Tugboats have been a long standing theme in my life and I started my tug-affliction at an early age. When I was in kindergarten at the age of 5, I won an art competition with a tugboat composition and even though the medium was smeary crayon, it showed some promise of tug-work in my design quiver even at that young phase of my life. During my college years, I worked on several different tugs in Alaska, saving my money and helping to grubstake me thru school at the University of Oregon. The very first tug that I worked on was named the ‘Amak’ and a fine example of the type she was, home ported in Ketchikan, Alaska and as I recall, built in the late 1890s. She was wood, of course, nicely detailed (though she was a working tug), had a Cat diesel engine and after just a few days on board, I was hooked. The ‘Amak’ was to change my life. I read issue #1 of WoodenBoat magazine onboard her and made up my mind that boats, indeed wooden boats, were to be my life choice of hobby, avocation, passion, and career.
To celebrate the spirit of that first tug, I have named these models, in all their sizes, the ‘Amak’ series and I tell you this, in all confidence, that if my ship ever comes in and I reach a time in my life when I want to slow down just a bit, I would like to build one of these boats and do a bit more tugging myself. You can look at the designs and dream all the modifications you might want but always keep in mind that a tug needs quite a bit of weight, a big screw (propeller), and some old style horsepower to keep her happy. Enjoy! — Sam Devlin
The entire series is available in study plans. Contact Sam to develop your custom dream tugboat.
A fellow dropped into my office a couple of months ago with a novel idea. He is the owner of a Power Scow which is a type of boat I would expect only a few readers of my design write-ups to be familiar with. A power scow is pretty much what the name says; it is a powered barge on the water long used in the Southeast Alaska fisheries as buy boats which are boats that goes out to the fishing grounds, buys fish from the fishing boats and sells ice and other limited supplies to the fishermen. After filling their own holds with fresh caught fish, the buy boat heads off to the nearest town or cannery to offload. This chap has a particularly nice power scow built in the 1940s and he has done a yeoman’s job of keeping her in good shape and running condition. She has the latest fillet machines, flash freezing capabilities and vacuum packing on board and for these premium line caught salmon and halibut, she does an extraordinary job of keeping the fish fresh, clean, and ready for the freezer or the skillet.
But back to our visit — you see he is a visionary type of guy always thinking out into the future with a keen eye on the prize of keeping his power scow working hard and efficiently and also keeping several fish markets and a growing internet market supplied with his amazing product. These Alaskan fish are of such quality that anyone could provide them a place in their diet without fear or regret. But he had a new vision one that was just at the wee starting place of forming shape and that is where his visit with me came into the picture. He was thinking that there might be a small number of individuals who are in their late middle years, perhaps even retired from their first careers, but not yet ready to hang it all up. These individuals might also want a bit of adventure in their lives, ready to see waters and areas that they hadn’t the time to do earlier in their lives and careers. And so he was thinking that these hardy souls might be interested in setting up small fishing businesses built around the design that I am outlining here and built around his power scow.
With the power scow, he would have the facilities for the fishermen to drop off their catch on a daily basis, take a shower and have a hot meal each day, and maybe even a hand or two of cards before crawling into the sack. Up at dawn, or just a bit before dawn, to drop in on the morning bite and they are back to work. If a longer trip is desired to explore a little, the accommodations on the Kingfisher are compatible to the skipper and crew and anything from a couple of days to a longer trip might be possible, springing them only slightly loose from the friends and convenience of the power scow each night.
So let’s take a closer look at the Kingfisher design that I came up with. She is not a huge boat at just over 30 feet in length but with that utility of staying close to the mothership, she really doesn’t need to be much longer and therefore have good fuel economy and seaworthy comfort for the crew. She can be rigged for either hand trolling (non-powered gurdies which control the lines for bringing the fish into the boat) or she can be powered with a small hydraulic pump that would run off the engine and can be rigged as a power troller. There are twin 18 foot long trolling poles on either side of the single mast and these are lowered to about a 45 degree angle off the port and starboard sides of the boats helping to keep the fishing lines out of each other’s way. They can also be used to set small paravanes for running when the weather is really snotty and these simple gear additions can really make the difference between just a crappy day and one that could provide you with real story fodder. If you are anything like me, even though I like a good story, the older I get, the less I desire to experience those “really good” story days if you follow my drift. Anyway, the paravanes work very well at allowing the boat to continue into waters that might really blunt the progress of an unstabilized hull.
