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Thread: Typical Skiff Weights

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Narragansett Bay and Approaches

    Default Typical Skiff Weights

    My Dad designed an eleven foot flat bottom sailing skiff in the 1940s. He thought it could be a smaller version of the Cotuit Skiff for racing where the water was really shallow. As the family summer home was on Waquoit Bay he predictably called it the Waquoit Bay Sailing Skiff. My brother named it IOLI, which means I don't know what, and it spent most of my early childhood leaking badly enough that it was usually on its side every morning.
    As an amusement, my brother and father built a schooner rig for it, which by increasing the top hamper increased the lying on it's side frequency. Late in the game, brother Bill solved that problem the way he always did. Replacing the cross plank bottom with plywood and glassing it up to the lap in the topsides. By that time I was pretty fully distracted by racing actually fast boats, so she spent years gathering dust.
    Fast forward multiple years and Bill gave the boat to Cricket who has been sailing it in Maine and putting the pieces that fall out back in.
    So as we have the original drawings, which are one of the only cases of Van Alan actually trying to be neat and formal where boats were concerned (most was done on the back of paper place mats and meeting agendas), I have been thinking about building one or two.

    Of course I can't just follow the plans. For one thing I know more about building boats than Dad ever did, and my ego is just as big. So I HAVE to change things. Which brings me to typical wood skiff weights and how much an 11 foot skiff usually displaces. My initial glimpse suggests that they weigh about 200 pounds and have a design displacement of 450 lbs or so. This seems about right, but is also wicked heavy. Our old backs aren't getting any stronger, and I intend to be much much lighter. Being flat bottomed, reducing the weight will have zip effect on stability, and everything else will be better. As a reality check for plywood construction, the Phil Rhodes Penguin has a class minimum weight of 140 lbs for the hull only.

    So I'm asking if my guestimate of traditional skiff weights is in the ball park so I can figure out how much to pare off the original plans.
    Last edited by SHClark; 07-29-2021 at 09:41 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Post Re: Typical Skiff Weights

    The Old Town Canoe company offered a variety of skiffs in their catalogs from 1941 to 1967. The rough dimensions and weights are shown in the 1958 catalog page below. More information like this is available from if you want additional details. Your guesstimate seems about right. Good luck,



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