Laughing Gull

Product Image Description

Product Specifics Section

Length over all: 12’ 9”
Waterline Length:11’ 5”
Beam:4’ 3”
Draft, board up:0’ 8”
Draft, board down:2’ 6”
Weight 225 lbs

Sail area measurements:
Gunter rig: 95 sq feet
Lugsail rig: 83 sq feet
Sprit rig: 82 sq feet

Product Info

Product Info

I designed the Laughing Gull for my twelve year old son Jack, who loves to sail with his great friend Patrick. When these two adventurers put to sea, they are looking for excitement. They wanted a boat that would be exhilarating to sail in a good breeze; I wanted a boat that would be forgiving of the exuberance of young sailors. From the start, I knew that she should be self-bailing. With a large flotation compartment in the bottom, and large freeing ports in the transom, any water that might come aboard if they pushed her a bit too hard, would immediately be dumped back where it belonged, without the bother of bailing. She would be practically impossible to swamp, and I could be confident that she would take care of her crew. Children love to row, when the wind drops (so do I); the boat would have to move along well under oars or a small outboard motor. She would also have to be simple enough for an inexperienced woodworker to build, and, of course, she would have to look right.

I sketched a flat-bottom skiff with lapstrake sides, just under 16 foot long. I made a one-fourth scale model, and while playing with the drawings, thought about construction. Finally I settled on a variation of the method I used for the Jiffy skiffs, which are designed around a large watertight compartment in the bottom. Lapstrake planks for the topsides would need to be held in place during construction - I added a set of frames to take care of this. These have the additional benefit of stiffening the hull against the stresses of beating to windward in a strong breeze, with a crew of robust youngsters hiking out on the rail.

For the prototype I chose a simple, unstayed cat rig with fully battened sail. Such a simple rig is very quick to set up, and easy to handle by the novice sailor. The plans show two additional rigs; one with a gunter mainsail and jib, for more sail area and very exciting performance, and a sprit rig for the traditionally-minded.

Sea trials showed that the Laughing Gull would do all that was asked of her. . She is well balanced, standing up well to her rig in a breeze, with a light, positive helm. She goes to windward nicely, and planes readily downwind. She slips along easily under oars. At 225 pounds (102 kg) weight unrigged, she has a reassuringly solid feel in the water, while being light enough to launch and retrieve easily from a low trailer. As I hope the photographs will let you see, she certainly looks the part.


The plans include full size patterns printed on Mylar, ten 24" x 36" prints showing scale construction drawings, full size details, sail and spar plans, and other details. Included is a building manual - my most detailed and comprehensive yet, with over 100 pages and 140-odd drawings and photographs. It takes you step by step through the whole building process, from laying out the first parts with the full size patterns, to making masts and other spars. There is a complete listing of all the materials you will need, tools, and sources for obtaining marine plywood and hardware. There are also sections on keeping your tools sharp, dealing with problems during building, rigging your boat, sailing, and maintenance. A glossary explains any terms that may not be clear from the text or drawings.


The two hour video/DVD takes you in detail through the whole building process, and ends with some exciting footage of the boat under sail. A great resource for those who need a little extra guidance.


You will need a basic set of common hand woodworking tools to build the Laughing Gull. These include, besides measuring tools, a few chisels, a plane, hand saw, drill, and jig saw. Some of your lumber will have to be ripped (cut lengthwise) to size. The best tool for this is a table saw (a small, bench-top model will handle it), although it can be done with a circular saw. If you don't have your own table saw, but have access to one, or if the lumber yard will do the ripping for you, the cutting schedule in the building manual should help you get it done ahead of time in an hour or so.

The Laughing Gull requires six sheets of 6mm (1/4") marine plywood (okoume, meranti or sapele are suitable), some lumber, which will be available locally in most places, and epoxy resin. Epoxy kits are available (see below). You should be able to launch a Laughing Gull for $800 - $1,000 or so, excluding sails and rigging, which will add $500 - $1,000.

Building times vary hugely from one builder to another, but for most the Laughing Gull should be a manageable winter's project.

To view detailed boat plans description and spec pages, select a link below
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