By Bill Moffitt - Atlanta, Georgia - USA

Book Review:
The Sharpie Book
by Reuel B. Parker
click for bio

Published in 1994 by McGraw-Hill, this book should be in any sailing enthusiast’s library. When I first opened the book, I expected to just skim the History and Evolution chapter as these tend to be rather dry. Not so with Mr. Parker’s carefully considered collection of facts and photographs that inform and entertain without excess drag. Parker also uses quotes from other experts and historians, both past and present. Weaving practical evolution with modern theory, he makes plain the whys and wherefores of the sharpie’s good performance.  Particularly interesting were the explanations of the conditions and uses which drove the various derivations by region. 

In following chapters Parker does an excellent job of covering traditional construction, materials and tools, modern construction, details, and much more. There is sufficient information here to actually build one of these designs; all you need are plans. But more about plans later!

The meat and potatoes out of the way , it is time for desert. And we are served a surfeit of choices.  In Chapter Six, Parker presents 15 sharpie designs with construction details for each that dovetail nicely with previous chapters.  Each design has drawings showing side, top/bottom, and sail-plan views of the boat under discussion.  In an appendix there are 15 tables of offsets allowing one to loft each design.  Boats range from a 14’ Cape Cod Oystering Skiff to two 36’ footers!  Even a 38’  Clapham sharpie yacht is shown in some detail, though no offsets are given. If you can’t find at LEAST one  boat here you would love to build, then something is wrong. (With ONE of us anyway!)

In the Sailing, Handling, and Maintenance Chapter, Parker gives valuable advice on these subjects as well as the pros and cons of sharpie boats. As much of a sharpie proponent as he is, Parker still gives a fair assessment of the limitations of sharpies. As you may have noted, I became enchanted with the whole idea of these beautiful, functional designs.  So I splurged (a once in a great while deviation for me) and, after vacillating over several designs, I chose the 27’ New Haven Sharpie.  At $160, this was a major investment for me; I tend to be on a Jim Michalak budget.  

I received the plan packet  VERY quickly and found  the following inside. Another copy of The Sharpie Book (I was aware of this and intend to pass it on to one of my sons to enjoy), four 8”x10” nice color pictures printed on copy paper, and three 24”x36’” fold out plans. The plans were the same as shown in the book, but larger and to scale.  I was very disappointed; I have to say I expected more for $160.  However, upon further and closer reading, the web site plainly says that the plans consist of larger scale drawings of what is in the book.  This applies to all Stock Sharpie plans apparently.  I missed that before I ordered-mea culpa!

I do believe that it is entirely feasible to build most of these designs right from the book, and along with it’s other content, this makes The Sharpie Book  a real bargain.  I simply cannot recommend The Sharpie Book any more highly.  As for the plans part, to each his own.

The book is available from the Parker Marine website at $19.95 ppd. (check or PayPal only)

Amazon link is HERE at $13.57; $17.56 ppd (to Georgia), or buy something else to get free shipping at a $25 minimum.

––-William P. Moffitt––-

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit our forum