Boat designer John Owles has written to say that he has set up a new website, Summer Boat Design.
John has had a lifetime with boats: he learned to sail at the age of six years and spent childhood summers exploring the creeks of North Norfolk, and has since had a working life as a professional seaman and boat builder working with many kinds of vessels.
He’s done a lot of traditional wooden boat building, including designing and producing small traditional dinghies, designing sailing rigs, and repairing classic yachts, smacks, bawleys and a German WW2 schnellboot (E-boat).
He’s been going through his old plans and re-working them digitally – which meand they can be cut using form. Being digitised, many of the components can be CNC cut, which makes construction much easier and quicker. He says:
‘After consuming considerable quantities of midnight oil, I have re-drawn, in digital form, a number of my archive of previously hand drawn traditional ‘sail & oar’ boat designs.
‘We will be building two of these designs, Owlet and Windchime, commencing in a couple of weeks’ time.’
He’s promised to send pictures when the two boats are completed.
Oxfordshire-based Philip Burton is building a Julie skiff – and once it’s done we’re naturally very much looking forward to being able to call by to see it in action on the river. Here’s what he says:
‘I have spent the last few months building my first boat which I choose to be a Julie skiff.
‘I live in Oxford uk and I’m sure you will be aware that the river Thames runs right through our beautiful university city, so I’m really looking forward to getting the boat in the water very soon.
‘I am very impressed how easy it was to follow your plans and the basic hull came together relatively quickly, and I learned a lot about stitch and glue and fibreglass techniques.
‘I used 6mm marine ply and I was quite surprised by how much it weighed, and also how much it blunted my planes and chisels. But I guess that’s the price to pay for using ply that will last a long time in wet and soggy conditions.’
The Canoe Yawl: From the Birth of Leisure Sailing to the 21st Century by Richard Powell from publisher Lodestar is great news.
There’s a lot of talk discussion about canoe yawls and a great sense that they are to be admired in the forums and magazines – but why and what’s the story? Probably for a couple of decades I’ve felt that a clear analysis of the type and a description of its history was sorely needed – and now we have it.
Canoe yawls were originally developed from sailing canoes in the late 19th century, in order to allow amateur sailors to sail in the conditions often found on UK’s estuaries and coastline.
Our weather is changeable and, even with modern weather forecasting it is still unpredictable in small boat sailing terms: for example, the wind is often a force stronger than predicted. Many small boat sailors have learned at first hand that shallow estuaries full of channels have strong currents and that as soon as the wind against the tide, the chop may become so fierce that beating to windward becomes nigh-on impossible unless you can creep into shallows. (You need to be an unusual sailor to manage this stuff and it helps to have the time available to wait for suitable weather – read about Gavin Millar’s sailing canoe round the UK attempt.)
But back to the canoe yawl. What does the type offer? In this book, Albert Strange Association technical secretary Richard argues that the canoe yawl is still the best type for single- or short-handed coastal cruising sailor, and that a revival of interest in recent years underlines his point.
Why? You’ll have to read the chapter ‘Why the canoe yawl‘ for the full story, but in his preface Iain Oughtred says the rig ‘is particularly user friendly; the spars are short, the centre of effort is low, and the rig is quickly and easily shortened down or adjusted according to the conditions. In a sudden hard gust, the boat, although heeling considerably, will remain balanced on the helm, and will not screw up into the wind in the way a tall bermuda rig is inclined to do… the double-ended hull has a lot to do with its good behaviour… These boats have a comfortable and reassuring quality… ‘
I think most folks would also agree that canoe yawls are usually very attractive little vessels.
For the princely sum of £15, this volume of 160 well illustrated pages is a fascinating read. Read a sample here. Buy it from all good nautical booksellers or directly from publisher Lodestar.