The Candlefish 16 is a burdensome fishing skiff. Deep and seaworthy, it is wonderfully suited to life in our changeable weather and strong tides. Deep enough to keep her occupants dry and light enough to launch off the beach, she’s perfect with 10 to 30 hp.

Lockable storage and enclosed flotation augment the factor of safety and add a great deal of rigidity to her 16-foot length. She’s the boating version of a pickup truck. Strong, rugged, and versatile.

Easy to build to a workboat fit and finish, or take as much time as you want to showcase your craftsmanship. The choice is yours, but either way she makes a wonderful utility skiff.


For the detailed thinking behind the Candlefish 16, read Sam’s design notes below.

The Candlefish 16 is available as study and construction plans or a CNC cut kit.

Information on the new version, the Candlefish 16 – Casting Deck is here.


Candlefish 16 Specifications

Length 15 ft. – 10 7/16 in.
Beam 5 ft. – 9 13/16 in.
Draft 6 in.
Displacement 714 lbs.
Dry Weight 325 lbs.


Candlefish 16 Design Notes

I am guessing that most designers spend a great deal of time musing about the use of these little boats that we design, and as we mature and our lives change, there seems to be a never-ending string of little boats to dream after, create (first on paper), and then, if we are lucky enough, to build and have the enjoyment of using them in real life and see how our ideas worked.  But they always start out as a simple daydream, done most effectively during some armchair time spent with a beverage and perhaps an aromatic pipe or cigar adding a bit of spice to the scene. The little Candlefish 16 was the by-product of one of those daydreams, the seed no doubt planted on some cold, winter day with a vision of some beach cruising in some warm place, perhaps Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, with the sky an azure blue, the water crystalline clear and clean, and a warm beach waiting to be explored – remote, uninhabited and with treasures galore to be discovered.

Enter the Candlefish 16, an almost perfect size for such explorations with a good, light dry weight, easy to launch by hand off the beach and with performance enough to satisfy the tyro in me.  This is really just a pointed bow open skiff with an outboard on the stern but with some very interesting twists to it.  For power, I picked an outboard motor, tiller steered from 10 to 30 hp., depending on how fast one wants to run and how much load is expected to be carried.  The parallel to the Candlefish 16 in the automotive world is a Toyota Tacoma Pickup and this is really just a marine version of a small truck of a boat with the capability of carrying a good load, some lockable stowage, foam flotation in the ends and deep enough to be seaworthy in just about any sea condition.

Let’s start on this inspection of the boat with a profile (sideways for you landlubbers) look at her – a strong sheered multi-chined hull that looks just about right to my eye.  She is plenty deep, in fact, perhaps just a little bit too deep but that will pay dividends the first time I linger a bit too long beachcombing when the afternoon trades kick in.  That’s the time when I will be happy to have the extra freeboard and it should help greatly to get me off the beach and to keep me dry and safe in all sorts of sea-conditions.  Looking from the plan view (that is the overhead, or top view) at the boat, adjacent to the stern there are two longitudinal seats on each side of the rear of the boat.   I always intended to tiller steer the Candlefish and so with those seats, I can steer left handed or right depending on my daily preference.  There is plenty of leg room in front of the seats for those stiff arthritic knees of mine and forward of the seats is an interesting mid-deck area, a sort of cargo hold.  This is lockable and holds a lot of gear, including a battery box if the electric start outboard I was drooling over was sprung for.  The mid-deck keeps passengers forward and out of my way and is a handy height for re-baiting crab or shrimp traps or to remove our catch if successful. Passengers can sit on the forward edge of the mid-deck and if they have bad backs, I can reach into the cargo hatch and pull out simple, but very efficient, folding padded seats for them to lean back on.  They will have their own leg space forward and a small forward deck (bulwarked by the hull sides and bulkhead #1) to allow the anchor to be chocked down on top of and with the rode stowed in the stowage and flotation space below.  This forward work deck really functions well with my dog occasionally perched on the bowdeck in figurehead position, ears all a-flappin in the wind.

The Candlefish’s hull is planked up from good 5ply,  9mm mahogany marine plywood.   She is built Stitch and Glue style over 4 full bulkheads and is strong and stiff.   With a hull sheathing of Dynel cloth set in epoxy and with her purpleheart keel and bilge keels, she keeps her hull off the bottom when beaching and is strong and easy to maintain.  For my own boat, I am going to shoot a tinted colored truck bed liner on the inside of her in a soft grey and paint the outside topsides of the hull a creamy white with green bottom paint on her to set off her nice lines.  On the gunwales, I will screw on Dacron Gunwale guard all around the perimeter to help keep me off all the lovely boats at anchor that I might visit and it saves carrying around a boatload of fenders to fend me off docks and pilings.

If you are so inclined, with about $1,500 dollars in materials and 200 hours labor, you can dream up your own adventures.  The shop must be warmed up by now with a charge of the scrap wood of yesterday’s efforts already burned down low in the stove and I am off to whittle away on her…

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