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Forest & Stream Skiff

the following is a letter from Martin Beckman of Sweeden to Gavin Atkin upon the former's completion of the latter's intrepretation of a classic design - the Forrest & Stream Skiff

Dear Mr Atkin!

Last summer I searched for drawings of a suitable tender for our sailing yacht. When I found your drawings of the Forest & Stream skiff the search was over...

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(click to enlarge

I scaled down the drawings slightly to be able to cut the side panels from standard large size plywood (3050 x 1580 mm). The drawings was prepared in a cad program and converted to run in a CNC-router. All the panels were cut from two sheets of 4 mm birch plywood.

click to enlargeI used plastic straps to sew the pieces together and all parts fit perfectly from the start. With the stem, the gunnel, the keel and the bulkheads screwed or strapped in place, the boat kept its shape by itself and all parts were joined with epoxy. The outside of the hull, the seats and the inside of the bottom got one layer of fibreglass (160 gram/m^2) in epoxy. The coating on the hull is a polyurethane coating, the mahogany parts are just coated with epoxy, so far. The weight is only 23 kg (without oars).

As you can see in the pictures the result is a quite modern version of the drawings from 1890. A tender to a yacht is nevertheless a working boat. The simplified design makes it light and the watertight bulkheads under the seats keep it afloat when filled with water and one person onboard.

click to enlargeI built the boat in July 2004. It took about seven evenings (and nights) to finish it, the paint job included. The rush was because our vacation started the week after. We rowed and towed the dinghy across the Stockholm archipelago for three weeks (and quite a few weekends in the autumn as well). The sailing yacht is a “Nordisk kryssare 5 ½”, built in 1934. The yacht's name is “Ione” and the tender is therefore named “Ior” (Ior is the Swedish name of Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore).

click to enlargeWe are very pleased with the performance of the little skiff. With one person onboard it’s very fast and squids along easily. I’ve pushed it to four knots by ours, but normal cruising speed is about three knots. Two persons onboard are not ideal but it works. The stern is quite weak, so the poor vessel gets an uncomfortable pitch. The best you can do is put the ship’s cat in the stem and the passenger on the bottom in front of the aft seat. Three persons make it on an even keel again.

click to enlargeWe usually tow the dinghy when sailing in sheltered and coastal waters. The towing line is fastened quite low through a hole in the stem. That and the keel makes it run along on a steady course with the bow lifted a bit. Up to four knots it hardly causes any resistance at all. Between four and eight knots it starts to pull a bit of wash, but the tension on the towing line is quite low all the time. It runs dry as well, but the flat bottom makes it a bit noisy in choppy seas. When you sail hard upwind in rough conditions you don’t have to look back to know the dinghy is coming along.

click to enlargeWe might do a few modifications on the skiff some time. The distance between the rower’s seat and the rowlocks is a bit short. One solution is to lower the seat a bit, another solution could be to make some flexible outriggers that would raise the rowlocks a bit. That way you could use proper sculler oars as well. If I built another one I wouldn’t exclude the knees between the gunnel and the stern as I did on this one. The joints got a bit weak and it sure looks handy with the knees. But all that’s for another time. This year we will just enjoy our lovely little skiff. It’s a perfect tender and a piece of jewellery for our yacht. You also get quite a lot of admiring comments when travelling with this tender companion.

Best regards

Martin Beckman