View Full Version : Trailerable Day Sailer

06-17-2000, 01:36 PM
I need a suggestion for a trailerable sailboat, with a tow weight under 1500 lbs. I live in New England so the boat will see use in fresh- and salt-water. I have been thinking of the Merry Mac after reading reviews in W.B. (I forgot the issued #).

landlocked sailor
06-17-2000, 02:52 PM
Lots & lots of choices. This issue has come up a number of times in the last year with volumes of input; you could do a search. You need to decide what method of construction you prefer: stitch & glue plywood, "traditional" chine built plywood, glued-ply lapstrake or traditional lapstrake. All have their advantages & disadvantages, and all have caused a lot of entertaining reading around these parts! What is generally accepted is that traditional carvel planked boats are unsuitable for trailering. Also there is strip-built and cold-molded.....Happy hunting, Rick

06-30-2000, 10:36 AM
I should explain that I'm a first time builder, the only woodworking experience that I have is construction and toy-making. I don't know much about the construction techniques mentioned, which is the easiest to learn? I also need to mention that I don't have the foggiest notion of lofting.

[This message has been edited by DCSUSMAN1 (edited 07-06-2000).]

Ian McColgin
06-30-2000, 10:46 AM
OK. I'll start the rant of gratuitous advice.

You can't beat the Chamberlain gunning dory, of which my Leeward is a good example that even an arrogant woodbutcher who defies both clearly written instructions and common sense can make one to last.

And she's a perfect little vessel that will take you anywhere - good little voyager/beach camper.

Check John Gardner's "Building Classic Small Craft" or "The Dory Book" for full details and other appealing choises. You can see her picture, but not a great one in the Photos in Cyberspace threat at Msl and look through design and other threads on 'first boat' like topics for many other well informed opinions.


07-02-2000, 10:21 PM
The Glen-L website (http://www.glen-l.com/) has a series of pages on each of a number of different methods of boatbuilding. If you don't know about method, this might be a good place to start. Another group of questions has to do with what you hope to get from this project as the outcome. Are you looking for a basic boat? a beautiful boat? an accurate example of historical technique? a cheap boat? or a boat designed to perform very well in a specific set of conditions? There are probably many more questions, but by now you get the general idea. The previous discussion on this site was quite wide ranging and covered many possibilities. Although not generally favored by many on this site, I suggest you give thought to some of the plywood and epoxy composite techniques if consistent with your other goals. Best regards, Marco

Ian McColgin
07-03-2000, 08:33 AM
Now that I have spent about 16 hours over the last two days sailing Leeward, and am very well pleased, three things come to mind about configuring this type that would make her more accessable to the beginning sailor:

- Use the side arm short tiller with a nice long push/pull stick for steering. The control line system I use works well but appears hard for other people to master.

- Increase the rudder blade by about 50%.

- & Lastly, something I'll do myself this winter, put a window in the sail up near the mast!

The 3-1/2" of foam and elvstrom bailers I built in work - she's now self-bailing when empty and the leeward bailer will suck, even though under water, if your going more than 3 kt. Remembering that this hull peaks at about 4 kt . . .

I love the Leeward but there are lots of light trailorable boats that may have less ultimate seaworthiness, less rowing and loadcarrying ability, but could be more suitable - - - like why build from scratch when you can get a Thistle in need of some TLC?

G'luck deciding.

07-03-2000, 10:02 AM
I like my Drascombe Lugger. Sail, row, or power. Granted, a compromise, but what other 18 ft open boat can boast (sort of) a circumnavigation? Albeit in skips and jumps with different skippers and at different times. Plus, it has a bit of a cult following, especially across the Pond but over here to a lesser degree. That helps if you go to sell it. There are lots of choices. What do you hope to do with it?

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 07-03-2000).]

07-05-2000, 01:56 PM
Seems the more I learn, the more I question. Alright, I am looking for a very simple boat that will take me and my kids around the lakes and harbours around New England. I will look at either a very easy to build or something that needs someone to care for it. Thanks for all the input.

