Posted by: oldsalt1942 | January 15, 2010

Retreat is NOT Defeat

When we think of the word retreat we generally think of the military definition of the forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or from an advanced position. But retreat is also a place of privacy or safety: a refuge; a place that provides shelter or protection.

The name Atkin has long been associated with boat designs and the firm formed by John and William Atkin is responsible for more than 300 designs including double-enders, offshore and coastal cruising yachts, rowing and sailing dinghies and houseboats. Many of the designs were drawn up with the amateur builder in mind.

Though I have no idea when this design was first introduced but I suspect it was around the time of WWII since it was presented in the Atkin & Co. website ( thusly, “In these days of scarce and difficult-to-find houses and rooms such a craft as shown here would fill a very real need. Everything with a roof, and the latter not always water tight, is filled to overcrowding wherever war-work is being produced. After a long, throbbing day surrounded by moise a little boat like Retreat edged by sedge grass and water would be the ultimate indeed.”

Simple and straight-forward, Retreat is only 18 feet overall with a 7 foot beam and 5 inches of draft.

The study plans show a very basic interior layout…

The boat doesn’t just remain lines on a few sheets of paper. John Lawler, Jr., of Manchester, CT, built his Retreat and lived aboard in lieu of being confined to a retirement home. This Retreat was surely a place of refuge.

The plans for Retreat are still for sale for $55 at

Atkin Boat Plans

P.O. Box 3005 A

Noroton, CT 06820

I suggest, though that you visit the site and look at all their plans which include a larger houseboat called Nautilus which is 32X18.


  1. The Retreat looks to be a wonderful design. I ordered the plans some years ago from Mr. Atkins wife/widow. To say the plans were poor would be an understatement. The “how to” page was so faded as to be unreadable. The plans appeared to be incomplete as I couldn’t find any drawings for the cabin itself. I was heartbroken. It’s old school. Talks about covering with canvas and such. But there are so few good shanty boat designs out there I have been thinking of reordering. Perhaps I just got a bad set? I don’t know…..

    I can sympathize with your frustration after having shelled out money for a set of plans you can’t read and wouldn’t hesitate to lodge a complaint.

    You have to take into consideration how old the plans are, regarding using canvas, but today you’d just go with glass cloth instead. I have no idea what your woodworking skills are, but, essentially these shantyboats are nothing more than boxes that float. I’d look into Bolger’s designs and a few others and don’t give up the dream.

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