design by Michael Brown


click to enlargeThe name of the boat is "Willow". Designing it all started a year ago, when I turned 49 years old. With no boat to take sailing in the Winter, I needed to buy or build one. Having only a 4 cylinder pick-up for towing, the boat had to be light enough for that size truck. This made the choice between building and buying a lot easier. Building a light boat that is big enough to sleep on and sail around to different areas in would be the best. I also wanted it have draft of less than 2 feet, so that it would be easy to launch. All this made the decision for me. Designing it was something I learned to do in 1985, so it was about time I used this education. Other than the designs I had to draw for school, I hadn’t yet used what I know.

click to enlargeWhat I came up with was a 20' long, 7.5' wide boat with about 2000 lbs. maximum weight that I could tow a long distance. I did a small drawing so that I could do all the calculations on the rough design. This was also how I got the look I wanted the boat to have. It turned out to have all the right numbers and the shape that I was looking for. So I started doing the line drawings, and the table of offsets. This all took about two weeks of working at night to complete. Of course this was the line drawing only, no sail plan, no construction plan, and no plan for the house or cabin. I did know what I wanted the boat to look like, so I didn’t need a plan for that.

click to enlargeThe design is a modified dory, v-bottom, full keel, with an enlarged transom. The house has 48" of headroom, and is 8' long and 5' at the widest. The sail plan is under sized for the length of the boat. With everything being made of wood, I felt right at home building all of it.

click to enlargeThe biggest challenge was deciding on the thickness and type of plywood and wood to use. The weight of the plywood was more important than thickness. Reducing the thickness from 1/2" to 3/8" doesn’t seem like a lot of weight being saved with one sheet, but it is if you add the weight savings from 10 sheets. I didn’t need the hardness of white oak for the frames. I needed a wood that was soft, easy to work with, and still was close to the weight of oak, so I chose yellow pine. For cost reasons, I decided to use AC ext. plywood over marine grade.

click to enlargeOnce I decided on the plywood size , I could loft the boat full size, which was done in only two nights of work. It wasn’t warm at that time of the year either. After the lofting was done, it was time to build the frames for the hull. The hull was built upside down with the keel laminated on. It turned out to be light enough for me to turn the hull right side up by myself. That should tell you how light the boat was at this point.

click to enlargeThis is the point at which I had no more plans to work from. All the rest of the boat came from what I wanted it to look like. This is not as hard as it may seem, if you know how to construct the rest. I have the line drawings with the table of offsets on it, if anyone wants to build this boat. The cost for the drawings is only $15.00. You can build the hull, and then make the rest of the boat look the way you want.

Michael Brown