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A Tour Aboard KATIE, Harry Bryan’s 20′ Gaff Sloop

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April 16, 2020

Very few boats, big or small, are better thought out in terms of details or lovelier to the eye than Harry Bryan’s 20-foot gaff sloop KATIE. Join Harry aboard as he goes through his thinking as her designer and builder.

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A note from Harry:

"The bottom of Katie's keel was originally drawn parallel to the waterline to reduce her draft to a minimum for entering our cove and to assure that she would lie securely in her low tide cradle. After several years of sailing we decided to add six inches of draft at the sternpost to reduce the weather helm in a heavy breeze. The change had the intended effect and is indicated on this drawing superimposed on the original configuration. The new rudder profile is indicated by dotted lines."

You can find full plans for KATIE available for purchase on Harry Bryan's website.

Visit Harry Bryan's Guide Page for all of his Posts & Videos.

Pick up Harry's book Making Hand Tools.

Be sure to check for Harry's classes at The WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine.

Comments, Thoughts or Suggestions?

You can leave a comment or question for OCH and members below. Here are the comments so far…

55 Responses So Far to “A Tour Aboard KATIE, Harry Bryan’s 20′ Gaff Sloop”:

  1. Avatar Bill Perkins says:

    I really enjoyed this .Thankyou Harry Bryan .

  2. Peter Rahn Peter Rahn says:

    Fantastic boat and boat tour! Incredible ingenuity and boat design. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Avatar Heather Linscott says:

    Harry I think I passed you out by Campbell and Bear island this summer. I was sailing my old Rhodes 19 and you exclaimed that you hadn’t see on for years. Wish I had swung around to talk to you…

  4. Avatar Thomas Freeburg says:

    Such a treasure, Katie is. Is there such a boat for sale?
    I have adored this boat since it first appeared on Ben’s calendar.
    Could I get one of my own? Even a kit would be a great event.

  5. Avatar Patrick Daniels says:

    “A real luxury….”


  6. Avatar Michael Raddell says:

    what a sweet boat, gives me ideas for rigging my shell boats schooner 18. The canvas seat very much made me think of the L. Francis Herreshoff boat Rozinante from his book the complete cruiser. Thanks for the video!

  7. Avatar George Brisbin says:

    Katie has a very familiar look to her. In 1978 I owner a 20′ gaff rigged sloop called “Lois” that was built on the lines off a boat designed in 1938-39 called Poco Dinero, and appeared in I believe Mechanics Illustrated. The big difference was that Poco Dinero had a single cylinder inboard engine. I was in Panama at the time and “Lois” was a locally built boat of about 20 years of age at the time. She was a Iroko framed and Mahogany clad hull with spruce spars. I considered sailing her solo from Panama to Florida where I was taking on a new job but time would not let me do that. She was the best sailing and handlining boat for her size that I ever had and even now wish she was still mine.

  8. Avatar John Swansey says:

    Loved the video.

    I’m outfitting a 19′ centerboard sloop for daysailing and overnight coastal cruising, and these ideas align with my thinking. That canvas sling backrest is a simple elegant solution that would work perfectly in my small cabin. I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out a solution for months – and now I have it! I also have the exact same cabin clock and alcohol stove. We’re clearly on the same wavelength.

  9. Anthony Power Anthony Power says:

    As someone commented above, ‘a well-designed, well-built, low-tech, high-touch little yacht’. Absolutely practical with very creative design ideas and the essence of the perfect, simple sailboat design.

    I’m about to become a grandad and I think I need to invest in a small treasure like this.

    Well done!!

  10. Avatar Peter Strock says:


  11. Avatar Ron Badley says:

    Truly all the boat most of us would ever need.

    We have opening ports similar to Harrys on our boat. After knocking my head far too many times on the little hook hanging from the ceiling, I replaced it with a short piece of rope with a stopper knot on the end. Even went so far as to colour code the little ropes. Red and green depending on which side of the boat they are on.

  12. Avatar Scott Mason says:

    Beautiful! Thank you.

  13. Avatar Ben Tombs says:

    In dark times, these videos bring light and warmth.
    Thank you Harry and OCH

  14. Avatar Bucky Neal says:

    Harry, your comments about your sister-in-law and her cushions are how I think about you and the whole of KATIE.

  15. Avatar John Hippe says:

    Great video. Thank you for a fantastic tour of a beautiful boat. Harry has thought out so many wonderful ideas to make the boat safer, and more enjoyable.

  16. Avatar David Rawls says:

    Every ones Grandad! Thanks so very much!

  17. Avatar Rick Zablocki says:

    Thanks Harry for a great tour and lost of little ideas to make a good boat, and boating, better

  18. Avatar John Burgess says:

    Thank you Harry and the team for this video which must , for me be the ultimate o.c.h. offering and which has come at such a good time for us all. Inspirational.

