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Thread: Rowboat design for family of 5

  1. #1
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    Default Rowboat design for family of 5

    Hi all, I have a question about choosing a rowboat plan to build.This forum has a wealth of information and I have searched out various threadson my question, but wanted to ask for some specific advice for my situation.

    I am looking to build a boat for my family's use. To make thingseasy and clear, I've bulleted the key info and uses:

    Use: Rowboat first and foremost; being able to add a sail iswelcome but first and foremost a row boat. I ultimately want a sailboat but mywife is much keener on the simplicity of rowing, but I hope to shift heropinion.

    Waters: Lakes - if you are in NC, mostly Lake Orange and JordanLake.

    Passengers: 5 in total: me (175lbs) wife (115lbs) and three kids(7, 5, 2 - adding up to about 130lbs) So, pretty close to 450lbs. not countingany supplies and kids growing a bit.

    Criteria: (1) Fairly stable as dunking my wife will not go wellif it happens often. (2) build-able by a guy with pretty goodconstruction/carpentry skills but limited woodworking experience. I have builtsheds, chicken coops, garden beds, built-in bookshelves and larger constructionoriented projects like that which are mostly screws and nails. Limitedexperience with glue, clamps, etc. Willing to learn but would not like it to be5 years before I get the first one in the water. (3) Being able to put ontop of our van would be a dream, but not a requirement.

    Boats I have been seriously considering:

    Arch Davis Designs: Love his boats. The Sand Dollar is the easyone and a clear rower, but I think too small for my group. The Penobscots arebeautiful boats but they seem more geared towards being a sailboat that can rowinstead of the other way around. The 14 is on my short list.

    Iain Oughtred: What gorgeous boats. I love the Elf/Elfyn and theAcorn Skiffs, probably the 15. I figure the Acorn is more suited to rowing, butmy concern here is that both while I LOVE them may take me quite awhile tobuild. I could probably realistically put in a minimum of 5 hours a week andhopefully more, but getting a least a half of one weekend day is no problem.Hopefully more. To be honest, I lovehis designs. All of them, the double-ended beach boats, the dories,everything. So if a particular Oughtreddesign jumps out other than these that would be a good build for my intentions,I am all ears. Perhaps the Skerrieskiffs with only two plans per side wouldbe a smart first build? Still in love with the Elf ships though.

    John Wellsford: Seagull/Mollyhawk. I admit I am not in love withthis boat the way I am with glued-lapstrake designs from Arch and Iain, butthis looks like a good rowboat, big enough and I am sure takes less time tobuild. Would not be my first choice on looks but if you guys tell me this islikely half the build time, I'd seriously consider it.

    Sam Devlin: Oarling II. Ditto the Seagull/Mollyhawk.

    CLC: Skerry, Chester Yawland Northeaster Dory. This is where I started and then some of the things Iread about the Lapstitch method seemed like it didn't really take much lesstime than the glued lapstrake so you might as well do it the more proven way. Idon't see any reason to do one of these in lieu of an Arch or Iain design -UNLESS more experienced folks tell me it actually is easier and faster. In theend, I want to do a more traditional lapstrake but I am happy to build thatsecond if this makes more sense for a first go.

    I would appreciate anyone's feedback on any of these boats theyhave built and whether you think any of these are better or worse suited for myintended use. If you have others that I have not listed please post them! Ifound all of these except CLC through threads on WoodenBoat so I have not gonethrough every single design by every designer.

    One final question: what is the general consensus on buildingwith a kit or not, particularly for a first time build?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Hi PapaRoo,

    You will find the boats on your list too small for five people. You might take five in them for a short " ferry" from a larger boat to shore if the harbor was flat calm. Otherwise, I am afraid they are just too small for your stated crew size.

    Perhaps take a look at Arch Davis' Penobscot 17....?


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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    I would say that this might be more like it - especially as the kids grow:

    http://www.fabianbush.com/newboatbuilding/johnnash

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarkey View Post
    I would say that this might be more like it - especially as the kids grow:

    http://www.fabianbush.com/newboatbuilding/johnnash
    That's a nice looking boat!
    There is no rational, logical, or physical description of how free will could exist. It therefore makes no sense to praise or condemn anyone on the grounds they are a free willed self that made one choice but could have chosen something else. There is no evidence that such a situation is possible in our Universe. Demonstrate otherwise and I will be thrilled.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    A skin on frame umiak, big and light. Build it to the size you desire. Double-ended.

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    You might want to build a Whitehall...

    Put the 2 & 5 yr old on the transom, and tell them to steer.

