Michael Storer Wooden Boat Design


Length 15 ft 6 inches x 4ft beam
Estimated weight 90lbs (probably an overestimate)
Plans $75 including detailed instructions

Payload - one person - second person or a couple of children and picnic things are OK too.

A swift rowing boat for one person - with the capability of carrying an extra person (or two if they are not toooo heavy) for fishing or picnics.


Easy construction - but an easily driven shape that is rewarding to row.


Large enclosed buoyancy for safety - 8ft oars no outriggers

PDF Plans by email - $75
Paper Plans - $96 plus postage 


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There is a report about one being built here on the OZ woodwork forums..
And now another one
And another one

Download the Free Plan Drawing for the oars here (PDF File - 24k), but you also need the
Free Paddle Plan PDF File (300Kb) - This has the details on methods and order of assembly



General Comments
This design has had a very long gestation – over two years. My normal well-documented plans were around half way finished and I just couldn't continue – a sure sign there was something I wasn't quite happy with. I scrapped the whole thing and started again a few weeks ago.

Generally I don't design boats to order but in this case two emails from old boatbuilding friends prompted the development of this boat. Initially I headed in the direction of something much more racey, but then realised that Peter and Richard wanted speed but with more flexibility.

The racey version was finally rejected when Peter asked me about where he was going to cut the bait!

So it evolved in a more sensible direction.



The Never Ending Dory
For some time I've thought of using the Goat Island Skiff (GIS) design as the basis for a rowboat – more slender, lighter, lower.

Storer boat plans plywood rowboat

It also is a response to the number of lightweight plywood dory designs that are around these days. Old dories weighed hundreds of pounds and were around 20ft long overall and are reputed to need a good load of fish to make them into stable platforms – shrink them and lighten them and the stability drops off very rapidly.
Of the modern, shorter, lightweight dorys, the better ones of the modern kind paddle very easily but are tender until you have a load aboard and their speed is limited by the short waterline. The worse ones are so twitchy as to be almost useless.

Storer boat plans wooden rowboat

Some try to fudge a dory shape by having curved clinker sides. But then you lose the simplicity. This rowboat is not really suited to wavey oceans, but will be fine in estuaries are rivers where there is a chop.

The Emails
Peter wrote:
On thinking about the rowing boat brief.... no, dash it all NO passengers, if she wants to come we'll go in Gruff (ie the Goat Island Skiff) or the canoe!

Sooo... two sheets of ply long, needs to be a bit more utilitarian than a shell, so that one can cast a line or pick up a crab pot, but really it's a boat for the sheer pleasure of going for a row.

I don't know too much about rowing properly, but a sliding seat option may be ok??

Has to be pretty, which is why I'm keen for you to look at it! The Goat Island Skiff with a foot out of the beam??

My response:
Was to say, yes, yes, yes – but Richard had slightly different criteria as far as payload.

Richard wrote:
For efficient rowing on the river (Murray) - so against current, some chop, wake from power boats, but not open ocean or rough water. Come to think of it, the wake thrown up by your average yahoo driven ski boat probably qualifies for 'rough water', especially as I'll often have my little daughter in the 'boss's seat'.

Will be used for fishing (I sit when I fish in a boat) and exploring. Cheap to build without sacrificing usability.

Light - although this boat will be carried on a trailer, it will be launched and recovered from river banks, not boat ramps. Light enough to car top or for one person to carry would be nice but not essential. I'm after a tough, light, utility boat, not an ultra-light weapon.

Enough floatation for safety if swamped - I'm not some panic merchant who expects it to float on its water line when full of water - just high enough to get back into.

My Response:
Again – Yes. A move toward general use as Richard describes willl also make the plans more interesting to more people.

She will float a little deep with three aboard but by keeping the base of the transom narrow and shallow any bad effects will be minimal. I think she will prefer to carry three lighter individuals or a heavier adult a lighter adult and a child – though she will be at her best one up.

