Below are some of our customers’ favorite adventures and anecdotes about our boats — from coast to coast and around the world.
Also check out the Mailbag section of our blog for more stories and photos that we’ve collected over the years!
“Thanks for busting your rear end to get our Nisqually tender ready so we could leave the Northwest for points South on schedule. Now enjoy these photos of one of your dinghies rowing in Ensenada Grande, Sea of Cortez.”
— Craig and Vicki (8′ Nisqually)
” My father purchased an 8′ dinghy from you in 1991. I still remember standing in your shop the day we picked it up. Our ski boat is long gone — but that little rowboat is still going strong. I originally loved it because it’s the fastest rowboat I’ve ever seen. I love it now because it has held up beautifully after 15 years of fishing and duck hunting. I have only washed it once and it still looks new! You make a great boat!!! ”
— D. Bellarts, WA (8′ Nisqually)
9.5' Captain's Gig
“The picture of our friend Steve shows how irresistible the dinghy is. Everybody wants to go for a row and three people have had their first rowing lessons in it. The maximum load we’ve had is four adults and the boat rowed well with plenty of freeboard.”
— The Greenings, Illinois (9.5 Captains Gig)
“I took the 10’ Navigator out for a spin today around Lake Union and I couldn’t be happier. She rows really nice and also handled some wind and chop very well. I like the longer oars and the heavy oar locks. It was really easy to put her in and out of the back of the truck. . . I also took the navigator on a shake down row to Eagle Harbor. My overall rowing speed (3.2 mh flat water, no wind no current ) was actually faster than the Melonseed! Thanks again and see you on the high seas!”
~ Randall, Seattle WA (10′ Navigator)
“I think I may still be one of your happiest customers. We’ve been sailing our Navigator for 12 years now (through 2 cruising sailboats), and my trusty tender is well travelled (incuding a car topped tour across the states and back)! You may remember me when I managed the now defunct Offshore Store…you’ve also got a shot of my wife and dog on your web site. Well, I decided to go cruising. I’m wrapping up a 2 year trip through Central America and now find myself in Miami. Now I did go with an inflatable RIB for daily use, but I just couldn’t leave my trusty Navigator behind. I’ve sailed it in almost every country we’ve cruised in. I plan on rigging up for a sail in Miami tomorrow!”
~Trevor, SV Lea Scotia (10′ Navigator)
“This beautiful little Navigator was delivered to us in Southside, Alabama during the summer of 2007. It is often getting a workout cruising the Coosa River or Guntersville Lake and never fails to attract lots of attention. Light, stable and versatile it suits our needs perfectly. . .Great boat…we love it!”
R&C Petch, Southside AL (10′ Navigator)
“I have been rowing my Navigator 10 on the Puget Sound virtually every day, rain or shine, since August of last year. It is incredibly stable in rough water. It will take rougher water than I am willing or able to. My normal row is around the breakwater at Shilshole Bay Marina. I am regularly amazed at its ability to ride over waves which appear, as they approach, to be much higher than the boat. In addition to its ability to ride effortlessly over rough water, it glides several boat lengths on each stroke. It is truly a pleasure to row and I feel extremely secure rowing it in all types of weather.”
— M. S. Stern, Seattle (10′ Navigator)
“The boat is amazingly fast and so easy to row. My neighbor’s Ranger does not track anything like my Navigator. Sailing it with the main and jib is faster than many larger boats.”
— The Neddermans, Gig Harbor (10′ Navigator)
“We are quite pleased with our new boat. It tows just great behind our 35′ sailboat… You can put us down as happy in Portland.”
— T. Kelly (10’Navigator)
“My daughter and I took our Navigator out for the first time yesterday. She already had a good understanding of true verses apparent wind, boat parts, sail shape, lift, etc., but all from a big boat (40 foot) perspective. She had the tiller of the Navigator for less than a minute when she began describing how she could finally feel all of the forces that I had been babbling about. After about fifteen minutes she was playing the puffs and loving the acceleration.
My wife stayed behind with the dog, but she had my daughter row her around for an hour after our sail. As soon as we got home my daughter asked me when she could have another turn at the tiller. The answer of course was any time you like.
Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to obtain a great sail trainer (and tender, etc.) at just the right time.”
— K., A., and H. Schricker. (10’Navigator)
12' Point Defiance
“When I took her out for her first row, I knew she was a winner. What a sweetheart of a boat to row. I’ve had her out in a bit of weather and she has handled nicely, never felt uncomfortable. . . . Axel loves hopping in that boat now more than he does going for a ride in the truck. Now that’s saying something! Thanks for building a great boat. . . I have been a tug boat Captain for over 25 years and have worked at sea my entire life. Of all the boats I’ve been on, big or small, they all have had there own personalities. IDA certainly has a wonderful personality.”
