View Full Version : Launching

Scott Rosen
05-29-2001, 12:24 PM
I finally launched my 9'6" Nutshell Pram on Memorial Day. We named her Cricket. When I was building her, a very noisy cricket took up residence in the garage (uh, boatshop). We could hear the cricket from inside the house, but as soon as someone went into the garage, it stopped. It seemed as if the partially-built Nutshell was chirping for me to hurry up and finish her. We've since been told that crickets are a symbol of good luck. The color scheme fits her name--light grey/green hull with buff interior. Nancy took some pictures, but unless I get a scanner, I won't be able to post them.

It was satisfying, but slightly anti-climactic. She floated, didn't leak and looked pretty good. Next weekend I'll try the sailing rig. She rowed extremely well, tracking straight and true and having a good turn of speed. Using moderate effort, I was able to row her into the wind with more speed than I could get out of my old inflatable and 3.5 HP outboard, with the added benefit of no noise and no wake. The sound of the oars dipping in the water and the bronze oarlocks creaking with each stroke was such a nice change from the outboard. If I never use another outboard, it'll be too soon.

In short, she's a good dinghy, just as advertised. But after all the time I spent building her, I guess I expected something more dramatic, like she'd fly or something, or that the heavens would open up and a voice would thunder from behind the clouds assuring me admission into boatbuilding heaven. Oh well, maybe the next boat . . .

[This message has been edited by Scott Rosen (edited 05-29-2001).]

Ed Harrow
05-29-2001, 01:06 PM
Congratulations!!! Rest assured that it is only the undeserving who believe that there must be an audible voice. The satisfaction that you have gained is all the voice you need.

Jim H
05-29-2001, 01:41 PM
Congrats Scott! I found a way to get around the scanner-software problem, have your pictures processed by Eckard Drugs or some similar outfit, they can process them to a cd for you to post to photopoint or your web site.

Good Luck,


05-29-2001, 02:11 PM

I was hoping to get SWIFTWOOD done by the WoodenBoat Show, but looks like its back on the "winter project" list. Didn't make it under wire

Bruce Taylor
05-29-2001, 06:33 PM
Way to go, Scott. No thundering voice? That's what no 3.5 hp motor sound like.

She'll fly, alright -- next week, under sail.

Congrats...and buy a scanner fer gawd's sake.

ken mcclure
05-29-2001, 06:56 PM
Ahhhh. What a feeling. Congratulations!

By the way, I'm taking care of the Scotch lubrication from here.

Todd Schliemann
05-29-2001, 09:26 PM
I'll bet I know why the heavens didn't open up. You used epoxy, didn't you. How many times do we have to tell you Scott? Wait'll Cleek hears about this, then the heavens'll open up ... gess. Epoxy, I knew it! You're just like the rest of them.

The very best to you and your CRICKET.

05-30-2001, 08:48 AM

Have scanner, will scan.

No charge.


Adam C
05-30-2001, 10:57 AM
Hey Scott,

How good is this design as a tender? I was looking for a good tender that rowed well for the wife and three very young children. Would the Nutshell fit the bill? How much did it cost and how long did it take to build?


Scott Rosen
05-30-2001, 11:31 AM

I chose the Nutshell because of its great reputation as a tender. Problem is, since I just got her in the water, I haven't had a chance to really test her out under actual cruising conditions.

What I can tell you is that she rows well and easily. My wife, who hasn't rowed a boat in a lot of years, was able to grab the oars and do a respectable job of handling without any mishaps. She (the boat, not my wife) has good capacity--would easily hold two adults and two kids plus supplies. In fact, I'll be using her to carry two adults, two kids and supplies.

I'm not the one to tell you how long it would take to built a Nutshell. I built at a very, very leisurely pace--slow as molasses. But I had fun and learned a lot. I would think that a determined person working weekends and a couple of nights after work should be able to complete construction--without painting and finish work--in a couple of months, easy. It's a great winter project, and a good one to share with your kids. If you're looking for a tender this summer, you better get working fast! http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

I didn't keep track of costs. I used the building process as an excuse to get lots of new tools and supplies and the like, and to experiment with some stuff, so my cost was probably higher than it had to be. Even though she's glued plywood lapstrake, I don't think I used more than a quart or so of epoxy, so you won't be spending much money on glues and glops. There's not a lot of hardware needed, especially if you build the rowing version. The sailing version has the addition of rudder hardware and a couple of small blocks for the rig. The daggerboard trunk was an easy addition, but you'll have to buy a cartridge of 5200 or some similar goop to bed it. If you build the 9'6" version, you'll have to scarf some plywood, unless you can find it in the required lengths. Or you could buy the kit from WB which comes with scarfed panels.

