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Thread: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

  1. #1
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    Default Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Hello everyone, I've been looking around here for a while and want to start building my first boat. I have narrowed my choices down to two. I want a boat that I can take in the gulf of Mexico, something that I can trail or car top, around 16 ft, take down to the beach and use to do a little fishing and visit the various keys, nothing way offshore, just something to use along the coast. I would like something that carries 2 people and gear, or three people. I will use it in the Tampa area, if anyone is familiar, the water is choppy most days but the waves rarely get above a foot and I would only take it out on calm days. I also want something to take in the rivers and lakes, but my main interest is in the gulf. I have never sailed, but want to learn, that would be the main purpose for the build, and rowing would be secondary.

    The two designs I have narrowed down to are the Gary Dierking outrigger canoe and a dory. I am leaning towards the outrigger, I like the stability, that you can build in sections and add on, and the speed. On the other hand, I like the dory because the build time would be quicker, setup would be quicker on the beach, and could carry more weight. I've found a couple designs for the dory, Gavin Atkins Doris the dory and Hannu 3sd dory. So based on my criteria, the fact I have little sailing and woodworking exp, what would you recommend? Also if you have any other suggestions, I'm open to looking at others. I have looked for a dinghy in the area, hasn't found anything in my price range and I think this would be a fun project.

    Also, if you have suggestions for other designs, I am looking for a simple to build design, that's why I chose these two.
    Last edited by ajsalt; 02-13-2017 at 07:05 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    There's something wonderfully salty about a dory. They row well and can sail well but they are not generally very stable unless they are loaded down with gear, ice, fish or whatever. If you want a stable dory, you will want to go a little longer than 16' though. The first boat I ever built was a 15.5' dory that was so tippy that I added a pontoon to it to make it stable enough to fish out of. After that boat I built a semi-dory with a wider bottom and fished out of that boat for almost twenty years. It never sailed very well but the sail was there just in case the motor failed.

    My advice to you is if you want to learn to sail, build a true sailboat. Ross Lillistone offers some great little sailboats like the Phoenix lll, and John Welsford also offers a bunch of them too. I am currently learning to sail John Welsford's Saturday Night Special and it's a great sailing boat. It's very stable but can really kick up its heels and fly when the wind is right. It would be a great boat on which to learn. It's also a dry ride compared to an outrigger canoe. I built a motor well for mine with fishing in mind and it runs nicely with my 4HP Yamaha four-stroke. I did find however that the motor well is best plugged for better performance when rowing or sailing so I'm now building a marine foam plug for the motor well to replace the buoyancy that the motor well subtracted from the boat. My Saturday Night Special is 14'8" long and is a great size for the average garage when building and for storing later on after the build. Well that's my two cents. Good luck with your choice.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Quote Originally Posted by ajsalt View Post
    I would like something that carries 2 people and gear, or three people.
    I have never sailed, but want to learn, that would be the main purpose for the build, and rowing would be secondary.
    So based on my criteria, the fact I have little sailing and woodworking exp, what would you recommend?
    I think you hit the nail on the head with the outrigger - it's stable, yes, and they are nice boats, but 30 minutes (sometimes much more) for both set up and take down is definitely a real issue. There will be no such thing as a quick, impromptu sail after work or the like, at least not after the first few times.

    If you want something simple to build, that's another issue. Sailing dories developed more complex hull forms than their rowing only brethren, and will not be particularly easy to build. The Banks dory style boats you are considering are meant for rowing. There are plenty of easy to build sailboats out there - some of which still sail just fine - but they aren't dory shaped.

    And, learning to sail is an issue, too, for boat selection - which may well depend on how old and/or spry you are. Small boats capsize. If you aren't young and spry, a more stable and reassuring boat (likely with a keel) will be less stressful and more rewarding to learn on.