07-05-2000, 02:27 PM
You've found us out. Ask a question, a seemingly simple question, and you'll be swimming in advice. Much if not most of it quite compentent. Here's some more. Within your parameters if you decide to build and want something really simple check out sharpies or banks dories. Atkin has a 20 foot banks dory with a standing lug sail, a small inboard (could be an outboard in a well or no motor at all) that has always intrigued me. 'course she wouldn't go to windward worth a d*** but... Best, Ishmael

07-07-2000, 07:42 AM
Check out Rick Starr's post under bay boat. There is a link to a sight with a couple of really nice looking cat ketches.

09-20-2000, 11:03 AM
You can't go wrong with Stevenson Project's boats. You can find them at www.stevproj.com. (http://www.stevproj.com.) Their designs are very pleasing to look at, increadibly easy to build, sail very well, very easy to maintain, and are all very light in weight. I build the Pocket Cruiser which is a 14'3" catboat with an 8' long cabin, 5' cockpit, and weighs 600lbs. I built it in six months. You can see pictures at http://gozips.uakron.edu/~widmier/boat.html

garland reese
09-20-2000, 08:45 PM
Take a look at the 17' Core Sound design from www.bandbyachtdesigns.com (http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com)
.......simple construction, simple and practicle rig, lightweight, easy to trailer and launch (you can rig it in very little time), and, I suspect, very friendly to sail. It should carry a good crowd and with the dodger, she'll make a fine daysailer. And she looks good to boot. Plans are priced well too. I think this one has all the things that you are looking for.
I think that stitch and glue is about the fastest and easiest way to build. Modernized wooden techniques may be the most practicle, since it sounds as if it'll live on a trailer.

If you like something with a cabin, have a look at MeadowBird, from GFC boats. She is of woodstrip/sheathed build, which is more tedious and time consuming and more expensive (in general) than S&G, but not too difficult and the results can be stunning. You can get a look at this design at the databoat international web page...don't have the address handy.

Also check out www.instantboats.com (http://www.instantboats.com) Lots of simple designs here from Phil Bolger.

......and, if you are not thouroughly confused yet, check out the www.nwmarinedesign.com (http://www.nwmarinedesign.com) site. Not really simple, but strip/sheathed construction is very buildable by an amature (especially a carpenter). These are performance oriented designs (I like the 21' daysailer).

Also, Walt Simmons at www.duck-trap.com (http://www.duck-trap.com) has some very nice traditional designs that can be built in glued plywood lapstrake. Have a look at the Mantinicus double ender.....lovely indeed!

That is probably much more than you wanted to know, and much that you may not be interested in, but at least it'll give you an idea of the possibilities.

09-21-2000, 10:10 AM
Here's how I narrowed down the process of what boat to build:

1) Decide on the type of boat building you want to do as your first venture. For me, that's plywood, even though I'd love to hand shape planks and cinch over copper nails, I want my first venture to be both successful and done in a reasonable time.

2) Narrow the choices further by the criteria you already have: a trailerable day sailer under 1500 pounds. That puts you in the under 20' range, generally.

3) Look at the remaining thousands of plans at www.glen-l.com, (http://www.glen-l.com,) www.commonsenseboats.com (http://www.commonsenseboats.com) and www.stevproj.com (http://www.stevproj.com)

I decided on the Weekender by Stevenson Projects because there's an active association of builders not unlike the group here on the Wooden Boat forum, who are able and willing to share their experience and advice. And I was seduced by her good looks too. Now I'm in love with her, which will make it hard to part ways when the inevitable happens and I build another boat.

Alan D. Hyde
09-21-2000, 11:10 AM
Around here at least (Indiana), you can pick up an old wooden Lightning for say $500-1,500 (with a trailer) this time of year.

Why not get some experience, see what you like/don't like before building?

If you fix it up yourself, you may even be able to sell it for a profit when it's time for the second boat.


[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 09-21-2000).]

09-21-2000, 11:32 AM
I think that's especially good advice when serendipity puts a boat in your sights. Something about building from scratch though; intangible and primal in it's satisfying of a yearning for a personal vessel.

09-21-2000, 11:37 AM
Don't let lofting stop you, it's not all that hard. The biggest problem is finding an area to do the lofting.


