Pursuit of the Perfect Pram Continues (Readers’ Prams)

by · June 23, 2017

As part of the research for our article In Pursuit of the Perfect Pram (SCA Issue #106), we asked readers for information on their favorite prams. To our surprise we received a huge response, with many stories and photos. Because we couldn’t possibly include a photo of them all in the magazine, we’re publishing a bunch of them below. Thanks again to those who participated. —Eds

Christine DeMerchant built this 7′ Chuck Merrell-designed Apple Pie pram several years ago as a tender to her Tanzer 22 sailboat.



Jim Dumser’s young daughters, Hannah and Kyla, did most of the work in building the 7′-10″ stitch-and-glue D5 pram from plans available at Bateau.com



Gabe Leavitt of Oregon sails the Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport nesting pram with his daughter on Trillium Lake. Gabe says the kit went together in about five weeks, including paint, and it sails and rows well.



An 8′ pram designed by Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Design serves as a buffet table during a small-boat cruise to Panther Key by members of the Sailing Association of Marco Island, Florida. The nesting pram was built and photographed by Dan Singer.


Reader Mike Harper built this Howard Chapelle lapstrake pram, lofting the hull from lines in a Chapelle book. The pram is mostly used on Donner Lake in California.



Jack Vincent built this L. Francis Herreshoff-designed Neria pram more than 35 years ago, and recently restored the tender. He confirms Herreshoff’s view that the pram rows and tows very well.


Capt. Charlie Huie built this CLC Passagemaker Pram during a workshop in Port Townsend, WA, and finished it back home in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2011.


This CLC Eastport pram was built eight years ago (and has survived a “lot of abuse” since then) by Syd Roberts, who says it’s easy enough to drag the 42-pound tender aboard his larger boat. “The boat tows well and is stable for an old dog,” reports Syd.



If you really want a lightweight pram, consider the skin-on-frame approach. This Stasha 7′ design, a 22-pound nesting model, is available from www.woodenwidget.com and was built by reader Martin Arlidge.



Richad Maldonado studied other pram designs and wondered if he might be able to come up with his own design…and build it from a single sheet of luan plywood and leftover scraps of wood. The result was Tartlet, an under-30-pound one-person micro-pram Richard uses on protected waters. “At its best,” says Richard, “the boat can look almost elegant, and at its worst Tartlet makes me think it looks like I’ve painted a coffin and put it in the water.”



Crayfish is a 4′ x 8′ stitch-and-glue pram designed by Richard Woods of Woods Designs. It weighs about 40 pounds, carries three adults, and as indicated in the attached photo of Richard standing on one side of the tender, it’s a very stable design.

Crayfish rowing

crayfish stability

Here’s another skin-on-frame pram with solid bottom panel and transoms, designed by Dana Munkelt. The 9′-6″ tender weighs about 47 pounds, and plans are available from Duckworks Boat Builder’s Supply.



Roy Schreyer designed Thorn several years ago for rowing, sailing and electric-outboard power. The 8′ pram is built with three sheets of 1/4″ plywood, and one of its unusual features is the full-length fore-and-aft bench seat, which allows different sitting positions for the rower and passenger(s). It also appears to be lower-slung than a lot of other pram models, so less windage but also less freeboard.


DSCN9962 touched upRSCN0097

Drew Fetherston built a modern version of an old Auray Pram design that was first celebrated more than 100 years ago, when British yachtsman Claude Worth visited the French fishing village of Auray and drew lines of the original 10′ prams used there. The newer, smaller plywood version is 7′-6″ and has a small bow transom that’s reminiscent of Norwegian prams. Drew found the Hannu Vartiala plans online, but mentions that the Vartiala website appears to have been dismantled. (Philip Bolger also drew plans based on the Auray Pram, for those who might be interested.) The photos show Drew’s pram, along with a shot of an original, smaller-model Auray Pram in France.




Reader David Whitehead send along this photo of his Carl Stambaugh-designed Baby Dink pram, built by Tieman Roe.


Donall Cullinane of Limerick, Ireland, built this Iain Oughtred-designed Granny Pram five years ago for his son Paul (then 6, now 11). Donall has a lug rig for the pram, which he says “works great,” allowing for a relatively large sail area and a mast that’s far forward in the boat.


