John page williams
The following review was written by John Page Williams, Editor-at-large, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. John, senior naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has been a regular contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine for 30 years, specializing in environmental issues, nature, wildlife, fishing and boats. He has been testing new and used boats for the magazine's Time-Tested and New Boat News departments since 1998.
MARCH 2014
 
   
Length overall  15'2"  
Beam  75"         
Draft  Not very much 
Weight   313 lb
Capacity  4
Max Power  15 hp 
Base Price  $2,499

There’s something about a 14- to 16-foot, open, tiller-steered, flat-bottomed open skiff that appeals to many of us water rats. Such a boat is inexpensive to acquire, operate and maintain. Designed well and used appropriately, it’s an over-achiever, just right for exploring rivers and creeks, fishing, crabbing and picnicking.

Skiffs like these aren’t always easy to find today, but Chesapeake Light Craft has a solution: build your own. The company’s 15-foot-2-inch Peeler Skiff is “within reach of a first-time boatbuilder who has a little bit of experience with epoxy and with woodworking.” She can carry up to four adults and gear, runs well with a 10- to 15-hp four-stroke outboard (can you imagine the annual fuel bill?), draws almost no water, planes off easily at speeds of 10 to 15 mph (depending on conditions), launches easily at marginal boat ramps, and tows well behind almost any motor vehicle. On top of all that, she’s head-turning pretty in a classic way, and her sweeping sheerline will keep moderate seas where they belong, if the skipper exercises prudence with the throttle. The Peeler Skiff has gone through extensive field testing, including rigorous flotation certification by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Chesapeake Light Craft specializes in precisely computer-cut kits of high-end marine plywood with “puzzle joints” and slots to fit the parts together. Construction is stitch-and-glue, with a full coating of fiberglass and epoxy resin inside and outside the hull. The glasswork takes some time, but it adds greatly to the strength and longevity of the skiff.

The cost of the full kit for a Peeler Skiff, including all wooden parts, fiberglass cloth, epoxy resin and basic hardware is $2,499 plus shipping. A new outboard will be another $2,000 to 3,000, plus maybe $700 for a galvanized trailer. Chesapeake Light Craft, Annapolis, Md. 410-267-0137; www.clcboats.com.