    Offset their weight with the 7 yr old at the first rowing station. Beware that a boat with a high sheer will put the thwart too high for them to be able to row properly when combined with the reducing half beam - people tend to be whirling the oars more.

    Leaving you and your wife to be equally space either side of the longitudial center of buoyancy, with family gear stowed around her to offset your extra weight. You should then have correct skeg immersion, not too much (won't turn) or too little (won't go straight).

    The reason for the 'Whitehall' type is the transom gives you some width aft for the people to sit over a double ender.

    The 'high' transom of the Whitehall gives ideal aft waterlines both at empty and full loads (it avoids transom drag). A Thames skiff is similar, but less 'burdonsome' as a knock about family boat.

    It would be laid out something like this. You need to be looking at 17-18ft long, as light as possible using WRC and S. Spruce.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    If they all might want to pull an oar, a St Ayles skiff is for you.

    http://staylesskiff.net/

    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Since it's already mid June, if you want to be on the water this year I'd go,with the stretched 17 1/5 th foot version of Mollyhawk.
    http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/jw....htm#Mollyhawk.

    As a father of 3 myself I wish you luck keeping the kids amused while you row and suggest adding a trolling motor to keep the boat speed tolerable .

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Iain Oughtred's Skerrieskiff 17 is rated for 4 adults so would cope with your family. The Skerrieskiff's were originally designed by Iain as a build project for schools and so should be a fairly simple quick build.

    Nick

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Kits eliminate a lot of time and potential stumbling blocks for a first timer. I've built two boats from plans and one from a kit (not counting three Pygmy kayak kits) and while I really enjoy the process of lofting and spiling, they take chunks of quality shop time. If I had three kids running around I'd go with a kit.

    I think the St Ayles might be a great family boat, especially as the kids grow into their rowing stations.
    Steve

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Nick beat me to it. If you like Oughtred, and who doesn't?, the St Ayles skiff is a cracker. There's a growing worldwide fleet and friendly rowing competition around them too.

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    For those nice lakes in NC and a bunch of young kids, it would be hard to beat a long flat iron skiff, something like one of Pete Culler's 18 footers. You don't really needed the big water capabilities of some of these boats, what I would like would be something with good initial stability so it is family friendly. I haven't looked but my guess is that someone has done a set of plans for modern build for one of these.
    Ben Fuller
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    Nick beat me to it. If you like Oughtred, and who doesn't?, the St Ayles skiff is a cracker. There's a growing worldwide fleet and friendly rowing competition around them too.
    And if you want to rig it, it is based on a sailing hullform.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Wow, thanks all to so many responses today!

    It seems pretty clear from everyone that most of the designs I like are probably too small for my family, at least the shorter versions (i.e. Elf v. Elfyn, Penboscot 14 v 17 and Acorn 15 v 17).

    The St Ayles is a beautiful boat, and the John Nash looks like a similar type of boat. However, I will have two snags with that boat I think. One, at least from the nisboats website, the estimated build time on that is 800 hours, which is 2x+ even the Acorn 17. How much time does a kit reduce off an estimated build time? 10-20%? I would imagine while it saves time, the hard and time consuming parts are still actually putting the planks on and finishing the beast. The second, bigger problem…I do not have a space right now big enough to build that. My garage is a fairly good size but I have a max of 21ft from back to door, so 22 and 23 foot boats have nowhere to fit, unless I kick out my wife’s van for a year. As to setting up something temporary outside, I am already a black sheep in the neighborhood for having put a dozen chickens out back and a running project 1966 F100 in the driveway. :-D I agree, those look like the thing for my growing family, but they will likely have to wait until I have more time and space…

    The Mollyhawk is still a possibility, but I should mention I don’t have a plan to get on the water this year. Already a ton going on with chickens and the 2yo is in no state to be trusted to do anything on a boat. I am more planning so I could work on it during the fall, winter and spring and be on the water in 9-12 months, j just trying to do as much research as I can so I have a plan to spring on the wife, heh.

    After the initial posts on size, I did some looking at my favorite designers and more looking on the forum and it seems the Elfyn, Acorn 17, Penboscot 17 and Skerrieskiff 17 would at least be a ballpark doable size? Or do you guys think they are still too small?

    I had never looked at the Skerriskiff 17 (thanks NIckW) but the write-up from Iain said they fit half a dozen high-schoolers in them and the possibility of a more simple first build is alluring!

    I had planned to give Arch a call as I’ve read he is super helpful, although I have also read some not-so-flattering comments about the stringers he advises for the build, and that maintenance on the interior down the line is a real pain. I will still chat with him, and ask about the Laughing Gull too which is about 16’, maybe a bit too small but I will get his thoughts.

