There comes a time...

...when one feels the need to alter course. Russell and I started PT Watercraft in 2009, to create an outlet to share Russell’s vision for a really good nesting dinghy. Since then, he has built 8 boats to define the build process, take the right photos and to update the manuals. A major revision of the PT11 and Spear manuals has only just been completed. He has also built parts for approximately 175 kits, including 130 for the PT 11 nesting dinghy.

By Intention, our business model has been a small and custom operation. We are more creative in nature than business minded, so expanding to include employees and larger production has not attracted us. Instead, we have farmed out many aspects of our production to the abundant local talent found in Port Townsend.
The level of detail and care put into each kit has earned us a reputation that we are proud of: that our kits take the kit concept to a higher level than others, at a price, but at excellent value for the money. Unfortunately, this is also a business model that is difficult to sell. Yes, when we started, we thought we’d create the business and eventually sell it.

What we find is that with open ended shipping dates, we never seem to get ahead of stocking parts and getting kits out the door. There are no gaps between for writing books that we have promised our book customers, nor to develop new ideas. By re-organizing our shipping schedules, we hope to reserve time for these creative endeavors. This might mean fewer kits produced but our level of quality and service would remain high.

What are the actual changes at PT Watercraft?

We have had to raise our prices. This was a really hard decision for us. In an effort to keep our prices in some sort of league with similar sized boats, we have never paid ourselves very well for the labor intensive product we produce and materials and shipping costs just keep going up. On the other hand, we are not willing to ship a lesser quality product.

Because most of our kits are sold in Fall and Spring, we are considering to restrict shipments to specific time frames within those seasons. Deposits accumulated in Summer and Winter will largely dictate the number of kits we ship.

We are suspending all exports. Exporting has always cost us more with extra paperwork and materials (heavy duty crates, for example). Customers abroad pay increasingly more for shipping and import duties. It just does not feel right and we sincerely apologize to those outside of the US who were hoping to get a PT 11 kit. Canadians can make a road trip of it or we can ship to bonded shippers on our side of the border.

What is NOT changing?

Our customers are really important to us. We are here for you and will continue to work through this transition. We are dedicated to good service and creating the nicest kits we possibly can.
Please follow our blog as we trial new arrangements. Our home page now has a clear explanation of what makes our kits special. Further details are continued on the PT 11 homepage. The website may appear a bit haphazard for a while. I am shuffling things around and trying to simplify it all.
Thank you for your patience and support.

Ashlyn & Russell Brown
March 1, 2019

 

