Tag Archives: design

A great piece about the evolution of racing dinghy design

Post war dinghy development article

This article by David Henshal about post-War racing dinghy development is well worth reading, and can be seen on the Yachts and Yachting website.

‘One of the most notable changes that have taken place in the sport of dinghy racing in the last 40 or so years has been the impact of the spreadsheet and ‘business model’. Until then, much of the development within the sport had taken place within what could best be described as a ‘cottage industry’. Though this may have looked disorganised and unstructured, the old ways of working did have one key advantage over today’s production lines, as many of the great thinkers and ‘do-ers’ of the day all knew each other well. This friendship allowed for an unprecedented level of interaction and cross fertilisation of ideas that helped drive the ‘big-bang’ of expansion in the sport in the 1950s through to the end of the 1970s. This sharing of ideas can be seen very clearly in the lives of three of our great innovators, people who could almost be described as the ‘Three Wise Men’ of British dinghy sailing… ‘

 My thanks to Australian boat designer Mik Storer of Storer Boat Plans in Wood and Plywood for spotting this one.

 

Summer on Lake Rotoiti

Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - pedal powered catamaran

Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - pedal powered catamaran Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - pedal powered catamaran Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - pedal powered catamaran

Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - homebuilt Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - homebuilt Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - homebuilt

Summer on Lake Rotoiti - photos from Paul Mullings - homebuilt

I reckon Paul Mullings is out to make us winter-bound Northern Europeans envious with these shots taken in high summer down in New Zealand - which he sent in an email in which he signs off  ‘Keep warm – Paul’.

The shots of a pedal powered catamaran and an interesting home-built cruising dinghy were taken on the shores of Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park at the top of the South Island and show a couple of boats that caught his interest recently. The cat looks fun, but can anyone identify the dinghy and perhaps explain how that tiller works?

We’ve had some of the most bitterly cold weather I’ve seen lately, and the only way to keep consistently warm round here is to never leave the stove. I’m tempted to do just that each morning, though other people I know are busily leaving the country…

Holmes of the Humber: a review

 

Eel

Eel, drawn by her skipper and designer, George Holmes

[June 2011 - This book is now available again after selling out less than a year after publication.]

Now that my copy has arrived, Tony Watts’ book Holmes of the Humber seems bigger than I’d expected. This is seriously good news, for although it isn’t quite coffee-table book sized, it’s nevertheless big enough to do justice to old George Holmes’ lovely illustration work.

There are also several intriguing photos of the man himself – they’re fascinating because he is so much everybody’s idea of what a slightly eccentric Edwardian uncle really should look like, and rather at odds with his own whimsical depictions of himself in drawings.

I should also add that it’s packed with an impressive amount of material, much of it drawn or written or both by the man himself. As I leaf through the pages I’m struck by how many pages are made up of a mixture of drawings and hand-written text, and can’t help wondering whether this may have been where Alfred Wainright – consciously or unconsciously – found his inspiration for his meticulously hand-written and illustrated books about the Lake District.

The chapters start with his early years, and include a map of the rivers and coast of much of Yorkshire and also the rivers of Lincolnshire. This map is essential to understanding much of the content of this part of book. Quite quickly Watts moves on to material from the Eel years, including a charming draftsman-like drawing of the boat itself and her dinghy Snig quickly followed by an equally sweet page of comic-book style drawings depicting Eel’s first cruise and accompanied by captions including 11pm May 26 1897 Hornsea Beach. Waiting followed by Midnight May 28 1897 Hauling through the surf, then A bit lumpy off the Newsand Noon May 29 1897, Passing the Bull Lightship 2pm May 29 and finally Moored at Ferriby Sluice. May 29 1897.

Holmes’ illustrations and texts just go on and on – the Eel years alone runs to 60-something pages. There’s a nice chapter of descriptions of some of the Humber’s local boat types including the crab boat, the Goole billy boy, the Humber duster, the Paull shrimper and of course an illustration of how a smack’s boat is converted into a blobber, complete with small cutter rig and cozy – but unstable-looking – house.

It’s notable that the up-river blobbers had much taller houses, which went neatly with having no rigs – at least in Holmes’ illustration.

After 15 years with the little 21ft Eel, Holmes moved on to the 28tft Snippet in search of greater comfort – as he says ‘there had come a slight increase in my beam, a disinclination to bend and a desire for standing headroom below’. The early Snippet drawings are then immediately followed by more of Holmes’ comic book-style annotated drawings – this time scenes from his first cruise with Snippet on the Norfolk Broads.

There’s another section of Holmes’ descriptions of various sailing areas including the tidal Trent and the Upper Humber, the Rivers Ouse and Hull, and – astonishingly to me – the River Ancholme. I should explain that the Ancholme lies just a few miles from the small North Lincolnshire town where I grew up, and was pleasantly pleased to recognise some scenes from the river that I haven’t seen since I was a boy, including, of course, the bridge at Brigg, from where the delightful but rarely sung traditional song Brigg Fair got its name.

There’s a short section on Holmes the artist, followed by another on his boat designs including canoe yawls Cassy; the first, second and third Ethel; Daisy; Yum-Yum; Kittiwake; Redwing; T’Rotter; Trent; Design No 7 and Ripple. If you’re in search of material about canoe yawls, you certainly won’t feel let down, but this chapter also includes some ‘house boats’, which are really like more conventional yachts, and a curious round-bottomed barge yacht.

And, finally, there’s what looks like a comprehensive list of Homes’ designs and boats compiled by Albert Strange Association technical secretary Richard Powell.

At £25, Holmes of the Humber isn’t cheap, but it’s a heck of a good package that’s well worth the money. If you’re at all interested in Holmes this book should certainly be on your wish list this Christmas! See http://www.lodestarbooks.com for information.

Drawings for making a model of the sailing version of the 12 Ella skiff

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Ella skiff model drawing

At last – here’s a set of drawings for building a model of the sailing version of the 12ft Ella skiff. Full drawings are to come when I’ve written my usual builders’ blurb…

The pdfs in the download below (fixed now – sorry for any inconvenience) are all the same size and – if this works out as it should – when printed out everything should be in the same scale on paper. Model-makers should then be able to use the printouts as templates to create a 1/12 or so scale model, including spars and sails.

One point that may not be obvious and which I haven’t explained is that included in the drawings are four panels whose purpose may not be obvious. In fact, these attach to the side decks, frames and bottom immediately before and aft of the central thwart. They’re intended to add some low-down bouyancy in a knockdown, and help to keep the amount of retained free water to a minimum on righting.

Have fun… If you do build the model, I would be delighted to advise if you get stuck, and would be most grateful for photos please!

Ella skiff sailing version model

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Paul McGuire’s models of the Julie skiff

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Model compare port

Model bow Model stern

It’s always nice to hear of people’s interest in building one of my designs, and very pleasing too when they go so far as to make a model. So I’m delighted Paul McGuire has made two of the Julie skiff rowing skiff – the first is the standard A4/letter paper size you’d get from a normal domestic printer, and the second he made by blowing the original download up so he could use a bigger piece of card.

Thanks Paul! Has anyone else made either a model or the real thing? We’d very much like to hear from you at gmatkin@gmail.com.

For more on the Julie skiff:
Sketches for a sailing 15ft Julie skiff

Complete free plans package for the intheboatshed.net flat-bottomed 15ft 6in skiff
Not forgetting the smaller versions:
Free plans for the intheboatshed.net Ella skiff now online and available to download
Sunny skiff 14ft plywood flattie plans

These boats are designed to be built using the stitch and glue technique – if you haven’t done this before you might be interested in my book Ultrasimple Boat Building: 17 Plywood Boats Anyone Can Build Sunny skiff 14ft plywood flattie plans or one of the other books on this topic available from Amazon Sunny skiff 14ft plywood flattie plans.

John Welsford’s Pilgrim – the background and some drawings

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Pilgrim Sheet 1 470

Pilgrim Sheet 2

Pilgrim drawings by John Welsford

Legendary New Zealand boat designer and small boat cruiser and author John Welsford has written to explain the background to his Pilgrim design and project. I think she’s an interesting proposition – a proper pocket sailing beach boat that has quite a lot in common with the tubby traditional fishing beach boats of the English South Coast.

It’s interesting also that she’s closely related to Houdini, another Welsford boat I’ve admired for some time.

This is what he had to say:

Pilgrim, family daysailer or adventure cruiser

Length. 5.00m 16 ft 5in
Beam 2.11m 7 ft
Draft
centerboard up: 0.48m 1ft 7in
centerboard down: 1.17m 3 ft 10in
Sail area 15.1 sq m 162 sq ft
Dry Weight Rigged 480kg 1056 lbs
Ballast 210 kg 462 lbs

In my teenage years I sailed an 18ft gaff rigged centreboard yacht around the Hauraki Gulf near my home just north of Auckland, New Zealand. This is a wonderful area for cruising a small yacht with harbours every few miles, islands and peninsulas to shelter behind and thousands of square miles of beautiful warm blue water.

That was more than 40 years ago, and its been a while since I had a chance to revisit some of those coves and bays. Recently the thought that I should plan a pilgrimage to refresh the memories came to the fore and I began a project that would see me in the same area in a boat of similar character to the one I sailed all those years ago.

I live about 120 miles south of Auckland and my nearest port is Tauranga, which is about the southernmost limit of my cruising in those days, and another 120 miles north of Auckland is the fabled Bay of Islands, which was was about the limit of my cruising as a teenager. My aim was to cover the territory between Tauranga and the Bay to revisit all of my old haunts, a trip that would put about 300 miles under the boats keel.

Sailing from Tauranga north in summertime requires a boat with the ability to sail to windward in open sea against the prevailing nor’easters, and that with a mountainous forest clad lee shore under the port bow. The Hauraki Gulf is not as demanding but then the next leg heading north has a stretch of over 50 miles in open ocean with absolutely no shelter, which requires a really powerful boat capable of coping with serious weather.  Even a good weather forecast can mean a sudden summer gale of up to 40 knots.

With these conditions in mind I sat down at the drawing board to begin the design of my pilgrimage boat. I took the very successful hull shape of the smaller Houdini design, the original design from which the ocean going cruisers Swaggie and Sundowner were developed, and worked it into the right proportions to give me the size and space that I needed for a three-week cruise sleeping on board.

There is space here for up to six adults to go sailing around the bay without feeling cramped, or for two to spend a week on board away from civilisation exploring the interesting places, but she’s still easily singlehanded.

The need for comfortable accommodation was a major driver of the size and layout, and she has two full-sized bunk spaces in which to spread airbeds and sleeping bags, and huge lockers so that when she is sailing all the overnight and cooking gear can be stowed away shipshape and Bristol fashion. She also has enough buoyancy to float her high enough to be self rescuing if the worst should happen when out of sight of rescue.

With the accommodation worked out and the seating and backrests proportioned so I would not get uncomfortable even after weeks on board, I looked very hard at both the keel configuration and the rig.

I wanted to be able to sail into knee-deep water and walk ashore. I wanted to have a fixed rudder, which would be enormously stronger than a kickup one – actually I wanted a hugely strong boat generally! And I wanted a high righting moment and very high stability.

The keel I’ve drawn has a big slug of lead bolted underneath which with the steel plate centreboard gives a boat that several people can stand on the gunwale without capsizing her, which has enough ballast to right her from 90 degrees even with the hull half full of water, and then hold her stable and upright to allow her crew to bail her out.

The fixed rudder has a big end plate, that makes the rudder stronger, improves steering efficiency, provides a step upon which to climb back in after a morning swim or an overboard situation, and importantly it greatly reduces pitching when sailing in short steep waves. All good outcomes.

The easily built plywood hull with its frames and laminated stringers reinforced by the wide side decks and that big full length keel makes for an incredibly strong hull, one well capable of taking the abuse that adventure cruising can inflict upon it.

When considering the rig, I had some spars that I wanted to use, which I have to admit was a consideration, but when I looked at the requirements of the boat I felt that the gaff cutter rig so successfully used on other boats that I’ve drawn had a lot going for it. The mast is relatively short and light so is easy to stand up and rig, the sail area is large but low down so gives good drive for its area, the combination of roller furling jib, a staysail (inner jib) that can be set or taken down as required and a highly efficient full battened mainsail means that there are quite a number of possible combinations of sail to choose from to preserve balance and stability in heavy weather.
Its possible to go from full sail all the way down in five steps to just the little 25 sq ft staysail without having to change a sail or even go up on the foredeck. Safety in heavy weather is a feature of this design.

On top of all that, it’s a very pretty rig that will be a lot more efficient than most modern sailers think, there are some surprises for them in this little boat.

I’m well started on building my own Pilgrim, but at as I write there are at least two people are well ahead of me.
http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/pilgrim/updates.htm Check out my build diary on this link, I am posting pics and commentary not just from my own build but from others as well. Watch this space, better still, join us and live the dream.

I have a vision in my minds eye, the boat thrashing along to windward in the late afternoon, Great Barrier Island just up to windward after the 30-mile open water passage from through the notoriously rough Colville Channel to the Broken Islands. There is the narrow entrance of Man O War Passage just beyond, showing me the way into the perfectly sheltered harbour of Port Fitzroy with its bush-clad shores ringing with birdsong and the surge and snort of the dolphins that seem to live there most of the year round. I hear the clatter of the chain as I anchor the boat and set up my ‘cabin’ for the night.

I imagine waking in the golden dawn light, and sitting up under the boom tent while the kettle boils, wondering at the beauty and peace of the morning, and thinking ahead to the next few days and the challenges that the longer passages ahead of me pose.

I’ve some boatbuilding to do before it becomes reality, but the dream is a vivid and realistic one. I’ll be writing about it – perhaps I’ll read about your adventures sometime?

John Welsford email jwboatdesigns.co.nz, web http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz

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Sketches for a sailing 15ft Julie skiff

Julie skiff sailing version

Sketches of the proposed sailing version of the 15ft 8in Julie skiff. Click on the picture for a larger version on the drawings

I’ve been away for a few days, and took the opportunity of a couple of quiet days to noodle these initial sketches for a sailing version of the Julie skiff.

The hull remains the same as the rowing version, but is half-decked and fitted with two standing lugs, much like those many readers will have seen fitted to Onawind Blue. The sail area is 100sqft or so divided two-thirds and one-third between the mainsail and mizzen respectively. I think that’s probably quite enough for a narrow hull like this, but also that it could be quite some fun on a windy day. I should add that it’s rather a one-man boat despite its length – I suspect that it will perform best with a crew of up 300lbs.

What do you say? Is anyone out there in intheboatshed.net reader land interested in this boat? Polite answers please either to gmatkin@gmail.com – or if they’re really clean to the comments link below!

For more on the Julie skiff, click here, here and here.

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