel up my vision with my hands. I can't imagine drawing up a fish on a computer screen in 3-D and then tapping a button for it to be spit out in a one dimension paper sheet for me to "feel up" then as a finished Vision.
I guess I am an old school half hull caresser and cuddler.
Here's the half hull on a boat John's working on. My clients get the half hull along with a PDF file and the age old set of print drawings to use as your guide to building " from scratch ".
All the below drawings and half hull pictures can be seen perfectly on hogfishdesign.wordpress.com
I draw out all my hull stations like this as my flats skiff hull sections are complicated. It would be very hard for an amature to draw out a set of hull lines like these from an offsets box. Here all you have to do is draw out an accurate grid plan and then look at the Allready figured out numbers.
This shows the hull build at all the station mold sections.
The hull build jig and set up for the Chines and bottom pads. These are plywood and you just set up the build stations and then set these down first. The hull strips get glued in next. I start right under the ply edges and glue the first strip to them. The strips then can be butted up dry from here on so you don't have glue all over the place. It's all shown on the drawings how and where to start.
This hull has a big fuel tank up forward that can be removed without hassle at anytime through the forward hatch. This is very important in skiff designs.
Typical hull sections shown in full size dimensions and details.
Chine details. It's the Chines that really make it all work, SO pay attention to these details when building.
John will build this skiff next winter. I am looking forward to seeing her come together.
I have built 62 different boats in my time by myself. 3 of those have been to others designs using their plans. My last build was to an Ian Farrier design of a very detailed Trimaran design. Ian's drawing are very detailed all done on a computer. But his info is all over the place. It was like a treasure map trying to piece all the info together. I got the feeling he only wanted the builder to know just enough to build his Tri. No hull lines drawings or any reference drawings. I felt he was scared to pass on too much information. His design had to be built to within 3mm or it would not work.
On one hand I liked that all I had to do was just follow his lead. On the other hand it was like a very expensive treasure hunt with little clues along the way.
When I draw out my designs I assume the builder has read up a bit on boat building terminology and the basics of boat building. It's a great process of taking numbers from paper and moving this to a finished project.
I am my most happiest building a boat alone. I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to have been able to build a few boats on my own and to my own way of thinking. I am a loner and just like going along on my own. But to really get ahead in life I have needed others to help build my boats alongside me. With this reality having me bending over along side others training them in my methods I have been part of many more builds.... In the hundreds.
In my life the most satisfying thing for me using my two hands and a bit of brain matter has been drawing up a boat on paper and seeing it's vision all the way through launching and crossing an ocean in it to a new foreign land successfully.
Using another part of me I have the pride of having helped raise two Wonderfull daughters.
Different vessels different tale.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Today finds me typing this blog out from notes I've written down while on my 27 hour flying trip to South Africa to be at our oldest daughter's wedding. The wedding went as planned and I now have a son...in law. He's great, life is good.
People ask me how I can stand sailing along taking 4 hour watches at the helm or single handing on long passages at sea. For me something is always going on, navigation,sail trim, cooking, seeing the life out around you. It's not dull at all.
Being in a cramped seat on a plane breathing the same air along with a few hundred other souls is a bit tedious on an 11 hour leg. But it gives me plenty of time to think things over.
Lately I've been thinking over my past life in the flats skiff world and how in the past I really never gave my involvement any thought. At the time it was just a job to make a bit of money to help fund our next sailing adventure. After selling out my shares of HBBWs in 2002 I sailed away and did not give flats skiffs anymore thoughts other than a few sketches now and then to keep my mind fresh.
I wrote out my Flats boatbuilding history and published it here in 2014 on the insistence of my daughter's. They both are very Internet tech savy and had been reading all the past flats skiff news. They knew my past history very well having grown up watching me work. They were telling me that lots of stuff was being said that was.... stretching the truth a bit. I said hey they are all fisherman and you know how we tell stories.
My daughter's were right though. The simple story of how a few skiffs had come about were being told in ways that was making things seem and sound bigger and better than maybe in reality.
I like to collect sea shells, fish bones, old skulls, rocks, sand from beaches, seeds, books on design,
Art, friends, and good memories of past adventures. This hobby, life style means I have kept all my past paperwork from my boat building and design days. It's like my sailing logs of past voyages. I can go back and read what the weather was like at such and such latitude on a passage.
I wrote out my flats skiff history trying to show how it really went along for me. Not very exciting but at times a fun time but mostly a nice satisfying job for me building skiffs. And making a living.