    But if you are young and/or spry, you can't go wrong with a used Sunfish, and that boat will still be rewarding to sail as you get better at it. 3 people is not likely, though. You can buy one for a song, and be sailing next week, instead of spending months and months building (which is, unfortunately, the likeliest scenario).
    Not classically shaped, but an Oz Goose, by Mik Storer, is a great learner boat, as well, and will be relatively quick and easy to build. Stable, and will take 3 people (likely cramped), and still a good boat when you get more advanced.

    A Michalak Mayfly is also an easy to build sailboat, with a good track record.

    There are many, many others out there. Again, you should be prepared to capsize in a small boat, or you should pick a more stolid boat to learn on. That may mean buying, rather than building - and used 16' sailboats are typically dirt cheap if they aren't a popular racing design in your area.

    Don't take your significant other sailing with you if you aren't competent, btw . . . at least if you ever want them to come with you again.

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    I have a 16 foot version of Gary Dierkings Wa'apa outrigger; it's a great little boat and what I've learned to sail on. However these type of outrigger canoes do not have a lot of payload capacity, especially at the smaller sizes. If you need 3 people or 2 people and gear you'll want to go with one of the larger canoes. Also pay heed to what is said about set up times, if you have to assemble and disassemble for use expect AT LEAST 45 minutes each way and you may be a little limited to where you launch as well. This I know from experience and it really does mean you won't use the canoe as often once the novelty wears off. A small outrigger like the 16ft Wa'apa is narrow enough that it could be trailed fully assembled, anything larger is going to need folding beams (doable) or be disassembled for transport. If you can make it trailable assembled or can keep it somewhere assembled for the season then setup time is a non issue and you'll have a fun and unique boat to play with.

    I LOVE my canoe; but there are those few practical limitations and drawbacks you'll to consider...
    Last edited by jmburbach; 02-14-2017 at 11:38 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Trail, not car top, at least based on the rest of your requirements.

    Here's two by Atkins to consider: http://www.atkinboatplans.com/Sail/JamesSamuelJr.html



    and

    http://www.atkinboatplans.com/Sail/Erika.html

    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    I like skiffs and other flat backed designs, the only issue is when the water picks up occasionally, it can be almost like Hawaii on an average day, 3-4 ft waves. it doesn't happen often, once a month maybe depending on the weather, but that's why I was looking at double ended designs. Would a skiff work if I took it out only on nice days? Does anyone take those kind of boats through the waves and is it a problem? It's it worth it to only look at double ended designs if the weather doesn't get bad often?

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    ajsalt, so much of seamanship is between the ears of the captain of the boat. He's the one that has to decide if the wind is too strong or the waves too high or whether he should stay home and make that repair or rigging change that he or she has been meaning to do. I built and sailed a 20' Caledonia yawl double ender (a Iain Oughtred design) and I always felt safe in that boat. But there was a time or two that I looked out across the water and studied those whitecaps and decided that the best thing to do is wait for a different day.

    Also keep in mind that in summer here in Florida, the day can be beautifully nice in the morning and by mid-afternoon a big thunderstorm can roll through and you may be wishing you were back inside the truck with the windows rolled up. What really matters about the design you choose is getting to know the boat gradually and learning the design limitations or strengths that design may offer. I took my Saturday Night Special to the Texas 200 and encountered 30 knot winds, standing waves in the shallows, breaking waves, and 100 F temperatures. The boat did great. It was the captain (me, myself and I) that determined that the weak link in the plan was me. I got so sunburned and weak from the conditions that I had to abandon the event after a day and a half. Dirty Harry said "a man's got to know his limitations" and he was right. If your the captain of a boat, you need to learn its limitations too.

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    Default Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Quote Originally Posted by ajsalt View Post
    I like skiffs and other flat backed designs, the only issue is when the water picks up occasionally, it can be almost like Hawaii on an average day, 3-4 ft waves. it doesn't happen often, once a month maybe depending on the weather, but that's why I was looking at double ended designs. Would a skiff work if I took it out only on nice days? Does anyone take those kind of boats through the waves and is it a problem? It's it worth it to only look at double ended designs if the weather doesn't get bad often?


