View Full Version : Newfoundland Trap Skiff
John A. Campbell
11-16-2004, 11:29 AM
Some time ago I had posted a thread about planning for my next project following completion of "Piccolo" I am now looking very strongly at Duck Trap Woodworking's "Newfoundland Trap Skiff" at 19' 3" and equipping her with the little 10 hp Westerbeke 1-cylinder diesel. See www.duck-trap.com/2002nts.html (http://www.duck-trap.com/2002nts.html) I have fallen in love with this boat and plan to trailer her and use her on Lake Belton. I really like the idea of auxilliary power as I intend to have 2 or 3 people on board with me (children and grandchildren) and I want the boat to be completely stable, very safe, and independent of the breeze. Also, I'm not at all interested in an outboard. I would like to hear from anyone out there who has built or owns this boat or would have any constructive comments to offer...........thanks!
11-16-2004, 12:12 PM
In 2002 at the WoodenBoat Show in Rockland, Maine I had the good fortune to see one of these boats in the flesh. The boat had been built using glued lap plywood, sawn frames and rivets backing up the epoxy glued laps to give the appearance of traditional clinker construction. Gorgeous boat. At the time it was still on my short list.
After admiring the boat, I had to walk across it to board a Caledonia yawl. Ok, I'm not the most nimble person on a boat. But. The trap skiff was wicked tender when boarding her. Scary tender to a lubber like myself. Thankfully the Caledonia yawl felt more like stepping onto the dock. Crossing back after a sail on the Caledonia yawl was just as tender. Knowing that I wanted a safe, stable boat that I would feel comfortable taking my granddaugters sailing, I took the trap skiff off of my list. I now own a Caledonia yawl.
If you can live with a narrow tender boat, go for it. If you like the feeling of a stable boat under you, go for more beam. OK, the inboard might help some, but come to think of it, you'll loose a lot of interior people volume. Because of it's narrow beam, it's not a big boat.
It's gorgeous for sure. It does have shortcomings.
PS: 10 hp diesel, eh? That's about 8hp too many for a light, narrow, easily driven SAILING hull like the Newfoundland Trap Skiff. In my humble opinion. Not to mention the fact that you'll use up a lot of her safe working cargo with the weight of such an installation. If you want a 10hp inboard, look at Harry Bryan, Sam Devlin, etc., etc. designs. You need a hull designed for that type of power.
In the Swamp. :D
[ 11-16-2004, 12:19 PM: Message edited by: Venchka ]
11-16-2004, 01:43 PM
It is a pretty looking boat indeed!
Not long ago there was some discussion here about the completeness of the plans you get from Ducktrap. The search engine didn't bring it up for me, but IIRC the thrust was that the plans were a little light on details and that they were sent out with a caveat that there were errors in the table of offsets, yet they didn't correct them.
It may not be that critical, depending on your skills and experience, or it may be totally frustrating to you if you're looking for a step by step procedure.
I've been waiting to get a glimpse of a completed Christmas wherry. The half model looks mighty slippery to me.
John A. Campbell
11-16-2004, 02:42 PM
If I could find a diesel that was smaller than the 10.7 hp Westerbeke, I would opt for that one but so far the Westerbeke is the smallest I can find that appears to have the quality I would want. As for the plans, I'm not looking for a step-by-step procedure but I have noted that Ducktrap sells a complete lofting package which I assume is a "3-view package" (profile, half-breadth, and body plan). I have not verified this with Walt Simmons yet but plan to do so. I have built several glued lap boats over the years and am more than a little familiar with lofting and actually ENJOY IT!! I am a little concerned with Venchka's comments about stability of the N.T.S., however, and that's something I plan to check further.......maybe to the point of taking a first hand look even if I have to do some extensive travelling to see one...........more ideas anyone?.......many thanks !!
11-16-2004, 03:07 PM
John, I also have the plans and plan to build one in the future. I do not have the full size lofting as I plan to do that myself. If you have any questions I'd recomend that you either email Walter or just call him, he is a good person to talk to and very helpful. That boat has good origins and I wouldn't worry about its tenderness just be aware of it.
Walter also sells a whole package of hardware for it and a CD now that has photos of the whole building process.
