Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hogfish Maximus sailing videos on You Tube

Tim Evans, our friend off of the sailboat Wild Bird, has posted for us lots of videos he and Gayle Evans have taken of the HFM while we sail in company throughout the Caribbean.
You will hear their Patterdale terriers yapping away not at us but at the waves as they pass us.
Yes their Trintellla 44' ketch is very fast so we up anchor before them and they always pass us at the midway Mark or earlier. Of course they are 6' longer and have twice the sail area as us and I could go on with my list of excuses but on this Van De Stat design and with their very competitive and competent sailing we are always last. 
But we do pass other boats so are not always last.
Just go to You Tube and look up ; Chris Morejohn sailing Hogfish Maximus

Wild Bird passing us on our way to Nevis. 
You can just see Wild Bird catching up to us by my elbow. Sheesh they give us no slack.
Ah! Here we are passing an Amel 47' Ocean Hobo ketch on the east side of Martinique. Hogfish is not always last.
Another victim of HFM, the 47' cutter Carpe Diem sailing in company with us and the others. Wild Bird of course trounced all of us.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My design proposal to Ian Scott Devlin for his quest to find theultimate Glades Type Skiff.

Ian Scott Devlin is one of several guys that I have met over the Internet this past year that are interested in ultra shallow draft fishing skiffs that could be used for a new emerging market and personal outdoor experience.
Ian and I have been talking back and forth this past year about his vison quest to find the perfect boat to fit his future fishing, guiding lifestyle. Ian is a guide up north that fishes, bird watches and just basically loves being in the out doors treating it with respect. I can see this from his posts online. I can also tell he is very detail oriented in his photos of wildlife and his fly tying and fishing rod design work.

I've taken on his search as a challenge on my own to see if his dream boat could really exist without too many compromises. Can he have it all? Does it exist now out there in the market place. I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the challenges in designing a boat to fit his needs as I have spent the last 44 years climbing in and out of and operating very small light weight skiffs on a daily basis in all sea conditions from crossing the Gulf Stream in a 12'3" skiff, to carrying my wife and new born daughters on adventures through out the Caribbean . I also have as most of you know by now built with my own hands many small skiffs and dinghies both for myself on a budget and for others to pay for my future adventures. I will be comparing and discussing my design, thought process against the current boat market but will only provide drawings to explain what I see, think is happening or how it could perform against what I see out there today. I am not out to single out boat builders or boats so will not use photographs. All boats work, just some might work a bit better if the details have been thought through.
In this design I have put the amateur home builder in mind from the start. This skiff can be built by anyone that has a few tools, a dry shop or space and has the desire to create his own skiff at a fraction of the cost of a store bought one.  

I asked Ian a while back to send me his wish list. This he did right away. I have been sketching and thinking it over these past few months as I sail down the island chain here in the Antilles on my winter work break. I will be redoing a teak deck on a friends 44' sailboat in Antigua starting in May to pay for next years time off sailing to Panama.
I will start by showing you his list and then I will explain to you the how's and whys of what I feel can work, what  I think won't, with my design as a comparison to what now exists in the market. What I am doing here is what all builders-salesmen today should be explaining to you the buying public how and why their boat is the one to buy. It's pretty simple, not one skiff can fill the needs of everybody.

Ian's vison wish list in the order I received it;

-   Silent hull, even in 12" chop.
-   Very dry ride, as smooth as can be for an ultra draft hull.
-   20' long ( ample room for three people ).
-   To pole effortless and row super easy, track straight, but turn pivot easily.
-   Weigh no more than 250 lbs.
-   High freeboard; 18"-20"
-   Self bailing hull , inside the cockpit to be knee deep.
-   Minimal layout
-   5'-6' casting decks, lots of cockpit room.
-   4"-5" draft with 800 lbs in the finished boat, ( that's people, engine, gas, tackle).
-   Operates with no more than a 30 hp outboard tiller engine, and portable 6 gal. Gas tank.
-   Able to be launched in remote areas / can be picked up by two people when engine is removed.
-   Wants to row and pole it in- no trolling motor zones.
-   Flush oar mounts that can be flip up and make no noise
-   Glass bottom viewing port.
-   Seating on either a coffin box, cooler, or chars.
-   Massive dry storage under both fore and aft decks.
-   Micro skiff performance that offers more room for anglers.
-   Boat to cost under $15,000.00 US to build.

I'm a list guy. I like to have all the details up front. This is a good start. I've built one off custom boats for clients that gave me pages of details that they wanted to see in their vision. When I start on my design I then have a good idea of what they are looking for with me being the guy that they would trust to say this can work ,this won't, all the rest I can make happen.
I will go down the list and go over each request one at a time and explain my thoughts .Then I will present my proposed design and explain my ideas.

-   Silent hull, even in 12" of chop.

To get a quiet hull most designers and people now know you cannot have any Chines or hard corners coming out of the water or anywhere near it. These pockets and hard spots even if slightly rounded will cause some noise or pressure waves that can spook fish that are used to being harassed all the time.
If polling in a 12" chop in a long lean lightweight skiff with 2 sports aboard plus you in wind, you will most likely be poling into it or crabbing your way across a flat. If your upper Chines are high enough you will not make any noise. But in a long low light weight skiff to get any use out of an upper chine or sheer spray rail it cannot be too high. In my design I have drawn in a rounded stern to make the boat as quiet as possible when poling, drifting or rowing down wind. It will be interesting if this rounded stern detail will catch on in other designs.
Most all skiffs out there now look to be pretty quiet hulls. Lots look to be really wet in a chop though when under power.

