View Full Version : Modified sharpie.Clapham Nonpareil type

04-22-2011, 02:44 AM
Im curious. Having read about Thomas Claphams Roslyn yawl "minocqua", and the glowing reports given by Reul Parker in his sharpie book, im wondering why more of this type were not built.With all the evidence of good sailing ability, and at a fraction of the cost of a similar sized (length not tonnage) deep keel yachts,why were so few built?

Parker compares the sea bird yawl as a modified sharpie,and this at least has been built in huge numbers over a long period of time.

"minocqua" appears to be the only sharpie plan to be found by Clapham,though there is mention of a yacht called "ducat",though no details are given. Does anyone on the forum have any more details of designs by Clapham?

Line drawings for "minocqua" seem to be reproduced in Chapells boat building, (page 57) yet the aft mast appears to be stepped through the mainhatch, and in all other drawings i have found,the mizzen mast has been mounted aft of the cockpit on deck.Also the drawing in Parkers book shows the additional shallow ballast keel. I will try to post pictures later if someone does not beat me to it. Cheers

Paul Pless
04-22-2011, 06:04 AM




more: here (http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/boa/2329362549.html)

and here (http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?129790-Sharpie-on-San-Francisco-Bay)

04-22-2011, 08:10 AM
Paul,thanks for the links. Interesting to note on the brokerage page she is listed as being over 14ft in beam, when she was originally 8ft 8in. Thats a mighty increase,and i wonder if thats correct? The transom looks a little fuller than in the drawings,so maybe the builder did some modifications?
Sweet looking boat though.....maybe thats why they were not popular,38ft boat...only 3 berths! Cheers

04-22-2011, 08:40 AM
I yearn for more info about these boats as well. Mystic Seaport has some stuff in their library about Clapham and there is an article by his son from an old magazine somewhere online. I can't find right now, but it has only slightly more info than the Sharpie Book. I've been unable to find any info about the Roslyn Yawl rig and how it handles, what makes it unique, etc. Maybe someone with more sailing experience can look at it and tell. I think one of the things that makes it good for singlehanded sailing is the fact that you can simply drop the main to reef or drop the jib and mizzen.

James McMullen
04-22-2011, 09:29 AM
My own empirical research into the subject from having built and owned a bunch of different sharpies has made it very, very clear to me why although theoretically advantageous and economical, the sharpie types never have become very popular.

Look at the picture where the sharpie is sailing on her ear compared to the boats in the background. Consider that you will be charged for that 40' slip even if your boat has no more than squatting head room. The self-righting capabilities of a big ol' lead mine hanging way down deep are very comforting when you get caught in awful weather. And there's simply no question that a big, deep fin is very efficient for working a boat upwind, especially in a bit of a chop or even rougher sea-state.

Now there are certainly sharpie fans who consider that the shoal draft and cheaper construction costs more than pay for these trade-offs. And I wouldn't argue with them if they decide that's their most important criteria. But don't you believe the hype from sharpie partisans like Reuel Parker that these boats work just as well as more expensive deeper draft boats across the board. They work differently. They have different strengths and weaknesses. For me, I have decided that these trade-offs are not at all my cup of tea. And I'm not at all surprised that sharpies have never really taken off except in niche markets where shallow draft is the key issue.

Paul Pless
04-22-2011, 09:34 AM
. . .has made it very, very clear to me why although theoretically advantageous and economical, the sharpie types never have become very popular.Has your research included such boats as Lightnings and Stars?;)

James McMullen
04-22-2011, 09:57 AM
The Lightning doesn't have the length/beam ratio of a sharpie, and a Star has a ballast keel, so you're on the wrong track here, Mr. Pless. Neither of those two boats are sharpies, hard chines not-withstanding.

04-22-2011, 11:19 AM
I've been working my way through the FurledSails.com podcasts, and this morning's was the interview about Container Yachts. One of the points the designer made was that the hard chine gave a nice advantage when the boat starts heeling over, when compared to the rounder hulls more common on 39' cruising boats.


That said, as above paying the fees for a boat the length of the sharpie in SF with the huge intruding CB case and low overhead would be painful to anyone used to larger boats.