    What Kenjamin said about seamanship.

    Also, the vast majority of vessels are transom-sterned...and they are not all death traps because of it.

    IMHO a double-ender's virtue lies at least as much in ease of slipping through the water versus a boat with a transom, not just the oft-dreaded following sea scenario.

    Kevin



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    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Before building my Tad Roberts designed BP26, I built and used my 16' San Juan dory for over 10 years messing about in St Joseph sound in and around Clearwater. It's all about seamanship in the chop and when it gets rough. We had so much fun in the "little boat" that we miss it some days. Where exactly will you be boating, Tampa Bay or the ICW or the sound?

    Jeff
    "You only live once--but if you work it right, once is enough."

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    I would use it around Tampa bay, and I want to use it to discover some of the keys you can't drive to just off the coast, like honeymoon key, and I'd like to take it down one of the clear springs, like rainbow river.

    I've been looking around some more and I like the Ella skiff, it's only 12 ft, but it seems stable, can hold two plus gear and would be cheaper than a larger boat. Any thoughts on that boat? I know it would be a wet ride, but for a first build, wouldn't be too tough and seems to sail well from the reviews.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    I'd recommend a skiff over a dory type if you want to learn to sail. The wider bottom makes for a stiffer boat and induces confidence, and if designed well will sail better in a wider range of conditions. The Goat Island Skiff comes to mind as a very straightforward and quick build, and owners seem to be very pleased with their performance.

    Have you ever stopped over at Ft. DeSoto State Park to watch the preparations and start of the Everglades Challenge? They kick off at daybreak, but the day before you can saunter up and down the beach and study the considerable variety of boats that people set up specifically to sail the waters you're talking about. Of course, being small boaters they are to a man and woman extremely friendly and helpful people. If I were you, I go over there and spend some time studying boats and picking brains.
    Inspection day is Friday, March 3. The race start is early Saturday.

    The GIS:

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Leaving aside the question of "Which boat?" - there's the other question - "Where and how do you plan to learn how to sail?"

    In the UK the standard advice is:

    Get along to a local dinghy sailing club and ask when they run beginner courses, sign up for the next suitable course, and go have fun.

    If this is possible where you are, then that's what I'd do.
    Someday, I'm going to settle down and be a grumpy old man.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post

    Have you ever stopped over at Ft. DeSoto State Park to watch the preparations and start of the Everglades Challenge? They kick off at daybreak, but the day before you can saunter up and down the beach and study the considerable variety of boats that people set up specifically to sail the waters you're talking about. Of course, being small boaters they are to a man and woman extremely friendly and helpful people. If I were you, I go over there and spend some time studying boats and picking brains.
    Inspection day is Friday, March 3. The race start is early Saturday.
    This.
    Hmm, I'm not extremely friendly or helpful, but if you show up there, I'd probably not begrudge showing you the coolest boat on the beach, and letting you pick my brain - for whatever that's worth.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    check out Karl Stambaugh's Sailing Skiff 15 http://www.cmdboats.com/sailingskiff...7a996b44efc602 and his Windward 15 (or 17) http://www.cmdboats.com/w15.htm?cart...7a996b44efc602

    They're suitable for first time builders, easy to rig, good for cruising in shallow waters but capable in deeper stuff and really nice looking.

    What's so funny about peace love & understanding?

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    I agree about the start of the EC being a great place to see small boats. However, I don't suggest going Saturday morning to pick anyone's brain! They are at the start of a week long (yea, or, 2 day if you're Randy Smythe) voyage, they need to focus. Friday evening at the beach is a little more relaxed.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Doris the dory and 3sd are pure rowing boats. They are good at rowing but not good at sailing. There is a list of 500 rowing boat designs on the net and many of them are Hybrid oar and sail boats. 14 to 15 feet should be fine

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    What about Hannu's 12 ft skiff, would that work for a sailing boat?

