Designs by Sam Devlin and Robert W Stephens Commentary by Mike OBrien

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T Tere we have two easily built modified garveys,

§-§ each of strong character. Both are capable of

JL JL performance that is equal, at least, to that of their stock fiberglass counterparts of fancier origin.

For want of a more formal definition, garveys can be thought of as sometimes well-modeled scows that originated in the shallow bays and creeks along the Jersey Shore. Put together by different builders for different purposes, individual garveys display the considerable variety expected from a generic type, but, as a class, they share light draft, ample initial stability, and extreme ease of construction. Planks hang naturally with little curve: you'll go a long way before finding much edge-set in any real garvey. Also, their shapes tend to be well suited for sheet construction.

Although the once-common sailing garvey is long dead (save for an occasional yacht), the breed survives in countless descendants powered by internal-combustion engines — either hung on their transoms or set in their bilges.

A few years back, Sam Devlin, a designer/boat-builder from Olympia, Washington, created the 14-foot prototype Cackler to serve as a duck-gunning skiff and yard workboat. The modified garvey was built with %-inch plywood assembled over a series of Vi-inch plywood bulkheads, stitch-and-glue fashion — a technique that makes good use of wood, epoxy, fiberglass tape, and the builder's time. Fast and rugged, the prototype has more than earned her keep. Impressed with his skiff's performance and versatility, Devlin made the construction plans available for other builders.

Should you choose to build a Cackler, you need do no true lofting, as the designer provides expansions for her sides, bottom, and transom. That is to say, he has peeled the boat and laid the parts out on the flat, revealing their true shapes. As the first step in construction, draw these shapes to full scale directly on the plywood that will become the boat's skin. Cut out the parts — a small circular saw is orders of magnitude better here than a slow, wandering sabersaw — and clamp the mirror-image, left and right panels together. After trimming the panels (with a plane) to ensure a perfect bilateral match, drill a series of %-inch holes along a line Vi inch from the edges that will be sewn together. These holes are spaced at 2-inch intervals near the ends of the panels and are 6 inches apart elsewhere.

Assemble the boat by sewing the panels together with 6-inch lengths of mild-steel baling wire. After inserting the molds and aligning the structure, fillet the inside seams with a mixture of epoxy and wood flour. While they are still soft, the fillets should be covered with three layers of fiberglass tape set in epoxy. At this point, turn the boat upside down and remove the wire ties by heating the tip of each one with a torch until it glows red, then simply pull the wire out with a pair of pliers. Smooth the exterior chines, and sheathe and tape the outside of the hull with fiberglass and epoxy. Finishing the project requires the usual amounts of sanding and filling.

Cackler is a handsome boat. Although the top edges of the expanded sides are straight, flare and bend put a pleasant sheerline on the little skiff. And the motorwell, in addition to its practical value, makes the engine less obtrusive. In her own purposeful way, this boat ranks with the best.

Pushed by a 25-horsepower outboard, Cackler really moves out. But, won't she pound at speed? Well, yes, but so do virtually all small, fast boats of my acquaintance. When we were boys, we'd drive our flat-bottomed outboard skiffs into a steep harbor chop and suffer no more discomfort than the kids who owned sharp, store-bought runabouts. (Discomfort? We considered it great fun!) Of course, we sat way aft and steered with a tiller in the manner intended by Nature — the primitive remote controls of that day were, rightly, regarded as dangerous affectations. Come to think of it, back aft was a good place to be; given the right combination of wind, wave, and boat speed, everything forward of the midship thwart would vibrate into a fuzzy haze.

Aside from her forthright charm, Cackler's principal virtue might lie in her utility. From hunting to hauling lumber, she probably can perform many tasks better than the small fiberglass runabout that shares part of its name with New England's largest city — and Devlin's design will look better in the process. (Can I get sued for saying that?) No doubt you'll find good use for this boat — even if you don't take pleasure from blasting ducks out of the sky.

Bob Stephens drew his 19-foot Garvey Workboat for a specific purpose: A yard manager needed a skiff for general harbor work, but his boat would, on occasion, be called upon to run across the bay at speed and return with a heavy tow.

The idea was to run a fast, high-pitch propeller when traveling light, and switch to a more powerful low-pitch wheel before accepting the towline. With this tactic in mind, the designer drew a substantial motorwell that allows the outboard to tilt for the propeller exchange. The well's fringe benefits include better steering when handling a tow, reduced risk of damage in close quarters, and improved appearance. (For all their mechanical excellence, contemporary outboard motors seem to be aesthetically bad partners for traditional boats — designing a powerhead to complement both a garvey and, say, a Bayliner must be difficult at best.)

This garvey's construction is plain, straightforward "traditional" sheet plywood. The transverse frames are beveled and notched, and you'll therefore have sufficient opportunity to apply your woodworking skills. Though considered old-fashioned by some, this method of building does have advantages: It produces a stiff boat for a given weight, and it teaches basic boatbuilding techniques.

Although the plans call for planking the entire hull with Ys-inch sheet plywood, you might want to con sider using '/2-inch plywood on the bottom. The structure is plenty strong as designed, but increased penetration resistance adds peace of mind in some situations. Certainly, many of us have pulled /2-inch ply around tighter corners, and Stephens tells me that it will lay down just fine here.

The designer has worked more than the normal amount of shape into this garvey, and both the bottom and topsides show considerable twist up forward. But all of the curves have been carefully worked out to ensure that the hull is developable. That is to say, it can be sheathed with sheet materials without forcing compound curves into the panels. Perhaps as a courtesy to students of naval architecture, Stephens has left the determinants intact on the finished drawings. (As used here, a determinant is a straight line on the side or bottom of the boat that, when extended, passes through the apex of the cone used to establish the curve of the developed surface.) At any rate, the drawings make interesting reading.

Along the shores of Barnegat Bay, garveys showing some deadrise in their forward sections are referred to as "chicken-breasted," but this somewhat impolite appellation seems inappropriate for a boat that is so well proportioned as Stephens's garvey.

Plans for Cackler are available from Devlin Designing Boatbuilders, 2424 Gravelly Beach Loop N.W., Olympia, WA 98502.

Plans for the 19-foot Garvey Workboat are available from Robert W. Stephens, P.O. Box 166, Brooklin, ME 04616.

Sailing Garvey Plans
Built in Absecon, New jersey, in 1906, this sailing garvey displays the roots of the contemporary designs discussed here.

Particulars Cackler Length 14'4" Beam 5'10"

Devlin Boat DesignGarvey Boat PlansRobert Stephens Yacht DesignerSam Devlin PlansCackler Boat Plans

Cackler is built stitch-and-glue fashion. The boat's side and bottom panels are shown here in their expanded or "real" shape.


Devlin Boat Design
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Details ofCackler's stitch-and-glue construction.

Stitch And Glue Workboat Plans

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How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

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  • sebastian bosch
    Is a midship motorwell dangerous?
    7 years ago

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