Sharpie 15 — Mississippi Yawl River Skiff

L.O.A.—15’ 1½”

Beam—4’ 8”

Draft—5 ¼”

Sail Area—51 sq ft


This unusual craft is halfway between dory and skiff.  This model, which I modified slightly from the original type, will be surprisingly weatherly and seaworthy as well as capable of carrying heavy loads.  The easily driven hulls rowed extremely easily and rapidly, and needed no more sail than shown.  The craft may seem a little tender compared to the beamier sharpie skiffs, but the narrow bottom which causes this is responsible also for the craft’s speed and seaworthiness.  Chapelle states “This boat was in use as early as 1845 and appears to have been developed in its present form as a river steamer’s service and lifeboat.  This led to the development of a wide stern, to permit carrying heavy line ashore without depressing the stern so much that the boat would be in a dangerous or unhandy trim.  This was accomplished by twisting the side plank sharply, as the stern is approached, so that here the boat is quite wide at gunwale, but narrow on the bottom.”  [American Small Sailing Craft]

An interesting feature is the gunwale and inwale angle, which was maintained at right angles to the hull sides right back to the transom, accounting for the angular and handsome transom shape. 

This boat will make an excellent work boat, fisherman, and yacht tender.  Those of you who have rowed out large anchors and chain in the stern of a tender (especially in an emergency) will love this boat! She will also make an excellent camp boat, having the ability to carry a lot of weight and remain easily driven.

This vessel was steered with an oar.  If you prefer to have a rudder and tiller, make one like that shown for the Maryland Crabbing Skiff, or Eastern Shore Stick-up skiff.  My inspirations were Figs. 34 & 35, from American Small Sailing Craft.