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Thread: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

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    Default Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Otter 19’6” x 4’ 10”


    Well, I’m reading through Bolger’s “Small Boats” again and this design jumped out at me in a big way. Wouldn’t this be a great little single hander and solo camp cruiser for short semi-protected adventuring. I think there is a lot to like here:

    • long, lean, light and fast
    • relatively quick and easy build
    • easy to trailer, beach and launch
    • decent rower
    • tons of dry and lockable storage
    • cozy warm hard cabin for one (I hate messing with tarps/tents)
    • very little windage
    • good visibility sitting down low and somewhat protected from the wind
    • water ballast/self righting
    • mizzen for trim, hove to, just messing with etc. etc.
    • done right, this boat could really look nice. No external chines! The crowned foredeck and portlights look very sweet to my eye.



    Things I would change:



    • leeboard and rudder improvements
    • sliding hatch for better access to the tiny “cabin”
    • sail rig could be smaller simpler



    What rig would you put on this design?


    ...any thoughts?
    (good, bad, or otherwise) appreciated as always!


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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Well, I can think of a few things that I know someone will want to say...


    I don't think I would want to row this very far... Looks heavy.

    Also.. Leeboards.



    Judging by your forum join date and location, Im going to assume you are familiar with Rowan.​ That is all...
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    A couple of thoughts:

    Instead of a sliding hatch, just make a lifting top (hinged at the forward end, lifting high enough at the aft end to give sitting headroom there) Lifting tops were/are common on English Broads cruisers, and Howard Chapelle drew a couple on some of his camp cruising boats. Just have a couple of triangular pieces of heavy canvas (or you could have ply fillers) for the sides.

    I'd build it such that the after deck section was bulkheaded and sealed watertight from the cockpit edge on back (eliminating that open under deck aft part of the cockpit), and give some attention to making all hatches pretty tight. The boat would (probably) then be able to be knocked down, and come back up even with a flooded cockpit

    I'd change the rig and eliminate that headsail-on-a-spar; move the mainmast forward to the same position that it is in on Bolger's other similar sharpie designs (Black Skimmer, for example), getting it out of the cabin and building a tabernacle/partners like Black Skimmer's, in the well on the forward cabin bulkhead. I'd have a standard leg-o-mutton sprit-boomed cat yawl rig.

    And, have you looked at Otter II, which is in _Different_Boats_? I think it is a bit beamier, more along the lines of a slightly smaller Black Skimmer.

    Bob

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by BBSebens View Post
    Well, I can think of a few things that I know someone will want to say...
    I don't think I would want to row this very far... Looks heavy.
    Also.. Leeboards.
    Judging by your forum join date and location, Im going to assume you are familiar with Rowan.​ That is all...
    Yes, I am familiar with all the Oughtred open double enders. James' Rowan is the queen of the Oughtred double enders, no doubt about that. She is the boat I would choose if I felt like rowing across Rosario Strait. I prefer to take the ferry. When I get to my Salish Sea playground (by ferry) I then have to row out to a mooring and get my sailboat. The boat will be well worn from sitting out in the sun, rain, bird crap, food scraps left over from the various marine mammals that visit the floating mess hall. I think this Otter suits my "workboat finish" lifestyle better. She wont have a trailer or a garage. The half decking is very attractive for my situation in many ways.

    Bob,

    Excellent suggestions! I think you are spot on with all points. I am checking library now to see if I can scrounge up the other Bolger books and check out the Otter II.
    Yes, I see. Black Skimmer hull is very similar (bigger) and has much better sail plan. Thanks!!
    Last edited by Gopez; 10-31-2012 at 09:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    I've long admired that design. It's somewhat dated, and I would hazard a guess that Bolger himself would point someone with your requirements to the Birdwatcher. About the same size and weight, but much more livable. The two boats are a good example of how his thinking evolved over the years. Practical considerations aside, the Otter is a better looking boat to be sure. By the way, I saw a Birdwatcher in the flesh for the first time last weekend, and it was a bit smaller and lighter than I had imagined.


