Building the 20' LYS
by Walter Baron

20' Lumber Yard Skiff I have been building and repairing boats in Wellfleet, MA, Cape Cod since 1977. I have built slightly more than 100 boats, and repaired many more. The Lumber Yard Skiffs are a pair of small work skiffs that I designed in 1993. The design is inspired by the classic skiffs of Ray Brockway, whose boats were known on the New England Coast from Old Saybrook, CT to Provincetown, MA. Sometimes they were called Cozzi skiffs or Montagna skiffs, for the shellfish buyer who often sold them on the Cape. I have repaired and rebuilt several Brockways, and currently co- own a 14' Brockway with my son Nicolas. Ray Brockway died a few years ago, so there are no more new Brockway skiffs.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff I decided to offer an improved version of these work skiffs in two sizes , 16' and 20'. I settled on these sizes because they make efficient use of standard 4'x8' sheets of plywood. One of the ways I improved on the original Brockways was in materials used. I use underlayment plywood instead of C/DX sheathing plywood, stainless steel deck screws instead of shingle nails , and Sikaflex Marine Adhesive instead of roofing tar. These changes add up to a much stiffer, slightly more durable boat. I designed the hulls using scale models made of 1/16" airplane plywood, which bends like the full- sized stuff. I taped the panels together temporarily so I could experiment with panel shape. When I got a shape I liked I traced the side panels onto another piece of thin plywood, re-assembled the boat with tape, then glued it permanently together using 5-minute epoxy. Using the model, I get the shape of the sides, the shape of the transom, angles for the stem and transom, and beam length and location.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff Next step is to go to the lumberyard, where I pick up most of the materials to build the 20' skiff. Materials include 11 - 4'x8'x3/4" underlayment fir plywood, 1- 12' x4"x4" fir, 3- 12'x2"x8" spruce, 2"x6" spruce in the following lengths - 1-18', 2- 16', and 1- 12', and 2- 14'x2"x4". I pick through the piles to get the clearest materials I can find. Other materials previously ordered are square-drive , stainless steel deck screws - 300 of 1 1/4", 700 of 1 5/8", and 100 each of 2 1/2" and 3", 15 cartridges of Sikaflex adhesive, and a few other miscellaneous fastenings.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff The first step in actually building the boat is to assemble the two side panels. Each side panel consists of 2 1/2 sheets of 3//4" plywood, joined by butt blocks which are screwed and glued. When the glue has cured, I lay out the panel shape obtained from the model. I cut out one side and trace the other from it, then cut that one out. I clamp the panels together and fair them to the lines, making sure they match. Symmetry is very important, as the panel shape determines the shape of the boat.

While waiting for the glue in the butt blocks to cure, I usually cut out and assemble the transom, which is laminated from two pieces of 3/4" ply , again screwed and glued . It's also a good time to cut the stem and the transom side frames out of the 4"x4", using the angles from the model and leaving the pieces long. I then assemble the transom and side frames, and cut the bottom frame from one of the 2"x8"'s, screwing and gluing that to the transom also.When all this glue has cured, I fair up the angles on the sides and bottom of the transom, checking them again against the angles on the model.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff The next step is to put the stem, 2 sides, and transom together to form the shape of the boat. This is one of the best parts of boat building, when you see the actual shape of the boat for the first time. These 4 pieces, plus a piece of 2"x4" cut to the proper length and put in the right place, determine the shape of the boat. This assembly is done upside-down. The actual assembly is a wrestling match, as the side pieces flair out from the stem and have to be winched together using a Spanish windlass or a come-a-long, then the beam has to be put in , then when you get the ends of the panels close enough you slip the transom into place, which usually falls over a couple of times before you can clamp it, but in the end you get it screwed and glued. At this point the boat is setting on the ends of the stem and the transom framing, bottom up, and is pretty stable.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff The chines are cut out from the clearest 18' 2"x6" (or 2"x8") that I could find, using the angle from the model. I notch the butt blocks for the chines, then fit them into place and bore for fastenings. This is another wrestling match, especially after everything fits and you cover the contact areas with slippery , black glue. Disposable gloves come in handy here.

After the glue cures, it is time to fair the chines, keeping both sides the same height and the proper curve in the bottom.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff Now it's time to put the bottom on. I start at the stern, put a sheet of 3/4" ply on the chines, trace it and cut it out. I then set it in place with a few fastenings, fit and temporarily fasten the 2"x8" butt block, then trace and fit the next panel, etc. I cut the panels a little large, and fair the whole bottom after it is permanently screwed and glued. A pair of rubbing shoes are fitted also, about 10" each side of center. These are made from treated yellow pine 2"x4". At this point it is a boat, and would float if you put it in the water, but there are a few things left to do before you can actually launch.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff One of those things is to turn the boat over . I do this very carefully, using slings and come-a-longs, and set the hull on blocks, at a comfortable working height. I check the measurement at the beam, to make sure things haven't moved during the turning of the boat. Now is a good time to clean up excess glue that has oozed out of the joints. Finishing up is pretty simple on a boat sold as a bare hull. I cut a breasthook out of scrap 3/4" ply, and fit and fasten it to some spruce cleats. and do the same for quarter knees. I laminate 3 pieces of 3/4" ply for a stern knee, and bend on a pair of 2"x4" rails. I also cut off the excess 4"x4" at the stem and transom, and cut the transom down for the outboard motor.

20' Lumber Yard Skiff The last thing to do is burn in the hull identification number, which I make according to a formula supplied by the Coast Guard. This meets the Coast Guard's requirements for a boat built for commercial use, like this one. Then I roll the boat out of the shop onto the owner's trailer, clean up the shop and get ready for the next project.

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20' Lumber Yard Skiff


Old Wharf Dory Company
170 Old Chequessett Neck Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667
508-349-2383
E-mail:
info@oldwharf.com

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