John A. Campbell
11-16-2004, 07:14 PM
Thanks, Gary, for the response........I'll be calling Walter Simmons in the morning.....was wondering if increasing the length to say, 23 feet, would affect the stability in any way. Walt's web site mentions increasing the length to as much as 24 feet by proportionately increasing station spacing. Also, I was thinking of using laminated frames of Sitka spruce at perhaps every other station location or if that's not such a good idea, then going with steam bent white oak frames. That's another question that I want to pose to Walter as well as anyone on the Forum. I really don't care how much time, trouble, and expense it takes to build this boat......I want this one to be absolutely perfect in every way and a real showpiece as far as I can make it that way. I'm retired, have the time, the room to build it, and enough capital to handle it, so here goes!
11-16-2004, 07:25 PM
Got any pictures of that skiff in the water ? It seems like a glued plywood example would be quite a bit lighter than the original workboat design.
Arundel in issue 26 is about 450 lbs which they said was about half the original workboat version's weight. With three aboard she seems to ride high enough in the pictures of her sea trials.
11-16-2004, 07:26 PM
John, You can check with Walter but I don't think adding length alone is going to change the stability much. To gain stability you would have to add in width and in length to keep the same aspect ratio..
Just adding width would make it less tender but then it wouldn't be the same boat. Talk to Walter and see what he has to say about just how tender the boat really is and any suggestions he might havd to improve it. Might be someone on here who has some other experience with the boat.
Good Luck and keep us posted on you findings and progress its a great looking boat.
[ 11-16-2004, 07:35 PM: Message edited by: gary porter ]
11-16-2004, 07:49 PM
I think many small classic pleasure craft that lack initial stability by todays standards were fined down to row like rockets .I betyou'd get used to the motion of the boat, and maybe decide you didn't need the motor .You'd have to try rowing the boat with one and two oarsmen to really understand it's design ; what compromise has been struck .It could be an eye opener .It's not a failed sail only design . The idea of "improveing "it is painfull .I've also thought of building this one someday .
11-16-2004, 07:53 PM
Did you get the pictures of "Victoria" I sent via email?
I know how you feel. I was the same way about whatever boat I picked. Sounds like you will be in Maine next summer trying out the trap skiff. Ask Walt if he knows where "Victoria" lives. Bring a towel for the non-stop drooling!
No doubt the weight of the inboard will add a fair amount of ballast. That might help the initial stability. As for length, it just occured to me that you ought to stretch the boat by an amount equal to the room occupied by the motor. That way you won't loose any people room. I'm not a N.A., but it seems like you'll want the motor and fuel forward and crew aft. That pretty stern won't support much weight. If the longer version floats a bit high, carefully located lead can bring her back down on her lines.
Too bad you aren't building the sailing version. Someday, we might get our boats together. I'll be just up the road on the other side of Tyler. We can show the folks in bass boats what real boats look like.
In the Swamp. :D
[ 11-16-2004, 07:53 PM: Message edited by: Venchka ]
Peter Malcolm Jardine
11-16-2004, 08:27 PM
I agree with those who think 10 horse is overkill.Start thinking about electric for a boat like that... it would work perfectly, and have some advantages in where you locate ballast. A big deep discharge battery would provide HOURS of propulsion. Lovely lines.. ;)
John A. Campbell
11-16-2004, 09:35 PM
Wayne, I got the photos you sent and thanks a million......and you're just the other side of Tyler? That's great.....I go to Tyler every once in a while and son Tommy lives in Athens so I'm over there a lot....we must show the bass boat boys a thing or two indeed!
And Peter.....about that electric power.....that does indeed make a lot of sense but somehow the muted throb of a little diesel seems kinda fitting for a boat of this type although I would be the first to agree that, in the interest of the environment and to be able to operate this boat in any lake anywhere, electric propulsion is definitely the way to go.....I shall certainly give that serious thought.
Glued the last plank onto "Piccolo" this morning......she looks sooooo sweet.....used 4 mm Okoume and will put laminated Sitka spruce frames (3 of them) at stations 3, 6, and 9.
11-17-2004, 11:51 AM
Build her with the sail rig, oars and electric motor for when you're feeling lazy. Stretched to include room for the grandkids and a battery or two. Then we can have a proper race one day.
I'm just a part time Texican right now. In 6-7 years I'll be a full time Texican.
