Drawings of traditional-style boats

- and some home-grown design ideas from the author

Updated 1st February 1999

New England flattie

These drawings were produced using Gregg Carlson's Hulls software for designing plywood boats, and are in his .hul format. To use them, down load his Hulls software from Carlson Design software. Even if you don't get it immediately, Gregg's software is worth persevering with - it's great fun, and does work. To help you along the way, the author of these pages has written a tutorial for Gregg Carlson's Hulls software for developing chine hulls with up to six chines.

The drawings include mostly US traditional-style types, but there are also a few design experiments of my own. All are intended as a starting point for anyone who may find them interesting. Produced by an amateur (I'm really a magazine editor and musician), they are NOT complete designs - although I have done by best, there must be a question mark over whether plywood will bend as I have suggested. I think they will work, but I do not actually know.

The software develops the plywood panel shapes, which in the small boats can be assembled together by stitch-and-glue. Larger boats will need a good amount of structural framing etc, and I suggest you read up on that - and on the importance of avoiding too much weight above the waterline. Overall, developing these drawings into real designs will in the case of the larger boats require some serious homework. But who cares? The traditional boats are just beautiful.

Real designs will also need seats, foils, bouyancy, and sail plans and rowlocks where needed, and a host of other details. Do please at least read one or two of the classic boat design and construction books before you start - better still would be to have had the experience of having built one of the established 'instant'-style boat designs in the past, preferably of a size similar to the one you are contemplating.

I should add that I have so far only had the opportunity to build the toyboat that appears at the bottom of this list. That one does work!

I have been careful to avoid pirate any designs from genuine designers living or deceased, except where stated. Other resemblances you may find are either coincidental, or due to two or more people working from the same traditional sources.

Traditional boats

Vee-bottom skiff

US types The traditional-style drawings listed here include two dory skiffs of 10ft 6in skiff and 12ft 6in skiff in length, a traditional flatiron skiff, a Maryland crabber, a Mississipi yawl , a flattie with a V-shaped stern, a Barnegat gunning skiff or sneakbox executed in numerous ply chines, and a Vee-section Chincoteague-style skiff.

I have also included a scaled-down Egret-style hull. Unless I change my mind (always a possibility!), I nurse a great ambition to build something quite a lot like this half dory/half sharpie form vessel one day. It will be my shot at the 'Thousand dollar yacht'. The original was 28ft in length, by the way, and there are complete full-sized designs available from Reuel Parker and elsewhere.

There are also a 25ft 'French'-style dory, and two Banks-style dories at 19ft 6in Banks dory and 15ft 6in Banks dory overall.

UK types The United States has a great many distinct small boat types traditionally made out of wide, flat boards, and therefore readily adapted for plywood construction. The United Kingdom, by contrast, has relatively few. I don't yet know why there is this difference - all I can say at present is that the theory that workforce resistance prevented widespread adoption of water- or steam-driven sawmills seems unlikely, when you consider that the money-grubbing hell-hounds behind the UK's Industrial Revolution managed to get just about everything else they wanted from the law makers, from the population and from the peoples the Brits invaded, conquered and often enslaved over several centuries.

Nevertheless, the UK does have a number of river punts (scows in the US); and there is also the distinctive Fleet trow. Yes, I know that some of the trow's panels twist like hell - but that's how they were made, and I've seen designs from some well respected names that twisted this much, and presumably worked when made in ply. The panel will doubtless curve either in or out, and it may be wise to plan on scribing in a curve to meet it.

Finally, I submit my adaptation of the East-coast barge yacht, a minature version of the Thames barge, which is famous for its flat bottom, sizeable lee boards and large spritsail rig. The full-sized barges used to 'go foreign', but the barge yacht is probably only suitable for relatively sheltered waters and coastal hops with good weather prospects. They need plenty of ballast to make them stable and the flat cabin floor may be a wet place at times, but there's lots of room.

Sadly, the Thames barge's characteristic rig is not thought to be appropriate for vessels under 35ft (the mizzen would be very, very small indeed), and so a cutter-style rig is usually employed.

Some of my design ideas

7ft10in dink

My own, often rather more experimental drawings include a novel twin-keel dinghy, a pocket cruiser based on the same idea. I have no idea whether it would work, but it was interesting to see how it might be possible. I have included a sailboard-style singlehander, a more conventional two-sheet dink for rowing and sailing. but not really carrying loads or large adults to and from yachts. If you make this one, by the way, it may help to begin sewing the panels together from the bows end, with the loose stern ends tied together with string. As you proceed with the tacking, steadily tighten the string until it's done.

I have attempted to draw a 6-chine plywood pram of classic proportions loosely modelled on the Herreshof pram, but freely interpreted to make the ply lie nicely

You may be entertained by my toy boat for kids to play with back garden. My children (two years and four years) seem to like it. If you make this one, by the way, it may help to begin sewing the panels together from the bows end, with the loose stern ends tied together with string. As you proceed with the tacking, steadily tighten the string until it's done. Again, if you make this one, by the way, it may help to begin sewing the panels together from the bows end, with the loose stern ends tied together with string.

The following is my attempt at a single-sheet boat. Using a similar approach, I tentatively drew a small scow. I gave it more flare than I could recall seeing in other small scows, as I had the mad idea that, given a centreboard and rudder, it could be persuaded to sail, so long as it was always well heeled in light to light-moderate winds, and sailed flat in any more wind. But then I discovered it looked just like one of Auray punts described by Claude Worth, whereupon I modified it slightly to be even more like Worth's punts. There's nothing like a well-tried design, and if it does nothing else, this hull should make a useful and easily built tender.

Finally, I wondered what would a wider, shorter and generally more cat-like hull with a steep deadrise look like? This experimental drawing began as a Chincoteague-style skiff, to which I have added more beam and freeboard.

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