Building the Ness Yawl

Ness Yawl sailboat

Iain Oughtred's JII Ness Yawl

The design of the JII Ness Yawl is drawn from the Shetland Yoals. At first, these boats were imported to the Shetland Islands from Norway, and then assembled by local builders. They were of the lapstrake construction that dates back to the Vikings.

The Ness Yoals became a very well used boat for inshore fishing, averaging
21 feet with a 5 foot 5 inch beam. They would be rowed by a crew of three men with a pair of oars each. Hence the name Sixareen. When the wind was right, they raised a single lug-rigged square sail.

The boat designs from Iain Oughtred retain many of the desirable qualities for both rowing and sailing. Built from high quality marine plywood and using glue lapstrake construction, they are lighter in weight and move easily on the water. When matched with other boats in the "Raids" they have proven to be fast and seaworthy.

Download a PDF of the Ness Yawl

Iain Oughtred J II Yawl, a contribution by Andrew Kitchen

Glued Lapstrake Construction

The construction is pretty straightforward glued lapstrake. I used 9mm khaya marine ply for the hull. The first picture shows my approach to spiling the strakes, not original but it seemed the easiest at the time: two long battens are pinned to the moulds and the preceding plank, in the position of the lands. Then short cross pieces are nailed to them like a traditional truss bridge. It worked pretty well. The hood ends were the trickiest, you need a lot of cross pieces to preserve the shape as you lift the plank pattern off the hull and flatten it onto the planking stock.

Mahogany plywood planking

The old boat building truism that you can't have too many clamps was proved over and over. I own over 50 clamps, plus over 60 of the wooden fork clamps that Iain Oughtred mentions in his book and in all his plans. I still found that there were times when I was using just about the whole collection in one gluing session.

Setting up the rudder and tiller

One of the more striking parts of the boat is the wishbone tiller. In fact it was pretty easy to build: just lots of thin laminations of mahogany bent and glued around a form.

Handcarved wooden blocks and a new suit of sails

The blocks are home made, out of wenge (african hard wood, very hard), bronze pins and tufnol sheaves. My sailmaker was Douglas Fowler, Ithaca, NY.


Interior details

The boat was launched in June 2004. I showed her at the 2004 Wooden Boat Show. Since then she has attended the John Gardner Small Craft Workshop at Mystic Seaport each June. She sails on Lake Ontario and on the New England coast.

Have a look at the Caledonia Yawl

Navigate to the New England Wooden Boat Gallery