In the Swamp. :D
John A. Campbell
11-17-2004, 02:42 PM
Wayne, I think that's the way to go.......sails, oars, and a nice electric motor..........and I think I'll stretch her out to about 23 feet. Need to locate some info on the right kind of motor for this little honey plus all the other equipment required to make her purr like a kitten. Oldest son Mike called a few minutes ago and wanted to know what the Old Man wanted for Christmas.......naturally I told him the book "Wherries" and the CD that Walt Simmons has on the N.T.S. Youngest son Tommy will be calling in a few days with same question......I'll tell him "plans for N.T.S.". I need to really get "high behind it" (an old East Texas saying) and finish Piccolo.......really lusting after the N.T.S. .....if you want to see a mouth-watering sight, take a look at "Seanachi" on www.duck-trap.com/wherries.html (http://www.duck-trap.com/wherries.html) .......I swear, Wayne, that's gotta be a heartbreaker if there ever was one! Let me know if you have any more ideas and/or suggestions......also I owe Peter a big "thank you" for the electric motor suggestion. The Westerbeke diesel weighs 238 pounds and I've got to believe the electric motor, batteries, and miscellaneous switches, cable, etc. will weigh no more than that......maybe a little less. Many thanks to all.
11-17-2004, 02:50 PM
Here you go. Not sure how much 2 8D batteries weigh, but I'm sure it's no more than a diesel motor, fuel tank, transmission, shaft, prop, etc.
DC motor in rudder (http://www.devlinboat.com/dcnancyschinadc.htm)
I have seen these DC motors that fit in/on a rudder on the internet somewhere. Maybe GOOGLE knows.
In the Seamp. :D
11-20-2004, 08:30 PM
Oh Lord , now I'm thinking about altering the model !Here's a pic of a new one afloat http://www.duck-trap.com/3sailors-o.jpg
One of the links states that at 450 lb. the glued lap boats are half the weight of the original, and no serious cargo is to be carried(edit :actually , that boat was lightly built traditional construction ) .Don't know if the recently launched boat shown is glue lap , but the upswept tuck in the photograph now looks excessive to me .Is the boat floating well above her intended waterline ? Ruell Parker in The Sharpy Book mentions that he modified the traditional models for these reasons , and I think the Newfoundland Trap Skiff might benefit from similar modification , especially the light glue lapped ones .
Ruell Parker : " Another consideration for redrawing-one that I have agonized over-is that the original boats were built specifically to carry large weights of oysters, fish, or cargo, and were designed, built, and rigged for their industry. Because the designs included here are intended to be used as yachts and built of much lighter materials, I have very carefully and subtly altered the designs appropriately. In many cases, this involved modifying the bottoms of the hulls by shifting the rocker slightly forward, decreasing the depth of body aft, and deepening the stern-essentially, lightening displacement and flattening the run. Both these modifications are conducive to increased speed and weatherliness. "
A Wherry's not a Sharpy , but it seems logical that some adjustment of the model would be desirable when the weight of the hull is halved, and the requirement of carrying heavy cargo is eliminated .
[ 11-20-2004, 08:49 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]
11-20-2004, 10:13 PM
It looks to me like that boat is trimmed down by the bow. Maybe if the fellow sitting forward moved back to the middle?....
11-21-2004, 12:52 AM
That would help , but with the boat properly trimmed , how much weight would it take to make the transom touch the water ? More than she'll ever carry I'd wager .We know they got the original design right . How can it still be optimal when the weight of the boat has been cut by 450 pounds or more and the need to haul heavy loads is gone ?It would be fun to box in a big bank of batteries amidship and go electric , but she'd still be floating high I would think .At the least it seems like a glued lap boat built to the original lines would want allot of ballast .
[ 11-21-2004, 08:45 AM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]
11-21-2004, 09:10 AM
I built the 17' Newfoundland Skiff (see p. 224, Chapelle, 'American Small Sailing Craft') with another guy and he still owns her. It does need alot of ballast to get down to its lines. Even with two of us aboard (340 lbs?) she needed several bags of rocks spread through the bilge to help her sail at all well.
11-21-2004, 01:35 PM
Interesting . What was it like to row the boat solo ?I wonder if all the plans in that book have been built to by this time ? I'd love to see a reissue with a larger format (legible notes on the plans !) and color photographs of each model .Same thing for The Dory Book .
Peter Malcolm Jardine
11-21-2004, 06:52 PM
An 8D battery weighs approximately 225 pounds. Two of them centrally located would help a bit ;) ... and provide as much power as you would ever need.
