PLAN STUDY: Annabelle Skiff

Small Craft Advisor|July - August 2020

PLAN STUDY: Annabelle Skiff
Standing around after boating on the local pond, I suggested to my friend, the remarkable Paul Helbert, that I thought he would be better served by yet another boat—specifically, the “10' Rowing and Sailing Dinghy” designed by Howard Chapelle. I would modify Chapelle’s hull for skin-on-frame construction, and Paul would build the prototype. Paul could, for a minimal investment in both time and money, have a sailboat that would be lightweight enough to car-top, yet still had room for a passenger. More importantly, the boat promised jaunty performance as well.
Dave Gentry

By this time Paul was already a skin-on-frame (SOF)convert and he started as soon as I could get him bare-bones drawings and instructions. Recycling sailing bits from some of his other boats, Paul’s prototype was ready to go in just two or three weeks and—with a few later modifications—the “Annabelle Skiff ” was born.

Skinboats have traditionally had problems when it comes to sailing, with wracking and flexing of the hull being common in higher winds. As a result, SOF sailing craft are few and far between, and even now I’ve read many strident assertions that SOF is just not suitable for sail.

I put a lot of thought into this exact problem, and I was happy to find Annabelle disproved all the naysayers. Annabelle’s frame is rigid and stiff, and she exhibits no discernible twist at all, even when I’ve sailed mine in 25-plus-knot winds, with two people hiking hard.

The difference between Annabelle and earlier SOF sailing craft is that she uses a nontraditional style of construction. Instead of the many steam bent, mortised and lashed ribs that are typical, Annabelle uses just four carefully interconnected frames made from marine plywood. It is this rigid web that makes for a stiffer hull. Bonus: Construction is far simpler and faster this way, too.


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July - August 2020