Thanks to Julian Swindell for this build.
The Micro Petrel is a great 8′ yacht tender. As the name implies, it is the little sister to the Lit’l Petrel. She is the design response to the need for a small, rugged, lightweight yacht tender, but she can be used in any situation that needs a small boat with the ability to carry a variety of loads while maintaining its balance and performance. She is another Devlin easy-to-build option, in terms of both space and cost. Her size makes her easy to handle, store, and transport. She makes a great cartopper.
Read the story of the Micro Petrel in Sam’s design notes.
Julian Swindell sent us a great set of build photos.
Micro Petrel Specifications
|Length||7 ft. – 11.5 in.|
|Beam||4 ft. – 2.25 in.|
|Useful Load||270 lbs.|
|Dry Weight Hull||57 lbs.|
Here is a simple little Pram-style dinghy that can be built from a few sheets of ¼” marine plywood using the Stitch and Glue method of construction and weighs not much more than a feather. She will fit into the back of a small pickup or could be car-topped if you prefer to drive something that isn’t of the easy carrying mode. If you would indulge me with a read of the description of her larger sister, the Lit’l Petrel design, you could follow the concept of how a small boat like this can respond to real life needs of carrying a wide variety of weight and keep herself still in a stable and well performing mode. But what follows is the real story of why we took the time and energy to do another design and why that exercise was necessary.
I have a very good customer who I am quite fond of named Cyndie and she owns one of our larger Devlin’s that we designed and built for her several years ago. Cyndie loves her Devlin and uses it often either by herself or with a phalange of friends and our story follows one of these Saturday outings on Puget Sound.
Cyndie and two companions were out on the water, buzzing about doing a bit of training and in general just enjoying the water and the company of each other. Just ahead was a sailboat that was in distress and so she and her crew stood by to render assistance. The weather was stormy and the boat in stress was having issues getting a line passed across so that they could be towed to safety and before anyone could react, the large skiff that was on the stern of Cyndie’s boat got swamped by a large wave and took enough wave force to literally tear it off the swim step of her boat. It was only with quick action that the broken hull could be saved. Cyndie and I had talked previously about using this skiff (not a Devlin skiff) on her boat as the tender, and I had aired my concerns of it as the hull was lightly built and not up to the rigors of a life tipped up vertically mounted on the swimstep of a larger boat. So I hate to say, that it wasn’t a surprise to me to later hear the story of how the skiff was torn off and damaged greatly. So without a proper shore boat it wasn’t long before Cyndie and I had a conversation about having us put a proper dinghy on the stern of her lovely boat, a dinghy that was purpose designed for the stress and rigors that she would subject it to. That was the catalyst for the Lit’l Petrel design and now this sistership the Micro Petrel.
The smaller design was done in quick succession to her larger sister as our answer to the need for a smaller pram styled dinghy that would allow the maximum boat to be built without scarfing being necessary on the 4ft.X 8ft. sheets of plywood. This boat is just about as large of a skiff or dinghy as one can build from full sized sheets of plywood. A great little boat, very easy to build, good capacity and very useable in real life use. Strongly built she is a great option as the tender to a larger mothership or you can use her on her own…
Plans cost $65 dollars and with a couple sheets of marine plywood, a few gallons of epoxy and a couple of planks of ¾” hardwood you can build your own version. Her weight of 57 lbs. will allow you to handle her without straining your back and she is a great project boat, perfect for teaching your kids or grandkids how to build something in a world where most of us have completely detached from building anything with our own hands… What a fine way to spend a few hours, both building and using her!
– Sam DevlinShare This:
Scene 1 Its 1978 location Eugene, Oregon at a small shop that my Dad and I shared. It’s a fine Saturday with no clouds in the sky but a pall of smoke in the air (a by-product of the grass seed industry in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and the burning of the grass-seed fields just after harvest) and with a bit of a bite to the air with all the smoke. Dad and I are working on the cutout pieces of my first boat, one of my Egret designs, and we still have a few kinks to work out in the system that I had cooked up in my head over the past winter while working on a Commercial Construction job in Sacramento California. Quite of few of you might not know that the first design that I did in my boatbuilding/designing career was the Egret. And what started out fairly simple (read somewhat crude) but efficient has now grown up and matured. My Dad penned the name of the first boat and what became hull number one of the Egret class the first boat that I built to my own design and to the hull shape of the Egret “Zero”. His rational was that you didn’t start the name and numbering of the first boat of what would become a long career, number “One” but started at “Zero” and worked your way up. Now why I never questioned Dad’s sense of humor and his foresight into my 30 plus year career in designing and building wooden boats was accurate that Zero boat always slightly haunted me. Dad only kept her for a couple of years before he sold her to another of my customers who promptly did massive modifications to her with a pilothouse, small outboard motor in a well and other changes that made her almost un-recognizable. She had a long career with Tom Paddock and then finally ended her days at a daycare establishment with little crumb crushers climbing in and out of her hull. Imagine all the sea-going careers that were started with “Zero” putting in her imagination contribution with full gusto.
