Design Contest #6 - Winners click here to read or make an observation about this  article


By David Becker - Eugene, Oregon
(click the "+" on the left for judges comments)

Paul Butler: Wheres the other outrigger? Actually this would likely be delightful anchored in a quiet cove, and would sit easily on the bottom at low tide. Would make a cool mothership/base camp with kayaks tied off under the outrigger deck. The hard chine hulls look fairly easy to build and low-cost plywood would probably suffice for a utilitarian version. I’d want a demountable rain shelter for the deck space—or at least a good backpacking tent for the kids to sleep out on deck. Might be tough going in fast tidal passes or short steep chop with that flat boxy hull form and the offset drag of one outrigger. Compelling in a functional/experimental sort of way, and I’ll bet a prototype would provide a lot of realizations.

Marlin Bree: Talk about innovative: take South Sea’s proa design and make it work for Puget Sound. That’s the concept behind David Becker’s 18-foot Sideboat, which he describes as “a kayak with its own dock, an outrigger or “ama” for stability and an outboard for auxiliary power.” David designed Sideboat after recalling a sailing experience aboard his 25-foot keelboat and the Puget Sound’s fluky, light winds where he says, “about 80 percent of the time you must rely on auxiliary power.” Sideboat, he feels, would be a much better solution, even if it is only a 2.5 hp engine which he budgets for $1260 – nearly half the cost of the boat. There’s also a long scull, which David would drive Sideboat along at several knots. Her hull is built of 3/8-inch exterior plywood with ordinary lumberyard wood for chines and stringers using what the designer calls the “quick-cheap-and dirty but instant method” of construction. More than one craft, including Gerry Spiess’s ocean-going Yankee Girl, have been built with these inexpensive woods, but the builder opts to finish off Sideboat with exterior latex house paint. This is a pity -- the little boat could be better served by fiber glassing the hulls to give the interesting craft a longer life. A marine paint isn’t that much more expensive. Sideboat is relatively heavy at 1150 pounds displacement and this suits the designer fine. “Finding a place to camp, as well as setting up camp each night can be a problem. If you are on a boat, it’s a lot easier to just drop the hook in some quiet cove.” With its flat bottoms, the proa could be beached. The main hull has a small sleeping quarters as well as an all-weather cabin. The outrigger can store food, water and other supplies, with the platform in the six-foot wide proa offering a place to relax in the sun, cook, or scull the boat. Though offbeat in design, this is a handsome boat with a distinctive, salty-looking flair. She probably could use a little more propulsion, especially in crosswinds or currents, of say, a five-hp. outboard. A used engine would suit her fine, which would free up funds for wrapping her hulls in glass, getting her marine paint, and acquiring a small GPS. She certainly would be a conversation starter as you sailed into some quiet cove and came across this Polynesian-inspired proa, with a happy sailor lounging in a folding chair before his barbecue atop the center platform. Maybe he’d lift a beer in greeting in your direction.

Raymond H. Richards: Without prejudice to the fact that I came from Eugene:

Hull Form: Best for length: 2-1/4 sheets long, but why not 2-1/2 and 20 feet?. Best for simple construction. However, pram bow(s) will add to the splash and spray tossed up as the flat bottom pounds or slaps into a typical PS wind chop. Pointy might be better. The platform (cross deck) might want to be raised some in order to minimize “wet deck slamming” (impact to its underside from wave crests) and water squirting up between gaps in the decking.

I take it that the “Total Disp” arrow in the bow view is intended to show the related waterline level, not the location of the transverse center of buoyancy/gravity.
Thanks, David.


By Gregg Onewein - Seattle, Washington

Paul Butler: Love the drawings, lots of character. I like the motor and sail option for the Sound. An interesting combination of design factors and looks like it’d make a pretty sensible little cruiser—after a couple of shakedown cruises to see what works and what doesn’t. I like minimum size cruisers.

Marlin Bree: What a delightful concept: Design a boat to cruise for two weeks in beautiful Puget Sound, visit some of the islands, see some wildlife, and get back to nature. What better to do that in than in Skookum, this special wooden boat that reflects a historic heritage of this northwest region and looks as if she might even own these waters. The 12-foot motor-sailor owes part of her design heritage from the northwest coast Nootka-style dugout canoes, which the designer says he’s admired for years. He believes “six thousands years of NW research and development just can’t be ignored.” He’s right.

