My last post was about a sharpie, and I’m reminded that Dale Austin (the man who built the Apple Pie) is in the middle of a project to build a sharpie derived from Commodore Munroe’s famous sharpie-derivative Egret.
Munroe developed his double-ended and narrow-bottomed internally ballasted shallow-draft sharpie for duties around the shallow waters of the Florida coast. It proved to be a successful and capable boat.
Over the years it has acquired mythic status, not least because the original plans were lost in a fire and attempts to reproduce something like the original boat have met with mixed success.
After several years of spare-time work on and off, Dale is well on with his new boat, which he calls Pangur Ban, and it’s an admirable and striking piece of work. And when it’s launched countless sharpie fans will be fascinated to learn how it works on the water.
One issue is that the boat is rather longer than Dale’s garage, so I’ve included the last photo because it made me smile – letting it stick out through the door was an original not to say heroic solution to an age-old DIY-boat builder problem.
I’ve had a weakness for sharpies for quite a few years now – their relative simplicity and ease of building, workboat heritage and low-to-the-waterline elegance make up an appealing package.
So I’d like to show you this link to some free plans for a real small sharpie that could give someone a great deal of pleasure without being overly challenging to anyone who has previously built a few small boats.
Of course, sharpies like this have disadvantages that one should be aware of: at this size they’re not truly rough water boats and so should probably not be used on the open sea, and they need to be sailed with some caution because they’re usually not self-righting as a modern yacht would be. Nevertheless, I can think of lots of places around our coast, rivers and lakes where a boat like this would be more than adequate, and you can be sure that she’d turn heads wherever she went around the British Isles.
This is one of a number of old magazine plans originally put up by David Grey of Polysails, which sells kits for sails made from poly tarpaulin. I’m serious about this by the way – I regularly use polytarp for prototype sails, and well-made polytarp sails can last for several years. I gather also there are many fishing fleets in the third world that use nothing else.
Or maybe you fancy a 29ft Loch Fyne skiff? Peter Gregson of Wooden Ships says he has known her for many years and sold her to her last three owners. Photos of her launch have survived and the first owner wrote a fascinating little books called Leaves from Rowan’s Log, recounting his first pre-war cruises around the West Coast.
Rowan is obviously a very characterful boat: apart from being constructed to a design harking back to an old-fashioned fishing boat, she was built by McGruer and is said to be in really nice condition, having been owned by a retired West Country vet for the past five years. Apparently, Ed Burnett re-designed the rig a little for the owner, but she still has her Kelvin diesel and is generally little changed from original: take a good look at the details of that elegant saloon, for example.