Wompus Cat Design Notes

Wompus Cat is a very tidy and cruisable conventional “Cape Cod type” catboat, with single large mast forward and a single mainsail. She only needs the tiller put down and maybe a hand for adjusting the mainsheet for each tack. This is probably the simplest of boats to enjoy the afternoon sailing either alone or with a few friends along. The hallmark of an traditional catboat is that they are easy to sail, have a huge cockpit for good company to go along with you, and at the end of the day a large and comfortable cabin to rest up for the next days adventure.

“Wompus Cat” is trailerable so that you can bring her home at the end of the season and go through your annual maintenance at your leisure in a covered work area. She is trailerable enough to allow some exploring of local waters that might be more accessible from the trailer than by water alone. Her draft allows the additional exploration of shallow waters and with the optional inboard diesel engine she can travel longer distances on those days that don’t have much wind. Entering the cabin you will immediately notice that there is no centerboard trunk in the way of the living space in the cabin.

With an inboard small diesel engine of 10 hp. the draft of the boat is barely deeper than a centerboard boat and the small fin keep is hydrodynamically superior to the typical centerboard and large wetted surface of a more conventional catboat. With the fin keel the boat tacks well and points to windward like a racer and the Wompus Cat has all her 800 lbs. of ballast deep in the keel for stability and ability to hold up to windward work. Without having a centerboard trunk in the middle of the cabin the settees feel larger and certainly the leg room is more comfortable. A porta-potti or watercloset is set at the head of the settee and really is quite usable (a real trick in a boat of this size) and the two berths are commodious and comfortable for overnight cruising or just a quick nap on a quiet day, there is a filler cushion to convert the twin settee’s to one large double berth for those of you that have a cruising companion worth sleeping with. To the starboard side just forward of the rear bulkhead is a raised galley flat with room for a sink and stowage below for cooking utensils and galley stores. On the portside we put one of the excellent “Sardine” wood/stoves that Marine Stoves is building from cast iron. With a few small pieces of wood thrown in on top of a handful of fragrant cedar shavings, a match applied to the bottom of the stack and in a few minutes the cabin is warm, your coffee or tea is brewing and life feels good.

Sailing a boat like the Wompus Cat is simplicity itself, untying the sail-gaskets and pulling on the two halyards being the only effort required to raising the sail. Once the sail is properly set and the mooring is cast off the days sail begins with just the single mainsheet to tend and a long tiller to manage the semi-balanced rudder. This is really where a catboat shines and these boats can be fast sailors, particularly off the wind. You can be joined by quite a group in the cockpit without getting in each other’s way and with her large beam she sails flat and fast. The first boat of the fleet is near completion now and I look forward to showing her stern to the locals.

–Sam Devlin

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Bay Skipper

BaySkipperFrontYou like to paddle with a friend? You like to scull in a performance design? This is your boat. The Bay Skipper does both. She can can easily handle two paddlers in her large cockpit. You might even be able to bring a kid and a dog. This is great for quite explorations in peaceful waters. With a few minutes and a couple of boats, you can add a full sliding rowing seat and find yourself gliding along in this efficient hull. She’s light enough to manage single handed and using the Devlin stitch and glue method, she’s fast and easy to build. Plus, after using this boat for a year, think about those upper body muscles. Awesome!

Read about the inspiration for the Bay Skipper in Sam’s design notes.

The Bay Skipper is available in study and full construction plans.


Bay Skipper Specifications

Length 18 ft. – 1.375 in.
Beam 2 ft. – 11.25 in.
Draft 6-5/16 in.
Power Oars or Kayak Paddles
Displacement 530 lbs.
Hull Dry Weight 76 lbs.
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Bay Skipper Design Notes

This is a very interesting design I did originally for Chris Kemp who had the desire for a vessel that could be convertible between being used for one or two paddlers using kayak paddles on the skinny waters of Florida or one that could also be fitted with a removable sliding seat and used for sculling over the same waters. Chris had stated early in our conversations about her concept that he had approached more than a couple of designers with a request for the same and had been turned bluntly away. But I saw the utility of her uses right off the bat as there have been more than a few times when I might have wished for the same type of boat, convertible depending on my mood and the waters to be explored between sculling and paddling. I would love to tell you that we had the design done just a couple of days later but reality has a sting about it that never quite goes away and these small boat designs take almost as much thinking and stewing over as a design of one of the larger boats. So it was few weeks or perhaps even months, I cant remember now, before we finally printed out the full plans for her.

