Gavin and Stacey

I’m very impressed by ‘Canoesailor’ Gavin Millar’s positively Victorian project of circumnavigating most of Great Britain in a sailing canoe made for him by Solway Dory.

It’s bonkers of course and I don’t advise trying it at home, but it is well worked out and it’s classic slow sailing – and it’s for charity.

He’s got a website that includes a weblog and a  SPOT technology feature that allows web surfers to follow his position online.

Last night he was in Rye Harbour, and I think he’ll likely be stuck there for a day or two… But why not check his position on Sunday?

Dylan Winter gets to work on his Duck Punt

Dylan Winter builds John Milgate's Duck Punt

Click on the image to see Dylan’s video

I do like to see a man working. This is Keep Turning Left small boat sailor and film maker Dylan Winter building one of John Milgate’s Duck Punts

These little boats are derived from small traditional boats originally used for wildfowling, but are now raced and cruised by a bunch of enthusiasts on the East Coast.

The film shows how progress Dylan managed in a single weekend – and didn’t he do well? Very well indeed, I think, given that he had to make a frame first.

I hadn’t realised quite how far and fast enthusiasm for the Duck Punt design had spread when I posted about them more than a week ago. But this week I was tickled to learn that Wooden Boat forumite and regular boat plan tinkerer and computer modeller Flo-Mo has worked out a way of constructing one of these craft from two sheets of ply, and having made a paper model is about to make a birch-ply model prototype.

It’s fascinating to see people on the serious ‘proper’ wood-built boat forum getting interested in little plywood boxes like these; they’ve doubtless been helped along by the great photos and videos of these boats that can be found around the Internet.

Regular reader and contributor Brian Pearson is particularly interested in this development, and says the Duck Punt sailors are happy for folks to publish simplicated versions of the standard Duck Punt plans.

However, I’m still considering the question. In my mind there’s no doubt Flo-Mo’s clever cross-wise bottom panel layout will work, but my thinking is that given that ply is stiffer one way than the other and ply joints require materials and take time, I’m inclined to think I’d prefer to construct a bottom with length-ways running outer plies, and only one butt joint.

I also wonder how much the weight of the materials involved in John Milgate’s construction method as shown in Dylan’s video contributes to making these little boats practical sailors – only those experienced with these little craft would know, but I wonder whether a very lightly made all-1/4in ply stitch and glue Duck Punt might not be a little light and tiddly? Weight-wise it could be that the best approach to a frameless stitch and glue build for one of these boats might be to laminate a doubled bottom, or it might be that the whole thing is fine made from 3/8ths inch ply.

And then there’s the little matter of built-in buoyancy. I doubt the Duck Punt community will see eye-to-eye with me on this, but I really think some built-in flotation is essential – it could so easily save a lone sailor’s life one day, and then we’ll all be grateful.

This darn thing has got me going now. I must try to restrain myself.

PS – See the comments below for a link to more on Flo-Mo’s progress with this project.

Duck punt paper model

Paper model Duck Punt made from Flo-Mo’s ply layout

John Milgate’s duck punt sailing canoe plans online

Duck Punts sailing last year

John Milgate’s wonderful Duck Punt design looks like tremendous fun to me, and I was pleased the other day to discover that plans to build these little boats are now available from Dylan Winter’s Keep Turning Left website.

I’d include some built in bouyancy and you wouldn’t see me out in a boat like this without a lifejacket, but the way they slip through the water with their tiny 35sqft recycled Optimist sails is an inspiration.

Dylan thinks one of these little flat-bottomed sailing canoes derived from boats used by wildfowlers will make a great platform for filming, which I guess they may be if you’re skilled enough to hold a sheet, steer with a paddle and aim and aim a camera at the same time.

Good luck to him and I hope he ties on his camera securely – I fear I’d be in the water in a moment if I concentrated on something that demanding while sailing one of these tiddly little canoes. Distractions such as cameras aside, though, one of these boats would be a wonderful escape in sheltered waters, particularly on a summer’s evening after a long day’s work.

I tip my hat to Bill Serjeant and his weblog Bill’s Log – for that’s where I learned that Dylan had posted the Duck Punt plans. Thanks Bill!