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Thread: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

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    Default CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Hi: Boat for a first build, sailing version, for two adults max. Would like to use as a camp cruiser, not for sleeping in, but for transportation to island campsites and for daysailing. I'm not worried about the building, but rather the suitability. Also, any links to this boat being built would be appreciated. Thank you!

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Hi Ranger, being that its a small, open boat there's only so much seaworthiness you could expect from it so it depends on the water between the islands you'll be sailing to, but I've always liked that boat and hope you build it.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    As Jim says, it depends on which islands. Below are some comments someone posted on another forum, with which I'd concur. (This is in response to an inquiry about using her in the Southern California Channel Islands area.)

    I like that Skerry a lot. Good looking boat, nice sailplan, relatively easy to build (by accounts). Fun to sail, easily trailered/launched (even car-topped).

    But I'm note sure I'd recommend the standard version for open ocean sailing such as you contemplate. While it is fairly stable, it is intended more as a coastal/bay/lake/river boat. There are some potential issues with capsize recovery that should be addressed, too (the top of the standard daggerboard trunk is low enough that it can make bailing out the swamped Skerry nearly impossible -- but there are remedies).

    You might want to read David Bixby's account of a swamping he had in his Skerry, Bonnie Dune. David is an experienced Skerry sailor and has spent a fair bit of time (before and since the incident) addressing capsize recovery issues: The Wreck of the Bonnie Dune

    You may also wish to visit Steven Roberts' great Skerry forum at Get-Outside.com . Loads of experienced Skerry builders and sailors there.
    I've been trying to access the Skerry forum just now but it won't load. I believe this is the link: http://get-outside.com/groupee/forums/a/frm/f/679608126

    And this is a link to Dave Bixby's story about his swamping, but again it won't load for me: www.get-outside.com/wreck.htm

    (Note that if you go to get-outside.com, you won't find a link to the forum.)
    .
    Last edited by Steve Paskey; 05-22-2010 at 06:51 AM.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    And here's one link to a builder's site: www.christinedemerchant.com/hull2.html

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    My sister is building one. It's about half finished and we are talking about sail plans. Personally, I don't like the way the sprit sail looks. It's too square and lofted too high above the boat. We've heard that the CLC "Passagemaker" rig works well with the Sherry and that's the way I'm leaning with my input. Since I'll be sewing her sails I have a little more than brotherly influence. She likes the simplicity of the sprit but I would like her to be more able to keep up with my Caledonia Yawl, Xena. I suspect she'll want the sprit first and then in a year or so she'll want me to sew up the main and jib of the Passagemaker. What's a brother to do?

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    I've built a few Oughtred-style lugsails for Skerrys, ranging from 59-66 sq. ft. that seem to be working pretty well and look better than the stock sail. It does incolve a small change to the partmers to incorporate a bit of mast rake to the rig, but from what I gather, that hasn't been much of a big deal for the builders.

    Dimensions of the sails, spars, etc. we came up with are here:
    http://webpages.charter.net/tbradshaw/!CLCSKER.PDF

    original rig at left, new lug at right


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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    The origal rig makes think: WTF?!
    Ragnar B.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    A Skerry's not a bad boat for its size, I'd say. The lug rig looks ever so much better than the original--looks more like an Oughtred Willy Boat with it.

    A sloop rigged main and jib would be a huge mistake for a 15' sail n' oar boat though. An absurd amount of complication for a boat too tiny to climb out ahead of the mast safely at sea.
    Last edited by James McMullen; 05-22-2010 at 05:02 PM.
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Those nearly flat-topped, square-ish spritsails are quite common on traditional norse boats, but you have to get the proportions and altitude right or they get pretty funky looking. In this case, I think the CLC designers just sort of missed the mark when it came time to design a pleasing looking sailplan. A jib also goes a long way toward fairing one of these square spritsails into the profile from a purely cosmetic standpoint. The boat will certainly sail well without a jib, but among other things, having a jib can sometimes give the crew something to do. Some folks get a lot more enjoyment out of being a sailor than just being a passenger.


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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Can't wait for a chance to build a Skerry!

    I need to sell my cedar lapstrake Melon Seed Skiff first. I've come to the conclusion that I like completely open boats better than extensively decked boats.