~Captain D. Engblom (12′ Point Defiance)
“This boat delivers! It is, if anything, even nicer to row than I presumed it would be. It tracks arrow straight & moves along nicely with little effort. The area pictured isn’t always so benign looking, as you probably know; winds, wakes and tides can make for some very challenging small boat handling. None of these caused me any problems. And, as you said would happen, we got a lot of compliments from fellow islanders, some of whom are also rowers, on the boat’s lines and traditional “look.” “Simplicity”, as we have unofficially named her, is a hit. Thanks to you and your fellow craftsmen for a fine job.”
~Mike, Anchorage AK (12′ Point Defiance)
“Wanted you to know that Irene and I are very happy with our new Pt. Defiance. She glides through the water easily. And we have had no trouble rowing in tandem, but thanks for explaining the faster and faster phenomenon. We experienced it and knew to settle down and row a steady pace, thanks to your explanation. No real weather this weekend to test her stability, though a few boat wakes hint that everything you have said and more will be true. We have about 9-10 miles on her on the weekend. Due to the efficiency of the hull design, we traveled much further than we have done in the past by human power only. Nice to see parts of Hood Canal we haven’t seen since selling our ski boat several years ago. In our travels this weekend we noted two Whitehall boats you have made. Nice to be among the classy crowd! Thanks for making such a great boat available!”
— P. Farsje, Happy Hollow Yacht Club(12′ Point Defiance)
“The boat is great and the times we’ve used it were great. Our 12 year old has learned to sail in it. Alyssa has not yet requested to sail it alone but she loves to take it rowing. We often have people ask about it and we are happy to tell them where it came from.”
— J. Condon, Seattle (12′ Point Defiance)
“We have now put a few miles on the dinghy and are very pleased. I think it is exactly the right rig for our purposes. Also, people admire it and ask of its origin. ”
— J. Horning, Bristol Bay, Alaska (12′ Point Defiance)
“I thought you would like to know how the boat behaved for us in some extreme circumstances. Jeffrey (9yrs) and I were heading for Rich Passage after spending 3 days camping on Blake Island. The wind was from the south and had been fairly strong that morning, but looked like it was blowing itself out at 12:45 when we left the harbor with both main and jib up. About 1/4 of the way across, the wind picked up and I had to lower the jib. The water still didn’t look bad. At the half way point the wind began to really blow and I couldn’t keep her sailing without being over powered. The waves were growing to what looked like 3 feet, also. I had to lower the main, take up the dagger board and we were still moving through the water at a respectable speed. Jeffrey held the tiller to point us in the right direction while I rowed. We were both scared. Especially when a 50 ft. yacht passed within 50 yrds. of us throwing huge waves in the opposite direction. This is not an experience I want to repeat, but it enabled me to get a feel for how the boat reacts in rough weather. We took on no water except a little that the wind blew in. The boat was easy to handle even in the heavy following seas. No wallowing or tendancy to turn when the waves came up from behind (although I think having the oars out helped in keeping her steady). The sails came down easily in the strong winds. I think she even handled better because of the weight of our camping equipment.”
–S. and J. Robinson (12′ Point Defiance)
“Thanks a million! I took her out for the first time this weekend and she is a fine little boat. She sails beautifully and rows with ease. You guys have a great thing going with these boats, both in style and function.”
— Hector in Florida (12′ Point Defiance)
Dave & Co.,
Been a while since I’ve sent a message, but today was so great I had to tell you about it. Went out in the PD from Santa Barbara Harbor around mid day and the wind was perfect for trying a long term goal: to the oil platforms and back! It’s over 5 nautical miles directly off the harbor on a close reach. I checked the time as I passed the green outer harbor buoy and it was 1:00 sharp. With steady winds and modest seas (swell about 3 feet, wind waves a foot or so) it took an hour and 10 minutes to go the 5.15 nautical miles (measured on Google Earth afterwards). That equates to 4.4 knots. As is typical here in the afternoon, the wind picked up on the way back, another close reach, but a bit farther off the wind. By the time I got back to the harbor, winds were at least 15 knots + and wind waves were about two feet. We were flying! I was on the rail much of the way and spilling wind from the main occasionally (rather like my first rave about the Whitehall, but much more stable – only a couple of splashes over the rail and a damp pants seat from the extra exposure). The time back was an hour and 7 minutes (maybe even a little better than that) or speed made good of 4.6 knots. Not bad for 11.5 or so feet of waterline length (standard formula of 1.25 X square root of the water line length gives 4.2 knots hull speed).
Also wanted to complement you on the saga of the Scamp’s progress. I find myself checking the blog nearly every time I’m on line just to see what’s next. Since I used to work for Islander and DownEast Yachts (long defunct like so many builders), I find the technical detail and evident care you’ve taken in the tooling fascinating and impressive.