Because I'am a collector of things past and present I had a very good time log of my past with all the papers and a few good photos to go along with this history. During writing up my time log I came to realize that because of my current age and the intervening years I had been around a while. Yes I had met lots of the past and current players in this skiff market. I was lucky to have been able to have taken part in a few of the past skiffs history's adding a bit of my thoughts to it along the way.
This brings us up to today's Internet world of all knowing information.
I find myself cringing a bit and feeling embarrassed about what I feel is some allocades surrounding my name.
I'am humbled by it and want to say thank you all, but I really feel that I am being swept along in the new movement of the rediscovery of flats skiffs by a younger crowd that is eager to learn everything they can about their new sport.
I started writing and sharing some of my knowledge gained over the years to help the new generation of skiff enthusiasts since that first blog because I wanted to pass this information on. I have always felt it is better to share information than to hold on to it. If someone else makes your ideas better than yours you too can gain from this new information and move upward.
When Hal Chittum, Flip Pallot and I sat down in a Mexican restaurant in Tittusville to discuss our advertizing plans back in 1998 we did not all aggree on what to say. We had just launched our second skiff the GUIDE. We were a new company with what was then a very new concept of skiff design, building methods and a new world of very shallow draft fishing in a quiet light skiff. The Internet was just getting started and none of the three of us knew anything about it.
Hal and I wanted to say in advertizing that our skiffs were way shallower, easier to pole, well built, and made the current skiffs out in the market place old school if you were a dedicated fly fisherman.
To do this we wanted say things that the public had never read before in the magazines. We wanted to get the buying public to notice our words and make a point to come see how our skiff were built and most of all go out for a ride in one.
At the time some skiff company's were claiming in print that their skiffs were drawing 8" of water and weighing 850lbs. It was so obvious at the time once someone went in our skiffs that the rest were telling big fish tales.
Flip wanted to go along and just say we had a great skiff like all the others were saying of theirs and keep things cool.
Hal and I won out.
It was easy back then to just tell it like it was because our 2 skiffs were so different than the other skiffs of that time. It was fun while it lasted, but we had at that time a product that worked. Soon Scott Deal had a new HPX that was a great skiff too.
Today there are lots of fantastic skiffs to choose from. To me they are all great. It just comes down to your pocketbook and who you want to be dealing with.
Following I have written what I think all the current TECHNOLOGY SALES PHRASES mean.
Having been part of this world in the past and having had several of these phrases on our past advertizing brochures I feel I can write my Tongue in Cheek explanations here.
All these phrases have been taken from five different online skiff company's letterheads this week.
This means they have spent years trying to figure out how to do a process properly from others knowledge. By using this phrase they want you to believe they invented the wheel.
In reality they looked around at all the other wheels out there and found a wheel that works for them.
Now they want to sound smart with their new wheel.
WE USE VACUMING BAGGING TECHNOLOGY
This is a TECH WORD used in place of saying we hold our cores down when bonding using a Vacume.
Or " Yes we have moved up a notch from using various heavy weights like 1/2 empty paint cans to hold down our cores till the resin or bonding putty cures.
RESIN INFUSION TECHNOLOGLY
A nice phrase that means they have mastered Vacume bagging and now have an employee that can ad and subtract some temperature numbers and gel times to make the ( PROPRIETARY METHODS ) work. Basic 6th grade math needed, or a cheap calculator.
PATENT PENDING HULL TECHNOLOGY
This is just a way of explaining that lots of dollars have been paid to a lawyer to show you past ideas just like or very similar to yours. Your patent lawyer is not a designer so in the end you have to tell him what to look for. Unless your IDEA can be mass prduced in the millions for a profit it's a waste of money and by saying this you are showing the public you are afraid of the competition.
" Hey world, We invented the spray rail and ours has a really cool angle to it like no other angle ever"
AEROSPACE GRADE........fill in the blank......TECHNOLOGY
Code words for expensive stuff that will corrode and fail quicker than in outer space.
Should say " we use stuff that if cared for reasonably well might last awhile in lousy Salt Water conditions.
BUILT TO MILITARY SPECS
Good code words for people that read " Guns and Ammo " magazines. YES a good KEVLAR vest can save your life and if it's ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY is integrated into your hull skin you can feel confidant that it will survive a shoot out from the Guide you have just cut off, or that oyster bed you can't see when looking at your GPS instead of ahead.
STATE OF THE ART
What they are trying to convey is that All your competition are boat design artists too but you are the best artist.
