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Thread: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

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    Default Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    The WBF has provided an interesting window into the popularization of small boat designs for home builders. They seem to go in waves, with each design catching attention, a bunch of threads popping up during the build and first trips, and then fading a bit as new designs come forward.

    The waves I remember so far:

    1. The Oughtred Sooty Tern, popularized by He Who Must Not Be Named (aka James McMullen... Oops!)

    2. The Hvalsoe 18 before Yeadon went on full radio silence

    3. The Ross Lillistone Phoenix III, seen here courtesy of some joker who kept borrowing his brother's boat when he should have been building his own (really seems to have inspired more First Mate S&G versions)

    4. The Clint Chase Calendar Islands Yawl--we have, what, at least 3 current threads on CIY builds?

    5. The Francois Vivier Ilur, introduced here (I think) by John Hartman and Waxwing. Again, multiple current Ilur threads going on right now.

    6. Don Kurylko's Myst design--I think there have been at least a couple of threads on Mysts. An older design that caught on fairly recently.

    So, what's next?

    What designs are out there lurking in the shadows, waiting to ensnare the unwary traveler into a horrible lingering obsession with small engineless sailboats? Which ones have I missed that are gaining in popularity and exposure?

    John Welsford's Long Steps, perhaps? Also his Scamp has had a few days in the sun at least.

    Michael Storer's Goat Island Skiff has a following as well, though it's not a new design.

    Notice how all the action seems to be centered on small sail-and-oar type boats, mostly? I like that. Maybe I'll see some of you out there sailing someday.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Tom,

    Rather than the product, I'm increasingly thinking about the process and questioning what is true beauty.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Pearson View Post
    Tom,

    Rather than the product, I'm increasingly thinking about the process and questioning what is true beauty.
    I'd be keenly interested in your thoughts in that direction. Are you moving toward defining beauty as functionality/practicality vs. traditional notions of boat beauty?

    Are you seeing trends in the process of small boat design evolution, aesthetics, etc? (Designs for home builders specifically?)

    Tom
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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Everyone should have a duck punt.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Everyone should have a duck punt.
    There you go - ducking the issue again <G>

    Actually... the PDR sorta fits that niche in my stable.
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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    7784D8D0-B9D4-4D04-95E5-A0345334355F.jpg
    Nurp. Absolutely nothing like a PDR.

    Which are also cool boats.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Nutshells and Shellbacks built from WB kits have had a long run. Some of Walt Simmons designs have been popular. Clint continues to come out with new offerings. But I'm parochial Maine person so very biased.

    Chesapeake Light Craft, of course.
    “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs."

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Tom I'm finally finishing a glue lap dinghy. Yes it's a beauty. I'd say the African Sapele, Sapele plywood, old growth Alaskan Yellow Cedar and Sitka Spruce were as fortunate to find their resting place there, as I was to have use of them. She should be good for 50-100 years.

    But I'm haunted by the sight of an Australian Kangaroo on fire jumping into a lake. Before this wretchid pandemic. Remember that. Any derived pleasure that car outside might have provided evaporated. We all had blood on our hands.

    So I look at it, nearly finished in the garage, and I do wonder about the 'air miles'. I do wonder where did that Sapeli come from and who cut it. Am I putting money into the hands of a local and getting him out of poverty, or a logging corporation turning a blind eye to the regs. Should I even be using 500 year old Yellow Cedar on the other side of the world? Did it belong to a Canadian to take or a displaced Native American? You see it's all for a reason: durability and a boat that lasts 100 years and doesn't rely on internal combustion, is probably still alright. It's going to get chopped down anyway, better used in a boat and varnished. But then I'm back to thinking about the Kangaroo and Trumpism. Individual choices do matter.

    Now I like hand tooling, but I draw the line somewhere and the toil reduction of a bandsaw or table saw etc is a marvel. I'm not getting all vegan about this, but it turns out I can make wood joints that fit and find the gluing then sitting back for 24hrs before 'the next thing' is a bit laborious and makes a mess of something that otherwise wasn't. Neither is it great going in the winter or summer heat. I could fit a few screws and secure a piece instead. Look at how efficient making a single piece stem is with traditional construction compared to glued.

