Ducker Preparations

In order to proceed with the Ducker hull, I need more room in the garage. So, last month I added a small addition to the backyard shed we built 10 years ago. All of our gasoline equipment, tools, cans, etc. are now housed there. I wagged an estimate of $650 in materials to complete the space. It ended up more like $800. That’s $14.25 a SF. If you threw in my free labor in there I guess you could triple the cost. The worst of the project required digging 2 holes for the outboard post footings. Nothing but hard clay and rock (lots of rocks). Thankfully I had my 18 yr old son and his buddy to sweat the digging with me.


The low slope roof just sneaks under the existing gable window. 30# felts are under the shingles. The Hardi Plank siding was nasty to cut with circular saw or jig. Finally, I discovered that 3 scores with a utility knife on both sides allowed for a clean enough break without all the dust. Some policing of the adjoining grade still needs to be done. Also, the soffit vents are still missing, but we can move on now.


In the interim, LUNA’s hatch has been repaired, again, and both the boat hook and bilge pump handle have been stripped and varnished.


Next up: can we make UNA a boat cover out of Emily’s 2 awnings? Solving that will allow UNA to stay outdoors temporarily while the Ducker hull takes shape. I may begin with the spars and other parts before that.

Delaware Ducker “Greenbriar” Specifications


Hull Type: Double Ended Clinker. Rig Type: Sprit/ gaff mainsail
LOA: 15′-3″/ 4.5m LWL: 13′-2 1/2″/ 3.9m
Beam: 3′-10″ / 0.66m Beam @ WL: 3′-3″/ 0.84m
SA: (gunning- sprit) 56 ft2, (pleasure- gaff) 78 ft2, (racing- gaff) 112 ft2

More Delaware Ducker

Last week, got the 1/2 hull shellacked.  I decided to add the stems and keel lastly. Stems are cherry. Keel mahogany. Female cardboard station profiles were great for checking for proper lines. Without proper gouges (I’ve since ordered some), the last sneaking up on the lines took some sanding … quite a bit. Anyway, now I’ve a true study model, some inspiration for the real thing and if not, wall art.

Finito! … or is it? I’ve another idea …
Lifts glued and clamped
Profile cut
Shaping begun
More on another day.


The Shape of Things to Come?

Last October I sailed a boat that I’ve admired for some time, the Delaware Ducker.  As a child, my family cruised from Norfolk, VA to St. Michaels, MD nearly every summer. I recall on one visit  following my mother across the lawn of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. It was a grey day and the swollen Miles River edged up into the outbuilding displays. At 11 or 12 years of age, the smaller boats exhibited fascinated me. You could dream of maybe owning one. A drab green punt version of the Ducker must have caught my attention. I’d almost swear to it. This smart skiff exudes adventure easily enticing a little boy’s wanderlust. Likely developed from canoe traditions, this light clinker built skiff is perfectly symmetrical fore and aft. The bow is identical to the stern. Long ago very common to the shores south of Philadelphia, hunters employed the craft to chase rail birds in the marsh. An understated beauty from the 1800’s , it quickly stuck in my mind when we were reacquainted on a solo cruise maybe 3 years ago. To sail one would be fantastic. The boat looked “right”. The chance did present and I was enthralled with the boat’s lively performance while sailing and rowing. It seemed like a Laser in disguise. Soon after I purchased plans of the two versions documented best. As a “vernacular” skiff, there are undoubtedly many other variations, but the now known “Greenbriar” and “York” are well documented. Save for 2-3 originals in museums on the East Coast, the hundreds of others have likely dissolved. We can be grateful a few people sought to preserve these simple lines and now those who wish can build a replica, can. No one has promoted the Ducker more than Ben Fuller at the Penobscot Marine Museum. He wrote several articles on the vessel for WoodenBoat while curator at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Ben in fact owns a Greenbriar in his gaggle of small boats. I’ve read and reread his articles, stared at my photos of the Greenbriar at the in St. Michaels, MD, and lofted both designs in the computer.  Frankly, I’ve been haunted by the boat for some time. Sailing one may have put me over the edge. Shoot, that may be as good a reason to build one as any.

CBMM’s Greenbriar Ducker.

