View Full Version : Sharpie, flattie, garvey, Bolgie design info?

11-29-2000, 12:47 AM
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11-29-2000, 12:51 AM
Houston, I think we have a problem.

11-29-2000, 01:07 AM
Just shut up and keep bailing! http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif

Should have said:

I'm confused as to what makes a good single-chine sailing hull. Some are flat bottomed and some have deadrise; rocker varies considerably; some ends are exposed and others submerged.

Are there some general rules of thumb for sharpie design? None of the design books I've looked at devote much time to the subject, being more concerned with "real" sailboats.

Can anyone point me at some good design info?



Tom Lathrop
11-29-2000, 07:45 AM

Sharpies were not "designed" but were developed in several areas along the eastern seaboard to suit the local conditions and the will of the builders. Some are flat and some people think that these are the only true sharpies. Some have deadrise throughout their length. Some are flat in the middle and have deadrise on both ends. Some have deadrise only on one end.

Locally in North Carolina, traditional working sharpies have taken all these forms. Take your choice or make up your own. The facts are too muddled to get upset about the various opinions offered. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

11-29-2000, 09:56 AM
There were sharpie articles in some of the older Woodenboats, say circa issue 20. Maybe someone can xerox an article for you. Ditto articles on garvies, etc.

More rocker = a more maneuverable boat.

Deadrise or file-bottom construction, I don't know, perhaps it resulted in a stronger hull.
It was certainly used to reduce pounding in certain sailing conditions, or maybe it also allowed a beamier boat without ridiculously long bottom cross planks. It would have been cheaper than a round-bottom boat.

It may also have been a way to get flare into the hull without also having rocker like a banana (just a thought). You can see a "Seaside Bateau" on my Fassitt Ancestors page, and one of the virtues Chapelle mentions is lots of flare for running inlets.

Some sharpies were planked lengthwise and had frames, by the way, though there's no point in fiddling with this sort of construction today what with plywood.

For more --

Try "Boats With an Open Mind" by Bolger.

"The Sharpie Book" by Reuel Parker is excellent.

Chapelle's "American Small Sailing Craft" is a classic though the way he writes it's not always apparent what he's telling you (he's not a bad writer, it's just written for a level of understanding that certainly surpassed me when I first read it).

Chapelle wrote a monograph for the Smithsonian called "Migrations of an American Boat Type" which is the definitive article on sharpies and their development.

Mike Alford recently did an excellent piece on North Carolina sharpies in Woodenboat.

Though remember not all this stuff is cast in concrete. They're just boats. Judging from photos i've seen there were a great many very ugly sharpies and skiffs in the world. Chapelle himself was not above tinkering with the sheerline when he took lines off abandoned boats.

11-29-2000, 09:57 AM

that URL is:

11-29-2000, 07:51 PM
Thanks Dadadata!

Prowling through this board I ran across Reuel Parker's name and have his book on order. Too, I've been a Bolger fan since day 2 (He IS a bit older than I.) and have followed his progression(s) from Black Skimmer to St. Valery, say.

The problem with Mr. B is that he's is so all over the place that it's hard to identify a consistent design philosophy.

As for WB I was a subscriber from issue #1, but left for a while when they went the commercial/professional/yachtie route. Haven't been back, though I pick it up from the newsrack once in a while. Though I admit not being much of an avid reader of boating articles. It takes a certain design to catch my eye and draw me in.

And where would we be without Howie? Yes, he played fast and loose at times, but page for page he IS the man. My problem is that much of the info is ancient. Not that H20 has changed all that much, but I would hope we've learned a little bit in the last hundred years or so.

As for his monograph, "Migrations of an American Boat Type", where would one get a copy? Write to the Smithsonian? Now that I WOULD be curious to see.

All in all, lots of great ideas. Thanks again!