— A. Nelson in Santa Barbara (12′ Point Defiance)
Had quite a few people ask about the Scamp and, of course, would tell them about it and to go to ghboats.com.On the way home we decided to spend a day at Disneyworld, staying at Fort Wilderness Campground. Checking in a day early (had gotten hot and calm in Keys), the budget site was not available. The manager, a nice young man intrigued by the boat, decided to give us the “cool boat discount” and we got the premium site for same price!Absolutely love the boat. Hope I don’t have to wait too long to sail again here at home.
My son Russell jumped overboard in chest deep water with my waterproof Nikon AW100 and took these shots near NE end of Big Pine Key.
I moved the halyard attachment (with swivel block lashed to yard) about 8 inches toward throat and like it better than original.
Am thrilled with the boat.
“My trip from Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, Alaska can be reduced to simple numbers; distance, speed, and time required to cover the distance…but these numbers do not capture the magic of the journey and are not reality in themselves, but reflect the magnitude of the challenge. Add in weather conditions, wind and tides and the picture gets clearer; the trip really was an odyssey…
“During this span, I rowed for 22 days. I took 6 rest days when I visited friends, replenished food supplies and above all, showered! I encountered 20 days of rain and 15 morning or afternoon half days of headwinds greater than 30 mph. My GPS tracker was programmed to tabulate these; 1400 km [870 miles] travelled at an average of 5km [3 miles] per hour, over 280 hours of rowing. I was able to row up to 16 hours per day when conditions dictated and remained in good condition.
“I want you to know that my Whitehall performed admirably and was the perfect choice for this trip. The lightness of the fiberglass/Kevlar hull allowed me to easily beach the craft and roll it up the beach on crab trap floats tied in a line on a rope. I then converted the boat to a ‘tent’ and slept inside the entire trip. I never bothered to use the tent I carried. Once your standard boat cover was attached I had a very comfortable place to read and sleep.
“The boat’s seaworthiness was progressively tested. Indeed, using the Concept II sculling oars that I purchased from you, I found I could tackle and overcome 35 mph headwinds. Feathering them forward reduces the wind resistance and then the headwind also drove the oar into the stroke. I used the flexibility of the boat to vary from a standard rowing technique to sculling with the sliding seat. I had replaced your standard straps on the footplate with the anchoring system used on Concept II’s ergometers with great success.”
“ I want you to know that my Gig Harbor WhiteHall performed beyond my expectations and was masterfully crafted for the Odyssey I undertook. I would recommend this craft to anyone who asked! Thanks again!”
~Ken Poskitt (14′ Whitehall)
Read the whole story of Ken’s adventure and see photos here on the blog.
“She’s such a wonderful craft. I get comments nearly every time I take her out. Folks motor and paddle over for a closer look, they cross parking lots and streets to gaze and ask questions. They can’t believe how fast she is and how well she does in the swells. She’s a real beauty! Keep up the good work!”
~Adrian, MI (14′ Whitehall)
“What a great boat, the Whitehall. We’ve sailed and rowed on the Snake, Chacoleot, and Cour d’Alene. It does everything really well. Thank you. It is much admired and appreciated.”
— G. Rubens, Idaho (14′ Whitehall)
“Finest boat I’ve ever had. Lovely – classical to look at – and just pure adrenaline to row. As you know I’m an ex-sculler moving from a 24′ racing shell. But at 81 my balance isn’t what it used to be, especially in the summer time rolling water of Lake Chelan. But the Whitehall, with sliding seat (unique design that works perfectly), long oars and the fine entry I get the same effect as with the shell but all the stability I couldn’t achieve in the skinny boat. And, I swear I’m going through the water just as fast.
I congratulate you on the great design, super-duper options and the patience to put up with my never ending requests. I love the “Miss Daisy.”
~Nat, Lake Chelan WA (14′ Whitehall)
“This boat is perfect for my needs!”
— W. Miller, Colorado (14′ Whitehall) (Check out Mr. Miller’s other activities at Miller Entertainment.)
“When I first ordered my Whitehall I was only looking for a sailboat, then you talked me into a sliding seat and that became its primary purpose. Then Judy talked me into getting an electric motor and it became our tender. Lately it has gone back to its roots and become a work boat.
You can find it off Lagoon Point most mornings at sunrise lately if the weather and tides cooperate. My neighbors tell me it’s the prettiest fishing boat around and of course that is true but I appreciate the way it just bobs up and down in the swells while their “more stable” boats roll around like beer cans on the floor.”
~Bob, Whidbey Is. WA (14′ Whitehall)
“Sailing an open boat for hours on end at hull speed is more fun by far than anything with a motor (or a trapeze). This boat and her skipper became one integrated and supremely satisfying unit. She balances well in all conditions and picks up her skirts in anything over 8 kts. She slices the water so cleanly, the wake fades in a few boat lengths. And aside from a few dollops of water over the lee rail when my attention lapsed, she’s quite dry. I did get wet, but only a bit. Since I could easily have been dunked, that was no problem.
“Quite a vessel you make. I doubt you’ve engineered it for quite this type of abuse, but she passed this unplanned trial with flying colors.My complements!”
