Small sailboats just get used more. They are more easily rigged, launched and managed than a larger boat. Even if you don't own waterfront property, small boats give access to some terrific out of the way places. They offer a great way to escape for a few hours. And, we can trailer them along on our vacation.
Wooden boat building is most satisfying. The whole process is exciting from the start. Individually shaped pieces of wood begin to spring into three dimensional form. And, a well crafted wooden boat is a thing of beauty, serving a worthy function. Where else can you get so much enjoyment from something you build with your own hands?
Traditional wooden boat designs make as much sense now as when they were originally conceived, but for a few added reasons. Originally used as workboats, they had to carry us through all sorts of weather. They needed a sea-kindly hull that would stand up to daily challenges, and move easily under sail and oar.
Glued lapstrake construction offers an alternative to conventional methods for building small sailboats. When a simpler, stronger, watertight hull is within our means, that's interesting! Wood still has the best strength to weight ratio, compared to any of the new fibers. And when it's fastened with epoxy, many of the problems associated with wooden boats are eliminated.
I don't mean to cancel out traditional boat building. If you can find some clear Atlantic cedar, the shavings will add a nice aroma to the shop. Steam bending oak ribs to the planking, then riveting with bronze has its rewards. If repairs are needed, the parts are easily replaced. I've always liked the smell of pine tar and turpentine. I don't mind linseed oil too much either.
The small sailboats presented here are just as good for us as they are for the environment. When you need to get away from the crowd, spread some canvas. When you want some healthy exercise, go for a row. And, you don't have to think about the expense at the fuel dock. If you do want alternative power, a small gas or electric engine is all you need.
With one of these boats...
I know you'll look forward to your next trip out on the water.
South Jersey Beach Skiff
A small fishing boat that once numbered in the hundreds along the exposed Atlantic shore. Our modern version is built with glued lapstrake mahogany plywood.
Designed by Nat Herreshoff. This 17 foot cat-ketch was his personal favorite. Boat building plans developed from his original drawings are available.
At 19 feet 6 inches, its the largest of Iain Oughtred's open double enders. The design takes its lineage from the Shetland Yoles of Scotland's northern islands.
Crocker Compass Sailing Dory
Sam Crocker's Compass is not only the little sister to the Alden Indian, but a more easy-to-manage small sailboat.
A smaller version of the Caledonia, the Ness and JII yawls are fast and able, at 18 foot 2 inches overall.
Kingston Lobster Boat
This design is from Cap't. Pete Culler and is one of three very similar plans. The original boats worked the inshore fishing grounds for oysters and lobsters.
MacGregor Sailing Canoe
Wooden double paddle canoes rigged for sailing are the ancestors of modern kayaks.
Herreshoff Fish Class Sloop
One of the family of great boat designs by Natanael Greene Herreshoff, this 20 foot sloop is a true classic.
Return home from our Small Sailboats page
Return to the New England Wooden Boat Gallery
Attend the 2008 Small Craft Workshop Weekend