There is good deck space and instead of a fixed cargo hold (which could be done but a simpler solution is available), we are using large poly plastic totes that are chucked on the deck and when offloading fish, a bag that is held in the tub can be hoisted to the buy boat and a simple cleaning of the deck and totes is all that is necessary to keep the boat clean and organized. Moving forward into the pilothouse, the cabin follows a couple of ideas that I might have tried to hit you over the head with in the past but without hearing much of a thud, I want to try them again and they involve two subjects that need addressing. The first is the head and how to keep the crew and the skipper happy and comfortable. While the Kingfisher concept is one that might involve a single fisherman on board, (and my first inclination was to reduce the need or desire to have anything like a private head compartment on board), upon presenting the preliminary sketches to my co-workers, I was told rather bluntly that the boat would need a head to have any chance at seeing the light of day as a concept. So let’s address the idea of how to deal with a head in a boat and have it be really be functional enough to allow some privacy when being used. One of the features I noticed on lots of working boats, fishing and tug, is that the head compartment is very often not common or connected to the interior of the boat. That is to say they are accessed from the stern or side decks of the boat with an entirely separate door to the deck. And with no common door to the interior of the boat, you have a chance to actually use the head with some semblance of privacy. Once a common door to the inside of the boat gets put in the design, those privacy features go literally out the door. If you use the head for a shower, then you have the additional problem of what to do after adding considerable moisture into the interior of a boat that might be operating in a high humidity environment and the problem of how to truly and easily dry out the boat, which leads nicely into the second thought of mine.
Heat is a problem in most boats that run in the Northwest coastal waters of North America (my favorite and most often frequented waters), and it’s not called the rainy northwest for nothing! It’s not unusual for a typical cruiser or boater to do a long trip up to Alaska and back and never once put on a short sleeved shirt in the whole summer. In fact, we occasionally have summers where wool shirts and jackets are worn every day as a hedge against the cool and moist climate. On virtually all Northwest Coast working boats they fix this problem with a simple and ingenious solution, one that anything from a 20 feet cruiser up to a boat well over a hundred feet in length can use. The solution is an oil cooking range. Some of the best of these and the ones most common in the Northwest are made by the Dickinson company of British Columbia just to the north of my own Washington State. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations and the idea is that they are lit early in the trip, even sometimes before the engine is started, the thermostat and heat control has simple settings and burning diesel or even a cleaner burn with kerosene fuel, they just sit there and heat away, letting the whole interior of the boat stay warm and dry. The cast iron top of the stove radiates the heat very well and a pot can be kept on one of the corners instantly providing you with warm beverage capability whenever desired. If you come into the interior of the boat with wet rain gear, the boat doesn’t instantly fog up with the added moisture and you keep your windows clear and warm your bones up very quickly. I call this the ‘haven of warmth’ theory, and if you ever try it, you too will realize that when you wrap your head around the idea that the boat is always warm and dry no matter what the conditions are outside, you will quickly think of your boat as being protective and a haven of warmth and comfort. So even if we are foolish enough to have the door to the head opening into the interior of the boat, we can still dry her out quickly after taking a hot shower and everything will stay smelling nice and sweet.
I say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to my eye, this design looks just about right with good utility and function and she is trailerable to boot. With her inboard diesel engine, the fuel economy is good and depending on how much horsepower you give her, the speed can be adjusted from anything in the full displacement range up to semi-displacements speeds. – Sam Devlin
The Kingfisher 30 is available as study plans and as a custom build from Devlin Boats.
Means of Grace was designed for a friend that has owned one of our Surf Scoters for the last 5 years. He has found himself at a career crossroad that allows him to contemplate extensive cruising. Originally I thought that a 38′ ketch would handle his needs most efficiently. After months of sketches and discussions, he became concerned that 38′ would be too large for him to handle alone and that an interim design would be appropriate. The smaller boat, Means of Grace, would be more manageable short-handed which reminds me that the most important function of a boat is its usability. If a boat is not usable from both a physical and mental point of view, then it is not successful.
