It is fitting, then, for yacht designer Sam Devlin to have set up shop on Gravelly Beach Loop, near the southern terminus of Puget Sound in Olympia, a place where Mother Nature provides the perfect mix of conditions and scenery for messing about in all kinds of boats. Calling himself a designing boatbuilder, Devlin builds boats from plywood, epoxy and fiberglass, a construction method that’s known as stitch-and-glue (www.devlinboat.com).
It’s less complex than traditional plank-on-frame or building in fiberglass from a mold, and it’s a reason for the popularity of Devlin’s boat plans, which are available to other builders and hobbyists who have tired of the uniformity of production offerings. More than 400 such vessels have left his own shop, and maybe twice as many have been built by others thus far.
In Devlin’s world, a good boat is as much about character as it is about appearance. “My design goal is giving a boat personality”
Since going into business for himself in 1979, Devlin has built an impressive design collection that includes tiny rowing and sailing dinghies like the Pollywog and Guppy, as well as larger sailboats like the 23-foot Arctic Tern sloop, the sleek 36-foot cruising yacht Peregrine, and the 42-foot Oysta motorsailer. Over time, however, his focus has shifted.