-   Very dry ride, as smooth as can be for an ultra shallow draft hull.

The first thing you have going for yourself in this boat type is its going to be long and narrow. This makes it ride better right off. Where I make my departure from all the present skiffs on the market is the way they all treat the last 7'-8' of their in the water bows. All are designed with a straight bottom keel, that is their centerline , with the bow area that is coming out of the water as an after thought. In watching these skiffs perform over half of the skiffs bottoms are out of the water when planing in flat water. This is fine till you get a bit of chop. Now you can trim the bow down with trim tabs or just by re-trimming the outboards angle. What happens then is you have a very long hull that in order to make the bow work you will have to submerge the entire bottom hull length to get the bow down to get to what ever vee is there. In this process if you have no vee then you will pound away with the spray coming over the side. Of course the real idea behind most of these skiffs is to run and fish in very protected waters. To cross deeper bays in choppy conditions say in a cold front, you can always run straight into the wind to get to the other side and then in protected waters make your way to your next poling spot.

To make my 20' skiff ride as dry as can be, ( you must help the skiff stay dry by being creative in crossing expanses of deeper water) I have designed in rocker into the bottom keel line of my hull. This will help greatly in poling, rowing and maneuvering this skiff in choppy water crossings, say up to 
2-1/2'.The rocker lets the water flow past at slow speeds with minimal drag as compared to a straight keel bottom. No transom drag. The rocker facilitates turning greatly. The rocker lets the bow ride up in big seas but the main part of the boat is still in the water without the bow half rising out of the water. Less windage when running. This bow as drawn has ample buoyancy and sheer height forward , the others don't as they are designed as protected water boats only. When trimming this bow down the vee that is in the hull forward of amidships is enough to give a good ride in a 2-1/2' choppy sea if going head into it. Going off on a beam sea all boats are going to be wet except in this one the spray will find the driver but those forwards should be dry.
Ian has not specified boats speeds in flat water, with 1-2 more people in the boat and what to expect in rough conditions. From experience in my past HBBWs skiff designs, being in and out of my 130 lb. dinghy on a daily basis and having been out in a variety of other skiff shapes and designs I will say that my design with a 25 hp short shaft two stroke outboard this skiff should ,with one man aboard do close to 30 mph in flat water. In rough water, say traveling in a 2-1/2' chop with the swells that will go with it and the boat- engine trimmed properly you will be able to go along at about 18 mph across most any bay or open water.
With two more people aboard and all your stuff aboard you'll be looking at a top speed of 25 mph or so in flat water and a bit less depending on the sea conditions. This design if driven within a moderate speed frame should be very comfortable in rough water with the spray being caught amidships forward. Catching spray amidships aft is very hard on any small skiff when traveling in a beam sea and wind. You just cannot go fast enough to evade it if it's windy out. So the guide or helmsmen gets some spray. Standing up with a tiller extension and a bar to steady you only your midsection down will get wet.
Trim the engine down and the bow in my skiff will take all the pounding when going into a head sea. This being a light uncored hull it will be very taught and a bit flexible in the sides as you fly along letting the bow take all the abuse. In the current skiff market lots of the skiffs do not have well developed bows for this kind of sea-chop state. They are too flat forward. They will be very quiet with their soft rounded bows but are limited to very protected waters. 
I have designed a very easy to build strip planked hull that you can make a single skin fiberglass hull off of. You then add on a purpose built spray rail. You can stick with the strip planked hull which will weigh more or you can use this to make other hulls from and then finish the plug hull and use-sell last.

-   20' long ( ample room for three people )

Being 20' long you can get the clients up forward a bit where the ride will be dryer. The next problem is when you get into some chop the clients will feel it first. Trim down with not good bow spray catching designs then it's oilskins time. Being a narrow boat it will have the feeling of room but it's really just a long stretched out dinghy. The majority of these skiffs built today have side decks . This adds lots of weight to a boat that wants to be ultra lite. I have drawn in a nice wide sheer cap rail that will help as the last defense in spray, makes a good rub rail that is very strong and light and will feel good to sit on. Not everyone on one side though at once! I have drawn in the lightest deck platforms that I know will work. They are very strong but the compromise in saving weight here is they can be dented by a heavy anchor or rough usage. Mine in my skiffs have some dents from handling my 75 lb. anchors in them but they are still going strong after 22 years. These can be built on a sheet of Formica plywood making very detailed hatch channel plugs-& forms out of wood to glass over to come up with your flush hatch. Will look like the best but can be built by anyone very easily.

-   To pole effortlessly, row well, tracks straight, but turns / pivots easily 

 Not asking much here Ian are you? By the sheer length of these skiffs and they being narrow and relatively light in weight as opposed to what the other more traditional flats skiff weigh they all should pole well. Some that I see have tried to make them into long lean machines with everything on board so will be the heaviest. Nothing like a simple stripped out skiff to muck about in though. All should pole well. Spinning should not be a problem as there's nothing below the waterline. They all should track straight as the skiff will have a long lean waterline.  If the bow has too much flotation then it could blow off if too much weight in the stern . You must make the boat float level .