The front and back seats take up a lot of the boat length for a safety factor but also to push the passengers toward the middle of the boat. The middle seat is very wide so there can be two sets of rowlock sockets – front one for when there is a passenger in the back. It can be used for storage or batteries if using a electric trolling outboard.

A Quick Model
I drew up shape on the computer and emailed some panel outlines so models could be made by both interested parties – they are both experienced boatbuilders.



The photos of the rowboat model arrived the next morning! Peter whipped it up overnight and photographed it with the red timber glowing in the morning light. The white boat is the model of the Goat Island Skiff that Peter built years ago. Scale is approximately similar.



The version that has been developed since has more side panel flare to give a larger beam for more stability and to carry 8ft oars without outriggers.

Aesthetics
Both Peter and Richard were quite happy with the appearance from the model - as was I.

On double checking the dimensions and found that the bow had crept up too high - almost 500mm above the waterline - it would have caught the wind very badly – so it has been reduced but with a fraction more sheer in the stern. The wireframe drawing reflects the current shape.

Technical
Goat Island Skiff GIS Planing - Michael Storer Boat PlansIt is interesting to compare the shape of the rowboat with the Goat Island Skiff (GIS - right) which was based around an excellent sailing performance. Both are simple hullshapes, but rowboats have much less power available.
  • Wetted Surface is reduced in the rowboat by narrowing the width of the bottom throughout, particularly in the stern. It was tempting to go toward a canoe stern, but it would sink heavily when a passenger was in the back seat and would reduce stability for other uses.
  • The bottom width is reduced but the width at the gunwale retained to provide a good base for oars. Oar length is approximately twice the beam so if the beam becomes too small then the oars have to shrink too - for less efficiency.
  • Prismatic co-efficient (CP) is a measure of how much volume is in the ends of the boat. Light sailing boats like the sail powered GIS can easily average 6 to 8 knots so need extra volume in the stern and bow at speed. The rowboat will only ever get up to around 3.5 to 4 knots so the CP needs to be lower. It was hard to achieve the exact numbers required because of the transom width so we have gone as far as possible. Getting rid of the passenger and having a canoe stern would make it easier to get the right numbers.
It ends up looking quite a delicate little thing.

Michael Storer plywood rowboat plan.  Simple and cheap.
Conclusion
I haven't come up with the right name for this boat yet so it remains the MSD Rowing Skiff. It actually fits nicely within my range – some people build the Goat Island Skiff to serve as a rowboat where it is more than adequate when fitted with a skeg. But where less capacity, more speed for the same effort and the ability to cartop (narrower and lighter) is more important the Rowing Skiff will be more suitable. Plans are $75 and the boat will use up 4 sheets of 6mm ply.




This is the original webpage.

Two emails prompted the development of this boat (above).  Initially I headed in the direction of something much more racey (image right), but then realised that both Peter and Richard wanted something with some speed but more flexibility.  The racey version was finally rejected when Peter asked me about where he was going to cut the bait.

So I drew up an approximate shape and provided some panel outlines so models could be made by Peter and Richard.

The photos of the rowboat model (red timber - doesn't it look good in the morning light!) that Peter whipped up overnight are with the model of the
Goat Island Skiff that Peter built years ago.  Scale is approximately similar.  The wireframe drawing of the boat at this stage is below.


Peter wrote:

Rowboat Perspective jpgNice talking to you, glad to hear you are in fine spirits.
On thinking about the rowing boat brief....

No, dash it all  NO passengers, if she wants to come we'll go in Gruff  (ie the Goat Island Skiff) or the canoe!

Sooo... two sheets of ply long, payload 100 kg (I'm 85 and I reckon 15 of bait), needs to be a bit more utilitarian than a shell, so that one can cast a line or pick up a crab pot, but really it's a boat for the sheer pleasure of going for a row.

I don't know too much about rowing properly, but a sliding seat option may be ok??

Has to be pretty, which is why I'm keen for you to look at it!


Gruff with a foot out of the beam??


Richard wrote:

Designed for efficient rowing - on the river so against current,  
some chop, wake from power boats, but not open ocean or rough  water. Some offshore work but only on flat days. Come to think of  it, the wake thrown up by your average yahoo driven ski boat probably qualifies for 'rough water', especially as I'll often have my little daughter in the 'boss's seat'.