This just means you have delt with one guy in London that tailors your foul weather gear to the utmost degree of fit and finish, for your entire life, for big $.
Basically means you have a client that has ordered everything on the options list and had a new shade of green Gelcoat added to the list.
ONE OFF BUILD
This describes clients that can't find what they want in the everyday skiff world. It can also mean it's a fantastic new build or a wacko build by a deranged nutter.
LATEST ADVANCED COMPOSITE MATERIALS
This is just a way of telling you that everything your builder has been using up till the time they have printed these words is outdated and old school.
Next advertizing season they will be saying in their adds " REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LATEST ADVANCED COMPOSTITE TECHNOLOGY NOW...REALLY"
Ah.....we are still trying to figure out what we are doing. Code word for " We don't want to commit to a builder-seller-client relationship right now."
"We want to want to work on our possible relationship a bit longer, we will let you know when we are ready to commit"
TOP GUIDES AND ANGLERS IN THE WORLD
This sales phrase can mean many things.
-Hey we'er guys that like to talk stuff and shit.
-Ah, we need all the help we can get.
-We want all the opinions we can get so we have enlisted the help of guys that drive skiffs that they have possibly bought, but not built, nor designed or will help build. And then are adding this info to the ADVANCED TECHNOLOGLY COMPUTER NAVEL ARCHITECH or putty - bog guy to help create
Can mean old, worn out needs lots of work and out dated.
Or if lucky it's a nice older skiff in great condition and you are a romantic.
MOST ADVANCED BOATBUILDING COMPUTER SOFTWARE
This is a present day phrase.
It means that every past advancement in boat design and building was sheer luck.
Without " ADVANCED COMPUTER SOFTWARE" everyone else is still in the " Olden Days"
They want you to know that by them just turning on the computer boatbuilding software and mousing in a few tangents the computer will start printing out reassuring comments on what a great designer they are, and that the computer has never felt the mouse being used in such a way before.
CAPTAIN ( add name)
Means said person has passed a 100 question Coast Gaurd exam after being on a small boat for 365 days but not all consecutively.
If said CAPTAIN only fishes in the U.S. coastal waters they will never have to get passports from clients to enter into a foreign country filling out Immagration and Custom forms. If so they would be called CAPTAIN by these officials and paying Sports would be written in as " Passengers"
See custom above
OUR EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN WITH US FOR LIKE ....
This is a nice way to say you have some people that have not left to go work for the competition.
Basically your company is a dozen years old, the owner president- designer-visionary had never built a boat before starting this company but their crew are old world craftsmen that love the skiffs they are building but don't get paid enough to afford one.
OLD WORLD CRAFTMANSHIP
Means the oldest person in the layup shop is 32
THE BEST GUIDES IN THE BUSSINESS USE OUR SKIFFS
Ah... All the Guides use store bought skiffs.... Except Steve Huff ,Harry Spear, Forrest Haynes and Davie Wilson, they built their own.
HEY , IF YOU'ER A GUIDE THAT HAS BUILT YOUR OWN SKIFF PLEASE EMAIL ME AND SEND ME PICTURES. I want to add you to my list.
4"-10" and on up
WEIGHS 450 lbs
Same as....Don't ask your wife how much she really weighs in public.
LOW BASE PRICE MODLE
Yes.... The Deep Vee version cost 25% more than the Flat Bottom version because.....
It's....got a bit more vee which translates to 1% more bottom....
Oh and everything else is an option.
Just think that by going with the 1% less in materials cost version with a harder ride you will be saving tons of cash to reinvest in our "options " sheet.
BUILT TO ORDER
Once your check has cleared your boat will be built to your non refundable contract order when we get around to it.
OUR CLAIMS AND STATISICS ARE ACCURATE
YES they are ! And by as close as 30-35%
ONE OF A KIND BOATS
Just kidding..... They really come from the same mold, it's just the options order list that"could" make your skiff a one of a kind.
MADE BY HAND
Ah... Duh.... No robots building skiffs yet.
I think that's enough for now. Was I too hard on the skiff world? No I don't think so. To me there is a very even playing field of very good skiffs out there today. I feel a smart builder - designer will just explain their craft and who they are and to just say come on by and take a ride.
With today's skiff sites on the Internet you can find a ride with someone that owns a skiff and go for a ride without a salesman. Once you have narrowed your choice you can then talk costs and most of all find out about warranty work down the road if something happens.