04-22-2011, 11:19 AM
I would expect any boat flying that much canvas,with so little beam/draft/displacement to sail on its ear. Given the right conditions,so does my folkboat. If there has been one objectional thing to me with sharpies in general,is the amount of space the centreboard seems to take up down below,granted this is a trade off for shallow draught,and another reason why the Clapham sharpie with outside ballast and a smaller board,to me looked more interesting.....but still reasonable draught and light displacement. The vast majority of my own boats have been deep ballasted keel boats,but then i saw that as an essential to the offshore sailing i used to do. Seeing that most boats just potter from one marina/anchorage to another and never venture out of sight of land,i would have thought it was a good compromise.

I agree with James that the lack of headroom,and space/ length in comparison will never equal a full displacement type hull. Does it really come down to slip price,or is there such a variety of cheap secondhand displacement yachts that one would never contemplate such a boat?

04-22-2011, 02:22 PM
Parker's 41' interpretation has 6'1 headroom and is a maxitrailerable design. Additionally, the Minocqua is supposed to be either uncapsizeable or at least self-righting - don't remember which.

04-22-2011, 02:43 PM
i have never had a problem as long as there is "comfortable " sitting headroom. Normally with a sprayhood fitted you can stand with the mainhatch open,depends what you are willing to put up with. People who dont sail much but spend time living on their boats will probably give headroom higher priority.

I think it said in the sharpie book, uncapsizable,therefore must be self righting. Cheers

Lincoln C
04-23-2011, 09:37 AM
They work differently. They have different strengths and weaknesses. For me, I have decided that these trade-offs are not at all my cup of tea. And I'm not at all surprised that sharpies have never really taken off except in niche markets where shallow draft is the key issue.

In some ways sharpies and their variants are like multi hulls in comparison to keel boats: some of the hull shapes are similar; they tend to be faster cruising boats; they need to be sailed differently. Sharpie types and multi hulls are better sailed than hove-to in big weather. They are happier sliding sideways down a big waves; they behave more like skimming dishes than half-tide rocks. They tend to have shorter but quicker pitch and roll and they are not at their best over on their ear.

I suspect sharpie types have not been as popular for much the same reasons multis have not been: they face a general perception that a lot of ballast is the only way to keep those mast pointing upwards; perceived notions of seaworthiness; they don't look like proper boats. Hard chines and the whole multi hull marrige of spaceship and reed proa require a different aesthetic to appreciate, much less be passionate about.

Other notable yacht designers besides Reuel Parker and Clapham have been big sharpie fans. See Howard Chapelle.
BTW, the book mentioned by SScoville is the Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports. It's on Google books. On page 225, Clapham discusses sharpies, his in particular. There's some good information mixed in with the hyperbole.

04-23-2011, 10:06 AM
From Yachting Magazine


I wish someone would write article for WB about the type, maybe someone familiar with that boat for sale.

James McMullen
04-23-2011, 11:34 AM
Sure, sharpies serve a niche, just like any other sort of boat. But my best advice for anyone considering building a sharpie of their own is to do anything in their power to try one out and go sailing before investing precious time and hard-earned fortune in such a thing. Like so many other amateur builders, I gravitated towards the sharpie type when I was starting out because it seemed easy to build. If only I had known then what I know now, I would have made a very different investment.

04-23-2011, 12:17 PM
In terms of marketing a boat, sharpies have seldom done well under any racing rule, so with the exception of one-design classes such as the Lightning and the Star, the racing crowd has left them alone (sorry, James, those are arc-bottomed sharpies.) It tends to take a very large one to have standing headroom, which limits their appeal to cruisers. That said, there are many types of sharpies, and the Presto type, which doesn't even have hard chines, does away with most of the objections to the type while also dispensing with some of the advantages, such as being inexpensive to build.

You could say that anything with hard bilges and light displacement is an extension of the sharpie idea, which makes modern ultra-light ocean racers a development of sharpies. For example:


Ragtime was built in 1964 and is still winning races. And if Minocqua is a sharpie, so is Ragtime.