As per our new homepage: the full text: by Russell Brown

Understanding the PT 11 nesting dinghy
There are many nesting dinghy kits available, but our PT 11 dinghy kit is a bit different.
Because our kits are quite expensive, we would like to offer some explanation. We would also like to make sure that our kit’s are an appropriate choice for anyone thinking of building one.
We are long-time designers and builders of high-performance sail boats. Nesting dinghies have been a passion for more than 40 years, during which time our study of the compromises and possibilities have been a bit of an obsession. Many prototypes have led to the kits that we now offer.
Could we have created a simpler and more affordable boat? Of course we could have, but it wouldn’t have the qualities that make the PT 11 such a great boat.
What features make this boat special?
The ability to assemble and disassemble the boat in seconds, in the water or out of the water. The unmatched strength of the assembled boat, a challenge in nesting dinghy design.
The rowing performance of our boats is quite amazing. One was used in a 70 mile endurance race last year, finishing in the top third of a 120 boat fleet in under 20 hours, surprising for an 11 foot dinghy. An outboard motor is quite unnecessary when using the boat as a tender.
The sailing performance is very good. The stock foils (machined daggerboard and kick-up rudder) help the boat sail upwind like a 12 meter. The rig is the lightest and easiest to use dinghy rig on the market. The two-piece carbon mast and boom, sail, and all rigging weigh just 10 1/2 pounds, store in a small bag, and assembles in minutes, making a quick sail in a new anchorage easily done.
Other prominent features include a large truly watertight storage area, sealed flotation tanks fore & aft, and a very dependable daggerboard trunk cap that allows towing in rough water and at high speeds. Two rowing stations and multiple foot brace positions allow keeping level trim with multiple passengers and allow rowers of different heights.
These qualities are combined with many other well-thought-out features, some that make construction easier and many that make the boat easier to use, lighter, and more efficient.
What do we not like about the PT 11? It’s complex. While we have not over-engineered this boat and we continually work on making the build simpler, a really good nesting dinghy, especially one that could last forever, requires complexity. Much of that complexity is on our end. We manufacture many custom parts for the boat and we aren’t shy about expensive alternatives.
The fact that we have sold so many kits for the PT 11 with almost no advertising says a lot.
Builders of the 11 see the value of the kit, the manual, and the finished product. Resale values of well built PT 11’s also point to a well conceived product.
Is the PT 11 for you? If you are attracted to the boat and it fits your needs, then maybe. Are you right for the PT11? Probably, if the next sentences work for you.
If you want the performance that our kits offer and aren’t afraid to put in the effort and time required, if you look forward to a good winter or summer project, and are willing to carefully follow a very detailed building manual.
Building a boat can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience; an experience that is increasingly missing in modern times. We ask a lot of our builders, but they get a lot in return. They get the experience, a new set of skills, and in the end, they get a very versatile boat.
Because we have very high standards for what we want in a boat, we start with the best materials:
We hand pick through units of high grade Okoume plywood to find the best looking and flattest panels of five different thicknesses of plywood. This doesn’t mean it’s always perfect, but we choose the best available and it’s a wonderful material for this type of boat. Most of the plywood parts are CNC machined, but many of them are post-machined to bevel and round edges where appropriate. The lumber parts kit (foredeck stringers, glue cleats and reinforcements) are machined from high-grade Sitka Spruce. The foot braces, oarlock riser blocks, and back seat cleats are machined to a ready-to-finish level from Sapele mahogany.
We supply the best glass cloth of 3 different weights to protect and reinforce, while keeping the boat as light as possible.
Carbon fiber alignment clips, goose-neck fittings and fiberglass mast sockets are molded “in house”.
The foils are CNC machined from carefully selected Okoume plywood (2 layers of 12 mm Vacuum bagged together on a “flat table”) to make NACA section foils of almost 1” thick. For the weight and performance offered by these foils, they are relatively very affordable and not difficult to finish.
The machined 316 stainless connective hardware is machined by Paul Zeusche, an expert local machinist and boat builder. This hardware constitutes a large part of the value of the kit and is continually fine-tuned. We are extremely lucky to have some very smart friends.
The masts and booms are made in state by ICE, a maker of the highest quality carbon fiber tubes on the planet. The two-part mast and boom (almost 23 lineal feet of tapered custom carbon tubes) weigh just 6.7 lbs and that includes all the hardware and running rigging on the boom (5 Harken blocks, 2 snap hooks, 1 s-hook, 7 eye straps, 1 cleat, 37 feet of running rigging, and a goose-neck fitting.)
Many other parts and pieces are produced in our shop or locally. Besides the plywood, which is made in France, just about everything in one of our kits is made in the US.
The most valuable single piece of the kit is the building manual. We don’t encourage people without hand tool experience to build our boats, but the manual allows someone with no epoxy or boat building experience to build a really good boat.
It’s just the two of us running PT Watercraft, which means we can offer very good quality control and economy,
We are now completing our 8th PT 11, built to improve the manual and fine-tune the kits (as were the other 7). We do this so that our builders can get the most value, pleasure, and longevity from their boats. The kits and manuals for the PT 11 and PT Spear are getting better every year.

We have also been working on a video series with Off Center Harbor, showing the more technical parts of building a PT 11. These video’s will be available free to our builders. We hope builder will follow the blog for important updates.
Featured comment from March 2019: “ I would like to reiterate one point as far as the value is concerned: I've yet to float in my boat, but I'm confident it will work as designed. The money spent was worth it, just to have "taken the class" on working with epoxy, and stitch and glue boat building, getting a sweet boat at the end is of course a nice bonus. The manual describes such nuance of technique, I feel like an expert, despite limited experience with epoxy and glass. That said by a working guy on a budget.” A.S. Stowe Vermont

...

