Friday, July 7, 2017

New Flats skiff design for PIRANHA BOATS

Mike Held owner of PIRANHA BOATS contacted me this past winter asking to design him a flats skiff for his company. We met in Islamorada and talked skiffs. Mike Builds competitive priced small fishing skiffs and wanted a design that would fit in with the top skiff brand names but he wanted a design to have a price that could be an entry level skiff that more people can afford. 
My observation of the market is it can use a good hull shape that can carry the new weight demands of a big engine, trolling motors, power pole, coolers, bait well tanks, and big people.
To add to this mix a skiff that could be built and bought at a reasonable price compared to the top end skiffs could be very competitive.
To do this the design of the interior and how the skiff was to be built had to be simple, to the point, and very easy to build. 
There are lots of great price point skiffs being built out there today. My design goal was to put a reasonably shallow drafting hull that could take some major chop and mesh it with a nice basic interior plan as the starting point. It's always easy to add more deck interiors to a design and up the options and prices along the way.
Following is a discription of my research into how I came up with this particular design to fit this market.

My design takes all kinds of things into consideration. To find out what I would be competing with I did what all racing sailors have do to their boats. They get them measured by a certified measurer so that they and everyone else racing and competing against them would know how this particular boat will rate. Races are measured by sailing times over the course.

In flats fishing you are competing against the fish and other skiff designs. If your design can run well in heavy chop, be reasonable all round fast, comfortable and not draw too much water then you have a good skiff. If it's built well, for a reasonable price then that's even better.
I started out this commission by looking at all my past designs. The MARQUESA with its deep vee was my goal to improve on. In the market today the top name brands are the MAVERICK HPX SERIES, HELLS BAY SKIFFS, EAST CAPE, BEAVERTAIL,and the CHITTUM SKIFFS.
The price point skiffs are all over the place now with many nice skiffs with my guess ANKONA SKIFFS  being in the lead in this market.
The top end skiffs though have all the deep vee models. This is the market that this skiff design is going after but at the price point level.
Because I have all my past designs on paper it's easy for me to see their hull shapes and I know them very well.
The first thing I did was to very carefully measure both the MAVERICK 17'6" HPX model of their deep vee skiff design. I then went next to the CHITTUM SKIFFS ISLAMORADA 12 degree 18' skiff.
I also measured the big new HPX model. These deep vee skiffs along with the HB Marqueasa are what you see the most in the Florida keys guide market. The CHITTUM SKIFF gets looked at because of the media exposure it has created.
To me these and my old HB design the Marquesa is the market because of the deep Vees in these hull designs.

Let's take a look at my journey of what's up today in this nich skiff market and my ideas to hopefully improve on what's happening to day.

This to me is a start of what's going wrong with skiffs today. Here's the original BEAVERTAILS copy of the HB skiff. It's a 17.8 hull basically with a big guy on the stern and she's going down. 9-10" draft for sure.

Today's typical HPX with no one aboard. Not enough hull displacement. This means this skiff design is out dated and needs to be rethought to be able to carry all this stuff. This skiff at the stern now is drawing about 14-15". But she's outfitted with all mod coms.

A BEAVERTAIL  I passed the other morning in Islamorada. The guys here loved their skiff. This is great. They are enjoying their ride and being out on the water. It has been outfitted by the builder and it's obvious they are fine with how she looks here. They are not designing a skiff to float well with this load aboard. She looks great in the sales brochures all empty of this gear. How come all skiff manufactures don't show pictures like this?

17.8 HB sitting low. Too much stuff for a 18 year old design to carry around.

This HPX when balanced will draw 15" of water and be very wet when running in any chop.

The colored picture shows my latest LITHIUM SKIFFS hull bottom with my new PIRANHA SKIFFS hull bottom below side by side.
The pink in the yellow areas are the lifting pads of each hull. The bright yellow is the waterline displacement at their respective designed drafts. 7" LITHIUM 9" PIRANHA.
Look at how the yellow waterline goes forward towards the bow. A very nice fair point.
I will have all these drawings on my other posted for perfect clarity.
The upper spray Chines are shown in pink. 
I strongly feel why my skiffs pole well is because of the way the waterlines are drawn in long and fair. You also get lots of good flotation-bouancy up forward when polling a person on the bow. So many skiff designs today don't consider this at rest need. When poling you are only moving at 1-2 knots.
The PIRANHA 18 has a plumb bow designed in for added bouancy, longer waterline, ease of poling in wind and being able to want to when not poling to turn up into the wind. These factors are huge pluses if you are a poler. This designs draft can still get you into shallow enough waters.

What I am showing here is the waterlines of the HPX 17', HPX 18' and the CHITTUM 18' skiffs.
Go look this up on my other blog to see it perfectly. What I found when measuring these skiffs is that the CHITTUM skiff has almost the same hull dimensions as the HPX 17' skiff. The numbers are very close. The lower Chine measurements are almost the same on both skiffs. The difference being is the Chittum design team lowered the bow chine forward and made the spray rail a deep vee instead of a add on plastic rail.
Very dissapointing to me when I discovered this. If the MAVERICK company built their HPX skiffs hulls a bit lighter then they would float the same as the CHITTUM skiff.
I Believe the HPX line of skiffs are the most successful skiff builds on the market to date. 

