Mark Wallace's Black Skiff

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Scilly Gig 15 lists a number of plans for rowboats, sailboats and power boats. One of those designs is the Scilly Gig 15 designed by She could be converted into another nice oar cruiser.

Lines of the Scilly Gig 15

Description from the Designer

The Scilly Gig is named after a type of very fast row boats that originated in the Scilly Islands, UK and despite what the name sounds like, is designed for the serious oarsman. She is fast: a top speed of 4 mph (6.4 kmh) can be achieved at 25 strokes per minute and at a quieter pace, she will cover more than 3 miles per hour (4.8 kmh). There is a standard and a light version. The light version uses 4mm marine ply and the standard version is made with 6mm marine ply. No compromise has been made to rowing performance for a single crew but if needed, she can carry a passenger and gear without any problem: the pounds per inch (25mm) immersion is 115 lbs (52 kg). A second rowing position is provided by the forward seat. Seats can be rearranged to suit.

 Key Dimensions

Length overall 15' 6" (4.72 m)
Beam 3' 8" (1.12 m)
Weight 80 (36 kg) or 100 lbs (45 kg)

Scilly Gig 15...


Conversion to an Oar Cruiser

Similar to other conversions posted, we would suggest the following:
  • Replace the forward and aft frames with full bulkheads containing large waterproof hatches. This would result in a cockpit approximately 7' (2.1m) long below the decks.
  • Eliminate the center two frames (and seat).
  • Triple the fiberglass taping on the interior of the two chines to provide additional strength.
  • Install fore and aft decks leaving a cockpit opening approximately 4.5' (1.4m) long. The decks could be made Skin-On-Frame to save weight.
  • Add floorboards to provide an anchor for the portable foot brace and rowing seat as well a dry platform for sleeping. See this post as an example. 
  • Add a temporary shelter such as one of these these.

Origins of the Scilly Gig

The following is from Wikipedia: 

The Cornish pilot gig is a six-oared rowing boat, built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet (9.8 m) long with a beam of four feet ten inches. It is recognised as one of the first shore-based lifeboats that went to vessels in distress, with recorded rescues going back as far as the late 17th century. The original purpose of the Cornish pilot gig was as a general work boat, and the craft is used for taking pilots out to incoming vessels off the Atlantic. At the time, the gigs would race to get their pilot on board a vessel first (often those about to run aground on rocks) in order to get the job and hence the payment. 
Today, pilot gigs are used primarily for sport, with around 100 clubs across the globe. The main concentration is within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, however clubs exist in Sussex, Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Wales and London. Internationally, there are pilot gig clubs in France, the Netherlands, the Faroe Islands, Australia, Bermuda, and the United States. 
All modern racing gigs are based on the "Treffry", built in 1838 by William Peters of St. Mawes, and still owned and raced by the Newquay Rowing Club. However non-racing gigs have been built which do not conform to the exact specification of the Treffry and are disallowed from racing in competitive races.

Cornish Pilot Gigs Racing

The Scilly Isles

Aerial View of Scilly Isles that are Located....

...40 Miles (65km) West of "The Lizard" (Southern most point in England)

Your thoughts?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Devlin's Duckling...

Sam Devlin’s Duckling is a beautiful, light weight and fast boat that can be rowed with either sliding seat and/or fixed seat.

Sam Devlin's Duckling (S. Devlin)


  • Length 17′ 3.6″ (5.3m)
  • Beam 3′ 5.75″ (1061mm)
  • Draft 5.25″ (133mm)
  • Displacement 346 lbs (157Kg)
  • Hull weight 95 lbs (43Kg)


Sam Devlin's Duckling Profile... (


...and From Dead Ahead (


(Quotes from Dale McKinnon’s article in April 2016 issue of Small Boats Monthly
“…The Duckling 17 is very stable…” 
“…Generally, faster boats sacrifice stability for speed, but in six hard pulls I had reached a GPS-measured 5.7 knots. With a waterline length of 15′ 7-1/8″, the Duckling 17’s theoretical hull speed is 5.3 knots. I settled down to a little over 5 knots at about 22 strokes per minute…” 
“…Although Devlin envisioned the Duckling 17 as a performance rowing craft, not as a load-carrying boat, I’d consider adding battens on the sides during construction to provide a place to attach plastic or metal pad-eyes. With bungee cords and dry bags you’d have secure load-carrying capacity for fast touring coastal waters…” 
“…I’d add a Venturi auto-bailer to take care of any water that might get shipped in rough seas…” * 
“…The thought of arriving comfortably at a destination 20 miles away half an hour sooner is quite appealing. I have no hesitation in recommending the Duckling 17 as a boat for fast and light touring, as well as recreational and open-water rowing.”
(From the Duckling Site Description) 
“Sleek lines and a beautiful sheer make the Duckling a delight to row and own. She is light and responsive and easily handled, providing great exercise for the single oarsman. As a three-panel per side design, she’ll glide through the water nearly effortlessly.
At 95 lbs. the Duckling 17 is a very car-toppable boat, easy for one person to handle. Folding pattern oarlocks and eight foot spoon blade oars give her a lot of power.”