I have drawn in a chine drop in pocket in the aft section of my skiffs bottom to act as mini keels and to redirect the aft spray. I have also drawn in two keel fins to stop any sliding and make this skiff pole straight. When pivoting I feel they will not hinder a turn as they are small in lateral plane, but will help greatly In poling and running at speed. I have windsurfed, paddle boarded and surfed enough to see how a little a skeg can help. In poling in 5" of water they will drag a bit but will be like a knife in the mud. I have drawn in a good bit of rocker into the bottom fore and aft in this skiff. This will make it rowable. Having a straight flat bottom will cause too much back eddy drag. I've rowed a ton in my life and trust me this is the only way to go. I control the boat trim in running by using a simple fin bolted onto the cavitation plate on the out board. I started using these when I saw the first DOLPHIN plates being used. They were designed to be off to the side of the Cavitation plates. Silly wasting all that thrust going out aft . I made mine to hang over the rear of the engine to use that thrust and catch it and for 30 plus years have called it my unpatented WHALES  TAIL. You just have to stop the boat, lift the engine and change the engine angle with its rear pin. Takes 30 seconds. No need for trim tabs, batteries. Oh! But you'll say I need all that extra stuff to perform at my peak at all times.
I say if you want a simple light weight skiff then slow down, chill out and when you are adjusting the engine trim for that romp across the bay tell your clients a quick tale or joke.

-   Weigh no more than 250 lbs.

Here's a hard one. A boat- skiff this size could-can weigh just barley in at the 250 lb. mark and still be a long lasting strong boat. But it will have to be ultra simple and cared for and handled properly to last.
I would suggest going out and weighing your present skiff and others. Strip the engines off and try and lift a couple of these skiffs. Some are light for sure. But would they fit into Ian's criteria?
Here's how I would build this skiff to make this target weight and make it affordable.
I would find at least three other people that would want one of these skiffs that could afford its price to go in on putting up the $ to get the hull plug built. I would find a shop that works in one off projects or one of you has the time and inclination to make the first hull.
I would then have them or you build the hull that I've drawn in strip plank cedar or foam. What I have drawn is very simple to build in strip plank. Glass over and lightly fair. I would then vacuum bag or just carefully layup over this waxed plug a Carbon fiber layup as designed in epoxy or vinylester. The transom would be cored in later. This skiff will be an uncored solid carbon and e-glass skin hull with only cored decks, hatches and bulkheads. The spray rail will be made up of cored glass. The sheer rail and rub rail will be glassed over PVC pipe as shown. 
Get the shop to bag the hull skins for you and then you can very quickly finish off the skiffs yourself.
Once the hulls are pulled off the plug it would take an amature at the most 2 weeks to finish out one of these skiffs, very simple. Simple tools needed. Years ago I had a mold that friends would all get together after work and layup a hull in. Took a couple hours. They did this for 12 hulls and everyone then went on to finish each skiff at their own pace all having different interiors but the same hull. Very cost affective and fun way to go.
I have not designed a cored hull as to be very light the skins would be very thin. You would have the extra weight in all the core and adhesive. We are going for extremely light weight here. This skiff in plain old eglass and polyester resin would be a bit heavier. About 50-60 lbs and lots less in price. In strip planked cedar add the weight of the cedar or core to this. Still a great skiff. The heavier skiffs will feel better too. The draft differences will be unnoticeable.
The key to getting to this weight is in every little detail that is left in. All that's removed is extra weight.

-   High freeboard 18"-20"

This parts easy, just draw in that height of freeboard. In my design it works well. In a totally empty skiff of this design it will be a very rigid taught skiff if built in carbon. But with people aboard and weight in it this height really makes sense for what Ian would be using it for. I have drawn in a curved sheer so this skiff will be pleasing to the eye and not have that squashed look like so many of these skiffs today. Being light, long and with a reasonable amount of draft with one person sitting this skiff will handle well in a breeze when poling. It's narrow so with tall big fat people in it that don't understand that they are in a narrow skiff it could feel tippy with them plopping about the boat.

-   Self bailing hull, inside the cockpit to be knee deep.

I believe Ian wants the self bailing cockpit for safety reasons. It can be designed in with still having the knee height he's looking for. Barefoot from my cabin sole to the middle of my knees are right at 18" but I'm only 5'3" tall so he must be guiding Hobbits about like me. 
Self bailing floors raise the level of gravity in a skiff and in a narrow boat this will make it feel and be more tippy. The advantage is the floor is flat and level out to the hull sides so no getting about in a curved hull bottom. In a light skiff like this the self bailing part can only work when you are out of the boat. The floor has to be just above the loaded waterline at rest. To have it work with everyone aboard it just gets to high. You also have to drain it which is a pain. I could see a short floor just aft of the forward bulkhead to be able to put a small folding chair on facing aft for one of the clients to sit in.

I would highly advise against putting one in. The extra weight is huge in a skiff like this. All you will need to bail this skiff out with is a sawed off Clorox bottle bottom to get water out if it rains or you're a sloppy driver. You could put a drain out the stern from the aft bulkhead but I hate putting in unneeded holes in a perfectly sound hull. If left in the rain this skiffs cockpit will fill up but it will have to be a good pour. The engine if tilted will stay out of the water if completely filled up. I have seen this in my own skiff many times. I would paint the hull inside with an aggressive nonskid if going for ultra light weight. If not the new rubber stuff I see but have never been around looks like the way to go. 

-   Minimal layout

Most all of these skiffs today are pretty simple inside. This design calls for no trim tabs, smallest battery possible for running lights. With LEDs today this means flash light size. I would run the stern light off the engine and just have stick on bow lights. It will have just two hatches. One will use my my new no hinge design and the aft one will be a drop over kayak type hatch. I would have very simple rod racks.
I recommend using inflatable bags fore and aft for flotation to satisfy the Coast Guard. I have drawn in a flat 5-1/2" wide gunnel sheer that will help as a spray catcher, a place to put the oar locks and push pole holders. The oars would-should be 12' long to be good for getting about and they would stow blades aft on the stern seat-deck. Poling tower legs could fit into glassed in sockets in the stern deck so it could be removed by lifting out. So pretty simple. No stern plug, through hulls, hoses. The only metal on the boat will be the 4 oarlock sockets in bronze and two 10-24 bolts for the forward hatch.
Minimal for sure.

