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.

A successful first adventure for the paddling and sailing expedition boat Expedition Mouse

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A successful first adventure for the paddling and sailing expedition boat Expedition Mouse A successful first adventure for the paddling and sailing expedition boat Expedition Mouse

The maiden outing for Dan Noble’s Expedition Mouse seems to have been a little more exciting than anyone intended, but even with two grown men aboard she seems to have coped pretty well. Sailing nearby the Statue of Liberty seems rather exotic from my perspective in Kent, England

I’ve said it before, but boat designers love a builder who follows the plans, builds the boat well and makes good use of it. But even those of us who are lucky in our builders have at least a little nervousness before a launch, for there’s always the danger that something about the boat might not work quite as expected.

Well, Dan Noble’s done a nice job of building the Expedition Mouse, and I seem to have got away with it – as once again one of my little boats has proved to work the way it should. Thanks Dan!

The Expedition Mouse is a stretched 14ft variant of my Mouseboat series of easy and cheap to build designs, but instead of being intended for the pond or river at the end of the road, this one is intended for real trips, perhaps involving camping. Many people would say that she’s an unusual looking craft with a surprisingly large sail are, but there is method in my madness. Her scow shape and hard chine makes her stable enough to stand up to quite a lot of sail, but her entry and exit are sufficiently easy that she’s easy to paddle much like a conventional cruising kayak. Her builder has reported that she while she sails well, she paddles ‘like a dream’.

The plans for the Expedition Mouse are available for free and can be downloaded at the Yahoogroup Mouseboats.