A list of interesting and useful books in our private collection, most can be found on Worldcat, the world's largest online catalog. Do a search for your title then enter your zipcode to check out the "Find a copy in the library" locator. Remember your library can also probably get your book through Inter Library Loan (ILL). Also, most state funded college libraries are open to the public. Worldcat also has a "Buy it" link in case you want to purchase the book. If you see a book in our private collection and need information from it, please leave a comment. Cheers, Clark and Skipper

Here is our list with cover page, copyright information and Table of Contents. Also notes on what we found interesting from each of the books with page numbers.

Atkin, John. 2011. Practical small boat designs. Brooklin, Me: WoodenBoat Books.

Designs for 28 practical and buildable small boats, from 6 feet up to 26 feet. If you are looking for the right little boat to build, this is a great reference.

Burke, John. 2008. Pete Culler on wooden boats: the master craftsman's collected teachings on boat design, building, repair, and use.

Pete Culler is one of our favorite authors, he mused that boat building was simply about correcting one mistake after the other, with the biggest mistake being to have begun in the first place. He also offers that "Experience starts when you begin." Here is a compilation of some of his work.

R. D. "Pete" Culler, The Master Craftsman's Collected Teachings on Boat Design, Building, Repair and Use. Includes Skiffs and Schooners; Boats, Oars and Rowing; and more from writings such as those in The Mariner's Catalog.

Edited by John Burke, author of Pete Culler's Boats.

Burke, John. 1984. Pete Culler's Boats: The Complete Design Catalog

Simplicity, economy and ease of use. If you want to learn about those design philosophies then check out this book by John Burke. First published in 1984 it became an instant classic. Appendix A alone is worth the read. From that we have picked up several tips that we are designing into "St. Jacques."

One of Pete Culler's favorite sayings: "Mostly, boatbuilding is simply correcting one mistake after the other, and possibly the first mistake is to begin....but it's so much fun." A look at lapstrake methods, from preparation, tools, materials, plans, keel structure, planking, frames, centerboard and decks to finishing off the rig.

Drummond, A. H. 1971. The complete beginner's guide to sailing: Illustr. by John Fleming, forew. by George O'Day. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

The Complete Beginner's Guide to Sailing was first published in England and came to American shores in 1971. The book covers the basic information needed to get out on the water and try sailing, which is where learning really starts. The is information on types of boats, nautical terms, gettin underway, weather, safety and sail rigging. There are over 100 diagrams and photographs, put together from a sailor's perspective. What I liked about the book was it's brevity, there is alot of relevant information packed into 200 small format pages with a readable type size. Having sailed for 30 years, there were several excellent review points in the book.

Get it and go try it!

Fuller, Benjamin A. G. 2002. 87 boat designs: a catalog of small boat plans from Mystic Seaport. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport.

Paging through 87 Boat Designs by Ben Fuller, A Catalog of Small Boat Plans from Mystic Seaport 2002. We are looking for idea on catboat rigs, racing rigs or day sail rigs, maybe both. The Delaware Tuckup THOMAS M. SEEDS is interesting as well as BUTTON SWAN. Starting to narrow down the square footage of the sail, probably around 180 square feet. A few notes we jotted down, the V stern on out catboat won't drag like a U shaped stern found on most later catboats. The sterns grew to support the extra weight of auxiliary motors that came on board in the early 1900s. Our boat will have responsive tiller steering, excellent for close quarters maneuvering. She'll also be small enough that she can be rolled up on the beach. Low freeboard, with side deck and coaming making up for lack of that, we expect the sheer rail to be under water a bit. The rocker in the stern will help her turn faster. A double bottom will help keep her bilge dry, and an external keel will keep the bilge easy to bail out and clean. She'll have side benches and a removable bench aft for storage. And it seems we have to monogram the rudder and sail, so everyone on shore can see that the Skipper is in the lead.

Nice book to page through with concise, educated write ups on small boats.

Decked canoe was interesting, 16 feet, low freeboard, bigger cockpit, lapstrake. The original dated back to around 1900 and had copper buoyancy tanks.

We were most focused on the Cat-Rigged Boats, SANSHEE and TRIO caught our eye.

Might be the starting point for our cat rig, without the bowsprit. Definitely need a monogrammed rudder. And a big letter on the sail too, just not sure which one yet.

Gardner, John, and Samuel F. Manning. 1978. The dory book.

All you need to know about dories. This book was a great help while we worked on Barbashela.

Leather, John. 1974. Clinker boatbuilding. Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing.

For boats under 20 feet. The author also illustrated the book.
Moisture content under 20 percent for construction, 15 percent or less to glue. Wood preservative from 1 part linseed oil and 2 parts paraffin. (16)
Bronze fasteners below the waterline, BS 1088 plywood. Grease the screw. (18)
Make grommets from caulking cotton, soaked with a little paint, to go under bolt heads and washers. (22)
Clench nail hammer blows sound sharper when nail tightens up. (25)
Think twice, cut once. (67)
Transom joints half lapped ot tongue and groove. (70)
Row locks placed 11-14 inches aft of after end of thwart. (132)
Bilge keels (runners) and whiskers protect high wear areas of strakes and bow. (156)
Discussion on fixed vs lifting rudders. (161)

Little, Ida, Michael Walsh, and Julius M. Wilensky. 1992. Beachcruising and coastal camping. Stamford, CT: Wescott Cove Pub. Co.