Paul Pless
04-23-2011, 02:38 PM
And if Minocqua is a sharpie, so is Ragtime.Just for James, here's a picture of another big keel sharpie that I took a year or so ago. It was in town for the Detroit - Mackinac race.


04-23-2011, 02:48 PM
some interesting links to read thanks. I think its been said before that sharpies were the Ultra Light Displacement Boat of there day,with the advantages and disadvantages.

I dont disagree with James when he suggests trying one out before building,if possible....i always suggest the same thing to someone who thinks a Grand Banks dory will make a fine dayboat for rowing.....it can,but not neccesarily the best for the purpose.

The Egret type sharpie seems to be reasonably popular,though i have still never seen one in Europe, even though that still lacks headroom,it was at least proven sea-worthy (depending on how you define that).

Nice to see the drawings of "Ducat", didnt realise she was so big.

Lets face it,there will always be people who are rabid in their own belief that there way is best,when logically, there are many ways,but that way is best for "them". James Wharram springs to mind. Not my cup of tea, though absolutely nothing wrong with his boats,but after spending some time on a 35ft Tangaroa, i came to the conclusion(to me at least),it was like having two boats,and not having everything to hand in the one hull. A bridgedeck cat is another thing entirely..i get it...but again,not my cuppa.

Maybe the presto type was suppose to be the best of the sharpie without the drawbacks of the full displacement keel boat? The only one i have seen is on Parkers website,and it certainly looks more spacious than a traditional sharpie. Would you call the larger seabird yawl design "seagoer"(?) a sharpie hull with a ballast keel added?

04-23-2011, 02:51 PM
LOL...Paul,i dont think that last boat can be called shoal draft,even with the keel cranked up sideways, but the hull shape yes...5 spreader rig......er.....no thanks.

04-23-2011, 06:35 PM
There is no One boat, which is good for us. One reason I find Minocqua appealing is because she is supposed to be self-righting. After capsizing my Bay River Skiff 17 (probably a "modified sharpie", though the designer does not like the term "sharpie") I am frightened by the thought of capsizing a cruising size boat.

Lincoln C
04-23-2011, 06:38 PM
Wanted to post SScoville's links to 1938 Yachting magazine. Some pretty boats:
https://picasaweb.google.com/Landonf56/Clapham?authkey=Gv1sRgCMWT39m6zoCSrwE#559892478307 9956322https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_Kiys7DNkjIM/TbNgbQOcn2I/AAAAAAAAAfc/3LBKdNSTM8c/s512/Grifffith%20Clapham%20article1.jpg

04-23-2011, 10:08 PM
I think the photo showing her healing way over may be deceptive. I note the Gaffer is reefed. It appears to be gusty. The other boats in the background may not have the same wind force just now.
My ballasted Meadowlark sharpie generally stands up a little more than the similar keel boats around. I can and have carried full sail to windward (perhaps 5 points off the wind) in 30 knots of wind without undue stress or panic. She would heal over, rail in the water, in a gust and noticable accelerate, and come back up. We were going very fast, though I did not have a GPS to check for speed, I'd guess over 8 knots for a few moments at a time.
I will grant that at 33 feet she still only has about 4.5 feet of headroom in the cabin, not so good for walking around. but fine for sitting, and lounging, and sleeping. Id say the main inconvenience is when putting on ones pants.

04-24-2011, 01:05 AM
i wouldnt be surprised if that picture was taken purposely like that.A lot of magazine front covers will have the latest thing cranked right over,as if we sail like that all the time!.Depending on how subjective you want to be,you could actually say she does at least carry full sail in a breeze......others may have reefed or eased the sheets,which is why i think this is more of a staged photo. I like the lines of the 26ft sharpie sloop,but no hint of a centreboard,maybe not drawn in?

Lincoln C
04-24-2011, 07:29 AM
I like the lines of the 26ft sharpie sloop,but no hint of a centreboard,maybe not drawn in?

If you go to the links, the resolution is much better and you can see a CB slot in the keel view.


04-24-2011, 12:37 PM
ahhhh.....well spotted. Thanks