Nesting Dinghies

Designs by Kaufman Design, Inc., Danny Greene, and Charles M. Strayer

Commentary by Mike O'Brien

Consider a tender's design criteria: The boat must be small, yet it will be called upon to carry huge loads; it should row easily, but it will be wide relative to its meager length in order to gain capacity; in the interest of easy handling, it ought not weigh too much, yet we know it will suffer terrible abuse. No doubt about it, drawing a proper dinghy can be an exercise in contradiction.

The three dinghies shown here address the problems of stowage, performance, and capacity by splitting apart amidships. The resulting pieces will nest neatly on the deck of a cruising boat or in a shoreside storage shed. The smallest of the trio, Danny Greene's 10-foot 4-inch Chameleon, folds into a 5-foot 3-inch package that lives on the forward deck of his 34-foot ketch. After bisection, Mike Kaufman's and Charles Strayer's longer (about 16-foot) boats can be nested — or they can sail off as separate, more or less equal, 8-foot halves.

Kaufman describes the advantages of the type while explaining the reasoning behind his J.P. Downs Memorial Bifurcating Dinghy (hereafter, the JPDMBD): "No one," he says, "gets stranded at a mooring while the dinghy is ashore, heavy loads can be carried, and argumentative siblings can be sent off — in different directions."

Strayer's design allows "break-apart" racing: The boats could sail the outward leg as separate 8-foot dinghies, join together at the windward mark, and run home as 16-foot schooners. Or the process might be reversed — that is, the boats could head out in their long configuration and sail for the finish as 8-footers. Given the latter format, I suspect that volunteers for the race committee might be difficult to find.

All of the designs shown here specify plywood construction for stiffness, light weight, and ease of build ing and upkeep. They all have pram bows in order to make the best use of space and to provide adequate buoyancy forward. But, whatever similarities in concept these three (five?) boats might share, they are quite different from one another in shape and detail. Chameleon's V-bottom, with considerable twist and deadrise in its forward sections, shows the influence of the British Mirror Dinghy (an early stitch-and-glue design). The flat-bottomed JPDMBD has dory-like sections, and Strayer's Longsplice displays a multi-chine hull.

Danny Greene might lay claim to being the dean of nesting-dinghy designers. By his count, more than a thousand boats have been built to the 10 break-apart designs that have come from his drawing board. He describes Chameleon as "my best all around...by far." Construction is dirt simple: Cut out plywood panels for sides and bottom, and join them with temporary butt blocks (where they will be separated later). Lace the hull together with monofilament fishing line. Insert the "matingbulkheads." After the "inside joints" have been filleted with epoxy and fiberglass, and the rails and quarter knees have been installed, the boat can be separated into its forward and after halves. You should understand that, although the hull goes together quickly, considerable detail work is required for a two-piece dinghy. The designer, who built the prototype for his own use, estimates construction time at 100 hours for the rowing version, with an additional 40 hours required to complete the sailing rig and appendages.

Two Yz-inch stainless-steel bolts located at the upper outboard corners of the mating bulkheads and an interlocking latch at the daggerboard trunk hold Chameleon together when she's in the water. The boat can be assembled while afloat.

Nesting Dinghies

Because Greene enjoys recreational rowing, he has fitted Chameleon with a nicely devised, removable sliding seat and outriggers. Of course, a hull of these proportions and dimensions can't use all the power generated with this setup, and there is little gain in speed compared to the fixed-seat arrangement. But, as the designer points out, "The sliding seat offers a good workout, and the little boat certainly is faster than a stationary rowing machine — the view and the air are better, too."

Kaufman describes a modified stitch-and-glue construction for the JPDMBD, but he writes that conventional methods (involving chine logs, glue, screws, and such) will work as well. Most of the plywood involved measures %-inch thick. The prescribed sails are leg-o'-mutton with sprit booms. The self-vanging nature of this arrangement, and the easy sheeting and gentle disposition of the rig will be most appreciated in so small a boat. Relatively tall masts (well, they're only 12 feet 9 inches) are spliced up out of two 7-foot sections joined with aluminum-tube sleeves to permit stowing them in the nested dinghy.

The drawings for the JPDMBD indicate that the forward and after halves should be joined with purposemade hinges and latches. Allowing that this method works well but might be expensive, the designer notes that four common !/2-inch bolts, one at each corner of the mating bulkheads, will be sufficient and less costly.

For Longsplice's multichine hull, Strayer specifies a clean, frameless blend of fiberglass and '/-inch plywood assembled in the stitch-and-glue fashion. The virtual symmetry of this boat's forward and after ends should assure a particularly easy job of construction. A rig evenly divided between two spritsails will provide plenty of economical power. I should say that sailors not brought up with this equipment sometimes have problems getting everything set just right. The usual errors seem to be insufficient luff and snotter tension. In any case, once it's understood, the rig will work well enough.

