First Goat Island Skiff in New Zealand

Ian Howeth is a very experienced dinghy and yacht sailor.  He has been building a Goat Island Skiff for the past year as time has become available.

homebuilt Goat island skiff ... first building and launching in Queenstown New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand, despite occasional neighbourhood disputes really are quite fond of each other.  We are also both fond of fast simple and light boats … where perhaps more of the groundwork was laid by Kiwi designer John Spencer with his groundshaking Cherub and Javelin designs of the early ’60s.

building a plywood goat island skiff in new zealand from gaboon okoume plywood

Ian is also the first person to get a carbon mast made up for the Goat.  It is not necessary by any means as the boat sails very, very well with the standard wooden stick, but the carbon spars will make the whole thing that little bit more portable.

Anyway … Ian’s own words …

Well, we finally got our boat launched this Christmas. Still a few bits and pieces to sort, some pieces only had an epoxy coat and no varnish, and I still plan to put a mizzen on it, but it was great to get out on the water at last. A huge thanks to Mr Storer and everyone else who provided help and advice, and especially my wife for her patience through all that time.

Rigging a homebuilt plywood sailboat - Storer "goat island skiff"

First launch in Lake Wakatipu. My wife is smiling on her first time sailing, so a big relief there!

Goat Island skiff owner and smiling wife sailing the boat on launching day.

We were off to Colac Bay on the South Coast to put the boat in some salt water. On the edge of Foveaux Strait, and not much between there and Antarctica, this picture of some trees gives an indication of the typical weather down there.

However, we got extremely lucky with conditions for sailing.

Out on the water:The first picture shows how I’ve set up the three reefs, spaced 600 mm apart. Second reef takes a bit more off the sail area than Mik’s original first reef, third reef leaves enough luff that the yard and boom aren’t clashing.

Goat island skiff in new zealand

We trolled a lure behind the boat and my six year old daughter caught a big Barracuda:

barracuda caught fishing off the back of a goat island skiff plywood sailboat

Yes, a memorable day for the kids with that fish, it could have been even more memorable, this was going on around the the next headland. I’m hoping to get down to a different area further east before the summer is out, I know a couple of bays where we can consistently see dolphins feed in close to shore. Hopefully the orcas don’t turn up and start chomping there way through a pod of dolphins while the kids are watching!

Interesting the conversations at the boat ramp getting on the water – the recreational fishermen with their alu power boats looking at us quite dubiously going out without a big motor on the back, but a couple of retired third generation commercial fishermen came down to look and commented favorably on how we had the boat set up with sail and oars and three reefs ready to go. One of them showed me a clinker dinghy his grandfather had built that he was thinking of restoring.

My family history on this coast goes back a bit, my great grandmother was shipwrecked with her four children east of here on New Years Eve – New Years Day 1873 – 1874. My great grandfather, then aged 11, was the oldest of the children. 100 days after leaving Gravesend in the Surat, they were huddling round a campfire on a remote beach in half a set of wet clothes.

Again, many thanks to Mik, the boat met and exceeded expectations: Light enough to get off the road trailer and down and up a steep and semi derelict boat ramp on my own, big enough and solid enough to feel comfortable on the water with three adults and the kids on board. The second day was windier than the first with an offshore wind, but we tied in the first reef and the boat went beautifully.
More soon, I’ll try and comment on some of the variations I’ve made in the boat, from carbon rig to the central buoyancy compartment.

You can read more on Ian’s thread on the Storerboats forum.  Feel free to join!!

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And you can see the set on Flickr here


About boatmik
On the "round Australia trip" I found myself employed by a tiny business in Adelaide - Duck Flat Wooden Boats in Adelaide.It was an eye opener - It became clear that one could build a boat for a fraction of the cost of current racing boats.My ideas hinged around high performance, easy building, fun to sail and reasonably cheapToday Storer Boats are built in all countries and we have active groups on Facebook for the following groupsGoat Island Skiff Open Goose Storer Boat plans Really Simple Sails