    I have a CLC Eastport Pram that is a great lightweight dinghy for towing behind our Yawl.

    Moby Nick

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    neilm has posted extensively about his adventures up on Kodiak Island in his CLC skerry. Here's one thread:

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?t=80316

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    A Skerry's not a bad boat for its size, I'd say. The lug rig looks ever so much better than the original--looks more like an Oughtred Willy Boat with it.
    Just out of curiousity, James ... what would you consider to be a great boat of that size and type? The Whilly boat, which is now the Whilly Tern perhaps? Or something else?

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    In this case, I think the CLC designers just sort of missed the mark when it came time to design a pleasing looking sailplan.
    As I understand it, John Harris (the designer) was determined to keep the boom over the sailor's head, appearances be damned.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    I think I like the Joel White Shearwater even more for a boat of these proportions. It's got the same sort of capacity and capability with a more graceful style. The Shearwater I rowed was about the best open water rowboat for a solo oarsman I've ever been in. I'd love to try Clint Chase's Drake for comparison as it looks like an awfully nifty boat too.



    But neither a Skerry nor a Shearwater is my ideal boat for crossing Rosario Straits full of gear. My own predilection is for a deeper and higher sided boat, like Yeadon's Big Food peapod or something even bigger.
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    My CLC Eastport Pram has a sail even more unattractive than Skerry's shown here, but it sails surprisingly well. In a boat as small as the Eastport, having the boom overhead is a good thing.

    Am I sailing for my own enjoyment, or to impress others with my boat's appearance?

    Moby Nick

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    "As I understand it, John Harris (the designer) was determined to keep the boom over the sailor's head, appearances be damned."

    But why??? So that they don't need to actually learn how to sail? If you ask me, learning to deal with the boom and learning how to set up a boat efficiently are part of becoming a sailor. Beginning sailors are usually terrified of being hit with the boom, even on dinghies where it's only the size of a broomstick. Somebody is obviously feeding this fire. Maybe you 'll get bonked a time or two as you learn to sail. It probably won't hurt much and you'll probably learn something that you need to learn about sailing. There are generally far more good reasons to keep the boom on a small boat low than there are to keep it up above your head - and appearance is only a very minor one. Your mileage may vary, but in my opinion, the Skerry rig is a perfect example of a designer that doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to designing sailplans.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    "As I understand it, John Harris (the designer) was determined to keep the boom over the sailor's head, appearances be damned."

    But why??? So that they don't need to actually learn how to sail?
    I may have this wrong, but if I remember correctly Harris wanted to be able to row the boat short distances if necessary while the sail was up without the oarsman worrying about getting hit by the boom.

    After a quick google search, here's the explanation from John Harris himself:

    The rig has been criticized, though never by anyone who's actually sailed the boat. Armchair observers of the published sail plan complained that the sail was too small, the boom too high, and the peak too low.

    First, as to size, it's important to remember how light the Skerry is: only 95 pounds, 30 pounds less than a Laser dinghy. There are kayaks that weigh that much. The loaded hull sits on a waterplane that measures 12'3" x 3'6", a skinny, easily-driven shape. 56 square feet of sail works out to a sail area-displacement ratio similar to a Laser. The Skerry jumps right up to hull speed if there's any wind at all, and when the whitecaps are up, the crew doesn't have to exhaust themselves keeping the Skerry upright. As a casual day sailer, this is desirable. The lower peak echoes the shapes of the classic faering sails, and for the same reason: it keeps the center of effort low and the spars short.

    I set the boom up high so that the boat can be rowed when the sail is set. This has been a universally praised attribute of the Skerry. The ability to jump to the oars to maneuver away from shore or around an obstacle is critical, I believe. In many small boats, the rig clutters the boat up so badly that you can't row when you really need to.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    But neither a Skerry nor a Shearwater is my ideal boat for crossing Rosario Straits full of gear. My own predilection is for a deeper and higher sided boat, like Yeadon's Big Food peapod or something even bigger.
    John Harris started more or less in that direction with the Skerry, but changed his mind:

    There was a prototype that didn't make it. It had the same overall dimensions and plan view, 15'0" long and 4'6" wide, but with a wider bottom and more freeboard. This would have made a terrific little sailboat, powerful and voluminous. But I wanted something that was more easily driven with oars, so I redrew the hull with a narrower waterline and a lower sheer.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Sure. Every boat is a blend of compromises. You pays yer money and you takes yer chances.
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    the sail looks goofy but works well everywhere i take it. i spend a lot of time on the sf bay, and i take my skerry out quite a bit from sausalito. you have to know what you are doing and read the tides and weather of course, and run like hell long before you get in trouble. thorne does it too, in a boat of similar size... i have said before that i don't like kit boats. it may seem odd, but i think scratch built boats go together much easier, but take longer, than kit boats. i suppose it is because with scratch built boats, one compensates for little errors as you proceed, but kit boats, being pre-cut, well...the errors are tough to alter. but this one goes together rather well. i had the chance to row the new 17 (or is it 18?) ft. dory clc has, and i was hugely impressed. it weighs about the same as the skerry, but with a longer waterline, somehow seems faster at oars. and it is a lot more boat. i did not sail the larger boat. doing it over, i would probably buy the larger boat. similar lines, equal or better rowing performance, and much more open water capacity. on some level though, the skerry is better looking to me--closer derivative, as james mentions, to the norwegian double enders. i have never seen a shearwater in person, but they are so elegant. i would bet they are narrower at the waterline. an amateur's two cents.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    You know, CLC does offer a kit for another sail & oar boat that might merit a look. Their Northeaster Dory is a bit bigger and more capacious than the Skerry, but just as easy to build.
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    You know, CLC does offer a kit for another sail & oar boat that might merit a look. Their Northeaster Dory is a bit bigger and more capacious than the Skerry, but just as easy to build.
    See davebrown's previous post re the CLC dory ... he commented once that he thought it was one of the best doubles he's ever rowed, and he's rowed a lot of nice boats out of the south end rowing club.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    The Shearwater I rowed was about the best open water rowboat for a solo oarsman I've ever been in. I'd love to try Clint Chase's Drake for comparison as it looks like an awfully nifty boat too.
    Drake does look really special. Clint is preparing a CNC kit for her. here is a picture of the 1/4 scale CNC trial.



    http://clintchaseboatbuilder.blogspo...max-results=15

    Brian

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    I just tried my luck at designing something in between these two, only this crappy photo doesn't really show the sail shape very well. I'll try and get a new one up soon



    The yard and boom (correct terminology?) are actually parallel. Haven't had it in the water yet, either.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Just a reflection on CLC in general:

    Every year at the end of January or early February CLC brings an exhibit to the Strictly Sail Boat Show at navy Pier in Chicago. The display includes a group of Sea Scouts (or is it some other organization?) engaged in building a CLC boat.

    I consider it a highlight of Strictly Sail.

    Moby Nick

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    yes, i am in the south end rowing club and i have posted photos of some of the superb boats they have on this here forum, and we have access to and routinely use some masterbuilt singles and doubles. i don't like the transom on that larger clc dory, but that is purely subjective. it is a fantastic fixed seat rower. another consideration is the skerry has very limited alteration for seating, since the seats are 3/8s ply cut to structurally reinforce the boat for sail. you cannot row with two oarsmen, unless you sit side-by-side with each person taking one oar. kind of fun. this is not to knock the skerry. it is one step shy of the shearwater for looks. i like it. but the larger dory must have captured some of the qualities which led gardner to describe the gunning dory as "the aristocrat of dories".
    Last edited by davebrown; 05-23-2010 at 11:36 PM.

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?


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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?



    I made one of Terry's Balanced Lugs for my Skerry. I love it! It easily outperforms the stock Sprit rig. The Skerry is a nice boat but perhaps a bit small for roughwater sailing here in Kodiak. For sailing I restrict myself to Summertime ideal conditions only with a nice gentle offshore breeze. There is a very fine line between boredom and panic with a light boat like this. It will easily sail 4 knots in the right conditions.

    Having said that it's a sweet boat for rowing/fishing in 1-3 ft seas and a wonderful camping boat. I love how easily the boat is manhandled on shore. Two strong people can easily carry it up the beach. I have even caught Halibut and Salmon in it.

    Neil

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?