One need to look no further than the most famous of the northwest dugout canoes, Tilikum, a 38-foot dugout canoe that sailed 40,000 miles around the world in the early 1900s in the hands of Capt. John C. Voss. No one expects this little plywood hulled beauty to do that, but the heritage is there. Painted in traditional northwest canoe colors, Skookum, has a standout black hull with an “Indian red” inside and is trimmed with a “cuprous green/blue for the trim.” Skookum looks like she will do all that is asked of her: perform well in Puget Sound’s sometimes light winds because she is a motor sailor, yet be salty enough to give her skipper some confidence when the weather turns heavy and the winds and waves pick up. There’s a minimalist, but interesting shelter that could easily be developed further into a full enclosure. The designer’s budget plans show that he wisely would choose to build her of quality materials --- with her quarter-inch thick marine meranti hull sides, she’s not a one-off knockoff --- and will be around for years. This is a worthy goal for this lovely little boat.

The designer also reveals his boating savvy by specifying the purchase of an older two-cycle outboard and remote gas tank for $400, rather than lavishing $1,500 or so for a new four-cycle outboard. The rugged old two-cycles have proven themselves time and time again (I had my old Nissan two-cycle 5 hp. in a wild derecho called “The Green Storm” in which the screaming engine’s prop dipped in and out of the water as my 20-foot sloop repeatedly capsized in the 120 mph winds. I still use that engine today.) Gregg’s outboard budget should include a thorough overhaul, including a carb cleanout, which is 90 percent of the problem that these two-cycles encounter when they are brought in with complaints of “engine won’t run.” Now you know a secret--- like Gregg probably does.

The permanent boom gallows is a practical touch, and, for a motorsailor this also is a fine place for the skipper to stand to look around. I have one and I like it. The boomless sail is OK for a motorsailor, though I wouldn’t want one for a full-time wind machine. But the designer plans on using the small sail mostly for downwind work --for upwind he’d use the engine only. The chines will help on a reach, but after some experimentation, leeboards might help prevent leeway. I’d also extend the cockpit all the way back to the transom to give the sailor a bit more room to move about and to give him easy access to the outboard’s tiller and controls, rather than having to reach over this compartment. A small boat like Skookum would also benefit from weight control: nothing slows down a small craft like an immersed transom, dragging water behind it, so the separate gas tank and auxiliary gas tanks for the two-week jaunt should be stowed further forward, perhaps under either side of the cockpit seats. Remember you’ve got the weight of your engine back there in addition to your cans of gas-- plus your own weight. Since you are motor sailing, you’ll probably want a number of cans of gas aboard as you enter the islands. Keep the little boat in trim and she’ll do better by you.

Using an oar for steering instead of a rudder and tiller is a clever idea, but you don’t have the leverage of a tiller or the help of a semi-balanced spade. Still, this is a very small craft and you can tinker around a bit with the type of oar that will suit you as well as the size of the blade surface. You’ll probably build your own, along with the rest of the boat.
With its flat hull form and relative light weight, the little skiff could be pulled ashore. But the designer also offers an ingenious anchoring device so that the skipper can go ashore, step out, and then pull Skookum back to a temporary mooring set to an anchor. When he wants his boat again, he simply pulls on a continuous line.

Skookum is a lovely, imaginative craft that grew out of the designer’s own practical boating experience in these very Puget Sound waters. With her deer or dog-head prow, the dramatic sweep of her sheer, and her bold colors, this little motorsailor has a romantic, nostalgic, yet salty touch that very many appeals to this judge. Thumbs up – way up—for Skookum and designer Gregg Onewein.

Raymond H. Richards: Hull Form: Simple, beachable, good shape, but probably a lot heavier than 100 pounds. A lot has been provided in 13 feet of length. The old “quart in a pint pot” is what a small cruiser has to be, but the 15 foot (2 full sheets long) version would be the better choice. Lots of cleaver and useful solutions. Thanks, Greg.

