There is constant demand for good simple boat designs for beginning boat builders, and for anyone who wants simple, inexpensive boats that perform well.
If you are going to go to the effort to investigate building a boat, not to mention actually doing so, you ought to give yourself the largest choice possible and consider all suitable boats, rather than merely accepting the advice of someone for a boat they happen to like.
A good boat that is simple to buld and has very good performance is the "sharpie." A fine description of sharpies is Reuel B. Parker's The Sharpie Book (available for $24.95 autographed; from Parker Marine Enterprises, PO Box 3685, Ft. Pierce, Florida 34946. 561-595-0846 http://www.parker-marine.com).
Sharpies are traditional American craft originally built for rowing and sailing. Many now use outboard engines as well. They tend to be lean, narrow, and fast under sail. Indeed in the early days of yacht racing they were banned from the races since no one could begin to keep up with them. (The modern light centerboarders race boats have finally caught up - and some famous ones like Star and Lightning have hulls derived from sharpies.)
Sharpies are a lot like flat-bottom skiffs; in fact they are a kind of skiff. They generally have flat or shallow vee bottoms, and the sides are always bent panels of wood or plywood. The construction is about as simple as boat building can be.
Parker's book describes how to build sharpies based on traditional forms using modern materials. These are not elegant yachts, but reflect their sturdy sensible workboat heritage. They can be made with lumberyard and hardware store materials if you like. However, they are not crude or clumsy, far from it. The building methods are straightforward; no special skills are required. Everything done in building is discussed in his book. The building instructions are brief; Parker does not hold your hand at every step.
There is also a fine overview history of sharpies. There is an excellent discussion of tools and materials which alone is worth the price of the book if you are any kind of beginning boat builder. There are discussions of 15 boats to build, with the offset tables. If you are capable and know how to build things you can build these boats right from the book with no extra plans. The boats range in size from 14 feet to 36 feet.
Yes 36 feet! Sharpies can be used for cruisers, with the feature of very shallow draft. Thomas Clapham's "Nonpareil" sharpy cruiser is a beautiful fast sailboat, and the final result of sharpy evolution. If you want an elegant and low-draft fast crusier for two or so, be sure to look at it! Parker shows the boat in his book and sells the plans.
Sharpies tend to have a bit of the thoroughbred in them. Not heavy stable tugboats! You have to pay attention when you are sailing! Capsizing is a real possibility. On the other hand you can bring one in through surf and land on the beach even in heavy weather if necessary - if you are good enough. If you want a nice stable daysailer to take the landlubbers out for a dry picnic sail this is probably not the boat to build. If you want a fast boat that will bring out the best in you and the boat, sharpies are it.
Parker says "Sharpies are remarkably easy to build - easier, and in fact less expensive - than any other boat type."
and later: "Frameless construction, modern adhesives, deck screws, and plywood make construction of sharpies...about as easy as boatbuilding is ever likely to get.
Parker describes sharpies as having "grace, beauty, speed, and economy." Keep those qualities in mind when looking at other "instant boats."
WoodenBoat magazine #114 "Sharpies" - extensive design discussion article. "The Sharpie Book" by Reuel Parker. Available from - Parker Marine Enterprises parker also sells plywood sharpie plans; 14 to 40 feet: catalog $15.00. Parker sharpie designs that may have widespread appeal include: "Cape Cod Oystering Sharpie" 14'1" by 4'3", draft 9" sail or row. "reliable in all weather" "excellent first boat for the amateur builder." "Modified Sharpie Skiff" 17'10" by 5'6" draft 15" good sailboat for several people Parker also sells "The Sharpie Book" - $24.95 autographed (description above) "You can't go wrong with Reuel -- he's a great designer/builder." Parker Marine Enterprises PO Box 3685, Ft. Pierce, Florida 34946 561-595-0846 www.parker-marine.com "Skiffs and Schooners" by Pete Culler. See the chapter "Flat Bottoms". No building instructions but many basic ideas. A classic book on designing, building, and using classic boats. Pete Culler designed a 36' sharpie schooner. Culler's plans (including 19 v or flat bottom boats) can be purchased from ($1 for price list) George Kelley, 22 Lookout Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601 Pete Culler's Boats, the design catalogue of Culler's work, edited by Burke and published by International Marine. shows all Culler's designs. John Gardner. several books by this great boat designer and builder: from "Building Classic Small Craft", John Gardner, 320 pages, 250 illus. 