  19. Avatar Andrew Buchholtz says:

    Really super. Lovely to see.

  20. Avatar Robert Grahamslaw says:

    A true keeper of the art and mastery of boat building. I hope your
    Grandkids learn your craft and carry it forward.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  21. Avatar Lee Bjorklund says:

    Is any information available on the length of Katy’s sculling oar?

  22. Avatar Bob Pulse says:

    I very much enjoyed this video of Mr. Bryant’s Katie. I am always fascinated with the creativity and practicality of a true craftsperson.

  23. Avatar Donald Jones says:

    So glad that David Letterman is keeping himself busy in retirement.

  24. Avatar Roy Segrott says:

    Simplicity is wonderful—-I wish

    • Avatar Vernon Powell says:

      Such a capable little cruiser, and I just love the way Harry’s brain comes up with such simple solutions that enhance that capability. Thanks so much Harry and OCH

  25. Avatar Michael Vaughan says:

    What a man.
    What a boat.

    Now there are a few more little projects for everyone to busy themselves with…
    Thank you.

    • Avatar Geoffrey Allan says:

      Yes what a perfect word for this man and his work. He awakens such a deep yearning for order, competence and seemingly effortless dedication. Knowing only too well how tools and ideas will not behave, and how difficult to create simplicity, is to realise that this art and magic is a life of dedication, thinking for oneself, holding to values and beliefs, practised skill, and deep love. “Chapeau” Harry Bryan, and thank you.

  26. Avatar David Nott says:

    The best 20ft ever.

  27. Avatar eric pomber says:

    The man and the boat are just what we need during these difficult times.

  28. Avatar Stephen Horseley says:

    Wow, what a wonderful small boat. So many fantastic ideas for easy use. Just so inspirational. Found myself sketching my own future small boat. Dreams are free!

  29. Avatar Jason Ehrich says:

    Thanks so much for this! Inspirational.

  30. Avatar Alan Houghton says:

    Loved it, what a man. The canvas backrest idea is a winner, added that to the ‘to do list’ post CV-19. We all need a Harry in our lives :-)

  31. Avatar Trevor Cozens says:

    Lovely little vessel, nice and basic as well. Thank you for the tour.

  32. Avatar Robert Von zuben says:

    Beautiful , thank you very much, so needed to see something like this today :) , a great little treat!

  33. Avatar stew westphal says:

    Katie is an extraordinary little sloop. I took notes on improvements to my own little wooden sloop. But, above all that, just to see and hear Harry waxing on about his love of Katie, was music to my ears. I will probably never meet Harry in person, but this was close.

  34. Avatar peter strietmann says:

    Awesome little vessel. So much thought went into it, I appreciate all the tips.

  35. Avatar John Bouton says:

    Even the sound of Harry’s closing the porthole in advance of predicted rain was so soothing…

  36. Avatar Peter Marshall says:

    What a great video!
    Love the boat, and Harry’s obvious, well deserved pride and skills are evident, in the best possible way
    I owned a small gaff rigged sailing dingy which I had on a relatively small lake. I wanted the boat to be slow enough to make the lake feel bigger, and it was tricky enough to sail that I had many challenges with the ever changing lake winds, which is just what I wanted.
    It was terrific to see a beautifully designed gaff rigged boat on the open water
    Thanks for this!

  37. Avatar Stephen Weld says:

    A treat, made even more special by the sound of a Swainson’s thrush in the woods.

  38. Avatar Chris Robbins says:

    What a wonderful boat! I’ve admired her for years. Thanks you for the tour.

  39. Avatar Martin O'Connor says:

    Beautiful craft. Thanks for the tour.

  40. Avatar Burton Blais says:


  41. Avatar Bob Van Pierce says:

    What a great treat to get a tour of such a lovely little sail boat, but the real gold is seeing close up all the detail of the wonderful extras and improvements that make a small boat comfortable.
    Harry, you are a Master of Simplicity, Thanks for sharing. greetings to all from NZ.

  42. Avatar Howard Sharp says:

    Wow. Harry understands small boats so well. Simple and beautiful and functional.

  43. Avatar Derek Lasher says:

    And conversely, would love to see a tour like this of Lily!

  44. Avatar Derek Lasher says:

    This is just the best. I’d love to see a follow up video sailing with Harry, akin to the one you did with Maynard on Lily. Talking not only about the boat but how Harry thinks when sailing.

    • Avatar Lannis Morris says:

      Harry, we are so enamored with your style and giftedness that we tend to think you can fly. I was most impressed by your honesty and willingness to share the glitches and typical problems that all boatbuilders and owners face. I.e. (The rot and sheeting adjustments) etc. I used to wanna be like Mike, now I wanna be like Harry. You are medicine for the soul. Thanks to you and och.

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