Part 2: A closer look at the detail

[Originally published in the July 2021 issue of Ski-Boat magazine]

By Rob Naysmith

IN the March 2021 issue of SKI-BOAT readers were introduced to the Gypski, a new runaround boat based on an old concept. In this issue Rob shares further details of the boat which has now been completed and has successfully undergone her sea trials…
MY vision was for the Gypski to be the culmination of a lifetime of experiences, life lessons, emotions, knowing when to say, “let’s go” or “not today”, and catching fish like there was no tomorrow.
So why build a monohull craft when the big trend is towards the cat style of boat? To be honest, I weighed up the options, looking closely at the differences between them, especially in the applications I envision the Gypksi being used for, and there was only one clear choice. I’ll explain most of the reasons in this article.

As I mentioned in the March 2021 edition of SKI-BOAT, there are some basic requirements that make a boat enjoyable to ride on, but there were a few more important prerequisites I considered fundamental to its success:
Affordability: She needs to be affordable for the growing number of anglers wishing to venture beyond the shoreline. One just needs to look at the explosion in kayak, jetski and drone fishing over the past few years to see that a rig that’s light and easy enough to hitch behind the smallest of vehicles — not a big, expensive, underutilised tow vehicle — is required. All these advantages should be combined with an unimaginable fuel efficiency.
Power: She needs to perform with a wide range of horsepower ratings. The Gypski has the ability to perform with anything from a single 9.9hp up to a 40hp outboard, or a pair of 9.9hp to 20hp outboards, all dependent on her primary use.
Versatility: A Gypski has no boundaries — one day you can be chasing gamefish beyond the breakers, and the next stalking grunter and huge kob in the bay or estuaries. Then you move location to fish the reefs and gullies before heading off to catch tigerfish or bass in a dam. Launched off the beach or a ramp, whether trolling, bottomfishing, spinning, popping, jigging or fly-fishing, either drifting or at anchor, she must do it all — and do it well. I wanted a boat capable and comfortable in any situation while being easy enough to manage single-handedly.
Safety: The Gypski way exceeds her buoyancy requirements. That, along with her incredible sea-keeping ability and high gunwales, makes her one of the safest boats on the water, even under a big load.
Sexy: A boat must look sexy — practical and sexy with uniquely beautiful lines and finishings to make her stand out from the crowd. Guys, when your partner falls in love with the Gypski’s looks, you’ve got a boat.
Once all those boxes had been ticked, I set my mind to what I would consider essential on a boat and what would be nice to have. Reaching into the cupboard, I poured myself a lovely 12-year-old malt whisky and proceeded to put pen to paper.
Starting with the basics, I went on to what I would enjoy having on a boat, relying on my personal fishing and boating experiences. This culminated in the Gypski boasting features that one would usually only find on a big boat, along with a host of finer details that only experience can bring.

The most important aspect of the Gypski’s incredible performance lies in her hull design, so let’s flip her over and take a look at what makes her design unique for a small boat — and better than a tin canoe.
Proportions: The 3.7m Gypski hull, in my experience, gives the perfect length to width ratio for her application. The impressive 1.65m gunwale width gives her incredible deck space, great loading capacity, and a stable, comfortable ride, while making her look and feel like a much bigger boat .
Sides: I gave her high sides — 400mm above deck level. This makes her more sea worthy and drier in adverse conditions, so her passengers feel more secure, there’s a nice leg leaning height while fishing, she has greater loading capacity and better safety all round. A surf-launch version is available with lower sides towards the aft section for boarding beyond the shore-break.
Deadrise: A beautifully smooth transition from a 30-degree bow angle to a 5-degree “gull-wing” aft gives her great sea-cutting ability, and incredible stability in a following sea. This design ensures her ability to handle the worst sea conditions for her class, while effortlessly staying up on the plane.
Chines: The strategic placement and combination of flat and reverse chines gives her the ability to hop onto the plane quickly and effortlessly, while ensuring a dry ride in all but the worst conditions. This clever use of chines also allows for a lower horsepower requirement to stay up on the plane, reducing fuel consumption and ensuring a smooth, soft ride.
Strakes: The noticeable omission on the hull is the use of strakes. As the Gypski does not require any further lift under the hull, I left them off to provide greater “slide” stability in tight turns and quick manoeuvrability in restricted situations such as surf launching.
Gull wing: The mission to create maximum stability required me to minimise deadrise in the aft section of the hull, but simultaneously increase the width of the chines. This is where the fine balance comes in — too wide a chine off too great a deadrise will lift the stern excessively and push the bow down, which can lead to bow-steer or broaching. The final outcome I achieved is a “gullwing” effect that worked out perfectly.
Reinforced bow: The most likely place that a boat will be damaged in a collision with another boat or object is the bow section which I call the impact zone. To protect the boat and its crew, I added an additional two layers of laminated Biaxial mat for super-human strength in this zone. This added very little to the overall weight, it just made it so strong that even container ships had best deviate when they see a Gypski on a collision course.
Shoulders: The steep bow and quick transition to the sides gives the hull a broad set of what I refer to as “shoulders”. This broader-than-usual forward section of the hull ensures her ability to carry more weight fore in the boat while reducing the chance of bow-steer. It also pushes the water away from the boat quickly when taking the sea or weather head-on.
Keel: I incorporated a keel from aft of the bow because it helps the hull track straight, assists with stability of a rocking boat and, more importantly, it protects the hull in unforeseen circumstances, given the multitude of fun places where the Gypski will be used.
Transom: The use of laminated PVC as a transom material reduces the weight and provides unsurpassed durability. This transom will never need to be replaced due to wood-rot, an expensive problem that plagues many boats. The transom angle of 5-degrees allows for a notch or two out-set of the engine trim which is ideal for most such boats.
Materials: With the use of modern high-tech, synthetic materials, we have the ability to not only build the Gypski much stronger than with other materials, but also ultra-light. Her hull — with buoyancy, ribs, deck and gunwales in place — weighs in at only 83kg. Yes, she gets a bit heavier as we add other components, but as a hull she’s incredibly light.