Converting to an Oar Cruiser:

For oar cruising, including sleeping onboard, the following would need to be done:

  • Provide floorboards that span the V-bottom… see here and here for examples.
  • Provide shelter for sleeping, cooking, etc…. see here and here for examples.
  • Provide fore and aft, and possibly side, decks which could be skin-on-frame to minimize weight.

This would make a beautiful and fast oar cruiser that would take you through most any inland waters.

* For a Venturi style bailer, see Duckworks

Sunday, May 14, 2017


“(Peapods) were used by fishermen first as fishing boats, then as lobster boats. They had to be reliable and trustworthy in big waves and had to be easy to row. They also had to resist capsizing as the heavy weight of the lobster traps was hauled over the edge. The fishermen would sometimes row their peapods standing up, using longer oarlocks, looking forward to steer around obstacles and islands. They would also sit facing backwards and row.”
John Gardner, in his book Building Classic Small Craft, tells us that peapods were developed on the coast of Maine in the mid-1800s…
“Long familiarity with the canoe and its good qualities had stamped the image in minds of the fishermen so that later on when the special needs of the lobster fishery called for husky, easy-rowing boats, some of these would naturally turn out to resemble the canoe… the typical Pod was…15’ (4.6m) in average length; both ends exactly alike.” 

Construction of Peapod (

Peapod at Work (

Examples of Currently Available Peapods

Grapeview Point Boatworks offers both a 13’ (4.0m) and 15’ (4.6m) Peapod that can be sailed and rowed.

Grapeview Point Boatworks' Peapod

Length                  13 ft.                     15 ft.
Beam                    52in.                     52in.
   C/B Up:            3 in.                       3 in.
   C/B Down:       18 in.                     18 in.
Approx. Weight  125 lbs. (56.7 kg)  140 lbs. (63.5 kg)
Sail Area             54 sq ft. (5 sq. m)  58 sq ft. (5.4 sq. m)


Arch Davis offers plans and kits for a glued plywood lapstrake peapod.

Arch Davis's 12' Peapod

Length over all:  12′ 3″ (3.7m)
Length waterline:  10′ 7 1/2″ (3.3m)
Beam:  4′ 5″ (1.3)
Draft, board up:  0′ 6″ (0.15m)
Draft, board down:  2′ 3″ (0.7m)
Sail area:  61 sq. ft.  (5.7 sq. m)
Weight:  85 pounds.


Charlie Hussey of Marine Carpentry offers  a beautifully finished carvel planked Peapod.

Charley Hussey's Peapod; Construction Detail...

...and Overview...

...and Sailing

Length: 14.8’ (4.5 m)
Beam: 5’ 3” (1.6 m)
Draft: 3’ (0.9 m) (centreplate down)
Displacement: 330 lb. (150 kg)
Sail area: 80.7 sq. ft. (7.5 sq. m) (sloop rigged standing lug)

Peapod Plans

John Gardner, on pages 132 and 138 of Building Classic Small Craft, shows plans for two Peapods.

A 14' Rowing Peapod

A 15' Sailing Peapod
Note the differences between the two designs:
  • The sailing version has a 6" (152mm) deep keel to provide lateral resistance while sailing -- no center board. The rowing version has a keel only for construction purposes.
  • The sailing version has a flat bottom leading to 'hard' bilges to provide more stability for sailing. The rowing version has a slight "V" bottom leading to relatively slack bilges to reduce wetted surface and provide some directional stability.
The plans for the rowing version (page 138) include a full table of offsets.

Please let us know if you have a 'peapod'... send me photo(s), description and your experience with it. Send to and I'll add a post.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Iain Oughtred’s “Mole”

If you want a traditional rowing boat, built in the traditional manner (plank on frame) then Mole would be a good choice.

Iain Oughtred's Mole

From "" Sept 1, 2007

Iain’s description:
“Mole is based on the traditional Thames working boats or water taxis. This a traditional rowing machine, with the capacity to carry one or at the most, two passengers. she is set up for a single rower, and the use of thole pins rather than fancy modern row locks is a feature.”
Plans Overview


  • LOA: 16’ (3.9m)
  • Beam: 44.5” (1130mm)
  • Depth: 16” (380mm)
  • Weight: 115 pounds (52kg)

See Iain Oughtred (Click "Catalog" >> Rowing Skiffs, scroll down to Mole) for plans and kit information.)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CATCH: Rowing the Everglades Challenge

Steve Price, in his blog describes, in detail, his experience rowing a RowCruiser in the 2017 Everglades Challenge... a narrative that describes the trials, tribulations and excitement of a very demanding 'cruise'.