Woodenboat Firefly 18' (Ken Basset)

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I was intrested if anyone has information on the "Firefly" featured at the woodenboat.com store. I would like to build this boat, but don't want to fork out $60 before I ask some questions. I searched ng archives and found that people who've built it said it was a good boat capable of rough weather and a little surf. Thats about it. It would be my first scull, and I would like it to be fairly general purpose. Will it support a passenger, a moderate amout of gear(fins, snorkel, lunch)? I'm located around lake erie so the scull would see some use there. But only on nicer days. Any help is greatly appreciated. Please don't respond to the email address, It's a junk accout.

Thanks for reading, Matthew Krotzer

-- Matthew Krotzer (k_828@hotmail.com), March 06, 2003


Why not contact the boat's designer, Ken Bassett, directly? He lives in N. Hero VT and (according to the wooden Boat Forum) his number is 802-372-5204. The Firefly is a boat that has interested me for a while now. It looks like a great design, though I've heard the rig is tricky to fabricate -- you can use a Pientedosi RoWing instead. If you get answers to your questions please let us know. G'luck Doug

-- Doug Culhane (dculhane@earthlink.net), March 16, 2003.

I built Firefly (I call mine "River Otter") last fall. It was my third wooden boat (well, fourth, if you count the one that SANK!)

It is a fabulous boat, and I would highly recommend it. I row it on the estuaries of the Northern California Coast. They're fairly placid conditions, but I often row against a wind and in maybe 10in. in chop at the most. I find it very stable, and definitely more stable than the Glouchester Light Dory of Bolger's. I use a Piantedosi row frame, and it fits so perfectly, you'd think Piantedosi designed his wonderful piece of engineering for this boat.

I don't think it's any more tricky to set up the building jig than for any other boat. I'd been used to doing lapstrakes with my previous projects and found that this is "hard chined", where the side panels butt and glue to a chine.

Did I say the boat was beautiful? I can't say it enough.

You can easily carry the weight of a passenger, but it really is rigged for one person. I've had two in mine, but the passenger has to sit aft, which makes the boat rise too high out of the water in the front. On the other hand, when you're rowing into the wind, yourself, there's very little bow out in front of you to catch the wind, and you hardly notice it.

Definitely buy the plans. They're worth it. Not only do you get a nice set of drawings, but the station mould shapes are drawn out to full scale, so you can copy them, rather than measure them out yourself. The numbers are there, too though, so you have the choice of either one.

If you have any further questions, let me know. I could even provide some pictures.

--Jim Swallow

-- Jim Swallow (jswallow@mcn.org), March 16, 2003.

I had a firefly built by Lowel Sterger in Santa Cruz in 1987. I streched the design to 24'; had the bow decked at the gunnel 31/2'back; the stern decked 4'; installed double bailers, and double Graham drop in riggers. This boat was, and remains today, on of the fast 24' doubles in Santa Cruz, and is as fast as any fiberglass 24' open water boat. However, it is the only design that can be rowed in heavy winter swells of 4'+, and was specifically designed for year round rowing in the open ocean. It is unsinkable, and at 120lbs with rigging is roughly equivalent in weight to fiberglass boats.

When rowed competitively against "traditional" boats it is in a class by itself, over the horizon from the competition on a seven mile row.

The boat never takes water over the gunnel amidships even in a heavy sea (4-7') with breakers on top; it is never "pooped" at the stern having ample stern bouyancy to ride up over the waves; going into breaking waves it will take some water, and I was happy to have a 3" splashguard at the bow. One of the designs best features is the 3/4 keel which allow it to track beaufully in almost any sea condition, i.e. the stern will not fall-off in a following sea.

I rowed all winter for five years, three times a week, from Santa Cruz to Capitola, 7.2NM at 1hr.12min round trip, in fog, high seas, rain, and the boat never let me down, I never went in the water, as I had in other fiberglass boats.