For all their advantages, nesting dinghies tend to be heavier and more complex than their non-folding counterparts. If you don't need, or want, to have your boat break apart, any of these designs would make a fine non-bifurcating daysailer.

Plans for Longsplice are available from Strayer Yacht Design, 1744 Oak Grove dr., Green Cove Springs, FL 32043.

Chameleon's plans can be had from Danny Greene, Offshore Design Ltd., P.O. Box GE#213, St. George's, Bermuda GEBX.

Kaufman Design, Inc., P.O. Box 4219, Annapolis, MD 21403, sells plans for the JPDMBD.

Particulars, Longsplice

Beam 4'10"

Nested dimensions Sail area 96 sq ft "s-VjV

Longsplice, Charles Strai/er's 16-foot schooner (right), can break apart and sail away as two 8-foot prams (below). The prams nest together for storage.

Plywood Pram Boat PlansDanny Greene Chameleon DinghyPram Lapstrake Lines

Nesting Dinghies

Particulars, Chameleon LOA 10'4"

Beam 4'2"

Nested dimensions 5'3"x4'2"xl'8 Sail area 50 sq ft

Danny Greene's 10-foot 4-inch Chameleon dinghy folds neatly into a 5-foot 3-inch-long package that stows on theforedeck of his 34-foot ketch.

Danny Greene Chamelion Dinghy

Particulars, J.P. Downes Memorial Bifurcating Dinghy LOA 15'7"

Beam 5'3"

Nested dimensions 8'0" x5'3"

Kaufman Designs' "bifurcating" dinghy, shown assembled and nested here, can sail away from itself (above).

Nesting Dinghy Kit

Kaufman Designs' "bifurcating" dinghy, shown assembled and nested here, can sail away from itself (above).

Simple and Able Touring Kayaks

Designs by Michael B. Alford and Erik Wahlman Commentary by Mike O'Brien

Kayaks can provide considerable fun, but North Carolina designer Michael B. Alford writes that he developed Tursiops for purely practical purposes: "My goal was to get across four or five miles of open water from the mainland to a string of uninhabited barrier islands. I needed to carry a fair amount of camera gear and a day's rations. Any number of boats might seem satisfactory for this purpose, but the catch was that I didn't want to stake a boat out or worry about vandalism or motor theft. A sea kayak offered all the mobility and rough-water survivability called for — and had the added advantage that it could be stowed under a bush."

Alford wanted a workboat with plenty of reserve stability, and he gave Tursiops a substantial width of 28 inches (many "Northwest" touring kayaks carry about 25 inches beam, and some "Greenland" derivatives are narrower than 20 inches). Due in part to strong flare that produces a relatively narrow waterline beam, Tursiops's great overall width takes little from its top speed and virtually nothing from its cruising pace.

Perhaps we should note here that, although Eskimo-rolling a wide boat is no piece of cake, Tursiops can be rolled by a competent paddler. The point is that this kayak won't capsize easily — and if it does go over, wet rescues will be easier than for narrow boats.

Tursiops's graceful lines belie its simple plywood and web-frame construction. Ample deadrise ("V") to its bottom, the good flare to its sides, and chines that sweep up toward both ends help ensure docile manners in rough water. And this boat avoids the slab-

sided appearance that plagues some sheet-built kayaks.

Out in Shingletown, California, Erik Wahlman has developed a kayak that is similar to, and yet different from, Tursiops. Erik built his Greenland-style prototype by eye, and drew formal lines only after a photograph of the boat in WoodenBoat magazine elicited requests for plans from readers in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the United States.

The Wahlman kayak shows a V-bottomed plywood hull not unlike the 15-foot Tursiops, but the West Coast boat's greater length (18 feet) and narrower beam (25 inches) probably will make it somewhat faster and slightly less stable. Because maximum speed for this type of boat varies more or less according to the square root of its waterline length, and because stability is gained by increasing length, differences between these kayaks in both categories might be less than one would suspect. Certainly, the boats could cruise in company and arrive at the campsite on the same evening. Be that as it may, if you're racing for cash money, choose the Wahlman design.

On Tursiops, Mike Alford has made a nice job of working the tricky transition from the peaked forward deck (for shedding water and providing foot room) to the flat (for securing gear) after deck. The sloped deck sweeps back past both sides of the cockpit and later blends with the flat center panel of the after deck.

Designer Wahlman tackled, or perhaps avoided, the deck transition problem by specifying a choice of strip planking, cold molding, or a combination of both techniques. These options are more labor intensive, if not more difficult, than Alford's clever plywood solution;

Particulars Tursiops

LOA 15'0" Beam 28" Weight 45 lbs

Greenland Kayak Cockpit Construction

Particulars Greenland-style Kayak

LOA 18'0" Beam 25" Weight 70 lbs

Organic Boat Design

Simple and Able Touring Kayaks but the builders' efforts will be rewarded by the resulting voluptuous organic curves.

