Island Girl 24
A Bahaman Sharpshooter

Lake Sailor / Design Page / Stock Plans List / Stock Plans Order Form



Length on Deck 24' 8-1/4"
Length on Waterline 22' (or 23’ 7-5/8" with rudder)
Beam Over All 8' 3-3/8"
Draft 4' 0-5/16"
Displacement in Cubic Feet 109.9 cu. ft.
Displacement in Pounds 7,033 lbs
Ballast 2,813 lbs.
Ballast to Displacement Ratio .40
Displacement to Length Ratio 320
Wetted Surface 208.7 sq.ft.
Sail Area 556.7 sq.ft
Prismatic Coefficient .61 (increased by deep forefoot lines similar to .56)
Center of Lateral Plane 1’0" aft of midsection
Center of Effort 2-1/2" aft of midsection
Lead 3.4% of LWL
Center of Buoyancy 1-9/16" fwd. of midsection (due to deep forefoot)
Station Spacing 2’0"
Scantlings Numeral 4.79 (cube root of the displacement in cubic feet)

This design was commissioned by an American living and working in the Bahamas. He wanted to build and sail a vessel appropriate to the area and as a tribute to the Bahaman nation and people.

Island Girl can be used for anything from day trips to living aboard. She has been designed to be simple, much as the average Bahaman fisherman would wish her for himself. In fact she could be used for graining for conch and other typical uses with no modifications at all. Only the addition of a live well would fit her for other trades as well.

The Bahaman Sharpshooters sail really well.  People familiar with today’s yachting traditions lose sight of how much of what makes up today’s yachts is not a matter of greatest efficiency but more a matter of the influence of fashion, expectation, and racing rule beating.

This is not to say that a Bahaman Sharpshooter doesn’t make some sacrifices in speed and efficiency. She does. However, they are all due to the need to make these vessels economical to build. By and large these are fast boats which are easy to handle, once you learn them, and great fun to sail.

Exactly what are these sacrifices? Basically the mast is heavier than a wealthy person would have but it is extremely inexpensive and can be replaced for no more cost than the labor to cut and shape a new one right from the tree if you wish. Again, the Bahaman puts his ballast inside and may use anything from old cannon balls and scrap iron to chunks of rock. Whatever it takes. The sacrifice here is a bit in sailing ability and quite a bit in ultimate stability. Since we don’t need to make this sacrifice we have shown a simple outside lead keel which makes the vessel a lot faster and protects the bottom of the keel from damage if you tap a coral head or two. This is a simple shape and can be cast by anyone with a little care and a lot of scrap lead. Given the propensity for fairly unskilled American yachtsmen with cheap fiberglass boats to pile them up on various Bahaman islands availability of scrap lead should be assured.

The renderings included here are merely intended to allow you to get a feel for the boat’s appearance. Many details are missing. We have chosen to show the Island Girl in the water but illuminated against a night background. This should do a good job of showing her off.

Profile, Rig & Deck Gear

In profile these are very simple boats with straight raking stems and sternposts and a transom stern with an outboard rudder. The sheer is a conventional strong planar sheer which looks good from all angles. The vessel is intended to be so sweetly shaped and simple that she needs no fancy trim. The bottom paint line is sheered a bit instead of having a boottop. There is a simple molding at the sheer. Although not shown on the accompanying renderings there should be an arch topped transom badge, usually simply painted on, to take the name.

Aside from this the only trim is around the edge of the short low cabin trunk. Even the handrails, hatch and the slides for the cabin windows which allow the window to have a shutter slid over it are simply painted white. Inside the cabin a molding and some dogs can hold a screen or the Lexan™ panel as desired against the opening in the cabin side..

The rig is a traditional Sharpshooter sloop rig. The mast is set well forward and has no shrouds. There is a jibstay set up with a deadeye pear and lanyard to a fitting on the stemhead. The jib is seized to rings around this stay. The rings are detailed on the drawings and may be custom cast by a foundry quite inexpensively.

The mainsail is loose footed with a heavily roached foot and a traditional wide headboard. This sail is laced to the mast. It is important to use a lacing that goes back and forth around the forward side of the mast. Never use a lacing which spirals entirely around the mast or it will jam as the sail is lowered.

The main is rigged with a tricing line passing under the foot nearly half the way aft of the mast. When you maneuver Island Girl in tight spots the main may be bundled or "triced" up from the bottom by easing the tack end of the lace line and pulling on the tricing line. This allows a quick reduction in sail area to slow the boat down. This is sometimes also done to scandalize the rig quickly in a sudden squall. Of course there will also be regular reef points so that sail area can be comfortably reduced on strong wind days.

