Hatch Musings

These comments pertain mostly to a Scamp but could be applicable to other designs as well.

Here’s the deal:

Scamp offers a ton of storage, literally.  It is possible to install anywhere from 10-15 hatches in various places on this competent little micro cruiser.

Now for my question:

Since we can install hatches everywhere on Scamp, does this mean we should

Here in resides the problem.  Each and every time you cut a hole in your boat you compromise safety.  You compromise the boats integrity.  Sort of like someone telling little white lies until they get out of control and become a chronic lier, steeler or murder.  Well, that was a bit extreme, but you get the point.  It’s very easy to go Hatch Happy on a Scamp and I believe I’ve been guilty of this heinous crime.

If you think about it, the number one reason for storage compartments isn’t actually storage.  No, the number one reason for storage compartments is buoyancy.  And, if cutting holes jeopardizes buoyancy, why are we doing it?

We’re doing it for storage, dummy!  If we didn’t need storage, we wouldn’t have any holes in our boats.  OK, how much storage do we actually need?  The answer to this question depends on how we plan to use our boat.  And, once we’ve determined how much storage we actually need, let’s agree to just install this number of hatches.  No more, no less.   Now we would have a boat with sufficient amounts of storage for our needs without overly compromising the integrity of the boat with hatch overgrowth.

If I build another Scamp I’ll have a minimal number of storage hatches and probably none in the seats.  Well, almost none in the seats.  I would install 2 hatches in the vertical front face of the seats under the veranda.  At least this is my current level of thinking.

Remember also, that a dry bag secured under the veranda could easily hold a weeks worth of clothing and provisions.

Scamp is a very sea worthy micro cruiser if we don’t scandalize its sea worthiness by going hatch happy.  My confidence level in my own Scamp will be much higher if I minimize hatches and make them water tight.

In summary:

Water can’t get into your buoyancy chambers if you don’t cut a hole and allow access.  This seems overly simple, but might be profoundly true.  Read almost any boating disaster, it probably began with water intrusion.  



Long Steps Anyone?

Those of you on the fence regarding building a Scamp may want to wait, watch and learn about Long Steps.  The boat is a definite contender for those wanting a small capable sailboat like Scamp.  My current position regarding another build is just that…wait, watch and learn.  In the end, I’ll probably build either a Scamp or Long Steps but this is not something I want to rush.  It takes a long time to build a boat and I want my next build to be a long term keeper.  Whereas I’ve already built a Scamp, I’m actually quite enamored with the possibilities of Long Steps.

Here are a few potential disadvantages:  

  1. Weight.  I’ve been told it should come in about the same weight as Scamp, but we’ll need to wait and see.  If it gets much heavier, it may be too heavy to heave up onto a beach or harder to self rescue.
  2. Too complicated.  Trimming mast and mizzen would be new to me and might be overkill for general cruising.
  3. Storage.  At 18, 1/2′ this is not a small boat!  It won’t fit inconspicuously in your garage.  It will take significant room to build and to store.
  4. Build time.  This boat will take significantly longer to build than Scamp and require more patience, money, time and persistence.  I’m a little bit scared about this.  Just being honest.

Here are a few potential advantages:

  1. No need for break-down oars.  It appears full size oars would fit just fine inside the cockpit.  Easier to store, quicker to deploy and mechanically simpler.
  2. Lower center of gravity and lower center of effort by splitting and lowering the sail plane.
  3. Easier to heave to, by sheeting in the mizen.
  4. Easier to balance, by using main and mizzen.
  5. Larger veranda.  Easier to crawl inside to get warm.  This feature could be very important to a cold sailor.
  6. Lazarette already designed into the boat.  More storage and less water holding capacity.   Love this!
  7. More seating positions than Scamp (see John’s notes regarding a bean bag chair).
  8. Footwell already designed into the boat.
  9. Improved rowing characteristics by extending the water line.
  10. Improved rowing ergonomics by lowering the sides of the boat.
  11. Increased stability by increasing the waterline and water ballast capacity.
  12. Appears to have wider seats for improved comfort.
  13. The mast, boom and yards might just fit inside the cockpit/veranda area which would alleviate the need for boom gallows and mast crutch supports when transporting.