11-21-2004, 07:10 PM
That Newfoundland Skiff had a pronounced plank-on-edge keel that extended about four inches below the planking so she tracked great but was a bit awkward to turn whether rowed solo or by two people. Even with a third person steering she didn't turn well.
I know that at least thirteen of the designs in Chapelle's book have been built since the 70's by the Apprenticeshop or its graduates alone, some many times over.
[ 11-21-2004, 07:15 PM: Message edited by: rbgarr ]
Frank E. Price
11-21-2004, 07:17 PM
For heaven's sake. Why build a hauler if you're not going to haul weight with it? Find a similar hull designed for pleasure rather than work and eliminate all the monkeying around. Shouldn't be that big a deal with all the people designing small boats now. Or get one of these guys to do a custom design for you. Probably would cost negligibly more than having a workboat design modified. Unless monkeying with a given design is something you've just gotta do. No harm in that, but seems inefficient. I reckon you'll have fun regardless.
P.S. Or build the workboat and put some rocks in the bottom when you're not carrying anything else.
[ 11-21-2004, 07:19 PM: Message edited by: Frank E. Price ]
11-22-2004, 04:30 PM
Originally posted by Frank E. Price:
...Find a similar hull designed for pleasure rather than work and eliminate all the monkeying around. Shouldn't be that big a deal with all the people designing small boats now.
P.S. Or build the workboat and put some rocks in the bottom when you're not carrying anything else.That would be the Caledonia yawl or similar. smile.gif
In the Swamp. :D
11-22-2004, 05:30 PM
Yeah ,but I don't think he started with a blank page . Didn't he adapt a workboat type for pleasure use ?It seems like a sound starting point .However he got there , it's great we've got talented pros still designing such boats .
Well, folks, I’ve been watching this thread develop for some time now, and remember a previous thread on Newfoundland trap skiffs featuring the Duck Trap Woodworking’s version of the boat, and I just can’t hold back any longer. Duck Trap’s boat sure is pretty, and Chapelle’s lines of a Newfoundland skiff is without doubt scholarly, but neither are anywhere near to the boats I saw and photographed and measured on the Avalon peninsula in the early 1980’s when I lived in Newfoundland. Bear in mind that my observations were not intended to be scholarly and I am by no means an expert on the type, but what is being bandied about here as a trap skiff certainly ain’t what is called a trap skiff in eastern Newfoundland.
According to my conversations with builders and fishermen in Pouch Cove, Brigus, Torbay, St. Phillips, Flat Rock, Portugual Cove, etc.; and given added validity by the introduction to the building of a replica trap skiff at the Winterton Heritage Museum in Trinity, NF; the trap skiff was the largest of three common types of boat used in outport harbours. The smallest were punts which were rowed or sculled and were twelve to fifteen feet long and featured flattish bottoms and broad transoms. Then came rodneys which were fifteen to twenty feet long and propelled by oars or sails. (Duck Trap’ boat looks a great deal like what I know as a rodney.) The largest of the boats was the trap skiff. This boat was between twenty and thirty-five feet long and was very heavily built, and under the old British measurement system was normally rated at around 20 Registered Tons. They carried five to seven men to haul the trap nets and often carried up to ten tons of cod back to the homeport for processing. Originally they were powered by sails and sweeps, but as they were the biggest and most capable boats built in the outport communities for local use, they were the first to be fitted with the newfangled gas engines in the ‘teens and ‘twenties of the last century. They had evolved into their ultimate form by the ‘sixties, when they featured a strong sheer, a U-shaped or tombstone transom, and a bow profile that is very evocative of the schooner “spoon bow”. Many were fitted with a rudimentary house over the engine box to provide a modicum of shelter for the helmsman.
I have dozens of photos of trap skiffs on slide film, but can’t reproduce them here. A bit of a ‘net search has turned up precious few photos, but I did find these:
The trap skiff replica built at the Winterton Museum:
A large trap skiff with house, with a punt beside:
the second boat from the left in the foreground is a traditional trap skiff:
A trap skiff hauled up on a skidway. Note the runners on the bilge to protect the planking during haul-out:
And the best photo of a trap skiff I could find:
As for rbgarr’s comment about ballast, remember that these boats were built very heavily to compensate for heavy use, an abusive environment, and to gain strength from reasonably poor building materials. Modern builders in more benign areas wouldn’t dream of building with such robust scantlings nor carry such heavy loads of wet fibre nets and stone killicks and hundreds or thousands of pounds of fish. However, the hull form still displaces the same amount of water, so ballast must be added to compensate.
