Well, my friends, I have another fine little design to tell you about and Ill have no more input about design names as a very few of you have very strong opinions on the subject. Once again, I find I will have to exercise my artistic right to brand another poor undeserving design with a name that is totally inappropriate for it and one that will weigh around its design neck (metaphorically speaking) for the rest of its life. The name Pelicano is the Spanish name for the Pelican bird, one that flies gracefully over the sea, stopping occasionally to scoop a meal of fish from the same waters. They are a common sight on the Pacific coast of Mexico and from my experience, it would be the rare day that I would not see a Pelican flying about as an accent to a lovely Mexican view.
As a few of you know, a few years ago I re-married and my wife is from Mexico. In recent years, I have been spending a fair amount of time in that fine country taking in the culture and cuisine much to my delight. I also have done a bit of poking around about the local boating scene and have some very definite ideas on what might work in those fine, warm waters. The sailing can be good, but I am continually surprised at how very hot and muggy even a breezy day can be in the warm sun, especially on tacks where the wind is from abeam or abaft. So much of my musing about the ideal boat for Mexican waters and my lifestyle revolve around a power skiff, in this case, a fairly large one that can really handle a load, handle the afternoon trade winds that often kick up and take me to remote beaches for a little warm sand on my poor untanned boatbuilder's feet. I love to snorkel and cavort about in shallow water and this little boat can easily be my spaceship for journeys to those waters. There are lots of outboard powered skiffs, called Pangas in Mexico, and they seem very well refined for the local waters. Running with a tiller steered outboard, they are by nature simple and effective boats, much longer and narrower than our water-skiing cousins in North America, but also they are all built of Fiberglass and leave me with no aesthetic pleasure except for their function.
The Pelicano is simply a translation of the Panga type, in this case perhaps a bit shorter because I will have to trailer her down behind my Toyota Truck on my next trip South and I dont need a package that is too long or unwieldy to trailer. But once the early version of the drawings were done, it wasnt long before my imagination really went wild and I found myself dreaming of using her in many other waters than just Mexican ones. So before long there were 3 flavors to the design all based on the same hull and bulkheads placement and I would not be surprised that there might be a couple more types potential in her before I fully move onto another dream.
I really think the best tack with this design is to allow you to paint your own dreams about which version might be the best for you and believe me, I can see all of them having some significant uses in my own mind. But the hull is the essence of the type and here we have a very nice one for the purpose with the capability to power with a smallish outboard without much problem and also the potential to power up for you tyros that need something above 40mph on the water to feed your souls. In fact, with the maximum engine of 90hp, you would be doing something like 50+ mph over the water without barely realizing that you were going much over 25mph. She goes through, or maybe I should say over, the water so easily that these speeds can really surprise you. I remember once running in a close design similar to the Pelicano 18 with a 100hp outboard on her stern and according to the GPS, we were traveling at 56 mph! If I didnt have the GPS staring at me with its raw cold unemotional data, I would never have believed it!
But enough of that speed talk -- let's discuss a boat that is truly designed to be used in the real life conditions that a boat of this type is going to encounter. You will note that she has a keel that runs from the stem head of the boat and just about the entire length of the bottom and if you saw the building plans, you would see that it is comprised of the very tough and resilient wood called Purpleheart. In addition to that feature, she also has a 3/4in wide Stainless Steel half oval chaffing guard let onto the very bottom of the keel that will help her to keep her lovely and fair bottom off the rough beach when you poke her nose ashore. I have railed on this fact before in some writings -- it galls me to go to a boat show and see all the lovely, shiny production fiberglass boats of a similar type with their bottoms that cant poke ashore on a rocky or barnacle encrusted beach even one time without serious damage. How can a boat designer spend their time on a design and not consider the real life of the boat and how it might be used? And tell me my friends, how many times with a trailerable boat would you wish to poke the bow into the shore to offload yourself for exploring or picking up passengers for a bit of a boat ride?
