Joost's Dutch Goat Island Skiff comes Third in the Caledonia RAID 2009 - Story

Goat Island skiff sailboat going through a Scottish Lock on a LochSimple to Build
Modern Performance - Sails rings around most "character boats"
Light enough to handle on land by yourself
Easy to follow plans - step by step instructions.  96 page manual.

Length - 15'6" (4.73m)
Beam - 5ft (1.52m)
Hull Weight - 128lbs (57kg) - Gaboon (Okoume) Ply
Sail Area - Lug 105 sq ft (9.75 sq metres)

For purchasers of the plan there is a new birdsmouth mast option
email me with proof of purchase.

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The Designer knew nothing about a GIS competing in the Caledonia Raid

And then he heard Joost and Viola's result was 2nd in Division
3rd overall.

Main GIS Page
Peter Hyndman's GIS site
All pics by John Macpherson (all rights reserved) -  pics of the whole event here
Discussion here

For those who don't know about the event the Caledonia RAID is a competitive event involving several days or rowing and sailing events.  It is a tough race and often attracts specialist boats and teams that have trained hard.

A week ago I would have told you that the GIS would be ok as a boat to have fun at the event in.  But Joost and Viola came second in their division and third overall despite being one of the few single oared boats in the race and certainly the lightest, simplest boat entered.

Who said flat bottomed boats can't handle rough water!

Joost writes ...

Raid Caledonia …
After a week of Sail Caledonia making our way across the Great Glen under oar and sail I can confirm that the GIS is a suitable craft for raids!!!

Raid Caledonia is a “race” from the salt water in the West to the salt water in the East across Scotland on the Great Glen waterway which consists of 3 lakes (called lochs in Scotland) and some canal stretches between the lochs adding up to a total of some 96 km.

GIS starting a race in SAIL RAID Caledonia

Having sailed GISwerk only five times prior to our departure from the Netherlands for Scotland 2 weeks ago, the Scottish lochs and canals have truly shown us what a capable boat the GIS is. On Loch Ness we were confronted with fairly strong winds (with gusts above 20 knots and a short steep 4 ft swell) which GISwerk handled beautifully and without much problem under full sail downwind. Probably not a very sensible thing but it definitely made for a most exciting and fast surf and gained us a first place in the leg!

In the rowing legs we ended a constant third, in the sailing legs we got in 1st – 5th. The winds are very unpredictable on the Scottish lochs: a force 2 can easily become a force 6 but might over a few minutes time dwindle to force naught. Some experience in “reading” the Scottish weather would be very helpful (one day in particular we had difficulties forecasting the winds resulting in tying in an unnecessary reef causing a big delay in finishing) as would be a few more days sailing the boat before entering an event such as Raid Caledonia. We ended a tied second (out of five boats) in class 2 and overall ended a shared third place out of 9 competing boats.

(Joost and Viola working along)

Joost rowing his GIS in the Caledonia RAID

What matters most however is that we had a blast, got to know the boat fairly well sailing and rowing the boat in a lot of different conditions, met some lovely people during the event and enjoyed the fine music, food and drinks the organisation had arranged for.

GIS sailing upwind in Caledonia RAID

Results and a link to a lot of photo’s:

This is a link to the photoset

More from Joost
The hull is stiff and strong enough to take a quite a beating, so no concerns there. The only thing I might do differently if I were to build another one was to use a hard wood for the side frames. The side frames seem to get most beating when using the boat as a sail & oar boat and it therefore seems to be a good idea to strengthen them with a small penalty with regards to weight.

Goat island skiff in Scotland's Caledonian RAID

The tiller extension I currently have on the boat uses a bit of rope to connect it to the tiller. The rope however stretches a lot (knots tightening) and it gives a vague feel when steering. To resolve this issue I am going to replace the piece of rope by either a stainless steel bit are a standard dinghy tiller extension.

