Boat and Options FAQ

What is the depth of your boats?
How tall are the masts?
What type of wood do you use?
What does it mean when you say you are custom builders?
Can you build for commercial use?
Which oars should I order?
Do you offer Jiffy Reefing?
Why would I want a sliding seat?
What about dual sliding seats?
What about floorboards?
What about a Spinnaker?
What about a drain plug?
What anchor should I get?
I lost my manual can you send me another?
What is your backlog and how long would it take for you to build a boat for me?


What is the depth of your boats?

Amidships the height from the gunwale to the bottom of the keel is about 18″ for the 8′, 9’5″, and 10′ boats. On the 9.5′ Captain’s Gig the highest point of the bow to the keel it is 22″. On the 8′ and 10′ boats it is about 20″.

How tall are the masts?

The standard mast height is about 13′ the high performance mast is 13’6″. Masts for the 8′, 9’5″, and 10′ boats are 2 piece and break down into sections approximately 7′ long. The masts for 12′ and 14′ boats are 15 1/2′ and either 2 or 3 piece construction. All are made from aircraft aluminum with powder coat finish.

What type of wood do you use?

Western Red Cedar for the longitudinal strakes on the wood sheer, Honduras Mahogany for breast hooks, transom knees and oarlock reinforcement on wood sheer. We use fir for oars, oak for tillers, Douglas fir for the boom. Balsa core is used for the seat structure.

We also can use teak for the wood sheer and seats for an additional cost. Contact us for details & pricing.

What does it mean when you say you are custom builders?

We don’t mass-produce. All of our boats are built one at a time for each customer who has many choices that vary from cosmetic to structural. You can order anywhere from a basic utility version to our exclusive limited edition with gold-plated hardware!

Can you build for commercial use?

Yes. We have built boats for rental use that had extra heavy lay-up in the hull with additional reinforcement for oarlocks and high wear areas.

Which oars should I order?

Our oars are made to our specifications by a famous oar maker in Oregon, crafted from high altitude fir. Fir is considerably stronger than spruce so we can reduce the scantlings and therefore offer a strong, lightweight oar with a lively feel. Oar prices include collars and manganese bronze oarlocks.

Oar length is determined by the beam of the boat and the application. A boat used primarily for sailing where the rowing consists of pushing away from the shore can use a shorter oar. A person who likes to row with crossed hands will want a longer length. The following is the general guide we use to recommend the proper oar length for the boat. A shorter oar in general has a steeper angle from the gunnel to the water forcing the rower to row with their hands higher in the air and has less leverage. A too long oar balances wrong with too much weight outboard of the oarlocks or forces the rower to row with crossed hands when they would prefer not to. The right oar length matched to the boat will just feel right. The lengths we recommend are the one’s that over the years we’ve found are right for the boats we build.

For the New England Dory we recommend 8′ oars, the Whitehall requires 8′ oars, the Point Defiance requires 8′ oars, and the Navigator, and the Captain’s Gig require 7′ oars, and the Nisqually requires 6.5′ oars. The 17′ Melonseed requires a set of 9′ oars. The Jersey Skiff and the Lobster Boat require 8 to 9.5′ oars depending on the application.

Flat blade oars work very well and are less expensive to manufacture but studies have shown that the spoon blade shape transfers 40% more power to the water for the same energy expended. If you intend on rowing the boat a lot you will be glad that you bought spoon blades.

Our newest edition to our Oar line up are carbon shaft oars. The carbon shaft lightens the oar considerably. By using this modern material our manufacturer can align the carbon fibers to be both strong and just stiff enough. This custom design gives improved flex and reduces the stress on the rower for extended rowing. Carbon shafted oars are special order and may take several months for delivery depending our our stock.

We can also make custom length oars for any boat. If you are interested please drop us a line to discuss your need.

Do you offer jiffy reefing?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that most experienced sailors have definite ideas about how they want their reefing lines set up. We offer for the jib, roller furling which will reduce the total sail area by 1/4 to 1/3. Of course you can just take the jib down, or not put it up before you go out. It’s a little more difficult than roller furling as you need to gather it in as it comes down and you should retie the halyard to the bow ring. But its still pretty easy, and you can always add the roller furling gear later if you change your mind.

Our mainsails on the Lobster Boat and the Jersey Skiff come standard with the reefing gromments and reinforcement patchs sewn into them already. What’s left is to run the lines from the boom to the clew, install a reef hook or run another line to the tack and back to the boom, and then run the lines to the cleats. Placement of cleats is nearly always different depending on whether you plan on only single handling the boat in rough weather or want a clear division of crew and helmsperson tasks. Reefing the main, will further reduce the total sail area by another 1/4 to 1/3 thus giving the boat approximently 1/2 to 1/3 the original sail area.

If you are interested in sailing in heavier weather and haven’t set up reefing rigging before, we can work with you to give you a good simple to use setup.

Why would I want a sliding seat?