Scene Two My good friend and co-worker Lee Sandifur was building a boat and chose the “Egret” design as making the most sense for his lifestyle. But with some artistic flair he modified the design by adding some decking on her, a bow and stern stowage area, and a small but efficient centerboard coupled to a Sprit rig with about 75 square feet of sail area. His boat was a fine expression of the boatbuilding art and has been his companion for a good many years. Now time was ripe for me to take a look at this old design of mine and modify it and I am pleased to present this new version for you. She has all those features that Lee did to his boat and with a new set of faired up hull lines we offer her for $65 dollars. Don’t forget to buy a “Devlin’s Boatbuilding book and DVD to help you along the building process but this is a fine little boat and won’t let you down no matter where you go in your own life.. As for me, the memory of that little “Zero” boat never fades and I can just imagine being a kid in that daycare in Eugene and playing on her myself…Share This:
Nancy’s China is probably the most popular design in the Devlin Catalog. The name is a tongue-in-cheek observation that the finished boat should cost about as much as one new place setting of the then-new White House China. Bear in mind this design dates back to 1980.
The original design had a stayless spirit sail sloop sail plan and a dagger board type hull. The result was easy to handle, easy to set up from trailer, and an enjoyable boat that was an instant success for Devlin Designing Boatbuilders. Recently, Sam dusted off the old drawings and reviewed the design to add a couple of different sailing rigs for her.
The idea here is an economical day sailor with enough cabin to provide some shelter if the weather turns. It’s small enough to store in the garage, light enough to tow with almost any vehicle, and easy enough for anyone to sail.
Nancy’s China is a true classic in the Devlin catalog. Read his design notes from the early days to learn the details.
Nancy’s China Specifications
|Length||15 ft. – 3 in.|
|Beam||6 ft. – 2 in.|
|Draft Up/Down||16.75 in. / 34.5 in.|
|Dry Weight||850 lbs.|
|Sail Area||Varies by rig|
Back in 1980, we decided to design a small trailerable boat sailboat with a large cockpit for day sailing and a cozy cabin for two, complete with sails and trailer and perhaps one of those stinky outboards on a tilting bracket on the transom. The result was an economic solution to that period’s recreational sailing dilemma, which coincidentally, cost about the same as a one place setting of the then-new Reagan White House china service. Excuse my small bit of political humor with her name, but the resulting boat has provided at least as many happy faces and good experiences as the original china service did (or at least that is what I wished).
The original design had a stay less sprit sail sloop sail plan and a dagger board type hull, an easy to handle, easy to set up from trailer and enjoyable boat was an instant success for my fledgling company, sparing us some of the grief and anguish of the Reagan recession. Strangely enough some of those same conditions economically exist today and so I decided to dust off the old drawings and go back thru the design, add a couple of different sailing rigs for her and am very pleased to introduce this new version of the “Nancy’s China”.
She can handle comfortably a couple for sailing and in a pinch more of a crowd, her tiller control is fingertip and she is very stable and comfortable to sail. A large slide out hatch gives access to the cabin and if cushions (or a backpackers sleeping pad) are fitted she will sleep two in remarkable space and comfort. You can also stand in the hatchway and raise and lower the sails making her very easy to live with. I chose a Daggerboard for her to keep her simple, clean and hydrodynamically efficient, and I still think that is a fine conclusion – time worn but still credible. At 6ft.-2inches of beam and 300 lbs. of ballast she is a stable and comfortable sailor, in fact I very often find myself sitting on the lee side sailing her with my ear close to the water and her so very light helm being almost sports car like in touch and feel. At a total trailering weight including her ballast of 850lbs. virtually any car can tow her and she sits like a small duck on a good galvanized powerboat type trailer. She sits so low on her trailer (about 70inches tall) that she will fit in virtually any standard garage opening and with set up for sailing in the under 20 minute range there is lots of reason to just trailer sail her, but she can sit on a mooring in front of your house just as handily.
I designed a new Gaff rig version for her and a smart looking Knockabout sloop rig also in addition to the original Sprit rig, all of them can be good companions, my wife and I sail one of these little boats and I love the Gaff rig, looks good, sails very well and suits my needs.
There are a lot of pluses on this little vessel besides charm and convenience, and after 30 years of life I find she is still an effective solution for the sailor on a tight budget.
Amateur plans are still $85 dollars for her (same price as 1980) and look for us to produce kits in the very near future.*
– Sam Devlin
* The kit is available here.Share This:
The Eider is a wonderful 17′ 3″ cabin sailboat. It is a great step up in size and function from the 15′ Nancy’s China, yet is still compact and trailerable.
