The requirements for the Otter 16 were simple: an able open rowing skiff
with an auxiliary sail.
had to be a row boat first.
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
Many excellent designs in that style exist, in particular the ones by
Pete Culler and Atkins but are for traditional wooden boat building.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The sail is an option. The Otter 16 can be built as simple row boat without
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.
Of Materials: (Excerpts
from our BOM)
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.
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.