PT Skiff Q & A

Port Townsend Watercraft non longer produces kits for the PT Skiff. This was purely a logistics decision as our nesting dinghy became more popular and took up all of our time and space. The PT Skiff designers at BIEKERBOATS.COM are offering plans as of 2022 but builders need to note that the manual, which can be purchased from PTW, has not been revised for a plans project and does not include the minor design improvements done by Bieker Boats in recent years. It is still likely a valuable tool for this project but we recommend the PT SKIFF for experienced small boats builders who will not require more than a minimum of technical support.

I am lifting questions from our forum and emails related to the PT SKIFF and listing them here basically in alphabetical order. You can scroll down to find what you are looking for or try the search box on our blog page.

BUILDERS?? Who can I hire to build a PT Skiff for me?
Builder’s who have put themselves forward as candidates to build for customers are: Formula Boatworks in Mystic CT  Jim Hansen 860-536-9309
Water Baron of Old Warf Dory in Wellfleet MA   508-349-2383
Symphony Boat Company Deluth MN  218-213-0698     See more on our Builder Center page.

Cable Lengths?  Steering Cable should be 14ft long, Controls cable should be 17ft

COST? How much will it cost to build the PT Skiff?
The base kit plus shipping. This kit includes more than 120 ply parts, many lumber parts, water ballast components, long boards & assorted specialty "tools", a very detailed photo manual, a complete set of drawings, USCG decal and HIN, multiple patterns and more. Add the cost of epoxy, fiberglass and various options available from PT Watercraft, consumables, deck plates, a 20HP motor with steering arrangement, finishing paints, a trailer, and a few odd items easy to buy locally and you should have a nicely finished, serious 18.5ft motor boat for $10,000 to $12,000. Personal choices and resources will be what make the difference for each builder. See the website for options costs and please write or call with your specific questions.

ELECTRIC PROPULSION? How would the PT Skiff do with an electric motor such as the Torqeedo...?
-Because of the hull shape of the PT Skiff and its ability to operate well also at lower speeds, it would be a good candidate for an electric motor. The battery bank could be located below the middle seat. You might not get more than 8knots in speed and it might not plane but it would be a very seaworthy, lightweight commuter.
Epoxy hazards? has lots of information including safety information. See this page for information about over-exposure.

HOIST POINTS? Are there attachment points to launch the boat with a crane/hoist?
-Yes, there are hoist points near the center under the side decks and at the transom.

HORSE POWER? The PT Skiff is designed and rated for a maximum of 25HP.
A 20 HP gives maximum speeds around 20knots. A 25HP is noted to give maximum speeds of 26 knots. One owners' E-Tech data can be seen in this PDF report.
Being the lightweight boat it is, heavier and more powerful motors would create issues with the boat.
Ideally, for fuel efficiency and clean power, 4 stroke is preferred but 2 stroke or 4 stroke is the builder's choice.

MANUAL? Is the Builder's Manual available for purchase?
-YES, The builder's Manual is available for sale individually from PT Watercraft. *see note in the intro on this page. The price is $45.  We will add postage costs and WA residents should expect their local sales tax to be added to the total.

PLANS? Are there plans for the PT SKIFF?
The PT SKIFF was specifically designed for CNC cut stitch and glue kits. HOWEVER; The designers at created a set of builder plans since we no longer produce kits. There is also a set of drawings, 9 pages including 2 for the grab rail and windshield.

SELF BAILING? While the PT Skiff was not designed to be truly self bailing, there is a relatively simple option which will allow it to self bail at speed and drain while on the trailer.
Because the PT Skiff does not have a sealed floor above the waterline, this self-bailing method relies on a device called, an “Elephant’s trunk”. This is simply tubes coming out of the back of the hull (see images) with “lay flat” hoses attached. These hoses are held vertically against the transom by a quick-release control line and released when draining or bailing is needed.
The hose used in an “Elephant’s trunk” will open up to allow water to escape when the boat is on a plane, but will pinch itself closed when the boat is not planing.
You can see great images of all this on the website from the "PT Skiff" page or find a link also on the "Other Stuff" page of links. Builders are coming up with a variety of self bailing ideas.

SHAFT LENGTH? The PT Skiff needs a long shaft outboard. The transom height is 21.5 inches. The Yamaha 20 HP 4 stroke lists the long shaft as being 20inches. This sounds confusing but depending on how it is mounted, when physically measured, one may come up with anywhere from 20 to 22 inches from clamp to the plate above the prop.

SHIPPING? No longer applicable

SHIPPING OVERSEAS? No longer applicable

SKILL LEVEL? You should be capable of building from plans, be comfortable using wood working machines and have experience in building things out of wood. The manual is very detailed and is 2/3rds photographs and includes a lot of technique valuable for any epoxy and wood skill building but was originally written for a kit project and not for a plans project. This is a fairly challenging project.

SPACE NEEDED? The skiff measures 18.5 ft x 6 ft, you need space for a 4ft wide table, and as the easiest way to build much of the skiff is on edge, you need more than 8ft clearance. That said, at least 16ft x 20 or 22 ft space makes sense since you need some space to move around too.

Speed and fuel consumption?  This report was supplied by a builder who chose the 25HP E-Tech.  Our experience with about 320# of occupants shows : Motor, Yamaha 20hp 4 stroke, Prop: standard as came with the motor. Fuel consumption; 1.2 -1.4 gph. Props appropriate to the intended use and different loads and sea conditions can cause these numbers to vary.
0 tilt                       
rpm 4000 10.3-10.5kn           
       5000  14.1-14.6kn          
4 deg tilt
rpm 4000 10-10.4kn                
       5000 14.7               
Wide open
    0 tilt -  18.6-18.7        17.5-17.8
    4deg tilt    18.8            17.9 av

SUNSHADE? The weight and windage of a permanent dodger or bimini top would negatively affect such a light weight boat.  An alternative for shade would be a commercial articulating umbrella like those used in out door cafe’s. It would mount on the side of the console and the driver could control the angle and it could be stowed when it is too windy or not in use. Also, making use of the forward upper coaming, lightweight canvas dodgers can be designed by your local canvas shop.

TIME TO BUILD? Every builder works at his or her own pace. Indeed, some builders have expressed enjoying the project so much that they did not want it to end. Still, we have attempted to put a realistic number of hours to the project.  One builder of the kit version, counted 22 weeks from picking up the kit to launching it. He maintained a full time job and family outings while building his boat.

WEIGHT? Based on accurately cut JOUBERT Okoume marine plywood, the naked hull weight of the boat Russell built was 380 Lbs according to the USCG official scale.  With the motor (20 HP Yamaha 4 stroke long shaft) and controls, the weight was closer to 550 Lbs.