My next blog will be about the costs of building a flats skiff to my design. I will show you all in exact detail what the real material costs are and the time frame it will take me to build a "Oneoff Skiff " from the mold that is being built of my Lithium design. I want to build a skiff to be able to photograph in all the stages of the build to use in an upcoming book on how to build skiffs for the home builder. This hull will be a good platform for this.
I plan on building using my "old school " methods of hand layup and basic eglass materials to help explain and show you all what you can do at home on your own if you have the space, time and a bit of cash.
Remember, I am just a regular guy making his way along doing things I like. I have been offered the use of the hull mold and I will take this opportunity and build a skiff this summer. It will be for sale as I sure don't need a flats skiff.
I will try and come up with new catch phrases to help my NEW AGENDA along of promoting home building.
I received my Coast Gaurd Captains license 31 years ago. No one has ever asked to see it.
But I get to be called Captain in every foreign country I've sailed to. So does my wife Rachel when she clears in instead of me when I'am not in the mood.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Tonight finds me writing onboard the Hogfish Maximus anchored in the Lee of a mangrove island in Little Basin off of Islamorada.
The evenings residents are chattering away discussing theirs days success of catching fish and other aquatic creatures for their sustenance. The Pelicans clopp their beaks, the Egrets natter on with the Comorants grunting back and forth to each other. I envy at times their simple lives of just having to be the best at what they do to make it through their lives.
But being a human being I and others are a bit more complicated. With this in mind I will share what's up in my life now of being anchored in Islamorada in the Florida keys. Islamorada can be called the epicenter of flats skiff boats due to the amount of fishing guides based out of this small island.
I have been busy looking over the latest new skiffs being built with looks at some of my own old one off custom builds that are here still.
Following are pictures of skiffs that I have seen here and many other pictures that have been sent to me.
This is Dustin Bates and his skiff that he has designed and built on his own. Dustin contacted me via email after I posted my blog about chine detail ideas. He wanted to incorporate them in his skiff build. This started a long email dialog of me giving opinions on where things could go as per his photos of his upside down skiff plug.
He sent these pictures of sea trials using a 1989 70 hp Yahmaha 2 stroke outboard with the hull as seen weighing 500 lbs. With the two men aboard it runs 42 mph and he swears after 4 months of very rigorous testing in all weather he has never gotten wet. The skiff will not skid at speed in a tight turn and is dead quiet polling straight.
He is very happy. Well done Dustin.
Stern view with nice rounded corners. The tabs are recessed which I am not a fan of due to the extra drag when running and the noise from the stern. But all the details are very nicely done.
Coming out of the mold.
Dustin has built several deck molds as his brother and other family members are building their own skiffs.
Thanks Dustin Bates for taking a chance on some of my ideas and proving they work.
Jon Conners sent me these pictures of his Plywood stitch and glue skiff when it was still warm up in his home State of Vermont. He is very happy with this skiff and his new motor.
This is Ralph Shepards Whipray that I built along with the new crew in the first year of Hells Bay Boatworks getting a complete new paintjob. This skiff is 18 years old, was hand laid up using dyvinycell core laid in by hand. Old school boatbuilding but built with conscientious care. Should out live us all.
This boat was redone at Stoner Boatworks. Looks better than new.
This is a skiff that baseball legend Ted Williams brought down from Novia Scotia over 40 years ago.
He bought 6 of these cold molded hulls and each one was fitted out by different people down in the Keys. The McLaughlin family bought this skiff from Ted Williams in the early 80s. It's still in the family.
The grandfather kept a record of all the people that worked on this skiff with my name on it having done a rebuild in 1986 including a new foam core floor replacing the rotted plywood one.
Morten Lovstad from Texas sent me these pictures of his home built plywood stich and glue skiff.
She's a real beauty weighing less than 500 lbs.
I like the stern detail of filling in the wedges to keep her quiet.
Morten added the pads to get more lift and to try and help the sliding. We have been talking about my ideas on a short trim fin on the outter chine positioned across from the transom area.
Now here is a bunch of pictures that was sent to me by a Face Book follower of one of my old skiff builds. I built this skiff for Carl Navearre back in 1984 in all core and S- Glass. She was my favorite skiff build from that era. Last time I saw her was 15 years ago looking a bit ragged. She is looking rough here but what I see is still a skiff in great shape under all that mold.
I would rebuild new hatch edges and just repaint the rest. She used to have teak toe rails on the bow.
