View Full Version : San Juan Island Sharpie Schooner

Peter Wilcox
01-09-2001, 07:35 PM
Anyone built one of these halibut schooners that Chappelle found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Fig. 46 in Amer. Small Sailing Craft) and Ruell Parker redrew and featured in his Sharpie book? I'd like to see and hopefully sail one prior to building one myself.

I already own a 25' sharpie yawl based on the presto sharpie design. We took her north to Echo Bay and Queen Charlotte Strait this last summer and suffered two knockdowns in a Strait of Georgia storm.

Jack C
01-10-2001, 08:22 AM
2 knockdowns in a sharpie? Well, you obviously lived to tell the tale...tell us more.

You're probably best off contacting R. Parker and asking if he knows of any San Juan's that exist. You might want to consider the New Haven style as well; I know several of them are on the East Coast.


Peter Wilcox
01-13-2001, 08:57 PM
Our 25' gaff-rigged sharpie yawl, Raven, was knockdowned twice in the
northern Strait of Georgia this last July during a large southeaster
that was blowing 35 with gusts to 60. Swells became around 12' when the
tide turned against wind.

We about 10 miles northeast of Nanaimo with about 10 more miles to the
east side of Lasquiti Island where we were headed. Everyone but me had
been sick for some time. On the first knockdown, my daughter was nearly
washed out of the cockpit. It was terrifying. We were out of control
but couldn't run because of many hazards and no charts that we could get
to for sailing in that direction. Best choice was to continue trying to
reach Lasquiti.

After trying to keep the boat in control and considering all options, I
sent down the mate, my wife, to pull up the centerboard. This stopped
our "tripping" on the big swells we were skidding sideways down, and
things got just enough better to keep going under jib and jigger
(mizzen) along to Lasquiti. Later we managed to get the jib down too.

Our boat is based on the Presto sharpie and has 2400# of inside lead
ballast. She righted very quickly both times from 85 -95 degree
knockdowns. It was a trip!

We eventually sailed up beyond Knight Inlet to the Queen Charlotte
Strait. Beautiful but way too many ugly Americans in big, plastic
"Belleview Battleships" and not enough simple sailors or modest boats
for my politics.

I've called Ruell twice and he says there may be one or two of the SJI
sharpies in Texas, but he is not in contact with those who bought the
plans. I'd like to find one I can see. I'm familiar with the New
Haven's but want to build a west coast design for west coast waters.

Thanks for your note.

01-14-2001, 07:14 AM
Based on this description, besides terrifying (which does happen at sea whatever you're in) I'd say your boat came through with flying colors. I doubt that any sharpie would do any better, you're handling of the situation was good even great, and it is good if you and your crew still look forward to more exploring under sail.

Dave Hadfield
01-15-2001, 10:58 AM

Any chance of a photo or lines drawing? I think the point about your boat is that, while the experience gave you a shock, it survived. No real damage, correct?

That makes it something we'd all like to have a look at.

BTW, I thought it was always calm in the Straits? I know that the sailing I've done out there (between Sidney and Campbell River) involved an awful lot of motoring. (And a lot of very fine fishing.) The whole thing must've given you some surprise!


01-16-2001, 01:36 AM
The Straight of Juan de Fuca is often (almost always) calm in the summer months, due to the prevailing northwesterlies, and the geography of Vancouver Island, but any other season you have a good chance of SE winds, at least in the eastern part. At those times, the straight becomes a very effective wind tunnel, with winds 10-15 knots higher than the surrounding areas, and when it's wind against tide, or floods, it can get downright wicked, with 6-8 foot square waves, especially over the various shoal areas.
Another time to be careful is during late spring/early summer, when the desert east of the Cascades can be as much as 15-20 degrees hotter than the straight, which sucks the coastal high through the straight at 30-40 knots above the rest of Puget Sound. I've seen 60' fishing boats leave Boathaven in a calm, and they're burying their bows 10 minutes later.
I just love the geography of this area!

Art Read
01-16-2001, 03:09 AM
Both the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia can be VERY dangerous for the ill-prepared. (Like anywhere, really) The geographry, as noted, plays a large part in these water's unique personalities but their apparently benign personality for much of the time lulls many folk into a false sense of security. The combination of very strong and unpredicable current patterns and often quickly changing weather can create dangerous conditions in a matter of minutes. What can be a pleasant downwind "romp" with a flood tide can turn nasty quick when that tide changes. Add in the frequent fog we enjoy, and things really get fun. Most well found boats managed thoughtfully will do just fine, but every year it seems we hear of yet another kayaker or small runabout gone missing. Beautiful place. Lovely sailing. Lots of wildlife. But don't be fooled by it's often, (especially in summer) peaceful appearance. I've seen some of the worst conditions I've ever experienced here...

03-24-2014, 11:53 PM
Just spotted this thread, Peter. I'm building a Juan de Fuca Sharpie [as detailed by Chapelle] in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. You can catch up with/keep up with the progress at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98064905@N04/ She'll be rigged as a ketch initially with provision for the schooner rig later on. Any questions, feel free to ask. Hugh [ check out this thread for more info/comments also http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?165847-Sharpie]