The Candlefish 13 is a versatile small fishing boat. Originally designed to be a cartoppable fishing skiff for high latitude rivers and lakes, she has also proven to be an excellent yacht tender.

With one person aboard, she only draws about 4.5 inches. On an ultimate hunting trip, loaded with gear, she could carry 1323 pounds, draw 10.5 inches  and still have over 13 inches of freeboard at the lowest point of the sheer.

Under normal loading, she planes at 20+mph with an 8hp outboard. Sam recently built one of these as a tender for his beloved Josephine, and reports that he loves it.

Candlefish 13 is available in study and in full construction plans  and as a CNC cut hull kit  And this new offering: Bundled Plans Package


Candlefish 13 Specifications

Length 13 ft. – 4 in.
Beam 4 ft. – 11 in.
Draft 4.5 in.
Displacement 773 lbs.
Dry Weight 250 lbs.


Candlefish 13 Design Notes

Did the horse come before the cart or the cart before the Horse? A dumb question but in the case of the Candlefish 13 and the Candlefish 16 which came first is a legitimate question? The answer is that the Candlefish 13 was the first of these two designs and while the Candlefish 16 was built before the 13 by no means does this diminish the importance of the design.

Candlefish13-3The Candlefish 13 was originally designed for Tom McLain of Fairbanks, Alaska and I include the original copy of the design commission listing the requirements for the boat and parameters

January 30, 2006

Custom Design for Tom McLain


X.X.XXX XXXX Fairbanks, Alaska XXXXX

XXX-XXX-XXXX Work Number

XXX-XXX-XXXX   Home Number

Charge for Preliminary Design XXX with rights for first boat only

Paid by check #XXXX

50% down to start design and 50% on delivery of plans

Total cost of the design XXX

14’ ft. Cartoppable outboard skiff

Length 14ft

48”? or slightly more Beam

Needs to be less than 150-180 lbs for the basic boat, has to be lifted overhead to a rack on a 5th wheel towing Dodge one ton truck

For use in the Hi-Latitudes on far Northern lakes or non-whitewater bodies of water

Wants to use a 6-10hp. Outboard engine on the stern for power.

As Stable and Deep a boat as what Tom and Friends or Wife can manage to lift onto rack

Floorboards could be removable or even not necessary and seat thwarts also

Will be carried upside down on the truck rack

Gregor Boats H 42 model is an alum. This is a similar boat design that Tom likes (good research)

Coming down on June 30th to visit… Likes idea of cargo hatch in middle of the boat… 6/22/06

To respect Tom’s privacy I have X’d out the vital money details and address of this agreement but you can plainly see a small, Cartoppable, very seaworthy skiff was desired. Did Tom ever build the first boat to the design, I can’t answer that for sure as he has not sent me construction or action photos of her yet, but I still think that she would fit the bill for cruising, hunting, exploring far northern waters or freshwater lakes very well.

During the design phase of the project I always find myself using these boats in my mind, in some cases for the same use and waters as the customer is planning on, but sometimes my own mental voyages are even more exacting than the original design commission. For this design I could easily see myself planning to do a couple of weeks of Moose hunting on a far northern lake with my friends Sven and Ollie, using the Candlefish to transport all the gear necessary from our launch site to the hunting campsite. Each day would involve using the boat to travel to a different part of Lake for the days hunting and if we were really lucky and good shots after getting a Moose down, using her to transport the meat back to camp, and then finally back to the launching area and road. A big Moose can weigh over 1500 lbs. and this would be a lot of meat, more than most boats could handle with one load. So I did a bit of calculation on how efficient the Candlefish 13 would be as a meat freighter. At her normal lines she displaces 441 lbs. just enough for an adult and the weight of the boat and motor and at this weight only drafts or draws 4.5” skinny inches of water. If I figure that the boat weights in at 150lbs. and she uses a 100 lb. motor we can come up with some interesting figures of weight and loading. By increasing the draft 2” to a still skinny 6.5” total draft now she displaces 538 lbs, by increasing it again 2” to 8.5” total draft she weights or displaces 918 lbs. And on the ultimate hunting trip or in this example ferrying out a Moose carcass she could draft 10.5”, carry 1323 lbs. of weight total and still have over 13” of freeboard at the lowest spot of the sheer. This little “Candlefish 13’ was designed to do just that job and with her cargo hold in the middle and forward bow stowage areas, a really great, seaworthy little boat resulted. But how about those of you that want to use her on a lake in Minnesota, or maybe even trailer her down to Sea of Cortez for a camp cruising adventure, truth is she is up for all of that or even the more mundane crabbing expedition on Puget Sound or a fishing trip to a high mountain lake.

How is her performance? Well with an 8hp. outboard even with some good loading she will still go well over the 20 miles per hour mark and with a boat like this you can go as fast as you have horsepower to apply to her. Her transom could take anything from a modest 6hp, up to a 25 horse outboard motor and you’ll just have to make those decisions on your own, how fast you want to go, how much money you want to spend on the outboard, and how portable (how heavy an outboard ) do you want to keep on her?

I think she accomplishes Tom’s goals with “panache” in fact maybe I should have named her just that, but in any case a simple, seaworthy, trailerable or even car-toppable skiff can be a real joy to build, own, and play with.

Plans are $85 dollars and with about $1000 dollars worth of materials you can build your own.

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