Once again we look back at the year's most popular kits, plans, and accessories, according to the wood-fired, pot-bellied computers at the old boatbuilding shop.  As usual, some surprises here, and all very interesting. John Harris reflects on the winners and offers a few anecdotes from the front lines.

Top Ten Boat Kits of 2013
Go to Top Ten Plans
Go to Top Ten Accessories
 

2013 was our biggest year ever.  We've done a good bit of hiring and will do some more, still.  This fall saw us running two shifts and enlisting a second CNC machine.  Thank YOU for a great year.  -JCH

1. Kaholo Stand-Up Paddleboards - 12'6" and 14'
For the second year in the row, paddleboards rule.  I'm not too proud to confess that, early on, I suspected that stand-up paddleboards would be a passing fad.  But then I tried it myself and...it was just amazeballs.  Here were speeds like a sea kayak, visibility like a luxury yacht, and a sneakily effective core workout.  And I could do it on the very first try---definitely not the case with surfboards!  No wonder we had to add an extra shift in production to handle Kaholo orders.


Northeaster Dory by Harry Mayer2. Northeaster Dory

I wish I could credit myself with some sort of vision for what's going to be popular.  (I'd have foreseen stand-up paddleboards, for example.)  The Northeaster was my own whim---no market research or focus groups.  I wanted a boat with clean lines and decent payload for winter rowin g, for my own use.  I figured we'd build one and if no one liked it, the boat could live on my dock for cold weather exercise.  Hah!  It's been massively popular, with nearly 500 kits leaving our shop.  We keep fiddling with the kit, shifting a wire hole there, a puzzle joint here, and forever tweaking the manual, and it keeps getting better.  There are thoughts of an 18'7" version sometime in 2014-2015.  Northeaster Dory by Kate White

Wood Duck Hybrids by Tom Willness3. Wood Duck 12 and Wood Duck 12 Hybrid 
Eric Schade and I knocked this design out over a couple of weeks, Eric producing his typically intricate CAD drawings, and me responding with sketches.  It took several prototypes to iron out the surprisingly subtle shaping of the underbody.  Eric's persistence yielded a sublime recreational kayak of such well-rounded good nature that I cannot think of anything I'd ever improve.  Evidently, you like the Wood Ducks, too.

4. Eastport Pram 
One of those quiet little designs that just does its business without fuss or pretension.  Easy to build, and it got easier in 2010 when the kit was upgraded to include pre-drilled wire holes and other handy tweaks.  When my family goes on vacation, I take an Eastport Pram because I can launch it solo and sail it in any conditions.



CLC Cradle Pram5. CLC Cradle Boat 
When my twin niece and nephew were born, I did what any self-respecting boatbuilder should do:  I set about building them a cradle boat.  They're seven now, and the cradle boat I started for them is still gathering dust in the attic over my office here at CLC. I had set out to build something complex, from scratch, so it never got finished.  This set me to thinking, and the CLC Cradle Boat kit was the result.  Quick and easy to assemble, it's what I wish I'd had for the twins.  They never got their cradle boat, but hundreds of you have.  It's a hugely popular Christmas gift, evidently.  

Chester Yawl by Dave Elliott
6. Chester Yawl 
My favorite personal design.  With a huge amount of sculptural hull shape for a stitch-and-glue boat, the Chester Yawl never looks home-built.  We've initiated the first big upgrade to the kit since 2004, with the first updated models going out last Fall.
 
7. Annapolis Wherry 

Never off the Top Ten since its launch in 1998.  I'm glad I get in a good bit of Annapolis Wherry rowing every year.  It's a magic carpet ride, fast enough to send air rushing past your ears on a still night, stable enough to contemplate chop without apprehension.

Annapolis Wherry by Bill Patton

Cocktail Class Racer8. Cocktail Class Racer 
This is a kit I actually said "no" to, several times, but I finally gave in when friends down at the Farr Yacht Design office offered to help with the conversion from 1930's-style construction to modern stitch-and-glue.  My nose stayed firmly in the air over the thought of a powerboat soiling the purity of our paddling-rowing-sailing lineup.  Then I took my turn at the wheel of this little fun-machine, and all snobbery evaporated.  Helping to propel the Cocktail Class Racer onto the Top Ten is the tendency of groups to build them in fleets.

9. Skerry 
SkerryOne of the rare smallcraft to achieve a near perfect 50-50 balance of rowing and sailing.  It's hard to say which it does better.  It's amazing how much fun you can have with seven 15-foot long planks, stitched and glued together over a couple of weeks.


Eastport Nesting Pram by Michael Kelliher10. Eastport Nesting Pram 

It took me a long time to sort out how to slice and dice the stock Eastport Pram so that it stows in a smaller place, but the result has been a success.  I figured that nearly all builders would be using these aboard small yachts, as tenders, but lots of people build them just because they pack away in a tiny space in the garage or garden shed.


 



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