1977. 14' x 5' sailing flattie skiff 18' or 20' 2-masted sharpie. 5'4" beam. "As a daysailer for a family with young children there could be no better boat. She would also be a great boat for the home builder because of her extreme simplicity." [in many cases I would choose Reuel Parker's 18' sharpie in preference] from "Classic Small Craft You Can Build," John Gardner. Mystic Seaport, 1993. 13'9" sharpie skiff in plywood; good youth project with complete building - rowing only. 14' flatbottom skiff to sail and row, can also use a small outboard. "sailing this skiff will require some agility on the part of the person using it." beam about 4'2" plywood on frame. Complete instructions 16' heavy sharpie work skiff - a new simple plywood design, used to net menhaden. A stable boat for real work. The Norwalk Island Sharpie series by Bruce Kirby. These are cruising sharpies 18', 23', 26', 29' and 31' long. $7.00 catalog.; $ study pack. Norwalk Islands Sharpies 213 Rowayton Ave Norwalk CT 06853 (203) 853-3525 Kirby has sold over 200 sets of plans so far. Construction is fairly straightforward in plywood. Bruce Kirby mostly designs racing boats (Laser, America's Cup). He designed the 26 footer for his own use. Jacques Mertens sells plans for a sharpie with sprit sail: Sharpie 14: 14'4" x 4'6" for sail, oars, and outboard in that order. firstname.lastname@example.org 343 23rd Street S Vero Beach, Florida 32962 (407) 567-8422 Steve Redmond designs "Whisp" 15'7" x 3'6" "a fine-lined high-performance ultralight sharpie skiff for oar and sail" Plans for Steve Redmond's boats are available via www.sredmond.com, or by mail to: Steve Redmond 4640 Guilford Center Road Guilford, VT 05301 Stimson Marine "Osprey": 15' flat-bottom sailing skiff Stimson Marine RR1 Box 524 Boothbay Maine 04537 800 373 6313 Windward Designs, designs by Karl Stambaugh "Windward 15" 15' plywood sailing skiff (see photo in WB number 124 p. 115) Very nice boat based on traditional Chesapeake boats. $10 for complete plans catalog. 794 Creekview Rd. Severna Park, Maryland 21146 (800) 376 3152 see also article on Bay Skiffs in Wooden Boat number 88. "American Small Sailing Craft," Howard I. Chapelle. Published by W. W. Norton, 1951. This book is one of the key documents of traditional American wooden boats. Peapods, sharpies, etc. All the plans shown small here can be purchased full size from the Smithsonian at low cost. No building instructions. Note this is a different book from his "American Sailing Craft" "Fifty Wooden Boats." from the WoodenBoat Store. 1984. Two page descriptions of plans you can buy from WoodenBoat, including sharpie "Egret" Chesapeake Light Craft, Inc. stitch and glue sea kayaks,7000 of their kits have been made. "John's Sharpie", 18' x 4'6" 300 lbs ketch rigged. 40 page stitch and glue manual 1805 George Avenue Annapolis, MD 21401 (410) 267-0137 email to email@example.com http://www.clcboats.com Ken Hankinson Associates Catalog describes dozens of plans for boats 8 to 62 feet: $6.00 catalog, 81 pages P.O. Box 272 Hayden Lake, Idaho 83835 (208) 772-5547 www.boatdesigns.com Jacques Mertens Stock plans for small stitch and glue boats, Sharpie 14 : a 14' 4" sharpie with sprit sail Flat 14: a flat bottom skiff, 14' Caravelle : a 14' 4" V bottom open sailboat, marconi rig, day cruiser 343 23rd Street SE Vero Beach, Florida 32962 (407) 567-8422 Tracy O'Brien Designs "Nemah River Sharpie" 15' by 4'6" centerboard daysailer and rows. in taped-seam plywood. $3 for catalog 156 Bunker Creek Rd. Chehalis, WA 98532 360-748-4089 www.localaccess.com/tracy/boatpage.htm Boatbuilding with Plywood, Glen L. Witt, 3rd. ed. 300 pages. 1989. Plywood on frame, a good sound technique in use now over 50 years. Slightly more demanding than the various no-lofting methods, such as stitch and glue. Scarfs and covering wood with fiberglass are topics well covered. Has good up-to-date basic advice on everything from wood selection to paint. This is the most detailed treatment of plywood on frames. "Build the New Instant Boats", Harold Payson 147 pages, 92 photos, 33 plans. Plywood and epoxy. Instructions and plans for a 16' double-end sharpie, and others. Full-sized plans available from the author. "Anyone with a positive attitude and a smattering of intelligence mixed with a little common sense can build one of these boats."
Part of the old Great Encouragement to Boatwights web site