Okay, let’s flip her upright again and take a look at the top. Here is why the Gypski took so long to be completed — every week without fail I would think of a new design feature or alteration to make her better, which turned into new plugs, more moulds, and a very frustrated team of staff.
Gunwales: Broad, rounded gunwales with tread patches makes her comfortable to handle with good grip should it be necessary. The tread pads on the bow section enable the crew to board from a jetty without the fear of slipping.
Anchor hatch: It’s not often you find so much thought going into a small boat’s anchor hatch. The hinged lid is recessed so it won’t get in your way while fishing, and there is a rope gully so the hatch lid can be closed while the anchor is deployed. The large hatch can hold 100m of rope and is self-draining overboard, so no more rotting anchor rope and chain.
Forward seating: The seating is way beyond ample and is shaped to allow easy access to the anchor, while giving good leg stability when casting or fighting a fish. Recessed hatches give access to a massive stowage space to pack enough gear, even if you wanted to go camping for a week with the dog.
Fish box: Okay, it’s pretty big, but that’s not all for fish — it’s also for the coolerbox with the food and beverages, and tackle boxes, and lure bags … and just a few fish to eat. The front of the box has a section with built-in, upright rod holders for easy rod stowage.
Centre console: The console is a comfortable height and size, with ample, high visibility display space for the echo sounder and radio, with stowage space below for fuel and tackle. The tiller version of the Gypski has a stowage compartment large enough to take a capsize bottle, fuel or tackle drawers in place of the console.
Rear seating: With recessed hatch lids, the aft seating incorporates an insulated cooler to keep bait frozen — or the live-bait healthy — the entire day. On the opposite side there’s a battery or fuel hatch, and between the two there’s a motor-well to keep transom slop from pouring onto the deck.
Self-draining deck: Classed as a small ski-boat by South African terms, the Gypski just had to have a self-draining deck with scuppers.
Transom cap: The wide, sturdy design of the transom cap allows it to double as a trolling board for the lie-down rod holders

Below the deck of the Gypski I packed in the most buoyancy I could possibly fit. She boasts 20 individual buoyancy compartments, each filled with either hexagonal boat floats or polyurethane foam, depending on the client’s requirements, and an integrated drainage system for sustained efficiency.

I must confess that I have not told you the full story of what has gone into the Gypski. I need to keep a few aspects secret — I’m sure you’ll understand. What I can tell you about the Gypski is that she will more often out-fish other boats at anchor or on the drift in a water depth less than 8m.
This makes her perfect for estuaries, bays, rivers, lakes, dams and shallow reefs. On the troll for gamefish of all kinds, she comes into her own due to a specific inclusion in the hull. The next time you see a boat catching fish hand over fist while you sit and watch, it might well be a Gypski.

After an almost 60 year wait to finally gaze upon the perfect “tin canoe”, what I find is a replica of a traditional ski-boat, only smaller. The basic shape of the boats we fished on in the ’60s compared to those we fish on now has not changed much, showing how competent the original designers were. Instead, the changes in South African boats have come in the development of performance and safety considerations, the careful planning and incorporation of additional on-board features, and the subsequent world-class finishings.
I would have given anything to have this versatile little boat in my youth, but then Erwin, the many other budding boaters and I would have missed all the fun of our self-built tin canoes.

Overall length: 3.7m (12 ft)
Gunwale width: 1.65m (5.4 ft)
Gunwale height above deck: 400 mm
Total weight excluding engine: 135kg

• For more information and to order your custom-made Gypski, contact Rob Naysmith at Down South Marine on 083 235 9550. They have agents in most major centres and deliver countrywide.

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