Simmons Sea Skiffs

Simmons Sea Skiff

The Simmons Sea Skiffs were developed by a man named T.N. Simmons, as outboard powered fishing boats for use in the inlets and open ocean of the North Carolina coast. The boats have the bow of a traditional New England Banks Dory, a shallow v-bottom, and a high, raking transom with the motor mounted in a well. They are extremely seaworthy, as well suited for New England as North Carolina. One comment about the boat often heard from the old-timers down south was "It will get you back in long after you wish you weren't out there."

The first boat that I repaired was a 20' high sided model. It was owned by a gentleman from Truro, MA, on Cape Cod, who bought it direct from Simmons himself. He used it to fish Cape Cod Bay, and would sometimes go out to Stellwagen Bank in good weather.

I built an original 18' SSS in the winter of 1994-95. This boat is moored in Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, and is the one in the photos. Power is a 25 HP Tohatsu, which is ample.

Old Wharf Dory Simmons Sea Skiff

I have chosen to include these boats as stock plans for several reasons. One is looks. These boats have a traditional seaworthy look about them, and they are as seaworthy as they look. Another reason is that they were basically designed as fishing boats, and have been proven over time to do the job. They are light weight and fast, using reasonably sized motors, which also makes them more reasonable to purchase and to run. (Compare the price of a 1998, 18' Boston Whaler Dauntless, to the 18' Simmons Sea Skiff. The Boston Whaler weighs about 1750 lbs., needs a 115 HP motor, a heavy-duty trailer, and costs about $28,000. The 18' SSS weighs around 350 lbs., a 40 HP motor is the maximum recommended, and will cost about $18,000).

These boats are built using wood as the structural material, which gives us another advantage in a fishing boat. Wood is quiet. Wood absorbs vibration- including sound- which can be a factor in certain fishing situations

There are three sizes of Sea Skiffs available -- 18', 20', and 22'. All boats are built to order - each is unique. Specifications follow.

18' Sea Skiff - Length is 17' 1", beam 5' 7", draft of only 5". This boat weighs about 350 lbs., a 25 HP motor will produce speeds of about 30 MPH with a light load; a 40 HP is the maximum recommended. As a technical upgrade to this time-proven craft, I have had a composite bottom designed for it by noted small-craft designer Tracy O'Brien (Plans will be available after 1/1/99). Composite construction combines marine plywood, epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth into one seamless, lightweight , high-strength unit. Transom, bottom planking, and the first side planks are bonded together to form this structure, called the pan. Both bottom and sides are 3/8" marine plywood, sealed with epoxy inside and out. Another benefit of composite construction is less maintenance, since all the plywood is sealed with epoxy. Paint will last 3 to5 years. Fir marine ply is used for the bottom, while African mahogany marine ply is used for the lapstrake sides and transom. Transom and motor well, 3/4" African mahogany marine ply. All joints glued with epoxy or bedded with Sikaflex marine sealants, as appropriate. Fastenings are silicon bronze, copper, or stainless steel. Foredeck 1/4" marine ply. Coaming and other trim, varnish quality marine hardwood. Rails, white oak. Finish is marine enamel inside and out, non-skid on floorboards. Rails are oiled. Transom, coaming, and other trim can be varnished, oiled, or painted. Two coats bottom paint on bottom. Hardware included - one 8" bow cleat, two 6 " stern cleats, one trailer eye.

Custom options can include center console, side decks instead of open rails, rod holders, cover, etc. Price of the 18' SSS upon request.

On the Water

20' Sea Skiff - This is the "high-sided " version, much bigger than a 2' increase in length would seem. Length is 19' 4", beam 7'11", draft about 10". Hull weight is about 700 lbs. This boat has been clocked at 36 mph with a 50HP Mariner motor and a light load. Recommended power is 50-70 HP. Same materials and composite bottom, but 1/2" ply for bottom planking. This boat is suitable for 4 fishermen and gear, as hull volume is almost double the 18'. Price on request.

22' Sea Skiff - Length is 21' 6", beam 8' 3", draft about 12". ( Actual lengths of the boats are less than the named length because Simmons used the length of the uncut plywood planks as the designation for each boat.) Suggested motors are 70 to 90 HP. Hull volume is about 20% greater than the 20'.Materials and construction are the same as the 20' Sea Skiff. Price on request.

I can supply a finished hull or a complete package, ready to go, including teleflex steering, bilge pump, anchor, battery, motor, controls,cover, and a trailer. Motors available are Johnson, Honda, and Evinrude. Johnson is the standard 2-stroke outboard, lowest in price of the three. Honda is a good 4-stroke motor, quiet, good at trolling speeds, excellent fuel consumption. This motor is in the middle price range. Evinrude is a deluxe 4-stroke motor, featuring fuel injection. It is the most expensive of the three. Advantages of the 2-stroke are lower price, a little less weight, and excellent high-speed operation. Advantages of the 4-stroke motors are much less pollution, very good performance at both the low and high speed ranges, and about half the fuel consumption of a comparable 2-stroke. Please contact me for price on a fully-equipped boat.

Simmons Sea Skiffs
20' Simmons Sea Skiff - built 2004: Bow on
Simmons Sea Skiffs
20' Simmons Sea Skiff - built 2004: Stern view

Visit the Simmons Sea Skiff construction page to see the boat going together.

I have collected a few more photos of Simmons Skiffs if you want to see more of these great boats.

Many thanks to Dave Carnell for some of the information used above, and for preserving the lines of these fine boats.

Old Wharf Dory Company
170 Old Chequessett Neck Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667

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