Wooden Boats--Back to the Basics

The Snipe office receives approximately five calls a week from Snipe sailors who own, are contemplating buying or want information on how to build a wooden Snipe. One of the most recent calls was from a group of current fiberglass Snipe sailors in Florida who want to build a wood Snipe together. Jerry Thompson, Frances Seavy and Carlos Bosch have all restored wooden Snipes.seavy.gif

Snipe Legend Francis Seavy and crew Kevin Guido on the cover of the June 1990 Snipe Bulletin sailing his beautifully restored Snipe number 6995 "Honey" in the 1990 Midwinters in Clearwater, Florida.

Jeff Lenhart can be seen racing a wooden Snipe. The Brazilian and Argentinian sailors still sail wooden Snipes. If you are interested in building a wooden Snipe, plans are available from the Snipe office for $20.00, and Hal Gilreath's 1962 "Building a Plywood Snipe" instruction manual, still a valuable tool, is also available for $20.00. Following is a letter to the editor from a fellow Snipe sailor regarding building a wooden Snipe.

Dear Ms. Biehl:

I offer this bit of information to the SCIRA membership in the event there is interest in building wooden Snipes:

The Wooden Boat School, Box 78, Naskeag Road, Brooklin, Maine, phone (207) 359-4651, for the past 2 or 3 summers has offered a course in building a Snipe.

I was a participant in that course this past August and I give the school, its staff, the course and the instructor the highest marks. The class in which I was enrolled was made up of 10 persons (the class limit), age 16-75 years.

It was a great surprise to me that I was the ONLY person in the class who had ever sailed a Snipe and one of the few who had ever seen one. The other students were there to learn to build a wooden boat, which happened to be a Snipe.

The instructor was Joe Norton, a professional boat builder and restorer from Green Lake, Wisconsin, who sails his own wooden Snipe which he built single-handed with no help from his shop employees. He also builds and sails DN iceboats.

Several years ago I ordered Snipe plans from SCIRA. After considerable study of those plans, I decided that even though I have a lot of woodworking experience, I did not have the boat building knowledge required to execute those plans successfully and I put them back until I felt better about undertaking such a project.

I am happy to report the Snipe that Joe Norton has designed is much simpler to build and, in my opinion, should be an equally strong and stiff boat. It has vacuum-bagged foam core frames and hull beam, solid wood centerboard trunk keelson, keel, sheer and chine strips, 5,8' plywood hull, deck, transom and cockpit, is totally epoxy glued and coated (WEST system), and is self-rescuing. In addition, it's a beautiful boat, minimum weight and measures in, although it has not been checked for minimum MOI.

I believe Joe offers kits consisting of the frames, hull beam, centerboard trunk and lines drawing. He will be teaching the course again next summer at the Wooden Boat School, His phone number is (414) 294-6813.

Enrollment in the class certainly provides a good opportunity to learn to build a "HiTech" wooden Snipe in a beautiful setting. In addition there is sailing everyday after class.

It is my understanding the course schedule for 1994 will be published soon after the first of the year.

Yours truly,
Frank Clevenger
Snipe 20648
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