Doing so may make me officially a sucker for double enders. Seeing this one trailing along in the wake of our Rozinante “Luna” is not a stretch. The design may be a descendant from native American canoes. The construction certainly is reminiscent of them. Or, maybe its salty lines were borrowed from old norse faerings ancestors. Like an Inuit kayak, the Ducker’s lines have a strength and beauty derived from practical evolution and the hands of countless builders to present a charm hard to master. Still, there are enough differences in the two plans I possess that I decided to make a study of it. Overlaying the drafts in the computer showed the Greenbriar to be 3″ longer, 2″ thinner in beam, a fuller bow in section, but slacker bilge amidship. The York likely has more initial stability and resistance to heeling, but the Greenbriar should row and slip through the water more easily with her thinner waist. With paper and balsa, I glued quick models using the stations and elevation for further study.

1″ to 1 foot scale models: Greenbriar over York.
Bottom, YORK sections.
Top, GREENBRIAR study.

I canvassed the household for their opinions on which boat was favored. It was a tie. No help there. The York appears more elegantly dainty. The Greenbriar seems quietly confident in her beauty, more of a pony than thoroughbred. Is this a decision? Perhaps, but I’ve always admired carved half hull models, have wanted one for my office, and have now begun a 1 1/2″ scale version of the Greenbriar. Its sides will not be clinker, but rounded even though I doubt I’ll build in either carvel or strip.

Note if your model is to be 24″ long, make sure the wood or lifts are not 22″! Yeah, now I’ve wood for a second half hull. Dumb. Consider it material for a future opportunity. That, and heed the “measure twice” adage.  I won’t get into the “how to’s” of this form of model building. I’ve proven I may not be reliable there. Many sources are available. Anyway, here are some progress shots of the Greenbriar half hull.

Lifts and elevation (on 22″ wood)


Elevation tacked to back of half hull.
Shear and stems cut.


Looking like a boat.


Seems like errors are par for the course today. Lowering the elevation pattern to avoid cutting the keel (will add later with stems) took too much out of the shear. Tunnel vision run amok here. Well, looks like another opportunity. Adding the wood back as deck allowed for illustrating the cockpit.
clamped deck layer.

We’ll set this aside for overnight drying. Using carpenters glue. More later-

Virginia, Maryland, Delaware … Ducker

As the summer winds down, the days have been quite pleasant here in Virginia of late. So why go to Maryland? Because there in St. Michaels you can find a Delaware Ducker. A fairly rare bird, there are actually several at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. One you may even rent by the hour for $30. On Fridays you may get and extra hour for the same ticket. So, we went for a 2 hour cruise.

But to back up, long before I became a canoe stern addict, I had seen Thomas Eakins’ painting, “Starting Out After Rail”. I half thought the boat was fictitious. However, Eakins had made her look so right that I dreamed maybe such a boat existed.

Starting Out After Rail

Also, on previous visits to CBMM over the years, I’d often pause to stare at a simple moss colored skiff tucked under a shed. Seemingly cast off almost, I half thought they were on their way out or one step from a bonfire.

elegant deck beam

Only recently did the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit when I had saw photos of a boat built by Dan Sutherland at the Museum. Investigation revealed these craft to be versions of the Delaware Ducker.

Dan’s boat
My edition of Howard Chapelle’s American Small Sailing Craft describes this 16′ boat as “a lightly built double-ended skiff” used by “market-gunners of the lower Delaware”. The models varied little and were “exactly alike at both ends and were slack-bilged”. A two men boat, this canoe features
Forest and Stream: April 21, 1887

Much more history and detail are written by Ben Fuller in WoodenBoat Issue 48 and in their Small Boats issue 2010. The better documented models are the Greenbriar and York. The latter has a tad more stability in a slight turn to the bilge. I sailed the former. On with the show. After sorting out the rig’s tangled lines, we shoved off in light breeze. The boat was quick to move.

Selena II. A large Crosby design catboat.
the museum’s Hooper Straight Light and Skipjack
In the light breezes we were sailing around Selena II. Her current captain is the original boat owner’s grand daughter.

Sitting in the aft portion of the cockpit I was surprised at how balanced the boat was. Both sail and board are way forward. The steering was quite easy on all points. After 1.5 hrs we returned to the pier, left the rig, and went rowing. Again, the boat moved almost effortlessly. She is the best boat I’ve rowed really.

the 1888 Lawley designed 30′ cutter “Elf”

Back at the pier I took detail photos of the skiff.

floors and sheet block


in the bow
Lazy day



rudder and tiller

Wanting to beat the traffic home, I was quickly on the road, but not before checking out “Greenbriar”. Hanging in the shop rafters, I got a few pics of her up close.


The 3.5 hr trip home was well worth the visit. Wouldn’t this be a great winter project?

It was a great day. Ducker on the left.