-   5'-6' casting decks, lots of cockpit room

The stern deck is 4' long with its raised hatch off the starboard side for the guide to sit on with a cushion on top to get some height. This type of hatch is extremely waterproof. Plus no hinges.
The foredeck is 6'-6" long with a flush hatch that has my latest no fastening hinge design. This will be equally very water proof. Both decks are lower than the sheer so the hull will make a great fly line catcher. You can make these decks on a simple sheet of Formica plywood that has been waxed. Very simple and easy to do.The cockpit will have room but it's realities are what you fill it up with. This skiff has too much storage space already so I would get one of those Yeti type coolers, glass in a bracket for it in the hull bottom when building. That's a seat for one client or have them sit one looking one way the other the other way for balance. Remember you do not need trim tabs in a long narrow skiff, just shift body weight. Ha ! But they're Americans and don't want to share a seat. Put one facing aft on the bow platform. Nope ! OK then you have to make a seat to fit in the floor that can be removed. Better to get the sports to sit lower in anyway. Or only guide people that are into what you are into.
I see lots of great cockpit layouts today in skiffs with the roll bar hand grip for the helmsman. This system I like very much if your not looking to save weight. Lots of ways to go if not planning on carrying this boat by hand.

-   4"-5" draft with 800 lbs in it ( that's people ,engine, gas, and tackle)

The draft displacement shown is at the 4" level with a load in it. The Coast Guard when I last looked, wants us to rate people at 160 lbs. they put this number out there I believe as a person floating in the water is not going to be as much as they are on dry land. I weigh at 5'3" under 155lbs. when I figure in my hull draft weights I base my final drafts by putting in the average American at  220 lbs. What,You say! To be honest this is a very conservative weight. Get your clients to step on a scale before going out. Any body over 220 lbs. costs more, just like the airlines. To know what this skiff is going to draw in advance you have to do the whole weight list process as I have described in earlier posts.
There is the possibility of having too much displacement here as this is a long skiff. You must do the numbers first or you could end up with a floating cork. 

-   Operates with no more than 30 hp tiller , and portable gas tank

I would come and visit me at my place in the Bahamas and buy a good ole new 2 stroke out board as they are used through out the 3rd world and are still cheap here. Save some weight on a four stroke. This skiff will move right along with this hp but with this load my guess is in the mid to upper 20mph. The nice thing about a portable fuel tank is you can use it as movable trim ballast if the hose is long enough. 
Now people will want to be able to plane along in as shallow water as possible with this skiff. Putting in my tunnel design would work but now you start down the slippery road of more stuff, weights, complications and expense. It will all work in this design but we will then be talking about a different vison. Let's stick to this ultralight skiff for now.

-   Able to be launched in remote areas / can be picked up by two people when engine is removed
I have talked with a few guys that want to have a skiff that can be portage able to get over dikes and into inaccessible areas. There's nothing like two strong tall friends, a light canoe with me helping in the middle. I use daily a 12'3" solid glass dinghy not very far from this skiff in build. It's hull weighs stripped, that is no engine, oars, baler, anchor, sponge, sea shells and sand at 130 lbs. My wife and I can carry this along for a ways. With another male about he and I could get it up the beach a bit more with stops. Very awkward but doable. With the 15 hp Yamaha out board on the stern then it's a challenge to get it up the beach from the high tide mark. With the outboard and the above stuff it's now getting close to the 250 lb mark. I do it alone by zig zagging it up the beach fully rigged.
At 250 lbs you will be able with 2 strong fit guys slide this skiff along but I would not want to be doing this for long. 3 guys better. The trimaran that I salvaged has outer hulls that are 28' long and weigh 250 lbs each. Was a pain to move these around on dry land. I'm pretty fit at 57.
I say you want to slide this over a dike with some good sports to help. Yes. But keep your gear to a minimum as you'll have to be going back and forth fetching it.
To launch over a bank or some where there is no ramp. Yes, but I would rather have some fenders to roll it along on. This I do moving boats around when alone with a block and tackle.
-   Wants to row and pole it in no trolling motor zones.

This design is perfect for this kind of place. With the rocker in the bottom it will pole and row along quite well. To get across large deep water bays I would row from the bow seat facing aft. The best way is to just get the boat balanced so the stern is at the waterline. The bow can be down a bit. If in deep water or a noisy bottom, like oysters I would row from aft facing forward if sight fishing or blind casting docks or the shoreline.
Most all the present skiffs will not do this at all well at best. The ones with side decks would have to have raised oar lock sockets to get the oars to clear the side deck sheers. Narrow boats like pirogues are best poled as when a skiff is very narrow you then have to have the oarlocks on brackets way outside the hulls to get the width needed for the long oars that will give you the power to move along.

