If I Build Again

Now that Shackleton has been sold, I’ve been left to ponder over this wonderful little boat and consider its merits and weakness.  The reason I sold the boat originally was to make room for my Skiff America build, which is coming along nicely and almost done.  And, now that the Skiff is almost done, I find myself rethinking the Scamp design and longing for another small sailboat.

Would I be crazy to build another Scamp?  The thought of it makes me sort of cringe, but at times it makes me feel excited and energized.  If I did build another Scamp, what would I change?  Most of these ideas come from Howard Rice’s Southern Cross and even though Howard is quick to not encourage others to copy his design, there remains a lot of merit in many of his ideas, regardless of where one sails, at least in my mind.

So, here is a list of things I would change if I were to build again:

  1. I would add a lazarette to increase buoyancy and keep even more water out of the cockpit upon capsize.  Yes, Scamp is already incredible in this regard, but a lazarette would increase stern storage in an area that’s hardly usable otherwise.  Plus, and this is a big plus, have you seen how Howard uses the forward face of his lazarette as a back rest, with his feet resting in the footwell?  This appears to create a very comfortable place to rest, read or prepare a hot meal.  It also keeps your weight centered along the center line of the boat.  And, the creation of a lazarette would necessitate fewer filler boards when converting the benches to one large sleeping area for 2 people.  Once I grasped these concepts, the lazarette would be a must for me.
  2. I would narrow bulkhead 4:  1-preventing water (or as much water) from flooding the cuddy area upon capsize, 2-allowing more protection during a storm, by narrowing the veranda opening, 3-allowing for a vertical curtain to close off the veranda area to get a cold sailor completely out of the wind, 4- allowing a sailor to lean back against this bulkhead from the cockpit bench, looking aft and resting your feet on the bench.  Places to rest your back are at a premium on a small boat.  Between the lazarette and bulkhead 4, you could pick up two additional areas to rest your lower back.
  3. I would keep bulkhead 3 hatches high and close to the center line (snuggled right up under the roof and against the mast box.  This would keep the hatched above the water line during a capsize.
  4. I would take more time with seat hatches, making them myself following the Russell Brown design.  They would be waterproof, flush mounting and optimally shaped for better access.  Or, I might eliminate them altogether and instead go with minimal storage in exchange of more water tight buoyancy chambers.
  5. I would utilize water ballast, just because I haven’t tried this approach yet and it would make the boat lighter on the trailer.
  6. I would not incumber the aft sole area (bulkhead 6-7) with a floor hatch.  Howard taught Preston and I to stand while sailing and it felt really good.  When I added the aft sole hatch to this area, it got in the way of this premium standing location.
  7. I would keep all other hatches, including the water ballast hatch, to a minimum or eliminate them all together often utilizing 6″ round hatches for minimal intrusion and less weakening of the sole.
  8. I would add tie down areas under the veranda for dry bags to be held up against the sides, properly secured by 1″ webbing straps.  This would also reduce the floodable area within the boat, increase buoyancy and provide a soft area to lean against when napping.
  9. I would make the footwell smaller but full width.  This would allow a wide stance for ultimate low stability when sailing from this area.  I would also design it to accept filler boards.  Again, a tip from Howard’s design and others that have gone before.  The filler boards could also be used as a rowing thwart, a cook station, a mainsheet cleating area and as filler boards for the upper bench location.  How multi functional is that!  Isn’t this a big part of the fun?  It is to me!  I love the design thought that has gone into this little micro cruiser and it just seems to keep getting better and better in my mind.
  10. I would trim out the under deck areas to accept breakdown oars.  My last oar storage design wasn’t bad, but under the deck is even more out of the way and less likely to snag the mainsheet when sailing.
  11. I would add hike out seating over the cockpit skirting.  Not so much for hiking out, as to offer a great place to sit and swing my legs over the side when boarding and un-boarding.  It would also create yet another place to sit and rest otherwise sore muscles.  The more body positions you can design, the better able you are to rest tired muscles.  When I spent 36 continuous hours aboard Shackleton, I was amazed how stiff my muscles became.  More ways to change up your body positioning is very important.
  12. I would build integrated fender storage under the hike out seat platform.  This would keep wet fenders out of the boat, close at hand for instant deployment and provide yet additional buoyancy during a capsize.  It would be fun to see how this would effect a capsized Scamp.  I believe the idea may have some merit.  In fact, the design could allow one to sit directly on top of the fender for a soft cushy ride when hiking out.  They could pop out of their holder and hang down, allowing vertical adjustment when docking.
  13. I would spend the money for Gig Harbor carbon fiber break down oars to optimize the rowing experience.
  14. I would leave the motor off the boat to deliberately slow me down and create an authentic old world sailing experience.  If I’m in a hurry or want to see more country, I’ll take my Skiff America 20.
  15. I would design a tent similar to Howard’s low profile tent and/or design a boom tent for more shoulder room when sleeping 2 aboard.  My previous tent design felt claustrophobic, maybe stuck is a better word.  I couldn’t easily row or get on or off the boat once the side walls were zipped into position.  It took too long to deploy, was awkward to set up and take down and the entire ensemble was exposed on the deck when stored.  There’s a simpler design and Howard has led the way. 
  16. I would utilize a basic flat bed trailer.  The flat bed design would allow Scamp to rest relatively flat on it’s skegs.  A forward cross plank would keep the boat from shifting forward (by resting against the forward edge of the skegs).  The boat could simply be secured down by the front wench and each aft corner.  The flat bed would allow great access to your boat when loading and unloading by allowing you a platform on which to stand and walk around.  Flat bed trailers are also very abundant and affordable.
  17. I would store the mast, sail, yard and boom on a goal post bracket designed off one side of the trailer.  By securing and storing the spars and sail on one side of the trailer would allow me to reach all the spars from inside the cockpit of Scamp, by simply reaching over the side.  It would also keep the boat clean for easy cover installation and design.  The sail, yard and boom would be placed in one travel cover, while the mast would be placed in a separate travel cover.  This would be a fast, simple and effective way to trailer your boat with spars and sail.  I wouldn’t need to encumber the boat with spar hauling brackets.  I got tired of attaching and removing the brackets I previously designed.  My current thinking is the trailer should be designed to handle this job.
  18. I would extend the seat tops by 2″ each side for increased comfort.  The cockpit sole is wider than it needs to be.  By extending the seat tops 2″, one could significantly increase seating comfort.  This could be done be simply extending the seat tops with an extension piece.

