This is a boat that began with
a beach trip a family beach trip. Though I enjoy seeing a whole
flock of siblings, cousin, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles,
there was perhaps a bit too much togetherness. So it occurred
to me that what I needed was a sailboat. Load up the cooler
with lunch in the morning, cruise up the beach or down the bay
a ways, have lunch, and head back for some family time at dinner.
I got home from that trip and
started researching a boat purchase and stumbled across some
websites about boat plans and building. I found that I was more
interested in traditional types of sailboats than newer, faster,
more complicated racing sailboats.
I had a few criteria: it needed
to be small enough to pull behind a small car, comfortable enough
for two to sail for a couple of hours at a stretch, and big
enough to sit in rather than on. It also needed to be dry and
seaworthy enough to sail in Mobile Bay or the Gulf of Mexico
(near shore, of course) in good weather.
I looked at several designs Stevenson
Project's Weekender and Skipjack, Bolger's Bobcat and Catfish
Beach Cruiser, Ruel Parker's 14 foot sharpie, and Jim's Skat
For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a centerboard rather than a
In the end, I chose Skat for
its small size, light weight, and relatively simple construction.
I still have second thoughts though the gaff rig seems complicated
sometimes, other times a simpler flat-bottom boat with a leeboard
(that I might have in the water by now!) seems a better choice.
A little more than a year after
deciding I needed a sailboat, I've moved once and changed jobs
twice, but I'm still working on Skat. I finally got started
last November, a little less than 6 months after the decision.
I have the outside of the hull painted, I've carved the tiller,
and I've started on the mast and a pair of oars. Still to come
are interior paint, framing, and decking, centerboard, rudder,
sail, rigging, and a trailer.
You can see in the photos that
I built a cradle, tracing and cutting the shape of two of the
frames. I almost set it up on concrete deck piers for stability,
but I'm glad I decided at the last minute to put it on casters.
If I were to do it over, however, I'd make the cradle a bit
higher, as I've had to bend quite a bit in taping seams, and
I think my lower back would have been happier at a higher working
Of course, I've also become afflicted
with The Sickness. I'm already looking at plans for
a rowboat I've got to have a boat to use on the river or the
lake when the wind isn't blowing, and something quiet and cartoppable
would be nice. Of course a powerboat would be nice, and a boat
that would fit one of those new inexpensive Briggs & Stratton
outboards couldn't be that expensive or difficult could it?