“Cush” was quite taken with the Lyle Hess-designed, Bristol Channel Cutter, and so Means of Grace shares several similar concepts. The footprint is that of a small, heavy displacement boat with a true cutter rig. The interior is similar, and from an inspirational point of view, the Bristol Channel Cutter served as a nice starting place for the design.
I consulted in depth with Carol Hasse of Port Townsend Sails on the sail plan. Carol has extensive off-shore sailing experience and she and her partner manufacture a most lovely sail.
As a result of Carol’s suggestions, we have an inventory of 7 sails. This covers every wind speed in approximately 10 knot increments from 0 to 80 knots. The final sail plan is a main tri-sail, either alone, or with a heavy storm stay’-sail. With this much possibility in sail combination, Cush can sail on his own beloved Maine coast, or off-shore on long ocean passages. — Sam Devlin
The Surf Runner 27 begins with the performance runabout (with cabin and berth tucked in) and extends it a couple of feet. What a difference those two feet make on a boat this size! The runabout style can extend into a pilothouse for rainy days, and the boat can sprout a flying bridge for those great views and the wind in your face when the sun is out and the air is warm. The diesel stern drive can maintain the performance of her smaller sibling without sacrificing the tight handling and smooth passage through the chop. If you need a little more space on a boat that is still conveniently trailerable, this may be a design that speaks to you.
Contact Sam if you would like to develop the Surf Runner 27 into the perfect boat for you.
Most of our work with stitch-and-glue composite construction has been with single-chine, vee-bottom vessels. As inevitably happens, either a customer comes along in need of a little more shape in the hull or because of our own growth process, we decide it’s time to test our wings a bit and try some new ground. The Onyx is a true multi-chine design.
As you look at the sections, it’s not hard to imagine her as a round bottomed hull with some defining laps. The laps are, of course, plywood panels, and she is indeed a stitch-and-glue composite construction boat. We have taken the dimensions of a small but capable off-shore vessel, with an outboard rudder and inboard rig contributing to her simplicity and seaworthiness. She has what I consider to be my favorite type of interior, with the galley to port, head to starboard and a graceful trunk cabin providing 6’3″ headroom. Forward are the port and starboard settees with comfortable seating for all my guests. A cabin table can be fitted that’s attached to the mast, an option available to the user. Forward is a large double berth and a chain locker in the bow. A foredeck hatch can provide ventilation and some handy sail-handling access.
All in all, she is simple, looks efficient and I believe would be a capable vessel compared to most available. — Sam Devlin
With all the charm of generations of tugboats roaming the waterways, the Tugzilla 26 offers several paths to boating pleasure. First, she’s a real working boat, built with the rugged Devlin methods for a long lasting and easy to maintain boat. She will push and pull to your heart’s content. Second, she’s not a cruiser, but she has a comfortable forward cabin for short journeys into new places and is easily capable of endless day-cruising adventures. Third and perhaps most importantly, tugboats are fun. Devlin’s unique eye for traditional lines in modern packages will guarantee a boat that turns heads and strikes up conversations everywhere you go. If there is one things that makes boating special, it’s all those new friends.
The Tugzilla 26 is available in study and construction plans and as a custom build from Devlin Boats. Imagine the neighborhood scandal when you start building a tugboat in your back yard.
Sometimes I get asked what boat I would be if I really had to grow up. But the better question would be what boat I would be if my own ship came in and I could really afford to build the dream boat to take me on the journey that eventually ends up in Valhalla – presuming, of course, that I die in battle with my weapons (Scotch and cigar) in hand. As for me, I would settle for just pitching off the deck someday and hopefully from the deck of one of my own designs. Yes, all this is a little morbid and only points out that as I age, the ever-present gargoyle looming over my head is the limited number of days that we have on this Earth and the strengthening reminder that each day is precious and needs to be lived without remorse or regret. Now, back to what I would build if my own ship comes in. Hmm, let’s see, would it be power or sail? Would it be small or large? All good questions to ponder…
I think it would be this Sockeye 62, a real “man’s boat” if I can say that in this day of pussy footing around social correctness in our speech and writings. In fact, it would take a real man to tackle the tricky job of handling her with a giant propeller and while I might succumb to the temptation to add a big hydraulic bow thruster, with this hull shape, it’s tough to add a stern thruster to her as she is pretty much a double ended hull. So the Skipper will be forced to actually learn to run her, learn to walk the prop into the dock, and learn to become the master of the machinery around him.