    Oh, here is how I solved the rake of the mast problem. It requires only one cut. So far it has held up fine. Spruce glues very well. I still need to do some tinkering with the sail balance for at times it has too much weather helm. Without this mast modification the weather helm would be wicked indeed.

    Neil

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    A sloop rigged main and jib would be a huge mistake for a 15' sail n' oar boat though.
    Well, for a double-ender perhaps. I don't like them much and have never had anything to do with one.

    But Aileen Louisa is exactly 15' long, was designed both to row (with fine quarters) and to sail (as a sprit sloop,) and believe me, she does both very well indeed.

    Mike

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    I sail my Whilly Tern with the Gunter Sloop rig, often solo. To avoid problems dowsing the jib, I fitted a downhaul through the hanks and led back. Free halyard, quick pull and it is contained enough to forget. I also made a furling drum system, but have not got round to fitting it, as the downhaul works well enough. If I was starting again, I would probably use the lug rig. Quick set up and way less string. Reefing a bit tricky-er, but I suppose one could lead the lines back to the mid point of the boom...more string!
    A

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    WBF, first of all, I have to say that I think Aileen Louisa is an absolutely gorgeous little boat, but your rig choice is better suited for daysailing than it is for actual sail & oar camp cruising like the original poster was asking about.

    How do you hand that jib in a rising blow, miles from shore, singlehanded? You don't go out in front of the mast in a boat that small, do you? How quickly can you strike that rig down flat in the boat and how much time does it take to untangle and lead all your shrouds and stays and jibsheets and such around to set the rig up again while afloat? Your boat is bigger and wider than a Skerry, it may be that you can clamber around inside while you're doing this with less risk than a Skerry driver would. . .

    I stand by what I said. There's much better choices than stayed sloop rigs for sail & oar open boats in big waters.

    I learned how to sail in a sloop, and have owned a bunch of sloops, including both daysailers and cruisers such as the Crocker Stone Horse that is my own cruising sailboat right now. My honest opinion is that unless your boat is big enough to have a foredeck with lifelines to go out on to handle your headsails, you're better off leaving the sloop rig to inshore daysailers.
    Especially in little rowboats like a Skerry.
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Some good points, James. Thanks for your comments. But at 15' (and with a transom, albeit with rather fine quarters,) I never thought of Aileen Louisa as a "little" boat -- although undoubtedly "absolutely gorgeous" as you say. Certainly I used her as a day-sailer rather than a camping cruiser, although had I been several years younger I could have slept aboard her. You'll remember that Ranger didn't actually want to sleep aboard though, he wanted to use his boat for cruising between campsites.

    Here are a couple of points about AL's rig that you possibly aren't aware of, as it's a while since I wrote about it in any detail (although there are a couple of comments about the vessel herself and the way her mainsheet is rigged on this concurrent thread.)

    First, the mast is essentially unstayed. I say "essentially" because some lateral support is given by the halyards which run, one to port and one to starboard, out to belaying pins on the outer ends of the sailing thwart. But she carries no shrouds as such, and nor does she carry a forestay (or of course backstays.)

    Hence the jib is by definition set flying, and its outhaul is brought back to another pin on the sailing thwart. So dropping the jib, or handing it altogether, doesn't require the helmsman to do more than reach as far forward as the mast. There's no need to reach any further forward (let alone go forward of the mast) unless you want to anchor -- although if you do want to get right forward it's possible to. But you're quite right in that I wouldn't want to try doing that in any sea with canvas up though.

    As far as the jib is concerned, its sheets are brought aft through lizards and then beeblocks, and are fitted with stopper-knots so they can't run free. But each is long enough that, when cast off, the jib can fly directly forward if necessary, spilling all wind immediately.

    Letting the jibsheets fly to spill the wind is all I ever had to do (and that only on a couple of occasions,) and because of the way I set them up there was no tangle of line anywhere -- resetting the sail only required hauling in the sheets again, which could be done from the helming position. I agree that if the jib had been handed altogether, resetting it would have been more complicated, but I never had to do that.

    Both ends of the mainsheet are rigged in a somewhat similar fashion to the jibsheets, and in fact the mainsail can also fly right forward if the sheet is cast off, although I never needed to do that either. And in addition, the mainsail can be brailed up (or reefed) to shorten sail if necessary.