I have a signed picture from President George Bush to me with Senator Simpson and George Hummel as guide in her. She was called BACKLASH by Carl Navearre. He was a great client. I built a custom deck for his Sidewinder skiff too.
Rick Justice rigged all my custom skiffs in Plantation key. These skiffs still have most all of the original rigging in them other than new steering systems. Thanks Rick.
Rachel and I moving a salvaged mast the other day in our Ultimate Skiff, or known at HBBWs as a Plankton.
Here's Dev Morings Super Skiff in Louisiana I built for him in 1985. He's kept her up perfectly.
Here's Charley Causey's Super Skiff I built for him in 1986. It's seen better days but is still in great structural shape. The owner refuses to sell it for all offers.
This is Sandy Morrets Super skiff I built in 1985. It's being redone here by Carlos Ruiz in Plantaion key.
He cut the cap off here like this to get the leaking aluminum fuel tank out. I went from my custom made fiberglass tanks to aluminum ones with Sandys skiff. Shouldn't have as all the other fiberglass tanks are still in great shape.
Carlos cut the squares in the floor to refastened the floor to the stringers. He said the floor was squeaking a bit. The stringers were fine. He reglued the floor down and reglassed.
Now see what a bit of energy and $ looks like.
When finished Carlos and Brian Floyd ran her in a Calcutta start for a fishing tournament with 30 other skiffs. No one could catch or pass her with her 90 hp she is so light and fast. That's why the owner of the worn out skiff above won't sell his.
Heres Ren Stanlys latest home designed and built skiff waiting for its engine. Go to FB and look him up on Trick My Skiff. He has lots of energy. I'am waiting to hear how she performs.
A few days ago I ran into a past customer from back in 1984. Ricou DeShaw ordered this custom one off skiff for his retiring father. His Father has passed on but it's still in the family. Ricou says he will never sell it. It has been through 4 motors since it went out my shops doors and countless miles and seas.
The hatch in the bow was added later.
A stern stress crack but it's really just the fairing. Not bad for all those years.
Here you can see some Bi-Axel cloth on the deck underside. It was given to me for free back then by a salesman as it had just come on the market. See it has held up fine but I still don't like working with it just like I didn't back then for this one skiffs deck.
This is the top of the fiberglass fuel tank I was building back then. Ricou had it scoped out recently and it's still perfect with no fuel problems ever.
It's good to see that over the past 34 years that these skiffs with reasonable care are still working and usable. Just like me they are aging and only wanting a bit more time on the water for more adventures.
It's so nice to be able to look old customers in the eye and not have to worry about past bad building habits.
When I say I built the above past skiffs I had help from my past ex wife LaWanda Shellan. We were married for 9 years. She helped with the books, keeping the shop clean, with sanding, glassing the hulls and keeping me going 10 hours a day. We were a good team. I could never have built so many skiffs in such a short time without her help and support.
LaWanda passed away last August. This past Sunday I along with six of her close friends laid her ashes to rest in a nice Lee behind an island here in Islamorada as per her wishes.
She loved to fish. Lawanda was a yacht Captian for CSY yachts delivering 9 CSY 44' Cutters to the BVIs and one to Tonga. We built our own sloops together along with rebuilding many other boats side by side. She was an accomplished navigator using the sextant back in the days before GPS.
Lawanda graduated from FSU Suma Cum Laude with a Masters in education. She taught for many years in Key West. We met in Little Basin in Islamorada in 1979.
We all will miss her.
This is Little Basin in 1979 in front of what is now World Wide Sportsmens extravaganza place. This was the only dock back then. The horizon today is filled with 30' tall mangroves. We had just launched our sloop that we were to live on while we built our next one.
Lawanda on the bow of of our sloop "Blue" sailing engineless through out the Bahamas.
Good sailing, fishing and adventuring to you LaWanda on your next journey.
Here's a couple of recent pictures of two unfortunate skiffs that were not anchored properly for beach camping off of Cape Sable.
I think they were just pulled up on the beach and the owners did not know of the big wind coming.
It's a good thing I was not beach combing as I would have had them dug out and had them towing behind my skiff in no time.
The LITIHUM skiff project is moving right along. They will be making the mold this week.
Could this stern shape be the future of serious flats skiffs? We'll soon see if was worth the effort.
Seeing how well Dustin Bates skiff is performing is encouraging.
To see all the pictures of the LITIHUM build go to my blog site hogfishdesign.wordpress.com
To finish off here's a recent picture of a couple of guys with an Everglades Python that would make a good start on my PYCOONATOR feast.