Think of the pack of friends that could be invited to come along for the day — lots of tending lines to do and the Skipper needs to focus on keeping the boat in the channel. These drawings are pretty much self-explanatory and worth a walk thru the boat from stem to stern. A hull laminate of fully 2.25 inches of sandwiched marine plywood with a layer of Kevlar cloth embedded between each layer, this puppy will stop any bullet shot at it or blunt off any deadhead she encounters. Range would be something north of 3,500 nautical miles and the comfort level would be very high.
As for me, part of the dream is sitting around that stern with a pack of friends. The spirits are going to be high with the excitement of just starting a long cruise North into the Inside Passage. The boat’s loaded with good food, good friends, and the only option we have is to have a great time, in fact the time of our lives. The only hard part of this decision is whether or not to build the Flying Bridge model or the Bald headed version. This, my friends, is what I would wish given my own ship comes in. It’s not just about dreaming, it’s also a lot about taking action. Enjoy the viewing! — Sam Devlin
The Sockeye 62 is available as study plans, and as a custom build from the Devlin crew. Contact Sam to develop your own unique nautical path to paradise.
What can I say? I am smitten by the profile and use of these aft house cruisers, evoking for me the same emotion as looking at the Halibut Schooners that have fished the North Pacific for more than 100 years. These are very seaworthy boats capable of holding their own in just about any conditions the sea can dish out. The Oysta 62/Annie was designed in 2001 for the customer of the first of our Sockeye series powerboats. His family was expanding with a new marriage and he started down the path of dreaming about a boat that could handle this pack. Part of his dream was the lifelong goal to cruise to high-latitudes places with comfort and safety.
Let’s take a good look over the interior of this design. Starting from aft, you’ll find a giant aft-owners cabin complete with desk, full head/shower, an island queen sized bed, and enough room around the bed to be able to make it up in the morning without being a gymnast. Going up the staircase into the pilothouse, there is room for a proper charting area, separate double watch chairs, a dinette seating area, etc. Double doors on both sides of the pilothouse give access to the deck and the working area of the boat.
From the pilothouse going down a staircase on the port side, the galley, a true dinette area, and laundry are accessed. Lots of room to do all the chores that keep a boat and crew clean and well fed can happen here. Access to the engine room is done thru a large door at the aft end of this compartment. There is stand up room around the large single screw diesel engine, the fuel tanks are port and starboard in the shoulders of the engine room, and fuel management is easy and organized. Double generators round out the engine room with a 6kw providing backup to the 20kw main.
From the Galley/Dinette cabin, access to the Focsle is done up a few steps and there are two primary staterooms accessed in the bow. The Skipper’s cabin is to starboard with a double berth and a desk and locker area. Clear up in the bows of the boat are stacked double berths, port and starboard, and a diesel bulkhead heater keeps this whole area warm and dry. There is a very large head to port with full shower for keeping the crew clean and neat. Up a winding staircase is access to the foredeck of the boat allowing crew to exit both up directly to the deck or aft thru the galley/dinette cabin.
The rig, if set up on the Oysta 62, would be a large ketch rig set on aluminum spars. For my money, I would put a gaff on the mainsail keeping the mast lower and the whole center of gravity of the rig as low as possible. This is a true motorsailor with the rig only providing assistance to the engine and it is good to keep the sail areas down small enough that they will get set quickly and easily. Once one gets into the Tradewinds, the engine can just purr along with the assistance of the sails and the motion of the boat is easy and nice with the range being something North of 3,000 nautical miles.
