Melonseed Skiffs


Dave Toner's American
Photos: © John Kohnen

Mouse over for stern view

Barry Long's AEON (mouse over to see CAESURA)
Click here to view Marginalia, building a pair of 19th century gunning skiffs.

Melonseeds
Mike Wick

Ever since I moved to this area, twentysome years ago, I have been fascinated by the melonseed. My buddy, John, has one that is very light and fast. I was amazed how well it sailed, even in rough water. First thing I did was write to the Smithsonian for the Chapelle plans and imagine building my own version. It’s interesting that Chapelle says that it developed from the South Jersey Beach Skiff, only a little wider and flatter, with its tuckup keelson and the skeg added on. But it seems very modern and almost perfect for the way we use boats these days. Because it was developed for duckhunters and made to be dragged, paddled and portaged, the melonseed is easy to store at home, trailer, launch, and rig. I keep mine on a dolly at a local lake, and I use it often. Kind of like a wooden Laser. It takes only a matter of moments to get her ready for sailing. Melonseeds make a good choice for sailors who don’t go after ducks. They still want to explore the same waters and at least watch the ducks. At the same time, melonseeds are seaworthy with their fine entrance and sleek low hull; Adequate beam and form stability makes them stable and secure even in strong winds. I have cruised all over the area and have always felt secure. It may seem a paradox, but when the wind is gusty, I raise the daggerboard. That way, when a gust hits, the boat doesn’t heel over but skates to leeward, and I stay upright and dry.

And they are beautiful, not the saucer shape of a sneakbox. I spend lots of my building time just looking at my new boat from all different angles. That is very important to keep in mind as you spend your time building your boat. It is going to be “Yar”. That makes the building time worthwhile.

They are seaworthy with their fine entrance and sleek low hull. They are wider than other early hunting boats and have good form stability. I never have any thought of capsize; But rafted up to a catboat of the same length, the melonseed has only half the freeboard. This means that the sailor must expect to get wet in the afternoon Chesapeake slop where shallow water makes small but frequent waves. Once I am in deeper water, when the swells lengthen, I find the spray problem disappears, and I stay dryer. One trick is to find get a gullible crew to sit forward and keep some of the spray from the skipper. But, it is only spray. There is never danger of swamping. They aren’t ever that wet, and a few minutes of pumping empty the bilge .

It is the hunting origins that give melonseeds many of their peculiarities. The after deck is large to carry duck decoys, and it has toerails to tie them to. The boats are low to sneak up on the hunter’s prey. They have a high camber deck so the hunter can lie in the cockpit and conceal himself, and the deck keeps the boat from swamping. The simple, unstayed rig is quick to stow inside. The simitar daggerboard and the barndoor rudder allow for control even in the shallowest water. While sailing in Chincoteague Bay, I was zipping in and out of the shallow bays, Winter’s Quarters and Pope’s Bay on the western edge of Assateague Island, and a canoeist complained to me that I was sailing in places he couldn’t even paddle his canoe.

A survey of the other ‘seeds in this site shows that there are many modern techniques that can be applied to building these fine boats, stitch and glue, glued lap, strip plank, cold-molded, and traditional. Cedar or plywood planks make melonseeds a good choice for builders. I wish I had the time and the space to try them all, and keep them all. But my garage is full.

Reducks-Chapelle/ Smithsonian plans
Photo: Andy Slavinskas
John Guideras' w/extra strake
Photo: Andy Slavinskas
Gary Holmes' Bat-Wing Seed (Chapelle)
Photo: Andy Slavinskas
 
Crawford Melonseeds
Photo: Barry Long

Melonseeds
Send any additions or corrections to Info@TraditionalSmallCraft.com
Boat Name
Builder
Owner
Design(er)
Remarks
Status
Carl Weissinger
Mike Wick
John Brady 16'
Strip Planked
Actively sailed NJ
Candide
Marc Barto 13'
Strip Planked
Barry Long
Barry Long
Chapelle/Barto 13.8'
Strip Planked
Launched 2011
Marc Barto 13'
Glued Lapstrake
TOT YOT
Marc Barto 13'
Glued Lapstrake
Sailing in Texas
Mallard
Marc Barto 16'
Glued Lapstrake
Sailed in the UK
Steve Brookman
Steve Brookman
Barto/Brady 16'
Glued Lapstrake
Model
Mike Wick
Mike Wick
Roger Allen/Cortez
Cold Molded
Launched 2011
Laylah
Roger Allen/Cortez
Strip Planked
Reducks
Carl Weissinger
Carl Weissinger
Chapelle
Strip Planked
Chapelle
Strip Planked
Passion
Rex & Kathie Payne
Barto 16'
Strip Planked-Cedar
Jazz
Rex & Kathie Payne
Don & Sheila Traut
Chapelle 13.5'
Glued Lapstrake
Cincinnati, OH
Selkie
Scott Brumenschenkel
Scott Brumenschenkel
Barto
Strip Planked
New England
 
James Farrelly
James Farrelly
Barto
Glued Lapstrake
 
 
Phil Maynard
Chris Bickford
Chapelle 13.5'
Stitch & Glue
Jamaica Bay, NY
Babs
Rex & Kathie Payne
Rick Schramm
Chapelle 13.5'
Strip Planked-Sapelle
Madison, Wisconsin
Stray Wren
Bob Arant
Bob Arant
Barto 13'
Strip Planked
Nebraska
 
Mike Borrett
Mike Borrett
Chapelle 13.5'
Strip Planked
Oregon, W
 
Michael Bogoger
Michael Bogoger
Modifed Chapelle?
Glued Lapstrake
Keel version!
Mre Angharad
Sedge Island Skiffs
Evan Rudderow
Kerr/Barto/Chapelle 13.5'
Cold Molded
Actively Sailed NJ
Proud Mary II
Richard Honan
Richard Honan
Barto 16'
Strip Planked
Massachusetts
Steve Brookman
Steve Brookman
Barto 16'/Brady rig
Glued Lapstrake
Tewksbury, NJ
Melonseeds currently under construction
 
 
 
 
 
 
Don Kerr
Don Kerr
Modified Barto 16'
Strip Planked Cedar
 
 
Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson
Modified Barto 13'
Strip Planked
Massachusetts
 
Doug Sharp
Doug Sharp
Modified Barto 13'
Strip Planked
Massachusetts
 
Mike Miedlar
Mike Miedlar
Modifed Chapelle 13.5'
Skin on Frame
 
 
Kevin Lott
Kevin Lott
Cortez 15.5'
Strip Planked
Waleska, Ga
 
Tim Crawford
Tim Crawford
Barto 16'
Strip Planked
Longmont, CO

Doryman's Melonseed Flickr site

 

 


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