Paddling into Summer

When I took this gig, I thought I knew something about boating. I was wrong. Devlin operates on a higher level than what I have encountered in my history of Tennessee ski and bass boats. However, I do know paddling from a first person pile of experience, and I am targeting the one paddling design in the whole Devlin catalog. That is the Pond Skipper. It’s a sea kayak design in the tradition of Devlin stitch and glue technology. It is strong, bulletproof from a kayak perspective. It is light from the perspective of other materials used in kayak construction. It is much faster to build than traditional strip built designs, which means that it can be ready in time for summer. Summer in some places means the water is warm and you can perfect your paddling skills in a comfortable, risk free body of water. In the Pacific Northwest, it means that you can make mistakes without dying in five minutes in bone chilling water. So yay, Summer!

My first exposure to paddling was in an aluminum canoe, purchased at Woolco in a mall in Nashville, TN. Woolco is gone, and the mall has turned into one of those gypsy conclaves of third tier shop owners. In those early days, my impatient father would pile the entire family into this 17′ canoe, and head off down the Harpeth River. I don’t think he ever really relaxed, even though we were all strapped into our life jackets, and we all knew how to swim. The rapids consisted of a slight ripple in the current and for the most part the river was shallow enough for even my younger brother to stand. In those days, canoeing seemed rather stressful and dangerous. My dad had a gift for making things stressful and dangerous.

I mastered the single bladed paddle in a few years, after we moved and the river of convenience became the Duck River in Southeastern Middle Tennessee. At the same time, we developed a habit for daily water-skiing and frequent high stress (Thanks, Dad!) fishing, I was learning the song of the paddle on my own. Thanks to a gentle river, I could solo the trip, putting in at the bottom, paddling upstream and floating back down. Eventually, I reached the limits of that aluminum canoe, and started branching out into better boats. I tried my hand in Old Town canoes in the heavy whitewater of Western North Carolina, always picking the largest size I could manage from the middle.

Whitewater led to kayaks, which were hard to find in my size. Kayaks led to extreme rivers, shooting waterfalls and equally insane plays on the immortality of youth. But in the midst of splashing chaos, I eventually tried flat water kayaking, the southern equivalent of sea kayaking. I bought a hybrid kayak, efficient on flat water and capable of mild whitewater, which was the worst I would find in my local area. I would drop it in the lake where I grew up and paddle until I ran out of lake, some 8 miles upstream. I would explore every cove and head into the creeks until I ran out of water. I would see wildlife, too bewildered by the sight of me to even be afraid. I would set my paddle down and coast into a family of deer drinking the water, stopping right in the middle of unafraid creatures and slowly, slowly I would be pushed away without ever disturbing their moments. I would see a bizarre fight between a mink and groundhog and follow it along the shore until the combatants finally tired and left each other in peace. I would cruise around bends where Herons hunted the shallows and pass by without disturbing them in the slightest. I would track the circling of Turkey Vultures in the hope of spotting their quarry. I would ply the open waters in the rhythmic pull of the paddle, refining my stroke until I could literally paddle all day. I rested my mind in the rhythm while my arms and torso did all the work.

It is with this background that I present the Pond Skipper, Sam Devlin’s single foray into dedicated paddling in a vast catalog of boat designs. As it turns out, the Pond Skipper is very similar to that hybrid kayak I spent so many hours paddling. It’s not the cutting edge of open water kayaking, but it is light, strong and efficient, with enough maneuverability to get in and out of tight spaces.

I’m doing this now for two reasons. The first is that we are late in the building season, and this is a design that anyone could build and finish in time for summer exploring. The second reason is that paddling is a great way to experience the water. In the right boat, it’s quiet, peaceful and can make you one with the world around you. Animals will accept you, the water will carry you with amazing smoothness, and you will be able to explore the most extreme limits of your local waterways. On top of that, you will cover distances that will surprise you, and you will return home with a sense of connection and well being and a new set of stories to tell.

If I could spare the time, I would build a Pond Skipper, choose a body of water and start paddling. I know from experience it would pay off.  – Jim

In that spirit, we are offering 50% off on downloadable Pond Skipper construction plans. We hope you will experience the joys of paddling this summer!

The Pond Skipper Plans are available here.

More Pond Skipper information is here.

