|Shell Boats LLC|
561 Polly Hubbard Road
St Albans, Vermont 05478
Fred Shell - Designer, and builder of Shell Boats since 1983
Born: Detroit, Michigan
First Boat: Age twelve - built a 10' Chris Craft pram - from a kit
Education: Bachelor of Architecture, UC Berkeley
Shell Boats are built using unique and very effective methods which are the result of years of research and development. Roots go back to the early American skiffs, Dutch vlets and the Norwegian holmsbupram of centuries ago. The synthesis of time tested, simple construction methods with modern materials - epoxy, stainless steel fastenings, and marine plywood - produces a handsome craft which is strong and durable as well as economical to build and maintain.
Shell Boats are designed by first building a prototype - by eye, as the Norwegians have built the holmsbupram for centuries. No detailed plans, offsets or molds are used. The prototype is meticulously hand crafted and temporarily assembled without glue. If anything doesn't look right it is taken apart and redone. The hull is built right-side up, allowing the builder (and designer) to see exactly what is going on. When it is completed, the boat is disassembled and patterns are made of all the pieces. Our kits and finished boats are cut using these patterns.
Whether you choose to purchase a kit and build your own boat, or have us do it, the benefits are great: light weight, great strength and extreme durability - all at an amazingly low cost.
Shell Boats use glued lapstrake construction. The bottom is flat (but fairly narrow) and there are three or four planks on each side. This produces a well-rounded cross section, with good initial and ultimate stability.
The planking and deck wood used is marine grade meranti plywood. Where solid wood is needed, a good grade of ash, pine or spruce is used. All spars are spruce. The fastenings and hardware fittings are stainless steel or bronze.
Most masts are unstayed and folding, using a proprietary mast sleeve and hinge system. The rigs are very simple to set up - the boats with single sails can easily be rigged in less than five minutes. (Although we recommend allowing five extra minutes to talk to all those people who will lust after your boat and want to know if you built it yourself, etc. etc.) We sew our own sails which are included in the price for all kits and finished boats.
Each kit includes all the necessary parts, including all fastenings, hardware and sails. An epoxy kit is available for each boat. With the epoxy kit and boat kit you will have nothing else to buy except sandpaper, paint and varnish.
Our kits are specifically designed for the amateur builder. You will be able to build a boat you can be proud to own even with limited woodworking experience. A cordless screwdriver is the only power tool you'll need.
All of the pieces arrive pre-cut, pre-beveled and pre-drilled. Planks over 8' long will have been previously scarfed together at our boat shop, and will arrive full length. Penciled guide lines are drawn on the pieces to indicate where each piece attaches to another. The pieces are labeled with black pencil (on hidden surfaces, in case you choose to varnish) and the locations of pieces are marked with red pencil.
Builders of our lapstrake designs will find it easy to "clamp" each plank joint together by first coating mating surfaces with epoxy, then using screws to draw the laps together, which eliminates any need for special clamps. Although construction of your boat can be undertaken at a leisurely pace, it is also possible to produce a quality boat, which you and your family can be proud of, in a very short time. Some of our smaller boats have been built in two days - excluding painting.
Kits can be economically shipped almost anywhere - we have shipped them as far away as Japan and Alaska. The current shipping cost (via truck line) in the U.S. averages between 15% and 25% of the kit price.
We can build any of our Shell Boat Fleet for you - and due to the flexibility of the construction methods, a wide range of variations are possible. Each boat is custom built to meet your needs. The finishes can be any combination of paint and varnish.
We can supply a properly sized galvanized trailer fitted to your new boat.
Boat Plans And Videos
We offer detailed plans for the following boats: Leif 7, Swifty 12, Swifty 13 and Great Blue Heron. Step-by-step instructions make these plans suitable for the amateur as well as the professional builder. No lofting is required. (List of Plans Available and Price Table)
Detailed construction videos (DVD) are included to supplement the plans for each boat. These are not elaborately produced (no musical accompaniment here) but they follow the construction throughout the building process and may be very useful for the plans builder. We also have sails and epoxy kits available separately.