Just a few of the things I would consider if I were to build another Scamp.  I would be all about trying to further simplify the systems while keeping it seaworthy and practical.  Simple keeps it safe and reliable.  Simple is repeatable, even when cold, tired or weary.  It just sort of works.  

I must say, just enumerating these ideas has caused me to seriously consider building yet another Scamp.  I have scoured small boat designs and cannot find another boat I would rather build.  All things considered, this is a very hard boat to beat.  Don’t tell Jennifer what I’m thinking or I may have to live aboard.  

Finally, I would love to hear any ideas you may have regarding your personal experiences with your Scamp.  How to make is simpler, safer or more comfortable.  After all, that’s how we all learn.  So, please share your comments below.  


10 thoughts on “If I Build Again

  1. Hello,
    First thank you for your blog, very interesting and accurate useful to neophytes.
    I appreciate that you share your ideas in a pedagogical way. If you build another scamp, make us again enjoy your experience.
    Personally, I am building a small traditional boat from the south-west of France for lakes and rivers. Then, I think to build a scamp by following your advice and integrating your last reflections. This may be one of the first in France.
    Thank you again, cordially and good year 2017.

  2. Hey Brent. You should so build another SCAMP with these mods and blog it! I am planning one myself and would love nothing more than to see how you approach this. I would be particularly interested in your vision for the reduced opening for bulkhead #4. Expect your second build would proceed more swiftly after sorting out the tricky bits first time around. Thanks for sharing! Randy

  3. Randy,

    Thanks for your comment and encouragement. My wife has advised me to use my (almost finished) Skiff America 20 for 1-2 years before committing to another Scamp. She always gives sound advise, so I’m dry docked on another Scamp for awhile. But, I can tell you that if I still want one in 1-2 years, I’m going to build another one and incorporate these ideas. I’ve also looked at Longsteps, but feel its probably too large for my needs, so I’m still inclined to build another Scamp. I plan to watch others and learn from Howard as I use my new Skiff America and continue to formulate my ideal build. The stock Scamp is really good, but I plan to make it even better for my intended purposes. If you start building, do please blog about the process so I can learn from what you’re doing.

