Workstar 17

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Workstar 17

Workstar 17/540  plywood/epoxy boatbuilding  Workstar 17/540

The Workstar 17 concept of plywood/epoxy boat building was the result of a co-operation between Working Boats UK Ltd (the predecessor of Pacific Workboats cc) and the Humphreys Yacht Design Prefix System®, which enabled people with no experience in building boats to put together, from a comprehensive kit of profiled parts, epoxy and FRP tape, a Workstar 17, a rugged and very capable small boat which could be built anywhere, with no dedicated workshop and no power tools and by those with no previous boat building skills.

The Workstar 17 design is essentially that of a very tough and robust small workboat. The Prefix System® of tabs, slots and wedges means the profiled parts pull the hull together as the kit is assembled: no building frame is required. The parts are then bonded together with epoxy fillets, with the chines, around the bow and stern transoms and along the keel internally and externally, reinforced with Bi-Axial FRP tape.

Originally intended as a small garvey workboat for remote villages in the developing world, the Workstar 17 plywood/epoxy boatbuilding method was embraced from the start by amateur boatbuilders who had been put off building their own boats by the complexity – and the mystique – and the skills required to build their own boat. It has also been used as a teaching project in three maritime colleges in the UK and France

Workstar 17 building and The Prefix System® is plywood/epoxy boat construction. It is not stitch and tape.


Lisa and Bill Perry of Denton, Maryland: “We are having a great time building our Workstar 17, the “Working Girl” and plan to be motoring around the Bay in Spring. The kit is just as easy to build as you said it would be.”

Ben Larsen in Michigan: ” I started the kit! It’s going great! My 11 year old son helped me last night put the 5 frames onto the longitudinals. He was amazed at how much we got done!! You could probably feel the vibes all the way across the sea, GOOD vibes that is!”

Jeff Parsley, Missouri: It was a very proud moment in my life to see the boat launched for the first time. I am so glad I made the decision to build the Workstar 17.

Chris Roe, Seaforth, England: “I have been spending all my spare time boat-building (surprise surprise!). Your instructions are superb. I am now just filleting the joints, having put the seats in.”

The basic layout is with a centre line console but plywood/epoxy boatbuilding lends itself to ready customisation. The Workstar 17 may be fitted with a centrally-placed, substantial and braced tow post for efficient and well-controlled towing as a yard boat.

Workstar 17 features:

  • A moderate Vee, refined garvey hull shape
  • Substantial all-round fendering
  • A watertight, self-draining load deck
  • Fore and aft buoyancy compartments
  • Ample locker space
  • Seating for 8-10 pax
  • Pram-hood shelter
  • Tow post
  • Payload: up to 1 tonne

The plywood/epoxy Workstar 17 is not sold as a kit, nor as a set of plans. Payment of the Licence Fee releases the cutting files to a buyer, enabling him/her to have a kit cut from 18mm (3/4″) and 12mm (1/2″) marine plywood. There is no laborious lofting or marking out from full-size plans and no cutting with hand power tools. All the parts are accurately profiled and construction is rapid: the plywood/epoxy boatbuilding begins on Day #1. To completing the boat, prior to painting, takes 4-6 weeks.

The Licence Fee also covers a Sheet Schedule, a comprehensive Building Manual and a short video.    

The concept of building your own boat and then using it: “falls exactly into the Sea Cadet philosophy” says Cmdr. Martin Pickering, Director of Training, London.

CYE Sailing Centre, Chichester, England: “The Workstar 17 Rescue is a lovely boat and does all that we ask of it and more.”

  • Workstar 17: Principal Dimensions:
  • LOA: 17’8″ (5.40m)
  • LWL: 14’2″ (4.30m)
  • Beam: 6’9″ (2.04m)
  • Draft (ex engine): 10″ (0.25m)
  • Displacement: 700lbs (318kg)
  • Power: 45hp/33.5kW – 60hp/44.7kW
  • Design: RH Yacht Design/Working Boats UK Ltd
  • Skill Level to Build: Basic
  • Licence Fee: USD480 (payment taken in all major currencies)

Workstar 17 Reviews:

“…. first impression – enormous amount of usable space within the 5.4m hull.”

“I was impressed by the stability of the boat – even with two people standing on the side seating, the list was barely noticeable.”

“… the sea conditions were about as rough as you would want to fish in aboard a small boat, and the Workstar 17 took them in her stride. The hull gave a tremendous sense of security and rigidity when driving across the short chop, and I felt absolutely confident and safe.”

“Once the waves started to get white caps… the run back was what finally convinced me of the seakeeping abilities inherent in the hull of the Workstar 17. With a quarter sea I was still able to push to over 13 knots and still feel completely in control…. the buoyancy of the bow lifted the front of the boat, keeping the ride stable and dry.”


Over forty of these robust, stable and sweet handling Workstar 17 garveys have been built, in varying countries and under widely different conditions.
More information, magazine articles and reviews (see extracts above), drawings and pix are available on request.

Workstar 17 Rescue

Workstar 17: Updates and News: Dave Wentworth and his team at Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing on Lake Huron, Michigan, USA, have just completed and launched their Workstar 17 Rescue, scheduled for duty as a coaching and safety boat and also a regatta patrol boat. Keep up with Dave at:  HCS&R

Launch Day:

  Workstar 17 Building - Launch Day  Workstar 17 Building - Launch Day  Workstar 17 Building - Launch Day

Workstar 17 Building - Launch Day  Workstar 17 Building - Launch Day

The Workstar 17 kit for the HCS&R build, was cut from Okoume metric marine plywood by Hewes and Company, Marine Division, Blue Hill, Maine.

A Workstar 17 in Slovenia. Allen Weeks, lately of Alabama, USA but now resident in Ljubljana, Slovenia, plans to start building a Workstar 17 shortly and we hope to bring you updates and photos as the work progresses. The kit will be cut locally. Interested builders in Northern Italy, Austria and the Balkans, contact us and we will put you in touch with Allen.

A Workstar 17 in the UK. George Durrant will start building his Workstar 17 over the coming months and we hope to bring photos of both George’s and Allen’s building progress as the two boats go together. Interested builders in the UK, please contact us and we will put you in touch with George.