Catboats en Ballade

Cruising in a small catboat… One of the keywords is ‘Atkin’, so I’d guess the boat was a design of William Atkin’s – possibly Turnover (17ft in length) or Speculation (18ft), but I’d say Cupid was the most likely. Either way, it’s a delicious piece of film…

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The Westsail story – how a William Atkin design became a popular GRP cruiser

A trailer for a new film about the popular and handsome Westsail GRP cruising boat based on a William Atkin double-ender (Thistle, I gather), which was itself derived from a Colin Archer type.

Like some other early GRP boats based on previous designs for wood, it has that look.

The film makers are appealing via the Westsail Owners Association for a few bob to help finish the film.

William Atkin’s sweet Vintage dinghy

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Dave Clemmer’s Magic Wing, built to William Atkin’s Vintage plans

Some boats start from a special place, even before the designer or builder begins to sketch out their lines, and so it was with Vintage, a 10-foot sailing dinghy drawn by Willam Atkin in October 1919 for Thomas Fleming Day.

Day remains a well known figure and was hugely in his day: for many years he edited the famous Rudder magazine, and famously gave low-cost cruising a huge boost by crossing the Atlantic in a small chine-hulled cruising boat, Seabird. (Click here for an earlier post about a William Atkin cruising boat design based on the Seabird.)

William Atkin, whose name in boat designing is almost a by-word for ‘wholesome’, wrote this of her: ‘… she is a burdensome little packet… a round-bilge, lapstrake boat… From keel to masthead, stem to stern, Vintage was designed precisely as suggested by Captain Day. He had in view a nicely balanced boat which would sail well, row easily and, at the same time, be in her element under the urge of an outboard motor; a small one, of course’.

The boat pictured above is owned by Dave Clemmer and I understand largely built by Eric Hvalsoe.

Maritime weblinks guru John Kohnen has spent some time with the boat and likes it:

‘I’m quite impressed with Dave Clemmer’s Vintage, Magic Wing. It’s a Good Boat. Last year at Port Townsend Dave took me out in her, and with two big guys aboard she sailed well and felt quite safe – even when Dave stood up to fool with the rig. This year Dave let me steal her and go out by myself. He’d just acquired a set of light, balanced spoon oars and she rowed like a dream… She moved along pretty good for a 10ft dinghy… Magic Wing is a little boat, but big enough to be used as a real boat, not just a tender. Billy A did good!’

Dave also got in touch to point the way to a splendid Flickr photo set of Magic Wing’s construction, and to lend his support for the Vintage design:

‘The Vintage is an excellent little 10-footer, is great as a tender, and is decent for one person to go on multi day adventures with camping and anchoring gear. She is a very stable and safe boat for her size. For sailing, the Vintage actually likes a lot of wind. She turns on a dime. I haven’t come close yet to capsizing her, and I’ve yet to feel the need to reef (I’m sure I’ve been in 20+ knot winds on some occasions). I find her rather slow in terms of sailing speed, but I’m sure I’m expecting too much for a 10 footer for speed. The Vintage does very well rowing with one person in the boat, and can keep up with longer boats (as Eric can attest). Rowing with more than one person (once the transom dips into the water) is considerably slower.’

Eric Hvalsoe’s email to me agreed with much of what Dave had to say – though he argued that Magic Wing’s speed under oars might owe something to Dave’s strong arm and posh oars – and added that there is some narrative about building Magic Wing on his web site http://hvalsoe-boats.com/ (from the opening page, look for a link to archives). However, he adds a small caution: ‘Vintage should not be mistaken for an easy build,’ he says. ‘I believe we made several improvements in construction detail over the information provided by Atkin.’

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