Tolman Alaskan Skiff – The Jumbo

I ordered a whole mess of boat building books back around the year 2000 after deciding that I wanted to build a boat to suit my tastes. I picked up a book on building aluminum boats, several on the subject of the stitch and glue method (tack and tape) of building and a few other general tomes on the subject. Hands down the one book that captivated my interest was the “boat building plans, in book form”:Renn Tolman’s, A Skiff For All Seasons.

After reading and re-reading the book over a period of a few weeks, I ordered Renn’s Wide Body Addendum and a while later the Jumbo Addendum. I now had three versions of the boat to contemplate building. I’ve bugged Renn and several other Tolman Skiff Builders for details and pictures of their home built Tolman Skiff masterpieces and now through their generosity you too can study these very interesting and aesthetically pleasing vessels to your hearts content.

A Tolman Skiff is a Stitch and Glue wooden boat. It is built using marine grade plywood, and is encapsulated with epoxy and fiberglass. It’s a tough boat that is a boat of Dory Heritage with a modified V type hull with a very pronounced flare. The hull has substantial reserve buoyancy and is very light for its size. It rides up and over rough seas and is a stable fishing platform and performs extremely well in big following seas that would cause much lesser boats to broach or swap ends. Commercial fishermen have used their Tolman Skiffs to treacherous Alaskan Waters and lived to fish another day. Even when severely damaged from hitting a buoy in open waters, as experienced recently in Homer, Alaska, a Tolman Skiff didn’t sink. Though two fishermen were thrown in the water, they were able to climb back on board and make it back to safety with a giant hole in the bow. They simply tied on a tarp to keep water from flooding in.

So you want to build a boat? Looked for free boat plans and didn’t find anything that floated your boat? Or perhaps you’ve purchased boat building plans that didn’t quite make sense, or perhaps no one had actually built one of these, including the designer. Well, you’d be wise to contact Renn Tolman and check out one of his books on the subject. Not only does he give you plans for three models of Tolman Skiffs, he also tells you how to use epoxy, and fiberglass, and lists all the materials and tools you’ll need to build a beautiful and extremely sea worthy skiff, at home in both the ocean, lakes and rivers.

A huge number of Tolman Skiff Standard, Tolman Skiff Widebody and Tolman Skiff Jumbo projects can be found at

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