And what a delight she is with an elegant transition from the paddling to the sculling. I was able to talk Chris out of the angled forward transom that he had originally called for in favor of an upright and fairly plumb stem and also a fairly vertical transom on her with just enough rake aft to make her look good to my eye. She also has a deck on her with an oval cockpit coaming with a small hardwood edge that wont dig into your side uncomfortably while bracing for a wake from some inconsiderate power boater that just zoomed past. This decking provides a lot of reserve freeboard to the design and that translates to increased seaworthiness.

The sliding seat mechanism can be just set into place and two small bolts made up, one on each side, to fasten in her for rowing and while the sweeps are long, they couple nicely with this boat and its performance. With her long waterline, she really carries way quite nicely and will work very well for both propulsion purposes. With a couple of paddlers aboard and some well balanced kayak paddles, you can face forward and explore your local waters for evening paddles that do much to calm the soul and sooth the spirits after busy days.

I think Chris was right on with the concept and I’m pleased to offer it to the rest of you who might be able to find her useful. — Sam Devlin

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Candlefish 18

The Candlefish 18 is largest boat in the Candlefish lineup. Her hallmark is simplicity and utility, with a dash of performance from the incorporation of the Pelicano 18 hull. This a hull that works very well as the foundation of a number of Devlin designs. In this application it combines the flexibility of an open boat with the seaworthiness of a relatively tall hull. Sam has worked in large and flexible seating over the top of a huge amount of dry storage with even more storage in the bow. There is plenty of room for reserve buoyancy that, even in an unsinkable design, adds the peace of mind that comes from knowing the boat will float, level and stable, even when full of water. If the smaller Candlefish boats are waterborne pickup trucks, the Candlefish 18 is the moving van.

For the story behind the Candlefish 18, read Sam’s design notes.

The Candlefish 18 is available in study and full construction plans.


Candlefish 18 Specifications

Length 18 ft. – 5 in.
Beam 7 ft. – 5.375 in.
Draft 10 5/8 in.
Power Outboard 40hp – 70hp
Displacement 2275 lbs.
Hull Dry Weight 1325 lbs.
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Candlefish 18 Design Notes

With the success of our little Candlefish 13 and her slightly larger sister, the Candlefish 16, I felt the need to be able to offer another larger version based on the hull of our Pelicano 18 but with the simple features and usability of the Candlefish design. If you are unfamiliar with the Candlefish type, I would like to run thru a quick description of the features of her and why she might work well into your own boating dreams.

All the Candlefish designs are tiller steered outboard boats that are built with the Stitch and Glue Construction method, a building method that I have been a staunch proponent of for all my 37 plus years of designing and building boats.  These boats are open gunwale boats and by that I mean that the sheer rails of the boat are the sole extent of the protection from getting water into the boat itself so there are no side decks or other structures that might help to eliminate waves from slopping into the boat itself.  So to help counter that small deficiency, I designed a relatively high freeboard into her hull or to put this more simply, the sides of the boat are high enough to help keep the occupants inside the boat and to help keep the water out of the boat.

For seating back in the stern, there are port and starboard side seats. These are both over 7 feet long and almost 22 inches wide each.  When tiller steering her, you can choose either side to sit on and reaching over to the tiller of the outboard, it’s easy to face forward at an angle and keep your eye out for obstructions in the water. This type of side seating also helps to keep other passengers from impeding the skipper’s ability to operate the boat.

You will see from the drawings that forward of the long side seats in the stern of the cockpit, there is a seat or structure that extends from one side of the boat to the other at the same height as the stern seats and extends forward over almost 44 inches. Potted in the middle of the aft side of this deck structure (let’s call this the bridgedeck) is a hinged hatch that measures 24 inches fore and aft and 34 inches wide. If you unlatch and hinge up this hatch, it opens up the whole underside of the bridgedeck structure and exposes a neat cargo hold that can gobble up whole loads of fuel tanks, safety equipment, dry camping or survival gear and anything else you can dream up.  All this is kept organized and out of the way of the occupants of the boat and most importantly, this gear storage area is all dry without rain or anything else getting into its stowed items.  The other advantage of the bridgedeck is that passengers can sit at its forward edge with their feet on the forward cockpit floorboard and with some simple folding padded seat cushions, they have dry, comfortable, forward facing seats and they stay out of the helmsman’s way while working the tiller outboard at the stern of the boat.

