SEAL COVE SKIFF, ROWING SKIFF, 12' X
4', 100 POUNDS EMPTY
This boat is an "instant"
version of the "8-Foot Seal Cove Skiff" shown
on Plate 34 in Howard Chapelle's classic book
BOATBUILDING. Such a great book, although it predates
the building methods that this modern version uses. I
recommend that you get the book if you can. If you turn
to Plate 34 you might notice that the "8-Foot"
skiff is really 12' long! Sometimes there is an explanation
for a discrepancy like that such as with traditional dories
that are listed by their length on the bottom and not
by overall length, but in this case I'll bet it is a goof.
Next you will see that Chapelle's skiff had a slanted
internal transom towards the bow so there is an open well
with a wheelbarrow wheel up there, and then wheelbarrow
handles on the stern! So the boat is self trailering,
sort of. Finally Chapelle shows a small downwind-only
sailing rig. I did not want to copy those features but
you might get the book and try them.
Pierre Guimond built this
beautiful prototype up in Quebec within a few weeks of
the plans release. Then he had to wait for the Canadian
ice to melt to get these photos. Here is one of Pierre
solo showing proper trim with the stem just out of the
The shape of these hulls is totally
traditional and effective. The sides have constant flare
almost the entire length except at the bow. There we find
a great twist to the planks to get a stem that is nearly
vertical. Flare is nearly always good in a rowing boat
because it gives both the narrow bottom that benefits
speed and the wide top that gives good spread for the
row locks plus extra room and stability. The vertical
stem gives more waterline length which implies more speed.
The bottom treatment has the stem always just out of the
water to encourage the boat to go over the water instead
of plowing through it. Then the bottom runs straight back
and down to a point just past the midsection and then
it turns quickly up to well above the the normal waterline.
The idea is to load a boat like this with extra weight
in the stern to keep the stem just clear of the water.
The result is a lot of capacity. Seal Cove can easily
take two full sized men which is unusual for a 12' rowing
Here is another photo of Pierre's boat
with wife and dogs aboard. Note that the stem is still
out of the water. The stern has sunk under the passenger's
weight but not enough to immerse the flat transom. Another
loading scheme might be with both dogs up front, or with
the rower in the front seat.
The hull is made with three sheets of
1/4" plywood instead of the 5/8" cedar boards
and heavy oak framing of the original. I kept the internal
chine logs of the original design and I think this is
the only boat I've ever drawn that has them. But if I
were to build one of these for myself I would probably
use taped seams or maybe external chine logs instead.