Otter 16 - Study Plans
Specifications BOM and Labor
Building Method Kits
Skill Level Plans Packing List
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The requirements for the Otter 16 were simple: an able open rowing skiff with an auxiliary sail.
This had to be a row boat first.
A length around 16', lets us use long oars and is about ideal for a serious row boat, smaller skiffs do not have sufficient inertia to go through a chop. This size also provides sufficient seaworthiness and ample capacity for camping cruising or fishing.
The layout can be used for single or double rowing.
The sail is an auxiliary sail: small are and spars that can be stowed inside while rowing; the small daggerboard and rudder do not affect rowing performance.

Many excellent designs in that style exist, in particular the ones by Pete Culler and Atkins but are for traditional wooden boat building.
Designs for plywood or stitch and glue are rare, most of them are flat bottom or vee hulls with more drag than ideal and a shape that will slam in a chop. A more refined hull shape is the one we use on many of our sailboats and for our row boats like the Scilly Gig and Row13. That five panel hull shape is as close as you can get to a round bottom one.

That type of hull is also very easy to build.
One designer, Joe Dobler, used that same hull shape successfully and since we have the same program, same material and same size, it is no surprise that our boat looks very much like the Lissa, one of Dobler's designs.
Our scantlings are much more generous than in the Dobler design.
The Otter has a strong and stiff bottom, a true fiberglass sandwich and will withstand being dragged on a beach or running aground on an oyster bar. However, we kept weight in mind and the Otter has lightening holes in the frames. We also show limber holes and a drain plug.


4,73 m
Max. Beam:
1,25 m
Max. HP:
Designed weight:
160 lbs.
73 kg
Sail area:
65 sq.ft.
6 m2
Stitch & Glue

Building method:
The construction method is stitch and glue. It makes for a very stiff and strong yet light boat. The Otter is easy to build and the rowing version can be build as a first project. As with all our plans, no lofting is required.

Required Skills:
There is nothing difficult about building a skiff the sharpie way: a boat like this one goes together fast and easy. There are no plywood scarfs: we use very simple fiberglass splices.

No woodworking skills or special tools are required.

- Sail: the spars and sail are optional
- Removable mid frame for sailing. While sailing, it is much more comfortable (and stable) to sit on a cushion on the bottom of the boat than on the thwarts. When sailing alone, you will sit in the middle using the tiller extension. For those occasions, the rear thwart is removable and will open the cockpit.
- Lockers in stern seat. The stern seat can be used as a locker. The plans include a drawing showing how to make a lid that requires no hinges and stays in place while heeling.
- The Otter can be made unsinkable with buoyancy foam: two part expandable foam in the stern and sheets of foam glued under the seat tops.
- The curved corners of the seat tops are optional, they can be made straight if the builder prefers.

The Otter uses long oars, 8.5 to 9'. You can row her double using the thwarts or single, sitting in the middle on a removable seat. When not in use, that removable seat is stored forward of the daggerboard trunk. The removable seat doubles as a storage locker. Foot braces are not shown: the frames are just where your feet will rest but if you need them, simple cleats epoxy glued to the lower chine panel will do the job.

Sail Option:
The sail is an option. The Otter 16 can be built as simple row boat without sailing accessories.
The sail option almost double the labor and cost of the Otter.
We choose the gunter rig for it's simplicity. It is inexpensive, easy to make and easy to use. It is close to the marconi rig in aerodynamic efficiency but it keeps the spars short and the weight low when reefed.
All the spars can be stored inside the hull while rowing with the sail rolled around them. The low mast is easy to set up by one person even afloat. Except for two small blocks, the running rigging requires no hardware, a few lines are all what is needed. The sail area is moderate but it's function is to bring you home if you tire of rowing or slowly explore remote places that power boats cannot reach.

Bill Of Materials:
(Excerpts from our BOM)
The BOM list materials based on our standard layout and includes a 15% waste factor for resin and fiberglass. For plywood, we use standard sheets 4' x 8' (122 x 244 cm). Please read the building notes and see the plans for detailed specifications.
We recommend marine plywood, Meranti or Okoume for this boat. Okoume is lighter but more expensive. Marine fir or quality exterior with no voids is acceptable but may cost more if you want to avoid checking. To keep fir from checking, you will need to cover the entire surface with a layer of epoxy/fiberglass. This of course adds weight, cost, and time.

Plywood 4x8' (122x244cm)
1/4" (6mm)
3/8" (9mm)
Fiberglass (totals)
Biaxial tape
30 yards
27 m
Woven Tape
30 yards
27 m
Biaxial Fabric
10 yards
9 m
Epoxy, total
4.5 gallons
18 liters

The cost of materials varies depending on your location, your choice of epoxy brand, plywood type and options. Use our Bill Of Materials with the local cost of materials or add our kits cost.

All materials are available for purchase online from the web sites below:
Epoxy, fiberglass, foam, paint and more:
Plywood: Plywood store at E-Boat.

Despite the cost of shipping, those materials may cost cost less online than purchased locally.

The average construction time for the hull is 25 hours ready for sanding and paint. The sailing option will more than double that.

Visit our message board, help pages, tutorial pages and read our FAQ: most questions are answered there.

Plans Packing List::

  • 7 Detailed drawings, large scale with all dimensions required to cut the sides, bottom and the bulkheads from flat plywood sheets: no lofting, no templates required.
  • Drawing List:
  • B273_1 Plan & Profile
  • B273_2 Nesting
  • D273_3 Construction/Frames
  • B273_4 Expanded Plates
  • B273_5 Appendages
  • D273_6 Sail Plan
  • D273_7 Full Size Patterns
  • Building notes
  • Sprit Rig Notes
  • Bill Of Materials
  • Help files reference list and more.

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7485 Commercial Circle,
Fort Pierce, Florida USA