Mark Wallace's Black Skiff

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Paul Gartside’s Flashboat

Paul Gartside's Flashboat is a fast rowboat, capable of handling rough water and easily converted to an oar cruiser by adding SOF decks and a tent arrangement for shelter at night. He also uses an innovative construction technique that results in a very light boat that can be easily car-topped.

Paul’s commentary:

“The Flashboat is a family favorite with its roots in England's West Country. This is a modified version of a Cornish racing skiff. Its construction is unusual, with thin marine ply bent in two directions, which gives high strength for very low weight. It is also more of a challenge to build than most plywood designs. Light, graceful and a dream to row, the design has also proved itself to be a versatile, dependable cruising boat. We have wandered far and wide in our Flashboats. During the summers of 1995 to 1997 we took one 3500 miles down the Yukon River, north up the coast, through Bering Strait and on to Barrow.“

Paul Gartside's Flashboat

The lines drawing above shows why she would be very easy to row... and fast. She would be very tender initially, but have great stability in rougher conditions... 3500 miles (5633km) on the Yukon River and Bering Strait demonstrate that rough water capability.

Flashboat Awaiting Calmer Surf During the Yukon River/Bering Strait Cruise

Construction...note how the full-length keel helps provide directional control


  • Length: 15' (4.6m)
  • Beam: 4' 6" (1.4m)
  • Depth amidships: 16.5" (419mm)
  • Weight: 90 lbs (40.1kg)
  • Sailing rig: dipping lugsail (Downwind only, no centerboard, daggerboard nor leeboard)
  • Sail area: 47 sq .ft. (3.4 sq. m)

Paul on construction:

“It is built of four strakes of 1/8 in. plywood laid over a grid of sawn plywood frames and longitudinal stringers. Plywood this thin can be bent (tortured) into a compound curve, and in the bending becomes a very stiff structure. Building hours are very low (180 hours or so), but there is a little more to this than more conventional plywood construction. It has a properly rabbeted stem; also some patience is required to work the lower strakes into place.”“This building method requires very little temporary work. The frames are sawn from 3/8 in. plywood, left long and set up on the building frame. The backbone assembly notches into them and the transom is fitted. Longitudinal stringers are notched into the frames at the plank lands. Planking is glued and fastened to the backbone and stringers with temporary screws. In order to stiffen the bottom, the floorboards are also let into the frames before planking.”
Flashboat would make a beautiful, fast and sea-worthy oar cruiser... let us know what you think.

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