– A. Nelson, Santa Barbara CA (14′ Whitehall)
“THANK YOU!!! I REALLY LIKE THIS BOAT!!!”
— J. Black, Seattle (14′ Whitehall)
Over the years, Mr. Black has rowed his Whitehall 4700 miles, in locations such as Alaska and the Yukon, and says: “I needed an indestructible boat that I could drag up and down every beach on the Pacific and not worry about the damage that I was doing. It had to be light weight and it had to row well. Gig Harbor Boat Works had the best answer…. their 14′ Whitehall.” (Read more here…)
“A quick note to tell you how neat we all think our little boat is. It rows easily and we all have had a sail. It is easy to rig and our son-in-law who knows little about sailing actually got it rigged from memory and had a great time.”
— A. Clapp (14′ Whitehall)
“Angel Shell is a near perfect boat. I have rowed, skulled, paddled, poled, sailed, and captained any variety of power boats up to 40+ feet in all types of water and conditions, from whitewater rapids to the doldrums. I got my first 9′ aluminum rowing pram when I was 9 years old. Since then, I have had experience with wooden boats, glass boats, plastic boats, inflatable boats, and boats made of steel and concrete. I have had opportunity to spend days in deep blue water and nights stuck on mud flats… But, I have never been on a better boat than the Kevlar Whitehall I recently purchased from you. ”
“The boat is as lovely on the water as she is easy on the eye. She dances and responds like the sweetest Tango partner. Grace, balance, and charm are her trademark attributes. She makes this old sea dog smile. I have rowed her in the black water Satilla River at flood stage, skirting cypress snags in a six knot current. I have taken her in the tidal creeks and sound between St. Simons and Jekyll Island in calm and moderate chop. She takes to water like a Labrador retriever. She rows so easily and light I feel as though I am above the water, not merely on it. She tracks straight; I set a course across a wide river against the tide, closed my eyes for nearly five minutes as I rowed; when I opened my eyes, I was perfectly on course! The sweeps and sliding seat could not be better engineered and balanced. In other words, I am quite happy with the boat and wish to thank you and your production crew for sending Angel Shell my way.”
— Jaxon (14′ Whitehall)
“Got out in the boat today to take pictures of sea lions. The swell was about 1 1/2 feet with 1 foot wind waves superimposed, so the sea was NOT flat. Wind was blowing toward land at 5 to 6 kts or so. Still getting the hang of rowing again after many years, but she tracks straight as an arrow and is as dry as can be. The only water aboard came from splashing by my fumbled efforts with the oars. She rides very comfortably in a seaway and glided easily past a plastic kayak with two apparently competent paddlers.”
“With the wind behind, the roughly 1 nm trip back from the outer buoy took about 18 minutes for about 3 kt made good. It didn’t take much more time to get out against the wind, but I didn’t time that.”
“I rigged the sails at home and am impressed by how things fit together. I especially like the shroud attachments – cleaver! Will let you know my sailing impressions soon. Thanks for an impressive and seaworthy boat.”
— A. Nelson Santa Barbara CA. (14′ Whitehall)
“I would like to say thank you. Our new 14′ Whitehall is by far the best row boat we have ever owned. We live on the Great South Bay on the East end of long Island, New York. This boat cuts through the white caps with ease when on the bay. When used up river it moves so quickly, one would think they had a small kicker on the stern. Also this boat came with a trailer which trailers with ease, can be pulled with a small car. Again thank you. I wish all businesses were as professional as you all…”
— The Bardens, Long Island NY (14′ Whitehall)
15' Lobster Boat
“Greetings from Southern California. I have owned my L15 for more than a year now and the time to share some stories and pictures has arrived. First, I wonder if the folks up in the North West receive as many compliments on the boat as I do. I simply cannot go anywhere, either while I am in the lot rigging the boat or on the water, without someone asking me “what is that?” or commenting on the “handsome craft”. Looks aside, the L15 performs marvelously.
While I truly enjoy ocean fly fishing as I glide over the kelp in San Clemente with the center-board and motor up, not to mention the speed my 9.8 Nissan outboard produces in moving me there, I sail the boat most often. My sailing ground, up until last week, was Dana Point Harbor and up to 3 miles of the surrounding sea. I have enjoyed everything from broad reaches in 20 knots of wind outside the harbor to the utility of taking down the main, easily raising the boom, and rowing back to the launch ramp when the breeze stops. Indeed the long stroke of the L15 is nice but the novelty of rowing, for me, is short.
Recently, I towed the boat down to Mission Bay in San Diego. It took only an hour to set me in another completely different arena. The water was flat and the wind strong and the boat moved along rapidly. Note the picture, wing and wing in the L15. With the centerboard up, I was able to beach the L15 near the Catamaran Hotel and have some lunch in Sail Bay. You know I really enjoy my boat. Thank you for being as responsive, knowledgeable and friendly in the months after the sale as in the months before.”