    With regards to bulkhead #4, I would simply run the bulkhead straight up from the seat edge, as opposed to curving outward as currently designed. You can see this on Howard’s Scamp. It would make the cubby much easier to close off with a drop down curtain to get warm or cook under the veranda. The other 2 distinct advantages would be another to create another seating position and to keep more water out of the boat during a capsize. Hope this makes sense.


  4. Brent, Enjoyed following your build of Shackleton and sailing adventures. I too like the concept of a Scamp, but found it is ripe for some mods to make it an even better micro cruiser like yourself. I would make the bench seats 4-6″ wider, and this would decrease the span between them allowing for even shorter and smaller pack of filler boards. I thought of making filler boards connected together like a ‘jacob’s ladder’ so that they stack and are easy to store.

    Making the seats wider would allow for more comfortable seating. I’d also make the cockpit floor much lower to keep thighs from cramping, while making it easy to stand anywhere fore and aft.

    Storage in the seats is now much more volume (sealed) which adds floatation and keeps the weight of cruising stores more in the center of the boat vs stuffing the cuddy space , that is more forward, full of the weight where one does’nt want it on a Scamp.

    The gunwales definitely could be 8″ wide so that sitting on them to hike or board would be easier than the narrowness of the present design.

    The ‘lazzerette’ idea is something else I too saw as ‘more floatation/sealed space that would add safety to the design. I’d run thruhulls (one way valves) at seat top height through it so as to drain higher volumes of water faster, and 2 lower ones 6-8’ above the waterline to drain the cockpit sole. Using a hand bilge pump to remove any additional water, and then sponge the damp areas before retiring for the night. There should not be any appreciable volume of water left in a Scamp with a sealed lazzerette, wider seats and reduced width between the seats.

    If interested in using a yawl rig then maybe even a hinged mast plate for a deck stepped shorter mast could work, with Howard’s ‘running stays’ setup? This would drop into a boom gallows ‘Y’ placed on the transom (removable when sailing) and be the main support beam for a cockpit tent?

    It would be interesting to see if Dave Robertson over at Gig Harbor boats, or anyone else, takes ‘our mods’ into consideration and produces a Scamp with these features.

    Again, the added floatation and storage from these ideas should not hurt Scamp’s sailing charm.

  5. Gene,

    I’ll make comments within your original text. Thanks much for your insights and ideas.

    “Widening the seat by 4-6″…”

    Wow, that’s a lot wider. My concern here would be that you would no longer be able to sleep on the cockpit sole. This lower sleeping location is perfect for one person as it lowers your center of gravity and still allows access to the benches and storage areas within the benches. I would probably only extend mine 2″ each side. This will make quite a bit of difference from the stock width and still allow you to sleep on the cockpit sole. In fact, I wouldn’t actually narrow the seat longitudinals, rather I would just widen the seat tops. In this way you actually create an overhang of the seat tops which allows for improve leg comfort by bringing your legs back against the seat longitudinal. Even a few inches can make a big difference in comfort. My thoughts regarding filler boards are this: They are great when sleeping 2 aboard Scamp, but if solo sailing, the floor would be a much better place to sleep. Also, the lazarette will minimize the number of filler boards required. I would love to see a Jacobs ladder design, so go for it.

    “Lowering the cockpit floor…”

    This would prevent the floor from self draining. It’s current height is to allow most of the water to be above the waterline. Maybe with auto bailers you are not concerned with this feature. In fact, with wider seats, a narrower bulkhead #4 and a lazarette, I’m not sure how much water would actually make it into the boat. It might be that you wouldn’t need auto bailers or a floor drain, but instead simply a bucket and sponge (which is mandatory gear in any case). This would keep the design even simpler. How many times might you actually become swamped in a Scamp? Almost never in my case. In Howard’s case it could be a daily occurrence. So this depends where one plans to take their Scamp.

    “Storage in the seats is now much more sealed volume…”

    Agreed…maybe I would narrow up the seat longitudinals while maintaining 26″ inside to inside dimension. This would provide excellent width for sleeping. Then I would extend the seat tops by an additional 2″ each side. I’m betting not much water would make it inside this boat if you made these changes along with the changes discussed above.

    “The gunwales 8″ wide…”

    Or at least a place to widen the oarlocks and provide a nice place to sit, much like Howard’s design. If you could also design in a place to store your fenders, it would be even better and add significant floatation out at the outside edge of the boat.