...a video opportunity...
We recently had the opportunity to document painting a PT SPEAR. I put together a video of applying the first coat and some highlights of the third coat. The video is not a “how-to” but rather a demonstration that may be most useful to those of you preparing to paint your own home built boat with Interlux Perfection 2-part LP paint. The book, Rolling Perfection, really shows the technique Russell uses, from mixing, thinning, and applying onto a variety of surfaces, including non skid. You might note that we do not use a primer. Our boats are built using WEST SYSTEM resin and 207 Special Clear Hardener; saturation, fill, and gloss coats. This prepared surface has been perfectly suitable as a base for applying this paint (and its Interlux predecessors) on Russell’s boats over the last 30 years.
So here is the video. We hope you find it helpful. 😉 AEB

 

The PT 11 and Spear are very dependent on gaskets. The 11 has a hull gasket, a hatch gasket, and a trunk cap gasket. The Spear has two hatch gaskets and a trunk cap gasket. ptwatercraft.com
We are fairly proud of the gasket systems we have developed, but nothing is ever perfect. The latex tubing gaskets set in notches of the correct depth work amazingly well, but we have had some trouble with two things:

One of the issues is that gluing the latex gaskets is difficult, so they can come loose.
We have tried just about every adhesive and have finally found one that works much better than the contact cement method described in the manual. More about that in a soon-to-come blog post.
The other thing we have recently had happen is the outer face of the gaskets becoming stuck to their mating surfaces. This seems to be a problem mostly with the trunk cap, where the gasket is pressed much more firmly, due to the gasket notch depth being limited. We tried coating the outer face of the gasket with a few different lubricants, Vaseline being the one that seemed to work.
We will do a blog post about gluing in new gaskets with the adhesive we have found to work, but first we would like feedback on gasket issues from our customers. -What issues have you had?

-Do you need a new set of gaskets for you boat?

-If your gaskets are working fine, consider rubbing a light coat of Vaseline (or maybe you know of something that will work better) on the outer face of the gaskets, especially if your boat is being left assembled for long periods of time.

Thank you!

RB

This September we had the opportunity to play with an EP Carry electric motor for the first time.  Dinghy owners often ask about an outboard for the PT 11.
Our preference is to discourage outboards on our dinghies because good rowing and sailing boats never make great motor boats. But some people really want to be able to use an outboard. That's understandable, but the fact is that the smallest gas outboard motors currently available are really too big for our boat; too much power and too heavy.

Now there is an option we can support; the EP CARRY electric "outboard". All of the  technical information about this innovative little motor can be found on the website ELECTRICPADDLE.COM. Though it is compared to a 1HP on their website, it has sufficient power to get the PT 11 up to a cruising speed of about 4 knots. The USCG however, considers all small electric outboards as "2HP". Based on that formula, the PT 11 and PT Spear are rated for "2HP" so, the EP CARRY aligns with the Coast Guard figures.  The amazing thing about this motor is that it weighs only 14.4 Lbs. This makes it very easy to mount and remove. The battery pack weighs 6.3 Lbs, making the total package less than 21 Lbs. There are several design features that add to the ease of handling as well. ptwatercraft.com
(At this years wooden boat festival, Russell showed up with the motor in his bicycle bag.)

