SkiffAmerica 20
by Charles Craig 

Most great inventions come from a single mind with vision driven by passion.

I have seen the SkiffAmerica 20 in person! I drove 300 miles to the Midwest Homebuilt Messabout at Rend Lake in southern Illinois to see if she was real. Yes she is! For you planholders (or prospective planholders) who haven't seen the boat in person, here is my testimonial. I had to wait a couple of weeks to calm down before I could write this, or else I would sound like a 12 year old girl after meeting Michael Jackson. Pardon my enthusiasm.

I have been looking for years in all the right places for a river cruiser design that would fit my needs. I saw the SkiffAmerica in Wooden Boat Magazine's "Launchings". She was nice looking. When I found the web site I took a very serious look. Was it too good to be true?

skiffamerica.jpg (184390 bytes)
click above for wallpaper sized picture

With respect to all the great designers whom we all know and love, Kilburn Adams has designed the perfect boat! He has combined some of the best attributes from other designs and blended them into a remarkable craft. Mr. Adams 20 design goals  were met in splendid fashion. I am amazed at how Mr. Adams put so much utility and economy into such a beautiful package. 

My first glimpse of the boat put a lump in my throat. There they were, boat #1 and #2 nestled in a cove along with a Bolger Birdwatcher, Sam Devlin's Nancy's China, and Jim Michalak's Caprice among others. I scrambled to the beach and Mr. Adams invited me aboard. When I put my hands to the bow to shove off she just felt right. Light enough to easily handle by myself. Strong, this hull is built like an aircraft. There is no wasted timber in this vessel, the only wood which is not structural are the cabinet doors and seat lids. The triangular gusset/step/seats at the transom are very comfortable. I had seen a photo from the bow and thought she may be a bit narrow. She is narrow only at the waterline and the cabin is very comfortable. She is a very spacious 20 footer. The walkthrough cabin is one feature that sold me. The aft hatch is very wide and allows easy access for conversation with those in the cabin on the occasion when a number of people are aboard.


Bill Dulin

I also wanted to see how the 25hp Yamaha 4 stroke performed. Just as Mr. Adams stated, SkiffAmerica is a very easily driven hull. We made some tight turns, cut clean through some large boat wakes and skimmed over a little chop with no problem at all. We don't have to wait to climb out of the hole....she is on plane sitting still. I plan to stick with the very quiet, smooth Yamaha, and I probably won't bother to build the motor cover. 

Bill Dulin, builder of boat #2 carried my son in his boat alongside Kilburn and I. I got to watch what his boat was doing while at the helm of #1. What a wonderful way to check out a boat.......Thank you Kilburn and Bill from the bottom of my heart.

I bought plan set #24. I have never built a boat before–I've been waiting for this one. The plans are very detailed, filled with nice little surprises, and are a bargain. I am not afraid of building her as Mr. Adams has done most of the work for us. This design is sophisticated and elegant, not at all your typical shapeless shoebox. It is an answer to my quest for an appropriate, comfortable cruiser that won't have to live at a marina. But one that will light up any marina she passes through.
SkiffAmerica would be at home on Lake Powell or Lake Geneva. On the Amazon or the Appalachacola. Some time in the near future you will be able to see her on the Tennessee River adding a touch of quiet elegance to a waterway filled with the fumes of the Clorox cruisers and pontoon patios.

Thanks again Mr. Adams!

Charles Craig
Rogersville, Alabama

Kilburn Adams - designer of the SkiffAmerica 20



Home | Articles | Books | Columns | Projects | Links | Subscribe | Boat Index