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 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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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"

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 
"Their vision" 

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.

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

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.

Means the oldest person in the layup shop is 32

Ah... All the Guides use store bought skiffs.... Except Steve Huff ,Harry Spear, Forrest Haynes and Davie Wilson,  they built their own.

4"-10" and on up

WEIGHS 450 lbs
Same as....Don't ask your wife how much she really weighs in public.

Yes.... The Deep Vee version cost 25% more than the Flat Bottom version because.....
It' 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.

Once your check has cleared your boat will be built to your non refundable contract order when we get  around to it.

YES they are ! And by as close as 30-35%

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.

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.

1 comment:

ThomD said...

I think you are being a little hard on resin infusion. This is a technique that combines bagging with using the vac to distribute the resin throughout the boat or panel. It produces highest quality parts, with the least VOCs, while creating a mountain of garbage in the form of tubes, and all kinds of plastic sheets and expensive membranes.

It really gets some folks excited about building that way, and some of amateurs are downright awesome at it. You can usually go from zero to 60 in your building career a lot faster by sticking to the basics. Or at least you could a few years back when they were selling expensive books and software to get you up to speed on the whole thing. Apparently there are some good forums today.

This flats scow project stood out. Hard to imagine one more designed to be made out of plywood, but he infused it in core cell: