Bartender Boats

Bartender Boats

Frequently Asked Questions  

I have a used BARTENDER or I'm considering buying a used BARTENDER. What should I look for and what advice can you give me?

Check out the forum for some ideas:

BARTENDER discussion group:  


Can you provide me a quote to build a new BARTENDER?

You will see photos and descriptions of boats built by Bartender Boats here and on other websites. We currently do not keep a shop or build boats. We supply plans so you can build your own boat or have someone else build it for you. We would like to see you in the boat of your dreams so please let us know if we can help you begin your journey with a set of plans.

Can I build a hardtop or wheelhouse on my BARTENDER?

While you may see an occasional photo of a Bartender with a hardtop or an enclosed wheelhouse they are not recommended. The added weight and windage of such structures compromise the handling and safety of any small planing hull. Even though modern boatbuilding "industry standards" have compromised function and safety in the pursuit of comfort and sales, hardtops and wheelhouses don't make a boat safer or drier than a proper canvas structure. 

Please don't be confused by the wheelhouse you see on our new TimberCoast design. The TimberCoast has an entirely different hull form than the Bartenders. The deep displacement hull and keel allows the conservative application of an enclosed wheelhouse. 

How much will it cost me to build a BARTENDER?

This is tough to nail down for other people because of the many variables that come with building any boat. The quality of materials you select to build with will be the biggest variable.  Factor in a few more variables like geographical location and resourcefulness and one builder can easily spend twice as much money as the other builder on the same project.

Thrifty amateur boat builders in the NW region of the USA are spending the following on materials to build a BARTENDER. These figures are for boats built with high quality materials, minus engine (another huge variable), with basic electronics:

19’ BARTENDER.............................. $7,500

22’ BARTENDER.............................. $10,000

26’ BARTENDER.............................. $14,000


How long will it take me to build my BARTENDER?

This is another very commonly asked question but one that is impossible to answer for another person. The time it will take to build depends more upon the individual than the project. We’ve found that if a person remains consistently devoted to the project, even if it’s just an hour or two each day, then they are pleasantly surprised at how quickly the boat gets built. Planning ahead to have the necessary materials on hand goes a long way.  One gentleman recently built his 19’ Cuddy BARTENDER in less than one year under a poly tarp shelter during a cold Alaska winter.

We have a very active online discussion group of BARTENDER enthusiasts who have built and restored many boats.  This is a great place to ask questions and get opinions from others with more experience. It’s a free resource that should not be passed up by anyone building a BARTENDER.

BARTENDER discussion group:


How are the BARTENDERS constructed?

The BARTENDERS have a plywood hull over simple straight frames. The frames are lumber and their joints held together with plywood gussets.


How is the plywood planking fastened to the frames?

The frames aren’t the only place the planking is attached. Around the planks’ edges (the more critical areas), the plywood is aggressively fastened to the chine, sheer clamp, keelson, stem, and sternpost with screws and epoxy. The planking is fastened to each frame with either screws or ring-shank nails and epoxy.


Can a BARTENDER be built with aluminum?

Yes. Even though the plans do not show aluminum construction details, aluminum BARTENDERS of all sizes have been successfully built. A number of 22’ BARTENDERS were professionally built with aluminum for the Alaska oil industry. A person inexperienced with aluminum boat construction should consult a professional for details.


Can the BARTENDERS be built with the stitch and glue method?

While any plywood boat can be built this way, there is no advantage to it with the BARTENDER. If the original designed frames were eliminated then the hull thickness would need to be increased significantly to provide strength. Because of the great curves to the hull shape of the BARTENDER, thicker plywood would not work. The hull would need to be laminated with layers of thinner plywood.

Stitch and glue boat construction is no less work than building simple frames and beveling the edges for plywood planking. A person will have a comparable amount of time into a boat built with either construction method - so don't let anyone fool you into believing that stitch and glue is quick and easy. The traditional method of plywood boat construction, as the BARTENDERS are built, is much more enjoyable and safer than applying and sanding gallons of epoxy. A comparable sized stitch and glue project will require four to five times as much epoxy and fiberglass to hold it together... which is a very significant additional expense.


Is that really enough power to plane a BARTENDER?

When compared to the huge engines we typically see on modern production power boats these days, the BARTENDERS' power recommendations may seem low. But the BARTENDER, like many other classic boat designs, was designed to be easily driven with low horse power. This is what makes the BARTENDER an extremely economical boat to operate compared to most modern power boats.

A mere 25 hp outboard will push a 19’ BARTENDER to 20 knots. Throttle back down to a sane and comfortable 12 knots and extreme economy and range are yours. A 40 hp outboard will provide 30+ knots of joy while flying past the fuel dock... and is more suitable for carrying extra passengers and/or a load.

For the 22’ BARTENDER (outboard version) 70 – 100 hp will provide 20–30 economical knots of speed. Inboard versions are also very economical and are preferred for serious offshore use. The GM 4.3L V6 is an excellent choice of engine for the inboard 22' BARTENDER. In our personal 22 footer we have a range of 290 miles at a comfortable cruise speed of 20 knots and 2400 rpm. A short crack of the throttle brings the boat up to 30 knots very quickly.

Some of the lighter modern diesel engines are very suitable for powering the BARTENDERS also.