Design Contest #6 - Entry 4 click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By David Shelley - Poulsbo, Washington - USA


Drawings - Statistics - Description - Budget - Bio


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Length OA gaff rig -16’11”
Length OA lug rig -20’2”
Beam -6’3”
Draft-6(board up) 3’6”(board down)
Displacement 775lbs
Sail area-gaff rig-158sq.ft.
Sail area-lug rig-137sq.ft

Note: The difference between the gaff rig and the lug rig were almost nil when you consider the lug rig has less sail area, but has an extra amount of spruce for three small spars and fewer blocks.


At 15’9” Phoebe is a petite minimum cruiser that only needs 6” of water to float and with the centerboard down gives a draft of 3’6”. I chose a gaff rig sloop for this design because of my experience building a gaff rig version of an Oregon crabbing skiff years ago. I really enjoyed the functionality of that little rig and was always amazed at its performance. The one thing that bothered me was ducking the boom. So I designed a full batten boomless main that would mind its manners when in irons or just sitting at a dock ready to cast off. I also included an alternative design: a standing lug rig version cat ketch, also utilizing full battens. Although not included in the drawing, I would use a PVC pipe in the batten pockets with a wood dowel stuffed in the leech end for about half the length, being careful to put a bit of taper to the end of the dowel to keep from creating a stress point on the pipe. I would move the batten on the foot up a little from what the drawing shows and have the clew and tack just below. I would also add a reef clew and tack grommet just below the next batten up with reef ties or nettles.

The spars are made hollow so a 4”diameter mast would be made from ¾” stock cut to widths that would be 40% of the final diameter. Forming an eight-sided section, the staves would be about 1 5/8” at the point where the mast goes through the deck. On one edge of the stave, a 90 degree vee groove is routed in so that the edge of one fits into the vee groove of the next forming an almost round eight-sided spar. Adding some crumpled aluminum foil to the inside of the spars might add a little piece of mind that a commercial vessel’s radar will see Phoebe as a larger vessel.

The construction of Phoebe is set up to give her a traditional look but the effect of this construction method results in more of a monocoque structure. Rather than planking over molds, then putting in frames, etc, I first build the inside web frames ½” thick molded about 3” on the hull and 2” on the deck. Then, I add the chine battens notched into the web frames.

To simplify the construction frames, stations 1 and 2 could be set aft of the station line and 4 and 5 forward of it. Then all would be back filled and filleted with thickened epoxy.

By clamping a roughly shaped and scarfted plank into position and scribing it to the outside of each chine batten that it spans, the chine battens simplifies the process by giving the plank shape. I used this method on a four plank faering that I’m building for myself. It made the planking process the easiest part of building the hull. The chine battens also give the information for bevels on the garboard and the two topside planks above. The bottom and the garboards would be fiberglassed, and the rest would be coated with epoxy.

With a 6’9” long cockpit, there’s plenty of room to sleep out under a boom tent. If the wind is blowing mist or rain through the boom tent, there’s room below to stretch out on either side of the centerboard case. The lug rig version would be a little more comfortable in that case, since the main mast would step on the aft end of the stem knee, and open up the space under the deck leaving enough room for a virtual vee-berth.

To make a good and secure centerboard pivot I take an 1/8 bronze pipe nipple about 6” long, and cut a section out of the middle that is a little longer than the centerboard is thick, rough up the outer surface and epoxy it into the centerboard. The outer ends of the nipple would be epoxied into the centerboard case with the threads facing out. The inside diameter of 1/8” pipe is just right for an easy slip fit for a ¼” bronze rod cut from rod or a bronze bolt. Then the whole thing is sealed up with 1/8” pipe caps on each end.

I would probably cold mold the deck and the transom with 1/8” mahogany, mainly because it is available locally at a reasonable price. On the deck I would do a longitudinal, a diagonal, then another longitudinal layer. On the transom I would do four layers all running crosswise. The mahogany transom finished bright would look great. I find that how I build details is mainly determined by what I find locally to work with. For instance, if I was building Phoebe, I have mahogany sitting in my shop right now earmarked for ukulele necks. In order to spend some time on the beach, I would set the anchor a ways off, maybe four boat lengths or so out, and set a float to the anchor line with a block on the float with circular line attached to the stem. So after I get off the boat, I would use the line to pull the boat out to the float and then stake or tie the line off securely.

To pull the boat out of the water I would keep some uhmw strips, about 3” wide, by a 1/2” thick, and 3 to 4’ long aboard. The slight vee of the bottom riding on the strips would provide a minimum of friction and protection from barnacles and rocks.

This project has been a good exercise for me, as I usually do just enough drawing to get me to the lofting stage. To represent my ideas on paper for someone else to interpret is quite different.


12mm ocume plywood for bottom, cockpit deck and well floor, web frames, cabin bulkhead, centerboard case, deck beams.7 sheets.
9mm ocume ply for garboards, cockpit well sides, and sliding hatch; 3 sheets
6mm ocume ply for topside planking.
Cedar for chine battens
Mahogany for deck and transom
Fir for bedlogs, skeg, knees, keel, and inner stem.
Spruce for spars and oars
Oak for outer stem, and centerboard case ends.
UHMW black for cockpit slides, and white for beaching strips.
Bronze ring shank nails
Epoxy(3 gal kit)
Fiberglass cloth;
Sails;158 sq. ft. gaff rig.
or - 137 sq. ft. lug rig. ($608.00)
Pintles and gudgeons
Door Hinges
Bronze Oarlocks
Bronze Oarlock sockets
Cam cleat with fairlead
Rigging bocks; gaff, halyard, jib
Blocks for sheets
Horn cleats
Sheave for centerboard case
Mast band
Superhooker anchor 9#
6’ galv. Chain
100’ anchor line
Bow eyebolt
Lexan for portlights and doors
Bronze nipple, caps and rod

Budget Notes

When I do a rough estimate of cost I usually think two thirds of the cost will be labor and one third materials. So when I started this project I tried to visualize a boat worth around $7500.00. When I totaled this list I was shocked to see how close I came. I actually have $47.81 leftover for food. I made up a list of food items that I would need before I totaled the materials list and it came to about $37. I don’t eat much prepared food generally, and on this trip the prepared items I would be taking would be items like corn tortillas, cans of refried beans, salsa, so that would keep my food cost down. I enjoy cooking, and I would cook most of my meals from scratch in the morning and evening. During the middle of the day when I am sailing, I would just have a can of kippered snacks on rice crackers and an apple, and maybe some nuts in between times.


Being of an age where I can recall six decades of life experience, most all of it living at or near the water’s edge, I realize I still like doing what I have always liked doing: messing about in small boats and making music. I have a business building ukuleles and mandolins in a small town that caters to small craft tourism. But, I still can’t resist designing or restoring a wooden boat occasionally.

Bronze Blocks