    I am not familiar with the Pete Culler 18’ skiff; I will check it out.

    One other boat I came across was the Illur from Vivier. I see plenty of pictures with 3-4 adults in it, but I have seen mixed messages about it’s row/sail split.

    Thank you all again!!

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    The acorn skiffs are a much, much, smaller boat. I have an 11. It's lovely to sail and to row, but small. The 17 is longer of course, but still small.

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    This is the big Culler skiff :https://store.mysticseaport.org/ship...ing-skiff.html. I don't know if anyone is doing something like these in plywood. Probably too simple. I can see a plywood bottom version of this without a rig which would be a real nice rowing boat for a family of young rambunctious children. In any case the 17-18' x 4' range is where I'd be looking. If you are looking at dory style boats, Clint Chase would be another I'd put on the list, namely his Echo Bay Dory. And Karl Stambaugh has done some work in the plywood skiff area.
    Ben Fuller
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Richard Woods has a couple of designs for 4 adults that look easy to build.

    http://www.sailingcatamarans.com/ind...ghies/3-linnet

    http://www.sailingcatamarans.com/ind...dinghies/2-bee

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    PapaRoo,
    I have only one word of advice. Decide then build.
    Those kids are going to grow up a lot faster than you think. Think and act quickly.
    That 7 year old will want their own Optimist within 2 years - why sail with Dad. Then 3 years later they will want something bigger and faster.
    My experience was exactly that.
    Do not put this on a three year plan......it will fail. You will delay it, one kid will decide some other sport has their interest.
    Get stuck in and build what you can now and get them on the water as a family.....then they will be able to enjoy the best days of their lives.
    Without a boat, they will ensure they have some fun some other way.

  19. #19
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    Default

    Check out John Welsford's new Long Steps design. At 18' 6" it's big enough to float the family for quite a while as kids gain weight. It's designed as a rowable sailboat so lots of stability and a huge plus is the cuddy space for protection from weather and privacy for personal hygiene and porti-pottie. Welsford boats are a bit easier to build than most as stringers and bulkheads define the shape and you just have fit the planks. Good luck with your build.


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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Thanks for the advice Don. I do not plan to wait that long to get out on the water, and I agree, they will find many other ways to amuse themselves. Time does fly and it doesn't seem that long ago that the 7 year old was 5...or even 2.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Kenjamin - the Long Steps truly is a new design, I just checked it out and it seems in May John was still pretty early in the stages of building the first one.

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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    What interests me in this discussion is that the 'modern' designers have pretty much ignored the classic flat iron skiffs: small ones are round, some like the Goat Island Skiff are quite sophisticated and popular, but the only flatties I find in the 18' range are dories which are well suited to bigger water but kind of overkill for lakes and rivers. Be nice to see a plywood bottom version of Pete's Disie Belle maybe with a plumb stern option for a little electric troller. ( leave the bottom alone).
    Ben Fuller
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Plenty of good advice here. IMO, Don and Ben make important points . . . go now, and go with something both easy to build and quite stable.
    The kids will soon get bored watching daddy row - they will want to be entertained on the water. Fishing, swimming, sneaking up on turtles, snakes and herons - these are things that will keep them enthused about going out. A stable flat-bottomed skiff will be reassuring to your passengers when they lean or clamber over the side, and these boats can often be converted to sail later on. Bonus - they are dead simple and very quick to build. Interlibrary loan is your friend: Check out books by Reuel Parker (The Sharpie Book), Karl Stambaugh (Good Skiffs) or John Burke (Pete Culler's Boats) for a number of different variations on the theme. While you are at it, John Gardner's books have a whole lot of rowing designs, as well, though most of them are more complex.
    Phil Bolger had some simple plywood rowing/sailing boats, too. His June Bug might be your best bet. http://www.instantboats.com

    And, yes, a bigger boat might be better, but your kids are small enough now, and will be for a few more years, that you can all fit fine in a 14 or 15' boat. Car topping will be more realistic with one of those.

    Duckworks has a big list of designs to look at, btw, plus they sell plans from a number of designers: http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/r/plansindex.htm

    If you don't plan on the kid friendly activities, then perhaps you should at least keep them active. A big canoe, with a paddle for each of them would likely be better than merely going along with the folks on a boat ride. My two year old loves going out on the water - as long as there is something to do or look at. And she definitely prefers to have a (tiny) paddle in her hand so she can "help."

    Anyway, good luck with your search and your build!