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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by Gopez View Post
    Wouldn’t this be a great little single hander and solo camp cruiser for short semi-protected adventuring.
    Was that James McMullen's head exploding that I just heard???
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    I have learned a lot from James on this forum and his commitment and passion for small boats is really something to admire. I have built one boat in my life. A Bolger/Payson Instant boat "Surf". If I am following in James' footsteps (which I intend to do), how many more Bolger boats do I have to build before I get to start my Sooty Tern?

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    I've long admired that design. It's somewhat dated, and I would hazard a guess that Bolger himself would point someone with your requirements to the Birdwatcher. About the same size and weight, but much more livable. The two boats are a good example of how his thinking evolved over the years. Practical considerations aside, the Otter is a better looking boat to be sure. By the way, I saw a Birdwatcher in the flesh for the first time last weekend, and it was a bit smaller and lighter than I had imagined.
    Thanks Woxbox. I think that both the Otter and Birdwatcher are looking a bit dated. The walk-thru-cabin and livability of the Birdwatcher would be very nice. This would be the boat to bring your wife and child. Perfect for the protected areas I am using. I am thinking a bit more selfishly now with the Otter (just me) and some three day trips a bit further from home. Canada? Gulf Islands?

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Are you leaning toward the leeboard to keep the center of the boat open and clear for sleeping? Other than that, I can't say I've heard or read anything positive about leeboards, which makes me leery.

    So, I'm guessing you live on Lopez? And will be sailing Lopez Sound / Eastsound quite a bit? Sounds like fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Yes, the leeboards are probably the achilles heel of this design. That whole compromise thing. Seems like a centerboard trunk would pretty much kill this Otter as a functional vessel. There are advantages to the leeboards in my mind, but none of them relate to performance, just convenience. Do you think I can cram my entire 6' 2" 220 lb body under that foredeck? Could get ugly.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    That flush deck over the top of a flat bottomed boat would feel like a coffin to me (I'm a mere 5'9, 165), but it depends on your love of closed spaces and lonely spiders. I'd keep Otter in the back of my mind, but would continue looking for other potential designs. Have you considered a Walkabout by John Welsford? It's not a particularly difficult built, and it could be built with an offset centerboard trunk. It's only 16'2, but I've wondered if you couldn't stretch her out to 17'2 or so with a bit of guidance from the designer.

    She's not a particularly frilly boat, and would be great with a workboat finish.

    Here's the Walkabout page.





    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Thanks Tim! Walkabout is a great design.
    The coffin factor on the Otter could be reduced significantly with a sliding hatch, or better yet (as Bob in post #3 suggested) Hinged, or lifting top. I had a pop-up hatch on my Catalina 22 that was awesome.
    It looks like Otter's floor would allow for some wiggle room too (head out looking at the stars, starts to rain?...go coffin style). Warm and secure. No elaboarate tent setups to flap around or store or clean etc. etc. I suppose a really simple tarp over the cockpit would be nice for a really wet weekend. Still, you've got a nice hard top up front to keep the stuff out of the way and dry.
    I'm still thinking about rig. Three sails would be nice. No reefing just drop the main. Or, Cat/yawl?

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    You could put an off-centerboard in the Otter and still have room to stretch out. The space behind it would provide good, secure stowage. As far as the rig, how about a scaled-down version of Martha Jane? Self-tacking and, as we know, cat-yawls rule. I'd want the main mast in a tabernacle -- if you're going to row any distance, the first job is to cut windage to an absolute minimum. And speaking of dated, remember the long-popular Dovekie? Another boat in this category. That too, was supposed to be easily rowed, but my impression is that few owners ever did row them much.


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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Gopez, you're heading in the right general direction, but I think you're taking a detour onto what seems to you to be an easier path, but it's one that won't let you actually get to the top of the mountain.

    Why limit yourself to such a crudely simplified hull form? That Welsford Walkabout is only fractionally harder to build, but exponentially more capable and pleasant to row.

    The Otter design is what? At least 40-50 years old now? The state of the art has progressed. Epoxy glued-lap or stitch and glue will give you complex, sophisticated hull shapes, and yet still with pretty minimal effort. You can even get a CNC cut hull kit for most of these boats if you want to. There's really no earthly justification any more for boats bigger and more ambitious than a Surf to be built like a Surf.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Thanks James. I always appreciate your input.
    However, I don’t always agree with your persistent hatred of sharpies. They have their place, and their following. A different mountain to climb perhaps.


    My Seattle daysailer is a Vanguard Nomad (aka “Spastic Plastic”). Everything about this boats hull shape is round. All foils are “high tech” including the mylar sails. She is a great boat. Well, a while back, I got “smoked” out on Lake Union by a dude in a home built sharpie with leeboards. I don’t know the design, but it was long and very lean. Like 20’ x 3’ or something. Conventional sloop rig. I tried like hell to catch him so I could ask him the design, but no such luck. He was flying. The winds were light to moderate and my 800 lb Nomad was no match for his rocket. I was jealous.


    Yes, the Otter design is pretty old.
    The boat in the video below was based on a 1904 design!

    <span style="letter-spacing: 0.0px">

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    You could put an off-centerboard in the Otter and still have room to stretch out. The space behind it would provide good, secure stowage.
    Thanks Woxbox. I think I would just embrace the leeboards, but improve their look and function. Pivoting for sure, and shaped more like Martha Jane. Or shaped like a Blue Whales pectoral fins :-)
    See a resemblance? Maybe "Otter" should have been named "Blue Whale" (flat sheer, strong rocker!)

    Last edited by Gopez; 11-01-2012 at 06:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    So, when is the launch date? I wanna go sailing!
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Yeadon's right. It really doesn't matter to me what your boat is. Just get cracking on it. We'll meet you in Fishermans Bay on our way to Friday Harbor for bloody mary's at the Blue Water on April 6.

    There's your deadline, go! An Otter can't possibly take more than 175 hours, tops.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Sounds great! April 6th is the date. Do I get to pick the year? :-) Kidding. It would be great fun to see what a 19' sharpie could do against those tubby D.E.'ers. If I'm not done with the Otter, I will bring my "Surf" (and my dry suit). Posting a picture of my "Surf" again because I suspect deep down inside you kind of miss her and her beautiful external chineliness. Thanks again for the input James, and putting up with all my stupid questions over the past two years!!


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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Sharpies! what could be better (for annoying The James.)

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Moving on...


    I had some other questions or ideas about this Bolger Otter that I would like to run by anyone who might still be interested.


    If the forward compartment (ahead of bulkhead at station 3) and the after compartment (behind station 10 aft cockpit bulkhead) were watertight, do you think the boat would be self-righting in worse case scenario of cockpit AND cabin being flooded? Bolger says yes, but I think an added effort to make the cabin entry somewhat watertight would be wise. Or, is this overkill? Thoughts?

    Regarding ballast under the cockpit/cabin floor, Bolger says either water or metal can be used (metal being iron or lead). And he states, “...the only drawback to water is that it doesn’t have the self-righting power when the boat is swamped that lead or iron would have.” Would water be safer? I think metal as ballast would be easier to build and maintain than dealing with the sealing, filling, emptying of water ballast. Thoughts?


    I like WxBx’s suggestion of a scaled down Martha Jane rig. Cat-yawl with balanced lug forward. Main step moved to station 3 bulkhead. Mizzen=sprit leg-o-mutton.


