Build a Classic Wooden Rowboat
Plans for modified 14-foot Thomson-Malyea
Hand Troller

Set of two 24" x 36" sheets
$45 CDN plus $5 shipping and handling
Add 7% PST in British Columbia.

4676 Whitaker Road, Sechelt, BC,
Email information and orders:

THIS BOAT: IN 1937 Roy Malyea of Gibsons, BC, built himself a salmon-fishing skiff of a type called a "Handliner" or "Hand Troller" and used it for commercial fishing. Will Thomson measured Roy's boat, drew plans, and built two copies in 1964/65. He still uses his to this day. I redrew the plans following Will Thomson's measurements, but with the length increased from 13 to 14 feet. The extra foot of length makes the boat row even better and allows extra seats for carrying passengers and varying the rowing position, including tandem rowing.

HAND-TROLLERS: The Hand Trollers or Handliners are double-ended rowing boats that developed around 1900 or earlier in Alaska and British Columbia. Though similar to the Peapod of the East coast of North America, the Handliners are typically more slender and slightly smaller, with a distinctive and unique hull shape suited to these waters. They fished commercially for salmon under oar power alone through the hard times of the great depression, but were abandoned in the post-WWII economic and technological boom. The Handliners exhibit excellent seaworthiness and good rough-water handling under the control of a single person, easy motion in a seaway, low resistance, and speediness. They make superb recreational rowboats.

CONSTRUCTION METHOD: Versatile nailed-strip construction dates back to the late 1800's, and was used with variations for both large fisherman-built working craft and for the finest sophisticated recreational and racing canoes. The plans specify hollow-&-round-edged planks for a self-aligning joint. Glued seams with hidden nails securely connect all planks to each other, creating a rigid structure with minimal accumulated stress and permanently waterproof joints. Ribs are steamed or boiled to mold permanently to the hull shape.

DURABILITY: Strip-built small boats using our local Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Douglas Fir easily lasted 25 years and more even with the hard use typical of commercial fishing, and will last much longer as pleasure boats. Two handliners strip-built in 1965 by Will Thomson are still being rowed. Will's personal boat was rowed 80 miles in one week from Gibsons to Lund (BC) during the 2005 Handliner Migration Project. Much of this longevity is due to the materials used, but the construction method capitalizes on their qualities to produce a hull that is resistant to damage and neglect.

TOOLS: The minimum of power tools required are: Table-saw, jigsaw, and router. A power drill, skilsaw, thickness planer, disc and belt sanders, and bandsaw will also be found helpful but are not essential. Much work can be done with hand tools.

SKILL LEVEL: Advanced. Builders must be skilled woodworkers, know how to read plans, and have an existing knowledge of general boatbuilding procedures. Plans include dimensioned drawings, hull lines, cross-section, offsets, materials lists, sail plan, oar & spar details, general layout, and some specific comments only - no step-by-step instructions.