So with Pelicanos keel, she can take the bottom without damage, but that keel also is what helps to give her that soft ride without the pounding that most boats of this type like to subject their owners to when the wind and waves act up. The keel cuts the water and starts the movement of the water before the hull itself actually meets the full force of the water. This is just about like comparing riding in a car without springs and shocks vs. riding in one that has the gear dampening the motion and translating into a ride that feels safer and more comfortable.
The Pelicano has a six panel hull with two bottoms and two side panels to each side, giving an attractive hull that can be built Devlin Tough with her cold molded bottom and modern Stitch and Glue construction. There is plenty of structure in her to keep this hull stiff, stable, and strong and she assembles over a mandrel of 5 athwart ships bulkheads and two longitudinals. This construction method is really quite amazing and results in a very strong and tough hull. So lets talk about our options in the three types of plans offered on the Pelicano design.
Pelicano Center Console
This model is the simplest model in the line up with lots of space in her hull and a lowered building time by about 150 hours. She has an innovative hinged center console that when rotated forward will expose a large cargo hold right in the middle of the boat. This is similar to the scheme that we used in the two Candlefish designs and allows you to store and keep secure most of the extra gear that seems to collect in a boat. Imagine being able to leave fishing gear, tackle boxes, coolers, spare parts, extra fuel cells, safety gear, boat covers, and whatever else you might imagine needing, put away organized and safe from extraneous eyes viewing their value or perhaps better stated, their slightly removable value. The bridge deck also helps to keep the passengers separated from the Captain and crew, in effect a twin cockpit boat. When using her for crab or lobster fishing, you can bait up the traps at a higher level than when on the bilge boards and in all areas, the bridge deck has many more advantages than disadvantages. The other feature that shows well is the recessed anchor well deck forward with stowage below. This is a recessed area from the stem of the Pelicano Center Console to the bulkhead #1, allowing dock lines, anchor, perhaps fenders to be held in this sort of created tray and secure in most seas except for the most boisterous ones. The Center Console would be easy control for the boat either standing or seated on a fixed seat or even perhaps more flexibly, a moveable seat. In fact, in all these models, I personally favor using moveable seats. There are some very comfortable and affordable seats available in either aluminum or Stainless Steel tubing and padded upholstered seats that can be used as they have a very secure and wide base that works in virtually all sea conditions. More importantly, you will find that you arent committed to just one position for the seat since they can be moved about to a variety of purposes and uses.
Pelicano Bass Boat
This was one of the second dreams that developed in the Pelicano design and happens to currently be my own boat. She has a really quite comfortable cabin in her with room enough to sleep two adults and has room for a galley and also some stowage in her cabin also. There are no developed berth seats as we just put the cushions on the floor of the cabin, but there really is a surprising amount of room in this cabin. I think my real scheme was to have the cabin available so that I could take a nice little nap anchored out after a rousing morning of fishing or exploring. Just drop the hook, open up the hatch and after a cup of soup, pull one of my Filson wool lap blankets now available from our new retail store -- the perfect weight and complement to a boat over myself and take a little snooze. This kind of boating is the most relaxing of all with some quality time spent on the water and also a little catch up on my lazy time.
Now for the rest of the package, the cabin being elevated serves two functions -- allowing me more headroom down in the cabin and with its wind screen, I can sit comfortably in the bubble of air deflected over me and even on some of our rainy and cold days, I can be fairly comfortable with just a normal coat and sweater on. You could, of course, fit a canvas top to her that would allow a bit of a pilothouse sort of effect but I must tell you for my purposes, I have found just the windscreen alone and with the boat running at speed, that it really is quite comfortable. I do have a canvas cover that snaps onto the edge of the windscreen and covers the cockpit for trailering or at her mooring that helps keep excess water and dirt from getting into her. This tonneau cover really works well and for the money spent, it has already saved me enough time washing out the cockpit to pay its way. The cockpit is large enough for a couple of the loose helm chairs that I talked about in the Center Console description above and again they work very well with good stability and with flexibility in their application, in whatever use I am using her for. With a 70hp outboard, we run at 35 knots top speed and can maintain a very comfortable cruise speed of 25 knots in just about any sea condition. This little Pelicano Bass Boat has really opened my eyes to the use of smaller boats -- their flexibility in application is really remarkable and think about it at the end of the day -- I can bring her home, wash the salt water off her, put on the canvas cockpit tonneau cover and she sits patiently until the next day that I press her into service.
