Skerry modification, lengthen boat changing angles on bow and stern


I built a Skerry about 7 yrs ago and have been sailing it with my son ever since. I have 3 kids a wife and a big dog. A bit small for all of us so its mostly sailing with my son.

I was looking at the new Lighthouse Tender and it reinforces one thing I have come to think I want. (I will admit to little, sailing knowlege or design).  I would like to modify the bow and stern angles for my skerry. The bow angles into the water at about 45 degrees rather than while the Tender goes in almost vertical at 90 degrees to the water. Same with the stern, the tender drops almost straight down vrs the skerry where the rudder attaches is at about 65 degrees in if you understand me.

The affect of these angles is that it gives the boat substantial overall rocker, end to end which shortens the boat length (and resulting speed) changes the rudder pivot angle and decreases performance thru the chop as it will bounce over waves more than cut thru them.

Lengthing the overall line will I think increase the speed a bit, allow the boat to cut thru chop better and most important, change the angle the rudder pivots on.

I have noticed many times when tacking that if I oversteer a bit w/out enough speed, I lose the turn and have to fall back and try again. I used to think it was all my sailing ability, but I have come to think its 80% my ability and 20% the rudder angle. A substantial turn with the rudder brings it up and pushes quite a bit of water before the turn starts to establish. The additional friction, is due to the rudder flaring out into the direction of travel presenting much more surface area slowing the boat because its pivoting upward rather than side to side....I hope I am explaining this well enough. If you have a skerry, turn the rudder full and look at the rudder position compared with what a rudder straight up and down would do.

Since I cannot easily build a new boat and store two of them, I want to try to lengthen the waterline by changing angles from the lowest chine down in the bow and possibly create a transom in the back to get a rudder mount at 90 degrees to the water. I have even thought of putting small white oak keel on the boat to accomplish this. I also think a bit more weight in the bow wouldnt hurt the boat performance as I always feel the boat could use some more weight up front.

Hoping for some thoughts on modifying the skerry. Feel free to critique the idea. If you feel you need to instruct on my sailing ability, go ahead but I think I will only get so good given my chances to get the boat wet. I live in Fairfax VA and end up sailing the smaller parts of the Potomac or the sound at the Outer Banks most often. The chop on both is common to both and can affect speed, and turning . What I really want is to give the modification a try and see what happens.

I was originally sailing with the sprit rig but changed over to the lug rig.



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RE: Skerry modification, lengthen boat changing angles on bow and stern

One wife, three children, one big dog, and one husband/father seems like a lot for a Skerry, which is a fairly light displacement boat for her length.  The design's stated load capacity is 450#  The Lighthouse Tender Peapod is a much more "burdensome" design whose stated load capacity is 650# despite being something like, what, a foot and a half shorter than the Skerry?  Even the Passagemaker Dinghy (I have one of those) has a stated load capacity of 650#, even at only 11'7" in length, a very burdensome boat for her length, indeed, and an altogether different thing, design-wise.  We once loaded her up (in rowing-only trim) with over 800# of testosterone-poisoned man-meat, and she rowed okay, though I don't know that we'd want to do that all day--or at all, if the water was rough.  <;-)

In my opinion, the best way to turn your Skerry into something more like a Lighthouse Tender Peapod is to find a new caretaker for your Skerry who doesn't have so much live load to carry, and build yourself a Lighthouse Tender Peapod.  (The building itself could be a great family bonding experience.)  Increasing the load-carrying ability of a Skerry would involve more than just making the stem and sternpost more vertical; you'd want less deadrise, firmer bilges, and fuller lines in the ends, which exactly describes the difference between the two designs.  The peopod, being a "fuller" design, should be less finicky about weight placement and should allow your passengers to spread out a bit more comfortably without putting the boat out of trim.  Still, that's a lot of bodies in a small boat, especially if you are under sail, and even more especially if the wind is getting up.