    So I'm moving in my head towards the logical direction of 'traditional' construction and if it wasn't traditional we might have to invent it looking at our ecological event horizon. It uses local wood with less air miles, more likely to be better or at least transparently regulated. A part can be fitted without clean up and I can work in the winter 'off season'. Now I appreciate the stiffness, light weight and sealed construction of epoxy ply, but with the intended use of 'sail and oar', absolute stiffness isn't an issue and most boats need ballast anyway. It's likely a bead of goop will end up in the lap for a trailer boat, that would likely have to be a compromise to functionality most likely. With a semi open caged tank enclosing buoyant foam or bottles we still have no compromise to safety either. Instead of epoxy we are using copper fastenings, and I reckon that's probably a wash ecologically and cost.

    I sat in one of Hvalsoe's lapstrake boats beautifully built at a show and was struck just how beautiful a new lapstrake boat is. We see them so destitute usually even if they have survived 50-100 years that its not always apparent. The juxta position of the planking, transverse frames and peened copper really is striking and a nice place to be on our afternoon follies. I think a great glue lap boat from a master like Oughted gets you to an 8, but that final 9 or 10 only comes with traditional construction and local materials anyway. There will be no clouding of pleasure from being unsure of where the wood is from or what it really cost me, you or him. They can deteriorate, and never be as perfect as when launched, but should we not logically embrace a construction method that when no longer useful automatically self destructs and goes back to the air and ground from whence it came? It will not be an eyesore or a recycling issue for a future generation that the small grp boats built in the 50-70's which now litter our estuaries are. If we are to leave no trace, that guarantee is added value and surely comforting if we leave Earth before our boat does.

    So certainly some boats have a moment in the sun, some boat design types, some designers but also some construction methods and I wonder if we should, or at least I, need to make a turn for the 'next one'.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 07-23-2021 at 07:45 AM.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Interesting point on how to consider individual acts in the context of systemic problems. I wonder what a "local, grass fed, organic, farm to table, non GMO" wooden boat might look like. You'd probably see some moves back towards regional design features dictated by material availability. There are some really interesting locking joints in Japanese style joinery that might have a place where the hard lines come together.

    I'm not familiar enough with the history of boat designs to have much of an opinion here, but I've been completely smitten with the PT11 nesting dinghy. Ticks a lot of aesthetic and design philosophy boxes for me. http://www.ptwatercraft.com/ptwatercraft/PT11Home.html

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Edward has made some interesting observations. I too have been thinking about what the next boat ought to be, living in the Pacific Northwest I have relatively good access to Doug Fir and Alaska Yellow Cedar for the carvel planked boat of my dreams. Lots of Purple Heart being used for keels in Port Townsend but are those air miles worth it?
    Steve

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Through some clerical error it appears that Yeadon's first build, the Matinicus peapod, Big Food, was left off the OP's list of GREAT MOMENTS IN SMALL BOAT HISTORY.

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

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Pearson View Post
    .......But I'm haunted........
    Great post, Edward.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by offbelayknife View Post
    I wonder what a "local, grass fed, organic, farm to table, non GMO" wooden boat might look like.
    Most classic small wooden boats developed over time in a surprisingly small area, constantly tuned and improved to meet the needs of those who used them and developed to deal with local conditions. With only a few exceptions, most remained "undiscovered" and not watered-down for a larger geographical market until the post-WWII era. So if you want to see what a "local, grass fed, organic, farm to table, non GMO" boat looks like in your area (well, maybe not Arizona, but you get my drift), go to your nearest maritime museum and look through their collection of artifacts and photos.

    This one is entitled 'Woman rowing couple in a rowboat, Wabash County, Indiana c. 1910' and looks to be a flat-bottomed three-plank clinker boat about 15' x 4.5' flat-bottomed, skiff type, with three thwarts and a stern seat. Probably made of local wood (I don't know the common species of trees in Indiana, but it shouldn't be hard to find out) and developed for calm waters. Shouldn't be too hard to replicate.

    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Thanks for the insight. I think the closest we have to a museum for boats is the ones hanging in the shops of some guiding outfits.

    You reminded me of this documentary which might be of interest. Even our arid state has a bit of maritime history if you look for it.


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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Everyone should have a duck punt.
    what like these?
    https://youtu.be/CPCYWcQx2iw

    developed from
    download.jpg
    Just an amateur bodging away..

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    An extended reflection on exactly this kind of "what's a sustainable boat" is what prompted the origin of this set of web-pages created by designer Antonio Dias, called Boats for Difficult Times.