Our recent experience with the EP Carry was very positive and to my surprise, I caught Russell grinning after speeding off to visit other boats in the anchorage. "Mr. anti-outboard" was actually having fun and we enjoyed it further by taking a friend on an evening "cocktail" tour of Reid Harbor, a deep bay with lots of shoreline and  many boats to observe.
We spent a couple of days, driving along the shore of Sucia in the San Juans,  in Shallow Bay making watery doughnuts, backing up, going forward, generally goofing off, and then venturing out to 'Danger Reef' to "brave" close proximity to a group of Stellar Sea Lions. We were pleasantly surprised by how far the battery went on one charge. You will notice in our video that we carried our oars with us but we did not need to employ them. ptwatercraft.com
This motor is not silent. Neither is it loud. Our lightly built plywood boat seemed to acoustically amplify the sound a little. Even so, there was no need to raise our voices for conversation. In fact, we could almost whisper and still communicate. This was a plus to me. Loud outboards in quiet anchorages are, in my mind, a real nuisance and many of us are familiar with boaters talking in their loud dinghies barely hearing each other and assuming no one else can hear them either...but of course we hear every word. Sound is a funny thing. With the EP Carry, the birds, seals, and sea lions were undisturbed by our passage. It made it a great modus for exploring the nature around us.ptwatercraft.com/ashlyn E Brown
Another thing that is really attractive to us about this motor, is that even with our limited house battery power, we could re-charge the EP Carry Battery. It does require a 150-200W inverter, but this lithium battery requires a third of the power than comparable models to recharge. At home, it is simple to plug it into a normal outlet. Beyond charging the battery and rinsing the unit after use in salt water, there is virtually no maintenance. Yet another plus.
(see our video exploring Sucia with the EP CARRY)
When our EP Carry arrived at the door, unpacking it was quite amazing. The care taken to pack it and the detailed contents made for a well thought out and complete package. It was a positive reflection of Joe and Linda who have spent  years perfecting their product. They, like us, had a vision that they worked and reworked in every detail. In fact, the original mount did not fit the PT 11 and now it does.  Further, the EP Carry, designed right here in WA State, is assembled in the USA. It is yet another example of admirable American ingenuity with style and a small business making a positive difference in the world. Of all the outboards on the market, we feel confident that the EP Carry is a good fit for the PT 11.

USER MANUAL PDF
ptwatercraft.com

PTWatercraft.com Ashlyn E Brown

 

We now have a pattern for the PT 11/Spear cover. This option allows owners to pay their local canvas shop for time and materials to stitch it up but not for the time to measure and make a new pattern. Owners may also have the skills to stitch their own. The cover is for the PT 11 assembled to its full length or the PT Spear.

These photos show the first prototype cover that now belongs to PT Spear Hull #10. I regret not getting better photos with the poles installed to peak the center line but you can see one sent by a customer at the bottom of this post..

The pattern can be ordered here on our website. It gets shipped US MAIL rolled in a tube. The roll is 36" x 12 ft. long and includes general instructions.

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Bow detail
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Shown here with 18" dowels installed to raise the center line to shed water.

 

Our mahogany riser blocks of the past were beautiful complex shapes that performed a nicely functional duty; to give the oarlock socket more bearing and to offset the height of the seat relative to the height of the oarlocks. They were, however, rather beastly to make in the quantities we have been needing.

To improve production, Russell took the design to Turnpoint Design and figured out how, with minor changes, they could be machined on the CNC router. The remaining labor, (sanding out the tooling marks and rounding the upper edges ) is a great deal less time consuming than the previous version.

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Comparison photo, new style left, previous version-right.

They are still made out of Sapele Mahogany.  For those of you who wanted riser blocks this Fall when they were not available, this is our new product. Please let us know what you think. We have them IN STOCK! 😉 AEB

ptwatercraft.com
Now available as of December 20 2016

 

In August, we launched our “new” cruising boat, downsizing from Jzerro to a trailerable catamaran, unique in that genre, the Gougeon 32. We have managed to get away twice this year, on a shakedown trip to Deer Harbor and a week long trip into the San Juan’s after our local Boat Festival. On this last trip we took the PT 11, mounted on a custom made platform. I managed to miss getting a photo of it nested on its platform so we have to get that later.

PTWATERCRAFT.COM
Mary H is virtually opposite to the G32

We 'rendezvous'ed with 'Vito Dumas', our frequent sailing buddy, in Shallow Bay, Sucia. It turned into a stormy night but we still got in a good hike and a fun row. I snapped the above shot simply because I was struck by the interesting contrast of vessels. 'Mary H' is owned by a lovely couple, Lou and Al, who even offered to serve as a ‘dock’ when our anchor was not cooperating. Lou and Al are lifelong sailors only recently giving up their sailing home of decades, for more comfort without giving up mobility on the water.