... AND
Puget Sound Budget Cruiser

By Justin Pipkorn - Thousand Oaks, California

Paul Butler: This could work. I don’t see anything here that I immediately want to throw overboard. My first choice, by a fair margin. Astute observation by the designer not to add a sail rig. As much as I dislike gas motors I agree—that for the Sound a small lightweight easily driven hull would work best--and we have a capable motor for tidal currents, and oars when appropriate. Perfect for camp-cruising north from Olympia along the Washington Marine Trail, and a minimal size traveling boat also good for 2 summer weeks in Desolation Sound. Sleep aboard if necessary—or drag it up on the beach. Cartopping capability/lightweight is a big asset for long trips and solo cruising, and this type of construction provides strength with many options to customize and modify. Taped hardwood plywood is a nice way to go and sealed flotation, storage compartments all become structural. I’d build two identical versions--and take an appropriate friend—its great fun to cruise with two similar boats.

Marlin Bree: This small craft is developed along the lines of the traditional and proven skiff hull that will serve a voyager well on his or her voyage into the islands of Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Budget Cruiser is a carefully thought out, practical craft built of composite plywood, fiberglass and epoxy construction over a strongback with a lightweight, but handsome hull. Not immediately apparent in the drawings, but clear enough as you read on, is that there is an experienced boat builder and sailor behind the design. Justin Pipkorn would pop for the right stuff for a beautiful and long-lived hull: seven sheets of meranti plywood as well as the resin and fiberglass to cover them. The deep rich wood would shine through the varnish and make this an eye-catching little craft. The multi-chine construction will be a sea-kindly hull and, a covered deck will come in handy when the weather and waves pile on. The Puget Sound Budget Cruiser’s narrow beam and long waterline, coupled with her lightweight, make her an easily driven hull to be propelled quietly by her new Honda 2 hp four-stroke engine. (Yes, that’s in the budget, as well as a GPs and a weather radio, which the designer feels are highly desirable.)). The designer feels that even this small engine on his craft should power her to a hull speed of about five knots “fast enough to ferry across tide currents.” The boat also can be rowed from a middle position. To keep the skipper comfortable and dry amidships, the craft has a sewn-to-fit tent structure with clear plastic windows, held up with collapsible aluminum tent poles. A fitted tonneau cover over the bow is held in place by shock chords hooked under the varnished mahogany gunwales. While many another more complicated small craft might sit at a dock awaiting their skippers, my guess is that the Puget Sound Budget Cruiser will, by virtue of her simplicity and her ease of operation, be out and among the beautiful islands. Color her skipper’s face happy.

Raymond H. Richards: Elegantly simple solution, but one that could use more freeboard and perhaps a bit more beam. The top up in a good blow may be asking rather a lot of a two horse kicker. Thanks, Justin.

(in no particular order)

Brendan's Chariot

By Milton "Skip" Johnson - Houston, Texas

Paul Butler: I like the slippery cabin top experiment--good visibility with some wind protection while rowing or motoring. Would be fun with a small gas or electric motor and oars, but the rest of it’s a bit complex for my tastes. Those “lee foils” seem problematic and the boat looks unstable with waterline as drawn, but if you’re in a mood to fiddle around it would be fun to experiment—downwind on a warm sunny day. I think I’d prefer this boat without sail rig.

Marlin Bree: In this 15-foot LOA hull, with a very narrow waterline beam of only 36 inches, Brendan’s Chariot is an interesting craft to jauntily set forth upon for a two-week cruise. On the plus side, she’s imaginative in a lot of ways with her eye-catching cabin which features extended lexan panels to give the cabin a wonderfully open feeling, even in Puget Sound’s more than occasional drizzles. But in the interests of an easily driven hull, the Chariot may prove to be a tippy little craft, particularly in any sort of rough weather. Designer Johnson has attempted to compensate for this with buoyant lee foils, spaced out from the hull. Though the underwater body of a “solo canoe on steroids” may look slippery, the narrow ends may make the craft may lack buoyancy aft. Rough weather, or cross currents, will not be this boat’s friend.

Raymond H. Richards: Very narrow at the waterline and heavy of top hamper. Glad to see he recognized need to re-work his weight estimate. Springing the ¾” plywood sheer strakes will take a bit of doing. Reliance on the “leefoils” and shifting the rig end to end in a timely manner in tricky situations may not be realistic. Hanging an outboard may be. Thanks, “Skip.”