-   Flush oar lock mounts that can flip up and make no noise

I've rowed a lot in my life. I like its simplicity. I've  rowed on camping trips in Costa Rica in the Gulf of Nicoya the entire length of the bay up and back in a 9' Garvey as a kid sleeping in the skiff at night as a 15 year old. I sailed and rowed the length of the San Blas islands as a 17 year old. I still row. With the right set up and  understanding of what can be done with your skiff you can go for miles without much effort. The only skiff that I see out there that might work is the Esposito skiff. The others forget about trying. Another way to get around in deep water is by sculling a skiff but the towers get in the way of this. You have to sit down in a skiff to row well. Otherwise you will have to have your oarlock sockets way up over the decks.
I have drawn in two rowing stations. I would use standard open oar locks so you could remove the oar but not the oar lock and make no noise. Oars with leather wear guards will not make noise if you know how to row. Another way is with thole pins and cloth around the oars but this is so old school that it's too high tech for today.

-   Glass bottom viewing port

Cool idea. I have had one in most of my personal skiffs and large sailboats for the last 30 years. Very simple to install and not a liability at all. The lexan will fade after time when out of the water but will always be clear when it's in the water. Fun fact: they are great for looking at the bottom if not moving very fast. When sailing in my boats we like to be in at least 10' of water as if you are too close to the bottom everything goes by too quick. I use them in the dinghy to check my anchor and to see what's below before diving in. Have had huge barracudas looking up at me 2" away from them as I was cleaning fish. Have had groupers from a coral head that we were anchored over and fed scraps to look at my kids for hours like cats waiting for the next hand out. I can go on from years of sailing about with a simple 8"x8" Glass bottom. I don't know why more skiffs do not have them.
BUT you need clear water for them to work.
I have drawn this one in on the port side away from the helmsman so they can just look over as you go along and not under your feet.

-   Seating either coffin box, cooler or chairs
I talked about this before. Personally I would have it all available but would set it up according to the day's charter. Old farts just out for bird watching then in go the chairs and a small cooler. Out after strippers along the bay's edges then coffin box in and all the stuff. I would keep the inside stripped but just add in the stuff as you need it. If I was going out with Ian I would sit on the foredeck and if it got rough going across a bay I would stand up with a bow line in my hand.
So many ways to do it just stop coddling the clients to much.

-   Massive dry storage under both decks

Most of the skiffs out there have good storage. I feel they have way more than needed. This skiff has enough to go on an expedition that will stay dry. I would have air bags that will not absorb water as flotation. Saves weight. The lockers drawn are big. This skiff needs very little. You will have to have your Coast Guard stuff. An anchor with 100' of line, simple tools which would be a spark plug wrench and the other little stuff that comes with the engine. A basic first aid kit,  flash lights,  your tackle, rain gear,  sponge, Clorox hand bailer, your iPhone so you won't get lost with its GPS apt. 
Keep it simple.

-   Boat to cost under $15,000.00 to build

This is the part that can go up and down. With a plug made to bag or hand layup hull skins over you could build this skiff on your own for material costs of under $4,000.00 US for the finished hull. I don't know if Ian is including the engine in this cost. By getting a few partners to share the plug cost and hull skins labour up front and doing the finish parts yourself it would be way under the $15,000 mark. My 12'3" skiff cost me to build from my old mold 4 years ago $1,400.00 for materials. I layed up the hull and core panels and built this skiff in 4 days finished alone. It weighs 130 lbs, stretch this out 8' more, build in carbon and eglass with epoxy and it will be more but not thousands more. Build in regular polyester resin and eglass cloth and this skiffs materials will be under $3,000.00 US. You will have to build a plug or a first hull though. This is where you could share this cost and then go on to each finish your own hulls.The plug someone will have to build. What I have drawn is a very simple hull shape that can be built like building a strip planked canoe. All you will need is a space that can contain a 20' hull that you can walk around its bow and stern when the door is shut, or a dry awning area. You can cover the hull with a tarp at night to keep it dry. I would go this way as you will save by not building a mold too. Because the hull skin will be thin it will be easy to fair after its vacuum bagged or hand layed up with peel ply over it. Every thing else is just flat panels that can be laid up in a of couple hours and then be cut with a jig saw and filleted in place and then glassed over with light cloth tape. Not much resin here for this boat, maybe 8 gallons. Paint about 2 gals. 2 sheets of core. PVC . Some plug wood. Some elbow grease. The cost to build this skiff on your own should be for materials no more than $ 5,000.00 US including the plug costs. The plug can be the hull if ultimate light weight is not the goal. Either way to get one built alone it will take that amount of $ or less and by an amature most likely as a first time builder 250 hours or less. 

This is my design office on Hogfish Maximus. All my posts,designs, and diatribes originate here at night when I'm relaxing.

This is how I start fleshing out an idea, on a scrape of paper. I work out the details all over the place on both sides. 

Same concept with it sketched out 3 D and a basic weight list to one side. Thinking of chine edges.

This is the finished design. I hope you can see it well enough. All my pictures here and posts are on my face book page under ISO  pictures. They might be clearer there. Here you can see the rocker in the bottom,the sheer height, the half sections with all info to compare to other skiffs. This is a concept drawing so I have not added the offsets. 

Sketch of the skiff without a tower and coffin box or cooler inside. No self bailing floor either, but it can go in if you've gotta have it. Pretty simple basic skiff here.

Two half sections showing how simple the construction is. I have built for myself and others on my own over 30 small skiffs like this and all are still going strong.

