In late 1981 we designed and built the first Rowley Skiff, catalyzed by Gordon Abbott who was Head of the Trustees of Reservations at the time. The original design was guided loosely by a photograph of a west coast seining skiff. Twenty- five 6.1 m (20 feet) were built and twenty-five 6.8m (22 feet), all built to order as custom boats, not identical but with similar hulls. A number of blunt bow versions were built including a half dozen landing craft.
During 2009, several newer versions similar but not identical to the originals have been built. This latter versions are of considerably heavier construction
We built the first 20 ft. Rowley Skiff still in use at Fernald’s Marine in Newbury, MA in late 1981. Favorable publicity thanks to an article by Mike Badham in the Maine Commercial Fishing News got us off to a good start. We sold 25 – 20 footers (the 6.1m), and 25 – 22 footers (the 6.8m) over the next several years, and sold a half dozen blunt bows models, some with landing craft bow doors. We call these the Thacher Island model.
Often those inquiring wanted vee bottom boats. We wondered if the market was saturated. We stopped advertising in the National Fisherman. This discontinuation became a self fulfilling prophecy. Whether we would have continued to sell these boats we’ll never know. What we do know is that most of them are still in service and that they command a higher price now after about 25 years than when they were new. Twenty-twenty hindsight says we should have perhaps continued advertising. We did started building 7.4m (24.3 ft.) modified vee bottom boats (what we call Cape Ann Sea Skiffs) in sizes up to over 60 feet.
The Rowley skiffs, not having self bailing cockpits, were less costly to build than an equivalent vee bottom boat with a self bailing cockpit. Though most people want a self bailing cockpit there is a case for not having one in a small boat, viz. more inside freeboard is possible without raising the sides and increasing the windage. The Rowley Skiff lacking a self bailing cockpit did have several air chambers making it virtually unsinkable if swamped.
However, one of our 22 footers did sink, thanks to someone apparently pissed off punching a half dozen good sized holes in the bottom and in the air chambers. The guy who did this must have been an energetic fellow since it takes about 600 ft-lb. of work to punch a 1- 1/4 inch hole in a 3/16th inch bottom made of 5086 H32. A 20T press would be marginal for the task. In this case it looked like the guy used a heavy crow thrusting with considerable velocity, and accuracy since he sure as hell couldn’t penetrate with one stroke. Or maybe he used a sharp pointed punch and a BFH).
At any rate the owner called here saying. “Jack, I need another boat. The day before I had received a call from a diver who found one of our boats in 100 feet of water; and salvaged it. So when the owner called I got the owner and diver together. We got a small repair job out of it which took maybe 2 hours, showing the ease with which a welded aluminum boat can be repaired.
Fast forward to the fall of 2008 – David Quinby, a Maine urchin fisherman was using a 20 ft wood skiff which had been a very good boat. He also ran a 28.5 ft. steel boat with a displacement hull. He came up with the idea of building a welded aluminum boat midway in size between the two which would combine the attributes of both and could replace the other two. He contacted us to determine our interest in replicating an Oregon surf dory in aluminum. He bought plans for it. We talked to David, felt his pulse on cost told him we’d like to build it. We made two wood models 1/16th scale. The better of the two made by Warren Jepson, our general manager, looked good and was to David’s liking. An order resulted the early stages of which are evident in the photographs. Though resembling the original Rowley skiffs, it is a new start since the patterns and the wood jig of the original have long since been scrapped.
David’s boat has more rocker forward to suit his needs. It’s a little longer and beamier being 7m (23 ft. 1in.) with a beam of 8 ft. 7 inches. Construction is heavier with a 1/4 inch bottom and 3/16th sides, all of 5086 H32 or H116 aluminum alloy. Like the original it does not have a self bailing cockpit and thus has substantial inside free board. Inside freeboard at the lowest point in the sheer is about 31 inches. Up towards the bow it is over 36 inches, and at the transom is about 32 inches. Several air chamber/storage compartments assure that she won’t sink if completely swamped. She’s powered by a Volvo V-8, 5.7L gas engine with a Volvo duo prop stern drive. Although providing a lot more power than needed, the engine was from a re-power at an attractive price.
David thinks others will be interested in this boat. With a ppi (pounds per inch immersion) of about 700 lb., she’d carry 6,000 lb. with 12 inches immersion. Dave does not anticipate carrying more than 2,000 to 3,000 lb. With a 3,000 lb. load his new boat should do an estimated 20+ knots at about 75% power. Any one interested is a relatively fast boat with good load capacity might well consider this Rowley Skiff II. Depending on the details of your arrangement and the power installed, the boat will sell in the $30 to $45K range.
Call us or if you want a user’s input, call David Quinby @ 207- 326 – 8300 (home phone) between 1:00P and 6:00P.
Rowley Skiff Quincy boat
Rowley Skiff Quincy Boat