    Dave

    Hmm, I guess I'll also plug for skin-on-frame. Yeadon's suggestion is a good one, and I know of a few other suitable candidates. SOF boats are very light in weight, and very quick and inexpensive to build.
    Last edited by DGentry; 06-13-2017 at 09:17 AM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    I vote for Mollyhawk. Much quicker, less expensive build than the more complex designs, it will row quite well, and you can stuff a lot into one, although these may be examples of overloading



    There is no rational, logical, or physical description of how free will could exist. It therefore makes no sense to praise or condemn anyone on the grounds they are a free willed self that made one choice but could have chosen something else. There is no evidence that such a situation is possible in our Universe. Demonstrate otherwise and I will be thrilled.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    The Mollyhawk shown above is one of the two I have rowed. I've also been crew aboard a St. Ayles Skiff.

    Very different boats.

    Given your background, I'll join the chorus recommending the Mollyhawk, or something like it, over the far more substantial boat, and much larger/longer project, that is the St. Ayles. If you find that you want a stouter boat for when the kids get larger, and that you enjoyed boatbuilding, then maybe tackle the St. Ayles.

    Another thing to consider - most (non-cabin cruiser, smaller than 30') 'family boats' tend to end up as solo boats. You can easily, and joyfully row a Mollyhawk solo - as I have a number of times - but the St. A requires a crew to function well.

    Whatever you decide... good luck!
    David G
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    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Thanks again all for the responses. For those recommending the Bee/Linnet and Mollyhawk, could you give me a guesstimate of the time savings in building one of those over the glued lapstrake designs? From my reading on these forums, I get the impression that once the mold is built for the lapstrake, there is not a huge time difference, and the main difference is where you are spending your time - more shaping planks versus sanding, glass, goop, etc. The Mollyhawk does look simple and like I could build in a short period of time. I also like the Bee and there is a beautiful one here:

    http://peterkovacsystudio.zenfolio.c...4831#h45f04e25

    I get the sense the Bee/Linnet are similar to the Mollyhawk, although the latter is probably still the simpler build.

    Ben, I had looked at the GIS earlier but I thought it would not be big enough. Sounds like that is what you are saying too, need a slightly longer/bigger version.

    I reached out to Iain yesterday via email yesterday and mentioned the three above (Elfyn, Acorn and Skerrieskiff). He responded this morning and said the the Skerrieskiff 17 might be the way to go, due to the reduced construction time, but that it would only be "just about adequate" as the kids continue to grow. He then recommended I take a look at the John Dory and also the Weymss Skiff. As several folks on here mentioned the St Ayles, whether for now or future, the Weymss caught my attention. Iain also mentioned it's stability would be good for the beginner youngsters. But, my assumption is the build time would be double the Skerriskiff.

    Dave thank you for your thoughts and recommendations. I had thought about a canoe early on in the process but drifted more towards the row boats as I worried those might not be as stable with 3 bouncy kids. I will go through the DuckWorks site and see what I might have missed.

    So many choices!!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    If when they're bigger...Gartside drew and built this one for community rowing, as an American version of the St Ayles Skiff: four rowers and a cox:

    The Shelburne Church Skiff.

    Plans were in a Watercraft magazine.




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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Quote Originally Posted by DGentry View Post
    If you don't plan on the kid friendly activities, then perhaps you should at least keep them active. A big canoe, with a paddle for each of them would likely be better than merely going along with the folks on a boat ride. My two year old loves going out on the water - as long as there is something to do or look at. And she definitely prefers to have a (tiny) paddle in her hand so she can "help."

    Anyway, good luck with your search and your build!

    Dave

    Hmm, I guess I'll also plug for skin-on-frame. Yeadon's suggestion is a good one, and I know of a few other suitable candidates. SOF boats are very light in weight, and very quick and inexpensive to build.
    Picking up on Dave's suggestion above, how about CLC's Peace Canoe which was featured in our host's Getting Started in Boats. Quick build, 18' x 44" hull weight 100lbs capacity 600 lbs.
    http://www.clcboats.com/shop/boats/c...-boat-kit.html

