An Ultralight Cruiser

form a perfect straight edge, he can compensate, to a degree, on the sail-loft floor.

A word of caution: Unless we actively control fully battened rigs, they want to keep sailing — because the sails tend to retain their airfoil shape even with the sheets let go. We should remember this as we approach the ramp, lest we wind up in the parking lot.

The designer shows two hull construction options: cold-molding, and strip-planking. Both methods call for the liberal application of epoxy resins. For the cold-molded hull, four layers of Vie-inch Western red cedar veneers go together over Vs-inch by 1-inch ash, spruce, or mahogany stringers. The stringers remain in the hull, not on the molds, after completion of the boat. Bulkheads and frames must be notched to accept the stringers.

If we don't have the requisite patience to accomplish that tedious job with neatness and accuracy, we might consider strip-planking the hull. Cedar strips f/» inch by 1 inch), sheathed with 12-ounce fiberglass cloth, offer a cleaner interior at the expense of slightly greater hull weight.

We'll build the decks from plywood: Vi inch for the washboards and two layers of !4 inch for the foredeck and house top, all covered with 4-ounce fiberglass set in epoxy.

The plans specify that we get the spars from stock aluminum extrusions. Although I can think of few technical arguments against metal tubes, I'd be inclined to glue up a nice wooden stick. A builder who chooses the aluminum mast will, perhaps, paint it the best buff color he can mix — and, then, ignore the noise, cold feel, and clumsy untapered shape.

Stephens has drawn a hull with firm bilges and generous beam. This boat should have no trouble sailing on its feet — particularly if we don't mind hiking out on the weather rail. If we're careful about weight — building materials and cargo — we'll be able to break onto a plane without too much provocation.

The centerboard and rudder swing up to permit sailing in shallow water. As the board and blade are raised, however, the lateral centers of both appendages move quite far aft; we might find ourselves dealing with some lee helm when we're sailing in 10-inch-deep water. Perhaps the important point is that we can sail in 10-inch-deep water.

The open accommodations aboard this cruiser are flexible, indeed. We can sleep in the cuddy or in the tented cockpit. The galley probably will be set up in the cockpit. In public situations, at least, the toilet can be positioned just abaft the main bulkhead under a dodger. Owners who install fixed furniture might later regret the clutter and the loss of performance under sail. This boat is essentially a big sailing dinghy fitted with a cabin. To work as planned, it must be kept light.

The cruising range of the 17-foot Ultralight Cruiser will depend largely upon the dedication of its crew. Weekend adventures ought to be pleasant and easy. To get some idea of the outer limits, you might want to read Frank and Margaret Dye's account of sailing an open 16-foot Wayfarer dinghy across parts of the North Atlantic, among other places {Ocean-Crossing Wayfarer, David & Charles, North Pomfret, VT, 1977).

Plans from Robert W. Stephens Boat Design, P.O. Box 166, Brooklin, ME 04616.

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