by Stephen Cifka

The SkiffAmerica really is a remarkable boat. We use it mostly here by our home in Olympia Washington. This is the south end of puget sound, so lots of wonderful places for day cruising. I also use the boat in big water at Neah Bay which is the entrance of the Juan de Fuca Straight where the Pacific enters Washington state. This is pretty scary water, but the boat works great for salmon fishing. It handles rough water beautifully, but as in all small craft, you have to keep an eye on the weather.

We just came back from a week cruise in the Canadian Gulf Islands. These islands are at the Southeast corner of Vancouver island in British Columbia, and are really fabulous.

The boat sleeps two very comfortably and we have full canvas so can sit out bad weather and rain if need be. It has a canvas windshield for cool weather. I have a simple gimballed stove for coffee, steaming vegetables and a propane barbecue for the stern when needed.

The boat is a constant source of attention and comment, which is fun (most of the time!). My boat does about 19mph top speed with the 25 Yamaha 4 stroke. We like to cruise at about 3700 rpm ...a cruising speed of about 12-15 mph. The boat gets (no kidding) 12 mpg cruising. I have a 12 gallon tank so the range is about 120 - 150 miles between fueling.

The boat is shallow draft (18 inches motor down) and can easily run up on beaches with its raised bow. We often anchor in areas too shallow for most boats and this almost always guarantees us an anchor spot even in popular spots.

A very remarkable feature of the boat is that it maintains an almost constant level fore and aft (is that pitch?) as it comes out of the water. This lets you cruise at any speed. At 2,000 rpm it is a displacement hull, similar to a sailboat (about 7-8mph) and mid throttle the bow raises a bit (but the boat does not squat) so 3-4,000 rpm it cruises at avery comfortable planing speed of 12- 15mph and at 5,000 it really flies.

Building the boat was a joy. Kilburn's plans are extremely detailed and straight forward (there is a lot of information on his website). I was fortunate to have a friend that is a professional boat builder, and he did the majority of the construction (I would help evenings). I did all the finish work, sanding, varnish, paint, electrical and rigging the boat. We began work in April of 2003 and the boat was constructed in 3 months and took another month to do finish work and outfitting. We took our first cruise at the end of July in 2003.

I have included some some photos from our Gulf Island trip.

Thanks for your interest!

My best,

Steve Cifka

Olympia, WA