Michael Storer's Original Commentary

The following was first published in 1994, and has been updated on several occasions since that time. Michael has since provided much more commentary on his website. I have included this page once again because I think i't's interesting to see how relevant the original philosophy is after a decade and a half.

When I published the first version of these pages more than a decade ago, Michael had no web presence, and I thought this would be an opportunity to give him a small piece of the internet. How times have changed!

Please visit our about us pages for contact details or visit Michael's website should you wish to contact him directly.

The Goat Island Skiff (GIS) has seemed to have struck some sort of chord. If you type Goat Island Skiff into Google you get dozens, perhaps hundreds of references. 

As well as the local Australian Amateur Boatbuilder Magazine the "Goat" has been featured in UK's Watercraft and the USA's "Small Craft Adviser". Very pleasing - particularly when Josh one of the editors at Small Craft Adviser voted with his feet and bought a set of plans.

I have spoken to many buyers of the plans and almost all have been very happy with the detail of the plans which is almost more a course in modern small boat building as well as being specifically for the GIS.

His report on the building was that it was pretty straightforward and he had struck no significant problems.

The other feedback is from holder of plans set #1 (the reprobate who is responsible for this website) who initially built a model out of balsa. I was pleased to hear how happy he was with the appearance of the boat - especially as he is a practising architect and should know something about such things. (Note - I could have edited that, but I think I like being a reprobate!-P)

Building a model out of card or balsa is not such a silly idea. People who do so usually find building the real boat a lot easier and faster than those who don't. This is based on experience with dozens of people, some in a class situation but most building at home.

Peter seems to have been satisfied for a long time now - from launching his full size boat "GRUFF" and sailing past several becalmed Fireballs and 505s on launching day - the efficiency of a single large sail plus some luck. He and one daughter are sailing enthusiasts, the second daughter is keen on rowing and the third is a fisherperson. So his boat has been trailed fairly heavily.

I would expect the boat to work out at around $3,500 Australian Dollars (probably about half that in the US) including a sail - of course all this money is not needed up front and about $1200 will see you well underway on the hull or $600 see the spars and foil materials in your garage. The full price would include the best plywood (Gaboon) and full epoxy coating (for minimum maintenance).

Most of the framing is Western Red Cedar or Paulownia for lightness and strength except for areas that are likely to be bumped (gunwales, keel batten/s) oregon (Douglas Fir) or hoop pine. The spars are select oregon.

Building space would not have to be enormous. I suppose the minimum would be around 18ft by 6ft - a standard carspace would be more than adequate. The boat is quite movable while under construction so could be worked on in the open and moved under shelter when not building.

A decade and a half ago sailmakers had basically forgotten the craft of lug sails and we had to do some hunting for someone who still knew how. Perhaps now there are a few more sailmakers who understand how but I've always been very satisfied with the ones available through Duck Flat.  We have negotiated with Duckworks in the USA to make a standard GIS sail too.

I did draw the boat up originally to take either a lug sail or a Laser sail.  The Laser sail has been quietly dropped as the lug offers so much more.  More power in light wind, faster rigging, a higher clearance under the boom for the crew, gentle gybing, the ability to reef and .... BEAUTY.  It just suits the boat.

The Skiff could also be fitted with a small outboard with only a small modification to the transom and I do recommend that it either be used as a sailboat OR a motorboat on a particular day.

Building space would not have to be enormous. I suppose the minimum would be around 18ft by 6ft - a standard carspace would be more than adequate. The boat is quite movable while under construction so could be worked on in the open and moved under shelter when not building.

-The weight of 60kg (130lbs) was achieved using Gaboon Plywood which is 30% lighter than most other plywoods. If you have trouble locating supplies of this or visit my forum. One of us will know something about your area.  Cheaper plywoods are acceptable but will add to the weight which adds to the strain when moving the boat around on the shore.


The skiff will sail much the same as most boats its size, but there are a few peculiarities that come with the flat bottom.

As with almost all boats the skiff will sail fastest if sailed level - with little or no heel - there are two exceptions.

In very light winds when you are struggling to get up any speed at all the boat can be heeled over to 20 . This reduces the wetted surface by around 25%. As soon as the boat has achieved any sort of consistent speed it should be brought upright.

When the water is very choppy the boat may slam badly if sailed upright. A small amount of heel will smooth its movement considerably. The minimum amount of heel that stops the worst of the slamming should be adopted.

The forward and aft buoyancy tanks are designed for use as seats when rowing. The boat will perform best sailing with crew weight concentrated around the middle thwart.


-The Goat Island Skiff is best built of 6mm (1/4 inch) five ply Gaboon (Okoume) Marine Plywood. Gaboon is about 2/3 the weight of the usual marine ply and finishes to a rich, mid brown colour.  There are six sheets needed in its construction.

The boat should be glued with a high solids epoxy system such as Bote Cote, WEST, System 3, or other quality marine resin system.

The timber used in assembly should also be light. Western red cedar or paulownia are suitable for internals.

Select Oregon (Douglas Fir) or Hoop Pine is appropriate where a bit more strength is required.

Spars are Select Oregon (Douglas Fir) or Select Hoop Pine

Where screws are used it is only temporary while the glue dries. Some screws are left in place (6 only), but most are removed after the glue sets up.  Boats of up to 120ft have been built this way with no problems at all.

Take pains to measure out the screw spacings where the holes are going to be visible.


This page was first uploaded on1 December 00 and was last updated February 08 and is Copyright peter hyndman & michael storer



on this site

exceeding expectations
the build process
michael's comments
construction diary
plans and contacts

our other sites

eureka canoe
two foot skiff
canal cruiser

useful links

storer forums
storer design blog
storer plan agents

not so useful links

fading memories
paint blogging
our flickr

meaningless statistics

last update February 2008
visitors to date
image linking to 100 Top Boating Sites