Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Flats skiffs upper spray rails evolution - history..... I think.

Today I will be showing a basic photo chronological list of what I think might be the progression of the upper spray rail history. Well it is at least to me in my short history of being around flats skiffs here in Florida.
There are several skiff manufacturers out there today that go back and forth with salvos of who invented the upper spray rail claiming that theirs was there first and it is the defining one in the industry.
I hope to show you a progression of upper spray rail designs starting with my involvement in this industry. The following skiffs to me are a refinement of past ideas. 

I encourage you all to send me pictures and info of skiffs that would fit into this time frame blog.

To start off here is a small skiff that has to be 35 + years old. Spray rail is nice and low so this skiff is going to be dry.

A skiff from the late 50's . Cut that sheer off a foot and add a flat deck and Bingo you've got a flats skiff! Look at old Fiber Crafts and the like.

Wooden skiff with edge screwed on spray rails. This skiff is from the 70's. The rails keep you dryish but the bow is too full and they are noisy.
Look at Challengers 

A super skiff with its added upper spray rail piece along the sheer. The slight curve of the lower chine-edge detail does nothing. Dave Exley cut the bottom off a 14' Mitchel skiff and lengthend it to make the Banana River skiff which he then merged into the deep vee Super Skiff as we know it today. The added spray rail idea could have come from Harry Spear as he had one back in the day when I started in these skiffs.

A Willy Roberts plywood skiff in here to show how things have changed.

My Spanish Wells Skiff design. The Alburys spray rails in their fiberglass hull designs were narrow and tapered when going to the bow. I made mine 1/2" wider and all the same width right up to the bow with the hull sucking in to accommodate the width. Worked and is way drier.
29 years ago. 168 skiffs built to this design to date.

SW skiff coming out of the retooled molds.

See how the chine looks with the hull sides going up from them. This was not my idea. The Alburys were doing it on their designs way before me.

My late father, our daughter Kalessin and Rachel with some dolphin we just caught hand line trolling in the Exumas. See the chine spray rail in the skiff behind. 24 years ago.

Here's the same skiff design but built to fold in sections. See the chine. I fit this around a great sailing hull and made a dual purpose skiff. Today I have refinement # 3.

A cored skiff I designed and built in 1996. The upper chine is now raised and separated from the bottom.
The hull is still a displacement hull although very light.

Finished hull with upper chine. A year later I lowered the bow area of this chine to better effect.

Now the Makerick Mirage comes into play with no upper chine but the same sheer spray rail catcher as the Super skiff which it adapted and many others to follow suit. More of these skiffs out there than any of the others built below. Started in 1986

Hells bay earily ideas. 1997

Now the Whipray comes on the scene. Upper spray rail chine and lower reverse spray strake only where it's needed to direct keel spray downwards to help keep the skiff dryish. 1997

Nice light Hells Bay going along. 2002

HB Guide showing my thinking well here.

As I left Hells Bay my last design was the Marquesa. I was trying for a different look but the same results. 2002      Just under 1700 skiffs built of all models to date.

On my sailing travels I have come across some interesting craft. This skiff was found in the Saints in the Leewards. It's French built and around 20 years old.

Lots of chine ideas going on with these French fishing skiffs.

Back in the early days of Hells Bay Boatworks when we would take our skiffs to Mark Castlows Shallow water shows I met the young Kevin Fien. He was a salesman for one of our clients that manufactured and sold scaffolding and plastic sheeting. Kevin was always asking about how to get into the skiff market. Several years after I left HB I heard he was selling kyaks and had struck out on his own to build skiffs. This I think is one of his first forays into the technical skiff market. Started in 2006 

Here he has realized he could have made the upper spray rail a bit more aggressive. The cool thing about this picture is it shows you where the sprays coming from and what to do in the next design.

Looking better now in this model.

Now we'er talking! A nice refinement of previous skiffs.

Looks good to me. Deja vue 

Another East Cape flatish bottom design.

Ok now you can see the upper chine with the deep concave vee in it. I don't know if Kevin or Hal Chittum did this first. Who cares. It's a different approach to what essentially is just an angle.
I hear that this concave detail can be noisy in big chop as the seas compress into it with the air compressing making a big warbling noise. Kevin's done well with his adaptations as he has built according to his web site over 800 skiffs so far.

A nice simple elegant Harry Spear skiff. Pretty basic hull, no noise, easy to push along and with the added upper spray catcher on the deck sheer. Harry's been tweaking skiffs for a long time.

A plywood skiff by Brian Esposito. I saw this skiff the other day and went over for a look see. I thought it was a Spear skiff. Looked nice, was very solid. A Marquesa in the background.

Now to the Chittum Islamorada 18. This picture shows off the bottom nicely. To me this bottom design looks very similar to the Maverick Mirages except for the bow chine wedge thingy's. If they were lowered down to be inline with the outer Chines it would just be a typical vee bottom skiff. But this bow design is under the MILITARY DESIGN PROPRIETARY INFORAMTION clause so I don't know if we'll ever really know the numbers on what those two wedge pads really contribute. My guess is deverting spray.
Now on to the upper spray rails. Yes they are deep and fairly wide. A bold approach for sure. 
I Don't  know if East Cape was first or not with this deep angle detail or not. Hells Bay has retooled some of their skiffs with is detail. 2008 ? Maybe 40 built to date.

Ah the Yellowfin skiff. When this came out the spray rail did not have this add on flange to it. Cheaper to do this then Make a New hull and deck mold. In profile it looks just like the Hells Bays Biscayne. 

Beavertail skiff. Good looking skiffs and I'am told they are dry. Many versions of this chine detail. Very original chine detailing. 2011? Lots built

Cayo skiff. Just came out in the last two years. 2016?

Marsh Heron. New skiff 2016? Looks to me like lots of this skiff will be built.

Dustin Bates personal skiff design. 2016    3 built

Thomas Haye skiff. 2017      1 built

Tom Gordons Element. Still in progress? 2016
1 under development.

Ren Stanley's home built and designed skiff. 2016        2 one offs built

The Drake Brothers new design. Very original upper spray chine detail here. Love the looks of this.

Drake skiff. 2017     1 built

And Now my Lithium 18 design ! Let's see.... It has the widest spray rails out there in the fleet as of today. It has a round stern. Could this be the next new trend? Time will tell.
I will be building hull #1 from the new mold on speculation to help fund our next sailing adventure.
Should be launching hull number one soon which is the plug shown here.

My latest small skiff design. Plans and patterns available.

Now no matter how much we designers and builders go to make your skiffs drier there is still the crowd that doesn't really care. Fill it up with everything in the garage and lets go have fun.

To end this look at things past and present I feel that it has all been good. I just feel I took a chine detail I saw in a Bahamian built skiff and raised it up to make it work in a light weight flats skiff. Others have agreed too so it's been a progression of different ideas.

See nothing's original, it's just the refinements and details that matter.