Reader Chris Harlan has enjoyed sailing and racing many dinghies over the past 25 years, but one of his favorites is the Chesapeake Light Craft Passagemaker pram he built. “She’s a feisty, salty and capacious little pram,” Chris says, “performing best with two aboard. Despite the boat’s light weight, she can easily handle a 20-knot breeze. The pram bow makes for a very dry ride, even in blustery conditions, and her curvaceous lapstrakes produce a lovely and confidence-inspiring gurgle that continues to ring in my ears.”


David Whitney, of Auburn, Maine, bought this 7-foot fiberglass “mystery pram” on Craigslist and says it “rows like a charm and tows well behind his cruising sailboat.” He’d like to know who built the pram, if any fellow readers recognize the design.



Reader Marian Buszko built a CLC Eastport Pram, 7′-9″ overall, and entered the 2013 Everglades Challenge, becoming perhaps the smallest boat to finish the race. (Not only that, he continued beyond the finish line to circumnavigate the Florida coast, hauling out at St. Augustine…closer to his home.) During the event he hit a channel marker and damaged the pram’s bow, not compromising integrity of the hull but calling for repairs. During the repair, Marian’s friend Hugh Horton converted the pram to a pointy bow and extended the stern…making the boat about 11′ overall, but both of the extensions were above the waterline, so the hull is still essentially the same as originally built.


Scott Christianson was doing some volunteer work for The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, and was asked if he’d like to take on restoration of a damaged 9′-6″ Nutshell pram that had been donated and was taking up space in a storage container. Having graduated from a local boatbuilding school, Scott figured he could replace the split garboard plank, so he did a nice job of repairing the Joel White-designed pram–built originally in 1984 with cedar planks, copper clench nails and nice mahogany rails. Scott added a sailing rig, daggerboard trunk, rudder and tiller, and has enjoyed rowing and sailing the boat in local waters. (He even caught a coho salmon from the pram while rowing in Lake Washington last summer!)




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Discussion9 Comments

  1. A very nice collection of prams! I enjoyed reading about them very much. Thanks.

  2. Dale Niemann says:

    I enjoyed seeing all the great prams. It was fun.

  3. Dennis Woodriff says:

    A nice collection of photos. I’m confused as to whether the text is above or below the peaks referenced. Stupid me.

  4. Bill koene says:

    Decisions…… decisions ?? Whith one will I build this winter. Thanks for the great article.

  5. Mark Millbauer says:

    Both the article and this collection were interesting and fun to read and learn about. Thank you.

  6. Dave Whitney says:

    Marty – thanks for including my “mystery pram” in your blog. My grandson in the photo is psyched to see himself included!

    I’ve been wanting to build my first wooden boat, and a pram dinghy will be the perfect first project. I couldn’t wait to build my own when I got my new sailboat, so I feel fortunate to have found this nice fiberglass boat. When I do eventually build my own, it will be nice to have your article and these blog photos for reference. Right now, I’m thinking the Chesapeak Light Craft Eastport is my first choice, but so many to chose from!

    Keep up the great work – your magazine is the best.

  7. Rod says:

    That “mystery” Pram appears to be an old STURDEE BOATs built dinghy. Offered in both 7′ and 8′ models (row or row/sail in both cases if I recall) they were built by the Sturdee Boat Co. of Tiverton, RI. The company is still in business building the 14′ Sturdee Cat, Sturdee Skiffs in 12′, 14′ and 16′ lengths (these are of a type known as an Amesbury Skiff) and the 10′ flat bottom rowboat and the 8′ Harbormaster dinghy. The prams are no longer built as far as I can tell, perhaps the molds for those designs were lost in the fire at their factory back in 1988 or 1989. They do have a web-site.

    • Rodney Johnson says:

      Well, I now have an 8′ sister to this pram! Needs new gunnels after many years of sitting in the previous owner’s backyard, but she appears completely sound except for the gunnels and the wood “cores” of the bow and stern have extensive rot from dampness. Looking forward to fixing this little gem!

  8. Peter Bristow says:

    Built a Chris-Craft 8 foot rowing pram (kit boat) in 1958 and still use it. It is stored indoors in a cradle and is all original including the oars (5 ft) that came with the kit.
    All the mahogany pieces (knees, seats, seat supports and gunnels) are stained and varnished. The out side is painted Hunter green with the insides two tones of gray.
    The kit was given to me by a friend of my dad’s who said if I build it, it was mine. The friend won the kit in a golf tournament in the early 1950s. At one point I was going to add a sail but decided to keep it as just a rowing pram.
    Currently, I am restoring a vintage El Toro (#3561) sailboat which is also an 8 ft pram. Email me and I will send photos of the rowing pram

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