Will be rowed in stiff cross winds so some directional stability would be nice (ie, a bloody big skeg).

No sails, nor do I want the hull widened to make it better for sails - this is a row boat.  To carry myself and my daughter - she's four but growing so say two adults minimum, with a third in the bow.

Will be used for fishing (I sit when I fish in a boat) and exploring.  Will be rowed some distance at times.  Eventually, I'll have a 3hp outboard for my Yellowtail and should  imagine I'll be tempted
to bung it on the row boat at times.

Cheap to build without sacrificing usability - stitch and glue is  
frowned on here due to the horrendous amount of epoxy it uses (I'm still gasping at the amount that goes into an 8' Mouseboat), as is fibreglassing the bottom. I could be convinced to go stitch and glue but am wary of acres of fibreglass.

Light - although this boat will be carried on a trailer, it will be launched and recovered from river banks, not boat ramps.

Light enough to car top or for one person to carry would be nice but not essential. I'm after a tough, light, utility boat, not an ultra-light weapon.

Rowing stations to suit single rower, rower and passenger in stern, and provision for a scull on the transom.  I make my own oars so Mike can specify any weird sizes that he likes.

Enough floatation for safety if swamped - perhaps under the rear and bow seats. I shouldn't imagine this boat'd need much and I'm not some panic merchant who expects it to float on its water line when full of water - just high enough to get back into.

Aesthetics
Both Peter and Richard were quite happy with the appearance - as was I.  So I double checked the dimensions and found that the bow had crept up too high - almost 500mm above the waterline - it would have caught the wind very badly - so I reduced the bow height and  to keep it looking sweet put a fraction more sheer in the stern.  The wireframe drawing at the top reflects the current shape.

Buoyancy tanks are set up as the passenger seats front and back and are quite generous providing a good safety factor as well as pushing the passengers toward the centre of the boat where they will upset the trim less.

Technical
It is interesting to compare the shape of the rowboat with the Goat Island Skiff (GIS) which was based around an excellent sailing performance.  Both are simple hullshapes, but rowboats have much less power available. 
  • Wetted Surface is reduced by narrowing the beam, particularly in the stern.  It is further reduced by reducing the width of the bottom.  It was tempting to go toward a canoe stern, but the stern would sink heavily when a passenger was in the back seat - rather against what Richard was after in his boat.
  • The bottom width can be reduced but the width at the gunwale needs to be retained to provide a good base for oars.  Basically oar length is approximately twice the beam so if the beam becomes too small then the oars have to shrink proportionately - for less efficiency.  So hull bottom width is reduced and gunwale width is retained by increasing hull flare.
  • Prismatic co-efficient (Cp) is a measure of how much volume is in the ends of the boat.  For faster boats there needs to be more volume in the ends.  The GIS as a sailing boat needs the extra width of the stern and bow because its speed will range up to about 12 or 14 knots with a reasonable design average of 6 knots - a little above the hull speed limit.  The rowboat will only ever get up to around 3.5 to 4 knots so the Cp needs to be much lower.  In actuality it is very hard to reduce the Cp adequately in a transom sterned flat bottomed rowboat so we have gone as far as possible in the right direction.  It would be much easier to hit the Cp on the button if the boat didn't have to carry a passenger - which would allow the canoe stern option.
Working Drawings and Instruction Pack
Having the basic hullshape is about 5% of the work involved in developing a working plan.
  • All hull panels have to fit on the plywood neatly to use the materials efficiently and keep the weight well down (note the drawing on the right is distorted but will give you an idea)
  • Construction has to be logical to save labour time and to make sure the hullshape comes out accurately in a reproduceable way.
  • A full set of instructions need to be written to guide a non boat builder to handle the building procedure and the building materials - plywood, epoxy, fibreglass tape and timber.
Getting Stuck
I have had a couple of problems bugging me - I was having lots of problems with the rowing outriggers - Richard didn't want to use them - no probs - but Peter wanted his boat to really whizz along and I couldn't come up with a really neat solution.