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Blue Fin 54

Sam designs in groups in his ongoing quest for unbelievable flexibility in boat design. The Blue Fin 54 is an adaption of the Blue Fin 48, which you should check out for the thought process behind her design. In the 54 variant, you keep the stunning efficiency and add more space and comfort, while keeping the fuel economy and designed-in ability to smooth out choppy waters. Sam has designed a single and twin screw version. The twin screw version offers a bit more performance and the ability to use the twin configuration for maneuverability in tight situations. The single screw version offers amazing efficiency for going the distance with minimal fuel burn. Our friend Temur Rukhaya has not only completed a sterling build of this design, he has given us real world data on the outcome of fuel efficiency. Read about Temur’s build here. Get the study plans here. Get the free poster here.

 

RPM Speed (knots) Fuel Consumption (l/h) Fuel Consumption (g/h)
750 5.1 5 1.32
1000 6.5 5.5 1.45
1100 7.0 7.2 1.90
1200 7.8 7.4 1.95
1300 8.4 7.4 1.95
1400 9.2 8.4 2.22
1500 9.7 9.5 2.51
1600 10.4 11.6 3.06
1700 10.8 14.6 3.86
1800 11.4 15.8 4.17
1900 12.0 17.4 4.60
2000 12.8 26 6.87
2300 15.3
2400 16.1
2500 16.8


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Blue Fin 54 ‘Lucky Star’ – Built in Russia

It would be hard to find a more sterling example of a customer built Devlin boat. This Blue Fin 54 was built by Temur Rukhaya and his crew in Russia. Temur named her the ‘Lucky Star’. He not only builds a beautiful boat, but he makes great videos as well.

Here is his showcase video for the ‘Lucky Star’.

In Temur’s own words…

About four years ago (or more) I ordered the Blue Fin 54 boat project.
In the spring of 2014 the boat was launched.
I called the boat “Lucky Star”

Today  the boat ran over 8,000 nautical miles.
This year, I came to the White Sea and was in Sankt- Petersburg.
During this pass, I crossed about 100 locks. On Ladoga Lake was a heavy storm.
Technology “stitch and glue” deserves the best endorsement.
The boat is very comfortable, quiet, easy to use and on the go.

Temur was kind enough to make a build video.

Being a boat building company, we always want to know the details. Once again, Temur delivers in fine fashion.

Installed engine Vetus 231 hp / 2500 rev / min
Transmission 1: 2.78
Propeller 4 x 28 “x 27”
Displacement about 8500 kg
Fuel consumption: 14 knt – 0.75 l / km
9 knt – 0.5 l / km
Max. speed (unloaded boats) 16-17 knt
Two fuel tanks 1,100 liters each.
Diesel generator Vetus 4kW
Solar cells 6 x 140 watt
Water tank  2×230 liters
Black water tank 230 liters
Air Conditioning 9000 BT
Heating – diesel boiler combined with the engine cooling system.
When sailing – the boat is heated by the engine. On mooring – from the boiler(diesel heater).

 

Although Temur has noted the comfort, quiet operation, and ease of use of the “Lucky Star’, the hallmark of the Blue Fin 54 is her easy running efficiency. Here are his calculations for fuel economy.

 

RPM Speed (knots) Fuel Consumption (l/h) Fuel Consumption (g/h)
750 5.1 5 1.32
1000 6.5 5.5 1.45
1100 7.0 7.2 1.90
1200 7.8 7.4 1.95
1300 8.4 7.4 1.95
1400 9.2 8.4 2.22
1500 9.7 9.5 2.51
1600 10.4 11.6 3.06
1700 10.8 14.6 3.86
1800 11.4 15.8 4.17
1900 12.0 17.4 4.60
2000 12.8 26 6.87
2300 15.3
2400 16.1
2500 16.8

As an example of what this kind of efficiency means in practice, look at this video of the acceleration of a 54 foot boat.

Our congratulations to Temur for a spectacular build, and our thanks for all data to go with it! All that information folds back into Sam’s ongoing understanding of how to design great boats across the spectrum of nautical goals and dreams. The ‘Lucky Star’ is more than a boat. It’s a builder’s example of what can be done with a dream, a design, and dedication.

Now, finally, some interior shots of the build, including the ever popular “Dog is my Co-pilot” shot. Lucky dog!