Here I try to show that with a rockered bottom and a trim plate on the motor this skiff will plane along with out having half the boats hull out of the water and up in the air. What I want is the boat to run at this angle and present the mid vee section to the waves to give it a good ride in choppy water. You can trim the bow up higher and get the same effect as the other skiffs with little hull in the water at speed in flat water for speed but when the other boats start to trim down most all boats-skiffs have too flat a hull section here to deal with the seas and not any good spray rails to help deal with the spray. My hull is designed to move along with a load in rough conditions and still be able to fish very shallow. 
Today my wife and I just finished motoring up and down the south coast of Grenada in our 12'3" skiff doing18 knots in 2-1/2' chop and 3'-6' seas up wind to visit friends being dry the entire trip. A John boat and most all glades type skiffs could possibly have followed us but it would have been very slow, wet going for them up wind with a long straight keel and flattish bottom. Running back down the coast in 3'-6' seas is lots of fun as I just trim up the engine which brings the bow up and away we go surfing down the seas riding up and over the next swells at what feels like break neck speeds. You have to have a good bow design for this or you will auger in or get very wet.I will try and post a video on YouTube so you can see us in action.

Here I try to explain-show what I mean by the current skiffs bow out of the water problem. Too much lift aft. This is all good if only wanting to stay in very protected waters. To me this limits these skiffs. The Whipray skiff hull shape can work but it too suffers from the straight keel syndrome. It's has very good bow vee to trim down onto but it would be a different skiff in rough water performance if it had some rocker. Of course then it would be a different boat. Just look at a surfer and his surf board. He does not go around with half the board out of the water with its bow hanging out over the sea. Surf boards all have some kind of rocker in them. When a surfer is going at speed the middle part of his board is in the water. He can spin and do all kinds of things with rocker. With a straight keel he's limited to straight line paddling in protected water. Think about it.
My own dinghy skiff I go where ever I want in any sea. It's way more comfortable than a Whipray and immanently more seaworthy because of its rockered bottom. This I can do with the help of the trim plate on the engine.

When poling or rowing it really helps to have the least amount of stern drag as possible. 

These are chine edge details that I would do.

This shows how simple it is to make a one off part look like a top end skiff.

This is what hatch channel plugs look like on a flat sheet of plywood. The red is a clay fillet-radius that gives curve to the fiberglass. All this gets waxed and then fiberglassed over. When finished everything gets pulled out and you then sand the part removing the wax film. You can fill any holes then. When happy you install in the boat. Then fair the inside of the boat and paint the whole thing. Sounds like a lot to do and it is a process but with guidance it will take about 80 man hours to build a skiff from the hull skin to finish.

Here I'm removing the parts after the deck has been removed from the waxed Formica platform and flipped over. These parts can be used over and over. I still think I'm 23 years old like in the photo but my knees say nope.

This is what a glass bottom viewing port looks like after 23 years. Still works but I will put in a new one when I get back from the cruise I'm on now. 

This is my unpatented WHALESTAIL trim plate. Plenty out in the market today made real fancy. You can make yours out of lexan, fiberglass, or plywood scraps. The lines around my engine are for hoisting it up on the stern of our sailboat. This trim plate made like this will act like trim tabs but better. Remember in a slim narrow boat you can trim this skiff side to side by just moving weight-people. Just one person is all. Rachel and I travel in this skiff every day in all kinds of weather. We don't like getting wet. You cannot stay totally dry in a small skiff all the time but Rachel does being in the middle of the skiff. 

Last thought. All skiffs work in different capacity's. To have and run a very light skiff you will have to think in extremes of being simple. My skiff design proposal to Ian is for a very simple light weight skiff to fit his vison. This skiff would not be for everyone. It will not have the classic flats skiff interior look. It will be strong but you will still have to know its limits when knocking about tree stumps and such. It would in its 250 lbs weight have a different feel than an all cored skiff, not as stiff. This is one of those compromises you make to stay light. To build in core and meet this weight it would be very puncture susceptible so would not be a good knock about skiff for Ian. It can still be built heavier and stronger if you don't fit into Ian's vison.

This skiff would fit my needs in the Bahamas very well. My kids are grown and our 12'3" skiff is too slow and small for all 4 of us to explore in now and in the future. With a long lean boat like this all of us would have room and with a 25hp two stroke Yamaha on the stern we would have the speed. With the engine off I can hoist up on my dock the hull alone and store onshore. I will be drafting up a finished set of plans for this skiff for myself to build when we get back from our present cruise.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Spanish Wells Marina Skiff reborn; thoughts on redoing another's design, splashes, copies and such

Late last year I got an email from a guy saying that he and some buddies had purchased the old Spanish Wells Marina skiff molds that I had designed and made 26 years ago. He had found my blog site and read my story about that project. He asked if I could answer some questions. He said they had been fans of this design for years and wanted to find one to redo for themselves, being avid spearfisherman and had come across the molds in Nassau for sale and wanted to build 3 - one for each of them. One of the partners was a boat builder too so would be doing all the retooling.
This was the start of what's turned out to be a very happy story for an old design that is a good boat being given a second chance and a new and better life.
I emailed Bradley Thornbrough back and gave him my Skype name and said lets talk. Within hours I was talking via the wonders of Skype from our little place in the Bahamas to Bradley, and his partner, the Builder, Eric Brush. They wanted to know all about the history of the boat, what I would change and any recommendations. We talked for over an hour. 
I told them that the original boats were tiller driven skiffs with small horse power but went on to have bigger and bigger engines. I had built the first ten skiffs and then turned the shop over to the owners and sailed away. The skiffs over the years had gotten heavier so were riding too low in the water for me and could be wet. I disscussed with Eric my ideal draft. We talked about the fuel tank postion, a full liner for this new upgraded boat. They wanted a stern bracket which I'am not a fan of so I passed on my knowledge of how they have performed on the ones that installed them. I did understand why they wanted one as they were free diving spearfisherman using Hawaiian slings of their own design and liked the stern platform to get in and out of the water in. Also the biggest point was to have a full transom with more cockpit boat space. 
They offered to compensate me for future advice. I declined as I live a simple life and don't need every buck that comes my way and I liked these guys right off and wanted to help in any way I could . Plus from looking up Eric's and Bradley's company's web sites I could see right off these guys were people I would want to build my boat. First class.
So off Eric went retooling my 26 year old simple molds, adding a parting flange to the main hull, retooling the entire hull mold, building in steel reinforcing frames on all the hull and deck molds. What I had built had rotted away being left outside for years. I core my molds so that might of helped keep them straight.
Lots of emails followed with questions, and basically asking my opinion on this or that.
The final product has been outstanding. You can see everything on their Facebook page; Spanish Wells Boat Works or

