Thirty years of Boatbuilding Experience


My shop--one man with thirty years' boatbuilding experience, right in his own backyard, with everything to hand for efficient year-round  work--is at your service to build any boat you want--if under say 22 feet and mostly wooden. It may be traditional lapstrake or smooth-skin, with frames sawn or bent or none. Or it may be plywood--glued lap, multichine, tack-and tape or a kit from Chesapeake Light Craft or Sam Devlin. I'll design it, I'll find a plan, you find a plan, we'll modify a plan. The only kind of boat I don't particularly want to build is a stripper: where the fun of that is, I don't see.

I am eager to help you select, from the thousands of great small boat designs available, the boat for you. (I'd also gladly consult on the purchase of other builders' boats whatever the material, new or used.)

Here are a few of designs I particularly like and want to build:


This is an electric boat that uses a standard electric motor but a very much better-than-usual bank of batteries, controls, and dockside charging system, and has better-than-usual range, seaworthiness and comfort, at a much better-than-usual price. (The designer, Phil Bolger, assures me that the materials can be had for as little as $2500, complete). I like the look of it, too.


Flat-bottomed Row boat

I built this flat-bottomed rowboat, slightly modified, it is based on the Cape Cod Oyster Skiff. This one has comfortable seats bow and stern for the owner's two dogs. In okoume plywood with cedar seats and mahogany trim it cost about $5000. There are lots of plans for very likable plywood boats like this, with and without sail rigs. Everybody in a family would be able to use such a boat, spring, summer, and fall, and it would last for many decades.



You can read all about this great shallow-water trailer-sailer in the July/August 2004 issue of WoodenBoat. She's a light flat-bottomed sharpie with lexan cabin-sides almost full length and open standing room down the middle. Sleeps 4, can take a beam-ends knockdown and right herself, comfortable, fast, safe, easy to sail, and wholly unusual. Phil Bolger's favorite and most innovative design. I'll build these boats to order. Prices look like $12,200 without sails for Birdwatcher I and $17,000 without sails for BW II. Sails around $1500 and $1700 from Douglas Fowler. I sold this one and immediately bought another, with a Solent-sloop rig; something new to learn. They're so good.


Rushton Rowboat

This is a boat we have in the family, a Rushton Florida model pleasure rowboat, and I think it's more beautiful and I know it's more practical, among old-style double-enders, than the Adirondack guideboat, more practical for most users, and the sweetest, easiest boat to row. It's also no more than 2/3 as expensive as a guideboat to build. Dan Sutherland builds a similar reproduction of the so-called Rushton 109. But I prefer this later evolution of the model, from the 1890s. Rushton left a set of journals labeled "Knowledge" that some of us call the Books of Knowledge, which contain accurate definitions of the shapes of all the planks in this boat, among others, and I want to try the experiment of building one straight from these "spilings," as he called them. This is the boat that with its great appeal drew me and my brother Everett into the boat business: we started making Rushton reproductions in 1973. Too early. We knew we were starting the Wooden Boat Revival but we did not know about the Inertia of History.
Ken Swan's Rowboat

I built this flat-bottomed rowboat, slightly modified from plans from the west-coast designer Ken Swan, to replace a beloved old boat for a summer place in the Poconos. In okoume plywood with cedar seats and mahogany trim it cost about $5000. There are lots of plans for very likable plywood boats like this, with and without sail rigs. Everybody in a family would be able to use such a boat, spring, summer, and fall, and it would last for many decades.


Phil Bolger's Whalewatcher, designed for the Chesapeake on the Birdwatcher principle: raised, windowed sides that give the boat knockdown recovery with no water aboard. Unlike Birdwatcher, this boat has a large comfortable cockpit outside the cabin, and excellent outboard auxiliary setup. Sitting headroom for tall persons on four setee berths, ample galley and storage space. Open standing room from cockpit to foremast. A huge balance-lug rig that is bound to be fast and easy to handle. You are almost shoulder deep between the cabin-tops when amidships in this spacious, comfortable boat. A canvas cover would snap on over the standing-room in rain. I get a great sense of anticipated pleasure when I'm in this unfinished boat. How much anybody else would love it would depend quite a lot on how much you mind, as Phil Bolger puts it, "the derision of the bystanders.

It is a fair question whether we should build the hull entirely new, from scratch. It has never had its tabernacle, leeboards, mizzen partners, or Lexan windows, even though sails and spars and even lines and rigging are on hand. Surely an all-new hull would give the better result. But on the other hand, there is much value here, and the shortest and least expensive distance to a sailing trial and a usable boat is through rolling the boat and giving it a 2/3 new double-plywood bottom, and finishing it.

Or we could do that and end up with a roomy outboard cruiser, sell that, and then go on to build a new Whalewatcher in addition. I'm inclined to do something with this outfit and would love to do it with or for a customer.


This is my 10 year-old Alex in the Sam Devlin-designed Peeper I built for him at 9. It's a charming boat for a kid, for a grown-up for that matter but perfect for a kid, with a bottom that's flat forward and turns v-bottomed in the after half. It's light, fast for its length, tracks well, makes a young owner very proud and happy. Depending on various factors it would cost $2000 to $2600, I suppose.


Other Boats

Other boats I'd love to build for you? Nigel Irens's lovely Romilly trailer-sailer; a plywood Drascombe Lugger or Longboat. Etc., etc., and so on.

Do you get the idea? I'll build anything. How about a coracle? Or better yet, be the first to have the forthcoming AGB Baysailer, a lightweight 21' constant camber trailer-sailer, yawl-rigged, with simple accommodations for a family of four, yet to be modeled and designed.

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