So, this past weekend I was at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, where I met builder/designer Kees Prins. He took me out sailing on my new favorite small cabin boat: Fetch. If you saw the latest issue of Small Craft Advisor, Fetch is on the cover.
The boat is an Iain Oughtred Fulmar dinghy that Kees modified by adding decks, a small cabin, and a mizzen. Here it is:
The cool thing is that the cabin top is very low--so low that you can easily see right over it from the tiller, and it doesn't spoil the looks of this very small (15' or so) boat. Part of that is because Kees raised the cockpit to make it self-bailing, another nice feature.
Here's another view:
The cockpit is small--you wouldn't want more than two people in it--but it's perfect for singlehanding, even for a lazy lugsail enthusiast who doesn't normally like to fuss with the hassles of a jib. We sailed Fetch in light winds, and pretty much kept right up with boats ten feet longer.
Even better, though--the cabin layout is perfect; the seats face aft, and are AMAZINGLY comfortable, with plenty of headroom (and I'm 6'2"). The centerboard case divides the cabin, but it actually makes a really nice armrest/place to set your coffee while you read a book and wait out the bad weather. The seat backs fold down and aft, forming the bottom of the V-berth when they're down. This is a VERY usable cabin in a tiny boat--I've looked at the Meadowbird design for a long time, but this one is better, with a really workable cabin despite its low height. Take a look:
Kees plans to write a series of articles for Small Craft Advisor detailing his modifications. Mr. Oughtred himself is considering working with Kees on possible plans. I suggest a bunch of us write to him to encourage that idea--this is the first really small cruising cabin boat that seems to work for me; the ergonomics of it are just perfect.
Thanks, Kees--I really enjoyed sailing with you, and Fetch is a great boat (as is your Townsend Tern, but that's another story).