With Eric's modern building technology and skills the boat is better than ever. It's been very satisfying to see an old friend come back to life and look so well. So far they have built 3 skiffs all semi-custom.
Thanks guys .

The hull mold is reborn !

New logo. The original owners in Spanish Wells wanted to name it after me. I told them it should always be associated  with Spanish Wells, not me and I would be gone off sailing. 
Worked out well. 

The full stern and bracket. Nice set up . The liner is perfect. This boat would make a great stand up fly fishing skiff for strippers, and offshore fish as it has toe kick.

Sitting on her lines the way she was designed.

Now on to part two of this post.  

Bradley and Eric were concerned about how to separate this boat from its earlier predecessors in the Abacos that have a great loyal following in the Albury Brothers Boat building Company and its off shoot the Stuart Boat works that builds an Albury skiff design.
My advice was and still is to just tell the tale of how I came to be hired to come up with this skiff. At the time the Alburys were building smaller skiffs that had small details that could be improved upon that could greatly change the performance of this style and type of skiff. The changes and additions to this skiff style that I added and designed into this skiff made it the next best thing at that times current market in the Bahamain commercial fishing fleet. It was a good skiff 26 years ago and was a better sea boat with its simple improvements. It's a better skiff today in many ways with its new materials, construction techniques, and interior moldings that are all new. 

To me this was an improvement on a past designs pedigree and was a step forward. The Alburys went on to build rental boats with their smaller skiffs and merged into the bigger day boat designs seen today for well heeled expats that like the looks and feel of these classic skiffs. They have never adapted any of my changes to what I was asked to fix on their skiffs. 

Today there are a half dozen boat company's that are using some form of ideas that I have designed and used in my past flats skiff designs. Some have done a very good job of incorporating my ideas and styling into their new designs. These skiffs are not spashes off an old hull of mine but just liking what they saw and using it. This I like very much. It's a progression of an idea. 
Now some others have clearly turned over an old skiff hull of my design and have added and subtracted to come up with a new vision. This I like too. But so far from what I've seen online, maybe no improvements made on some.
What I do not agree with is making a splash of someone's hull. That is buying a finished boat, turning it over and just making a new mold over on old hull with maybe adding a bit to the transom with no other improvements to this hull. Then making a simple interior, not building to the same standards or better than the original and then claiming to have designed the best skiff ever. This is lowball boatbuilding that has gone on for a long time but I've not seen for awhile. 
To me taking any skiff out there and signifigantly improving on its performance is an improvement and step forward. Also if you can build a good skiff and be very competitive then you are helping the buyer out. But if your skiff looks the same but is not built as well then it will bite you in the butt in the long haul.
Remember your reputation is everything, not the few extra bucks you can make.

During the time that Bradley and Eric were retooling and building the Original Spanish Wells Skiff molds
I received an email from Marc Stoner of Stoner Boatworks saying that he had an original Marina skiff hull and wanted to make an improved mold and boat off it. Would I answer some questions? 
Sure, I said, ask away. 
He wanted to build a stern bracket into the mold and I gave him my opinions on how I feel about brackets. He asked about where and how much fuel went into the boat, what would I change.
Well I would add more freeboard, lengthen the skiff, forget about the bracket .

Why was I talking to this guy when my old design was being reborn so well?

I get lots of emails asking advice about my old skiffs and other designs from how to fix to what I think of such and such. I have answered all for free with some taking many emails to guide along.
I built the original  Spanish Wells Skiff molds for a company that paid me by the hour. I feel anyone is free to improve on my ideas. So I have had no problems with this next skiff's reincarnation.

 The Stoners, after finishing the hull mold, emailed to ask me if I would let them name the new boat after me using my name. I explained to Marc Stoner that the gesture was nice but I would not want to have my name on any boat that was being built that I had no control over. Also it's their company and name on the line not mine.
I explained that Bradley and Eric could use my name in association of having built the original Spanish Wells Skiffs molds but that the Stoner skiff would be a splash or hopefully an improvement. That the Stoner company when done with their new vision would have to market their boat as to how and why it was different than the original and the new improved Spanish Wells Boat Works skiff.
So far I have no photos to post of the Stoners Vision so time will tell. It's a huge undertaking to build a set of plugs and molds so I look forward to seeing what it looks like.

What I have tried to say here is that if others are not trying to improve on what is known to work then things will not move along. I say to all of you out there that are loyal to your builders and boats: Let the new guys give it a try. As I have tried to explain in past posts I'am always studying  what others are doing or have done to see what works and how I might make it work better in my next vision. Nothing is original, it's all a process of trying to learn what really works from past ideas.

