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by David Nolan - Aberdeen, Maryland - USA

Part One - Part Two


For power I opted to buy a Honda 150 HP motor and use a Yamaha High thrust Kicker. I am very happy with this combination. The Honda cruises the boat to low 20 kts at mid 4500s and that is the perfect speed for economy and comfort for a loaded up skiff. The top speed is 30-31 kts depending on the load but honestly, 30 kts is too fast for most ocean conditions on a light planning skiff of moderate deadrise. Here is my data recorded on two runs in the Chesapeake Bay. One day had screaming winds but we were in protected waters so could still turn the motor speed up. Best speed is 4400-4500. The motor isn't working hard and we cruise in the low 20 kt range.

Matt Hoverman holds a double header of small Yellowfin tuna from the Washington Canyon.

This year we used the boat about 7-8 times with offshore trips for codfish, sharks, and tuna. We overnighted three times in the Washington Canyon, Poormans and Wilmington Canyon and caught a lot of Yellowfin tuna, both mako and blue sharks, two marlin, tilefish and mahi - mahi. We averaged about 3.25-3.40 nautical miles per gallon on the combined ride out and sustained trolling through the day. The 69 gallon tank is enough to go the Washington Canyon (60 miles), troll all, day, sit out at night, and troll in the am before coming home. We paid about $3.50 for gas at the road this year, (cheaper than dock side by far) and so a 70 gal trip cost us about $240. With another $150 for ballyhoo, a couple flats of sardines and some food, we ended up taking 30 hr tuna trips for about $100 a man.

Gary Schetlick and hold a white marlin caught south of the Poormans Canyon in Sep.

For safety we have a six man raft, EPIRB, redundant VHF radios and backup for everything. We take a small generator offshore, as many boats do. We actually do carry enough anchor rope to anchor in the deep. Instead of using coolers, which are a pain, we built a big 140 gal ice box. It weighs about 70 lbs, less than even three 150 qt coolers would weigh, but holds more ice, bait and fish than coolers, and it's a nice platform to work off of and sit on. Below is a poor quality picture another boat took of us in the Wilmington Canyon in Sep.

Towing the boat is easy. It is a big boat, but it is still light, I calculated the hull weight about 1950 lbs dry, and so as configured for fishing, it is about 4800 lbs out the inlet.

This is important. We can keep the boat mostly loaded up with gear, and its easy to tow. We do not have dock fees. In NJ, that worked even better as we towed to a sand beach, and could launch and retrieve our boat with a 2WD truck off a free dirt ramp. In Maryland, we do have to tow to Ocean City from Cecil County which is about 120 miles. But it tows fine and we typically fuel up right prior to the ramp to avoid carrying the 430 lbs of gasoline in the boat.

Rigging the boat was very simple. We put close to 18 rod holders on the boat, on the aft pilot house wall, 4 over the hardtop edge, and six gunwale holders. Inside there isn't very much except a big flip top seat box with two tops. The flip top seat is so the port side passenger can stand and hang on, yet at sea it folds down to make a third bunk. We have two bunks below. We did use LED lights for pilot house, cuddy cabin lights, and cockpit flood lights. They are bright and yet don't drain the battery very much at all. In photo is the aft rod holders and rigging just prior to an offshore trip, you can also see the 140 gal fish box and both motors.

Overall I am very happy with this boat. It is perfect for us in performance and budget and ease of towing, and safety.

Madison on Mothers Day launch.

We cruised to the CD canal to Chesepeake City and had Mothers Day Supper. My 8 YO daughter can easily steer this 27 ft skiff with simple and cheap mechanical steering. You do not need a $1500 Sea Star hydraulic system on a Tolman skiff, unless you want an autopilot. I have an autopilot, His name is Gary. He works cheap.

Basic hull framing before hanging the side panels.  Gary Schetlick is in the picture.
Using two deer hoists to lift the bottom up out of the way for boat frame up.   Keith Cooperstein is holding the bottom up.

We built right through the winter months in an unheated garage. At times, I used spot heat to preheat the wood prior to glassing. I kept my epoxy in a small heater box with a 60w bulb.

First launch at Elk Neck State Park in the upper Chesepeake Bay.
I put restore non skid on the deck - $25 a gallon. Works great. Water based. Tough. Large open deck area and a simple bunk with flip top for storage and 2/3 - 1/3 layout. That way the man up front to port can hold on to the rails. Open cockpit. We have a 3.5 ft anchor deck, 7 ft cuddy, 6 foot pilot house, and 8.5 ft of fishing deck, and 2 ft full height drywell.
Departing Ocean City Maryland for a 36 hr tuna marlin trip 6 Sep 2013. We caught yellowfin tuna, two marlin and mahi on this trip in Sep. Watched the Ladee Moon Launch form 40 miles on the way out.

Right. My friends Brian and Gary at the Wilmington Canyon, 60 some miles out of Ocean City with a Yellowfin Tuna.

Here are a couple links to the boat in action.  So so quality video.


A short video of the skiff in action.

Flipping the 27 skiff with two vehicles.

Renn Tolman's plans are available for three models which range from 18' to 25' (or 26', or27'), and each builder can build whatever they choose into the hull once it is tiller steered or center console, cabin/hardtop, cabin/pilothouse etc., and use the hull for cruising, offshore fishing, inshore fishing, beach camping, or as a workboat. Renn Likes to say in his video intro about how you can build a Tolman skiff with "common skills, common tools, and common materials".

Overall, I am thrilled at how this boat turned out, how safe she is, and how economical to operate it is. Note - we do have safety gear on board such as an EPIRB, liferaft, and many other things. If you are interested in seeing or riding on a Tolman, or building one, give me a holler.

IF you want a ride, get ahold of me. David Nolan or

If you want to see more, go to fishyfish.

If you want a kit, call Salt Water workshop.

See you in the canyons.

The End

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