When you weigh it all out, there’s a lot to admire about this newly designed boat.  I plan to watch the prototype build and continue considering this as my next build.  Aren’t boats cool?  

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.  


Shackleton has moved on without me!

It comes as bitty sweet that I inform all of you that Shackleton has moved on to a new owner.  Jim Wilson of Portland, OR takes the torch and continues the legacy of Shackleton.  I wish Jim all the best in his adventures with my well loved micro cruiser.

Why did I sell Shackleton?

I am currently building another boat, a Skiff America 20, which I feel better meets my needs as a family man with a wife, 4 kids at home and 2 in college.  I truly enjoyed building and sailing Shackleton and believe she is a fine vessel.  However, I don’t have room for two lovers in my life.  I’m a passionate guy, and only have room for one girl at a time.

I was indeed torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool, love’n both boats was breaking all the rules.

So, Jim takes over as Shackleton’s new captain and I move on to another chapter of my life.

If any of you would like to see my new build, you can check it out at:


Happy sailing to all and I hope to see you out on the water,

Brent Butikofer


Shackleton is for Sale

Fellow sailors and friends,

With the boat building bug having bit me again, I need to create room for my Skiff America 20.  This means that I’ll need to sell my beloved Shackleton.  If you have ever wanted to own a Scamp, this might be your chance.  If you want to build one, I totally get it.  I loved building mine.  If, however, you’re more of a sailor than a builder, you can buy Shackleton and take her to all the remote places you’ve dreamed about.  The decision to sell Shackleton has been a gut wrenching decision for me and one I have struggled with for some time.  I hope Shackleton can be owned by someone that loves her as much as I do.


Here’s the details:

Less than 20 hours total sailing time

Neil Pryde sail
Norhtwest Canvas sail cover
Suzuki 2.5 outboard, new
Ritchie compass
Carnai galvanized trailer
Ancor system
Break down oar system
Custom full cover bimini

I’m into this build well over $15,000 in hard costs

Willing to sell for $12,000

You can contact me through the blog or reach me at:  208-589-1222

Build Blog Complete


Fellow sailors, after completing Shackleton and conducting a few sea trials, I am now moving all future posts to my adventure blog.  It’s a new blog focusing on cycling, sailing, woodworking and all micro adventures in my life, with cool gear review.  It can be found here.

Many thanks to all of you for your comments, friendship and helpful suggestions.  Hope to see you all out on the water.




26 Hours Aboard Shackleton

Having read about many adventures of others around the world, I decided to create my own micro expedition before snow falls, ending my sailing season with Shackleton.  The goal was to accomplish several small tasks I personally had not previously experienced.  I wanted the location to be close and convenient.  This was about learning as opposed to seeing marvels sights.  I chose a small nearby lake 30 minutes from my home.

Micro Expedition Goals:

  1. Sail, motor and oar approximately 6 miles to the far end of Ririe reservoir
  2. Utilize my anchoring system
  3. Cook, read, swim, urinate and sleep all while onboard Shackleton
  4. Neatly organized all gear into their respective places on the boat
  5. Test heater and candle lantern
  6. Test new tent enclosure system
  7. Hang on the anchor overnight (a first for me)
  8. Sail out the second day
  9. Have my wife pick me up at the opposite end of the reservoir

DSC00476Winds were very light to nonexistent all of day one.  I rowed approximately 1 mile and then fired up the jenny (Suzuki 2.5 outboard) and motored smoothly along at approximately 3 knots (just guessing here).

DSC00470 By placing one filler board across the seats near the veranda, I was able to steer Shackleton by simply shifting my weight from Starboard to Port (I locked the motor and tiller arm in a straight forward position).  This was awesome and allowed both hands free to eat lunch and just look around while my little tug boat slowly wound it’s way up and through the channels.  DSC00467The top went up within the first hour.  The shade it provided was a welcome benefit from the heat of the this rare hot October afternoon.  DSC00463Lunch was a California sushi roll from a local supermarket.  DSC00505Once into the cove, I deployed the anchor.  This is the first time I have ever droped an anchor off Shackleton.  A lot to learn here.  After untangling what was suppose to be a straight forward anchoring system, the anchor seemed to set firmly into the muddy bottom of the cove.  In the photo above, note the blue line attached to the main anchoring line by a brass ring.  This allows me to retrieve the anchor line from the cockpit.  It worked beautifully.  DSC00492I’m not the only crazy one in my family.  My dad, after seeing me building the Scamp, chose to build a skiff modeled after the Chesapeake Light Craft Peeler Skiff.  He of course, built from his own plans in his own head.  He was born that way.  Ham ‘n Egger Extraordinaire.  I, on the other hand, needed plans and kit to complete the Scamp.  DSC00486He motored across the reservoir and found me in the secluded cove, tied up along side and boarded Shackleton for a nice afternoon visit.

