Some Articles on My Boats

Recently two came out, one in Small Boats Monthly and the other on the brand new, UK-based Barnacle Bill. Small Boats covered the Calendar Islands Yawl and Barnacle Bill had a piece by a customer in the UK who has built and avidly rows a Drake 17.


A Calendar Islands Yawl based in Duluth, MN


The orogonal Drake 17 rowed by me in one of the Small Reach Regattas

Sorry these may not show much unless you have a subscription. Believe it or not I don't read much boats stuff....but these are very well worth he money. Both rags will require good contact and readership. So far the writing is excellent!

Happy September!

Late Summer Update and Announcement

The KDI project is fully funded thanks to a group of enthusiastic sponsors. Thank you! I now have a lot of work to do through October!

Drake Raceboat in perspective (more screenshots below)
In November and December I hope to have funding to further develop the Drake Raceboat. A campaign to get this crowdfunded begins. Three sponsors at $600 each (or six at $300) will get the project funded and you will get a full suite of plans, and preferred status for first kit cutting with a 10% discount. Please contact me at boatkits@gmail.com if interested. The final design brief for the DRB is as follows:

  • A fast rowboat in the Drake spirit optimized for single, fixed- or sliding-seat rowing
  • Ideal for fitness rowing and the open water racing curcuit 
  • 18'3" LOA (kit) stretchable up to 20' by spacing out molds (plans)
  • Waterline length almost 17', 27 1/2" waterline beam
  • Max beam is set at 4' so boat can be rowed in fixed seat class with 8 1/2' oars
  • Sliding seat is an equal option in this boat, the Poseidon rig being the ideal, using sculling length oars
  • Oarlocks for sliding seat can be mounted using Shaw and Tenney oarlock brackets or a custom made outrigger that fastens to gunwales (TBD)
  • 5 kts speed potential race pace with 6kts in sprints
  • Flotation tanks optional in sides or ends, but more likely flotation bags will be used and canvas decks to shed water
  • Glued lapstrake construction, 4 strakes per side (4mm), no fiberglass 
  • Estimated weight below 75 lbs at kit length
  • Numbers from computer model"
Cp = 0.58
Volume Displacement = 306 lbs
Center of Buoyancy = 53.9% aft
Wetted Surface Area = 27.74 sf
Waterline Length = 16' 11 1/2"
Maximum Waterline Beam = 27.6781"
Water Plane Area = 24.5 sf
Center of Floatation = 53% aft
MSA 70.1711896 (+/- 1e-08) square inches

More screenshots from the computer model of the DRB

NEW! Drake 19

On the Drawing Board

New Drake 19 for tandem rowing, cruising and expeditions

For Fixed Seat or Sliding Seat Rowing

This new version of the Drake Rowboat -- my first design/build project -- really combines all that I have learned as a designer and rower and builder over the years. She is intended with the following brief:

-- fast, stable cruising rowboat
--capacity for two people and gear
--fixed or sliding seat capable
--can sleep aboard on platform under a tent 
--sailing downwind is possible

Drake 19 modeled in Rhino

An important aspect of the boat is its simple sliding seat system : 7/8" o.d. stainless steel pipes run for and aft with 15" of separation on center. The pipes are integrate into the CNC cut structure. A plywood seat-roller floats over these pipes. Any oarlock system can be used, including leathered-round oars, Douglas oarloacks, C2 oarlocks, or the folding outriggers by Shaw and Tenney. However, I think for voyaging in open water that oar-on-gunwale will be the best way, using traditionally leathered oars in horn-oarlocks or to go with pinned oars. I do think 9-9 1/2' oars would be fine for experienced rowers, using folding outriggers to get the spread for the longer oars.

Midship section of the Drake 19 showing the sliding seat system.

The floorboards are show both sitting on the inner keel as floors and raised up and sitting on the pipes to make an over 8' long sleeping platform that finishes flush with the side tanks. These side tanks double as a sleeping platform and as flotation, making the boat self-rescuable in a capsize. 

Keep posted for 3D work which starts very soon.

Small Reach Regatta Finishes in Drake Rowboat

This sail is right off a Shellback dinghy, but a new more efficient downwind rig is in the works when we aren't making other peoples' rigs!

(photos by Christophe Matson in his Goat Island Skiff)

My wife, Ellie Chase, and I finished up a fabulous 3 days of rowing and sailing in Drake along with almost 40 other boats ranging from 12 foot dinghies to 15 sail and oar boats, to 22 foot daysailers. Drake often got to the lunch stops first because we were able to row upwind and sail downwind. It turned out that most of the time we rowed in tandem.

We love this mode of boating for getting around but you have to like to row and be in a good rowboat. And there is no need to ruin the lines of a rowboat by making it be able to sail, as long as you stick to sailing off the wind. We can sail easily on a beam reach down to a run. In the above we maintained 3.5-4kts in maybe 5-10kts total true wind.

The Perfect Rowboat, Sailboat, or Both?

Do you like the idea of a boat that can row and sail but they often don't like the idea of compromising on one or the other? It is a trade-off. A good sailboat's lines are not good for rowing and a rowboat's lines are not good for sailing. The latter is true mainly because the hull is quite narrow and fine on the waterline, especially at the ends. A fast rowboat's lines just don't provide the stability, often, for sailing and the addition of a slot for the board introduces drag and makes the boat slow for rowing. Wooden Boat's long time manager of their boathouse often cites the Joel White Shearwater as an example. Reluctantly, listening to customer demand, Joel White added the centerboard and it really made a difference in the sailing ability: it made it possible. But it also introduced noticeable drag when rowing: the boat was slower under oars.


is very similar to Shearwater, only narrower and longer on the waterline, no daggerboard, and therefore faster under oars.

because of the moderate keel to provide some lateral resistance and enable excellent tracking for rowing. We don't have a centerboard, so there is no drag induced (though a tight fitting plug for a daggerboard trunk can fair the slot to the hull reasonably well). I've been asked a number of times, and I just will not add a daggerboard to Drake. She is just a blast to sail downwind and can sail as high as a beam reach quite fast. The sail adds tremendous range when you consider the sail as auxiliary power.

Deblois Street Dory

But if you want to sail upwind, and row well, you need a boat with a lot of flare in the hull and a shape that provides excellent secondary stability. Joel White's Shearwater and his 18' version of the boat are good examples. Another ideal example is the dory. What I love about the dory is that it is narrow at the waterline and flares out to a generous width, for a rowboat, at the rail, usually 4'8-5'. The Deblois Street Dry is nearly 5' at the rail. The stability this shape produces lends itself to sailing (see photo of me sitting on D St D's gunwale), but the narrow width at the waterline when the boat is not heeled means that it will row well. The double ended shape of the waterline on a dory keeps the ends fine for rowing ability. Drake shows a similar shape (see photo): narrow waterline, 4'1" at the gunwales provides secondary stability.

The Marblehead Gunning Dory is, to me, perhaps the perfect boat. If I could have only one boat (let's not think about that...what a shame that would be!), I would have a gunning dory or a Swampscott Dory. Come to my annual

Shop Talk & Messabout

to see both of these dory types in the flesh and meet two experts on dories: Sam Manning and Walter Wales.

Thank you to Chris Partridge, blogger in the UK:

Rowing for Pleasure

for bringing up the subject of rowing vs sailing characteristics in a boat