Up forward in the bow of the boat is a stowage locker that comes almost up to the deck edge of the Candlefish 18. This bow deck extends aft from the stem of the boat almost 44 inches and is the full width of the bow.  The height at the aft end is 4 ½ inches below the sheer of the boat, but up forward up against the stem, it is almost 12 inches deep.  This deck has scuppers in the two aft edges of it that drain any water overboard and an anchor, anchor rode, spare dock lines, fenders or a cornucopia of other items can be stowed on this deck area safe and secure.  Below that bow deck is a stowage locker that holds amongst other items, one of the neatest features of the Candlefish 18, the forward-most floatation component for her.

Under the bow deck area and in the stern of the boat on both sides of the cockpit below the stern seats are housed a total additional buoyancy of 480 lbs.  Keep in mind our hull is built of epoxy sealed wood and by itself would not sink in any circumstance, but that outboard on the stern and some other heavy non-floating type gear that might be aboard dictate the inclusion of enough added floatation to keep the boat upright and level floating even if completely full of water.  One of my favorite methods of providing this additional buoyancy is to use the simple and inexpensive type II life jackets. To make up that buoyancy requirement, we would need 24 individual life jackets.  You can easily buy these on sale at your local marine supplier and even with a list price of $47.77 per (4) pack, you would have a total expenditure of $286.62 for all the additional floatation necessary to keep your boat positively buoyant in any weather conditions you might encounter.  If you buy them on sale, you might get by with only spending just around $200 dollars for all the safety factor and peace of mind that an unsinkable boat provides.

The two ¾ inch marine plywood cockpit decks are set at a level of 2 inches above the loaded waterline of the boat. This allows you to keep the cockpit drain plug out of the boat if she is set up on a mooring in addition to keeping any rain water that might come aboard to be flushed out just about as quickly as it comes aboard. There are two drain pipes that connect up the bow cockpit deck to the stern cockpit deck so any bilge water can easily flush from forward to aft and overboard.  When you reach the mooring, the drain plug can be replaced to its position in the stern of the boat and you can load her to your heart’s content, confident in the fact that any bilge water will be able to be flushed back while under power.

The Candlefish 18 is an almost perfect size for explorations with a good, light dry weight, she’s easy to launch by hand off the beach and she has performance enough to satisfy the tyro in all of us. 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, using anything from 40-70 hp depending on how fast one wants to run and how much load is expected to be carried.  Just like her smaller sisters, the Candlefish 18 is the sea-going equivalent of a pickup truck, capable of carrying a decent load and handling many of the chores you might encounter in your life on the water.

The Candlefish’s hull is planked up from good marine plywood 7ply, 12mm mahogany of the BS-1088 grade. She is built Stitch and Glue style over 4 full bulkheads and her transom and she 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.

If you are so inclined, the plans for home construction are offered for $125 dollars a package and with about $3,500 dollars in materials (not counting the outboard engine) and 400 hours labor, you can dream up your own adventures while building her. – Sam Devlin

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Lit’l Coot Full Keel

The Lit’l Coot Full Keel is a is seaworthy and capable motorsailer with enough space on board for the organized sailor and enough potential to keep serious travelers satisfied. She is the sister to the original Lit’l Coot with the same hull and the same tendency for balanced performance and maximal use of space, but the change to a fixed centerline keel allows her to stand up to weather that the original could not handle. This change also frees up space in the cabin, which makes her more comfortable for longer cruises. Twin rudders surround the outboard motor on the centerline to allow efficient motor cruising on an economical 9.9 hp outboard.

Read Sam’s design notes for the big picture on the Lit’l Coot Full Keel.

The Lit’l Coot Full Keel is available in study and full construction plans.