    I find the pages difficult to navigate through (which seems an apt metaphor, actually), but hugely rewarding. To cut to the chase, several of the pages describe Dias' effort to design a boat for a resurgent small-business type of use in a coastal way of earning a living. He figures that the vessels would, as in the past, need to be built for the collective benefit of a small community of people (rather like the owner and crew and their families in inshore fishing economies of the past), rather than for a single person. And Dias intended it to be built to be durable, versatile, and repairable using skills and materials which the not-flush could acquire, and which would themselves be both prompts to re-developing local cottage-scale industry, and intentionally providing as little environmental harm as possible over their creation, use, and decomposition after the boat's life is done.

    Yeah, decomposition. Dias' conclusion is to build in wood, probably carvel, with modern tweaks to proven designs. And to use natural fibers for rigging and sails too, because such things won't sit for centuries causing possible mayhem in the environment once they're no longer fit for their original use. And cotton, hemp, linen - these are all materials which can be grown locally, made into cordage and textiles locally, and which are "conservative" in the best sense of the word - proven technologies which function well, have deeply understood limits to their capacities, and are well suited to self-reliant upkeep.

    It's a wistful set of pages, and I love the various iterations of designs he mocks up along with the principles undergirding his thought. It reads to me much like the best of sustainable farming writers also do.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by The Q View Post
    what like these?
    https://youtu.be/CPCYWcQx2iw

    developed from
    download.jpg
    No, like the one I posted a photo of.

    90549227-E707-432B-A5CE-2FD2724311D5.jpg
    From Mersea, I think. I don’t know.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    That lump of ballast in the bottom of your boat probably slows it down, Rob. For all that the feet might paddle a bit now and then.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    A couple others - Scamps are everywhere! Angus Rowcruiser had it's moment. What's next - based on this months WB magazine, something foiling with an electric motor to help us fat old guys get on foil and electrogyrostabilization to keep us there.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    The idea of trends in small boats is pretty interesting...

    I looked at a lot of the boats on Tom's list (and some not on it!) when deciding to, rather than build a "popular" boat, instead build Tom Dunderdale's Apple 16. It was a pretty hard decision, because I think that community is helpful, and being able to ask questions, follow what other people are doing (and see the questions they ask and get answered, etc). Not to say that I don't get helpful advice (there's no way I could have done it without this forum -- mostly searching old threads), but it's different advice, as it's based on other boats, not _this_ boat. Even so, I ended up deciding that while it might have been nice to have more of a community of builders (and I enjoy the Facebook group for the Goat Island Skiff, where there seem to be at least a half dozen being built at any given time!), in the end there wasn't any other boat that actually matched what I wanted quite as well (I think the Ilur could have, and I understand why so many people are building them, but my total costs, including some very unnecessary and expensive bronze hardware, is less than half what the CNC kit alone cost, and there is no way that doing it "from scratch" could have been nearly as quick as the stitch and glue 4 strake assembly of the Apple 16).

    I'm now 320 hours into the build, more-or-less nearing completion (the hull is done, spars are in progress, sails have arrived -- still missing the foils and rudder case), and I still don't regret that decision -- though I think the most challenging parts of the build have been based on the fact that fewer of the boats have been built (and each one has, I think, ended up being essentially somewhat bespoke, based on consultation with the designer), which means that the process is all a little less polished than in a more popular, CNC kitted, etc, boat.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    What, in your mind, Tom, is the cut-off for boats to be included in this list?

    I'm thinking of some of the small(ish) boats with cabins that have had threads with followings, like the Oughtred Kotik design.
    Alex

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Still working my way through historic threads. There was much talk it seems for a boat called "Sjogin", even a new design proposal, but how many got started or built? A pretty common boat style here that would not really create much interest outside of "its pretty".

    Seems more lumberyard skiffs have been built.

    Surprised how few Welsford Whalers have been built, not even seen a thread here. Perhaps smaller and simpler boats are what most people want, or can afford?

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by LarixMaximus View Post
    Surprised how few Welsford Whalers have been built, not even seen a thread here. Perhaps smaller and simpler boats are what most people want, or can afford?
    I would bet that it's a combination of the fact that if you want an open 6m boat, Oughtreds Caledonia Yawl is an extremely popular known entity, and simpler to build / lighter weight (and so probably not as seaworthy), and if you want something heavier, more seaworthy, and that size, you probably don't want an open boat!