The sail. The balanced lug rig seems perfect for the boat. I would however appreciate feed back on the following:
- sail might perhaps be a bit smaller for a sail&oar set up (8.5 m2 would be better for single handing and for stronger winds or winds that change in strength rapidly and frequently)
- more reef lines would be advantageous as it would enable to adjust the sail area in a better way in relation to the wind (for an 8.5 m2 sail maybe to reduce the sail in 2 steps to approximately 7 and 5.5 m2)
- the sail I have has a flat cut (Duckworksbbs USA sail). It sets well but I feel that a bit deeper profile would benefit the upwind performance especially in lighter airs.
- I might prefer a sail not laced to the boom as this would mean more adjustment possibilities. The required fatter boom would allow cleats to be attached to the boom which would make for easier reefing
- Next to the downhaul, a kicker might be handy to have more control over the sail shape (following Keyhavenpotter’s set up on his scow)

Joost battling a bigger boat in the RAID,  He was never worst than third!

The GIS might be the perfect boat for single handing raids (perhaps with the aforementioned slightly smaller sail). She would then definitely go faster under oars (transom clearing the water and less weight) and should also pick up some speed under sail.  

I think it might be a bit big when the wind gets strong ... a better choice would be the new RAID41 design I am working on - Michael Storer

The GIS sailing to third place in the caledonia raid event

OK for RAID events ... but why do other people like it so much?

The reason ... it is really pretty.

More pics on the Goat Island Skiff picture page

So catches peoples attention.

Once it has caught their attention they start to see other advantages.

It is really light - which means that it is easy to move around on shore and is one of the secrets behind the modern performance.  It actually weighs 10lbs LESS than a Laser Dinghy at 125lbs (57kg) - built of lighweight Gaboon plywood.

It is also versatile - it rows quite OK, sails like a rocket and can take a small outboard.

The Goat Island Skiff (GIS) is one of the easiest boats of its length to build because of the greatly reduced number of parts.

The practical and performance advantages of the balance lug rig

One of the fun things about the GIS is that the lug rig upsets racing type sailors - they ring me up and email me asking if they could put a more modern rig on the boat.  So far I have managed to convince all of them to stay with the four sided lug sail - and all of them have been grateful when they realise just how quick this sailing skiff goes.

The lug sail is highly efficient, quick to rig and unrig.  I know everyone says that "their" lug rig is highly efficient but I have done significant research into the type and my own development through the 15 years I have had BETH the sailing canoe.  Both the GIS and BETH will give modern boats a run for their money and will sail rings around other character boats and the many Lumbering lumberyard skiffs.

One of the biggest hints I can give them is to specify a low stretch halyard for the mainsail - spectra or dynex - it means the sail shape doesn't deteriorate through stretch in the rope - well worth the extra $15.

If you are used to sailing modern dinghies like the Taser, Laser, Sabre - ie regular modern dinghies - you will find the Goat has much of the feel of these boats. Lively and responsive.  It can sail in modern company and not be completely outclassed.

However it has a much greater carrying capacity than any of the modern boats.  I have had it out with 4 Adults and it sails very nicely indeed - an advantage of the easily driven hull form.

The other advantage of the lug rig is that it reefs very simply - the sail area is quite big at 105 sq ft (9.75 sq m) so with the hull's light weight it has quite a big power to weight ratio for good fine weather performance.  When the weather blows up then it can be reefed for good control.  This is also why the GIS is relatively cheap to get on the water - having a single big sail is a lot cheaper than having several smaller ones.  Generally adding a jib doubles the cost of rig and sails.

Easy to build

There are two parts to ease of building

1/ The quality of the plans
2/ Whether the designer understands the capabilities of the materials being used.

The plans for the Goat Island Skiff are more like a book than a plan.  Detailed information on each building step, how to join the plywood, how to mark the shapes of the panels, how to use the epoxy - it is all there.  More a course on boatbuilding than a simple plan.

One of the first things you notice looking at the GIS is the lack of timber framing - the interior is very clean and open - the loads are carried by the ply and the timber is just there to hold it together.  The picture right shows all the pieces that go to make up the hull and the basic construction sequence.  Photo below shows the clean interior

Less timber is used in the boat, which saves money.
Less structure - which saves weight.
Fewer parts so the boat builds much more quickly.