Lit’l Coot Full Keel Specifications

Length 17 ft. – 10.5 in.
Beam 6 ft. – 11 in.
Draft 2 ft. – 6 in.
Power Outboard 9.9hp
Displacement 2300 lbs.
Ballast 650 lbs.
Sail Area 160 sq. ft.
Height on Trailer 8 ft. – 4 in.
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Lit’l Coot Full Keel Design Notes

After doing the twin bilge keel version of the “Litl Coot” design, we had a flurry of letters from potential builders around the world with their own flavor of what would make the perfect pocket type sail design and it was finally Guillermo Martinez from Spain that ponied up and really convinced me to do some changes to the design. I present Guillermo’s dream here as a completely separate version of the same hull — the intent is quite different but the expression is the same, a small pocket cruiser that would be capable of taking its skipper to places that can only be imagined in a creative mind. She is seaworthy and capable with enough space on board for the organized sailer and enough potential to keep most of us water-tyros satisfied.

The biggest change to the original design was the addition of a fixed keel with draft of 30”, a radical departure from the twin bilge keel model that I had originally designed. This would allow her to stand up to weather that the shoal draft model could only aspire to and would keep the cabin freed up of any trunk or other structure. The rig was moved aft, the mizzen was thrown away and a sloop rig was designed for her. Guillermo wanted a bowsprit but I convinced him that she (the boat) would be much safer without the extension forward of the bow and would keep the sailor safely on deck by not working in front of the boat. With a club fitted jib, she will be self tending during tacking and I feel this sloop rig fits very nicely within the motorsailer genre that the original design was fit for.

A cockpit coaming was designed that would allow better support to the back for long watches under sail and provides a bit of increased freeboard in case some really rough waters are encountered. The twin rudders and centerline mounted outboard were retained and after just coming back from a recent trip sailing a 37ft. boat (or more accurately, I should say motor sailing) down the Pacific coast from Washington to California, I am more than happy with this design feature. This will allow us to keep that motor running when she might lift her heels up and rotate the prop out of the water as might happen with a conventional mounting of the outboard to one side or the other of the transom. All other features stay the same with the exception of the pilothouse where I put in a double faceted front window instead of the single pane unit on the original design. This will keep the window sizes smaller and it looks very nice on the profile drawing of the boat.

With the fixed keel, I was able to place another 50 lbs of lead in the keel and lower than if it were in the bilge of the boat with the result of the design being able to carry sail much deeper into an increase in the wind. I usually plan on casting about 75-85% of the anticipated ballast (in this case 650 lbs) before launching and then finish off the final ballasting after checking her trim in the water and re-assuring myself that the weight is located where it is most needed to keep her floating level and on her lines.

This is a pure 50/50 motor sailer and on this size boat, I think the little 9.9 horsepower Yamaha or Honda 4 cycle engine in hi-thrust configuration is just about ideal. It’s a great little engine, barely sips fuel, is almost soundless at idle and will work very well on this design. Once we joined the two tillers together into a single link arm, then my next problem of how to allow an inside steering station to be rigged was easily assisted by having one common link with simple shackles made up to fixed lines and led thru turning blocks to a fore and aft pivoting vertical tiller that will be fixed in the pilothouse on the starboard side. If I desire to steer from this inside station, I can sit in a comfortable seat on the starboard side facing forward and steer her by either pushing or pulling on the tiller. There is enough drag in this type of steering system to keep the helm steady for short periods of time if I needed to have her self steering while fixing a spot of tea or perhaps making a snack. One of the main ideas with this design is that all functions could be done while sailing, or motoring, solo. There is room to take a buddy along but you don’t necessarily have to. In fact, there might be a lot of days when just my dog, Bella, might be the perfect crew for an adventure on the “Litl Coot”. So all the halyards, topping lifts, etc. are lead aft to the sides of the pilothouse.

So we now have a boat that can sit on a trailer (mind you a bit higher on a trailer than the shoal draft twin keel model), fit in a normal sized garage for berthage when we aren’t using her, an inside and outside steering arrangement, a couple of berths for doing some simple cruise/camping, and one that will sail or motor at a fairly efficient level whether the wind is blowing or not. And did I add that she is towable behind most of the small to mid-sized SUVs or pickups? She is a vessel that can take on some coastal waters without compromise and still be manageable size and expense-wise. I can sail her either on my own or with crew but again all systems and setup can be done on my own if that is the way I choose to use her. In final expression, I have found the “Litl Coot-Full Keel” to be absolutely beguiling during her design stages and my armchair cruises built around her platform have been wonderful. My best guess is that her real life adventures might be just as good or better and that adds a lot of spice to my life – just the ticket for a modern, busy world!