    An off-the-shelf Dynamite Payson "Windsprint" lugsail is 113 sq. ft. and might be just the right size for this Otter.
    I don't know if using my already owned Bolger 59 sq. ft. leg-o-mutton as the mizzen would be a good idea, or a terrible idea. The mizzen Bolger drew is half the size at 30 sq. ft.. The combined 113 (main) + 59 (mizzen) =172 total sq. ft.. This is still less canvas in the air than Bolger's drawing of three sails at a total area of 228 sq. ft.

    Windsprint's lug:


    Otter:






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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    It probably won't take much to make it float, especially with that fairly large forward compartment.

    I, too, would go with the metal ballast. Small sealed spaces make me nervous. Plus, much simpler construction.

    Personally, I would focus on the cabin being rain-proof and wave-resistant. Water-tight seems like a lot to ask for a smallish opening your going to be moving your whole body through consistently. Again, added complexity.



    The tiller arrangement looks different from anything I've seen (which really isn't much). How is it supposed to work?
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Looks like a push-pull tiller with a hiking stick.

    Doesn't look like the rudder kicks up, which would be bad for working off a beach.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    I agree with BBSebens and would go with the metal ballast and avoid all the complications of the water ballast sealed tank. This would also allow the space under the floor to be used as bilge water collection for pumping out.
    Perhaps a pop-up hatch and doors to the cabin that could be shut and secured (but not necessarily water tight) would be sufficient to at least stop a “gusher” into the cabin during a knockdown. The far forward and aft compartments definitly need to be water tight.
    Yes, kick-up rudder and leeboards.
    The tiller arrangement is odd. Bolger calls it a “drag-link tiller connection”. Just as Johnw says...push-pull tiller with a hiking stick. The push-pull stick is captured in a “drag-link guide hole” above the aft bulkhead. Bolger says...”I’ve got some qualms about it. It may have too much friction to be pleasant to use; if so it can be replaced with a tiller pivoted at the after end of the cockpit and connected to the rudder with two yokes and cables.”
    I think I would just go with a straight push-pull tiller (longer tiller arm than Bolger shows).

    The more I look at this design, the more I like it. I haven't really found anything else out there that is half-decked, low windage, solo cabin, long and lean, self righting, quick build. Going for work boat finish here. Lives on a mooring and gets beat up by sun, rain, etc. etc.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Gopez - the Otter makes me think of some of the Swedish sailing Canot (Canoes) Something in the C-Class or D-Class size. Some of the larger ones are used for camp cruising.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Just for fun, you oughta mock up the foredeck space with some cinderblocks and doorskin and see if you can climb in there with a sleeping bag and pad, plus a few dry bags full of random stuff. And then see if you can roll over. And then ... just for fun, just as you begin to fall asleep, try to remember the tidal swing for that night, and what EXACTLY that makeshift leadline of yours read earlier that evening - causing you to climb out of your bunk, out of your bag, and check the water depth one more time against your capt jacks.

    Then you'll know if there's enough room in Otter.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Thanks Tim. Solid advise based on real experience. I have no experience with solo camp cruising at all. Your input is well received and it would be fun to do this little mock up excersize with my 4 year old tomorrow on the back deck. "Help! Daddy's stuck again. Pull me out!". Easy-peasy to string up a quick and dirty tarp over the cockpit. Just stick my feet in that god awful coffin-of-a-cabin.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    Gopez - the Otter makes me think of some of the Swedish sailing Canot (Canoes) Something in the C-Class or D-Class size. Some of the larger ones are used for camp cruising.
    This sweet boat is a D class Swedish sailing canoe or D-kanot.
    Nice!


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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    I imagine that Otter would be a beast to row.
    Gerard>
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    Don't believe Republican lies.

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerarddm View Post
    I imagine that Otter would be a beast to row.
    Why?

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Quote Originally Posted by Gopez View Post
    This sweet boat is a D class Swedish sailing canoe or D-kanot.
    Nice!

    Those look a bit like the Suicide class.