This model really came as an afterthought to the whole Pelicano lineup. I had mused about some sort of pilothouse Pelicano and even did some drawings on the scheme but when we finally started building them, I fell into this new version. The story goes like this -- my sons were working a little boatshow in Olympia, our home town, while I was up hobnobbing with the big boat crowd at the Trawlerfest show in Anacortes, WA. with one of my big boats. Both the boys were showing off a few of our more permanent boats that stay local to Olympia in the show and started a conversation with a fellow that was just passing through and didnt know about our boats. They showed him the new drawings of the Pelicano design and he made an appointment to visit the shop the next week and discuss with me the prospect of building him a boat. Steve Timmings did call and we met the next week. He ended the day by committing to a build project on one of the Bass Boat Pelicanos. We signed contracts and in just a few weeks, started to build two boats, one for Steve and the other as a spec. boat for me. Steve wanted the Bass Boat version for his retirement boat to use for exploring and fishing near his home in Port Angeles, WA. By the way, Port Angeles is located on the Straits of Juan De Fuca -- nasty waters with a reputation for being very unforgiving at times, a great place for a seaworthy boat like the Pelicano. So building was underway and one afternoon, I was doodling on the drafting table and came up with a different configuration of the basic Pelicano one that I called the Shrimper. Wanting to build two boats and needing to introduce the Pelicano design to a potential new market, I quickly committed myself to this new model. Steve came down for one of his visits to his new boat and when I showed him the drawings he said, I like that boat. If I werent committed already to the Bass Boat, I would have chose this Shrimper. to which I replied back to him, Well, if you want the Shrimper, I will trade you for the Bass Boat model and you can have her. We shook hands on the new decision and new direction for the two boats and that is the way it all ended up. Steve feels that he got the best of the deal but for my purposes, I am happy with the final arrangement myself. While I love to fish, it is not my primary objective for a boat and the Bass Boat fits my wife and I well.
So here we have the little Shrimper model with its smaller cabin, really only large enough to sleep a couple of adults in and with its covered steering shelter. There is a top hinged window on the windscreen of the house of her that you can open up on a warm day and get all the wind that you might desire in your face, but on those dark and cool, rainy days (like we see so very often here in the Northwest) you are much more sheltered and screened from the elements. She also has a longer cockpit affording you more fishing room and stowage for passengers or other cargo related items. Speed is the same and she can have canvas covers that snap into the aft edge of the house to keep her cockpit sheltered while trailering or in stowage similar to the Bass Boat. Steves boat finished out in workboat colors and trim is really quite the little boat. We put an electric Shrimp and Crab trap puller on her, have spools for the trap lines stowed on removable brackets, fishing rod holders are installed and with Steves full complement of electronics -- radar, chart plotter, VHF radio, and fish finder -- she is ready for anything he can dream up and she is trailerable behind his Subaru Station Wagon to boot!
So my friends, I leave you with a variety of types all based on the same hull. The only shame is that I am not clever enough to incorporate all the types at once. Come to think of it, that would be a good way to spend a cold spell this Winter scheming on how to make drop on decks, houses, and center consoles. Who knows, you might see me do it yet. Enjoy the design and the plans allow you to make up your own mind on which version you want. Plans are $125 and its just a few days from getting that pile of lumber and plywood together to get started on your own version of her.