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.
Chuck Merrell’s Apple Pie dinghy is so small and simple, she’s a real kitchen-table boat – that is, she’s small enough to be built on a kitchen table, and simple enough that you may well be able to finish her before anyone complains that they can’t do anything useful in the kitchen because there’s a boat in the way.
Seriously, it should be possible to build her in a very short space of time, and with very little in the way of materials. She’s also a clever and useful design and would make a great first boatbuilding project. Here’s the link for Chuck’s FREE BOAT PLANS:
If you do build one of these boats, we’d love to hear about it! Email me at email@example.com.
Dale Austin built one and has kindly allowed me to post a photo of the finished boat (below). Click on the picture for an enlargement.
He has also put up a photo log complete with instructions on his own site:
The International 12 Square Metre Sharpie class is founded on the winning design in a competition organised by the German Deutcher Segler Verband in 1931, and was quickly adopted first in Germany, and then Holland, England, Italy, Belgium, France and Portugal. International competition followed shortly after – and if my memory serves – for a brief period it was also an Olympic class.
Here in the UK 1931 the Sharpie was introduced by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, which sponsored a fleet of nine boats. Other clubs followed and the class spread throughout England. Within a few years it is said to have become the strongest class in the country. Those days may be long gone, but the Sharpie is still sailed and raced in the UK.
In the last few weeks, the British Sharpie Association has put up a set of FREE BOAT PLANS in pdf form for building a Sharpie, and there’s some very photographic and historical material, as well as all the activities you’d expect from a busy class association.