    Here's a D-class canoe:



    Suicide class:




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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    When it comes to sleeping, the water slapping under that flat, elevated bow section is going to be the biggest impediment. It will generate a real drumming throughout the boat in some conditions. You may want to try lashing a fender under there before you turn in. The flip side, of course, is that you can maneuver this boat into the shallowest, most protected of spots. (At which time you'll also want to deploy the mosquito netting.)

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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    Yes, I think my earlier idea of going tarp-less with this design was perhaps a bit naive. I really don't see a problem with solo camping though if you open things up with a sliding or hinged or pop-up hatch of some sort. Then tarp the cockpit and aft part of cabin. Dry bags and goodies stashed further forward. Re: flat bottom and slapping, drumming... yes, a compromise that you have to live with for all sharpies I suppose. Mosquitos?...not a real issue in my neck of the woods, thank god. Again, the low windage factor and ability to shed a lot of rain water while stored for summer months on a mooring are key issues for me.

    I am open to finding alternatives to Otter if they can meet all these (revised) points:

    long, lean, light and fast
    half decked (or more) to shed water while on mooring
    somewhat decent rower
    lots of dry and lockable storage
    very little windage
    good visibility sitting down low and somewhat protected from the wind
    ballast/self righting
    mizzen for trim, hove to, just messing with etc. etc.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Bolger Otter as solo camp cruiser single hander

    If you want it to hang out on a mooring, your going to have to come up with a way for the cockpit to drain rainwater.

    A simple push/pull tiller will work well.

    Im not sure what a kick-up leeboard would look like. As designed, they seem captured. Could they be hinged/pivot on the hull rather than be stuck through the brackets as drawn?


    Additional idea: If you go with a hinged hatch that splits lengthwise, make them so that you can sit on them when open. Essentially, you should be able to sit/stand on any part of the boat in any configuration.


    Whether you build this or not, its a fun mental exercise. But, I hope you build it.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

    15' Welsford Navigator Inconceivable
    16' W. Simmons Mattinicus double ender ​Matty

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gopez View Post
    Yes, I think my earlier idea of going tarp-less with this design was perhaps a bit naive. I really don't see a problem with solo camping though if you open things up with a sliding or hinged or pop-up hatch of some sort. Then tarp the cockpit and aft part of cabin. Dry bags and goodies stashed further forward. Re: flat bottom and slapping, drumming... yes, a compromise that you have to live with for all sharpies I suppose. Mosquitos?...not a real issue in my neck of the woods, thank god. Again, the low windage factor and ability to shed a lot of rain water while stored for summer months on a mooring are key issues for me.

    I am open to finding alternatives to Otter if they can meet all these (revised) points:.
    I'd suggest looking very closely at Walkabout:

    long, lean, light and fast.
    Yes (and can be stretched, approved by John Welsford, 10% I think, but check), yes, yes. Fast - compared to what? Certainly not racing dinghies, but she holds her own not badly against sail and oar boats, especially in stronger winds.

    half decked (or more) to shed water while on mooring.
    Yes. But you'll always get some ingress. Float pump?

    somewhat decent rower.
    More than somewhat!

    lots of dry and lockable storage.
    Could be done. There's storage in the fore and aft buoyancy tanks. You could put some kind of lockable grill over the hatches. But you wouldn't want too much weight in the tanks; keep it in the centre.

    very little windage.
    Yes

    good visibility sitting down low and somewhat protected from the wind.
    Vis. Yes; fairly protected, definitely a boat you sit in, not on. But anything more would give you windage, which you say above you don't want.

    ballast/self righting.
    No ballast. But you said above you wanted a light boat! Walkabout can be recovered singlehanded from a capsize.

    mizzen for trim, hove to, just messing with etc. etc.
    Yes

    See here: http://forthsailoar.osbert.org/

    And here: http://forthsailoar.posterous.com/sa...loch-ness#more
    Osbert
    -
    Scratch, a Welsford Walkabout, and Selkie, a Clint Chase Drake 17 rowboat

    http://forthsailoar.osbert.org

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