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    What about Hannu's 12 ft skiff, would that work for a sailing boat?
    A 12 foot boat is MUCH smaller than a 15 or 16 foot boat. Much. Your original post declared use in the Gulf: not a place I would count on using a 12 foot boat.

    Now, for backwaters and quiet creeks, for tours of protected harbors and for simply messing about along shore, a 12-footer is handy. Its also easy to move, launch and cartop. In fact, I built a 12-foot boat for those reasons. Open water? Not really.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Basically I want to use it as a mono hull beach cat, is there that much of of a difference between a 12 and 15 ft boat? What is the difference, generally speaking, between 2 similarly styled boats where one is a bit bigger?

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Boat volume, which is to say carrying capacity, increases with the cube of the length if a given boat is upsized proportionately in all directions. When you're looking at boats between 12 feet and 18 feet, the difference is considerable -- you can not only carry way more people and gear at the upper end of this range, but the boat just feels and, in fact, is more secure and seaworthy as a result of the extra volume and displacement. This is what Kevin is alluding to above. 12 foot boats of this type are basically good sized tenders or little fishing boats. At 16 feet you have enough displacement in most designs to really go somewhere.

    There's also a significant improvement in potential speed when you go from 12 to 16 or 18 feet. But that part depends on lots of other factors, too. But you won't ever regret going with the larger boat if you have your choices narrowed down to a few similar designs.

    Of course, there are always exceptions. The Scamp is getting a lot of attention around here lately, and for good reason. It's got the comfort and stability of a 16 foot boat in just 12 feet. But that's a very notable exception, and the Scamp is much more complicated to put together than your standard 12 foot tender.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    How much plywood does the goat island skiff take? After looking around a while I like the GIS because it's simple to build and has few parts, but it doesn't say how much plywood it uses. The only thing is the plans are more expensive than others I'm looking at. I also like the Mayfly 16, but it takes 8 sheets of ply. All of a sudden the 4 sheets for a canoe doesn't seem so bad.

    Speaking of the outrigger canoe, has anyone figured out a way to cut down on the setup time? I know there are a lot of things to lash down, is there a quicker way to secure things?

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    How much plywood does the goat island skiff take? After looking around a while I like the GIS because it's simple to build and has few parts, but it doesn't say how much plywood it uses. The only thing is the plans are more expensive than others I'm looking at. I also like the Mayfly 16, but it takes 8 sheets of ply. All of a sudden the 4 sheets for a canoe doesn't seem so bad.
    A number of members have built this boat. I bet if you started another thread with " Goat Island Skiff Materials List?" as a title, you'd get a better response than waiting for a reply here.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Quote Originally Posted by ajsalt View Post
    Speaking of the outrigger canoe, has anyone figured out a way to cut down on the setup time? I know there are a lot of things to lash down, is there a quicker way to secure things?
    Some people have used cargo straps in place of rope lashings successefully. Could be a little bit of a time saver if you can make it work, though heavier.

    However, from my experience, I highly recommend to instead look at folding or telescoping beams so that the canoe can be trailed assembled. There are so many disadvantages to having your boat in a half dozen pieces that I'd really avoid it if at all possible. With canoe already assembled setup times will be no different than any other similarly rigged boat.