~Robert, CA (15′ Lobster Boat)
“Recently we went out with my friend who is a very experienced sailor. He was really impressed with the versatility and performance. He was particularly impressed with how well it sailed to windward, especially with 4 people aboard! Thanks!”
— M. Timlinson, Lake Quinault, WA (15′ Lobster Boat)
“We have had a lot of fun with the Lobster Boat. Earlier this year we used it for Shrimping and now it is Crab Season. We used the motor for shrimp but as the crab are close to shore just use the oars. Also we are working on our sailing skills.”
— B. Porter, Hood Canal, WA (15′ Lobster Boat)
“We had the ‘Blue Crane’ out on Lake Tahoe twice this weekend. Last Friday, we made a motorized run over to Emerald Bay on a flat calm day and had a very nice time on a sunny beach until the lightning started playing about the peaks and rain threatened. The boat performed very well and makes a good Tahoe motor boat.”
“One of my brothers and I went sailing on Sunday and had an amusing time. I am a very inexperienced sailor. My brother has lots of sailing experience, but most of it is 20 years old, and, of course, he had never sailed this boat before. As we were leaving the dock, the Rescue Boat came by to advise against going out, reporting a small craft advisory for winds to 35 knots. We went out anyway and had a nice, if wet sail, around the south end of the lake. The winds were nowhere near 35 knots–I would estimate 20 knots max, but my brother thought they might be nearer 25. The “seas” were 18″ to 2 ‘ and the boat rode through them nicely. The boat performed perfectly, although we had to beat back to the harbor and I got a nice Tahoe soaking as the “rail meat” on the gunwale keeping the boat on a slight heel. Even two not-very-good-sailors could handle the boat in some conditions that had the Rescue Boat hanging around (not just for us–there was another sailboat out that they were eyeing)–they could not know that my brother’s experience was in some nasty San Francisco Bay conditions and mine in Alaska. Both of us are capable of handling more than we met on Sunday, and we were never in the slightest danger. The boat will move very nicely on a run in 20 knot winds. It is very stable under all the conditions we encountered.”
“We are very pleased with the boat and would enthusiastically recommend it.”
— Jim, Lake Tahoe, CA (15′ Lobster Boat)
“Thank you for the beautiful Melonseed! Boat, trailer, and gear arrived early Tuesday morning. Classic looks (with far less maintenance), solid construction, and amazing craftsmanship! Mahogany trim and seats just pop against white hull and deck. As expected, the features that you and Falk recommended are ideal for my family’s needs. Swing tongue on trailer also saves much garage space; thank you for your efforts to ensure that this was added.
Two things (beyond work!) have kept us off the water: 1) High winds or near-record rainfall within past week. 2) Fascinated neighbors who have stopped by, even late at night, to see the Melonseed! Have gladly shared your website, along with unqualified praise of GHBW. We hope to sail and row our new boat within the next couple of weeks.
Entire experience with GHBW has been outstanding! Knowledgeable, gracious, and very patient service. Guidance that truly meets the customer’s skills and interests. Final product that combines high-quality, reasonable price, great function, and traditional beauty. We could not be happier with GHBW and with our Melonseed! Thank you, Janet, Falk, and rest of the GHBW crew for your time and hard work!”
– Michael (17′ Melonseed)
“Well, I launched the Melonseed over the weekend, and I am VERY impressed with her! I’ve rowed her (standard oars and forward rowing system), sailed her, and even ran the electric propulsion a bit. All work very well. I was particularly amazed how well she sails – and also how simple the balanced lug rig is. Wow! My wife, Peggy, says the Melonseed is a keeper! We even dropped anchor out on Campbell Lake Saturday evening with a picnic dinner. Dropped the sail, enjoyed a relaxing meal out on the water, and then raised the sail back up to sail home. Perfect! I know the Melonseed will allow me to get my family out on the water a lot more! Again, thank you, the Melonseed is GORGEOUS – and I’m anxious to try sliding seat rowing with my traditional sculls soon too!”
~Mark (17′ Melonseed)
“I had a lovely weekend at the lake house and I wanted you to know that whenever I’m here now I row around the island first thing in the morning. The boat is a dream and I truly enjoy it. I get constant compliments on it from boaters and fishermen. I can even sail it decently. Thank you,”
~Frank (17′ Melonseed)
“I thought you might like to know that the Melonseed we purchased performs wonderfully on Lake Cushman. We’ve finally had a chance to get her in the water and do some rowing. What a blast!”
~Mike Hanaway, Lake Cushman WA (17′ Melonseed)
““The hardest part about rowing this boat for exercise is that everyone wants to stop you and ask questions – lots of admiration for your craftsmanship.”
~Brant, Monterey CA (17′ Melonseed)
“I love my seaworthy Melonseed! Out in English Bay, Vancouver B.C., yesterday in a 15-knot westerly, we got spray over the bow, wetting our backs, but the boat remained dry. Thanks again for a great design, well built.”