Imagine an evening, with the anchor set hours ago, in some very secluded holding ground very far away from the maddening rest of the world. The crew has all gathered down in the galley/dinette. It’s shirt sleeves now with a bit of residual heat emanating from the nearby engine room and the huge diesel range/oven in the galley. There is a bottle of good rum on the table and glasses are being emptied to the accompaniment of lots of laughter mixed with good stories, music, and a brisk game of Mexican Train dominos spread out on the huge dinette table. With good friends at your elbow, mix in a bit of smoke from fragrant Cuban cigars broke out for the occasion and realize that life does not get any better than this! – Sam Devlin
The Oysta 62 is available as study plans, but this one really begs for a call to Sam, just in case you want to land a helicopter on it.
A design that we are working on this spring of 2008 and I have great hopes of this being the next large boat for us to build in our shop. The customer came to me with a rather unusual request of a long-distance trawler capable of passages in any waters at any time of the year, especially hi-latitude type conditions. For those of you not versed in the disciplines of geography, the definition of hi-latitude is cruising in the far north Arctic and the far south Antarctic regions. A crew of two would be all that is required to handle her in those conditions but she needed to be able to carry several passengers with comfort to those remote waters.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how this design evolves. The customer has a background of working in Alaska on tug and fishing boats in the early 1970s, experience very similar to mine, and our evolved boating “eyes” are very much alike.
She is very much a blown-up and enlarged Sockeye 45 type of hull, much deeper and heavier of course, but with the same fantail stern that I am so fond of. Her pilothouse is medium-sized and placed further aft and it has a great flying bridge for piloting the boat when visibility is of the greatest importance. The galley is below down in the fo’c’sle area and there is room in the pilothouse for the entire crew to sit in warm, protected comfort. Keep an eye out for updates to this design as I work on it… — Sam Devlin
I am happy to report the launching and sea-trials are completed on the newest of the Devlin fleet — the “Moon River 48” and she is living up to all our expectations and dreams. She runs thru the water with an amazing grace, cutting thru the waves like there is nothing in her way. She is smooth and powerful on the water and with her twin John Deere engines purring away quietly in the cockpit, there is an almost dreamlike quality to her motion thru the water.
Top speed with the twin John Deere 315 hp Diesel engines is 23 knots at 80% of the power curve. That means she has a bit more speed potential in her but she would need to be operated above the 80% line and most boats don’t get run that hard. Cruising speed of 18 knots is easy, smooth, and quiet with the engines just sipping at fuel and you really think you’re moving at a slow pace but if you look aft, you can see she is marching along at a much faster rate.
She is also very docile around the docks and in tight quarters as she has the maneuvering ability of her twin screws to help the skipper out and with proportional bow and stern thrusters, you can really make her do virtually anything that you need. The 360 visibility from the helm is extraordinary and with tiny little adjustments to either the props or thrusters, it really is a low stress way to be on the water. One of the great virtues of a sedan type cruiser like the Moon River 48 is that the windage is low — there is plenty of boat in the water and not so much area above the water that the wind can push on. Really, she is a very pleasant boat to use.
So let’s take a written tour through her and see what she has for space and accommodations. There is a floatational swim step on her rear with the level being just perfect for stepping onto the boat from a dock or from a dingy. There is mid-calf height 2” diameter stainless steel railings (staples) on the back of the swim step to help keep you centered but this is a 36” wide step and there is no lack of room or any feeling of insecurity when you step aboard. The cockpit is entered thru a door that hinges on the back of the transom and stepping up into the self-bailing cockpit is easy and secure. Stepping up into the cockpit you will notice the large cockpit area is half covered with a roof extension of the house with a couple of wide seats in the immediate back of the cockpit that allow the sun worshipers to stay happy and two almost 7ft. long seats port and starboard under cover of the roof extension for those passengers preferring shade. These covered seats are really the tops of the two engine boxes and with electric motors to raise them it is just the matter of pressing a couple of rocker switches and the engines are exposed. Between the engine box seats on the centerline cockpit sole is a flush hatch that if opened exposes a larger area between the engines. All access for checking oil, checking the water strainers, changing oil, and shifting fuel from one tank to another is done from this area. There is a ladder leading into it and everything is here from tool box stowage to spare oil soak rags, right at hand and well lit from a total of 8 lights — easy to get into and back out.
