Devlin Pelicano Shrimper built from a DIY planThe Shrimper version of the Pelicano 18 has the heart of a workboat in a modern, fast planing hull.

Sam Devlin has a reputation for designing really eye-catching “character” boats. Perish the thought, but I’ve even heard them described as “cute”. Because of that, they are often underrated for their utility, sensibility, durability and performance. The Pelicano is a really excellent example of a comfortable, practical medium-sized skiff that really looks spectacular. The Devlin Pelicano is a versatile and useful real-world design because Sam has designed three separate “flavors” on the basic fast, comfortable and rugged Pelicano hullform.

The Pelicano Shrimper is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to maximize practicality in an 18′ 4″ package. The design has a small cabin forward, with enough space for a v-berth for the occasional overnight.  The design has ample dry storage below.

The Pelicano Hull is a very fast planing design, with a rugged purpleheart keel capped with a stainless rubrail to avoid damage if you want to poke ashore. That keel also accounts for her comfortable ride, because it helps to cut the water, thus minimizing pounding.

Pelicano ShrimperThe Pelicano has a six panel hull with two bottoms and two side panels to each side, giving an attractive hull that can be built “Devlin Tough” with her cold molded bottom, and modern Stitch and Glue construction. There is plenty of structure in her to keep this hull stiff, stable, and strong and she assembles over a mandrel of 5 athwart ships bulkheads and two longitudinals. This construction method is really quite amazing and results in a very strong and tough hull.

Like all Pelicanos, the maximum HP is 90, and you can realistically expect over 40mph with that kind of power.

And finally, the Pelicano is an easily trailerable design, adding to its basic versatility, and helping you to find your own boating adventures.

The Pelicano 18 is available in study and full construction plans. The Shrimper version is available as a CNC cut kit.

  • See how our friend Henry Clews uses his Pelicano.
  • Read Sam’s design notes on the Pelicano below

Pelicano 18 Specifications

Length 18 ft. – 5  3/16 in.
Beam 7 ft. – 5  3/8  in.
Draft at full displacement 10  –  5   3/16  in.
Dry weight with engine and battery 1490 lbs.
Weight at load waterline 2150 lbs.
Trailering weight 2350 lbs.


Pelicano Design Notes

Devlin Pelicano Shrimper built from a DIY planWell my friends I have another fine little design to tell you about and I’ll have no more input about design names as a very few of you have very strong opinions on the subject.  Once again I find I will  have to exercise my artistic right to brand another poor undeserving design with a name that is totally un-appropriate for it and one that will weight around its design neck (metaphorically speaking) for the rest of its life.

As a few of you know a few years ago I re-married and my wife is from Mexico. In recent years I have been spending a fair amount of time in that fine country taking in the culture and cuisine to my delight.  But I also have done a bit of poking around about boating and have some very definite ideas on what might work in those fine, warm waters.  The sailing can be good, but I am continually surprised at how very hot and muggy even a breezy day can be in the warm sun especially on tacks where the wind is from abeam or abaft.  So much of my musing about the ideal boat for Mexican waters and my lifestyle revolve around a power skiff, in this case a pretty large one that can really handle a load, handle the afternoon trades that often kick up and take me to remote beaches for a little warm sand on my poor untanned Boatbuilders feet.  I love to snorkel and cavort about in shallow water and this little boat can easily be my spaceship for journeys to those waters.  There are a lot of Outboard powered Skiff, called Panga’s in Mexico and they seem very well re-fined for the waters running with a tiller steered outboard, they are by nature simple and effective boats, much longer and narrower than our water-skiing cousins in North America.  The Pelicano is simply a translation of the Pango type, in this case perhaps a bit shorter because I will have to trailer her down behind my Toyota on my next trip south and I don’t need a package that is too long or unwieldy to trailer.  But once the early version of the drawings were done it wasn’t long before my imagination really went wild and I found myself dreaming of using her in many other waters than just Mexican ones.  So before long there were 5 flavors to the design all based on the same hull and bulkheads placement, and I would not be surprised that there might be a couple more types potential in her before I fully move onto another dream.

I really think the best tack with this design is to allow you to paint your own dreams about which version might be the best for you, and believe me I can see all of them having some significant uses in my own mind.  But the hull is the essence of the type and here we have a very nice one for the purpose with the capability to power with a smallish outboard without much problem and also the potential to power up for the tyro’s of you that need something above 40mph on the water to feed your soles.  In fact with the maximum engine of 90 hp. You would be doing something like 50plus mph over the water without barely realizing that you were going much over 25mph. she goes thru or maybe I should say over the water so easily that these speeds can really surprise you.  I remember once running in a close design similar to the “Pelicano” 18 with a 100 hp. Outboard on the stern of her, and according to the GPS traveling at 56 mph. if I didn’t have the GPS staring at me with its impartial data I would never have believed it.

But enough of that speed talk lets discuss a boat that is truly designed to be used in the real life conditions that a boat of this type is going to encounter.  You will note that she has a keel that runs from the stem head of the boat and just about the entire length of the bottom and if you saw the building plans you would see that it is comprised of the very tough and resilient wood called Purpleheart and that in addition to that feature she also has a ¾” wide Stainless Steel half oval let onto the very bottom of the keel that will help her to keep her lovely and fair bottom off the rough beach when you poke her nose ashore.  I have railed on this fact before in some writings but it galls me to go to a boat show and see all the lovely, shiny production fiberglass boats of a similar type with their bottoms that can’t poke ashore on a rocky or barnacle encrusted beach even one time without serious damage to their bottoms.  How can a boat designer spend their time on a design and not consider the real life of the boat and how it might be used.  And tell me my friends how many times with a trailerable boat would you wish to poke the bow into the shore to offload yourself for exploring or picking up passengers for a bit of a boat ride?

Devlin Pelicano Shrimper built from a DIY planSo with “Pelicano’s “ keel she can take the bottom without damage, but that keel also is what helps to give her that soft ride without the pounding that most boats of this type like to subject their owners to when the wind and waves act up.  The keel cuts the water and starts the movement of the water before the hull itself actually meets the full force of the water and this is just about like comparing riding in a car without springs and shocks and riding in one that has the gear dampening the motion and translating into a ride that feels safer and more comfortable.

The “Pelicano” has a six panel hull with two bottoms and two side panels to each side, giving an attractive hull that can be built “Devlin Tough” with her cold molded bottom, and modern Stitch and Glue construction.  There is plenty of structure in her to keep this hull stiff, stable, and strong and she assembles over a mandrel of 5 athwart ships bulkheads and two longitudinals.  This construction method is really quite amazing and results in a very strong and tough hull.

So my friends I leave you with a variety of types all based on the same hull, the only shame is that I am not clever enough to incorporate all the types at once.  Come to think of it, that would be a good way to spend a cold spell this winter scheming on how to make drop on decks, houses, and center consoles, who knows you might see me do it yet?  Enjoy the design and the plans allow you to make up your own mind on which version you want.  Plans are $125 dollars and it’s just a few days from getting that pile of lumber and plywood together to get started on your own version of her…

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