This is the kind of thing that can happen when a fish crazed fisherman gets a hold of Caledonia Yawl plans. The story is pretty simple. My loud, obnoxious, and entertaining fishing buddy of twenty years complained about the straight conventional mast being in his way when we were fishing. It dawned on me that I could glue up a mast that would curve around him when stored and I wouldn’t have to hear anymore of his vocal majority. The prototype was very successful (no more complaints) and since then I thought of about ten different ways to make it even better. In fact, the second-generation mast got so good in my mind that I decided to pursue a patent.
Not wanting to spend the funds for a patent myself, I gave the idea to Florida State University, my employer. Now Florida State University has a provisional patent pending on the sickle-shaped mast and they own 60% of the rights to the design while I retain 40%. Although they own the lion’s share of the patent rights, I figure that 40% of something is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing. Furthermore, if it does amount to something worth stealing, FSU will have the funds and lawyers to defend it.
I have bought a new 4HP Yamaha four stroke to provide the muscle early in the morning when the Gulf of Mexico is glassy, there’s no wind and us fishermen like to toss top water plugs for big speckled trout. The mast will be stored then and completely out of the way because it will curve over to the sides of the boat. When the afternoon breeze kicks up, the plan is to step the mast, set sail and troll for mackerel in deeper water. I like the daggerboard because it gives me that space just aft of the center seat for standing and casting. I will experiment with using aluminum beer bottles as sacrificial crush zones so that grounding out the daggerboard will not be a big deal (except that we will have to drink more beer to replace the crushed bottles). I also plan to carry a shorter backup daggerboard for use in thin water. By doing these two things I think I can overcome the bad side of daggerboards and enjoy that space I wouldn’t have with a longer centerboard case.
The wheel steering is something else I’ve come up with to make the daggerboard more user friendly. I figure I can at least stop the wheel with my foot while I’m messing with the daggerboard. Of course it will take a bunch of fine tuning to make it all work properly but heck! That’s half the fun, isn’t it?
Your comments are welcome and appreciated. I could especially use some help with the rigging, sail design and remote steering. I’ve been in contact with Iain Oughtred and I’ve confessed to him what I’m about to do with the Caledonia Yawl hull I’m building. He’s been very encouraging and even sent me some pictures of a Dutch boat with curved masts. He said that he found my mast design to be “entertaining” and that the daggerboard “should work fine.”
Since my correspondence with Mr. Oughtred I’ve abandoned the ketch rig I showed him for a simpler sloop. Most times in the afternoon on the Gulf the problem is too much wind not the other way around so I don’t think I’ll miss the additional sail area the storable ketch rig had to offer. Besides it will be fun to watch my fishing buddy dodging the big genoa on every tack. He’ll be complaining like the good old days in no time at all!