By Billy Jackson - Olympia, Washington

Paul Butler: Good stable hull lines—looks sensible and the hull would go together well. I’m assuming its taped or battened chine construction with sensible flotation compartments for safety. Bold topsides for motoring into wind and chop and this boat looks serious, like it could put a few miles behind. The big hard cabin seems to overpower the nice hull a bit and make lots of windage, but it provides dry interior space, so it’s the usual hard choices with small boats. A good size for sleeping aboard, and it would be fun to hunker down in a quiet cove in a NW rain, with a tiny twig stove to warm the interior, and a good book.

Marlin Bree: A traditional multi-chine hull, which looks efficient enough for a skiff, is unfortunately marred with an ungainly looking cabin with no windows. Designer Jackson is correct: A hard cabin is a good idea to protect a sailor from Puget Sound’s fog and drizzles, but this large and blocky cabin would make O-Solo-Mio’s topsides heavy as well as give her unwanted windage. The open bow isn’t all that good an idea in a craft with minimal freeboard. A boat design must meet several compromises: designer Jackson wants a sturdy enough boat to meet all the heavy weather and rough waves he knows can arise on this large body of water and he also wants a good engine. However, designer Jackson may be coming down too heavy in favor of a $1,500 engine. Okay, I know this is an fun intellectual competition in which we all learn, and I know many sailors in this competition lust after the new four cycles, but O-Solo-Mio might be better off with more boat and a less expensive but reliable used engine in the 4 to 5 horsepower range. Maybe a proven lightweight two cycle with remote gas tank (to help balance the craft) would do the trick-- and that’s what most of us sail boaters use anyway. Throw up your hands if you will because it ain’t a new four-cycle, but think about the weight of a four cycle and the cost and you might start seeing the beauty of the old two bangers in a new light. Think maybe $400 - $500 instead of $1,500. Doesn’t your picture look brighter? Also, you might want to rethink your food and water budget of $100, which you suggest, might give you a proposed diet consisting of “canned chili, pancakes and Maalox.” You might also want to look at your cruising budget for $100 for gas; this might be a little high unless you know something more about sailboats than I do. I’m not a math whiz, but for fun let’s do a few rough calculations: Assuming you buy regular gas for $2.25 a gallon, you would get 44.44 gallons to dump into nearly 18 two-and-a-half gallon tanks, to locate somewhere in the 15 foot six inch hull, preferably down low, real low. If you somehow clambered in atop all those gas cans and ran an engine on a quarter to a third throttle you’d get about four to five hours per gallon, or a total of up to 222.2 hours of running time. That’d run the engine continuously for nearly 16 hours a day for two weeks --- a lot of gassing around in sailboat out for a leisurely two-week camper cruise. So maybe if you recalculate your priorities as hoist your single trusty lug rig, you’ll be a happier cruiser as you set sail into the sunset warbling, no doubt, something operatic like O-Solo-Mio. And skip the Maalox.

Raymond H. Richards: Hull Form: simple; attractive; beachable, but could use more freeboard; light (see above). Rig: sensible, low aspect ratio (short/wide) lug rig with, apparently, leeboard(s). Good choice for power. Might want to add a “canvas” piece that extends spray and rain closure to the stem (unless you plan a foredeck). Thanks, Billy.

By David Shelley - Poulsbo, Washington

Paul Butler: Would be a pretty hull finished bright. Looks labor intensive to me, and short, fat and a gaff rig means it’s a somewhat downwind or broad reach machine at best. However if the designers an instrument builder hes likely used to this sort of work. To build this boat properly, you have to really like the design features.

Marlin Bree: Phoebe is a salty looking little cruiser with lines reminiscent of traditional sailing craft – and beautiful in her all-wood construction. Designer David Shelley uses a relatively unusual building process of scribing planks into positions on the chine battens, making, he says “the planking process the easiest part of building the hull.” He chose a gaff rig sloop because of his experience in a gaff rig version of an Oregon crabbing skiff years ago and enjoyed the functionality of its rig and performance. This is a sixteen-foot cruiser that incorporates shallow-water needs with a swing-up centerboard and a kick up rudder. The design could use a more robust centerboard pivot than the designer’s specified a ¼-inch bronze rod. (I have a ¾-inch thick silicone bronze bolt for my centerboard in my 20-fooer and I have never regretted having a heavy bolt down there, especially when I seem to have discovered some new reefs in the wilderness area of northern Lake Superior.) There are some really nice details to this traditional design, but I’d revisit the design project to include some form of propulsion other than sails alone. When the wind dies, or you get in the lee of an island, you will want a small engine or even a scull or a set of oars. Believe me.