12-02-2000, 06:37 PM
Let me tell you my thought. I build in North Carolina. The true sharpie is hard chimed no matter if it has a rocker or tucked stern. Usually the skeg allows the keel area to flow straight.. The actual hull can be the scow bow which is the old timey john boat design bow or sharpie as I have addressed. A lot of fishing designs was rocker keel for the adverse conditions that it had to go in. If it was a transport most of them had straight keel with the stern tucked under. The true sharpie was the skipjack style hull hard chime with the raked mast or straight mast and tucked corners because of the free board for the adverse weather conditions that it had to go in for economics reasons in the older years that people had to make a living with the boats. Just legal language now days.

Tom Lathrop
12-02-2000, 09:07 PM
Hi Custom Skiffs,

I just looked at your web site and the boats shown seem to be either flat bottom or very low deadrise. Would you consider these suitable for use in the Pamlico Sound where is can be much rougher than is normal in Core or Bogue Sounds. I see quite a few of the Skimmers and Carolina Skiffs in use mostly for crab skiffs and such. They seem to me a very rough ride in a Neuse River or Pamlico chop. If you haven't got false teeth, you soon will have and if you have some they may be vibrated overboard.

By the way, what is the address of your shop and what is your name? I'd like to drop by and see your skiffs sometime when I'm in Mo'head.

12-03-2000, 01:15 PM
As for his monograph, "Migrations of an American Boat Type", where would one get a copy? Write to the Smithsonian? Now that I WOULD be curious to see.

All in all, lots of great ideas. Thanks again!

Hmmm. Well, you could try interlibrary loan if someone can come up with a full cite (it's in a Smithsonian Bulletin along with a half a dozen other articles which aren't necessarily boatstuff, but are interesting in their way).

I happen to have a xerox, if you want to contact me offlist we can work something out, it is a great article.

But do look up Mike Alford's recent WB article, which extends what Chapelle wrote and is equally good.

Bolger, I think is not really "all over the place" as much as many may think.

He has a consistent approach within *classes* of boats, I think, and simply designs in many classes. By that I don't mean racing classes, but rather categories ("traditional sharpies", "adapted traditional planked boats", "modern low cost boats", "expensive yachts", etc).

12-04-2000, 08:18 AM
I do not need to get into posting frenzy. I will tell you that we are direct desendants of the Huganauts which was very responsible to bringing this style of boat building to the eastern U.S. We have documented records of these people that had to make a living on the water and very much instrumental in the evolution of this design. We loaned records pertaining to the areas they made their home to Mike Alford when he was at the Museum but never really talked to him since he retired. But he was very versed in this field.I also have thirty years of building and repairs in this field. I don't know it all and it is like anything else. A lot of it was trial and error of what worked for a particular area and usage.

[This message has been edited by CUSTOM SKIFFS AND REPAIR (edited 12-04-2000).]

12-04-2000, 11:38 PM
You need to borrow, on interlibrary loan, Harry V. Sucher's two books:

Simplified Boatbuilding: The V-Bottom Boat


Simplified Boatbuilding: the Flat-Bottom Boat

They will give you a lot of very good information, plans, etc.

Doug Wilde

12-06-2000, 01:50 AM
Thanks all.

Dadadata, I'l check out Mr. Alford's article.

And Doug, I'l track down Mr. Sucher's books.

And CS&R brings up an interesting point. And that is - just because a design was good at hauling fish, doesn't mean it's good at hauling people. A couple's requirements for a weekend cruise are different than a fisherman's needs for a working boat.

Anyone interested in building an historically accurate boat has many sources of information, but when it comes to modern recreational use, things get murky. Slapping a large cabin on a traditional sharpie is not only ugly (to my eye anyway), but probably not safe with its high center of gravity and low freeboard. On the other hand, raising the sides of the beast, ala Bolger, to the point where you need an escalator to board makes me question just how handy it'd be in various conditions.

So, aesthetics aside, it comes down to engineering. And engineering is about nothing if not appropriatness. (Is that a word?) And that's what I'm looking for - information on the recreational application of traditional designs - how you take a design that was good at hauling fish and making it effective at hauling people.

Again, thanks for all the great info!