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The Swallowtail

Designed and duilt by S. K. Wier, Boulder, Colorado; 1998-2000

(before the mast support was installed)

Her particulars are:

Plywood on frame: 1/4 " plywood over sawn Douglas Fir frames
14' loa x 5' 3" beam
Sail area 76 sq. ft.
Full length keel 6" to 12" deep; no centerboard
Douglas Fir rudder, thwarts, frame
oak floorboards (bottom boards)
fastened with bronze boat nails and epoxy
two pair oars: 8 feet and ten feet.

This boat is a suitable design for a home amateur boat builder who wants to keep costs as low as possible. There is an enormous contrast in quality (and cost) between this boat and the "Skylark" shown on the other web page. This boat's cost is a small fraction of Skylark's cost. Of course it also required maybe 200 hours of work spread over the spare time of a year.

There are no plans or building instructions for this boat. Here is how it was made. A set of lines was drawn up by hand, merging ideas from other plywood-on-frame designs I had in hand and the dimensions of the "Swallow." A model was made, at 1/12 scale, in thin wood, to see if it went together ok. Frames were made using the lines; the transom was made. The frames and transom were erected on a ladderback (building frame). The stem and keel were assembled in place. The plywood planking was applied. Working with the planking it was apparent small changes were required in the forward two frames to get the plankling to lay nicely without forcing. (I guess the model planking was too flexible and misled my notions of what was possible.) I revised the drawings and offsets to match what was done.

Assembly used both bronze boat nails (or screws) and epoxy glue at all joints including attaching the planking. The assembly method was typical of plywood on frame boats, for which there are several good books. The hull was removed from the building frame. Interior parts were added. External rub rails were attached.

It's pretty much Douglas Fir selected at the local lumber yard for no knots. Bottom boards and some small items such as breasthooks are oak salvaged at no cost from pallets. Benches are pine; thwarts are fir.

"Painting" outside involved the following. Three coats of epoxy resin, sanded. Three coats of top quality marine primer, sanded. Three coats of Sherwin Williams gloss Industrial Enamel. That is a good boat paint and cheaper than marine paints, and I can buy it down the street here in Colorado. Only a gallon of enamel was used. The interior is finished with the "boat soup" described in the main page. West Marine sold me the primer. Bronze fastenings and hardware came from Jamestown Distributors in the US.

2010 note: What I would do differently.
Not use plywood for the planking, unless it were the highest quality marine plywood about 3/8 inch (9 mm) thick.
Keep the boat under cover when not in use.