Raymond H. Richards: Without prejudice to the facts that my folk’s great old, 68 foot motor yacht was built in Poulsbo in 1927, and that I used to play (at) an ukulele:

Hull Form: Very attractive, good freeboard and just about all the length you can get out of 8 foot sheets. The use of a bronze pipe nipple and caps for the centerboard pin is clever. However, and even set off center some, the “centerboard” trunk and the size of the companionway hatch may not be the happiest of shipmates. Berthing down alongside the trunk of course means sleeping at some angle of heel, but then that is something sailors need to learn. Leeboards would eliminate both interferences. Rig: The tall, loose luffed main of the lug rigged, cat/yawl will be problematic. The gaff headed, sloop may not be as attractive, but it is sure to be more manageable. Thanks, David.

Port Madison Proa
By Doug Taylor - Bainbridge Island, Washington

Paul Butler: These things always look like fun—specially if its 90 degrees out. Not sure it makes a whole lot of sense in the sound with no motor, lots of confused wind chop, tidal current and cold deep water—but this opinion comes in the midst of a dark wet winter season. I might feel different in August.

Marlin Bree: And out of the mists of Puget Sound comes…what’s this? It’s a Micronesian type flying proa from Bainbridge Island designer Doug Taylor, who admits he’s been interested in proas for many years and actually build one in 1975. A proa, he feels, gives a sailor a lot of boat for a buck, is seaworthy, and is potentially fast enough to beat the tidal currents of Puget Sound. That said, the Port Madison Proa has an asymmetrical hull powered by what Doug says is a “nearly traditional shunting oceanic lateen rig), which although it has many advantages, still means a lot of work for the sailor. This means to tack the boat, you have pull the yard foot from bow to bow, over the cabin. An ingenious endless loop takes care of walking the sail from end to end, Micronesian style. No other source of power is specified except a canoe paddle for light work, but not by choice: Doug says that a “wee outboard would bust the budget.” This is an interesting approach to a camper/ cruiser and obviously Doug’s dreamboat. It’d be interesting to see the boat actually built and sailed. In the hands of a dedicated proa sailor who was an expert in proa maneuvering, the boat might exhibit a great deal of potential as well as be an eye-catching addition to the Puget Sound fleet. After all, the ancient Micronesians used this craft in the South Pacific for centuries for their island hopping and we might learn something from their challenging craft. It certainly has fascinated this designer.

Raymond H. Richards: Sculling may be reasonable in calm conditions, but against fast and turbulent (whirlpoolish) waters, where the hull and the ama may have conflicting ideas as to where they want to go, it could be another matter, one calling for an outboard. Thanks, Doug,

Dawn Treader
By Jamie Hargrave - Orleans, Ontario

Paul Butler: I agree with the designer. I would redraw the underwater lines and increase beam. A divided rig on a boat this small always has me asking if the extra sticks and strings are necessary.

Marlin Bree: Dawn Treader is an 18-foot lug rigged ketch with a relatively narrow beam, with centerboard and kick up rudder, and an estimated unladen displacement that would rank her in the ultra lightweight category -- only 500 pounds. Since Jamie Hargrave grew up on rainy Vancouver Island, he well understands the need for an all-weather cruiser with a dry cabin, which he provides with amenities for cruising: instead of the costly portable camp pottie, he offers, “buckets with lids and sawdust.” Though this is a handsome design, Dawn Treader might benefit from wider beam to carry her sails as well as utilizing only a simple lugsail without the added complication and expense of a mizzenmast. In the kind of weather that Dawn Treader is being designed for as well as for safety’s sake, the little boat would benefit from a self-draining cockpit. For the fluky and sometimes nonexistent winds of Puget Sound, the design calls for a pair of nine-foot sweeps, but an outboard engine would prove its usefulness. This doesn’t have to be new, though it should be overhauled and checked before setting out for a two-week cruise. In all, designer Hargrave writes, “this is a boat that would gather complements and make you smile as you look back at it.” We agree.

