John Welsford’s new Pilgrim 16ft open cruising boat design

It’s entirely a matter of coincidence, but John Welsford has also been weblogging the design of boat  – though his could hardly be different from my little skiff.

Pilgrim is a small seaworthy open cruising boat light enough to be managed by one person on the beach, but fitted with removable ballast. It has a rounded and balanced hull form that allows it to heel without wanting to turn – in that way, it’s more like a yacht than modern dinghy, even if it is dinghy-sized.

(For those who don’t immediately understand this last point, I should explain that the now conventional sailing dinghy form that encourages planing when sailing usually also makes a boat that pulls round into the wind when heeled. Yachts however are generally designed to remain easy to steer as they heel, because there’s usually no way of ensuring they can be sailed flat – some obvious exceptions are high-tech boats with moveable ballast and heavy keels that swing sideways such as Mini-Transats and Open 60s.)

John’s project is interesting not least because I can’t recall anything recent that’s quite like it, but also, I think, because its rounded hull bears at least a little resemblance to the beach fishing boats that have been used on the South Coast of England for generations, and I’d guess that at least some of John’s design criteria have something in common with the needs of the crews of those little boats – which one might say was a matter of convergent evolution.  Notice the cute bowsprit designed to maximise the rig area to match the powerful hull, and the long shallow keel that becomes deeper the further aft you go. The rather misleading name for this feature is ‘drag’, by the way, but don’t let that confuse you.

I do hope John himself doesn’t think I’m talking complete nonsense!

I wonder what the members of the Uk’s dinghy cruising movement will think about it? My only concern is that I think rowing it will be hard work – but with a big rig, perhaps that won’t be necessary very often in John’s sailing area.

Click here to follow the Pilgrim project’s progress.

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Ben Crawshaw’s beach at Tarragona in winter

The Invisible Workshop’s Ben Crawshaw has been taking striking photographs of the beach outside his Tarragona apartment

You may have noticed the Blogroll to the right of this post. It’s meant to be a list of friendly weblogs and websites relevant to intheboatshed.net readers. And that’s exactly what it is – some of them are very old friends indeed (aren’t they Chris?), and I find they’re well worth a look whenever I feel I’m missing the water.

So tonight I’d like to draw attention to some particular gems on the intheboatshed.net Blogroll .

Ben Crawshaw of The Invisible Workshop has been taking a series of strikingly beautiful photos of his local beach in winter. Even in Spain, it’s now too cold to use the water with any pleasure, so he’s now walking, watching the sea, photographing it and, no doubt, dreaming about the spring.

Albert Strange Association webmaster Dick Wynne has been busy putting up news items, drawings and photos relating to their hero and his very attractive designs. And some of the news has been very good indeed – it seems Blue Jay has new owners, who have become members of the ASA.

Chris Perkin’s weblog Bumble of Loch Dubh currently has just one very interesting post describing how he built his first two clinker ply dinghies. It’s long and interesting, particularly because his next boat, an award-winning Iain Oughtred Macgregor sailing canoe has become something of a legend. (For more on the Macgregor, follow this link.)

Rowing for Pleasure is Chris Partridge’s wide-ranging weblog. Check out his illuminating posts about the boats of Venice, his trip round the backside of Portsea Island, the important place of the name Snarley(y)ow, and a rather sweet photo of the young Chris at the oars of a Thames Skiff long ago.

He says ‘I’ve been looking through family photo albums and discovered this pic of me rowing stroke on the Upper Thames in 1960 with Dad at bow. The boat was a beautiful mahogany double skiff called Snarleyow. Somehow, I can’t remember a single day when it rained.’

Funny that – I too can confirm that it never rained when my dad took us out on the Thames. Dads were much cleverer in those days and I sometimes think it’s a shame my kids have to deal with someone much more Pooterish.

And now for something completely different. George in Michigan is building one of Matt Layden’s distinctive little sharpies and tells us all about it at Building an Enigma 460. Many of home boat builders are intrigued by Matt’s simple and inexpensive solo and two-person micro sailing cruisers, and by his amazing sailing feats, and I’m no exception. There are still precious few designs for boats of this kind.