    The vessel was in fact originally fitted with two sailing thwarts, having a second right up in the eyes which allowed her to be sailed una-rigged (US=catboat-style.) But that little scrap of jib makes such a disproportionate affect on her sailing abilities that after a remarkably short period of experimentation I removed that thwart altogether and thereafter only ever sailed her sloop-rigged as in the photo.

    So I'm in no doubt that the rig suits her very well as it stands. But as I said before, I've never had anything to do with a double-ender, and I'm not suggesting that a Skerry should be rigged the way Aileen Louisa is -- just that her rig suits her to perfection.

    Mike
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    Mmm, hopped over from another thread. By the way, that original Skerry rig is . . . ugly, CLC ought to be banned from drawing traditional rigs, yuk.

    Mike and I have been comparing sprit rigs and sheeting systems.
    Finally another person with experience of both. Mike reeled off some advantages with the sprit (maybe that was the other thread). I do reef underway. The deep reef is extra complicated but I can manage it. James can point out advantages of the lug being out in the middle of the briny blue. On one hand, sailing/rowing on and off the dock, is nice and tidy to just brail up with a couple of additional sail ties. You are not dumping everything into the cockpit. Brailing is a quick and effective way of reducing your exposure topside. On the other hand, there are times when one might need to douse the rig, when you don't want the windage aloft, and it is a nuisance and potentially a hazard to hand the entire sprit rig down in a blow. When I went out with Big Food the other day, Tim rowed out of the river estuary under a bare mast, the rest of the lug rig in the boat. I rowed out (with a crewmate) with my brailed sprit rig up. That is a lot of windage. This was not a good launch ramp to sail out of. So I chose to fight the extra windage rowing out rather than erect the brailed rig in a strong breeze. Well, I could have done it, and I am working to improve the mechanics, but score one for the lug in this situation.
    And Mike, your boat is absolutely georgous.
    Eric

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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    .
    Yes, sorry about the thread cross-over, Ranger. This might not be a lot of interest to you, given your questions.

    Thanks for the compliment on AL, Eric. I certainly agree with you and James about her gorgeousity. But regrettably I'm not her custodian any more. (In fact, the photo in Post # 21 here of her out of the water was taken at Helgi's place.)

    I think you've summarised the advantages and disadvantages of the sprit rig pretty well. There's certainly some windage aloft even when it's brailed up, and it makes it for difficult rowing upwind. But once I got used to the rig I liked it very much. On the other hand, as I said, I liked the balanced lug rig for Kareela too. So I think it's fair to say there are pros and cons for both, and perhaps hull type and the water one sails in might be the deciding factors in any particular case.

    Mike
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    . . .I think it's fair to say there are pros and cons for both, and perhaps hull type and the water one sails in might be the deciding factors in any particular case.
    Perfectly well put, sir!

    So. . . .if you sold that baby, surely you must have something else comparable now, or how ever did you manage to part with her? What's your ride these days, WBF?
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    Default Re: CLC "Skerry", thoughts and opinions please?

    I'm afraid not, James. The only vessel I have left now is the first one I ever had, my kayak Kareela --


    Of the three other boats I've owned, Serenity (a clinker putt-putt, bought as a workboat and not really used as such) was sold ten or twelve years ago --


    Then when I moved 400 miles interstate (and inland) a few years back I left my Buchanan 3-Tonner Sanderling behind (she was not trailerable) and later sold her too. She was a bilge-keeled cutter, with raised topsides -- not too dissimilar to your Stone Horse -- and perfectly suited to the waters of Cannons Creek where I was at the time. Her new owner keeps her on a mooring only about a quarter of a mile from her old mud-berth outside my back gate.


    I brought Aileen Louisa and Kareela here with me, but AL sat on her trailer getting drier and drier for nearly four years, when it became obvious that she needed to be with someone who could look after her properly. It was heart-wrenching selling her, but necessary for her well-being. (There's a link to that story in my last post.)

    So there we are. The next boat (if there ever is one) will be glued clinker, but I have no plans about getting one right at the moment and it may never happen. On the other hand, one day it might.... Que sera, sera.

    Mike
    Last edited by Wooden Boat Fittings; 06-03-2010 at 12:18 AM.
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