Mark Wallace's Black Skiff

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oughtred’s Snipefish

Iain Oughtred’s typical designs are clinker built (and/or strip planked). As Iain states below, Snipefish (go to Iain's site, click on catalog >> "Outrigger Skiffs >> "Snipefish") is different in that it is ‘stitch and glue’. Using only 2 sheets of 5mm plywood, it is an amazingly light rowboat that could be converted into an oar cruiser.

Snipefish Lines

Iain’s writeup…

Out of character! this one is neither strip plank nor lapstrake! It's STITCH AND GLUE! Cartopped with ease and for its beam is the shortest possible sliding seat rowing shell. Any shorter and it will have the pecking hen look as the seat slides forward and back; nose dipping, nose rising, nose dipping, well, you know the look., a trainer sliding seat rowing shell that can be car roof topped. Plans include home built riggers and i believe (too lazy to use one so i have never seen it...) the sliding seat, too.  

Plans Overview


  • 4.58 m - 15' 0", Length oveall
  • 0.86 m - 2' 9", Width at gunnels
  • 25.00 kg - 55 lbs, Approximate Weight


Set of Building Photos

A Similar Boat in Action… 

This video is of an Echo Rowing Shell that is similar to Snipefish. The Echo is 3’ (.9m) longer, but only 21” (533mm) wide at the waterline vs. Snipefish’s overall width of 33” (838mm).

As an Oar Cruiser?

If we added SOF decks fore and aft leaving a 4’ to 5’ (1.2m to 1.5m) cockpit opening, watertight bulkheads (with access hatches) providing a 7’ (2.1m) sleeping area between the bulkheads, floorboards for ‘dry’ sleeping and to provide anchors for seat and foot rest (I would not use a sliding seat for the ‘oar cruiser’ version), a ‘tent’ covering for sleeping and an automatic bailer (or two) such as this Andersen Mini Bailer available from Duckworks, then Snipefish could be taken out in conditions as shown in this video.

EC or Texas 200 anyone?


  1. Re: the Anderson Bailer. I have had one in a Grumman sport Boat for decades, and wouldn't be without it.
    However . . .
    Pros: the bailer really works, moves a lot of water fast. Leakage past the unit is negligible when in the clamped close position.
    Cons: but it only drains when the boat is moving. And a certain turn of speed is needed to prevent a back flow into the boat. When the unit is in the open position a small flap closes the opening, but is not absolutely water tight. As the boat moves the flap opens and drainage is good. It will not clear water from a stopped boat.
    Opinion: I have no idea whether it would bail a 3 mph pulling boat, and am not about to cut a hole in the bottom of my Chester Yawl to find out. On the GSB with a 4 HP motor it is a champ. I would recommend it to a friend, it they understood the limitations.

    1. In Dale McKinnon’s article in April 2016 issue of Small Boats Monthly, she recommends a Venturi style bailer in her review of Devlin's Duckling.

      I have not had any personal experience using them. I would think that at 3 knots, there would be sufficient negative pressure at the outlet to enable drainage to occur...

      I'd like to hear from others about how successful the venturi style bailers work in oar powered boats.

  2. I looked up Mckinnon's article and the "Venturi bailer" described appears to be functionally the same as the Anderson, but with a blue handle. Mine is so old I can't say for a fact that it was made by Anderson.
    I won't argue with the concept of a venturi to remove water,but suspect that to be a true venturi, substantial speed would be reauired. But if you hold your hand in the water as you move, you create a small area of lower water level - a hole in the water. If you can make this small hole-in-the-water below the waterline of the boat, water in the boat will run out.
    Again, with adequate speed, this is a very useful gadget, and it would be nice if anyone knows how much speed is necessary for the bailer to kick in. I don't.

    1. I, too, would like input from others on utility of the bailer in oar powered boats... Tom

    2. I don't use a venturi bailer, but I did consider it and do some research. Conclusion was that the bailer should work if rowing steady at 3 kts or so, the main advantage would be in rough spray when stopping to bail was difficult to do. There were many reports of leaking bailers, though, probably due to sand or something in the seal. For a camp aboard row cruiser, the risk of a leaking hole in the boat when spending the night aboard completely negated the advantage. I just carry bailing bucket and sponges, so far that does the job.

    3. Thanks, Rick... Interesting point about the leaking seal... while sleeping... I dreamed I was drowning.... holy cow! I was!!!