Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sneak Preview

You've heard me crying about not having a rowboat for the last few weeks, but the sobbing is over. My good friend Laingdon got tired of all the whining and whimpering and offered me a wherry he had in storage.

It's a A Ken Basset Firefly (appears in WB #54). She's a 22 x 3 foot plywood (6mm Okume) wherry with solid wood gunwales, transom and breasthook. The woods used are spruce and cherry. The design accommodates single or double rowing stations.

We dropped her out of the rafters and onto the car - it was love at first sight. There have been a some customized changes on this boat for a few years, so there will be a bit of refinishing and design. She lacks rowing stations at the moment.

Thank you, Laingdon!

WoodenBoat calls the 18 foot Firefly "An entry-level sliding-seat pulling boat. Provides rewarding speed in an easily built hull with enough stability to keep a beginner out of trouble."

Beginner, my arse. This boat is going to see some action.


Ewan said...

Lovely skinny boat. When I first saw the design years ago I wondered how the plywood could ever be tortured enough to get her curves. Good luck with her!

doryman said...

This boat is built on stringers, not stitch-&-glue, which helps when bending the ply.
But I know from my experience last winter that getting a flat bottom to flair into a fine stem is not easy.

This boat appears to be made of fiberglass, looking at it from the bottom. The curves and joints are perfect and the extreme bends in the plywood are not intuitively wooden.

EyeInHand said...

Congrats, looks like a very nice pulling boat to me. Though selfishly I was really hoping to watch you build that 'seed. What will I get if I whine long enough?

doryman said...

The melonseed is on the docket. It took a few nights, but plans are complete. Only waiting for motivation.
Whining might work, but whiskey is a sure bet.

Bursledon Blogger said...

I think you're going to have some fun.

A Firefly has been on my wish list for a ling time!

Too many boats too little time!

doryman said...

Precisely my philosophy Max.

Laingdon said...

You're welcome, my friend. Thanks for coming to get the boat, and for staying for a visit. I'll look forward to hearing how it goes as you get her back into service.

doryman said...

I spent a few hours sanding today. Red dust everywhere...

Lorenz said...

I'm in the process of finishing a stitch and glue version of this boat. It's been a while since anyone has posted any comments here. Anyone still listening? Anyone interested in my experience with the stitch and glue approach?

doryman said...

This boat was launched almost a year ago. You will find an update here:

We'd like to hear more about your boat:
mbogoger (at)

Lorenz said...

It might be worth clarifying that Bassett drew Firefly as a one person boat 18’ LOA. He allowed for a longer version for two rowers by simply adjusting some of the mold positions. Finesse is a stretch version at 22’.

I was looking to build a performance pulling boat, something a step up from my Gloucester Light and my search kept coming around to Firefly. Being new to boat building I liked the simple plywood construction. I had successfully completed a 17’ occoume/composite ocean kayak and looking at Firefly it occurred to me that this hull was perfect for stitch and glue construction. I contacted Bassett and he gave me his blessing to proceed. Stitch and glue plans include plank expansions, a set of numbers that allow the builder to cut out the planks without setting up molds. Firefly did not come with expansions, so I had to begin by setting up the molds. From the mold I was able to take the four plank shapes and then proceed to stitch and glue them together. The plywood easily accommodated the twists required, no torturing involved. Though I did use 4mm occoume instead of the called for 6mm which would have resisted a bit more. I used 4mm because I fully glassed the boat inside and out. I took a page from Annapolis Wherry and added sealed tanks fore and aft both for stiffness and because I am a fan of positive flotation in a boat. The center frames are laminated Douglas fir. All the trim is Douglas fir. I have not weighed the boat yet, but I can easily carry it over my head. There is a bit more wood to add and more epoxy and paint, but I suspect the resulting boat will be quite a bit lighter than the original version. I’m installing a salvaged and refurbished Alden Row Master for seat and riggers. If we can figure out how, I’d be glad to post some photos of the boat so far. I’m shooting for a spring launch on the Connecticut River.

jim Gallacher said...

Hello Doryman, loving the Finesse so much I just had to buy a set of plans for Firefly. Now I have seen Lorenz' comments about 4mmm stitch and glue this is even more exciting. If you have contact details for him then would you be able to forward my address to him as I have some questions about the glassing all over the bottom - did he mean glass sheathing and epoxy? Plus it would be good to see the photos too.

jimgallacher @

doryman said...

I passed on a heads-up to Lorenz, Jim.
Hope you hear from him soon.
I believe he is saying he reinforced his boat inside and out with epoxy impregnated fabric.

Lorenz said...

I used 4 mm occoume fully sheathed inside and outside with 6 oz fiberglass cloth and epoxy.