I mess around with boat design a bit. My first boat was of my own design, a sailboat I had almost twenty years ago. I’m not particular about using my own designs, though; the last boat I built was someone else’s design. But sometimes I want some particular thing and I figure I can do it well enough that there’s no point in trying to adapt someone else’s design to my needs.
I have been wanting a simple skiff for a while, maybe to keep at the cabin, but maybe to use around the islands and keep at home. Something lighter and simpler than the big I/O Double Eagle, which is a tank but not really ideal to fish from: small dance floor, big doghouse. I loved it for crossing the strait but now that I’m mostly just inshore fishing in protected waters, it’s a bit cumbersome.
At first I was going to do a really oddball design; now that I have a kid I don’t spend money as freely so I was going to build a skiff that would plane off with my kicker, which I’d have to re-prop but it would work. That’s how I got it in my head that I’d need to do my own design for this one; not too many boats designed to plane with a 9.9 XL shaft motor. So I worked on that design for a while; it would have to be pretty narrow, or else dead flat. It was kind of an interesting exercise but then one day my dad emailed me to see if I wanted his friend’s ’79 Johnson 20hp. He’d bought it new and maintained it well and it didn’t have a ton of hours, but he hadn’t run it in 20 years and was going to scrap it.
Sure, I’ll take that. 20hp off a two stroke? Way easier to make a good basic skiff that’ll run well with that power. What kind of shape is it in? Well, not many hours on it, but it's 40 years old. The owner maintained it well, I think; I picked it up and looked it over. Grease on all the relevant points. Clean under the cowling. Unbelievably light weight compared to what we're used to now. I remember it being on a 14' aluminum Mirrorcraft we fished out of Bamfield when I was about eight years old.
So I shelved my 10hp designs which, while kind of interesting, would have been pretty tender to fish from. Now I have an easy task: a skiff without a crazy amount of deadrise, but no need to flatten it completely. As long as it’s stable and light, it should be fine. And then…there’s my complete inability to leave well enough alone to contend with. So why not complicate things by paying homage to the lines of classic BC commercial salmon trollers? I love the way those double-enders look, with their almost tugboat-like proportions. Naturally this can’t be a double ender if I want it to be fast, but still, I could incorporate those workboat lines.
And if I’m doing that, why not run a fairly plumb bow? I could carry the keel forward a long way, extending the waterline length and increasing the theoretical hull speed, like a Chesapeake deadrise boat. They’re a bit sensitive to following seas but I’ll work around it. Get that wave-piercing axe-bit of a forefoot to soak up some chop, should smooth out the ride on an otherwise very shallow-V boat.
Okay, here we go.
Step one: get the motor running. Otherwise, the project isn’t that viable.