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Little Bretton
Download free plans

A round-bilged little clinker pram

The idea for this pram came to me as I sat in the shade beside the dock of a small Breton port in late summer. A small boy not much older than my six-year-old son was playing in a round-bilged little simulated clinker pram; he was an expert at rowing and sculling and he seemed to be having a grand time. Would this be my son in a year or two?

Possibly, I thought. But I'll make sure he wears his lifejacket.

The little seven or eight foot pram had no sheer, yet the boat looked perfectly good, which set me thinking. Would a flat sheer make this a simple boat to build in epoxy-ply?

I think the the answer is that it would be. In my mind, the builder would make a cross-shaped form from chipboard, fore-and-aft and across the widest part of the beam, and sew the panels using cable ties. Fine panel pins driven into the form through the strakes and transoms would ensure that the structure is square before the epoxy putty is applied to the lapped strakes. Grease-proofed paper would prevent the hull from sticking to the form.

It's not exactly conventional, but I think it's got quite a lot to recommend it. Expert builders, of course, would probably find the form unnecessary if building one-off, but might well use it if making more than one or two boats.

Everything else about this little pram is pretty conventional. I have left builders to buy their own bouyancy bags in the case of boats used for sailing, or by children. I have it in mind to cook up a six foot six inch version sometime.

Will I build this boat for my boy? I'll build it, I think, but it will be a rather Quixotic exercise, as he wants an Optimist so he can be like all the big boys he knows down at our sailing club.

To download a free complete set of drawings for this design, click here.

Gavin Atkin, Tunbridge Wells, England, September 2000