Friday, 13 November 2015

Three quirky small cruising boats

I've only seen them online but they look like lots of fun

Compared to a lot of people I haven't done that much sailing myself although I've been fortunate enough to have sailed on a range of boats of different sizes, from small dinghies, to reasonably large tall ships. They have all been fun in their own way, but I've been most intrigued by very small cruising boats, or micro-cruisers. There have been heroic ocean-crossing voyages in small dinghies, like those of Frank Dye who sailed across the north sea to Iceland in a 16 foot wayfarer, but that's not the sort of thing that interests me. I'm referring more to small boats for pottering around in coastal or inland waters, which can get to places that the big boats can't reach. Sailing can be very expensive, and complicated. The bigger the boat, the more the hassle and maintenance. Small boats make things simpler and cheaper. They can be towed or sometimes car-topped, and brought to one's desired cruising grounds. Three examples have caught my attention recently, all from the internet.

The SCAMP (Small Craft Advisor Magazine Project) is just under 12 ft in length, with a tiny cabin. There is a single sail, a balanced lug, which is the attractive, traditional, easily-handled rig you can see in the picture.

The mast is unstayed, i.e. there are no wires holding it up, which makes everything very simple, and allows the rig to be set up quickly. Boats of this size usually have a centreboard which can be lowered to reduce sideways drift while sailing, and the centreboard sits in a casing which sticks out into the middle of the boat. In the SCAMP, the centreboard is offset from the midline, so that the crew area in the cockpit is unimpeded. The boat is very stable, water is used as ballast, and there is a tent that extends over the cockpit so that you can sleep aboard under shelter. The boat is built of wood, from plans which can be purchased, and recently it has been available in fibreglass as well. Very importantly, as far as I'm concerned, I think it's a beautiful design.

The Portland Pudgy is much smaller, measuring a mere 7 ft 8 inches in length.

She's made of moulded polystyrene and designed as an ultra-safe unsinkable lifeboat, but one that can be sailed, rowed, or powered with a small engine. Unlike a liferaft which drifts while the occupants await rescue, the Pudgy can be sailed or rowed by the crew. As a lifeboat, the accessories include a shelter which can be used at sea. However, the Podgy can also be used as a sailing dinghy, and as a solo microcruiser. The floor is long enough for a 6'2" person to sleep in, so it can be used for camping and sleeping on board. The masts and sails (available in a selection of options) stow inside the watertight compartment within the hull, and her size makes her ultra-transportable. The design allows the oars to be fixed to the side of the boat, available for use but out of the way. There are all sorts of optional extras available, such as a built-in compass and solar panels.

Here's one set up with a (non-standard) junk rig, under sail and with the tent:

Finally, ultimate simplicity in the form of the Mersea Island Duck Punt.

Based on the old boats used for duck hunting in the East Coast of England (with an enormous shotgun  pointing over the bows), the modern duck punt can be made at home by a not-very-skilled amateur (or so it is alleged) from a few sheets of plywood over a weekend. Plans are available for free, and the materials are said to cost around £150. I suppose that assumes you already have the tools and so on. The rig is a sail from an Optimist dinghy (a well-known class of boats designed for children). There's no rudder, and no centreboard, just a paddle held over the side for steering. This is obviously different from the usual sort of boat that most people learn to sail in, so I guess you have to spend a bit of time getting the hang of it, but it does look like rather a lot of fun and just the sort of thing for exploring the shallow backwaters of the East Coast of England.
For plans:

Post a Comment