The Chester Yawl traces its lineage beyond the ‘Whitehall’ livery boats of 19th century New York to British working craft.
Boats like the Chester Yawl were used as working craft in 19th-century. Efficiency was critical in these human powered craft, so they evolved easily driven hull shapes. Working watermen weren't immune to good looks, either, so these ‘livery boats’ were often beautiful. The most famous of the type, the ‘Whitehall’ boats of New England, are still considered a touchstone of small craft elegance. The Chester Yawl is based on the Whitehall and adopts its distinctive plumb bow and ‘wineglass’ transom.
This LapStitch™ design's long, graceful sweeps of plank achieve a hull shape of striking beauty, glittering performance, and the ability to carry a load easily. At 15′ long, the Chester Yawl is about the right size for easy towing behind a car (or even on the roof rack), and the payload of 450 pounds means that two or three adults may safely set out for a picnic or even a camping trip. Although 30 inches shorter than our Wherry, the Chester Yawl has nearly twice the volume and a lot more freeboard for handling waves. For casual single and tandem rowing, we do not believe there is a better build-your-own-boat kit than the Chester Yawl. With 7½-foot oars the Chester Yawl has a lovely glide and can be rowed all day at an easy pace.
The interior is innovative. Traditional shin-bruising thwarts are absent, opening up the interior for maximum flexibility and sprawling room. This allows the crew to stretch out in a sleeping bag while ‘camp cruising’, or simply to nap alongside a shady riverbank. Full floorboards, standard in the kit, add even more liveability.
Construction is straightforward, within the reach of anyone with a little woodworking experience. You'll spend around 120 hours, less than a strip-planked kayak.
The kit includes:
The term ‘Yawl’, by the way, doesn't refer to a sailing rig but to an older definition of a small craft carried aboard a large vessel to carry the captain ashore on errands.
What is in a boat kit.
Second rowing station
The second rowing station kit includes the pre-cut wooden parts to make a second seat and foot brace for tandem rowing. Some epoxy and fillers will be needed to make the seat and footbrace: enough is included in the complete boat kit to also make this second rowing station during the build.
The second rowing station does not include rowlocks and side sockets. Silicon bronze rowlocks will match the pair included in the Chester Yawl kit.
Broken inwales option
Broken inwales add elegance to any boat by mimicking the ends of the ribs in traditional frame-built boats. This option includes everything you need to install broken inwales in the Chester Yawl:
- Pre-cut breasthook and quarter-knees
- Rowlock riser blocks
- Spacer block material
Some trimming and fitting will be necessary. Broken inwales take longer to install because each block has to be carefully positioned and glued in place. Sanding and varnishing are also made more complex. We recommend reading the installation instructions before deciding to install broken inwales.
This is intended for pre-build study or to help with the decision to purchase. Reading this manual will help you decide whether or not you can build the boat. It is the manual that accompanies the kits. It describes all the techniques that will be used during the building and also a step by step guide to construction. Scale drawings are used throughout as well as photographs of critical jobs.
If, later, you decide to purchase the kit the cost of this printed manual will be deducted from the kit price.
This manual does not contain the plans of the panels with the cutting instructions so it is not possible to build the boat from scratch using only this manual.
PDF study plans
These study plans are intended to give you an overview of the construction of the boat. They are in PDF format that can be viewed using Adobe Reader. There are two pages and they measure 279 × 216 mm (11″ × 8½″). They can be printed for carrying around.
After credit card authorisation the plans will be sent to the email address put on the order form.
When you have studied the plans, your next step might be to order the printed instruction manual, which will walk you through the project step-by-step.