Raymond H. Richards: Attractive profile, but way too narrow at the water.

By Flavio Faloci - Genova – Italy

Paul Butler: Full of character and looks wholesome. I really like his “keep it simple” philosophy. I’d want a kick-up rudder and bulletproof centerboard case so I could sit on a tidal flat without damage. Nicely thought out design features. A little boat with big ambitions. The single mast is good. I’d consider decreasing size of the CB—I don’t think its going to be a world-beater anyway and that might simplify construction. I hate to use the word but this boat is really “cute”. I think theres room for a girl friend on board too.

Marlin Bree: Dodo exudes salty charm in a rugged little pocket cruiser designed along traditional lines, with a kick-up centerboard and pivoting rudder. Designer Flavio Faloci, who hails from Genoa, Italy, not 500 yards from Christopher Columbus’s one-time home – how about that for nautical inspiration? – opts for a heavily built craft with no less than a whopping 1-inch thick plywood hull bottom. With a design goal of “safety: the absolute primary goal,” the designer calls her structure “bulletproof.” She will self right, says the designer, up to an angle of 120 degrees; and she’s unsinkable, says the designer, with lots of floatation foam. Illustrated with charming drawings, Dodo’s built of plywood and ordinary lumberyard timber and designed so that she can be built using ordinary hand tools – a fine goal and one that has produced other, successful ocean-crossing small craft. Even so, designer Faloci goes beyond the traditional ply construction appearance with Dodo’s strong hull flare, sweeping sheer, and rugged rounded stem. In this ambitious design, there are some trade offs: by adding foam for unsinkablility, the sailor gives up storage and livability space—hard enough to come by in a 16-foot LOA. In a small cockpit, a motor well isn’t a really practical idea since it takes up space, and, among other problems, often doesn’t have enough airflow to feed an engine. Designer Faloci has wisely chosen to select a used two-stroke 4 hp. engine, which he feels he can obtain for $300, keeping his total cost of Dodo under the design exercise criterion of $2,500 overall. Put aside the better looks of the motor well -- better to hang the outboard over the transom, provide workability of the engine, and gain the space for the boater. She’d also benefit from a glass covering. Though an interesting design on paper, even with charming drawings and models, Dodo will undoubtedly grow in utility once a full-scale design is built and tested. This will prove the final shakedown between imaginative, stylistic concepts and actual, practical trade-offs for a two-week cruise.

Raymond H. Richards: Charming or cute, but too heavily built. My guess is that the boottop will be well under water. Hard to tell with only a deck plan, but the model suggests the need for greater breadth in the lower afterbody. Enjoyable concept, photos and caricatures. Thanks, Flavio.

About the Judges

Paul Butler

After a hitch in the Marines, Paul Butler ( served a 2 year apprenticeship building plank-on-frame wood yachts, then 2 years in the Peace Corps establishing a vocational boatbuilding school on a small island north of Borneo. Back in the states he designed and built small custom ply/epoxy boats, and published over 200 how-to and DIY magazine articles and three boating books. Contributing editor to original SBJ. Building plans are available for his most popular designs from:

Marlin Bree

Marlin Bree ( is a boating journalist, boatbuilder, and author of boating books including Broken Seas, Wake of the Green Storm, Boat Log & Record, and In the Teeth of the Northeaster. He co-authored the best-seller, Alone Against the Atlantic. Bree is the recipient of Boating Writers International 2004 Grand Prize for his boating adventures in his 20-foot sloop Persistence in Lake Superior's "Green Storm." He writes for Small Craft Advisor and contributes the Trailer-Sailor Forum.

Raymond H. Richards:

At age 8, in 1939—learned to row Dad’s “drift boat,” Oregon’s McKenzie River. Eleven—designed and built first boat (not an unqualified success). Twelve —built 6-foot catboat from published plans and first sailed. Began cruising Puget Sound and beyond, 1949. After playing soldier in Korea, started career as part time draftsman while finishing college, large firm, Seattle, 1954. Designed in all materials and with all types of power, including gas turbine and jet—to 25,000 LT and more than 100 mph. Private practice since 1970, and still use a pencil—but no longer a slide rule and an adding machine for calculations. “Wood and sail are the most challenging and most satisfying.”