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Chip Hanauer on the Flipside of Boating

It’s safe to say that Chip Hanauer is one of THE names in unlimited hydroplane racing, which my father called the most dangerous sport on Earth. Bear in mind my dad once owned a Bumblebee Bass boat capable of 110 mph, so what would he know? Chip is an inductee of the International Motorsports Racing Hall of Fame, he has won the APBA Gold Cup 11 times, and he drove the Miss Budweiser in the 1990’s, for goodness sake! In fact, his accolades as a boat pilot are too many to mention. Why would a man who spent his career at the ragged edge of boat performance choose a Devlin Candlefish 16 as a recreational boat?

One could imagine that a man who spent his life on the water, testing the boundaries, would eventually decide that the water itself was enough of an answer, and when it comes to a purist vision of getting out on the waters of the Puget Sound, the Candlefish 16 ‘Stanley’ is a good answer.

I’ve got about 15 hours on Stanley and I absolutely love it!

The Candlefish 16 can carry a heavy load in comfort and stability. In the case of Chip’s boat, she is a simple tiller driven skiff design that carries Chip, his friends, and everyone’s gear in relative performance and safety, all of which is built into a design which takes in to account the safety off all, including the gear. Sam Devlin doesn’t design a boat without considering all the use cases of the design. In the Candlefish 16, as well as most of the rest of Sam’s design catalog, it safe to think of the boat as a platform that can be built in a number of ways, with a vast number of final details. Here’s an example from Chip:

We ran into another Candlefish 16 on Lake Washington. It was a kids sailing school on the east side and it was used as the, committee, safety boat. The young guy waved us over and excitedly asked, “Is that a Devlin Candlefish?” He said he loved theirs as well, but that was envious of our 60 HP engine. Theirs had a center steering station. I’m glad I have just the tiller, as I’m really enjoying the spaciousness and openness of the boat. It makes it very flexible as far as where to put things and where people like to hang out.

One of those details on Stanley is the vertical bar, perfectly positioned for Chip to operate the motor while standing. Here’s what he has to say about it:

The, “stripper bars” are so useful! They are positioned perfectly for stepping up into the boat from the fender step on the trailer. Great for stepping down, into the boat from the dock. Both of us just found ourselves with a hand on it all the time at the tiller. It’s super sweet when you are standing up while operating the boat. I only got about three hours on it today, but I’m telling you, I’m already very much in love with it.

Apparently Chip didn’t completely abandon performance when he stepped down from turbine powered racing boats.

As far as speed goes, faster is right! I’d guess over 40! A friend has a gps app. that should let us know for sure. I can’t leave the throttle open until I get the motor more broken in. But bottom line it’s fast! You were certainly right about going with the 60HP, engine as opposed to something smaller. I had two people in the boat, totaling about 325lbs total and having the horsepower was really nice.

Chip’s own video of his break-in hours on ‘Stanley’ gives a sense of what he is saying.

A lot of thought, discussion, and consideration go into every Devlin-built boat. The result is an elegant balance in a rugged, lifelong boat. You can fish from it, you can hunt from it, and you can simply escape to your yacht or a weekend getaway in a package that melds classic, proven design with the need to ‘just get out there’. A Candlefish 16 will just handle the work you need to do, without fuss, in a smooth-riding platform that allows you to go where you want to go, do what you want to do, and come up smiling at the end of the trip. For a boat company, a smiling Chip Hanauer is a great reward.

But then, Chip says it best.

Sam, in a word, ‘Stanley’ is perfect!” I know there is no boat which is actually perfect, but for my intended use, ‘Stanley’ couldn’t be better! It rides solid and smooth. Both of us could stand at the rail on one side and the boat barely heeled over at all. That’s great for crabbing out of a small boat. It quiet and has a solid sound and feel to it. I couldn’t open the engine up beyond half way, as it’s still in break in mode. But half throttle was plenty and perfect for fast cruising.

Chip’s site is currently down for maintenance, but his Facebook feed is chock full of goodies.

You can find more Chip Hanauer videos on the Youtube Channel.

You can read more about the Candlefish 16 on this page, which links to plans, kits, and Sam’s notes on the design.