~Richard, Vancouver BC (17′ Melonseed)
“Well worth waiting for…She looks beautiful!..I rowed it and enjoyed the comfort and ease, not to mention how easily she moves! Then it rained a couple of days and yesterday the sun was out – but also a very frivolous and shifty wind and I raised the sail and got a lot of excercise, as in our lake with its arms and tall trees the gusts shifted some 180 degrees and their intensity changed from second to second. And then I realized that there was a lot of water in the boat–the plug had fallen out…No problem! The few brief moments, really just seconds, that the wind was steady from one direction she sailed beautifully on a reach or downwind. No heading possible without knowing where the wind was coming from..But again. beautiful. And the boat-cover, very very clever and perfect. The beautiful wooden mast and oars. Gorgeous. I’m looking forward to getting to know my cute Melonseed ever better.”
~Hans, VA (17′ Melonseed)
“We have been rowing the Melonseed almost every other day since we got it. We have a swell here most of the time and have found that rowing into it is OK, but rowing with it is grand fun. We crab our oars now and again when rowing with the swell abeam. My GPS indicates that we do about 4kts rowing at about 40 strokes per minute. An hour of that is about all we are good for so far. She’s a wonderful boat!”
— B. Fallows, Port Townsend WA. (17′ Melonseed)
“I reefed the sail at home last week to be ready for a novice sailor’s first time out. Wind was nearly non-existent for the first couple of hours except for a light puff of air from time to time. I was very pleasantly surprised when the wind did pick up to about 6 gusting 8 (according to the wind forecast). The boat moved along quite nicely. Had the sheet in hand and was very active with it, letting out when a gust came by, hauling it in when the air slacked off. The mahogany stayed out of the water, but just barely.
Next time I’ll brave stronger breezes – I’ll probably keep the sail reefed until I gain confidence with higher wind speeds and stronger gusts.
“Beautiful boat!” fairly echoed across the lake. Got lots of compliments on it. Somebody on the bank took pictures (there was another boat in the probable frame, so maybe the Melonseed wasn’t the subject, but of course I like to think it was).
I could not be happier with my first time out.”
–Peter S. (17′ Melonseed)
“We took delivery on our beautiful Melonseed in December of 2012. It was a sunny day, so after Dave checked us out and left, Gretchen and I hit the water for a row to Tanglewood Island and back. Everything was great, and rowing was easier than expected for two newbie’s to a ‘real’ row boat. We rowed now and then when the weather would permit.
Spring brings more sun, and more boat time. We improved our feel for the boat by taking longer and longer rows. Then we gave sailing a try, and loved it. We just finished a row around Fox Island, about 13 miles by my map tool. I can tell you, the sliding seats with cushions made it possible. We are retired, and the boat gives us nothing but confidence, stable, fast, and a joy to row…… well after mile 10 not so much.
We are improving our sailing skills, and love the simple rig. You have built another quality boat, I can only give praise for. We love our Melonseed, and look forward to many more hours of fun on the water.
Thanks for a great boat. You and your crew build nothing but quality.”
— Mike & Gretchen O., Fox Island WA (17′ Melonseed)
17' Jersey Skiff
“I’ve been enjoying the skiff *tremendously* over the last few weeks. We’ve had great weather and although the yahoos are out in force on the Willamette River on weekend afternoons, it’s been wonderful sailing and rowing after work on weekdays and early mornings on the weekends. I’ve been out a few times per week for the last month or so, and it’s really given me a deeper appreciation of the skiff – it’s a great boat. I’ve gotten many admiring comments and questions about where it was built (I’m sending them all your way!).”
~ M. Johnston, Oregon
“I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed my Jersey Skiff. It has been a fantastic sailing boat for sailing the many lakes of Western Washington and Puget Sound. I am a long time boater but new to sailing and it has been a great, fun challenge to learn the art. The Jersey Skiff sails easy enough for a beginner like myself to quickly become comfortable, yet has more than enough performance to challenge any sailor. I have sailed it in flat calm to 20 knots of wind in rough seas on Puget Sound, having a great time all the way. It even rows well. It tracks straight and carry well with only 5-6 strokes a minute to keep it up to speed.”
“The only problem I have had is getting away from the dock because so many people come by to ask and comment about my interesting boat.”
“Thanks, Gig Harbor, it’s been a real treat getting to know you and the boat and I’m sure it will be for many years to come.”
— From C. S., of Kent, Wa. (17′ Jersey Skiff)
“The skiff again received many favorable or should I say enviable comments regarding her usefulness as a platform for our whale photography hobby. If you had a shop here I am sure you would be selling these boats like hotcakes. I have had several offers for our boat which has absolutely no chance of being sold. We use it four to six days a week dependent on the weather.”
