Sharpie Schooner

By definition, the Sharpie is a flat bottomed boat which is over 20 feet in length (flat bottom boats under this length are usually referred to as skiffs.) Sharpie hulls may be double-ended (the stern comes to a point, much like the bow), round-ended (makes it easier to operate hand tongs), or square-ended. The Sharpie was developed in the U.S. during the 19th century as a replacement for the log canoe. Their trademark flat bottom hulls were commonly rigged with one or two masts carrying triangular (log-of-mutton) sails. Larger Sharpies carried gaff schooner, ketch, and yawl rigs. Their reputation for speed and handiness is legendary. Sharpie Underway

The model shown here was built by George Surgent in 1998. Since no plans existed, he made a small profile sketch from which he scaled the sail plan. Being a long time sharpie fan and an admirer of old time "rule of thumb" building techniques used by the builders of full size Sharpies, George decided to "fly by the seat of my pants" with this model. Most of his guidance and inspiration came from an article by Michael B. Alford Sharpies In The Carolinas (Wooden Boat Magazine #137) which includes lots of nice photos and a lines drawing by Howard Chapelle of a 44 foot Sharpie Schooner.

Sharpie Underway The Sharpie model was constructed using 1/8" Western Red Cedar for the sides and deck, and 5/32" WRC for the bottom, while the rails and cabin trim were done with White Oak. The masts were fabricated from fiberglass fishing polls and all other spars were made from Spruce. Most Sharpies are fitted with center boards, although a few have keels with external ballast, particularly the larger yacht types. The model pictured here carries 5lbs of lead on an external fin keel. The model rudder has also been enlarged for better control in scale wind conditions. The Sharpie model is controlled by a 2-channel radio, using a Futaba Sail Control Servo S3801 and a Futaba Servo S3003 for the rudder.

Like her full sized sisters, the Sharpie model has shown good speed and great acceleration, although a little tricky in strong winds. All in all she has proven to be a fun and competitive boat. In general, flat bottom Sharpie construction is simple and builds quick which make them good first time projects. For more information on Sharpies and plans see The Sharpie Book by R. B. Parker, American Small Sailing Craft and American Sailing Craft, both written by Howard Chapelle.

Sharpie & George