Bella10Community

Bella 10 Skiff Design notes

In my explanation for the 5 x 10 Skiff (see below), I left room for a better name recommendation. Thus, the Bella 10 was born. A customer came in with a requirement for a 12 foot version of our successful 5 x 10 Skiff. Being the prolific, talented, and handsome designers we are at Devlin Boats, a decision was made to round out this little corner of our Design Catalog with three models. The 5 x 10 remains the same, albeit with a different name. This series has come to be named after my faithful black lab, Bella. For more than a decade she has accompanied me on all manner of nautical adventures and something about a little skiff just looks more “right” with a dog involved. It’s a perfect name. I even showed her the completed plans. She was not impressed but later that same day, I noticed a distant look in her eyes which I can only surmise is born of her mid-winter dreams of spending a little time on her namesake, fooling about the bay with her best friend!

These little boats are certain to prove just as faithful as ‘ol Bella. We’d love to put a bunch of pictures of these finished little skiffs up on the website. Don’t forget the dog!

This is a funny name for a boat design and I have received no lack of advice on changes or improvements to it that might fit into our normal bird and fish boat name themes. But the more observant of you might notice that there are plenty of examples where in the past, I have named a design outside of those themes. A look at the Nancy’s China design as an example of this fact would show this as there is no known bird or fish (to my knowledge) that carries that particular name although, I would be greatly honored if some scientist would choose to name a new discovery after our venerable small sloop design. So my friends, the name 5X10 will stick, at least until someone recommends a really proper substitution, as it is simply too descriptive of this little boat to be replaced.

The origin of the design wasn’t a design commission from some yachtsman looking for a small skiff to row about as his lovely mothership gently rotates on the hook in some picturesque anchorage. Nor some explorer looking for a skiff to row ashore in the Broughton group of islands in British Columbia to view an old, abandoned First Nations village or campsite looking for shards of flint or jade from some ancient tool making pit, even though either of these purposes might be more than perfect for this little skiff. It was designed to fill the simple need of a proper teaching tool at the Woodenboat School in Brooklin, Maine for my Stitch and Glue boatbuilding class.

In the past, my usual subject boat to build at the Woodenboat School was our Peeper skiff, an 11 foot 8 inch long, simple and nice rowing skiff that (2) 4 foot x 8 foot sheets of ¼ inch plywood joined end to end could build. But I kept being confronted with a problem. The Woodenboat School kicks off each week of its classes on Sunday evening with a group orientation and introduction. At the conclusion of this session, each class and its students separate to their respective classrooms for an hour or two of further introductions while each instructor gives a review of what the coming week will be comprised of. In my youth, this schedule worked fine with part of my own time that evening spent doing the simple scarf cuts in the plywood that would be used for the week’s projects and gluing them up that same night, ready to rock the next day. But as I age, I don’t seem to have the piss and vinegar that I once had. I prefer a more casual evening with more of a meet-the-students session and less of a watch-Sam-work-hard for a couple of hours. With the Peeper design, that meant that if I didn’t scarf the two sheets of plywood together that Sunday evening with the cutting and gluing all happening at a time when I would rather be meeting my students, then we would be a day behind schedule to complete the project boats. This would be difficult in a compressed schedule of 4 ½ working days in which even in the best of situations, building several small boats in a classroom is challenging.

So what I needed was a good rowing skiff that could be built without the scarfing part of the building process, thus leaving Sunday evening to getting acquainted with my students and not having the pressure of doing a fast scarf job to get in the way. With a little scratching of my head (in this case just a couple of weeks before the class was to be held), I thought of using some of the good and increasingly available 5 foot x 10 foot marine plywood that is around these days. If I kept the design narrower than the normal fat dingy type, it might be able to be built with the 5 x 10 marine plywood and still produce a proper rowing skiff that could carry its rower comfortably with a much more thoroughbred performance in its movement through the water. The goal was that that whole boat had to be able to be built from the one sheet of plywood with just a little dimensional lumber added for the seat-top, gunwales, stem and skeg, which was a good challenge.

The result is this lovely little design and I am proud to report that the first three models were built at the 2009 Woodenboat School and on Saturday morning, we launched the first of the completed (but not final painted) prototypes. She floated on her lines properly, a designer’s biggest potential nightmare, and even more importantly, she rowed like a proper little skiff, moving thru the water with ease and provided the oarsman with a rewarding rowing performance. Best of all, it only required one sheet of plywood to build her, a fine design accomplishment!

