There are a lot more people in the world sailing than there are folk capable of putting a boat under them, ie designing or building one which works. Designing a boat to the stage where an experienced builder can build it is a large task. To design one to the point where an inexperienced builder can make it is massive. The last boat I designed took a lot longer to draw than it is taking to build the prototype. Not to undermine building; Boatbuilding in my opinion is scandalously underrated as an occupation. It requires a combination of all the best qualities a human can possess and I salute each and every person on the planet who has launched a boat built by their own hand.

Most designers have far more ideas than time to fully develop them, and I am no exception. For this reason I stress in my Duckworks articles that I am talking of Concept Boats. A Concept Boat to me is a boat I am certain, after doing sufficient calculation, will perform well the stated role for which it has been conceived. The natural human tendency is to want boats to do a bit more, but they are horses for courses, and multi-role boats efficient in many areas are as much a dream as spacious cheap boats.

My purpose in drawing boats for which no final plans are yet available is not to annoy people, although it probably succeeds admirably in this! It’s to demonstrate what may be, and to explore a few areas that people have not perhaps thought about. Boat design like so many areas is in dire need of experimentation, and I salute the likes of Rob Denney ( who has spent a lifetime grasping this particularly cantankerous bull by the horns. If a developer wishes to run with an idea of mine I will be happy to allow that, given that such a developer has the grace to respect copyright and make reference in the usual time honoured ways to the true origin of his creation.

What many people don’t realise is that I work full time as a computer programmer, and will not be designing boats full time until 2008 when I will be able to semi-retire to devote more time to boats. With today’s prices for plans, if I took up designing full time I would be bankrupt in 3 months. I am able to offer some hope for those of you who would like to build one of my Concept Designs. I am about to start another full design development and am uncertain which boat to choose from those available on Duckworks, and the 120 Concepts I have filed away at home. Having written this, I may be able to show a few more of these to Duckworks people who simply like to look at ideas. It's just they simply can't be built straight from a sketch.

If a person seriously wishes to pursue one of these Concept Designs to completion please let me know. The design I next develop will be driven by a “Prototype Builder”, and I’ll work along with them to make it happen. In return for feedback they will get free plans, and can start as soon as a month from today, lets say mid July, maybe sooner. I simply need a head start. Once I start this next one it will tie up my spare time for a couple of months, and no others will be developed in this time, although I can supply offsets for monohull designs.

The short list is Alleycat and Gumboots, and I hope its Alleycat. Ketchup is another possibility but I strongly suspect Alley is the more useful boat.

With Gumboots being developed along the lines of a female mould build of a type untried before, the chances are I’ll be doing that one with Jim Townsend in a year or so when Hot Chili is complete. However please put your hand up if you’d really like to give it a shot. The build method is somewhat flexible, and uses the actual lay of the ply to virtually flop into the shape of the boat itself. May be the person building would prefer a more conventional build – that may not be possible as the whole idea of the boat is to beat the conventional build cycle. But it can be done, upside down on a strongback. The thing is to let me know at if you feel really serious about building one of these.

Alleycat is quite easy if you have a flat floor space 22 x 8 feet or so. It will be built a hull at a time, with a flat side lying on the floor and bulkheads built up on that. The hulls will be joined later.

The ideas that have developed that I possess a massive set of stock plans and I am available for 24 hour a day advice, cheap custom build plans etc are utterly absurd. I am simply a 50-year old bloke possessing the following: pretty ordinary health, a few letters after my name, a bit of spare time, many sea-miles (mostly driving a trawler under power), a small catamaran, a clapped-out car, a mortgage, a job, a dog, a hatred of over-administration and large cities, and the desire to save Wooden Boat Builders from frightful expense and over-complication. I do what I can and it’s currently not enough. After 2008 I shall have time to do more.

I try to design things with minimal toxicity, but epoxy with wood is a magic combination and one must be pragmatic. I believe plywood is a terrific modern material and to those who scorn it I ask: “If you are travelling on a small trailersailer and it pours rain for two days, would you rather be locked in a 9 x 7 x 4’6” high plastic box or a plywood one?“

Thank you for your time, support and interest over the years,

Jeff Gilbert 2003.