~ B. Raimo, Lahaina HI (17′ Jersey Skiff)
“I have a Jersey Skiff that I row and sail in the Pacific Ocean off the mouth of the Rogue River. To launch the boat I’ve rigged a sling and use the hoist at the end of the pier. We lower the boat about 20ft at low tide from the pier down to the water. I’ve taken her out to Hell’s Gate on nice days where I have caught many, many fish ( As many as 50 a day, most catch and release; ling cod, black cod, etc.) from the Jersey Skiff because I can get to locations not normally frequented by other fishermen. I have hooked Ling cod so large they dragged the boat through the kelp until I had to cut them loose.”
“I have been out the open water in 15 ft ocean swells, where she handles like a dream, we just ride them up and down. I’ve launched her off Gold Beach a half dozen times. I use an old piece of PVC pipe as a roller and my buddy and I just roll her down, shove off and row like crazy to get through the shore break. Rowing through the surf is easy going out, and takes a bit more attention coming back in. So far, so good, haven’t dumped her yet!”
“I’m a neophyte sailor and my experiences so far are either too much wind or too little. But she’s easy to rig and with time I will get more confidence. The boat seems very capable, I just need more time on the water.”
— Louis English, Gold Beach OR. (17′ Jersey Skiff)
“Well, I finally got out in the Jersey Skiff I bought back in December. Needless to say, I was very pleased with its performance! I was out both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I did have a bit of light breeze come up both days, and under sail, she pointed up very nicely. She seems tender at first, but hardens up nicely when heeled a bit.
The air was very light, so I got a chance to row it and it performed well. I am glad that I put the rowing seat in for several reasons. When rowing, having the sliding seat offers a full body stroke, which is nice on a boat this size and mass. But also, when sailing, it is very convenient to move the seat to the aft position to get it out of the way.
I got out again in the Jersey skiff on Sunday. It was a great day for sailing. I put in at Fort Worden and rode the Northeasterly down into Port Townsend Bay, and past the downtown area. After a bit, I turned the boat around and tacked out into the bay towards Marrowstone. After several tacks, I made my way back North, making a final tack right into the boat ramp at Fort Worden. The winds were a bit stronger than my first outing, and the boat handled very well. I am finding that with one hand on the main sheet, and the other on the tiller, I can adapt very quickly to gusts and changing conditions. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I got the roller furling set up. This was your suggestion. I found that I could instantly reduce sail area on the head sail, complete my adjustments on the main, and then pull out the genoa again without feeling the slightest loss of control.
I did encounter one problem putting in and getting out of the water on Sunday. Everyone wanted to stop and ask me about the boat! ”
— E. D. Thielk, Port Townsend WA. (17′ Jersey Skiff)
” Ran the Honda 2 hp yesterday, for the first time. You guys put some thought into the engine mount. Everything works great. The adjustment on the engine allows vertical alignment of the shaft so the anti-cavitation plate runs paralell to the water surface. There is no conflict withfull rudder movement required under sail since the Honda tilts up and out of the way.
The skiff easily ran into a headwind blowing up to 15 mph with seas up to 1 ft, at 5 mph calculated. In calm water, my estimate is 6mph or better. The GPS failed, so I’ll send a more accurate report sometime later. This was run sans mast and rigging, so I only had to run at 1/2 throttle. The best character of this boat, that continues to impress me is its’ seaworthiness. ”
— J. Van Houten, Michigan. (17′ Jersey Skiff with deck and motor mount)
I have had several months experience now with my Jersey skiff. The boat definitely attracts questions as to its origins and many positive comments. I typically rig the boat for sailing and spend about one hour rowing ( with the boom up) for exercise. I keep the boat on Lake Washington Seattle at leschi and often have to row in and out of a tight channel. I am 69 years old and have owned many boats large and small (as many as 10 at a time). This boat is definitely a keeper.
The boat does everything you say it will, a refreshing twist on advertising.
— E. Schulman 9/5/07
Don’t know if I already gave you this, but just in case here it is again. In calm to light winds, with the Honda 2 hp, cruising at 1/2 throttle at 5.7 mph, mileage is over 31 mpg! I’ve run this test several times now, so its a true average.
Tried the boat in Lake Huron this summer when the waves were sufficient size to nearly drown the Honda, but the hull easily handled the 2-3 ft wind driven waves. No sails that day, just oars and Honda.
— John Van H. 10/26/07
In summer of 2012 we were allowed to eavesdrop on a conversation between a current Gig Harbor Jersey Skiff owner and another fellow interested in becoming a Jersey Skiff owner. The prospective owner, John, asked Lane, the owner a number of pertinent questions that Lane answered in depth… plus a few other interesting and pertinent points. Excellent perspective from an actual Jersey Skiff sailor:
You ask good questions.