Moving forward is the centerline door to the main cabin with the galley immediately to the starboard side of the boat and on the port side is a large bureau top cabinet with hatch and door in it. This is the access to the second stateroom and by opening the hatch and swinging open the door, a ladder can access this area. There is a generous berth outboard in the space, locker room for duffels and hanging clothes and just below the cabin sole on the centerline of the boat is another single berth. This aft stateroom has a generous almost 7ft. headroom and is painted in white paint with mahogany wood trim and it looks clean and comfortable. Ventilation is provided by a larger hatch that opens into the cockpit of the boat just above the top of the engine box. There is also access to the main systems area of the boat either from the single berth under the centerline or thru another flush hatch in the main sole of the salon. Located in this space are the pumps for potable water, blackwater pumps, centerline water tank, inverter, Glendinning shore power cord basket, battery charger and more. This space is well lighted and completely finished with our traditional Devlin finishes. In fact, one of the things that we are most known for is our finishes with every part of the boat being an example of our simple but elegant finishes with all construction done to the highest level of quality and finish.
Back up in the main salon, the galley is to the starboard side and has the shape of a large “U” — the freezer and refrigerator are below counter, drawer type units and a trash compactor, sink, and a 4 burner range with oven complete the suit plus there are gobs of drawers for dish, silverware, pots, pans and all the other items a modern boat need to stow away. All drawers have sea-locks on them — simple swiveling tabs that lock the drawer into closed position and hold tight even in a tough sea-way. Opposite the galley is a “U” shaped dinette that can seat up to six with comfort with a varnished table of Bubinga wood that finishes out the dining area. Forward of the settee is the co/helm seat with the back being convertible from either the use for the settee or the use for the co/helm. Electronic instruments are on both the helm and the co/helm sides with the co/helm person able to help monitor the progress of the vessel or scout ahead for safe anchorages or obstacles. Lots of counter space behind the front windows allows the spreading out of charts or tide tables while underway. On the starboard side is a large helm area with full instrumentation and a helm seat that can actually seat two side by side if desired. More drawers and stowage spaces are festooned around the helm and co/helm area providing organized stowage of all items.
On the subject of ventilation, there are all-together 11 opening windows and hatches in the main salon/pilothouse of the Moon River not counting the main companionway door itself so it’s very easy to be comfortable and cool in this vessel either underway or at anchor or tied up to a dock.
Going down 4 steps into the focsle of the Moon River, you see the master head to starboard with full shower stall and on the port side an almost mirror image of the master head except for the shower stall for the crew. The doors to the two heads are arranged to be convenient to either using from the main salon for the crew and for using from the master stateroom up in the bows of the boat for the master head. A large door leads into the master stateroom forward with full island style queen sized berth forward and hanging lockers port and starboard for both the skipper and for the first mate. This is a spacious and light and airy feeling cabin with beautiful Alaska Yellow Cedar tongue and groove overhead and Yellow Cedar and Mahogany trim for all doors, drawers, fiddle, deck beams etc. The forward stateroom also has a large 28”x28” hatch in the ceiling with screen system on it for privacy.
Clear up forward ahead of the queen sized berth is the chain locker — it’s divided into two sides and the Moon River can carry 150 ft. of chain and 250 ft. of line anchor rode. Immediately above is a Lofrans anchor windlass and deck wash system.
This finishes our tour of the boat except to mention that there are strong welded type 316 stainless steel railings protecting the crew moving forward onto the foredeck and handrails and ladder to get to the roof top. Clear up on top of the Moon River is a Nick Jackson electric davit that has capacity to lift a 1,200 lb. tender onboard. Stainless steel dingy feet complete the vessel and with good access to the roof-top, the Moon River completes the test for a fine cruising vessel.
Build time on the first of these was just over 19,000 hours, an almost staggering figure in this mass-produced world that we live in these days. But it is a testament to the trust that our customers have in our craft that allows us to build a vessel like the Moon River. When you work on a project like this, it is quickly realized that there is something special about working with your hands, and your brain and building, indeed breathing life, into a vessel like her. Thanks to all for the effort and the chance to bring Moon River to the water. – Sam Devlin
The Moon River is available as study plans and as a custom build from Sam and his team.