The dark red thin line shows the Two skiffs waterlines. They only change at the bow where the CHITTUM skiff has lowered their chine 3". The other light black waterline is the 18' HPX waterline.
All the yellow represents my designs waterline area. You can see I am going for more volume- displaement to carry the big loads of today and still draft at 9".
See how the other skiffs waterlines turn in? This to me plus their long overhanging bows, deep draft when loaded  make them not as easy to pole. My design is to get as much waterline length in as possible in an 18' skiff. In racing sailboats today it's all about long clean waterline lengths. When you are poling you are moving along at slow speeds. Why not have a bow designed for this? All my past designs have very long waterlines. I do this for poling ease. Long overhanging bows look cool but I feel serve no purpose in a boat that needs to be poled about at slow speeds. My waterlines and bows help my designs turn into the wind instead of falling off and making it very hard to pole in beam winds.
All skiff bows when running are in the air. They never go through seas. And if you are crossing a big rough channel you just trim up a bit if going down sea in big seas. My bow will not be dipping into the chop as far as the others when you are anchored up fishing for tarpon.

Here's the CHITTUM skiff I was measuring. I mark off the skiff in 2' sections at the chine and at the sheer.
I then measure out from the middle of the keel to the chine edge. I then Measure up from the chine to the sheer. You have to take into account the differences of the deck builds and such.
I then measure out from the center lines to the sheer edges. From here I measure back into the hull width. All skiffs have varying deck overhangs. Most all skiff builders quote their hull beams and widths using their overhangs. I check the beam measurements from side to side to see how accurate the build was. These skiffs plugs were made by computers so perfect from side to side.
It takes a half an hour to do this. If I put the skiff on a platform alone I can measure it accurately enough to within a 1/16". This would take a few hours. For what I was looking for the method shown is very close. I wanted to see how big or small they really are. Now we all know. They are too small for big engines and lots of stuff by today's needs.
Unless you are happy with a 15-17" draft.

My measurements and the deck overhangs shown.

The white skiff is an HPX and the blue one is a CHITTUM.

This scale drawing shows my new design with the bright yellow being the added displaement and beam. I want this skiff to be able to rate legally for a 150 hp engine. The HPX and Chittums sterns are shown here superimposed with the Chittums skiffs stern at its advertised draft depth. The two skiffs have the same stern dimensions but the CHITTUM skiff has the crowned deck. The HPX rates it's skiff accurately at 90 hp. 
My design is drawn at full load waterline with a 150 hp on the stern 3 big guys in the skiff and all mod coms attached to this design. Less stuff less draft. My design has more vee but way less draft. See the width of my transom as drawn to carry a 115 hp engine on the stern. Lots bigger stern. Same as the Marquesa.
Let's look at how it gets done.

Now you add fuel, a 90 hp outboard, bait well water, People and gear. I am being generous here with the real reality.

Now by just looking back up at the photos above you can see the problems of today with skiffs. The HPX does float like this. It's reality. The difference is the CHITTUMS HULL is built lighter. That's it.

This shows the other skiffs if empty where they might float compared to my designs full load waterline. 
See how their vee stops at the lower chine. I have never liked this part of these designs. It limits the vee forward when going in big chop. This is why I always make my designs have the soft transitions at these stations.
See how much vee I have and it's softer when running into seas.
I have drawn in a bigger upper spray rail all the way aft to help her stay dry. This is the departure from my past Marqueasa design.

Just imagine how wet these skiffs are when loaded and running in a beam or just reaching conditions.
I know what they do as I have spent time in lots of these skiffs. I want to be as dry and as comfortable as possible in an 18' skiff.

With all this information I have made a weight list of everything that could go on a skiff like this today. During the Tarpon tournaments here this summer the fastest skiff out here is a CHITTUM skiff with a 150 hp on her. The owner only uses this skiff for tournaments for the speed to get to the best tarpon hole first. Most guides I talked to had 115 HP on the sterns of their HPXs skiffs and many were owned by private owners that only use these skiffs for tournaments. Otherwise they say they are too hard to pole and too wet.
With my weight list I have drawn in the needed displacement. The most important thing is knowing in advance the weight the finished hull will weigh. I have designed a simple well proven build schedule using some core and lots of solid E-glass laminations. This saves time and material costs. Because the hull does not need to be cutting edge lightweight this saves money. But in reality it will be cutting edge light weight for its size and weight carrying ability.
The interior is simple with good hatch sizes and very good hatch drains. The Baitwell is designed to go in the floor to lower the weight of the water. Dee vee narrow skiffs can be what is called cranky. This skiff has a wider beam so will not be tippy-cranky like the others. This design is similar in dimensions to the Marquesa in beam and vee. The bow waterline is longer and the upper spray rail is very aggressive to help with the spray so will be dryer than the Maquesa. It hopefully will also pole better.
The sheer has a slight reverse dip to it forward. The deck forward is drawn to have a 1/2" of crown in it and it will flatten out as it goes aft. It also has higher freeboard and the upper chine is designed to be 9" above the waterline at full load.
The transoms corners will be well rounded to help in turning when poling, giving no eddies when polling and to help with water noise.
This skiff should fit well into the performance higher speed crowd that will run the skiff with a 90-115 hp outboard.

It's been a very informative summer for me being anchored in Islamorada seeing and talking to all the fishing Guides about all the various skiffs about.
Selling skiffs to Guides is a small part of the skiff building market. It sure helps with Guides liking your skiff design though.

The main points I learned this summer from the Guides are this;

-A dry running skiff is very important.
-being able to pole well is very desirable.
- reasonable draft sure helps.
- speed only matters in tournaments.
- a good customer company relationship goes a long way to referrals.
- and yea..sure if you have the above and it costs are!

Looking forward to seeing what Mike Held does with this design.

PIRANHA Boats will be building the plugs and molds for this skiff soon. 
For information on this skiff contact Mike Held;

1770 East Lake Mary Blvd
Suite C2 
Sanford, Fl 32773
Mike Held     Owner

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