20 Goals/Design Considerations

A classic styled outboard powered, trailerable, shoal draft, easily built, plywood planing cruiser.  The 20 items listed below were all very important considerations for the SkiffAmerica 20 design to meet my own personal (Meandher) requirements. I believe these goals are important, not just to me, but to anyone desiring to build his own boat.

20 Goals/Design Considerations for SkiffAmerica 20

1. Classic style (“head turning” appearance)
2. Modern leakproof construction (epoxy, taped seam)
3. Easily built using quality materials
4. Durable
5. Low maintenance
6. Affordable
7. Trailerable
8. Easily launched from trailer
9. Shoal Draft
10. Beachable
11. Planing hull
12. Efficient
13. Long Range
14. Good load carrying ability
15. Generous storage capacity
16. Sea kindly and safe hull design
17. Smooth riding
18. Great handling and maneuverability
19. Cruising for two or day trips for two families
20. Comfortable accommodations

The first two SkiffAmericas have proven beyond any doubt that all of the goals have been met with complete satisfaction. Please note that I have not just been “satisfied” but am ecstatic with everything about my boat. I know what I wanted and now I have my perfect boat.

The plans have been prepared so that the builder can produce an exact copy of my prototype SkiffAmerica 20 in every detail. That required a very detailed set of drawings (48 pages of 11″ x 17″) and an equally detailed construction text.

This level of detail is necessary to insure that each builder has an opportunity to build a SkiffAmerica 20 which will be like the prototype in every respect. There is little which is left to the discretion of the builder! You may leave your “preconceived notions” behind as they can be prejudicial and hinder the outcome of your project. This is a proven design using proven methods and I advise you to make the utmost effort to maintain the integrity of the design by not making any changes, i.e. don’t screw it up. Changes and modifications have a remarkable tendency to create detrimental effects. Change at your own peril. Classic Styled: Form follows function, graceful and purposeful shear line, “perky” bow, slender entry, proper balance of paint vs. varnish, bright colorful accents in traditional colors. All the white (fiberglass) boats have become visually boring. Wood construction, a real wooden boat. Double chine enhances appearance. Modern Leakproof Construction: Epoxy coated/sealed dimensionally stable high quality mahogany plywood assembled using epoxy fillets/taped seams. Best system for amateur builder. Strong, light, easily maintained, durable, easy, fast building. Epoxy is best sealant, adhesive, and primer for paint and varnish. The best material is more economical in the long run. It pays to use the best. Saves time, effort, finishes easier, cuts easier/cleaner, no voids/knots. You will naturally do better work if your are using good materials. Oak and mahogany lumber is best looking, most easily worked and most durable. Even though resale value is not very important to me, remember by SkiffAmerica is my last boat so I don’t intend to sell it. The resale value is much greater than the cost of the quality materials and adds only a small percentage to the overall cost. Trailerability: Has significant rewards as it allows transporting the boat quickly to far away cruising grounds for the variety of climate and scenery. It allows flexible choices for boat storage. At home is my personal choice, out of the water and protected from the elements. Maintenance is much reduced, but also easier and more likely to be kept up if at home.

The lightweight and flat-bottomed design allows easy launching from the trailer and use in shoal waters. The “flat” bottom has numerous advantages and is one of the most important design features of SkiffAmerica. Flat-bottomed boats carry the baggage of misconceptions. Number one misconception is that they must pound. Many do and badly but if the bottom has the right shape it can ride with surprising smoothness. Most important is the length to width relationship. (Long and narrow is what we want). Just think of it as a very long water ski. We noticed many years ago while sailing our planing sailboat that one of the ways you could tell if you were on plane was that the ride got really smooth. My Dad described it as “feeling like you were sailing on grease.” I am sure that would surprise those folks who have bought into the deep-V hype. Yes, at 80 mph in rough seas a deep-V has its place. It is worse than worthless at cruising speeds of 15 mph.

V-hulls always seem to have a place somewhere along their panel where a wave face will find a perfect match with the angle of the panel. When that happens a resounding “thwack” occurs. Our long narrow flat bottomed hull simply glides across these same waves with amazing ease. We almost never need to change course or slow down when crossing powerboat wakes. The bow rides just slightly clear of the water in moderate chop. In larger wakes/waves the fine entry easily splits the waves with little or no pitching. Everyone who has experienced crossing large powerboat wakes in our SkiffAmerica is amazed at how smoothly it is done. There is one high powered and large houseboat on Alton Pool which has a particularly nasty wake and we take corrective action for that one. We usually just temporarily alter course while crossing the wake.

The “flat” bottom is only flat athwartship (side-to-side). It has a specific curve (viewed from the side) which maximizes the efficiency, allows easy transition to plane, reduces pitching, and keeps the boat in a more level attitude. Attaining this shape is easy with the assembly method used for SkiffAmerica and is clearly described in the plans/text with warnings to not forget to do it.

SkiffAmerica shoal draft and outboard power allows easy beaching. Stepping over the bow going to or from the beach is remarkably easy due to the placement of the top of the forward floatation chamber (called subdeck.) It is at the height of a foot stool so acts as a step whether entering or exiting the bow on the beach. I have used the same idea at the stern to make the swim ladder work better (portside slosh well is third step when using the ladder).

The planing hull allows top speed of 25 mph with the 25 h.p. Yamaha 4-stroke. Cruising at our favorite speed of 15 mph gives a fuel usage of about 1.2 gallons/hr. for about 12 miles/gallon. Fuel economy is also important for long range, which is important when encountering long distances between fuel availability.

The lightweight efficient planing hull has shown remarkable ability to perform well while loaded for cruising using the 25 h.p. 4-stroke outboard.


Author: admin

I've been teaching music for the last 23 years focusing primarily on band but also teaching general music classes to grades K-12. Main hobbies are flying full size and r/c, music, and sailing. I also maintain this website for my dad.

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