I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my refutation of what is currently being described as a Newfoundland trap skiff. The ones being discussed are lovely boats, but IMHO, they are not trap skiffs.
11-23-2004, 12:45 AM
No offense taken here! :D :D
Re Chapelle, I think even he recognized that the boats he took lines from weren't necessarily representative types, but often just ones that he found available to record. He didn't name the Newfoundland Skiff in ASSC a trap skiff, at any rate, and when I saw the outboard powered rodney in 'The Shipping News' I said to myself, "It looks like they got it right!"
11-23-2004, 10:55 AM
John Anderson of Wood and Grand Manan Islands saw the Duck Trap boat and said the same thing, "Not what we called a Newfoundland trap skiff." A man of few words and he knows lobster boats from the business side.
In the Swamp. :D
[ 11-23-2004, 12:05 PM: Message edited by: Venchka ]
11-23-2004, 04:04 PM
Originally posted by Bill Perkins:
Yeah ,but I don't think he started with a blank page . Didn't he adapt a workboat type for pleasure use ?It seems like a sound starting point .However he got there , it's great we've got talented pros still designing such boats .Yup!
Origins of the Caledonia Yawl
Iain Oughtred's Caledonia Yawl was inspired by the Shetland Foureen, a traditional Shetland four oared sailing fishing boat, which itself has its origins in Norway.
Traditional Shetland Foureens are a very rugged boat indeed, built of solid timber, clinker style with a full length dead wood keel and often carrying 500kg of internal stone ballast. With no trees growing in the Shetlands, and thus no wood for boat building, they were supplied to the Shetlands in kit form from Norway during the last century. (The first mail order kitset boat?)
Shetland Foureens usually carried a dipping lugsail or later a standing lugsail and jib. Often partly decked, they were used for fishing in the very stormy waters well to the north of Scotland. Legends abound of substantial (inadvertent) voyages across the North Sea back to Norway when bad weather made return to their home port impossible.
The design of the Caledonia yawl, whilst keeping many of the characteristics and the style of the foureen, is lighter and shallower. The solid timber construction of the original has been replaced by modern clinker ply epoxy planking which is light, relatively inexpensive and quicker and simpler to build. The long deadwood keel has been replaced by a swinging weighted centreboard supplemented by lead pigs under the floorboards making the boat more easily trailable and probably improving speed and windward ability. At the same time some of the seaworthiness of its more solid parent has been sacrificed.
A very capable grandkid hauler! A very capable grandpa hauler when he wants to get far away. I am prejudiced.
In the Swamp. :D
11-23-2004, 09:29 PM
This has been a most interesting thread.The first question of whether a traditional workboat design can be adapted for pleasure use has been answered with a resounding 'DEPENDS'.Any boats that carried large loads need to be modified so that they can be more lightly built and require much less ballast.Ian Oughtred's designs now seem much more practical to me than do many of Chappelle's.Some traditional designs that were meant mostly for transporting people,such as 'Whitehalls','Guideboats','Melonseeds'etc..would still be worth considering.
The second question of "what is a Newfoundland Trapskiff?" made me think of dogbreeds.Before fussy controlfreaks got a hold of dogs they were bred according to purpse and tradition.Nobody was measuring and standardizing them,they were what the were.They didn't have the freaky,exagerrated charachteristics that we now identify them with.Boats did what they were meant to do,were modified according to need and named by the people of the region which they were from.
Frank E. Price
11-25-2004, 11:20 PM
Sounds good to me, Yorgie, but there are exceptions to your last line. Seems to me I've read that what the locals used to know as a double-ender, or the Block Island double-ender, was called a cowhorn by the yachting writers who "discovered" the type, and Cowhorn it's been ever since.
11-25-2004, 11:36 PM
Frank ,you're right about boat types being named by the "experts".After all it's visitors and casual obsevers who would have brought knowledge of these boats to the outside world.Fisherman and bargeman didn't read much,let alone contribute articles to 'The Rudder'.
11-26-2004, 09:52 AM
I saw that boat at Winterton being built a few summers ago, all local materials, black spruce planks and natural larch knees, held together with round galvanized nails. No plans , no drawings, just local knowledge passed on from generation to generation. The boats are built largely by eye, and were built with efficiency for use in a rough sea trade, you could toss these guys an axe and a saw and they would get you on the water. Points that got missed were it not for your comments.
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