The jib is very small and very short on the foot but runs high up the stay. The extra area is nothing and sometimes you may not bother and set it if there is plenty of wind and you are short handed. It is also a good first reef. Still the jib itself can be reefed easily as well. Small as it is, it gives the crew something to do when tacking and it has a little secret. Because the mainsail itself is relatively low aspect ratio it is hard to stall anyway. But when you are going to windward and add that little jib, the jib stabilizes the air flow over the main and thus boosts the drive of the rig tremendously. This allows the vessel to really smoke to windward. The deadeye shot at windward performance is where the Sharpshooter name comes from.

It is worth mentioning that the most difficult thing to quantify about most designs is "balance". That is how much "lead" the geometric center of the sail area has over the geometric center of the lateral plane without the rudder. If you figure according to the rules of thumb of modern types you would come up with a required "lead" of about 11%. However your author is very suspicious of the validity of such a figure as applied to a traditional type. Going back to the older books which deal with older types we find that boats with long straight keels and low aspect ratio rigs often had "reverse" lead. That is the center of effort was actually behind the center of lateral plane. After careful consideration and examination of pictures we have of various Bahaman craft we decided that a lead of 3.4%, in other words with the center of effort located only slightly in front of the center of lateral plane, was about the most likely to be correct. We could be wrong on this, therefore the drawings will show provisions for changing the rake of the mast. This is unlikely to be needed because you can usually reduce weather helm sufficiently simply by flattening the sail more. However, the most likely scenario is that with this large rig the vessel will have a slight weather helm in light winds. When the helm starts to load up you should pull down the first reef. This will move the center of effort forward anyway and thus lighten the helm. Thus the helm should be a good signal on reefing. I will be very interested to see how this works out in practice. In general the more she heels the more the sail area will need to be moved forward by reefing.

She’ll surprise a lot of yachty racers with their big jibs and small mains which many people just assume are more efficient even though they are purely the result of racing, fashions, and the desire to have low "base boat" prices on stock boats.

Instead of an engine Island Girl would carry two sculling oars. These would be very nearly as the traditional Bahaman sculling oars for larger sloops which have a bit of a bend to them. However there will be two innovations. Instead of simply working in a notch on the top of the transom there will be two bronze pins set in the transom top one to port and one to starboard. On the bottom of the sculling oar there will be a cast bronze socket. Then near the handle there will be an eye under the oar with a lanyard that can be tied down to a fitting on the deck. This will allow each sculling oar to work like a Chinese yuloh. The advantage being that the inboard end of the oar need not be held down to provide push. This means that there is no muscle needed to operate the oar. You just hang on to the lanyard with one hand and the oar handle with the other and use your weight to rock back and forth. In this size boat one sculling oar will push the vessel along at a pretty good speed in calm water. With the amount of sail area these vessels carry if there is any wind at all you can sail just fine. Nevertheless the second sculling oar is available if you are working your way into a narrow place against a stiff breeze and need a bit of extra umph. Slow songs with some rhythm are a good boost.

 This would probably be a bit on the light end of the range for the type. The savings in weight allowed by the wood and epoxy structure has gone into the ballast so that she has a lot of sail carrying power, especially since the ballast is outside. This would result in more speed in heavier winds than most people are accustomed to with the inside ballasted versions.

The one real concession to this boat being a yacht would be the outside ballast. This will make her sail a lot better and will make her a lot safer. This isn’t the way the Bahamans ballast their boats but they would if they could afford to. In fact today the sloops participating in the Family Islands Regatta are apparently allowed a small amount of outside ballast and are still considered true Sharpshooters. We’ve just carried it a little further.

I have chosen a stem rake of 15 degrees. Bahaman dinghies seem to range from 7 to 10 degrees and the larger sloops from 15 to 20 degrees.

For the sternpost I have chosen a rake of 30 degrees. The range appears to be from 27 to 40 degrees.

Virtually all these traditional straight keeled craft have a keel drag of about 4 degrees so that is what we have used also.

The stem face and keel bottom are shown squared off under water on the lines but actually these are normally rounded for less resistance as on all other boats.

The rest of the lines show very long smooth diagonals. Since these are the lines which most closely resemble the direction of water flow around the hull this helps make for high potential speed. We’re big fans of paying a lot of attention to diagonals. In a hull with this must change in shape over its length this means that to get diagonals that are as close to perfectly normal to the surface, that is cutting the surface perpendicular to it, we have used three sets. One set for the forward sections, one for the middle sections, and a third is shown for the aft sections. These show extremely smooth waterflow lines.

