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.
Share This:

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

Share This:

Candlefish 13

The Candlefish 13 is a versatile small fishing boat. Originally designed to be a cartoppable fishing skiff for high latitude rivers and lakes, she has also proven to be an excellent yacht tender.

With one person aboard, she only draws about 4.5 inches. On an ultimate hunting trip, loaded with gear, she could carry 1323 pounds, draw 10.5 inches  and still have over 13 inches of freeboard at the lowest point of the sheer.

Under normal loading, she planes at 20+mph with an 8hp outboard. Sam recently built one of these as a tender for his beloved Josephine, and reports that he loves it.


For the full story, read Sam’s design notes on the Candlefish 13.

The Devlin Candlefish 13 is available in study and full construction plans and as a CNC cut hull kit.


Candlefish 13 Specifications

Length 13 ft. – 4 in.
Beam 4 ft. – 11 in.
Draft 4.5 in.
Displacement 445 lbs.
Dry Weight 165 lbs.
Share This:

Candlefish 13 Design Notes

Did the horse come before the cart or the cart before the Horse? A dumb question but in the case of the Candlefish 13 and the Candlefish 16 which came first is a legitimate question? The answer is that the Candlefish 13 was the first of these two designs and while the Candlefish 16 was built before the 13 by no means does this diminish the importance of the design.

The Candlefish 13 was originally designed for Tom McLain of Fairbanks, Alaska and I include the original copy of the design commission listing the requirements for the boat and parameters

January 30, 2006

Custom Design for Tom McLain


X.X.XXX XXXX Fairbanks, Alaska XXXXX

XXX-XXX-XXXX Work Number

XXX-XXX-XXXX   Home Number

Charge for Preliminary Design XXX with rights for first boat only

Paid by check #XXXX

50% down to start design and 50% on delivery of plans

Total cost of the design XXX

14’ ft. Cartoppable outboard skiff

Length 14ft

48”? or slightly more Beam

Needs to be less than 150-180 lbs for the basic boat, has to be lifted overhead to a rack on a 5th wheel towing Dodge one ton truck

For use in the Hi-Latitudes on far Northern lakes or non-whitewater bodies of water

Wants to use a 6-10hp. Outboard engine on the stern for power.

As Stable and Deep a boat as what Tom and Friends or Wife can manage to lift onto rack

Floorboards could be removable or even not necessary and seat thwarts also

Will be carried upside down on the truck rack

Gregor Boats H 42 model is an alum. This is a similar boat design that Tom likes (good research)

Coming down on June 30th to visit… Likes idea of cargo hatch in middle of the boat… 6/22/06

To respect Tom’s privacy I have X’d out the vital money details and address of this agreement but you can plainly see a small, Cartoppable, very seaworthy skiff was desired. Did Tom ever build the first boat to the design, I can’t answer that for sure as he has not sent me construction or action photos of her yet, but I still think that she would fit the bill for cruising, hunting, exploring far northern waters or freshwater lakes very well.

During the design phase of the project I always find myself using these boats in my mind, in some cases for the same use and waters as the customer is planning on, but sometimes my own mental voyages are even more exacting than the original design commission. For this design I could easily see myself planning to do a couple of weeks of Moose hunting on a far northern lake with my friends Sven and Ollie, using the Candlefish to transport all the gear necessary from our launch site to the hunting campsite. Each day would involve using the boat to travel to a different part of Lake for the days hunting and if we were really lucky and good shots after getting a Moose down, using her to transport the meat back to camp, and then finally back to the launching area and road. A big Moose can weigh over 1500 lbs. and this would be a lot of meat, more than most boats could handle with one load. So I did a bit of calculation on how efficient the Candlefish 13 would be as a meat freighter. At her normal lines she displaces 441 lbs. just enough for an adult and the weight of the boat and motor and at this weight only drafts or draws 4.5” skinny inches of water. If I figure that the boat weights in at 150lbs. and she uses a 100 lb. motor we can come up with some interesting figures of weight and loading. By increasing the draft 2” to a still skinny 6.5” total draft now she displaces 538 lbs, by increasing it again 2” to 8.5” total draft she weights or displaces 918 lbs. And on the ultimate hunting trip or in this example ferrying out a Moose carcass she could draft 10.5”, carry 1323 lbs. of weight total and still have over 13” of freeboard at the lowest spot of the sheer. This little “Candlefish 13’ was designed to do just that job and with her cargo hold in the middle and forward bow stowage areas, a really great, seaworthy little boat resulted. But how about those of you that want to use her on a lake in Minnesota, or maybe even trailer her down to Sea of Cortez for a camp cruising adventure, truth is she is up for all of that or even the more mundane crabbing expedition on Puget Sound or a fishing trip to a high mountain lake.

How is her performance? Well with an 8hp. outboard even with some good loading she will still go well over the 20 miles per hour mark and with a boat like this you can go as fast as you have horsepower to apply to her. Her transom could take anything from a modest 6hp, up to a 25 horse outboard motor and you’ll just have to make those decisions on your own, how fast you want to go, how much money you want to spend on the outboard, and how portable (how heavy an outboard ) do you want to keep on her?

I think she accomplishes Tom’s goals with “panache” in fact maybe I should have named her just that, but in any case a simple, seaworthy, trailerable or even car-toppable skiff can be a real joy to build, own, and play with.

Plans are $65 dollars and with about $850 dollars worth of materials you can build your own.

Share This:

Candlefish 16

The Candlefish 16 is a burdensome fishing skiff. Deep and seaworthy, it is wonderfully suited to life in our changeable weather and strong tides. Deep enough to keep her occupants dry and light enough to launch off the beach, she’s perfect with 10 to 30 hp.

Lockable storage and enclosed flotation augment the factor of safety and add a great deal of rigidity to her 16-foot length. She’s the boating version of a pickup truck. Strong, rugged, and versatile.

Easy to build to a workboat fit and finish, or take as much time as you want to showcase your craftsmanship. The choice is yours, but either way she makes a wonderful utility skiff.


For the detailed thinking behind the Candlefish 16, read Sam’s design notes.

The Candlefish 16 is available as plans or a CNC cut kit.


Candlefish 16 Specifications

Length 15 ft. – 10 7/16 in.
Beam 5 ft. – 9 13/16 in.
Draft 6 in.
Displacement 714 lbs.
Dry Weight 325 lbs.
Share This: