Tag Archives: boat plans

The Canoe Yawl, by Richard Powell

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.

 

 

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Percy Blandford’s autobiography is on sale now!

Percy Blandford - A Life Full of Hobbies

Publlishing phenomenon and prolific post-war era canoe and boat designer Percy Blandford’s family have had his autobiography published, and it’s now obtainable from them. To obtain a copy, message his grand-daughter at diane.naested@gmail.com

I think the foreword  (see below) explains it all as well as anyone could… I should add that the grand old fella wrote his autobiography at the age of 95.

Percy Blandford was a man of many talents, interests and achievements. A world-renowned boat designer and builder,
a pioneering Do-It-Yourself expert and the author of countless books and magazine articles on an extraordinarily wide range of technical subjects, he was also a leading figure in the Scouting movement for well over eighty years, an unrivalled long service record for which he was honoured with a unique certificate that had to be created specially for him.

Born in Bristol on October 26th, 1912, Percy was apprenticed to a large local engineering firm before qualifying as a technical teacher and going to work in a school in London.

During the war he was recruited as a technical writer for the RAF, producing manuals for new aircraft. After the war he returned briefly to teaching before launching his career as a small boat designer and all-round technical journalist, making a name for himself in the post-war D-I-Y boom.

In his workshop at home in Newbold-on-Stour he designed and built prototypes of scores of canoes, kayaks, dinghies,
trailer-sailers, yachts, cabin cruisers and – in the sixties – even surfboards! Altogether, he sold more than 78,000 of his D-I-Y boat plans worldwide. They are still available and his boats are still being built today. He himself was a keen canoeist, narrowly failing to qualify as a candidate for the 1948 Olympics, although he was very proud to be appointed a timekeeper and judge for the rowing and canoeing events, staged at Henley.

As well as writing thousands of magazine articles on technical subjects ranging from net-making and ropework to
blacksmithing, knife-making, upholstery and every aspect of woodworking, Percy also published 113 books on an equally broad range of subjects.

For more posts about Percy and his boats, click here.

I’d like to underline the point that his boats are still being built by sharing this shot of one of his PBK canoes launched by Dundee-based canoeist Bill Samson.

Bill Samson pbk canoe

A reader builds a model Julie skiff

New reader Roland Beverley got in touch yesterday with these pictures of a model Julie skiff that he’s made. Plans for both the real and the model Julie skiff are on the free plans page – see the tabs above.

Here’s what he wrote:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘I just discovered http://intheboatshed.net/ while searching for some free model plans. I am itching to build my own boat but don’t currently have the space. I used to build model aircraft and boats in my teens, so thought I’d dust off my skills and build a new bath/pond toy for my son (who is 6).

‘My Julie Skiff is made from 1/16in balsa with a 1/4in transom (in case I ever mount an outboard!). It is waterproofed with 3 coats of cellulose dope and modified with rowlocks from a picture hanging kit and oars from Sainsbury’s bamboo skewers (paddles already provided!). All of which I had lying about (some items for many years). To waterproof inside the rope locker, I’ll use a spray can of lacquer to ensure its well coated and may coat the outside too.

‘I am very pleased with it, though you’ll notice there are dents in the bow where I should have spread the load from the clamps used to hold it while the glue dried – lesson for next time. Also the playmobil pirates are a little small – but I know my son won’t mind that. He’ll probably use lego people and turn it in to a battleship 😉 He returns from his grandparents’ tomorrow – I hope he likes it!

‘Thanks ever so much for the excellent free resources!’

And thanks to you Roland – it’s always great to hear about these boats being built, either as models or as the full-sized item.