If you want to carry your growing load--hey, your children ain't gettin' smaller, nor will they be eating less!--something like CLC's Southwester Dory might suit better.  It is a long, skinny boat, but the 18' length gives passengers much more room to spread out.  In sailing trim with the motor well, she won't carry a whole lot more weight than the peapod, but the longer length and seating configuration is much more suitable for carrying your family comfortably.

Using CLC's comparison tool to study the differences in the various designs may give you a better feel for all that.  Just studying the photos will tell you a lot about how the boats are best used.

I used to sail a Sea Pearl 21 fiberglass cat-ketch (imagine something a bit like that Southwester Dory, only longer, beamier, heavier, and with a bigger rig), and she could easily carry a few adults plus a couple of small children.  I could heartily recommend one of those for you, if a more substantial boat interests you.  Reasonably priced used ones do come up for sale from time to time.

Now, if you really want to go whole hog for a boat in which you can take your whole family out for a long day of pleasant sailing such that folks can use a toilet with some privacy, take a nap, or go below to fix a sandwich out of the weather (and out of the helmsman's way), I have a Menger 19 catboat we mean to sell this season.  At 2900# displacement, she's a lot of boat to manage, but she loves to carry children and does her best to keep them comfortable, safe, and happy.  <;-)  But, I digress....

Okay, seriously, there's a limit to how many bodies you can put into any small boat which is basically a rowboat with some design modifications to allow her to carry some sail effectively, such as these CLC designs we've been discussing.  I hate to be discouraging, but I don't see how there are any reasonable modifications you could make to your Skerry (don't get me wrong--I think it's a great design) which will make her suitable for taking your whole family out if it's to be more than just a stunt.

Whatever you decide, I wish you all joy in your family boating adventures!  Wanting to take your children out in boats is a very good thing for which I commend you.  In the immortal words of Rat to Mole (see link below) in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”


About Rat and Mole

RE: Skerry modification, lengthen boat changing angles on bow and stern


Thanks for the response. Yes, indeed, my choice of the skerry when the kids were 5, 7, and 9 yrs old, and we had no 70lb collie was shortsighted. At the time, the Northeaster would have been a better choice. I want to get something big enough for everyone and if the Lighthouse Tender were 17ft long and were available, I think it might do it this season. For now, I want to make some changes to the skerry just to tweak it for sailing. I am not trying to increase its capacity.

I would hope to extend the waterline about 10-12 inches and improve the angle for the rudder to help my tack turns. I might run the keel a foot above the bow breasthook to have something substantial to tie on to and add a bit more weight in the bow.

My thoughts are to remove the skeg and run a keel the length of the boat as probably 3 pieces of white oak. I am hoping to add at least 5 inches in the front and 5 inches in the back. I want to get to a vertical rudder mount. Then I have to make a new rudder. I think the tiller will be lighter to turn. Once I attach the keel, I will shape it and possibly use fillets or more oak trim to build out the v shape to the keel on the bottom of the boat. I think the weight wont hurt as it's typically two people when we sail and three when we fish. I hope the whole affair wont add 35lbs to the boat but I will have to begin measuring and weighing white oak.

Thoughts and ideas welcome.








RE: Skerry modification, lengthen boat changing angles on bow and stern

It would probably be easier to just find a more appropriate boat and build it.  Sell the Skerry or keep it, if you can.  Your children will be sailing it without you soon.   

RE: Skerry modification, lengthen boat changing angles on bow and stern


I have to agree with Gramps. All boat designs are an exercise in tradeoffs. Upsetting the balance among the tradeoffs can have many unintended consequences. Unless you are an accomplished and experienced boat designer, like John Harris, the chances of successfully changing a Skerry into the boat you are hoping for are very slim. It is more likely to end up neither fish nor fowl and a potential danger to you and your family. Please sell the Skerry and build a boat designed with the attributes you are looking for.



RE: Skerry modification, lengthen boat changing angles on bow and stern

   Dick, Hooper and all,

I understand and appreciate the advice.

I cannot build another boat this season but I might have time to try this modification before we go to the beach at the end of the month. If it doesnt go well, I should be able to reverse it

I will try to track my changes and plans and update as I go.






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