The sliding seat allows the rower to use their strong leg muscles in addition to their arm and back muscles. While most rowers will be able to get their boat up to near hull speed without the seat, on flat to moderate water the sliding seat will allow a rower to row for a much longer time. Our sliding seat is unique and designed by Dave and has been refined from years of experience. The seat converts from sliding to fixed mode by the use of two fastpins. Pull the pins out and the seat slides, re-insert the pins into holes on the sliding seat track and the seat becomes fixed again.

The beauty of this system is that if conditions change while you are out rowing and you want to convert from one mode to the other it takes but an instant. Rowing in lumpy water conditions it is easier to maintain control of the boat with the seat fixed. The rower has a natural tendency to use their weight to lean into the roll and counter balance the effect of the waves on the boat. With the seat in sliding mode this becomes more difficult as moving your weight moves the seat not the boat. Pop the pins back in and the boat is converted back into fixed seat mode. When the weather conditions calm back down, pull the pins and resume rowing with the slider. On a long trip the ability to switch modes allows the rower to use different muscle groups and rest the others even while continuing to row. We don’t offer this seat on boats shorter than 14 feet because the motion of the rower tends to make the boat hobby horse and negates any benefit from using it.

What about dual sliding seats?

We can easily install a second sliding seat for the forward rower on the larger boats; the 16ft Dory, the 17ft Melonseed and the Jersey Skiff. There are some design considerations if the boat also has a centerboard & mast step for sailing. The Dory in the sailing configuration uses the front seat as the upper part of the mast step, so it’s either sailing model, or a dual rowing model. The Jersey Skiff has 3 seats, so can accomodate a second sliding seat in the sailing model.

The 17 ft Melonseed can also be set up with a single or dual set of Piantedosi Row Wings or Oarmaster sliding seats rigs for use with sculling oars. Both of these setups require some special mounts to be put in the boat in place of our own sliding seats, making this option part of the specifications for the hull.

Which dual sliding seat boat is right for me? The answer to that question is what the primary use of the boat will be. The 17′ Melonseed is the speed deamon here. Its light weight, long waterline and low profile gives the greatest speed for equivilent effort. The 16′ New England Dory is better for rougher open water. The Dory’s higher freeboard, long overhangs and flat bottom make it better for beach lauching into moderate surf. The 17′ Jersey Skiff’s larger capacity and wider beam make it better for a short beach break surf and carrying more pasengers and gear. Of course the 17′ Jersey Skiff is the only dual sliding seat boat that also sails that we make.

Before we build a dual sliding seat boat for you, we will want to talk to you about your needs to make sure its really the right choice for you. We want you to have a boat that you will enjoy for years.

What about floorboards?

We can make floorboards but in general do not recommend them for a number of reasons. First, they add weight when for a yacht tender you probably would rather bring along an extra person, or your dog or groceries along than have floorboards. Second they reduce the clearance between your knees and the oars, making it more difficult to row in the chop when you might prefer to lift your oars a bit higher on the recovery stroke to clear the tops of the waves. Thirdly they add to the cost which we are striving to keep at a reasonable level. Fourthly if you stow your boat upside down, or on its side, they have a tendecy to flop around unless you fasten them down. Lastly, being wood, and underfoot, they require a bit of annual maintaince to keep them looking nice.

The benefits of floorboards is that they let small amounts of water accumulate in the bilge but your feet will stay dry. They can be very pretty to look at. The disadvantage is that it’s more difficult to get at that water and beach sand to remove. To sponge the water, we either need to leave large gaps between the boards, or you need to lift them up, this is a hassle if you have fastened them down or are out bobbing around. Remember the times you get water in the boat is when its the roughest water conditions. Instead we generally recommend that you consider adding footstops instead of floorboards. We are however a custom boat builder and we want you to be happy. If having floorboards is what it takes, you can have them!

What about a spinnaker?

Spinnakers are typically used on racing sailboats for speed off the wind. They are tricky to fly, finnicky to set and recover, require more control lines, and would require us to use a track and cars for the mainsail to not interfere with the spinnaker pole mounting on the mast. That adds to the complexity and cost of the boat for a sail that isn’t a whole lot of fun to use. On a downwind run our boats are already going near hull speed except in very light air. In which case, unlike in a sailboat race you can break out the oars and row faster than continuing to sail. If you really, really want off wind performance while sailing we could have our sail maker sew you up a Gennaker. That’s a large trianglular nylon sail with a huge belly and long foot that you hoist in place of your jib, but we don’t recommend it for general sailing. If you are into sailboat racing, there are many other types of sailboats to chose from. We have chosen to build boats that are simple and fun to use, as we have found over the years that the more complex the boat the less it gets used. The hassle factor of going sailing begins to outweigh the fun factor of just getting out there.

What about drain plugs?

