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The Marsh Duck


On the beach, Sucia Island

Welcome to my blog, mostly about designing, building and using the Marsh Duck, a light-weight sailing-rowing-cruising boat.  For my more recent trimaran design/build, see category “Sealark”.

The Marsh Duck is a sort of cross between a sailing canoe, an ocean rowing boat and a racing dinghy.  Depending on your interests, look through the categories . . .  and feel free to get in touch by comment or directly by e-mail:

She’s 18 feet long.  The hull is 43 inches wide, with wings for hiking out adding almost 6 inches on each side (to 54 inches).  She weighs about 130 lbs, 170 lbs with all sailing and rowing gear.  Construction is stitch and glue using 1/8 and 1/4 inch ply with 6 oz fiberglass and epoxy.

First cruise was 6 weeks in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound.  I was very pleased with her performance.  With slight improvements I expect she could be very competitive in Raids or will serve me for long cruises, months at a time – the inside passage to Alaska, the Caribbean, even across oceans. 2013 I spent 3 months cruising the inside waters from Port Townsend to the north end of Vancouver Island.

For a better sense of how I use her and what she’s like on the water I would suggest the categories “Cruising Reports” (under “Cruising”) and Videos.

Please note that the blog dates do not correspond to the dates pictures were taken, nor the time of the activities described.  I don’t get to posting that often . . .

  1. Thank you for your wonderful design. This may be the perfect boat for my wife and I. I’m retired and we still ride motorcycles. She ride with me. I can’t stop thinking about your Marsh Duck. Thanks again my friend.

  2. dennis mcfadden permalink

    Scot> I have just received an e-mail requesting money to get you out of a jam. I assume that it is a scam but at the same time I thought that I had better check in with you.

    • Yes, my e-mail address list was hacked. It seems a fairly sophisticated scam. My contact list and “sent” folder were cleared so it’s harder to warn people. I’m home and fine and don’t need money. Thanks, Scot

  3. Doug permalink

    Do you have any Video of the craft in action?

    • No video yet . . . Hopefully soon. I will be posting more photos soon

    • There are now a few videos on YouTube (and here) taken with a GoPro strapped on my head while sailing – running before 20-30 knot winds on Johnstone Strait and sailing with other small boats at the NW School of Wooden Boat Building “Sail-In” at Port Hadlock, early August 2013.

  4. Martin Feaviour permalink

    HI SCOTT Many thanks for the latest blogs,it gives a better understanding of how the boat works and how to use it,i also like to chart your voyages on google map,i’ts a wonderful cruising area

  5. Hi Martin, glad to hear you’re finding the blog useful. Yes, it is a wonderful cruising area out here. If/when you’re ready to start building a Marsh Duck, get in touch. I continue to learn and to refine my ideas about materials and other issues and will be happy to share thoughts related to your plans for building and use. Scot

  6. Johannes Prison permalink

    Really inspirational reading! I’mmmyself in the first thinking stage of trying to build something similar myself. Stumbled over your design when I had more or less settled for Angus rowboats Expedition or Cruiser model (read they’re planning to add sails to these models next year), but I really want to tinker some mote if maybe your design might be even better. Thanks for your work and documentation.

    A question: in what “self explanatory-state” does your drawings come in? Is there any written building instructions or just the line drawngs?

    Thanks in advance.

    Best regards, Johannes (Gothenburg, Sweden)

    • There is a complete instruction manual. It’s stitch and glue. There are drawings, tables and explanation of how to measure and cut the panels, etc., etc. It’s quite complete. I’ll almost certainly do a 3rd edition later this year (perhaps this winter), incorporating what I’ve learned during this summer’s months of cruising. I’ll e-mail this to all who have purchased previous editions.

  7. Martin Feaviour permalink

    HI SCOT Is there any reason why the storage compartment is lower than the cabin? I don’t think i could get my folding bike in at the height it is.

    • Hi Martin,

      I’m not sure why I didn’t reply to this last summer, though I was still cruising, so probably just missed it somehow. I don’t remember seeing it. In answer:

      There’s no reason the forward storage compartment couldn’t be higher/bigger. It’s more than adequate for my needs as it is, and my Bike Friday Pocket Llama (high performance folding bicycle) fits inside without difficulty. I’ve been leaning toward reducing size of cabin and storage compartment and even the hull slightly in order to reduce weight since I found that I had way more storage capacity than I needed during my 3-month cruise last summer . . .

