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Homemade Boats – Readers Build Western Dodges From Free PBO Blueprints

Nic Compton reports on the progress of two Western Skiff builders who took advantage of the free boat plans we launched on PBO in 2019

It has been almost two years since the first Western Skiff Mk2 was launched on the River Dart.

The boat was based on the lines of an easy-to-build kit boat drawn by legendary designer Nigel Irens and Ed Burnett in the late 1990s.

Two years ago, the concept was relaunched not only as a kit, but also as a full set of building models available for free on the PBO website.

The first Mk2 skiff was duly launched in July 2019, a stone’s throw from where Nigel launched the original skiff 23 years earlier.

Launch of the brand new Western Skiff

How many things have happened since. First up is Chris Hackshall, who started building his kit in October 2019. His only previous experience was building a 12ft single scull on the Thames designed by Selway Fisher for friends in Cornwall.

Watch the video of Lottie P’s maiden voyage

He chose the Western Skiff for his second build partly because its narrower beam allowed him to get it in and out of his garage, but also simply because, “I thought it was a boat that looked cool.

Like many dodge builders, he had a hard time getting the garboard planks to “settle in”, but eventually, with the help of helpful little drawings from Jordan Boats, he was successful.

His conclusion: “The truth is, real materials won’t behave like CAD drawings – there will be gaps. My advice to any future builder would be to take advantage of mithering [ie fussing] on aesthetics and don’t rush into anything that involves epoxy.

Chris launched the finished single scull in April 2021 and named it Lottie P after his daughter.

Frames and gallows rigid and fixed to the frame of the building. Now it’s time for the boards …

Find the right place where the board fits and twists enough but not too much in the front.

The filling and filling of the spaces between the boards are followed by turning the hull in the right direction …

Painting, benches, seats, apron, mast partner, centerboard box, stern knees …

All topped with a beautiful traditional rig and a black hull coating.

Meanwhile in Schipluiden, near Rotterdam…

In Holland, Jelle Joustra used the free plans to start building his boat. Like Chris, he chose the boat because it fits perfectly into his garden overlooking the Schipluiden canal, near Rotterdam.

To familiarize himself with the design, he first built a cardboard template by printing the templates on A4 paper which he glued onto a sheet of cardboard.

“Building the model taught me a lot,” he says. “It gives you an idea of ​​how everything fits together and where the delicate elements are.”

Make a cardboard mockup

Determine where exactly the oars could be shipped at an early stage of construction.

Using full size templates to cut benches to size

Find out more about the Western Skiff

Watch this space for more single scull building stories or check out the Western Skiff Forum on Facebook.

The Western Skiff Kit is available from Jordan Boats ( for £ 1,133 excluding delivery.

Free plans and the full set of boat building articles are available at

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