The current price of a sheet of 5 foot x 10 foot 6mm (1/4) BS 1088 Marine Plywood is $135 dollars. With a few gallons of epoxy and a couple of planks of 3/4 inch hardwood, you can build your own version. By the way, she is narrow enough to fit into the bed of any pickup and only weighs a scant 52 pounds dripping wet. What a fine way to spend a few hours, both building and using her! – Sam Devlin

Original 5×10 Notes:

This is a funny name for a boat design and I have received no lack of advice on changes or improvements to it that might fit into our normal bird and fish theme series of boat names. But the more observant of you might notice that there are plenty of examples where in the past, I have named a design outside of those themes. A look at the “Nancy’s China” design as an example of this fact would show this as there is no known bird or fish (to my knowledge) that carries that particular name (although I would be greatly honored if some scientist would choose to name a new discovery after our venerable small sloop design). So my friends, the name “5X10” will stick (at least until someone recommends a really proper substitution) as it is simply too descriptive to this little boat to be replaced.

The origin of the design wasn’t a design commission from some yachtsman looking for a small skiff to row about as his lovely mothership gently rotates on the hook in some picturesque anchorage. Nor some explorer looking for a skiff to row ashore in the Broughton group of islands in British Columbia to view an old, abandoned First Nations village or campsite looking for shards of flint or jade from some ancient tool making pit, even though either of these purposes might be more than perfect for this little skiff. It was designed to fill the simple need of a proper teaching tool at the Woodenboat School in Brooklin, Maine for the 2009 semester.

In the past, my usual subject boat to build at Woodenboat School was the “Peeper” skiff, an 11ft 8in long, simple and nice rowing skiff that (2) 4ft x 8ft sheets of plywood joined end to end could build. But I kept being confronted with a problem and that was the Woodenboat School kicks off each week of its classes on the starting Sunday evening of the respective week of the school with a group orientation and introduction.   At the conclusion of this session, each class and its students separate to their respective classrooms for an hour or two of further introductions and theoretically, each instructor will give a review of what the coming week will be comprised of. Now I am getting a bit older (each day older if I remember correctly) and I don’t quite have the piss and vinegar that I once had. I prefer to talk a bit and listen to my students stories of why they have traveled all the way to Maine just to spend a week with me to actually working, if for only that first evening. With the “Peeper” design that meant that if I didn’t scarf the two sheets of plywood together that Sunday evening with the cutting and gluing all happening at a time when I would rather be meeting my students, then we would be a day behind schedule to complete the project boats. This would be difficult in a compressed schedule in which even in the best of situations, building several small boats in a classroom in what amounts to 4 1/2 working days.

So what I needed was a good rowing skiff that could be built without the scarfing part of the building process, thus leaving the Sunday evening to getting acquainted with my students, and not having the pressure of doing a fast scarf job to hold our schedule to get in the way. With a little scratching of my head (in this case just a couple of weeks before the class was to be held), I thought of using some of the good and increasingly available 5ft. X 10ft. marine plywood that is around these days. If I kept the design narrower than the normal fat dingy type, it might be able to be built with the 5 x 10 marine plywood and still produce a proper rowing skiff that could carry its rower comfortably with a much more thoroughbred performance with its movement through the water. The goal was that that whole boat had to be able to be built from the one sheet of plywood with just a little dimensional lumber added for the seat-top, gunwales, stem and skeg, which was a good challenge.

The result is this lovely little design and I am proud to report that the first three models were built at the 2009 Woodenboat School and on Saturday morning, we launched the first of the completed (but not final painted) prototypes. She floated on her lines properly, the designer’s biggest potential nightmare, and even more important, she rowed like a proper little skiff, moving thru the water with ease and provided a rewarding rowing performance. But even more importantly, it only required one sheet of plywood to build her – a fine design accomplishment!

I am currently building one to accompany my “Josephine” and think that she is going to see a lot of duty on our adventures between Olympia and Alaska in the coming years.

The current price of a sheet of 5ft. X 10ft. 6mm (1/4”) BS 1088 Marine Plywood is $135 dollars. With a few gallons of epoxy and a couple of planks of 3/4” hardwood, you can build your own version. By the way, she is narrow enough to fit into the bed of any pickup and only weighed a scant 52 lbs dripping wet.

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