The plans are full-size, detailed, clear and easy to work from--no lofting required. WoodenBoat sells a companion book which I found very helpful.

Good luck.

J. Dillon
05-30-2001, 12:20 PM
Congratulations Scott,

I hope you get lots of good rowing and sailing in her. Sounds like a neet name. Are you going to paint a Jimminy Cricket on her, Like in Pinnochio ?

Did you CPES everything ?


05-30-2001, 12:33 PM
PICTURES!!!- No scanner - Lame excuse!- Beg borrow or steal a digital camera, do as suggested above, or roll them up & stuff them in into your PC. - $.34 for a stamp & I'll scan them also.

Anyways, congratulations! I hope you have years of good use from her.

05-30-2001, 01:34 PM
Congratulations, Scott!
The epiphany will come on a screaming reach in 15 knots of wind. By far the best heavy weather dink I've ever sailed. I've had my 7'7" Nutshell, Gambol, out in 25 knots with a 3 foot chop and she was great, though gybes were an adventure. She also does surprisingly well in light airs. Just don't expect to point very high.
You'll also love the way she tows.

Syd MacDonald
05-30-2001, 08:53 PM
No comment 'til I see the pic's.

05-30-2001, 10:14 PM
Scott, Great story about the cricket......They are a symbol of good luck. We had one stowaway somewhere in the cockpit of our wooden trawler in Mazatlan, Mexico a couple of years ago. He let us know his presence, chirping each night after the sun went down. We cruised South down the golden coast of Mexico to Manzanillo and returned to Mazatlan two months later with the cricket still making noise each night. After a couple of days in Mazatlan the cricket jumped ship (He was Home?). After a week or so we set out for La Paz, and the Sea of Cortez for the Spring, without our friend and crew member the cricket. Well, what a crossing, half way to La Paz in the middle of the night the engine (single) quit. It wasn't difficult to see why the engine stopped.... the big Racor 1000 was full of crud. I quickly switched to the spare Racor changed the contaminated one and proceeded to our destination. This procedure continued for the rest of the cruise to La Paz, switching primary filter every 3 hours. Where was our good luck Pal the cricket??????

Scott Rosen
07-09-2001, 04:42 PM
I've finally had a chance to use my Nutshell while cruising. It's a great little boat. I can see why it's so popular. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable tender that rows, tows and sails well. Unlike most rowing tenders I've used, the Nutshell sails great and is outstanding in rough weather. Last week, we had two days with 20-25 knot on-shore winds. We landed two adults, two children and a Labrador Retriever on a beach with waves without any trouble. We were also able to launch from the beach in the same conditions, with only one person getting wet. (Me, of course. To launch into the waves and wind, I waded out twenty or thirty feet or so with a folding grapnel anchor tied to the painter to hold the boat just off the beach with the bow to the wind and waves. I was then able to hop in over the stern and get to the oars without taking on any water. I started rowing while my wife took in the anchor.) Even the inflatables with the 8 and 10 hp outboards were having a hard time of it, and they were getting a lot wetter. In a 20-25 knot headwind, loaded up with gear, people and dog, I was able to row without much difficulty, although it was slow going.

We towed the Nutshell for six hours into a 15 to 20 knot headwind with short, steep and choppy seas. When we finally tied up, we were all tired and wet, and Patience was covered in salt, but there wasn't a drop of water in the Nutshell.

I would strongly urge anyone considering this boat to build the sailing version. If you build the rowing version, you will miss out on the best part of the Nutshell. Its sailing abilities are outstanding. It's a whole lot more than just rowboat with a mast thrown on as an afterthought. The rig is sturdy, simple and efficient. The mast is unstayed, so it's quick and easy to set up for sailing. Although the sail has a reef point, the boat is so stable that I can't imagine ever having to reef. Good windward performance, dry in a chop, responsive, just the right amount of weather helm. I couldn't ask for more. I had a chance to tool around Mystic when the Dyer Dhows were out racing. Even though my daughter was trailing her feet in the water, the Nutshell was faster and more nimble than the Dyers. It's lighter, drier, rows better and looks better, too. I found that sitting in the bottom just behind the middle thwart gave the boat good balance, and the shape of the hull made the position very comfortable for all day sailing. At no time did I even have to move my lazy butt off the bottom and onto the gunnel for balance.

I can't think of any negative qualities when compared to other hard-hulled dinghies. The only negative qualities when compared to an inflatable are that the inflatable will be almost impossible to capsize no matter how rough the conditions, although it will be a much wetter ride; and certain inflatables may be lighter for the length, at least until you add the weight of the outboard motor. The weight is only a factor in moving the dinghy from land to water or in hauling it on deck. I could carry my old inflatable myself, but I need help with the Nutshell, as it weighs just over 100 lbs. Anyway, it's nice not to have to schlep an outboard and gas.