    Gary built his Va'a Motu design with simple folding beams.

    http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/garyd/vaa_motu.html
    https://outriggersailingcanoes.blogs.../it-folds.html
    https://outriggersailingcanoes.blogs...d-furling.html

    Same hinge design was also used on this 24' Wa'apa.

    https://shan-skailyn.blogspot.com/20...hold-fold.html
    https://shan-skailyn.blogspot.com/20...iler-made.html

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Also, if your interested in the Goat you should check out the group on Facebook. Frequented by the designer and a friendly bunch who'd be happy to answer all your questions.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/GoatIslandSkiff/

    Also Michael Storer has a forum for his designs as well

    http://www.woodworkforums.com/f169

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Advice on a small boat for the gulf of Mexico

    Ajsalt,

    Great suggestions here, looking forward to seeing what you pick. I'd throw in the Michlak Piccup Pram as well (especially if you want to poke around in the north Bay, or around Honeymoon/Caledesi). I grew up in the Tampa Bay area, and lived there until a few years ago. Look up the West Coast Trailer Sailor squadron. I've not met them but from their online presence they seem pretty fun, and I know there is at least 1 GIS in the group.

    I learned how to sail an O'day Javelin in Tampa Bay and St Joseph's sound. No matter what design you pick, may I suggest while you are building the boat, take some lessons. It will teach you the basics of what all of the parts of the boat do and how they work on the water. Lessons will inspire and inform you as you build each of those parts with the knowlege of how they are intended to work. The Clearwater Sailing Club is an absolutely awesome resource near you. I've been sailing since I was 8, learned a bit from books and a lot from Dad, owned a few boats until I got married (started a business etc couldn't afford to keep my San Juan 28 in a slip in St Pete anymore etc).

    2 years later I was chomping at the bit to get a sailboat again. My wife said ok, but to try out sailing more first. So we went to Clearwater Sailing Club to rent a hobie cat, with plans of trying a few more of their boats so she could get the feel for dinghies, beach cats and small keel boats. We ended up joining that day. For $425/year we got a family membership, which included a full Sailing course for each of us, and unlimited rentals of ALL their fleet for a year. Even though I'd been sailing for almost 30 years at that point I took the lessons and loved every second of it. My wife and I were on the same page and speaking the same language of the boat. And we sailed several types of boats. They also have SUP, kayaks, windsurfers. A top notch set up there and worth every penny and more. We didn't buy a boat at that point BTW, but I did start a new build that summer.

    I suggest lessons before or during your build because it may take a bit to get even the simplest boat on the water. And when you do, not only will you have to learn to sail, but you will be working the kinks out of a boat and rig you have never used. At least if you've been sailing a bit, you will have a better understanding of how a boat and rig move through the air and water. Know how to capsize and recover in a production boat with an instructor there, and maybe a few times on your own. Then when it happens in the boat YOU built you won't be worried about the basics or wondering if it was the design or execution of the build. I think you will enjoy the whole experience even more.

    By the way, having had the same design dilemma as you in the same sailing area, I decided to build a Dierking Ulua. Love it, but with little ones I don't get out much (and I'm on the other side of the state now but similar water to sail in on the Banana River). Since the rig is typically the last thing to get built, you may be chomping at the bit by the time you get to it. The Ulua let me at least get out paddling. And I'm glad that as I fussed with the rig (I've tried a few things out between steering oar, steering paddle, rudder, and a could sail combos) I was able to focus on what was working and not working about the stuff in and above the water not trying to learn how to sail at the same time. It takes about 1/2 hour putzing around to get it ready to sail (not including getting it off the truck). If I was using it more, I'd find an old beach cat trailer or even a small jonboat trailer and make it into a flatbed. Leave the whole thing assembled, even with the safety ama it is around 8'. Make an oversize kayak cart and just roll it on and off, step the mast and go sail. I'm using a sunfish rig now with a steering paddle and it is great but no reefing or brailing. For family fun, I'm looking at either the Tamanu as a cat, or a Wa'apa double outrigger (And about 15 other designs, don't get me started). The Ulua sails great with one at 18', but I haven't tried carrying a passenger.


    In the end no right answer, just pick the course that works for you. Love sailing in that area, and camping on the spoils in St Joseph sound. Just remember its your first boat, there will be more!
    Last edited by flsail; 02-21-2017 at 06:08 PM.
    Jon
    Building - Ulua Outrigger

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