Important Registration Information - 2024 Registration

New for 2024
Boatbuilding New Off-Site

Build Your Own Chester Yawl

November 4 – November 9
Chesapeake Light Craft, Annapolis, Maryland
$925 (Partner: $450)
Andrew Schroeher
Experience Level
Activity Level

This is a six-day course ending Saturday

Chester Yawl: $2161

Note: Please only register the initial builder and then reach out to the School offices to register any partners that will be joining you.

Boats like the Chester Yawl were used as working craft in 19th-century. Efficiency was critical in these human powered craft, so they evolved easily driven hull shapes. Working watermen weren’t immune to good looks, either, so these “livery boats” were often beautiful. The most famous of the type, the “Whitehall” boats of New England, are still considered a touchstone of small craft elegance. The Chester Yawl is based on the Whitehall and adopts its distinctive plumb bow and “wineglass” transom.

This LapStitch™ design’s long, graceful sweeps of plank achieve a hull shape of striking beauty, glittering performance. At 15’ long, the Chester Yawl is about the right size for easy trailering (or even cartopping), and the payload of 450 pounds means that two or three adults may safely set out for a picnic or even a camping trip. Although 30 inches shorter than our Annapolis Wherry, the Chester Yawl has nearly twice the volume and a lot more freeboard for handling waves. For casual single and tandem rowing, we do not believe there is a better build-your-own-boat kit than the Chester Yawl.

Designer John C. Harris took particular care with the design of the interior. Traditional shin-bruising thwarts were eliminated, opening up the interior for maximum flexibility and sprawling room. This allows the crew to stretch out in a sleeping bag while “camp cruising,” or simply to take a nap alongside a shady riverbank. A moveable seat and footbraces are adapted from the work of L. Francis Herreshoff. Full floorboards, standard in the kit, add even more livability. The open interior allows for easy installation of a sliding seat unit; more on that below.

With 7-1/2-foot oars the Chester Yawl has a lovely glide and can be rowed all day at an easy pace. Designer Harris hoped that builders would contemplate a cruise under oars along hospitable shores, sleeping on the beach in a tent or even aboard, on the 112-inch long floorboards.

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