The firefly is probably the best open water design available today in fiberglass or wood for anyone who wants to go really fast on the ocean in all but a full gale.

I cannot say enoght about the design, and as an experienced seaman, my original impressions were not only realized but exceeded.

Another firefly, a single seat decked version I plan to build this fall.

-- valmcmurdie (valmcmurdie@pacbell.net), May 03, 2003.

Question for Valmcmurdie Can you give us more info on the stretch? Length only? all stations by same amount? or other? Also what materials to get that svelte 120 lbs? Thanks Wayne Poulsen Fremantle West Australia

-- Wayne Poulsen (poulsenwm@hotmail.com), May 04, 2003.

Another question/etc. for valmcmerdie: Your e-mail link doesn't work. If you revisit this page, I'd appreciate it if you would get in touch with me. I just live a little way up the coast from you and have been planning on doing another boat "stretched" so I can row with my rowing partner. I'm also very anxious to get out on the ocean, but feel the "stock" Firefly would have a problem with the local surf. Would be interested in exchanging tips & ideas.


-- Jim Swallow (jswallow@mcn.org), May 07, 2003.


Count me in to the group interested in hearing more about the stretched Firefly ;-) i'd also be interested in anyone's thoughts on the same treatment (stretching/partial decking) for a "Liz". I've seen both boats at standard lengths, and the svelte lines of the Liz are tugging at me hard. The firefly is very sleek too, and I'm wondering if it's a bit more stable, with its hard-chines.

If anyone gets hold of a valid e-mail address for Val, i'd appreciate a heads-up!


Larry (Dallas, Oregon)

-- Larry H. Smith (lhsmith@wvi.com), May 08, 2003.


Ken Bassett designed a double version of the Firefly. WoodenBoat has back issues (can't remember the issue number, but you can search for it on their site), complete with double version of his rig/seat. He will sell you the plans for the same price as the single, as they are not available through Woodenboat. If I remember right, it's about 22', 1-2" wider, most stations are the same though. It even looks better then the single! In my conversations with him, he recommended using a drop in rig, like the Row Wing, instead of the one he designed, but I was still able to purchase the seat hardware from the original company that made them (still makes them one at a time today, listed on plans, search on-line). Piece of art, each of them, but probably won't use them, as I have decided to go with the drop in rig.

-- Bill Weaver (BillWeaver@willowrun.com), July 23, 2003.


Used my old work email address, current one is BillWeaver@networks-sos.com.

-- Bill Weaver (BillWeaver@networks-sos.com), July 23, 2003.

If you take the normal Firefly, stations 5-7, repeat/duplicate the spacing and sizing, you will have stretched it out to 22'7" approx, my notes are not in front of me. We will call the original Sta's 5-7: 5a,6a,7a. The additional ones: 5b,6b,7b. Basically, use 6a as a template for 7a,6b. Sta 5B is not actually needed, only the spacing to 6b. Sta 7b. is used at it's normal size. This gives you two identically sized seat 'areas', using 1 long/doubled rig as Ken Bassett originally designed. Additionally, you could add the space from 7a to the original Sta 8, use a Sta 5b, sized same as 6a, would stretch it out to about 24', giving space between each seat area and allowing two seperate drop in units. Easist to contact Ken and just buy his plans for the double version.

-- Bill Weaver (BillWeaver@networks-sos.com), July 24, 2003.

Calling valmcmurdie,

Are you out there? Still wondering about your Firefly24 and also if you have launched the 18 yet? Regards Wayne Poulsen Fremantle West Australia

Wayne Poulsen

-- Wayne Poulsen (poulsenwm@hotmail.com), February 09, 2004.

Sorry I was late in answering e-mails, but I changed my address and had not checked the site.

If anyone has questions about an open ocean decked firefly, send me an e-mail and I will answer at my new address vmcmurdie@earthlink.net

-- val mcmurdie (vmcmurdie@earthlink.net), September 01, 2004.

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