    “Thruhulls at seat top height and lower ones 6-8′ above the waterline to drain the cockpit sole…”

    It seems to me these might actually allow water to come inside the boat when capsized. Have you thought through this scenario? Maybe the one way values prevent this. Do they work? Who makes them? I guess I’m not convinced they would be needed. Maybe this also depends where you plan to sail.

    “Should not be any appreciable volume of water left in a Scamp with a sealed lazzerette, wider seats and reduced width between the seats…”

    Totally agree. That’s why I’m not convinced we need one way drain valves. It would be simpler and cheaper to leave them out if not really needed.

    “If using a yawl rig then maybe even a hinged mast plate for a deck stepped shorter mast could work, with Howard’s ‘running stays’ setup? This would drop into a boom gallows ‘Y’ placed on the transom (removable when sailing) and be the main support beam for a cockpit tent?…”

    This modification is above my pay grade. I’m pretty happy with the single sail concept. Also, the boom gallows is another thing you have to mess with prior to launch. If you can design around it, it’s one less thing to mess with, I know…I had one on my last Scamp. Also, the veranda and stern deck are excellent places from which to secure a tent. The best tent design that I’ve seen is Howard’s. Mine was far too complicated to deploy and store. A 3 hoop design like Howard’s and much like the Hilleberg tent design appears to be the clear winner, at least from what I’ve seen.

    “interesting to see if Dave Robertson over at Gig Harbor boats, or anyone else, takes ‘our mods’ into consideration and produces a Scamp with these features…”

    I think most folks are really happy with the stock design of this boat. It’s only a few freak jobs like myself that actually lay awake wondering about how to change the world or at least the boat. I’m not sure the masses even care about these things. But I care and I’m glad you care…that’s what makes boat building so much fun.

    “added floatation and storage from these ideas should not hurt Scamp’s sailing charm…”

    In fact, I believe these subtle changes improve the design, at least from my limited way of thinking.

  6. Pingback: First the Background – Building Hagoth, a 12' Proper Sailing Vessel

  7. Brent, folks can chuckle at my tardy reply to our 2017 posts above, but I had to deal with major medical issue since then. Ok now, somewhat, so my corrections to my post above your’s……I meant ” 4- 6″ in added with for both seat tops, 2″ each wider, so that one gained more thigh support sitting with their back to the coaming.

    since raising the height of the seats is not in the cards, I suggested to add the footwell to lower the floor, either way relieving cramping in the legs when seated. I dont care to sit sideways on a seat like Scamps I want to sit back in comfort, like on my old m17 cockpit seats, or the Sage Marine seats.

    The one way valves are found in larger nursery or horticultural stores. Not needed like you say if incorporating in a lazzerette and widened seat tops. I agree withe retaing width on the floor for sleeping, but you only need the first coupls of feet back from the veranda overhang because mostly only hips and legs are on the cockpit floor outside of the veranda area in my case.
    Wider gunwales for seating and oarlock strenght or use fenders as you have suggested.
    No boom gallows because it did not work for you. I was considering the suncat type mast rig so as to be able to drop the rig quickly to go under low bridges, and during heasvy weather when anchored, keeping the mast low to avoid lighting which scares the heck out of me.
    Howards low tent looks nice, but for more than one night in bad wdather I prefer the taller tent. His mods are proven and transferable to Scamp 2.0

    Now I have to go on to read about how your new Scamp build went! See you over there! Gene in NJ

  8. Brent,
    Greetings from Scamp #493. Thank you for the blogs as they are extremely helpful to me, a novice builder. Having received the foils kit, I’m considering the use of steel in lieu of lead ballast. Just thinking through the process of laying out identical cavities on each CB half for the steel sheet. BTW, do you have any regrets not installing the 2# rudder ballast in Hagoth?

    I’m curious about your comment on narrowing of bulkhead #4. Assuming that the bulkheads are pre-cut, would that be a special request when ordering the CNC kit or is it standardized?

    Remi from KS

    • Remi,

      Congratulations on your new project. There will be times you will wonder what you got yourself into and others times you feel so grateful you began. Daily movement forward is the answer to accomplishing this build, even if it appears small and insignificant. I’m glad I didn’t add the #2 to the rudder and don’t see the need. I can achieve steerage off a shore without the weight. And, it’s much easier to raise up out of the water.

      Bulkhead #4 is now already narrowed. This change occurred with the Mrk II design. Nothing special required.


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