    Nick

    Edited to add. Want to row it, try these 2 links for ideas. If rowing solo, the Peace canoe will be a bit skittish so carry ballast in the form of plastic jerry cans filled with lake water.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-...-a-canoe-FAST/
    http://www.paddlinginfo.com/customize.htm
    Last edited by NickW; 06-13-2017 at 11:43 AM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    And if you decide on a bigger boat, with a (longer) more traditional build (as opposed to the quickness/lightness of plywood + epoxy) for later... another candidate might be the Elson Perry - shown in WB #163.
    David G
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    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Quote Originally Posted by DGentry View Post
    Phil Bolger had some simple plywood rowing/sailing boats, too. His June Bug might be your best bet. http://www.instantboats.com
    .
    I've built a couple of Junebug variants and can speak highly of them. Mine have been stretched to 16'4" and perform admirably. 4 1/4 sheets of occoume ply (2 6mm, 2 3mm) can yield a boat less than 80 pounds so it's easy to manhandle. Square sides are better for keeping kids near the centerline than dory side, an important point if your wife is adverse to swimming. Quick to build, car topable, sail rig .
    What ever you build, I suggest removable floorboards. Kids splash water and it's no fun sitting in water, floorboards solve that problem.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Quote Originally Posted by PapaRoo View Post
    Thanks again all for the responses. For those recommending the Bee/Linnet and Mollyhawk, could you give me a guesstimate of the time savings in building one of those over the glued lapstrake designs? From my reading on these forums, I get the impression that once the mold is built for the lapstrake, there is not a huge time difference, and the main difference is where you are spending your time - more shaping planks versus sanding, glass, goop, etc. The Mollyhawk does look simple and like I could build in a short period of time. I also like the Bee and there is a beautiful one here:

    http://peterkovacsystudio.zenfolio.c...4831#h45f04e25

    I get the sense the Bee/Linnet are similar to the Mollyhawk, although the latter is probably still the simpler build.
    I provided the links to Bee/Linnet but have no personal knowledge of them.

    You could contact Richard Woods for advice he is a member here http://forum.woodenboat.com/member.p...-Woods-Designs

    and on his website

    http://www.sailingcatamarans.com/index.php/contact

  32. #32

    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    I once very briefly owned an 18' Pete Culler skiff in traditional construction, but never got it in the water. I think it would make a good family boat and it would fit in your garage. If there is a similar design in quick build plywood, I think that would be good. The plans for John Dory are gorgeous, and there is a rowing version included. Good instructions combined with Oughtred's book would do the trick, although you might outgrow the boat eventually. A rower with a simple downwind sail is a boat that makes a lot of sense. Here's an oddball choice for a quick build: Sam Devlin's Sea Swift, minus the rig and centerboard. It's a modified Grand Banks dory. Seven sheets of 1/2 ply (maybe six, minus rig). Three rowing stations. Flotation chambers. Stick any small sail you can get cheap for downwind (and across, maybe, as the chine digs in). Carry the whole family and gear until they go to college. Not fast but probably a lot of fun and you'd be in the water real soon.

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    3,175

    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    If you are considering Skin On Frame, it is a quick and inexpensive way to build. Check Dave Gentry's website, he sells kits. I think KudzuCraft sells kits too. Any kit boat will speed up your build time.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    S.W. Florida
    Posts
    1,756

    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    Have you considered a garvey? They are seaworthy, easy to build, have a large cargo capacity, and sail well.
    The Garvey is a small-craft type well known in working waterfronts all over the world. The type is a relative of the Scow, whose wide, flat bottoms made them excellent for carrying cargo and fish.
    **********
    Most early garveys were small—under twenty feet—and had flat bottoms with nearly vertical sterns and transom-hung rudders. The bows were simply a continuation of the cross-planked bottom, curving sharply upward to terminate at a short foredeck. These craft were used for everything from carrying cargo to several kinds of fishing, shellfish gathering, and duck hunting.

    While most of the river craft were rowed, many were fitted with centerboards and sailed surprisingly well on protected and semi-protected waters. Indeed, they sailed so well that many were raced —due to their flat bottoms and long runs, they tended to plane under a good press of canvas.
    Garveys (LINK)

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    “What use is a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”


    ~~~ Henry David Thoreau

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Durham, NC, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Rowboat design for family of 5

    John - I can be kind of dense sometimes and I only just realized this morning that when Dave Gentry said he knew of a few others he meant his own boats, but I guess it is against forum rules to make a clear statement recommending one's own designs. That said, I checked out his website and I am definitely intrigued! I had not really considered SOF, but seeing a couple of the boats, particularly the Gunning Dory and Whitehall has made me ponder.

    I freely admit that a large part of this is that I want to build a boat as much more so than I want to get it on the water. I imagine finishing will be somewhat anticlimactic. That said, it is very important to really find the boat beautiful and while the Mollyhawk looks on paper like it meets all of my requirements, I am just not in love with it's appearance. Those to SOF boat's are quite beautiful, though. Love the woodwork.

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