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Dave Carnell's Boatbuilding Page 


I am a retired chemical engineer who has been messing about in boats for well over 50 years. I started using epoxy before West system existed and have done a lot of work on stopping rot, epoxy fillers, epoxy joinery design, and low-cost boatbuilding. I will be glad to try to answer any questions, if you e-mail me



Simmons Sea-Skiffs

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Simmons Sea-Skiffs:

Soon after I retired in 1982, I became involved in the story of the Simmons Sea-Skiff, an outboard boat developed near Wilmington, NC, that opened ocean sportfishing to outboard boats. The boat is outstandingly seaworthy for ocean use and running the often breaking inlets of this coast. A common saying of old-timers about the boat is "It will get you back in long after you wish you weren't out there". The boat's light weight (low cost) gives high performance with low power. The hull is lapstrake, flat laps of plywood. 
T. N. Simmons built 800-900 of his boats from 1950 to 1972. He built without plans, but patterns and jigs standardized his construction. Beginning in 1985, I made plans and wrote detailed building instructions for his 18-, 20-, and 22-foot Sea-Skiffs. I gave the plans to the Cape Fear Museum Associates, who have sold over 1500 sets. Many boats of all three sizes have been built by persons from professionals to woodworkers who had never built a boat.

Sea-Skiff 18:

This was Simmons" first production boat. The one from which the plans were drawn was built in 1958. The boat is 17'-1" long, 5'-7" beam, and the hull draws only 5". The hull weight is around 300 pounds and a 25 HP motor will drive it in excess of 30 mph; a 40 HP motor is the recommended maximum.  On the other hand a builder in upste NY reports that with two aboard his boat planes with a 9.9 HP motor.  The boat will handily carry four, though for serious fishing it is better suited for two. Some took these boats to the Gulf Stream, 50-60 miles offshore.

Sea-Skiff 20: 

Only two feet longer than the 18, this boat is twice as large because it is wider and deeper. At 19'-4" length, 7'-11" beam, and about 10" draft this is a boat for four serious fishermen and their gear. The bare hull weighs less than 700 pounds and 50-70 HP is ideal power for it. I have a 50 HP Mariner motor on the 1964 Sea-Skiff 20 that I rebuilt and it does 36 mph at light load. The boat from which the plans were made was built in 1971 for the Corps of Engineers as a survey boat with a crew of four and a heavy load of pipe stakes. The Corps used a 70 HP motor on the boat and operated at 25 mph and higher.
Simmons first built a "low-sided 20" that was a stretched 18. Later he built low-sided 20s by leaving off the top side plank of the high-sided 20. This boat is about 6" wider on the bottom than the old Simmons low-sided 20s. A number of builders have built this version and been well pleased with it.

Sea-Skiff 22: 

This boat is proportionately larger than the Sea-Skiff 20 at 21'-6" length, 8'-3" beam, and about 12" draft. Suitable power is 70-90 HP. The hull volume is about 20% greater than the Sea-Skiff 20. Simmons built both open and cabin versions. The plans were made from an open boat, but include sketches of cabins based on photographs the Cape Fear Museum has of Simmons' boats.


Ordering Plans:

Plans for all three of the boats are available from: 
Cape Fear Museum Associates
814 Market Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
Plans and detailed building instructions for the Sea-Skiff 18 are $40, for  the Sea-Skiff 20 or the Sea-Skiff 22 they are $55 All prices are in U.S. funds, postpaid to the U.S. and Canada. Add $10 for shipment to other countries. VISA and MasterCard are accepted.


You may call Dave Carnell - 910-686-4184;
7:30AM to 9:00PM, Eastern time or e-mail me: 


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