 

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Bella – Bella 10 Rowing Skiff

The Bella 10 could be considered the complete distillation of Sam Devlin’s design aesthetic. It’s small, rugged, efficient, and can serve multiple roles. As a recreation rower, it leans toward efficient transfer of human power, as a tender it makes life easier for your larger boat. As a way to get outside of daily concerns, it rewards you as an inexpensive way to get on the water. As a building project, it doesn’t get much easier.

The Bella 10, formerly known as the 5×10 skiff, is probably the easiest way to get started in boatbuilding in the entire Devlin catalog, if not the entire world.  Originally designed to teach the Stitch and Glue boatbuilding technique, the Bella is an easy building, elegant design that comes together in a fast rowing, lightweight skiff. She’s a great family project. At 52 pounds, she is easy to handle and launch. She will fit easily into a small pickup truck bed; no special requirements to transport or store the Bella 10. Finally, she is our least expensive kit. Building your own boat doesn’t get any easier.

Here’s a way to skip ahead, straight to the reward part of the process in a ready to go version of the Bella 10. This one is ready to carry on your car to the nearest water and to start exploring the world of  destination awaiting you. The asking price is $3490, which is a bargain against the time of building it for yourself.. Contact Sam for more information or to arrange a showing.

Contact information is at the bottom of every page.

 

 

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New Penny – Marsh Wren Gaff Sloop – 2017

It would be safe to call the Marsh Wren an evolutionary design in the Devlin catalog. She’s a refined synthesis of a long history of sailboat design in a form that is small enough for convenience and large enough for an entire family as a daysailer. In cabin form, she’s capable of longer cruises. In either form, the Marsh Wren is  a well balanced and efficient sailboat, light on the helm and easy to handle alone.

The Marsh Wren is the response to a body of customer feedback. Read about it in Sam’s design notes.

The New Penny is a fantastic build of an evolved design from Devlin Boats. It  can take you almost anywhere one efficient sail power. The asking price is $49,900. Contact Sam for more information or to arrange a showing.

Contact information is at the bottom of every page.

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Diana – Beals Island Lobster Boat – 1952-2002

Information from Doug Hyland:

DIANA was built by Alvin Beal in the early 1950s on Beals Island, Maine. She
incorporates the handsome low sheer and skeg construction that were a hallmark
of that era.


In 2002, a new owner asked D. N. Hylan & Assoc. to rebuilt DIANA for use as a
picnic boat for his Downeast summer home. The boats lines were lifted and her
original construction documented. A new house and shelter were designed and
the original propulsion system was re-configured.

If you want piece of nautical history that also works as an excellent day cruiser, this is your boat. She is beautiful and runs like a fine clock.

The Diana has had many hands in her modern refinement. The Diana is diesel inboard engine powered, traditional carvel plank construction and condition is very good. The asking price is  $49,900. Contact Sam for more information and to arrange a showing.

Contact information is at the bottom of every page.

 

 

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Owl – Historic 19 ft. Launch Redesigned – 1957-2016

With the Owl, you get a boat that properly combines history with modern design and technology.

‘Owl’ was built (or more properly modified) by the noted Yacht Designer ‘Bill Garden’ and he sold her to my youngest Son, Mackenzie, in the year of 2000.  Bill had been working on her for many years (I remember seeing her for at least 8 years prior to purchase at Bill’s island, “Toads Landing”) and was building her as a sort of  ‘kids’ daysailer.  Knowing Bill in the later years of his life it seemed he was chasing his own mortality by thinking and dreaming about boats very much like a kid himself, in other words she was being built for Bill and Janie (his keeper) as a neat little daysailer, being repurposed from an old 19ft. lifeboat of nice lines and shape that was originally built in 1952.

After years as a daysailer, Mackenzie had outgrown her and she was modified again by the team at Devlin boats to incorporate modern diesel inboard power and enough cabin to shelter the skipper from the Northwest elements. The end result is a lovely, seaworthy boat with a long history of nautical uses. If you like to take to the waters with a boat laden with the tradition of quality boatbuilding, the Owl is your girl.

She is redesigned by Sam Devlin, rebuilt by the artists at Devlin Boats and ready to take you on your own adventures. Her asking price is $49,900. Contact Sam for more information or to arrange a showing of this remarkable resurrection.

Contact information is at the bottom of every page.

 

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Pond Skipper Downloadable Construction Plans 50% OFF!