View Full Version : chestnut prospector, tom hill style

11-26-2000, 03:15 PM
Hello All-

I'm seeking some advice. Have already built the Charlotte with my father, and now we are planning to do a tandem boat. A highly experienced paddler, (a good friend), has a boat that is similar to the Chestnut Prospector. He thinks that would be a great boat for my wife and me. Can I get plans for this anywhere, that would be appropriate for that building style? Or, is there a way for me to take the lines off of his boat, which is somewhat narrower/faster and makes me drool? If I were to do so, should I be paying the designer of that boat? (paying more than compliments, I mean)...

Thanks in advance!


G. Schollmeier
11-26-2000, 05:05 PM
Ian, Yes if you use someone's lines to build a boat they should be payed. I have seen offsets for the Chestnut Prospector in a book. Not sure which one. If I find it I'll let you know. What construction method will you use? If strip and glass, try the Northwest Canoe Co. The NW Crusier is IMHO a much better canoe than the Prospector. http://www.northwestcanoe.com/ Canoes are very personal watercraft. I would not build before I paddled.

Keith Wilson
11-27-2000, 12:02 PM
Bear Mountain sells plans for the Prospector (strip-planked), see: http://www.kayaks.bearmountainboats.com/16-0Prospector.asp

I think it would be possible to adapt other canoe designs to plywood lapstrake construction, but be prepared for a certain amount of difficulty. Designs for wood/canvas or strip planking can't necessarily be built lapstrake without some modifications. The problem is not so much in the underwater shape - lining off shouldn't be too difficult unless there's a lot of reverse curvature - but in the sheerline. The traditional birchbark canoe, and hence later designs also, have a sheerline that turns up abruptly at the ends. One could build this lapstrake, but the plank lines couldn't follow the sheerline at all, and it would look really ugly.

Getting the plank lines right is important from both a practical and aesthetic point of view, since they are very obvious in the finished boat. You'd have to change the sheerline at a minimum, probably the stem shapes too, and other subtle changes to the topsides would follow. Be prepared to loft it completely and carefully. I think it'd be fun, but some would say I'm kind of wierd. OTOH, you could just build it strip-planked, but I don't like to sand that much.

BTW, I built Tom Hill's 16' canoe a few years ago, and it's generally OK but not brilliant. Somewhat lacking in initial stability, reasonably fast. All in all, I think you could do better.

Walt Simmons has a good book on traditional lapstrake canoes see: http://www.duck-trap.com/canoes.html and plans for several different sizes. Anything that can be built in traditional lapstrake can be built in glued-plywood lapstrake with no change to the lines.

11-27-2000, 02:24 PM
Salmoneon ; cedar strip is such an effective way to build canoes , maybe you should give it a try , if you haven't already . The boats are incredibly light , a prime virtue in canoes , and the sanding's not that bad , IF you use a random orbit sander ( 6 in. PortaCable ) and start with a 36 or 40 grit .

11-29-2000, 01:54 PM
Thanks to all three of you for the useful input. It is immensely helpful to those of us who are neophytes. At this point, I believe that we will stick to the plywood lapstrake technique developed by Tom Hill, because we did our first boat that way. Now, my dad gave me the plans and supplies for high school graduation, and we didn't actually finish it until I'd been out of college for 2 years. As you can imagine, we endured a certain amount of "guff" from friends and family ("don't quit your day job", etc). So, I'm thinking, stick to what we know, try to get some momentum up, and then on future projects branch out into other building methods. I'm certainly interested in considering the stripper technique, as the third boat, since I have seen so many beautiful and clearly functional canoes made that way. Perhaps the book by Walt Simmons that Keith mentions would open up our options within the style of building that we already know. I'm hoping that we will move *alot* faster this time, as I see in hindsight that the last time we agonized over things unecessarily (such tendencies run strong in our genepool). Our slow progress was discouraging, and then the project got shelved for a while. I'm hoping not to repeat all that.

Thanks again!


11-29-2000, 02:07 PM

as I look at the Duck Trap plans, it appears that they are all designed for double-bladded paddling. I was hoping for a boat that would use traditional single-bladded paddles, hence my interest in Tom Hill's design. I am, however, also interested in Keith's feedback that it isn't his favorite boat. Any other suggestions?