Amateur plans consist of 16 drawings printed on 24×36 inch paper and a simple building booklet. You can either buy printed sets of plans directly from us or buy a downloadable version and print on your own. We are now producing basic hull kits for her or we could build you the whole boat if you would like. I look forward to seeing many of these capable little sloops on the water very soon.

–Sam Devlin

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Scaup 16

Scaup16-3DI have been designing, building, and hunting with my own duck hunting boats for more than 20 years now and when the request came along for a bigger Sneak Box-type boat that could hunt 3 hunters with dogs and gear, I leapt on the opportunity. This was from a simple point of view, an enlarging of many boats that I had done before but with a couple of extra twists that would make her hunt more effectively with such a crowd of hunters. It was important to have a boat with a big enough cockpit to handle the shooters but was also important to hold the draft or depth of the boat down to a minimum to allow taking her into the shallows. I wanted to use enough power to plane the boat with her full load of hunters and gear and still keep as low of a profile as possible to almost allow the Scaup to be used as a layout boat for low-blind hunting conditions.


This boat can carry more than 120 decoys and there is room believe it or not to hunt up to 3 hunters and a dog to pick up downed birds. The cockpit opening is almost nine and a half feet long and more than 4 feet wide. But yet there is enough side deck as to allow the boat to be grassed out and concealed. From coast to coast this is the finest and most concealable 3-person boat going. — Sam Devlin

The Scaup 16 is available in study and full construction plans.

The Scaup is also available in an 18-foot version with study and construction plans. Bring two dogs!


Scaup 16 Specifications

Length 15 ft. – 11 in.
Beam 6 ft. – 1 in.
Draft 9.75 in. Loaded
Power Outboard 40hp
Displacement 285 lbs.
Speed 28mph w/ medium load
Max Load 890 lbs.
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Noddy 16

In my opinion, there are very few vessels designed for use specifically on Puget Sound. Most small outboard boats can be beached, but with some compromise to their structure over time. And when was the last time you looked at a fishing vessel under 20 long with a lockable cabin and self-bailing cockpit?

Our Noddy has been designed for use on Puget Sound. It is my intention that she could sit handily on a mooring through rainstorm and sun without becoming a hassle. Her keel allows beaching and isolates wear in one very strong and maintainable spot, the bottom of the keel. An interesting point is her lockable cabin door that actually hinges down as a flat seat and then up to the rear cabin framing to form a watertight door. This is useful when on a mooring and to make a cabin for informal cruising. The cabin sole is almost 8′ long and has plenty of room for a couple of air mattresses and sleeping bags. Outside, the cockpit is self-bailing and has good access to the 40-50 hp. long shaft outboard. Under the rear deck there is room to store a 12 gallon fuel tank. With trailering weight under 1000 lbs., in essence, she is simple, designed to be used and shows a good turn of speed with reasonable power.

Noddy is also available in 18′ and 20′ versions. — Sam Devlin

The Noddy 16 is available in study and construction plans. Contact us for the 18 and 20 foot versions.


Noddy 16 Specifications

Length 16 ft. – 0 in.
Beam 7 ft. – 3 in.
Draft 14 in. w/ outboard retracted
Power Outboard 50hp
Displacement 928 lbs.
Speed 22mph w/ medium load
Max Load 840 lbs.
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Godzilli 16

godzilli166The Godzilli is a unique critter in the Devlin catalog. Designed as a rugged and capable little work boat, she also manages to turn heads with her almost toy-like proportions. Don’t be fooled though. Like all Devlin designs, she has all the thought-out details to make her into a machine with purpose. Essentially a mini tug, she can be used to push and tow, fish and cruise, ride out the low tide with ease, or just look charming at the waterfront. She has a small pilothouse for shelter from the weather, yet maintains easy access to the work at hand. She uses an outboard for power, protected against the potential for workboat damage inside a motor well. The outboard configuration allows her to sit flat and stable when the tide goes out. All in all, there are a lot of good reasons to spend some time in the Godzilli 16.

godzilli-16-002For a better glimpse of the thought behind the Godzilli, check out Sam’s design notes.

The Devlin Godzilli is available in study and full construction plans.


Godzilli 16 Specifications

Length 16 ft. – 7 in.
Beam 6 ft. – 2 in.
Draft 14 in. w/ outboard retracted
Power Outboard 20hp
Displacement 1200 lbs.


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