Ross Lillistone’s perfect beach cruiser

Phoenix III Phoneix III Phoenix III

Phoenix III

Ross Lillistone has built and designed some nice little boats, and one of the nicest is this little spritsail open cruiser designed to be sailed and rowed, and to use an outboard when necessary. Phoenix III was one of those designs that evolves over years, which probably means that all the little compromises that get made in designing a boat have been given even more thorough thought than usual.

The result of all this deliberation is an epoxy ply 15ft 1 1/2in by 4ft 9in beam by 6in draft dinghy that weighs 132lbs and carryies 104sqft of sail on a sloop rig with a spritsail main. The beam is narrow for rowing and with that in mind the 104sqft rig might seem a lot for a cruiser meant to be sailed off beaches and on the sea; however, because the main here is a spritsail with a relatively low centre of effort, it’s probably about right. I also think that the advantages of this large area-low height strategy will be especially obvious in light winds.

Certainly, judging by the central photo Ross seems to have managed the trick of creating a narrow design that still has good stability.

You may wonder why it’s possible for an unstayed rig to carry a foresail… The answer is that the stresses that the main and sprit bear on the mast translate to the luff of the jib, and keep the jib taught enough to be useful in sailing to windward. It’s a neat arrangement, particularly as it avoids unnecessary additional wire and string in the rigging.

The plans for this boat aren’t cheap, but Ross clearly provides a mass of detail compared with many other designers, and certainly puts me to shame – in fact there’s so much useful detail that the drawings take up 26 A3 sheets.

While you’re there, check out at least two other boats on the site. The Alby dinghy looks very handy – I can’t pretend she’s much to look at, but tenders should be simple and cheap (to avoid attracting thieves) and it is an excellent, dry and bouyant shape for the purpose. Take a look also at the ad for the William Garden Eel, delicious canoe yawl that’s for sale down at Ross’s yard. Well we know how we feel about canoe yawls, don’t we?


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One thought on “Ross Lillistone’s perfect beach cruiser”

  1. The Phoenix III is a sweet looking boat, and seems very well thought out. I'm planning to start a build in Wellington soon.

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