I’ve spent weeks – months – of quality time in the inland waters between Pensacola and Mobile Bay. With a Jersey Skiff in that area, I’d never go outside. Why would I? There’s nothing out there to see. But inside . . . wow. It doesn’t get much better. Pine trees, white calcareous sand beaches, virtually no tide . . . you can beach a Skiff inside the barrier islands anywhere in that region. And then you can start thinking about areas east of there. I would LOVE to take that skiff to Cedar Key, FL. Or the Everglades in winter . . .
The most accurate way to think about a Jersey Skiff is, it’s an enlarged, wider version of a Whitehall rowing skiff with a sail rig – which is exactly what I was looking for. It’s not a Flying Scot; it’s nearly the opposite. It’s a very different KIND of boat. The boat is so easily driven, you don’t need much sail, and the Jersey Skiff rig has all you’ll ever need, plus a reef and a roll-up jib that takes about 2 seconds to furl. I’ve literally sailed that boat upwind at one knot of boatspeed in one knot of true wind . . . with about four inches of centerboard protruding below the hull. You’ve owned a Sea Pearl 21; this is like that only lighter and easier to launch and retrieve. (Sea Pearl 21s have internal ballast, as I recall.)This was on Lake Pend d’Oreille in northern Idaho.
I’ve also planed it at 10-12 knots on Pacific Ocean swells in 20 knots of wind — singlehanded. I don’t recommend this for the faint of heart, but in experienced hands it works just fine – better than you’d think!. Body placement is important – you have to move as the wind requires – but with 360 lbs of combined crew weight you will never have a problem. I’m 6’6” and weigh 290, and I’ve never met a wind I couldn’t handle. With two it’s easier; one person can stay put while the other does the adjusting. Generally I let the “crew” steer from the weather side while I handle both sails and move back and forth athwartships on the (pegged) sliding seat – facing forward. All three sheets, the furling line, the CB pennant, the main halyard, topping lift, and the reefing line are quite close at hand in this configuration. I had the boat made with an extra-heavy boom for use with a vang, but have never installed one because it just isn’t needed.
Ease of launching: You don’t ever have to get the trailer wheels wet. I mean that. Tires yes, but not wheels. I launch it by hand by rolling it off the trailer, taking care not to let the rudder touch bottom. Retrieving is just as easy: I unroll the winch strap and hook so it just reaches the wood crossbeam on the trailer, I lift the boat’s bow onto the trailer, clip the hook on, then let it sit there while I walk to the winch, whereupon I just crank the boat onto the trailer. If you’re agile, you can do this with dry shoes. I’ve never gotten my feet wet yet.
This boat, by the way, has the stainless steel rub strips on the bottom that Dave offers for beaching and other rough use. On Pend d’Oreille Lake I pulled the boat out onto driftwood logs when not in use. The beaches there are gravel, to be avoided. I have photos if you are interested.
In my view, this is not a particularly wet boat. The bow shape and the lapstrake construction help. But if you’re going to spend a lot of time going upwind in 15+ knots of wind in choppy open bays, you’ll get some spray. I’m imagining Pensacola Bay or Mobile Bay, or Apalachicola Bay. These are big places, and they get choppy. The upside is, if you’re doing it in the summer, you’ll be glad for the spray! Just dress for it. I prefer to stay in quieter places where the extremely shallow draft of the boat is really at home. It will sail upwind in 18” of water; I’ve done it. It will row in less than 12”. Your oar tips will hit bottom before the boat does.
As for a motor . . . I would advise against it. There isn’t a good place to mount it . . . the transom is strongly raked and the stern sections are very fine. The nine foot spoon oars (two sets, and one sliding seat) are an absolute joy and weigh almost nothing. I’ve included a set of standard-type eight footers solely for pushing off beaches, docks, and piers, and rowing in very close quarters, like Monterey Harbor or Santa Barbara, CA.
As for looks . . . it doesn’t get much better than this. You’ll get comments everywhere you go, on the water and off. I tow mine behind a classic car (1965 Checker station wagon), which helps even more.
By the way, towing is absolutely zero problem. The trailer tongue is long and the center of gravity is extremely low. I’ve never encountered a curve, at any speed, where I had the slightest doubts about it.
BTW, just a comment on the performance of that design – don’t know if you’ve heard this before: the Jersey Skiff goes MUCH faster with the centerboard up. The difference is unbelievable, more than in any CB boat I’ve owned (and I’ve owned CB boats from 8’ to 40’). I have rarely sailed upwind in that boat with the board more than about 1/3 down, i.e. with the aft lower corner of the board still inside the CB trunk. In heavy air (18-20) upwind I drop it to maybe 1/2. The only condition under which I drop it fully is off the wind in heavy air and big seas in the open ocean – survival conditions for that boat – when it is surfing at 10+ knots . . . and even then, it’s faster with the board down, just twitch as hell.
And the flat bottom area, small as it is, turns the boat into a surfboard with enough wind. And under these conditions the rudder, which I would not have expected much performance out of at those speeds, works just fine. Really surprising.