09-22-2000, 11:57 AM
I am going to stick w/ stitch and glue plywood construction, since I am short on tools, experience, and time, and want light weight. I just bought a copy of the Bay River Skiff plans from B&B yacht Designs. I really like the look of the Skiff and the cat ketch sprit rig. Looking at some of the details of this fairly simple boat, though, I am sorely tempted to buy a skiff kit (Jimmy Skiff) from Chesapeake Light Craft as a first boat. The CLC kit contains nearly everything but the paint, with all wood precut. It would probably go to my brother as a present and then I'd tackle the Bay River Skiff. I probably will suck it up and forge ahead w/ the BRS, but CLC has a reputation as suppliers of very good kits, and I could focus on the assembly process, tackling the lofting and cutting on the next project (the B&B design is not full scale and I have no experience with the layout and cutting process).

09-22-2000, 01:43 PM
SWIFTWOOD started life as a CLC kit

I can vouch for there kits and support

Hey if the guy write articles for WoodenBoat!

garland reese
09-22-2000, 06:19 PM
If you have carpentry skills and your own carpentry tools, you will likely have all the tools that you need to build a small boat from just about any method. Most things are done by hand or common power tools. Think planes and spokeshaves and chisels (and sanding!)....... you don't have to have a bunch of sophistcated tools to build.......patience is a real important tool! The B and B plans should not be that difficult to lay out. If you follow the "measure twice" rule and cut close to the line, then finish to the line with a hand plane, you be fine. You can fix most mistakes. Get Devlins or Glen L's book on stitch and glue construction before you start.
I am drawn to wood strip/'glass sheathed construction because the closest marine ply is 4 hours away (and I sold my old truck), and wood veneers for cold molding......? I would need to trailer my boat, so traditional construction is not the best choice for me. It is fairly easy to get reasonably good wood for getting out strips. One strip is much easier to handle than a big piece of ply and if you mess up a strip, you haven't really messed up too much. This is a forgiving method, and not difficult, but it is by far not the fastest, and then there is the mess of epoxy/'glass.
Glued lapstrake ply construction is also a good method for us amatures, and fairly forgiving, with less fairing and 'glassing needed than strip building. there are good books on all these methods and you'd do well to read up, even with a stitch and glue design.
I don't think that you could go wrong with any of the B and B designs. Tom Lathrop, who is a regular here built the Bay River Skiff on the web site. He can give you first hand advice about these boats. My heart keeps me looking at the boats of Iain Oughtred and William Garden and those sporty NW Marine designs, but I think the Core Sound and The Bay River boats at B and B strike the best balance of good looks, ease of use, simplicity, trailerability, economy of building both in time and cost, etc. I think that they may be roomier and than the CLC Skiff too.
Given your carpentry background, I wouldn't be too concerned about your ability to build a stitch and glue boat from scratch......my $.02
good luck,

landlocked sailor
09-22-2000, 06:54 PM
I would lean toward glued lapstrake ply construction method; the simplicity of modren materials and some very salty looking results. Iain Oughtred's plans are excellent for the first timer. I just can't stand the thought of all that sanding with stitch & glue. With all these $.02 you could pay for your plans. Rick

Chris Nielsen
09-29-2000, 09:33 AM
Hi, I'm not all that experienced a sailor but having bought a daysailer for a particular bay here's my cent and a half's worth. Look at what people are already sailing where you intend to use the boat. Where I live, there are reasons you don't see some types of boats. When I was researching, I found people not only too willing to talk with me, but also offering to take me for a spin and even let me take it out! There's an advantage to being able to sail a boat before you take the plunge. You may also decide against a boat you thought you wanted. An extra bonus: I also met an older gentleman who has since become a friend! More value than some boats...

03-31-2003, 10:10 PM
I built a Core Sound 17 and I think it's a wonderful boat. It sails great and no single step in the building process was too difficult.


bob goeckel
04-01-2003, 04:00 PM
16' Wayfarer! it's a great boat. the problem is most are now fiber..... there are used woodies and an unfinished new build at www.uswayfarer.org (http://www.uswayfarer.org) and the Canadian wayfarer site. kits and plans are almost impossible to find.

John Gearing
04-01-2003, 07:20 PM
The Merry Mac was in the article about Bud McIntosh's brother. It looks like a great little boat. As I recall, it can be built from just a few sheets of plywood and is simple to rig.

