Workstar Explorer

This is a refreshing new approach to kit boats. This is modern wooden boatbuilding. An update of the traditional garvey, the Workstar Explorer is handsome, fast, seaworthy and safe. Prefix System® kit boats are a very affordable way to get afloat in modern designs with individual character, which yet use right up to date technology to make the kit building fast, straightforward and very satisfying.

The Workstar Explorer is an epoxy and plywood small garvey kit-built using the Prefix CAD/CAM System® of design and construction: designed by Rob Humphreys Yacht Design, Jim Moore and Chris Smith and put into production by Working Boats UK Ltd in the early 2000’s. The impetus for the design was Chris Smith’s work in the developing world with the FAO/UNDP on replacement craft for artisanal fishermen, so the design is essentially that of a small, very tough and robust workboat, which could be built anywhere with virtually no woodworking and power tools and by people with little or no boatbuilding skills. 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. You can build the whole boat balanced on four chairs.

Please Note: The Prefix System® is not stitch and tape.

There are two basic layouts: centreline console (illustrated) and open launch but the design and building material lends itself to ready customisation. A couple of Explorers have been built with small cabins for camping-cruising.

The Workstar Explorer features:

  • A moderate Vee refined garvey hull shape
  • A watertight, self-draining load deck
  • Fore and aft buoyancy compartments
  • Ample locker space
  • Seating for 6-8 pax
  • Power: the Workstar Explorer runs well with 40hp but up to 60hp have been fitted.

A large number of Workstars were built for the original purpose, in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Argentina, East Africa and Central America but the design also caught the imagination of recreational boaters and fishermen and kits were sold into the USA, Australia, France, Switzerland and the UK to individuals and also to organisations (the Sea Scouts, Rotary, charities), to sailing schools as a rescue boat and maritime colleges (the Explorer in the first three pics was built for the French magazine Moteur Boat by a marine training college just outside Paris).

The Workstar Explorer 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 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 cutting with hand power tools. All the parts are accurately profiled for you and construction is rapid: you begin building the Workstar Explorer on Day One. To completing the boat, prior to painting, takes 4-6 weeks.

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

Over forty of these delightful and sweet handling small garveys have been built, in varying countries and under widely different conditions.XX More information, magazine articles and reviews, drawings and pics are available on request.

Design Specs

Rob Humphreys Yacht Design/Working Boats
Year of Design: 
17' 8" (5.40m)
6' 10' (2.04m)
0.8" (0.15m) ex engine
Approx: 700lbs (
Outboard 40hp - 50hp
Skill Level to Build: 
Available as: 
USD450.00 Licence Fee
Contact Information: 

Chris Smith,
Cape Town, RSA
+27 72 816 9932