Elver is a 20' flat bottom yawl with a traditional style. Designed by Steve Redmond, she is light for easy trailering and can sail in just about any shallow waters that other boats can't go. More details on Elver can be found on Steve Redmond's website. Here I discuss my decision process and illustrate my efforts to construct one.

Why build a boat

This whole boat building thing got started in 1999 when I decided to move from Gaithersburg, MD to Huntsville, AL. I had surveyed North Alabama to make sure the waterways existed that I could use to sail Andrea Lynn down. After all the Saturn V boosters were built here and barged down to Cape Canaveral. However, I was hoping to sell and get a smaller boat. In May 2000, after getting the townhouse renovated and sold, I put her in the brokerage yard in Bert Jabin's in Annapolis, MD and listed her with a broker.

Which boat to build

As Andrea Lynn sat in the yard I started my research to decide what boat I wanted to get. First of all I wanted to get a smaller boat because it was correspondingly simpler to maintain and use. I was inspired by Ralph Munroe's 28' Egret sharpie that I saw in Wooden Boat Magazine. She had a simple design and very shallow draft but was quite capable. These characteristics appealed to me as I had hit bottom more than once and sometimes looked longingly at waters my boat could not go.

In May, 2000 I went to the Woodenboat show in Biloxi, MS. I saw a cool looking little boat sitting on a trailer. The name of the boat was "Daniel G" and she was a Steve Redmond Elver. I had never heard of her before but she looked like just the boat I wanted. I filed the concept in the back of my mind.

Some time later, I read the book "Frugal Yachting". In September, 2000 I went to the Sailboat show in Annapolis and looked at various sailboats in the 19 to 22 foot range mentioned in the book. These looked good but were fiberglass. On the inside they looked like they were built in a hurry. Parts were cut out and fit together in a quick fashion. Although these boats were well constructed to hold up, bevels and other hand craft were sacrificed to mass production. I wanted a boat that looked like it was very well crafted inside and out.

One thing about my current boat is that to cruise to other waters I have to go there in the boat. Given my current situation of sailing only on the weekends that doesn't really lend itself to a lot of cruising. However, I see many lakes and islands on the charts of the Chesapeake, the Gulf coast and New England that would be really neat to go to. Thus a trailer boat is required.

Trailerability introduced constraints of draft and quick setup. Some trailer boats that I looked at are the Norwalk Island Sharpie. I had read Reuel Parker's Sharpie book. In Phil Bolger's Boats with an Open Mind I read of many different boat designs that are quite off the wall but they work. Also I surfed various websites of boat construction to see what people built and the kinds of challenges involved. I found the Jessie Cooper and Loose Moose. These had lots of room inside and could, in principle, be trailered. I soon learned that trailer boats are up to 2000 lbs and < 20' and can be transferred from the back yard to the water quickly and casually. Anything bigger and the launch and retrieve time goes up in spades. One then has a boat that is called 'trailerable'.

I also learned that a trailer boat generally cannot have standing headroom. There are a few exceptions to this but they are extreme and not appealing to my tastes.

Another requirement is that for easy setup the standing rigging had to be set up as quickly as possible. Generally that means masts that weigh less than 50 lbs. It also means a minimal amount of standing rigging such as shrouds. The mast must either be the tabernacle variety or easily stepped. I would also like to be able to quickly take down the rigging underway to get under a low bridge and then set it back up.

With all these in mind I looked at Iain Oughtred's Eun Na Mara. She's a cool looking boat with classic lines.

I purchased plans and started building her in January 2001. Each weekend when I came home I laminated another set of frames, the stem and stern post and set everything up on a jig. I was thinking this would take 5 years to complete. Meanwhile Andrea Lynn sat in the yard up in Annapolis. By April 2001 I was getting discouraged at the prospect of a sale, particularly with going to Annapolis once a month more or less to check up on her. Meanwhile I traveled meaning I got on an airplane Monday morning to go to another city and work and theoretically fly back home on Friday. Thus I got very little progress on the Eun Na Mara. In June 2001 I took Andrea Lynn off the market and sailed her down. See The Big Cruise

After September 2001, Eun Na Mara just sat on the jig. I concentrated on boat projects for Andrea Lynn. By December, 2002 after working on Eun Na Mara only one weekend the entire year, I realized that I was not motivated to complete this boat at this time. However I had $3000 worth of ocoume plywood and dimensioned mahogany that I had to use or plan on eventually throwing away. Because of the expense of the wood it is only appropriate to build boats with it. Thus I should build a boat.

I revisited another requirement - shallow draft. Eun Na Mara has 17" which is good. Elver has 12". Shallow draft makes launch and retrieval with a trailer easier. I looked at some more boat designs. Bolger birdwatcher looked like it might work. This has distinctive glass sides. I bought plans, then decided that to make her the way I wanted her to appear I would have to change the lines of the glass cabin slightly. This had the potential to spoil the design so I decided to shelve it for now.

Then, Steve Redmond's Elver came back to mind. I found Steve Redmond's new website. I found that this boat met all my requirements plus was relatively quick to build. With the knowledge gained the decision was easy.

In summary the requirements are:

The specs on the Elver are

What follows are my efforts to construct an Elver.

Important Note

Boat building and surfing websites of boat construction is lots of fun but please remember these points.

Shop safety

As I want to continue to build boats and sail for a very long time I observe the following safety rules.