Her small cabin has good room to sleep two with a bit of extra space for gear to be stowed out of the way of your unrolled sleeping bags.
The self-bailing cockpit allows her to live on her mooring throughout our rainy spring and fall (and all-to-often our summers as well).
For deeper insights on the Eider, check out Sam’s design notes.
|Length||17 ft. – 3.75 in.|
|Beam||6 ft. – 11.5 in.|
|Draft Up/Down||1 ft. – 7 7/8 in. / 2ft. – 11.5 in.|
|Sail Area||169 sq. ft.|
I was a much younger man back in 1978 and my fledgling design and Boatbuilding Company was also very young and we needed a small cabin sailboat design to build as a stock boat, one that could bring on a bit of regularity to our rather spotty and erratic cash flow. I wanted her to be trailerable and accommodate a couple in cruising mode with some shelter from the elements, but it was also important that she have a really large cockpit that could handle a couple of extra bodies for day sailing purposes. The result was a design called the Eider (after the duck) and we managed to build about a dozen of these little boats before moving onto other designs and builds. She was a great little boat with all the look and panache of larger boats but in a very compact and trailerable package. Unfortunately I never drew up the design for home builder construction and while all the original boats are still floating about and much beloved by their owners we just didn’t have anything in our quiver of home builder plans that captured the particular niche that the little “Eider” did.
Now in my middle age I will still see some of those little boats sailing about and it always bring on memories of a far simpler day when a personal little boat made so much sense, easy to care for, easy to trailer, and most importantly easy and rewarding to sail. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and apply myself to the concept but with some of the experience of the years kicked in and the result is this new little design once again called the “Eider”.
I wanted to give her a centerboard for sailing about in some of the shallower waters that we might find, and for the fact that with the board up she will load to a low powerboat type trailer and not need a deep and steep ramp to launch or retrieve. Her rig is one of my favorites being a gaff sloop with a jib that if needed can have a bit of a boom attached and could be set self-tacking. But for my purposes I still don’t mind tacking a jib, and the extra efficiency of a properly sheeted jib is not to be discounted. A small bowsprit fit the look and style of the new design and it gives the boat a much more shippy feel. All is not just about efficiency these days as sailing a boat that looks a bit whimsical is part of the appeal of an afternoon spent scooting about paying attention to the zephyrs. Her small cabin has good room to sleep two with a bit of extra space for gear to be stowed and not have to be moved out of the cabin when the sleeping bags are unrolled. In years past we had great times on the “Eiders” with a simple wooden galley box that held a small butane stove, a couple of Pyrex pie dishes for a combo bowl/plate and if stocked with a couple of cans of beef stew along with a good loaf of bread and a little cheese, a great dinner can be had in about 10 minutes. Back that up with a proper bottle of red wine and a banquet suitable for royalty can be set. I love the idea of the cabin if for nothing more than the sense of security that it gives if the evening wind dies and I really don’t feel like lighting up the little outboard and bearing a long motor back to home. I can just toss the hook out, tidy up the lines of the boat; have a drink and a good cigar, contemplating the day’s adventures and later a spot of dinner, a bit of time with a good book in the evening light to read, and early to bed.
The Mast is set in a tabernacle and folds down without much fuss; a simple Cross arm support on the cockpit seats makes for an easy lash up for trailering.
I put a self bailing cockpit on her to allow me to not have to keep her bailed out when on a mooring or at the dock. You could build her without the self bailing cockpit and end up with a far more comfortable seating geometry but it’s just too tempting to be able to leave her without worrying about rowing out and bailing her on a daily basis in our rainy Northwest Spring and Fall. On the other hand maybe it would be a good discipline to go for a short row daily to check on her and give my arms some workout to boot!
Amateur plans are $175 and consist of 13 drawings printed on 24X36 inch paper and a simple building booklet. We are planning to produce simple hull and bulkhead panel kits for her and look forward to seeing many of these little sloops on the water.
– Sam DevlinShare This:
Sleek lines and a beautiful sheer make the Oarling a delight to row and own. She is light, responsive and easily maneuvered, providing great transportation for the single oarsman or with passengers and cargo. Dory hulls with their characteristic flare pick up displacement very fast and lose little performance when loaded or in rough sea conditions.
At 95 lbs. the Oarling is a very car-toppable boat, easy for one person to handle. She is a little longer and much faster than the Gloucester Gull-type dory and the extra length seems to pay dividends in versatility. Folding pattern oarlocks and eight foot spoon blade oars give her a lot of power. In the Northwest, Oarling has made some respectable showings in rowing regattas and meets.
A flotation seat compartment and the natural buoyancy of her wood make her unsinkable. For leisure rowing, or as an exercise machine, a more graceful and beautiful rowing boat would be hard to find.
Oarling II Specifications
|Length||17 ft. – 3 13/16 in.|
|Beam||3 ft. – 10.5 in.|
|Dry Weight||85 lbs.|