The other problem was I couldn't find space for the width of the front and rear seats on the 4 sheets of ply.

Outriggers
(Outriggers and a sliding seat option have been dropped from the revised version)

'Riggers are usually fabricated from either stainless steel tube or are part of a drop-in one-piece sliding seat come outrigger arrangement like the "Oarmaster" or the "Wing".  Both are possible contenders for this boat, but they are pricey items costing much more than the materials for the whole boat - so I had to come up with a wooden arrangement.  Eventually I worked it out - a simple frame to transmit the loads to plywood top and bottom faces.  This will allow Peter Hyndman (and whoever else) to swing 9 or 10ft oars to really build the pace and will add a trivial amount of weight to the boat.

There will be two sets of rowlock holes.  One when sitting at the back of the rowing seat when there is no passenger and one at the front, so the rower can slide forward and keep the boat in reasonable balance. Richard in particular is pretty adamant about this - one of his current boats from another designer ONLY trims with a passenger in place.  Without the passenger it is badly out of balance so digs its nose in and is a pain to row.

Fitting the panels onto the plywood - March 10

Well, now I'm back from visiting Peter Hyndman where I have been distracted from working on the Rowboat plan by the Puddle Duck Racer Project.  Basically the Puddle Duck is the boat that should be the entry point for all sailors - it soaks up a mere three sheets of exterior ply and costs a grand total of around $300 to get in the water  - including a sail made of polytarp.  That is, once I do the plans for our super sleek, super strong and super light version that we came up with during my visit.  But the Rowboat is the priority at the moment.

Anyway back home I have now three people interested in the plan so have been cracking my head to get it all to work.

One of the big problems has been fitting it on the four sheets of ply.  I KNEW I could get it to fit OK on the 4 sheets but version 1 did not even come close.  The starting point is always a symmetrical layout with the side panels mirrored across the long axis of the sheets.  But that narrow bit in the middle wasn't wide enough for any of the other pieces - and there was no room to fit the stern and bow seats. It looked like this.

Version two (below) from early January was a bit better - but those big wide seats were still not going to fit in no matter how I tried.  Not having a symmetrical layout is not a problem.  The side panel on the top sheet is still in the same form as the dimensioned drawing so can be laid out without shuffling sheets.  When it is cut the pieces become the templates to simply trace around to produce the second side panel on the bottom two sheets.

Finally it all falls into place, but it means I have to shuffle the panels into a 3 sheet long arrangement.  The whole thing doesn't have to be laid out at once (not everyone has 24ft of space to lay the three sheets).  

Lay out the leftmost two ply sheets, mark and cut the bottom panel.   Pick up the leftmost sheet and lay out the rightmost sheet and mark out the side panel.  When the side panel is cut it can be traced onto the remains of the ply to produce the second side.

It did mean that I had to change the dimensioned drawings so the side panel could be measured from the opposite side from the drawings above - another 40 minutes of work to get that all shipshape.  



I was quite happy with this layout - plenty of room for the bulkheads, transom and enddeck/seats on the spare sheet and some room for the rowing seat which will be a pedestal type (to allow the crew to move forward when there is a passenger to keep the boat in trim). Also there is not too much waste and the grain direction on each panel is right for the aesthetics of the boat.  I prefer the grain to run horizontally across the bulkheads but run along the the boat in the case of the sides, bottom and seat tops.

So that's another problem resolved.

PHEW.  Next I have to complete the stem, bulkhead and transom drawings - all the structure that holds the sides and bottom in position and stiffens the whole structure.  One of the keynotes of my designs is doing this with an absolute minimum number of pieces of ply and then holding it all together with a minumum number of pieces of timber.  Light, strong, stiff.  Also I have to work out the drawings that will show the framing that needs to be fitted on the back and front faces of the bulkheads

Bulkheads - the structure across the boat - March 14
Some boats just seem to fall together nicely - for such a simple boat this one seems to be fighting me a bit.