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Deeper into WB history, other boats that were favored with a lot of attention for a time include the Steve Redmond Whisp, the Philip Bolger Micro and Chebacco, the Joel White Marsh Cat, The Nat Herreshoff Coquina, and the Melonseed Skiff.

    There are many others. Whitehalls, peapods and dories in general used to get lots of mention. Not so much these days. It may be trends, or it may be the evolution of small boats to suit current needs. Or some of each.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    I find that if one of my designs features prominently in an event when the plans are released there is a burst of sales, but its when the boats in the water get to a sort of critical mass among the people who really get out there using them that the design really takes off. Thats pretty much to be expected, exposure gets attention and I'm proud that some of my boat and skipper combinations have become somewhat iconic among small boat users. People like Joel Burgen, Howard Rice and co are responsible for a lot of my success as much as the boats themselves.
    Just think of how many dinghy cruisers have chosen the Wayfarer after the publicity generated by the books written by Frank Dye.

    John Welsford
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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by dbp1 View Post
    I would bet that it's a combination of the fact that if you want an open 6m boat, Oughtreds Caledonia Yawl is an extremely popular known entity, and simpler to build / lighter weight (and so probably not as seaworthy), and if you want something heavier, more seaworthy, and that size, you probably don't want an open boat!
    I think open and decked would decide what use the boat was in. Boats like Caledonia Yawl are basically copies of the boats in real planked wood that are reasonably common here, and many sneer at anything plywood. Smaller cabin boats than the Whaler have crossed the Atlantic, but not so good at taking a party of 8 on a daysail on protected inland lakes.

    For sure, some exposure of a design being capable generally leads to more interest, the same reason many buy Land Rovers.

    Some fads come and go. But truely well designed good looking boats always seem to go the distance,if in lesser numbers.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun



    Mirror newspaper...1963. 70,000+ boats.

    Interesting £63 is £1700 in todays money. 60 years later...kit boats today are £600-1600 ballpark + sails, so not much different.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 07-26-2021 at 06:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    I used to talk with John Gardner about this issue for the amateur builder. The challenge in building with local materials is giving the builder the information needed about materials and tools. Do a great plan for a traditional peapod, easy to read with procedures needed spelled out. But the designer doesn't translate it into what is needed at the lumber yard. Pick over what is available you say, but more fundamentally how many pieces and what size? Then there is the issue of working the materials to size. Must I have a table saw, a planer? Can I do it with hand tools that are readily available? If you read the fine print in some of John's later writing he recommended using ply because it was attainable. He also experimented with materials: his modification of the LFH pulling boat, one of the great ones, has laminated frames, mechanical fastenings and is planked in outdoor plywood, with the sheerstrake in either cedar or pine so you can't tell. Mechanically fastened ply goes back to the beginnings of ply.

    The most interesting compromise between old ways and new may be strippers, something that goes back to the 19th century where mechanically fastened strippers were common in certain areas.
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    Default Re: Small Boats Designs: Moments in the Sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Fuller View Post
    I used to talk with John Gardner about this issue for the amateur builder. The challenge in building with local materials is giving the builder the information needed about materials and tools. Do a great plan for a traditional peapod, easy to read with procedures needed spelled out. But the designer doesn't translate it into what is needed at the lumber yard. Pick over what is available you say, but more fundamentally how many pieces and what size? Then there is the issue of working the materials to size. Must I have a table saw, a planer? Can I do it with hand tools that are readily available? If you read the fine print in some of John's later writing he recommended using ply because it was attainable. He also experimented with materials: his modification of the LFH pulling boat, one of the great ones, has laminated frames, mechanical fastenings and is planked in outdoor plywood, with the sheerstrake in either cedar or pine so you can't tell. Mechanically fastened ply goes back to the beginnings of ply.

    The most interesting compromise between old ways and new may be strippers, something that goes back to the 19th century where mechanically fastened strippers were common in certain areas.

    Good wood is still availiable here. Often many boats built over a winter in build schools, come onto the market at very low prices. I have no problem with plywood myself if it is the good stuff, and using a finished sheet product that may only need a jig saw to cut planks, can be advantageous to those without a full workshop of tools and the know how to use them.

    traditional strip, with some kind of caulk between strips was common on larger boats.

    Most people know of the Folkboat, but small boats were often built to suit a local condition rather thaan a mass market.

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