Building Space

Building space would not have to be enormous. I suppose the minimum would be around 18ft by 6ft - a standard carspace would be more than adequate. The boat is quite movable while under construction so could be worked on in the open and moved under shelter when not building.  As the major ply components are constructed on the flat, very little space is taken up until over halfway through the project.

Sailing the Skiff
This sailing skiff will sail much the same as most boats its size, but there are a few peculiarities that come with the flat bottom.

As with almost all boats the skiff will sail fastest if sailed level - with little or no heel – the exception is in very light winds when you are struggling to get up any speed at all the boat can be heeled over to 20 This reduces the wetted surface by around 25%. As soon as the boat has achieved any sort of consistent speed it should be brought upright.

When the water is very choppy the boat may slam badly if sailed upright. A small amount of heel will smooth its movement considerably. The minimum amount of heel that stops the worst of the slamming should be adopted.

The forward and aft buoyancy tanks are designed for use as seats when rowing. The boat will perform best sailing with crew weight concentrated around the middle thwart.

The final difference with many other boats is because there is no jib. This means that the mainsail boom should not be pulled in tighter than 10 degrees.
Trailing the Skiff

The GIS can be carried on a lightweight trailer.  It is certainly light enough to be cartopped - but it is bulky so we recommend a trailer.

She fits nicely in a standard 5ft box trailer with an extended towing arm at the front.

Rowing the Skiff

If rowlocks are to be fitted they need to go 300mm behind the back edge of the centre seat. The oars need to be 9ft long for best efficiency and the plans are free from my website - Click HERE.

There is always a bit of luck involved in designing a boat - here it was that the 9ft oars store neatly in the bottom of the boat.

Motoring the Skiff

Because of its hullshape the Goat Island Skiff can't use more than about 3 or 4 hp effectively.  In fact even 2 hp iwll push her along at good speed.   Higher horspowers are not very useful because the hull is not the right shape to go faster - it will stand up on its stern and start pounding in waves.

The Goat Island Skiff is set up to take small horsepowers (up to 3) already as the transom is braced by the knees in the corners and the top of the rear seat.

For more info on motoring read the article from Dave Graybeal below under "satisfied customers".  He is currently building the new hollow mast design so his boys can take her sailing.

Questions and Answers

Can the GIS carry a load?

From Leigh Hemmings on Scotland Island

Dear Michael,
Hi, from Scotland Island.Today we used our light fast and pretty Goat Island Skiff as a concrete, blue metal and sand barge.  Previous days have seen it used as a timber barge -- powered by an electric outboard!.  When not in this guise it's main role is our commuter boat.  But, once our renovation is a little further down the track, our Goat Island Skiff will once more become light fast and pretty sailing craft.  Trust you are well and enjoying life.

That Mast Looks Heavy - is there an alternative?

I have also drawn up a plan for a hollow wooden mast made of planks for the GIS - you have to alter the mast step and partner slightly.  Drawings are now available and included with new plan sets.  As usual the ligher structure is also cheaper because it uses less timber and the timber thickness is easier to find. 

More on Motoring

The boat balances quite OK if there is someone else in the boat to sit on the front seat with the driver on the rear seat.  When by yourself the boat will balance better if you make up a tiller extension for the outboard so you can sit on the middle seat.

A tiller extension for the outboard can be made of plastic pipe to fit over the outboard tiller.

What sort of Outboard works OK

Not too big - you won't go any faster and it might put too much load on the boat.

Perhaps you can use a slightly larger outboard, but generally outboards don't take too well to running at low revs all the time - and it is another heavy bit to carry round.

Be aware too that outboard weight is a whole field to itself.  Generally a manufacturer will use the same engine as the basis for 2 or 3 models.  So you may see an three different horsepower outboards all with about the same weight  - ie they all use the same block and other internals. 

So do some checking before buying.

Satisfied Customers


Goat Island Skiff Pages - Peter Hyndman

One of the first GISs built - Manly Qld.  Now resides in Mooloolaba.

Goat Island Skiff Pages - Dave Graybeal

Building in the USA - posted on the DUCKWORKS website