The waterlines are relatively fine forward and relatively broad aft. This means that in going to windward she will tend to dampen her pitching motion much better than a boat with more symmetrical waterlines.

Because the owner’s plans are a bit uncertain we did a fairly detailed Weight Study and ballasted her so that with a complete liveaboard interior and a lot of stores for a long voyage she would sit about 2" down on her lines. As designed and outfitted for short cruises she should float just a little high and may well need a little bit of trimming ballast to float exactly on her lines.

Deck Layout

As shown in the renderings you can only see the really major deck items. There is the cook box forward and the cabin trunk with its windows, handrails and hatch and there is the tiller. In addition to this you will have the main sheet leading through blocks on the quarters and secured to cleats on the deck on either side. Normally I would long splice the ends of the main sheet together into a continuous loop so that the main can be adjusted freely from either side. This is a big mainsail and we’ll design it for more sheaves in the mainsheet system than many yachts have.

Jib sheets may be single part if you expect to be deft in tacking. In this case they run from the clew of the jib to a block on the rail which rides on a bridle which is seized to the block and arranged to adjust the position of the block fore and aft between two cleats. This allows precise positioning of the block. The sheet goes from this block aft to a cleat. If young children will handle these sheets two part sheets can be arranged. No winches should be necessary on this boat under any circumstances.

The other deck gear will be the chain pipes to get the anchor rodes below. If you have one chain rode you can use a pawl and a lever windlass to raise the anchor. A drawing for the lever windlass is included and an ordinary chain stopper from any of several sources can form the pawl. These drawings will be included. Whether you use chain or rope rodes you will secure to a Jonesport Cleat on the foredeck with a bronze pin through it with the ends of the rod rounded into hemispheres.

One final item will need explaining. This is the chock fastened to the deck on the centerline aft of the cabin trunk. Since there is no conventional cockpit well on Bahaman boats, everybody tends to spread out all over the decks, which are quite comfortable. However the helmsman needs something to brace his or her feet against when sitting to windward on a strong wind day. That’s what the chock is for.


We have specified sheathed strip construction for hull deck and cabin trunk. If the pines that grow in the Bahamas areas I’ve been in are anything like Longleaf Yellow Pine in the southern United States the builder should be able to use them for the centerline structure, the planking and even the mast and boom. Probably the tiller should be whatever is available in a good strong hardwood. The parts that take wear like chocks cleats, dead eyes etc. should be of Lignum Vitae which should be reasonably available.

Sheathed strip is a very straightforward method and is quite neglect resistant. It should be a very good choice.

Given the construction method suggested and the Bahaman climate I would suggest building outdoors under some kind of shade to keep direct sun off the work. Otherwise she can really be built pretty much without a building.


There would be two bunk flats below and chocks for small casks or jugs to hold water. There would be bins for other gear and supplies. There would be a wooden bucket for a head. Lighting below would be by one kerosene lamp.

Cooking would be done on deck in the Bahaman style with a box full of sand forward of the mast with a metal grate in it on which one can cook over a charcoal fire. The hood over this box is lined with copper with an air space behind it. The copper is screwed to the hood through short sections of copper pipe which hold it off the wood enough to create the airspace behind it. This airspace has slots on the outside bottom of the hood so that cooling air constantly enters from the outside. To make the cooking more efficient you can cut notches in the bottoms and tops of some short sections of steel pipe which sit upright in the sand and hold charcoal. Your cookware can sit on top of these held in place if you are under way by movable metal bars which drop in slots in the edge of the box. The hood will normally sit with the open end facing aft, which is fine for cooking at anchor or when sailing to windward in moderate going. On a reach or right off the wind it can be turned around on the box so that the opening still faces away from the wind.

Not withstanding the above there is no reason not to do a full liveaboard interior for Island Girl if one wishes. We’d be happy to design one. However it may well be that the best plan is the super simple interior described above until you’ve had time to adapt to the life and decide what you really want.

Complete Plans

  1. Outboard Profile & Rig Details*
  2. Lines
  3. Table of Offsets
  4. Construction & Accommodations
  5. Main Hatch Construction (from Voyager 30)
  6. Control Station, Forward Hatch & Cleats and Handrails
  7. Yacht Joinerwork Details #1
  8. Yacht Joinerwork Details #2
  9. Typical Workboat Interior Joinerwork Details
  10. Yuloh
  11. Chocks (for CQR), Lever Windlass, Pulpits, & Stanchions
  12. Set Up & Planking for Sheathed Strip Construction

* Study Plans include the drawing starred plus an expanded version of  this article.

Study Plans $66
Complete Building Plans $609

Back to Lake Sailor / Design Page / Stock Plans List / Stock Plans Order Form