Simplicity 35

I’m often asked whether it still makes sense to build one’s own boat, given the cost of materials and equipment, and the wide range of used boats available. The best reason for building — aside from the satisfaction — is to get the boat that best fits your needs. If you’re looking for a comfortable liveaboard that’s simple to build but can take you just about anywhere, Simplicity may be the answer.

Inspiration for this design came while I was sailing and living aboard a very different cruising boat — one with a wineglass hull, deep keel and narrow beam. She sailed well to windward and took me thousands of miles around the Pacific, but was a handful off the wind, and left much to be desired as a cruising home. Simplicity is in many ways the opposite: a beamy centerboarder, she is designed from the outset to provide a comfortable home on the water. She will perform well (especially off the wind), provide access to even the most shallow cruising grounds, and is designed specifically to be simple for amateurs to build.

Simplicity’s defining features are her flat bottom, shoal draft hull and raised deck. The shoal hull form (draft is just over 2’ with board up) enables access to many shallow anchorages and cruising grounds that are otherwise inaccessible, and Simplicity will be beachable with no need for legs or similar arrangements to keep her upright. The centerboard will provide respectable performance to windward, while off the wind, with the board up, Simplicity should prove significantly faster than many deep keel cruising boats of similar size.

The raised deck simplifies and strengthens construction while providing significant reserve buoyancy. Despite her shallow hull, Simplicity will be safe and capable offshore. Her substantial ballast (5500 lbs, with a 35% ballast/displacement ratio), in combination with the raised deck, provide excellent stability for a shoal draft boat: Simplicity is self-righting to over 125 degrees. Her displacement of 15,350 lbs is in cruising trim, and includes a long equipment list (with provision for three anchors and rode, two dinghies, tools and spares, and several months of provisions for a cruising couple).

The theme of Simplicity continues with the rig -- a gaff or full battened Simplicity rig. Both feature round hollow spars that are simple to build, with wire or Dyneema rigging. Metal hardware aloft is kept to a minimum, and deck hardware can be fabricated from silicon bronze, or steel (and then galvanized) if on a budget. Under sail these rigs offers distinct advantages, with a low center of effort, reasonably sized headsails, and enormous drive off the wind. The rig is not highly stressed, and there is welcome redundancy in the rigging when sailing offshore. The mast can be stepped in a tabernacle, creating access ability to canals and inland waterways, with a height above the water of less than 8’ with the mast down.



Simplicity’s raised deck and 11’ beam result in a spacious interior, with standing headroom throughout. Various layout options can be fitted, but for many liveaboard cruisers the arrangement that is drawn should prove a good starting point. A double cabin is forward, with a hanging locker to port and shelving to starboard. In the main salon, the starboard settee can make into a double if desired; there is a bookshelf on the forward bulkhead, and room for a heater. The cabin table hinges off the centerboard trunk, which also extends aft under the galley counter. Lockers and shelves are located outboard above the settees. Amidships to port are the head and chart table, with a quarter berth (or storage) aft under the cockpit. To starboard is the spacious galley, with a gimbaled range, well insulated refrigerator, and functional counter with storage below. A wet locker is tucked under the companionway.

Pilothouse option


Construction has been kept simple but strong. The structure is largely plywood, including all hull panels, bulkheads and frames; the permanent bulkheads and frames serve as molds, in combination with interior joinery. The chine is constructed with epoxy coving and biaxial tape ("liquid joinery" style); as an option, a traditional chine could be fitted. Bulkheads and interior joinery can be secured with either wooden cleats or epoxy and tape. The raised deck is laminated plywood over a combination of fore and aft and athwartship beams. To further reduce building time, frames and bulkheads could be cut with a CNC router. As drawn, ballast consists of an external lead shoe 3” thick; the lead is costly but relatively simple to cast in this shape. It would also be possible to use steel and concrete for the keel, which would increase the draft, but also lower the ballast, and increase stability.


All plans are sold as PDFs. These are high-resolution files, and the same as I would use to print the drawings if I were to send paper copies. Why PDFs? Because this eliminates the cost and hassle of shipping, and allows you to print extra copies as needed during the build (and you will need to after a few epoxy, 5200, and coffee spills). They can be printed at most good copy shops.       

Payment options 

Study plans - just $10

If you're seriously interested I encourage you to order study plans. These include 8 sheets of drawings (sent as high-resolution PDFs. exactly the  same as the building plans) and a construction guide with specifications and construction details, all for just $10.

These will be emailed to you, usually within 24 hours of your order. 

Choose study plans on the drop down menu, and choose your payment option.     

Building plans - $500 

The plans for the Simplicity 35 include over 20  sheets and a construction guide. 

These are high resolution pdf files, and I will email them to you, usually within 24 hours of your order. 

Choose building plans using the drop down menu at right, select your payment option.  Please review the Terms and Conditions before ordering.

Terms and Conditions

Conditions of Sale

Plans sold by Mark Smaalders Yacht Designs are subject to the following conditions:

1. Copyright in all plans and associated information remains with Wooden Boat Designs LLC. Purchase of a set of plans gives the buyer the right to use the information on those plans to build one vessel.

2. Plans are sold with the understanding that only one boat will be built from any given plan set. Builders wishing to construct additional vessels should contact Mark Smaalders Yacht Designs prior to commencing construction.

3. Builders are responsible for any changes made from the plans without prior approval from Mark Smaalders Yacht Designs.

4. The liability of Mark Smaalders Yacht Designs and Wooden Boat Designs LLC is limited to the price paid for the plans.

5. The fee charged for stock building plans includes consultation to clarify questions regarding the plans and advice on the construction of the vessel, but does not include personal supervision, or design additions or alterations. 


All study and construction plans are sold as electronic versions only. They are sent to the purchaser via email, generally within 48 hours, upon notification from PayPal of a successful purchase.