DSC00500We talked about life and memories.  He reminisced about a few of his High School buddies having recently died.  I told him I loved him, then he was off, motoring back before sun down.

DSC00508I used a new alcohol stove from Flat Cat Gear to prepare my dinner.  I love alcohol stoves and will do a full review of this system at a later date.  The filler board provides the perfect cooking platform.  The footwell (allowing full leg extension) makes it very comfortable while preparing the meal and eating dinner.   DSC00511Actually I only needed to boil water for tonights preparations.  Hot cider herbal tea was my drink of choice. DSC00514The balance of the meal was Italian Sausage, cheese, crackers and an apple. DSC00513As the evening wore on, I watched the shadows grow longer across the cove and felt the temperate begin to drop.  It was time to snap on the tent enclosure and prepare for nightfall.

DSC00519As the evening turned to night, I lay flat on my back and watched the stars spin slowly around the overhead windows as Shackleton gently surfed back and forth on the anchor line.  Without any sign of civilization in sight, I felt somewhat vulnerable in my small craft alone in this distant cove.  The sounds of water lapping up on the side of my boat became amplified in the quiet night.  I even envisioned Navy Seals sneeking up on me, like in Captian Phillips.  I laughed out loud.  Then my mind went to different scenarios like:  What would you do if you were forced to evacuate this little craft?  Could you swim to shore?  What would you do once you got there, without clothing or shoes?  I would probably freeze to death and wouldn’t be able to walk ten steps without bloodying my feet.  I decided then and there, that I would ever-after prepare a small bail out bag containing shoes, clothing, granola bars and a wool blanket.  This bag will reside next to me during future adventures at sea that I could grab in the event of a forced evacuation.  Slipping in and out of consciousness, I had a relatively restless night.  But it was my first night ever alone, secluded and hanging off the anchor in my small boat.  With some additional preparation, I think I could get used to this.

Day two I was awakened to the sound of an oncoming outboard motor.  It was hardly light enough to see, but a small john boat passed fairly close and stopped at the edge of the cove.  Hunters, looking to hunt these back waters for deer.

After two doses of hot cocoa, I weighted anchor and headed for the main bay for some morning sailing.  The wind had picked up and I intended to sail my way back to civilization.  The Scamp is a good sailing vessel and requires little headway to come-about.  It is a graceful little birdie that wants to fly.  After sailing for a couple of hours in 15 mph winds, I dropped the sail and secured the mast, boom and sail for transport home.

What I learned:

  1. Scamp is a competent overnight boat for one or possibly two (if on a honeymoon).
  2. Scamp is a competent small motor cruiser (just keep the outboard as small and light as possible).  I prefer gas as there is no worries about battery levels and the distance I can travel.  It’s easy to take a little more energy with you if you are using gasoline.  I ran what seemed like forever on 1/2 Liter.  I take (2) 1 Liter nalgene bottles of gasoline with me, which seems to be plenty.   Here’s the point, I never worry about the amount of energy gas will deliver, it’s always constant.  Batteries don’t allow this level of peace of mind.  Temperature, partial charges and decreased capacity lay wait to decieve you.  For these reasons, I prefer gas.
  3. Anchoring is easily accomplished off the bow when utilizing a line retrieval system.
  4. Mr. Buddy heater is overkill for this size boat, yet a UCO candle lantern is a bit small.
  5. A back rest for one of the filler boards would provide a nice rest for the lower back.  Mine was definately sore after 26 straight hours aboard Shackleton


It is by doing that we gain experience.  Pick a safe local lake, plan your adventure and go see what you can learn.  I had a great trip and look forward to many more.