With out this process there would be only one kayak, canoe, Maine lobster boat design out there without any new ideas. We would all be wearing Levi jeans that felt like plywood or stuck in the missionary position.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The skiffs of Dominica, and the Boat Boy Mafia

Through out the islands of the West Indies you will encounter many types of characters coming up along side your vessel trying to engage you in hiring them in some form of capacity to sell you something. These are know as Boat Boys. In days gone by they would meet you way offshore paddling an old windsurfer or on a make shift raft. Today they zoom up in nice little fast wooden skiffs with big outboards at breakneck speeds to be the first on the scene to hopefully claim you as theirs.
Years ago we had many very unpleasant experiences with these guys trying to politely tell them to stay away from our top sides and no we did not want for a thing and did not want to rent a mooring. 
They , but not all of them would try and intimidate you with their skiffs as you would be sailing in after you declined their offers. Lots of charterers and other sailors would just give in and follow them to the appointed mooring buoy which the Boat Boy would be holding up from his skiff asking for the nights payment as the charterers would be grabbing the buoy line. The Boat Boy and his skiff banging along side till the cash was in hand, then taking off to the next victim. The unsuspecting boater would be so glad to have this skiff gone from the side of his boat that they paid him as quick as possible to get him off and away.
Now safely on their mooring they would settle back into the cockpit to relax and then start to realize that the boat next to them was dragging onto them. Sheesh ! But how can this be that the boat astern is dragging its bow into our stern !
Well the Boat Boys realize that to foreigners all their brightly painted skiffs kinda look alike so handing them a mooring buoy that is tied to an old 15 hp outboard is a good way to make a living. Said boat pays them, off they go to another mooring that is fake or not. While the latest victim is dragging down wind the next one is coming in the harbor and can see this going on so wants a good mooring so on goes the process.
The best place to see this Racket is in Admiralty Bay in Bequia. I anchored there for a month a few years ago watching this scam go on. I dove the entire harbor and would say that over half the moorings there can just about hold a dinghy, not an 18 ton Catamaran.
When sailing into Mindelo bay in the Cape Verde islands in 2004 we knew in advance of the potential crime and dinghy theft. The deal that was waiting for us was there would be at least 5-6 Boat Boys in small rowing craft that would be waiting for you at the harbors entrance to offer their services of guarding your dinghy from the others so it would not get stolen. They would ask for 5-6 euros a day for this service. So basically the deal was pay us or your skiff is a goner.
Knowing this in advance we sailed into the bay after a 7 day passage from the Canaries in the early morning. The Hogfish Maximus at that time sailed engine less so we were under full sail for the tack up the bay. Sure enough after rounding the breakwater 5 Boat boys awaited us in their 12" rowboats . They all started after the Hogfish but we were under sail and not power so this was to be a new challenge to them . They understood sailing so could see where our first tack would end up. Off they rowed racing each other to our possible tacking spot. Watching this go on as I threaded my way through all the anchored ships and yachts, I tacked 100' short of where they were waiting to grab ahold of our rail . Bam, off they all go chasing us onto the next tack. After playing with them for 3 more evasive tacks I was left with one Boat Boy following us up the anchorage till we anchored. Breathless, he came alongside and very politely offed his services. We struck our deal at 2 euros a day.
Later that day as we came alongside the dinghy dock he was there along with his competition. He could not belive I was still chaining my skiff up with 3/8" chain. I explained I did not trust anyone watching my skiff including the other yachties.
Today in Portsmouth Dominica the Boat Boys have formed an association and take their business very seriously. They are very polite , have fenders for the skiffs and understand that not all of us sailors have deep pockets. This so far was the safest place I've felt in leaving our skiff while out hiking. Still locked up of course.

Typical old school Dominican skiff buit on the beach in wood.

New skiff being built in plywood with a heavy glass skin.

Underside of this skiff. All the supports will be remove when flipping over.

Today's Boat Boy all round skiff used for fishing and working the Yachties during the season.
Very nice running sea boats.

Skiff building on the beach.

The builder of most of the current skiffs in Portsouth Dominica, Alfonso. Very quiet guy but loved talking skiffs and building. I gave him a jack plane that was my fathers to replace his broken one and a bunch of hand saws. The chunk of curved wood laying on the keelson will be the inside of the stem in the foreground. He's cutting it out with a chainsaw.

Met this guy in town and he said my Government might let me sail to his country someday. Can this be true ?!!!! If so that's where I'll be for the next bunch of years. My dad was born in Cuba.

Us with 'Sea Cat ' Boat Boy and hiking Guide  extrodainair . Here we are putting on volcanic mud on our hike to the boiling lake. We have done all our hikes unguided but he came so highly recommended for the way he explained the world about you we hired him and had a great time.

Sea Cat boiling eggs for us in the thermal vents.

Gayle , Tim , me and Rachel in the hot thermal sulfur water run off from the volcanic vents upstream.
This was a good rest as it's quite a hike to get there and back.

Tree squashing de bus in hurricane Hugo

Fisherman netting Bahlou in Roseau 

 Roseau Boat Boy Desmound. The water is 160' deep up next to the shore but he had moorings placed there that had a good reputation. In the old days you would back your stern up to the beach dropping your anchor in maybe 60' and then tying your stern ashore with a line to someone's house sea wall. Today's moorings are every where so hard to be on your own anymore. $ 10.00 US a night.

Yes he is , and the beer was very cold.

Sara another sailor on hike with us on the north coast. 


Lots of water falls

East coast.

North coast anchorage with skiffs.

And last , this is a typical fish haul from a huge gill net drawn in along the beach. Thses are all juvenile fish . But that's what's left. They are killing and eating every last thing . Sad.

Dominica has been a wonderful place to sail to and hike about.