Drain plugs are standard on all boats that are primarily trailered to make clean out easier. Also they are standard on wood sheer boats ( so folks don’t have to roll the boat on its side for cleanout, thereby destroying the varnish) and those built to hang on yacht davits. There is never a charge for drain plugs but we make them optional on smaller boats. This is because a lot of folks get paranoid about losing the plug and don’t like them for a beach boat. So, it’s easier to install one if desired than it is to uninstall an unwanted drain plug.

What anchor should I get?

The correct anchor is one that is sufficent for your needs. What that means is that there is no one right anchor for all purposes. We typically only use a light weight picnic anchor to hold the stern off the beach. Then we tie the bow to a log or use a sand spike. Sand Spikes are slender metal anchor with a ring on the top that you can pound into the sand with your foot if there are no logs handy. For a picnic anchor a small folding grapple hook of about 5 to 7 lbs with 3 ft of vinal covered chain is generally adequate even for our larger boats. Or for more sandy bottoms a small danforth or fluke shaped anchor with the same chain. Having a bungee or “beach buddy” which is a polypropolene line with a bungee inside when tied to the middle of the anchor line helps hold the boat off the beach.

For camping on an exposed shore, you’ll generally need a larger anchor than you would want to bother with for a picnic where you can keep a close eye on the boat. Fluke anchors have some of the best holding power but a small Bruce or claw style anchor will set more easily. Yet the claw anchor takes up more room in the bilge because it doesn’t fold. The CQR style is favored by crusing sailors but they are horribly expensive and mostly overkill for anchoring a dinghy. You could buy just one large anchor but then you may find it too much in the way for just knocking about the bay. There is always a tradeoff in anchor choices.

For anchoring in a river, you would probably prefer to use a pyramid shaped anchor. It’s basic property is not to grab the bottom but to be a dead weight that won’t hang up on any river debri. Using a pocket puller in a stern mounted oarlock so that you can keep your weight forward while retriving the anchor would be a good choice for this use. The weight of the anchor is of course dependant on the size of the boat, with a 25 to 30 lbs necessary for the Jersey Skiff or the Dory and less for the smaller boats.

Anchors come in a variety of materials and the stainless steel one’s are nice to look at. However you pay quite a preimum for this material. Occasionally you’ll find yourself snagged on the bottom with no choice but to cut the line and leave it. It doesn’t happen often but we always ask ourselves, “How much money are we willing to leave on the bottom of the bay?” So generally we opt for the less expensive galvanized steel and just remember to hose it off with fresh water when we get home.

For anchor line, nylon is generally the best choice. Polypropolene floats and is cheap but coils into a mess when you retrieve it. Nylon stretches which is good for an anchorline as it keeps the anchor from being jerked up off the bottom, instead translating quick pulls into a slow pull as the line stretches.. Still if you anchor in less than 20 ft of water, a 50ft length of polypropolene will work. Just use an electrical cord holder to wind it up onto. But after cursing the mess we’ve switched back to 3 strand layed nylon.

One last comment and that is if you find yourself with a snagged anchor, there are a couple of tricks that we’ve used over the years to get it back up. First, tie off the line and try rowing in the opposite direction from where the pull was. Don’t be in a hurry to see results, but a couple of minutes of pulling will often free it. Second, use the bouyancy of the boat to help you. Place the anchor line amidships on the gunnel and then while holding tight to the line lean away from the anchor line using your body weight to pull and the boat’s bouyancy to resist the pull. Be careful as when the anchor releases, the line tension will slacken quickly and you may find yourself bouncing around a bit in the boat. And lastly tie a bouy or fender to it and row over to that large boat with a cool one close at hand and see if they’ll give you a some help with it. Sometimes these things take a friend or two and most of us have been in a similar predicament before and are willing to give advice and help.

Of course most of our boats are light enough to be carried or rolled up above the high tide line and no anchor is necessary at all for that. But you asked about anchors and we thought we could give you some hints.

I lost my manual, can you send me another one?

Yes of course we can! You can Contact Us to request a replacement, but you can also download and print a copy yourself here (Handbook2007)! (Requires Adobe Reader).

If you need a copy of the free Adobe Reader, click here and follow the installation instructions.

What is your backlog and how long would  it take for you to build a boat for me?

That depends on what type of boat and what time of year! We take most of our orders in January during the Seattle Boat Show and everyone is lined up on a first come, first serve basis. A 25% deposit gets you a place in line. We realize the leap of faith it takes for someone to purchase an item as complex and personal as a custom boat. So, we take a special effort to give our customers confidence in our dealings. One of the most important aspects of this is that when we receive a deposit we credit it to a special customer trust account which we do not use for daily operations. We don’t draw the deposit until we start building their boat. The balance of the invoice is not due until the boat is finished. This policy also allows us to offer a very rare 100% return of deposit until we have started building the boat. Virtually all other custom boatbuilders have non-refundable deposits and/or will require intermediate payments.

If you need a boat for summer vacation then it is best to order early. Orders taken during the first part of summer sometimes aren’t ready until fall. After Labor Day we often see the end of the line falling in early November. Of course, this is because we build them one at a time and make them worth waiting for!

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