Rob Waywell
12-10-2000, 10:02 PM
Ted Moores includes the offsets for the Chestnut Prospector in his book CanoeCraft. I built one several years ago as an engagement present for my wife. It's a great design for canoe trips with loads of capacity for backpacks and stuff. On the other hand it is a handful for a single person to paddle if the boat is mostly empty and there is any wind. This is simply because it is so light and rides so high out of the water. Since you are looking for a two person boat, then I'd definitely recommend it. Even with two adults, two kids and a restless dog it is pretty stable.

Dave Hadfield
12-14-2000, 09:44 AM
I second the comments made regarding the Ted Moores Prospector. I have 13 years and probably 30 wilderness trips on mine, many into remote areas of Northern Ontario and Manitoba.
It's got a little more rocker than some prospector designs. As mentioned, this makes it a soap bubble when paddled solo, empty, but makes it very responsive and manoeverable when loaded. Often we portage one load of gear, look over the rapid on our way back, and then run it with the remainder still on board.
The strip-built aspect is very good engineering. My boat (which I stretched to 17ft) weighed 67lbs new, and is very tough. I've driven it hard, at speed, loaded, onto pointy rocks (and cried just after), and while the fiberglass cloth inside will break under tension, the outside, under compression, does not, and you end up with a crease in the bottom, but no water actually getting in.
And I love the way it looks. I still waste all kinds of film just trying to capture the spirit of the thing; hauled up on a sloping rock, sun going down, water glass-smooth and the wilderness shoreline beyond.

Pete Payne
12-18-2000, 06:24 AM
I agree with Rob and Dave. I built the stripper Bob's Special by Ted Moores. It too is a Prospector. Great looking canoe, but not a good solo boat when empty and the wind is strong. I have a few photos on my web site.

12-20-2000, 11:29 AM
I took the lines off an 18 1/2' E.M. White Guide canoe and built it using Tom Hill's glued lapstrake method. It was time-consuming but worked great. I did not try to track down Mr. White's estate to pay royalties; much as he did not pay royalties to the indians from whom he most likely took his lines.

Just remember to take 3/8" off the edges of the stations to make room for the ribbands. Also, I glassed the garboards and the first strakes inside and out. This made an incredibly stiff boat. I have given the boat much hard use for three years and it has held up fine. This in spite of the fact that I used (cover the childrens' eyes) 1/4 luaun because it was an experiment and I did not want to waste a good pile of marine ply. Also (cover their eyes again) I used the dreaded polyester resin to glass the bottom! I did use good epoxy to glue the strakes. Nevertheless, I am still waiting for the thing to fall apart so that I can make it from real wood with real epoxy.


Andy Farquhar

Keith Wilson
12-20-2000, 03:48 PM
Very interesting! Did you modify the lines of the E.M.White canoe at all? If not, what did you do with the sheerline, and how did the plank lines run? The Guide doesn't have the extreme "birchbark canoe" curve in the ends of the sheer like some, but it still has more curve than most lapstrake boats. How did it work out?

Hey, don't worry too much about the polyester; I built a Bolger Gypsy (taped seam) twelve years ago with ACX fir and polyester resin, and it's still going strong, despite hard use and indifferent care. Doesn't sit in the water all the time, though.

12-20-2000, 04:29 PM
I didn't modify the lines too much. I lined off the strakes starting from the sheer. I think each strake was a uniform 4". I lost a little of the upward curve in the sheer just before the stems. The garboards ended up being kind of an elongated football shape.

It ended up being a great boat. Very dry ride. I singlehand it all the time. It's not too bad in the wind if you get your weight forward - paddle from the center thwart in a headwind. I have put a sail and temporary leeboard thwart on it - great fun.

12-20-2000, 05:18 PM
Happy Hollidays, all...

Pete Payne tells me that his boat, from a Ted Moore design, is a version of the prospector. It looks fantastic in his pictures, and it appears to me that it doesn't have the extreme upward curve at the bow and stern that Keith Wilson suggests will cause problems with glued plywood lapstrake. It seems to me, then, that it might be an appropriate version of the prospector to try using Tom Hill's style of building? Or should I wait to do that plan until I'm ready to try my hand at strip building?

Any comments?


12-20-2000, 09:06 PM
Why wait? I don't understand your fears.

I built two strippers and later, two lap strake canoes (Iain Oughtred's McGregor canoe). Can't say one method faster than the other but do believe the strippers were easier, less complicated.

If you want a canoe that is better suited to stripper construction just do it. Quite building straw men. Build the canoe one strip at a time and before you know it....

Know what I mean? Know what I mean?

Best wishes.