The North Haven 24 is based on one of my older designs, a fishing boat called Sea Chaser. A longtime friend and collaborator of mine in Maine had always liked that hull and saw in it the makings of what’s known in the trade as a “pocket lobster boat.”
Now retired, Chris Cornell spent a decade as an editor at National Fisherman magazine before starting and editing the trade journal Professional BoatBuilder for the folks at WoodenBoat. He’s a big fan of the traditional lobster-boat configuration for both work and, especially, for pleasure. The type is known for good performance in a wide variety of sea conditions and—perhaps most important—the semi-enclosed pilothouse and the sitting-headroom trunk cabin provide shelter from the weather and greatly extend the boating season in cooler climates like that in New England.
As you might know, I am a West Coast boy, raised on heavy, slow, high- freeboard, immensely tough fishing boats built to work offshore and handle the 3,000-mile fetch from Japan that we see here. To my eye, lobster boats look almost feminine by comparison, with their low, graceful sheerlines; smaller, more refined houses; greater speed; and quicker maneuverability—all of which make them well suited to the ever-changing inshore waters of the East Coast.
So it is that Chris had a tough time convincing me to rework Sea Chaser. I also wondered if we were to develop a new design, why would we draw so heavily on one of my older ones? But, when Chris showed me his sketches and pointed out that precious few good pocket lobster boats are being built today, I came around. I have to say that I’m pleased with the results, and Chris tells me that he is, too.
The North Haven 24 is constructed with the well-proven stitch-and-glue method, using BS-1088 Okoume marine plywood and epoxy resin. The specifications call for complete sheathing of the exterior, first with 6-ounce fiberglass cloth, then a layer of Dynel or Xynol polyester cloth over that—all set in epoxy.
Interior surfaces are saturated and sealed with epoxy resin, as well. The NH 24 can then be painted simply or fancily, with either single-part paints or two-part linear polyurethane (LPUs). This little girl can get some dirt on her hands or put the on make-up and prance about on the dance floor: it’s your choice how to finish and use her.
The result is a boat that’s strong, light, easy to maintain, and simple to repair, should that be necessary. Very solid and tough, she will be warm to the touch, not cold like an aluminum or fiberglass boat. And the NH24 will be stiff: there’ll be none of the panel flexing that increases noise in hulls built of other materials. Finally, the NH 24 will be absolutely unsinkable: epoxy-sealed wood floats.
Powered by a quiet, fuel-efficient, virtually smokeless four-stroke outboard of modest horsepower, she’ll easily and comfortably cruise in the 20- to 25-knot range. Hence, the NH 24 will be excellent for island hopping and—thanks to her keel and sheathing—even beaching, whether your goal is exploring or commuting.
She’ll shine at weekend cruising, and the huge, completely open cockpit is ideal for a flexible arrangement of folding deck chairs, a kayak or two, and/or a couple of four-legged friends. With a small cabin heater forward, the North Haven 24 will be a three-season boat on the East Coast or a four-season boat on the West Coast. And drop curtains can easily be fitted to instantly and fully enclose the pilothouse. That said, with a deep underbody and full-length spray rail, she’ll be a dry runner, and you won’t find many days when you have to throttle her back in rising seas.
So, here you have a tough, elegant pocket lobster boat for both the East and West Coasts (or the Gulf Coast, for that matter). The North Haven 24 is buildable by professionals or amateurs, and—with a beam of 8′ 6″—she’s eminently trailerable for anyone with a full-size pickup or SUV.
I look forward to one day easing into Stonington Harbor on Deer Isle, Maine, and seeing a couple of these beauties at anchor, mixed in with their larger cousins and showing just a bit of the mix in their heritage. I think the scene will work; maybe you agree. — Sam Devlin
The North Haven 24 is available as study plans and full construction plans, or as a custom build from the guys here at Devlin Boat.
North Haven 24 Specifications
|Length on Deck||23 ft. – 10 in.|
|Beam||8 ft. – 6 in.|
With outboard down: 24″ – 30″
|Recommended outboard||90-150 hp|