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Vito leaving Shallow Bay, Sucia

Russell and I do enjoy rowing around and exploring. Having Alex with us in his PT SPEAR, 'Pato', makes him our best model. He is both a great sailor and rower and I am ever grateful he has not fired this photographer for being such a pest. I cobbed together a short video of our week.

As the wind picked up the next day, we decided to move around to Ewing Cove.

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A short run to the other side of Sucia...

 

 

 

We were able to pull the dinghy onto the platform without taking it apart, for the short runs.

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The G32

After a day in Ewing Cove we sailed to Stuart Island into Prevost Harbor. 'Mary H' had moved there and Madam Pele, with Ian Andrewes showed up too. Ian was aboard the R2AK 2016 winner, Mad Dog Racing. Al Hughes on 'Mary H' was Captain on the 2015 R2AK winner Team Elsie Piddock. It felt like a small world, in a  good way.

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Vito Dumas and Da Capo in Reid Harbor, San Juans

From Prevost we moved to Reid Harbor. There Alex and I practiced our capsize drills. An effort was made to film all of this but the resulting video is mostly out of focus. A camera glitch...Bummer!

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Lil' B, Pato, and Rascal

Scotty, on 'Da Capo' joined us in Reid Harbor. Now we had a PT 11 and 2 PT Spears in the fleet; Lil' B, Pato, and Rascal.

The next day we all had a good sail to Skull Island. (Orcas Island) There we enjoyed some sailing, rowing and hiking before heading back to Port Townsend. There was an impressive wooden, converted work boat crossing the straights with us. The view was beautiful. Photos follow.  Video HERE.

AEB 😉

 

Click photos for larger view, then back tab to return.

ptwatercraft.com

This year was the 39th annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival.  Among our friends who participated, Alex Spear was there with his beautiful boat, Vito Dumas and her tender, ‘Pato’, a PT SPEAR. 'Pato' is in fact the very first PT SPEAR.
In Alex’s words, ‘An esteemed panel of judges, including our local Carol Hasse, selected the PT 11/SPEAR as the “best open sailing vessel in the show”.'
This is a great honor. According to Alex,  ‘Pato’ was not independently entered in the show but it garnered so much interest and attention from the judges that they deemed it worthy of mention. Our humble gratitude goes out to the judges.

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Vito Dumas and tender, Pato, at the docks in Deer Harbor.

From Victoria, 'Vito Dumas', 'Sir Isaac', 'Sparkle' and other familiar and beautiful wooden boats converged at the Deer Harbor Wooden Boat Rendezvous.
Vito Dumas and ‘Pato’.

 

 

Below, Looking back on a rainy Deer Harbor.

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Looking back on Deer Harbor as we head back to Port Townsend.

As beautiful as clear coated Okoume is, a couple of builder's have chosen to paint their dinghy interiors. They have also added non skid. I have to admit, I think these boats look super smart!

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exterior paint job on Sadee Ann includes a nice racing stripe.
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Sadee Anne PT 11 nesting dinghy nested
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Sadee-Ann with painted interior and clear coated accents.
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A PT 11 in Holland with paint over non skid on the interior
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This PT 11 in Holland matches the 'mother ship'

When it was suggested by our local sail maker (NW SAILS & CANVAS) that we should come up with a distinctive insignia for the PT 11, I had to do some research. I looked at hundreds of existing insignias for sails. Some were really fancy, others were on the verge of pathetically bad, and others were very simple and yet, very effective. My goal was to create one that fit into the latter category. I had some pretty bad ideas along the way.. is it a bat?PT?getting closer?The Pacific Swift silhouette was a step in the right direction. From here I personalized it with the signature puzzle joint from our local CNC shop,(Turn Point Design) used in all of our kits in place of the traditional scarf joint. I showed it around to my 'honorary advisers' (as I generally do with most of my ideas) and I got positive feedback from lots of people. It stuck and.. is on all of our sails and much of our promotional materials. Below is the final insignia design for Port Townsend Watercraft's sailing dinghies.  :) PTW

PT Watwercraft's PT11 sail insignia is a Pacific Swift silhouette
PT Watercraft's PT11 sail insignia is a Pacific Swift silhouette

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