Preview: Why This Skiff?

August 26, 2016

Avatar Havilah Hawkins

Note: The new skiff that we’re building in Brooklin this summer with local kids was designed by Havilah Hawkins. In a world where kid’s boating programs are dominated by racing, Havilah’s approach is very “Off Center.” Below, Havilah shares the “Why?” behind his skiff design, and the experience he hopes will be created for those who build one. And, after you read this, be sure to check out the ongoing skiff build series.


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For some time, it has been going through my head that there must be a way to introduce the next generation of boaters to “time well-spent on the water” that does not involve racing and/or the use of an outboard motor and expensive shoreside facility.

The Skiff - VELA and Tender

For eleven years, my wife and I operated VELA out of Edgartown, Massachusetts. By living on board with two small children and sailing four two-hour trips a day, we had a chance to observe a lot of sailing classes and many kinds of waterborn behavior. Although there was a lot of fun being had, somehow I couldn’t help thinking there was something missing.

Early on, our kids were enrlled in a small Waldorf school. Everything there was about imagination and observation of the surrounding world, cooperation in learning and helping each other along the educational journey. Most sailing programs and educational systems seem to me to revolve around competition and the individual’s achievement.

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