Skerry - debugging advice

The Skerry is a good boat but there is a big learning curve that you should know before you sail it for the first time.



1.     The rubber will pop out.  This happened a couple of times and almost got us in trouble.  Current solution is to secure it in place with an electrical cable tie, which I cut off when I land the boat. Drilling it and pinning it would be the best solution.

2.     The center board floats up.  I considered adding weight to it, but didn’t want the look.  Currently I run a bungee to the forward oar lock to provide friction or see #6.  

3.     The boat does not sail well with one person in the back.  It will easily broach with the front-end half out of the water.  I can move forward but it is uncomfortable.  Some recommend sandbags in front – another ugly solution.  

4.     #2 and #3 make it a boat better sailed with two people. 

5.     The company suggests various ways to attach the tiller to the rudder extension and provides nuts for the rudder pivot.  Everthing came undone in my early sails.  Big mess.  I am now using clovis pins in both places – you get easy motion without ever worrying about anything coming loose.  This is one issue that I have solved.

6.     Not a criticism but advice.  I live on a lee-shore with a very shallow gradient. With the centerboard out completely it is crazy hard to control in any wind – even on the nose.  Having a passenger allows them to lower the board as the water depth increases and their weight allows for good control of the boat. (Granted I could do it myself, but then when I jump in, I lose control of the board for a time and it is better to be at the end of the boat than amidships.) I bought this boat because it can be rowed off the lee-shore for a sail.  This works and is a good idea if you have a similar situation.


Took me a couple of years to figure all this out, hope you benefit from the info.






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RE: Skerry - debugging advice


This is a picture of my dagger board with a lead weight cast into it.


This is a picture of the painted dagger board:


Rudder hold down solution:


Universal joint to attach tiller to ruder:   

RE: Skerry - debugging advice

Yes it can be an 'adventure' learning how to manage a new sail craft....

As for those links? Those're useful products (had the little stainless L-tab on a 14' stripper scow I built 48 years ago) while the one that should have led us to a pic of the cast-in lead weight in daggerboard's a dupe of the hold-down's.

(Easy to do that I know, impossible to go back & correct once posted for lack of an edit button here.)


RE: Skerry - debugging advice

Sorry about the bad link.  Here is the correct link.

This is a picture of my dagger board with a lead weight cast into it.

RE: Skerry - debugging advice


Windfinder, the Skerry is a helluva wonderful boat.  Once the problems are worked out, as you seem to have done so, sailing the Skerry is a dream.  Here's my experiences below, fwiw, in dealing with the issues you raised in your post.

1) Either a simple rudder stop for sale on places like Duckwork's or a simple L shaped bracked from a hardware store, or, wrapping a layer or two of duct tape around the pintles to give them some friction while they're inside the gudgeons - I do the latter and the rudder has never popped out.

2) Thread a small length of bungy cord through the handle.  Attach each clip of the bungy cord to the aft edge of the center seat.  If not enough tension on bungy cord, wrap it through the handle twice.  That will keep your centerboard from popping up.

3)  My experience with the Skerry is that some kind of ballast is strongly recommended up front (unless you like yourself and your gear to get wet).  I only sail the Skerry singlehanded, so I've got 140 lbs ballast in the rear.  For up front, I made a couple of compartments under the center seat in which I put two removeable 10 lb dumbbells.  I made a channel, from the centerseat forward to the mast step, out of 2 x 4's, in which I place two 15 lb dumbbells, placed end to end.  The channel is just wide enough to fit a dumbbell.  That all gives me 50 lbs extra ballast, not include the 20 something inch long 2 x 4s.  The Skerry rows and sails fine with the 50 lbs ballast, and leans left or right quite securely without nearly as much concern as I had previously of shipping water over the gunwales.  

4)  Honestly, putting a 2nd person into the boat, although doable, makes me uncomfortable.  I've got both the downhaul and the main halyard, for my balanced lug rig, running down through holes in the front decks, down into two blocks just below the front deck aft lip, and then from there back to cleats on each side of the boat.  This allows me to control raising and lowering the rig, and reefing, all from sitting on the aft part of the bottom with back against the aft deck forelip.   Rarely do I have to go forward of the middle seat.  Any passenger sitting on the middle seat or forward would at some point get tripped up, I think, by the halyard and downhaul lines.  I've contemplated having crew sit on the foredeck with legs wrapped around the mast, but I'm not sure if that'd work or not.  

6)  I've yet to raise sail on shore and then sail out, though I'm itching to try it one of these days!  For now, I raise sail in the parking lot, with the boat on the trailer, to do any reefing ahead of time, and to get the downhaul and mainsheet pre-rigged.  Then I lower sail into the port side of cockpit.   I launch with centerboard lying in the front compartment, and rudder is up.  I row out to where I'm a good distance from shore, docks, and other boats.  Then lower rudder.   Put bow is into wind.  Drop centerboard in, secure with bungy around handle.   Sitting in rear compartment, pull on main halyard, and full raise sail.  Wrap halyard around cleat on gunwale above center seat.  Undo downhaul from cleat (opposite the halyard cleat), tighten with much force, recleat downhaul.  Sail away into blissdom.  Remind self you have the prettiest boat on lake.  Wave and say thank you to other boaters who are saying "Nice boat!"  Nod your head yes when they ask, "Did you build her?"

7)  Toughest part is when raising the sail.  With moderate winds blowing, biggest risk is the sail wrapping itself around the mast, as you raise the sail and wrap halyard around cleat, with aft end of sail pointing forward, or coming all the way around, such that the halyard has then wrapped itself around the mast.  Only workable solution to fix that problem I've yet to use is to lower the whole sail back into cockpit, disconnect the halyard and the downhaul from the boom blocks, and rotate the entire sail, boom and yard, back the other way around the mast, reconnect halyard and downhaul to boom blocks, and try, try, again (raising sail).   During such time, you will likely not receive "pretty boat" compliments.  