Unfortunately, the spars when unstepped don't fit completely in the boat, so you need to find a place to stow them. For towing, I suppose you could lash the spars to the mast and then wedge the foot of the mast under the forward thwart and tie the top of the mast in the sculling notch, but you'd still need a place to stow the rig when rowing. We lashed the spars to the cabin top. I think I'll make a canvas sleeve for the rig, with straps on the outside that I can use to attach it to the handrails on my cabin top.

Joel White did really good work when he designed this little gem. I really didn't expect to be this pleased with the boat's performance. It's been said that every design represents countless compromises, but I sure can't figure out where the compromises are in this boat.

Don Olney
07-13-2001, 09:54 PM
Scott, Thanks for your splendid review of the Nutshell. You made me realize that in the event that I have to part with the Ness Yawl, a little boat such as the Nutshell would not only be managable size wise, but it could also be a whole lot of fun.


07-13-2001, 10:38 PM
Scott,nice story.
I always enjoy hearing about the building and the shakedown.
Sounds like you've a work to enjoy and be proud of.

Mike Field
07-13-2001, 11:56 PM
Congratulations on the launch., Scott, and thanks for the detail. Now for some photos, please....?

Nora Lee
07-14-2001, 05:01 AM

How is the stability when boarding her from the deck of your boat? I had a mishap at the dock when trying to board her from above, I stepped aboard, granted not in the middle, but toward the side and her gunnel went down like an elevator and I ended up in the drink. Fun for the rest of the people on the dock, chilly swim for me. Friends didn't know whether to grab a life ring or the video camera.

We have the 7'7" sailing model, have yet to use it for a dink as the Captain thinks the klutz he married would be better off with a more stable inflatable.

She sure is fun to sail, I live right on a shallow bay and feel that if I do go over I can just stand up and right her. She has a lovely tanbark gaff rig sail. Tiller has a lovely curve to her. Trying to decide what colors to repaint her. Planning to do a repaint this winter.

Our mother boat is "Sea Fever", and we call her "Seabee" as the Captain was one during the Vietnam era.


Nora Lee

Scott Rosen
07-14-2001, 06:44 AM
I haven't had stablity problems. But . . . compared to an inflatable, any hard dinghy will be tippy. The Nutshell seems less tippy than most, probably because of the flat bottom a large amount of flare to the topsides. It's not a design flaw. When boarding, you need to place your feet as close to the centerline as you can.

Nora, don't let your husband talk you into an inflatable. I've fallen in off the dock plenty of times. Someone's got to provide the entertainment, no?

07-14-2001, 10:21 AM
Haveing a tender that can row and sail really adds to the pleasure of cruising I think . Pokeing around a nice harbour at dusk can be the best part of the day .Maybe the Captain is concerned for his topsides as well as your safety ? The answer is to nail on a big ugly perimeter fender strip . Every hard shell tender needs this .Even tho the boat won't look quite as cute with the fender strip , it might be worth it if it then gets brought along .

We cruised for years with a Dyer Dow when I was growing up .It had a tall mast that broke in two for storage .The mast was solid wood and the join was a simple scarf held in place by two stout bronze bands .Each half of the mast carried one of the bands .I don't think this would be hard to copy , if mast storage is a problem .

[This message has been edited by Will (edited 07-14-2001).]

Rich VanValkenburg
07-14-2001, 05:52 PM

As far as stowing masts and sails for our Nutshell, I used 6" PVC pipe with some home-made ends out of 3/4 ply, varnished to seal them. I used a 10 foot length with a flair at one end. Chopped 6 inches off the other end and plugged it with the ply to use as a removable cap in the flair. Drill a small hole or two on the bottom as a breather. I roll the sails and mast, boom, sprit as one unit, slide it all into a nylon cover my wife made, and then into the PVC it all goes as one piece. Make sure the sail is dry to prevent mildew. The tube is permanently attach to one of those el-cheapo 4x8 trailers along with the beds for the Nutshell with a couple LARGE hose clamps. Works great and looks clean.

Garrett Lowell
03-10-2005, 09:25 AM
Scott Rosen launches his Nutshell and posts about it in Miscellaneous! Another great read from the past. Anybody have any launchings eminent?

03-10-2005, 09:27 AM
My wife decided the beginning of May would be a good time to launch my canoe. I just have to make sure I finish it before then....

Garrett Lowell
03-10-2005, 09:33 AM
I used to lay in bed on Saturday mornings, thinking "Wow, I have nothing to do today!"?? And then the shift manager shows up.........