In general, flat-bottomed boats are the easiest to build, IMHO. They can sail acceptably, though they are known to pound in certain conditions. Some designs are more susceptible to this than others. Ruel Parker's "The Sharpie Book" might be a good start, as are the designs in Gardner's books. See also Bob Baker's designs:

And the Atkin's designed some simple sharpies that have proved themselves, including the James Samuels boats. How about a 20 foot open catboat?

I'm assuming here that you are not looking for a boat with a cabin, and that you are planning on carrying 1-3 people. Am I at all in the ballpark?

David Susman
11-07-2004, 09:41 PM
Okay, I was looking for the longest delay possible before answering ... did I win?

Actually, I had a major computer meltdown and only recently got a new one.

I have three daughters and a wife to fit in the boat with me, so figuring 5 to 6 people. Add to that ease of rigging and simplicity of construction.

I'm not even sure how large a boat (cockpit) I would need. I thought about an open cockpit Sharpie, something without the cabin built I guess. I am still leaning towards plywood either stich and glue or similar.

imported_Steven Bauer
11-07-2004, 10:20 PM
Hold on a second. It's been four and a half years and you haven't built the boat yet? smile.gif Holy moley. Get on with it. I'd say you need a 16 foot catboat to take the whole family. And at least one of the girls will want her freind to come along, too. I built a 14' John Gardner skiff (since your first post :D ) and we sailed out to the middle of the bay with me, my wife, both daughters and a friend to see the Queen Mary II. The skiff did fine but we would have been more comfortable if we could have moved around a little.
What kinds of boats have you sailed on?


11-08-2004, 11:23 AM
The good news is that in your absence new boats have come along. The bad news is that your family has grown. :D

I see that Iain Oughtred's Fulmar and Caledonia yawl weren't mentioned earlier. Or I missed them. Either would be good for a gang of folks. In the case of the Caledonia yawl, if you build the open version it's ALL cockpit. To date I have had 3 adults (one pregnant) and two wee girls (ages 6 & 2) in my Caledonia yawl. Nobody got stepped on. :D

John Welsford's Pathfinder would hold a crowd comfortably as well.

The Core Sound 17 remains very viable as well.

In the Swamp. :D

11-08-2004, 03:39 PM
The Merry Mac is a wonderful boat, stable, performs well, and for 13 1/2 feet, very roomy. I learned to sail in one in Kittery. At the time, there were four in our family, but one of my sisters was terrified of boats that heel. With three people, they are fine. How big the people are matters too, of course. Once I had myself and two nephews in an El Toro, but I was a small guy and they were little kids and the total weight was under 200 lb.

I like sharpies a lot. When I was 20, I owned an 18 footer done from plans for a sharpie skiff in American Small Sailing Craft. The plans in the book are small, but you can get big ones from the Smithsonian Ship Plans Division. It had a well-lifted stern which allowed it to carry a lot of weight without the induced drag you get when the transome gets in the water. Mine had a jib added and the mast raked aft, which seemed to give it about the right sail area. It was caravel planked, and when I had to row it 10 miles, I had reason to curse the skin friction of a cross-planked bottom. The boat could easily be done in plywood, and would have no trouble carrying five people.

David Susman
11-08-2004, 06:50 PM
I am ashamed to admit I haven't even picked a boat to build ... but I've thought about it a lot!

I learned to sail in a small pram in California. I've also spent time on a Columbia 36', a Beetle Cat and Catalina 22 and 25.

I did read a terrific article on the Merry Mac, are there plans available?

I really enjoy the Cats, my concern with them would be the beam as this boat will be dry sailed from lake to harbor.

Now, seriously ... how hard is this? Really?

[ 11-08-2004, 07:52 PM: Message edited by: David Susman ]

11-08-2004, 06:58 PM
Some say the worst part is thinking about it and you've done plenty of that! :D

11-11-2004, 02:14 PM
I think Ned MacIntosh built all the Merry Macs. You could buy an old one and recondition it. I just rebuilt a 50-year-old Snipe, and I can tell you, rebuilds can be big enough project for anyone.