delft-25-01LOA 25’-6”, LWL 22’-6”, B 8’-0”, D 2’-6” to 5’-0”, DISPL 5,153 Lbs., SA 338.2 Ft2.

In the early 1980s I became a student of the book The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction, a fascinating study of wood boatbuilding with epoxy resin. The WEST System design and building techniques make so much good engineering sense. I also became associated with Cat Ketch Yachts when they asked me to design carbon fiber free-standing masts for the Herreshoff cat ketches that they were building. They built their boats to be unsinkable, and they had Underwriters’ Laboratories certificates to prove it. I decided to design a do-it-yourself, unsinkable, free-standing-rigged sloop with a rotating carbon fiber and wood-epoxy wingmast that was trailerable and under 26’ so that you could keep it in your own backyard and have insurance coverage for it under your homeowner’s policy. The Delft 25 was the result, finished in 1989. Arliss and I decided to call it the Delft 25 because its shape reminded us of a Dutch wooden shoe, and Delft is a suitable short and attractive name. We have never been to Delft in the Netherlands.


This design received very favorable press reviews, back when magazines actually did boat design reviews:

Sailing magazine, May 1990: “…beautifully detailed plans accompanied by very thorough written specifications.”

Cruising World magazine, January 1991: “Felicity, Simplicity, and Charm”; “Sponberg is a realistic designer who thinks clearly and comes up with good ideas.”

Boatbuilder magazine: “…an attractive, practical pocket cruiser.”

WoodenBoat magazine, issue #142, May/June 1998: “Designer Eric Sponberg has combined simple construction, roomy accommodations, trailerability, safety, and spirited performance in this 25’ package—a fairly tall order. Let’s look at how he’s done it.”

Well, after all that adulation, I couldn’t wait to take all the money to the bank from the orders that would come pouring in. I was on my way to becoming a popular boat designer! In fact, now at the end of my career, I have sold 118 sets of study plans and 11 sets of full plans for the Delft 25. That’s not a huge income generator, and this result has been borne out by some of my other boat designer friends who have ventured into the DIY boat plans market and have given up—there is no money in it. Well, a few designers have succeeded, but most don’t. To this day, I have recovered only a small fraction of the price that I would charge to design such a boat today, so it is not enough to make a living. Further, anyone interested in a custom-designed 25’ sailboat would not be willing to pay $25,000 to have it done. Of the 11 sets of plans that I have sold, I still have yet to hear from any of those customers that they have actually built the boat.

There are a lot of boatbuilding dreamers out there, but when it comes to putting the saw to the wood, most of them give up.

I still like the design, I think it’s really cool.