Just finished reading through a comprehensive guide to coastal camping in small boats, written by Ida Little and Michael Walsh. They discuss how to save money by staying small and getting off the charts into some isolated, muck marine areas. Easy transport and storage, simple maintenance. Focus on prep and a flexible schedule. A good reference for those getting into small boat cruiser camping.

It was interesting to see that we currently own several of the recommended boats, Lugger, Day Sailer, and the mighty Sunfish. Guess we'll have to try towing our Grumman 17 SCOUT as a gear barge behind the Alcort Catfish SMEDLEY?

Lowell, Royal. 1977. Boatbuilding Down East: how lobster boats are built. Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing.

How to build, from a builder. Rare to find someone who built boats, had time to share information and who also provided illustrations and photographs of the process. Mr. Lowell starts us off at the pattern making stage of building and takes us through to the finish. My favorite chapter covered the details of caulking.

Oughtred, Iain. 2004. Clinker plywood boatbuilding manual. London: Adlard Coles Nautical.

Rarely do I buy a book and get through it in two days, but this manual was a real page turner. We just finished building a plywood lapstrake boat and Oughtred's manual would have been an excellent resource. I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering building a clinker (lapstrake) boat. Comprehensive coverage of design, tools and materials, glues and finishes, construction and rigging.

Payson, Harold H. 1997. Build the instant catboat. South Thomaston, Me: H.H. Payson.

We bought this book to see if there were ideas we could use in designing the sail plan for our 1950s Pascagoula Catboat. Also to compare the V bottom construction methods. It did not disappoint. Dynamite does a great job of balancing the amount of information and keeping the descriptive terms understandable. And he ends up with a boat that was one of his favorites, a good size to go out and have fun.

Payson, Harold H. 2001. Instant boats. South Thomaston, Me: H.H. Payson & Co.

A nice concise guide to building small boats. Easy to read and light on the confusing boat builder jargon. "Dynamite" Payson takes us step by step through a basic build, at a good pace, and gives us a jumping off place to go have fun in a small boat of one's own construction. Nice guide for small boat building programs as well, Payson's Teal design is very popular.

Ruhlman, Michael. 2014. Wooden boats: in pursuit of the perfect craft at an american boatyard. New York: Penguin Books.

Author Michael Ruhlman spends some time at the boatyard of Gannon and Benjamin, learning about the craft of wooden boatbuilding. He offers up the definition of "boatstruck" in his book Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard.

"Some people become boat smart; others are simply struck. Something happens to certain men when they see a boat, and they become crazy. A man, or the occasional woman who is boatstruck shows no discernible outward signs of the illness....On the contrary, the boatstruck look more than reasonable. They are successful people. They are smart, cool, self-possessed, and they are pretty good on the water. They brim with a free and adventurous spirit. You tend to like these people - - they can be inexplicably magnetic.
And yet there is something exquisite about the condition of being boatstruck. An ecstasy runs through it, compulsive and contagious. You can see it, sense this delight, even if you happen to be free of this affliction yourself or don't sail or even if you don't particularly care for boats. Sometimes a beautiful boat is simply worthy of devotion, reverence and awe, and no one doubts it. A beautiful boat is as obviously invaluable as a Leonardo sketch or Monet's water lilies. The boat can be a magnificent structure." (p.11)

" Wooden boats have a soul, living drawn from the forest...wooden boats teach us about our purpose on the planet...wisdom, beauty, old as mankind." (p.4)

Along the way there are notes on finishing and preserving planking"
-Paint ok on one surface.
-May take a year or two to seal up and find its "home."
-Saltwater is excellent for pickling.
Wood needs to expand and contract, so look for some bug juice, i.e. modified tung oil/varnish/linseed oil/maybe CETOL.
-If leaks persist, look for checking or cracking, especially around fasteners/screws/rivets.
-Stain not recommended due to oil base fighting preservative finish.

"The greatest fun in boating usually comes from the simplest boats." (p.152)

Simmons, Walter. 1980. Lapstrake Boatbuilding Volume 2. Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing.

Excellent information on lapstrake methods, we used some sprit details on our build of St. Jacques. Simmons covers some common problem solving and shares thoughts on building boats for aspiring professionals.

Thomas, Barry. 1977. Building the Herreshoff Dinghy: the manufacturers method.

There are only a few books out there that capture the materials and manufacturer's methods of building vintage boats, luckily we have one from Barry Thomas, he interviewed Charlie Sylvester who worked in the Small Boat Shop at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in the early 1900s. The book is about the building of the boat, how they set up the molds, keel, frames, floors, planking and finishing at HMCo, the materials used and the process to assemble the bits. Barry would know a bit about the subject, he was the Supervisor of the Boat Shop at Mystic Seaport Museum.

It takes time, effort and a sense of collaboration to record and share a craftsman's story like this, and we are grateful that the folks involved chose to do so. Thank you Mr. Sylvester and Mr. Thomas, and the other folks who helped pull this book together. Barry crossed the bar January 6th 2020 at the gentle age of 86, we hope he is telling tall tales with Charlie now.

See our complete Small Boat list on Worldcat


  1. I have this booklet, I have the original molds, I have the original boat that we built in 1980 using this book, making the molds, laying the foundation, building the steaming trough, etc. etc. etc. all in excellent condition. My husband passed, I am old and I want to find the perfect someone who wants the molds, book, boat, sails etc. If anyone can offer advice or is interested please contact me asap. Thanks much. Wooden boats touch the heart. It is located in Florida. Lois Kwederas phones 95-566-4800, cell 954-562-4578, email:

    1. Hi Lois, We'll be in contact. Cheers, Kent and Skipper