I use Hullform - an Australian developed hull design program that is quite powerful for its cost.  One of its capabilities is to work out how the plywood will actually wrap around the hull to a reasonable degree of accuracy.  Once the ply is wrapped round it is possible to work out the actual shapes of the bulkheads - the pieces of ply that form the transom  (back of the boat) as well as the vertical faces of the front and rear seats and the vertical faces of the rower's seat in the middle.

Now if you assume that with a plywood boat that all the edges of the bulkheads are straight - you would be sort of right.  To explain why we have to go back to the part of the process near the beginning when I used the program to work out the shape of the bottom and sides.

The drawing below shows the port side of the hull with the bow pointing up to the left.  

The top line from the top left sloping down to the right is the sheer line, the one sort of parallel but below that is the chine and the one lower still at the bottom border of the image is the centreline of the hull.  

The lines on each panel represent the lines along which the ply panel is perfectly straight.  They are called Ruling Lines and if you put a straight edge along any of them it will sit perfectly flat on the plywood.

The dark lines are the approximate positions of the forward and middle bulkheads.

The bottom panel is the simplest - as it is totally flat 
across the boat, all the ruling lines are parallel to the cross boat direction.  As all the bottoms of the bulkheads run in this same direction that edge will be dead straight too.  (Experts will see a small defect in the bottom panel toward the stern, but I did get it right at the time I worked out the bulkheads - honest!)

The side panel is much more complicated.  As you can see the ruling lines are sort of parallel in the middle part of the boat and near the transom, meaning that a bulkhead edge that contacts them will still run in a similar direction so will be very close to flat.  Actually it is within a couple of millimetres of dead flat - but if you can notice a curve of a couple of millimetres in the 600mm width of the side panel, then you are a better boatbuilder than I am!   So the bulkheads in the middle and back of the boat including the transom have been drafted with straight sides.

The ruling lines go crazy up in the bow of the boat as they rush to meet up at the base of the stem.  If you look at the dark lines of the approximate bulkhead position closest to the bow you can see that about 9 ruling lines cross the sides of the bulkhead indicating that the edge of the bulkhead will not even  be close to straight.

This is a lot easier in the software than to explain, but you still need to understand the explanation to work out which way to go if the computer comes up with several conflicting ruling lines.  You have to understand what is the best choice and also understand if there are errors causing the different options to appear.

So the bulkhead edges are not straight on the sides for the front seat bulkhead or for the rowing seat front frame. And as those bulkheads are quite small the curvature is quite pronounced - leading to a lot of dimensioning in the drawings to lay out the curve accurately   In this case there is so much dimensioning in a small space that it took a few goes to come up with a scheme which I felt that most people could use without getting confused.

This is one of the early trial dimensioning versions - note again all drawings on this page are a little distorted to prevent them being useful without buying the plans.  There are three drawings of each bulkhead across the page.  The top three are the front seat bulkhead and the three at the bottom are the transom.

Leftmost of the three will be the dimensioned drawing, the centre will show the framing on the front of the bulkhead, the one on the right will show - you guessed it - the framing on the back of the bulkhead.

The MIDPOINT is purely a notation for me to remember that the framing always goes on the narrower face of the bulkhead so is on the front of the bulkeads above "MIDPOINT" and on the back of bulkheads below "MIDPOINT" except for the transom where we want the outside face clear of framing so it has to be moved to the inside face and cut oversize to allow for the bevel on sides and bottoms.

The stem is simply a piece of wood that is cut at the right angle for the way the sheerline meets at top and a different angle at the bottom for as the chines converge with the bow at a narrower angle.

After this it is time to put together the timber list before moving onto the detail drawings of the rowing seat and the outrigger wings (yep, Richard, I know you won't fit outriggers in a month of Sundays (but you might when Peter Hyndman goes whizzing past you at the Goolwa Wooden Boat Show in '07).

The image below is of the total drawing that is being worked on.



I am deeply happy this very drawn out bit of drawing is now over.  Looking forward to seeing one or two on the water.  Now that's the good bit!

detailed boat plans


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