RE: Skerry - debugging advice

Good post daniel b, particularly the bit about adding ballast when you're soloing. I'm beginning to believe that these CLC kits are intended for that; either to be loaded with gear, a friend to take with to enjoy the experience, or as simply 'ballast' in the true sense of the word: mass to bring the hull to its designed LWL.

Otherwise one risks a poorly trimmed hull, maybe even a capsize if you're not fast enough lettint the mainsheet run.

I like your punch list for launching too! Will use that as a guide once my Waterlust's rigged & ready! It's fortunate to have a mizzen as part of one of the two rigging options so when setting the main she ought not be as skittish keeping her bow to windward as with one sail alone....

RE: Skerry - debugging advice

   Thanks for the kind words.

Looking forward to reports on launch of your Wanderfust!

RE: Skerry - debugging advice

Without trying to be insulting, 140 lbs of ballast is crippling the boat to substitute for skill and experience. In the hands of a skilled sailor the Skerry can handle a good amount of wind completely umballasted. Here, for example, are some pictures from the Skerry gallery showing John C. Harris playing out on the Chesapeake Bay in 20+ knot winds, solo and unballasted. He's sitting in the center of the boat, leaning (not hiking) out as necessary. The boat is unballasted and the sail is not reefed.

This picture shows French Skerry sailors, also unballasted and unreefed. And just as John was doing, one of the Skerries is heeled until the gunnel is almost in the water, yet it's staying dry.

Again, I'm not trying to be insulting here. It's a common phase of getting used to a new boat. I've had the same hesitation myself. As you get used to the boat you'll learn more about how it reacts and get more comfortable in rougher conditions. One of the things that makes Skerry sailing so much fun is its responsiveness, Don't overburden the poor thing with excess ballast.


RE: Skerry - debugging advice

As a Skerry owner with a bad back I'll also say the conditions and manner of sailing that Laszlo highlights is also the most comfortable way to sail this boat (for me at least).  Solo, off the seat, feet braced against one side while leaning against the other - that's a good day in a Skerry.

My boat

RE: Skerry - debugging advice

   Not taken as insulting at all.  Am honored for the reply.  And critiqueing is the only way to move forward.  Plus, I'll be the first to admit I'm no experienced sailor.

  A few notes in response to your kind and useful words and excellent pictures:

- I check in at about 140 lbs.  Not sure, but I'd guess John to be 180 or over.

- The ballast I've employed is not 140 lbs, if that's what you calculated.  Recently I've used 2 10 lb'ers, and 2 15 lb'ers, for a total extra ballast of 50 lbs.  That would put the total maximum boat ballast, including self, at about 190, 10 lbs beyond John's theoretical 180.    

- I've watched some of the French Skerry videos. In a few, I've seen them use water ballast jugs up by the mast seat.

- This is just a personal preference, but I like a dry boat, even if it's only a Skerry.  I don't like water sloshing around, as I like to sit on the floor, and don't always take along waterproof pants.  Even if I do, though, water in the boat for me just gets other things wet that I really prefer being dry.  If some ballast is going to prevent that, not a problem for me.  

- With 50 lbs extra ballast, I noticed no diminishment in rowing speed.  Got my usual 3 to 4 mph easily.  Noticed no diminishment in sailing speed, or acceleration.  The Skerry is fast, and responds quickly.  With 5 to 15 wind, got into the 4 and 5 mph range easily.  Tacked easily.  Sailing was more enjoyable.  Less worry about a flaky wind gust dipping the gunwale, and there are lots of those flakies where I sail.

- The Skerry is a keelboat. Keelboats use ballast.  A 750 lb Montgomery 15 has 250 lbs ballast, e.g.  Without auxiliary ballast, my 100 lb Skerry has 5 lbs ballast, in the centerboard.  I'm not looking to have a Sunfish experience.  And again, I'll submit John already has about 40 lbs built in ballast (no offense John! but I think you're a bit taller than me), that I don't bring to the boat.  So to add 20, 30, or 50 lbs ballast seems like a reasonable idea to me, for me.  And with the dumbbells (held securely in place by mods) the amount of ballast can easily be varied, in gradations from 0 to 50. 

Thanks again for the thoughtful words and pictures! Talking "Skerry" is always fun, agreements or disagreements.  Still fun.  Cheers

RE: Skerry - debugging advice

My fault, Daniel. I misinterpreted your "so I've got 140 lbs ballast in the rear" statement to mean that you literally had 140 lbs of ballast in  the boat. I didn't realize that you were referring to yourself. The ballast you actually meant is perfectly reasonable, especially with your weight. Sorry about the confusion.

The other thing we are in total agreement about is just what a nice boat the Skerry is. I had the opportunity to sail the prototype before it went into production when CLC brought it to Okoumefest back at the first Camp Letts event and it was fun, even with the lower boomless sprit rig, Unfortunately, I was already in the process of building another dinghy, so I didn't get the kit, but I did buy the plans for a rainy day.

Have fun,



RE: Skerry - debugging advice

Laszlo, I think even you (we all hold your boatbuilding abilities in high regard) might need at least a couple of rainy days to bring your Skerry vision to fruition, but I get your point.  <;-)  As a lifelong member of the One of These Days Club, I have purchased many things over the years because I might want to act on them "one of these days", just in case one of those days should come around only to find that the thing would no longer be available.  Once in a while, it actually works out!  I hope your One of These Days Skerry does, too.


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