  8. john farrell permalink

    Scot as your familiar with the Hobie adventure Island (i have one)what are your thoughts on adapting the Marsh Duck to take outriggers and the mirage drive? has this occurred to you ?

    • Yes, a number of people have suggested using outriggers or the Mirage. Either would be possible. The Mirage would be challenging to create the hole/mechanism it locks into unless it could be salvaged from a boat or bought from Hobie and built into a Marsh Duck. And it might be somewhat in the way for sailing . . . unless you were using outriggers and sailing it like an Adventure Island . . .

      I designed the Marsh Duck as a high performance mono-hull, which is what I wanted for a variety of reasons. I don’t know that much about tri design, but imagine that a boat designed as a tri might perform better.

      You (or anyone else) are welcome to try such adaptations . . .

  9. I like your Marsh Duck!

    It is pretty much a smaller version of what I have been dreaming about for months now.


    • Hi Wayne, I looked at your perfect boat post, and the Marsh Duck is a LOT smaller!!!!!!!!!! I’ve had a great time cruising on her, but she’s awfully much smaller, and far less stable than what you’ve had in mind, I think. I pull her behind my bicycle and easily haul her up on beaches, and you wouldn’t do that with a 30 foot plus boat, and outriggers add weight as well. Best wishes. Scot

      • Well, I may need to shrink my dream some …. But, when I think boat, I am thinking 30″ BWL. My amas would be more than logs, but barely 20% of the hull, maybe 10%

        Have you seen Gary Dierken’s outrigger canoes? Those are more like what I am looking for.


  10. PS, you should come over and comment about your boat on the thread at

    We have a young guy experimenting on something similar to yours with a small ama.


  11. Arthur Schneider permalink

    Is there any way to utilize the oars as outriggers or as some sort of double rudder system??

    • I can’t see any need to use the oars as rudders, nor do I think it would work well. I suppose one could create a way to use the oars as akas in some sort of outrigger system. That could work OK with inflatable amas for stability at anchor, though I find her stability at anchor to be more than adequate. Using the oars as akas for an outrigger system for sailing would be much more difficult, would risk damaging the oars (mine are high-end, carbon fiber sculls that are rather expensive). I think it would be better and easier to make akas from carbon fiber windsurfer mast pieces . . . And, to tell the truth, the Duck is designed to be a high performance sailing mono-hull. For anyone who wants a tri, I’d suggest designing that. I’ve been playing with tri designs, and will be happy to discuss specifics with anyone who might want one with similar size and accommodations as the Duck. It would be easy enough for me to create plans . . . With 3 hulls and akas that need significant strength with the greater sail made possible by greater stability, a tri is going to be significantly heavier and more expensive than a similar size mono as well as more complicated. And it all depends on what one wants and the compromises one is willing to make.

  12. Paul permalink

    I’m very excited about your design, I have been looking for the same attributes as your design. I’m an experienced and boat builder sailor and have owned 25 sailboats up to my current challenger 40 which I live on, I built a John Wellsford scamp for a customer 2 yrs ago. Can you give me some of your recent improvements or thoughts before I start construction. I Noticed you also competed in r2ak.

    • Paul, I don’t remember whether I’ve seen your comment before, but don’t see any reply from me. Easiest for me to send you info on Marsh Duck improvements by direct e-mail. If you are still interested, please send a message to:

  13. Rui Gomes Carvalho permalink

    Bom dia
    Tomei conhecimento da sua página e do seu barco. Parabéns.
    Para quando o novo design?.
    Se o seu design fosse para 16´ eu era um interessado potencial.
    Agradeço que me dê mais pormenores se possivel, ficava agradecido.
    Rui Carvalho

    • Bom dia,

      I understand very little Italian, but . . .

      I’m currently designing a 5 meter very narrow cruising trimaran, overall beam less than 2 meters, small amas (about 2.5 meters long, buoyance of around 75 Kg.). I expect to post drawings fairly soon.


  14. Rui Gomes Carvalho permalink

    Good day

    I am Portuguese and not Italian.
    Thanks for the answer.
    I await news of the evolution of their work.

    With best regards


    Through Google translator

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