Neither of these boats contains watertight bulkheads. So much the better. No boat, no matter the material of its construction, can be guaranteed to remain tight forever. If your kayak develops a leak, you'll want the bilgewater to collect in the cockpit from where it can be dumped overboard.

Alford specifies foam for positive flotation. Builders of the Wahlman boat can, and should, install airbags. Paddlers of either kayak might consider sitting in a sea sock — a large nylon sack that is secured over the cockpit coaming and prevents excessive amounts of water from entering the boat if the occupant is forced to leave.

Both Wahlman and Alford drew boats that do not require rudders for control. By so doing they lowered building costs, increased reliability (what's not there can't break), and essentially assured that the owners of these kayaks will improve their paddling skills.

In the final analysis, it is the paddler's ability that completes the equation for safe kayaks. Without competent handling, these boats are little more than remarkably unstable devices with high centers of gravity. Paddlers who are unwilling, or unable, to learn the Eskimo roll and proper braces, might be better served by choosing a double-paddle canoe.

Paddlers who are inclined to perfect technique and evaluate risks will find kayaks to be most personal and versatile watercraft. They can traverse wild water that would overwhelm open canoes or small pulling boats and then penetrate streams inaccessible to powerboats. Properly handled, kayaks leave tranquility untouched.

Building plans for Tursiops are available from The WoodenBoat Store, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616; 800-273-7447.

Plans for the 18-foot Greenland-style Kayak can be ordered from Erik Wahlman, Brightcraft Boats, 9395 Mountain Meadow Rd., Shingletown, CA 96088.

A Strip-Planked Touring Kayak

Commentary by Mike O'Brien

Most of the time, designer Steve Killing draws sailboats — often large, nearly always fast sailboats. His work with paddling boats, though less well known, seems of the same high order. He drew this particularly striking 17-foot touring kayak for canoe builder Ted Moores.

The finely crafted lines drawings show an easily driven, slightly Swede-form hull. That is to say, the maximum beam is carried abaft amidships. This approach tends to produce kayaks that can be paddled fast; and, if the asymmetry isn't exaggerated, the boats handle predictably.

If we're designing a small boat to put out in tall waves, specifying some deadrise (transverse V-shape to the bottom) and rocker (longitudinal, upswept curve to the keel) won't hurt. Skilling calls for about 6 degrees deadrise amidships. He indicates 2 inches of rocker aft and 3 inches forward. The hull is fine-ended, but not particularly so for a kayak. A sharply raked stem and well-shaped forward sections will provide increasing buoyancy as the Endeavour 17 punches into large waves. The fine run, and nearly vertical sternpost, will help ensure positive control when we're running off in a big sea (one of the scariest elements of sea kayaking). In all, this hull has a friendly and competent look to it.

The Endeavour 17 does not need a rudder. That's fine. Store-bought rudder systems cost about $150. They clutter the after regions of the hull. They usually result in spongy foot braces. And they seem to pick awkward times at which to fail. (Traditional Inuit kayaks apparently showed no trace of rudders until after the type had been degraded by modern, foreign influence. Should we ignore several thousand years of design evolution?)

We'll build Endeavour's hull and deck with M-inch-thick cedar strips, sheathed inside and out with fiberglass cloth set in epoxy. The strips' bead-and-cove edges will facilitate our fairing the hull and almost preclude the appearance of gaps between the planks. (We are going to finish this boat bright. Right?)

Rather than the common (for kayaks) fiberglass-tape hull-deck joint, Ted Moores suggests that we employ a %-inch by %-inch filleted sheer clamp. He explains that this arrangement allows easier hull-deck assembly and ensures a quality joint all the way to the ends of the boat.

Endeavour's plans call for a forward and an after bulkhead — along with the hatches needed to access the resulting compartments. I suggest eliminating the whole works. This strong, monocoque hull seems less likely to sustain damage if it is allowed to flex upon impact. Of course, we'll install inflatable float/storage bags in both ends of the hull, and we'll sit in a sea sock (a fabric sack whose rim attaches to the cockpit coaming under the spray skirt — drastically reducing the amount of water that will enter the boat should we need to wet-exit).

With the above in mind, let's increase the overhang of the coaming's lip from the specified Vi inch to about 1 inch. We don't want the spray skirt and sea sock popping off every time we inhale.

All right, if we get rid of the bulkheads and hatch covers (and sheathe our Endeavour with 4-ounce

A Strip-Planked Touring Kayak

Plans for the Endeavour 17 are available in the U.S. from The WoodenBoat Store, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616; 800-273-7447.

Canadian readers can obtain plans from Ted Moores at Bear Mountain Boat Shop, 275 John St., Peterborough, ON, K9J 5E8, Canada.

Designer Steve Killing can be reached at P.O. Box 755, Midland, ON, L4R 4P4, Canada.

Particulars, Endeavour 17

Length 17'0"

Beam 23 72"

Depth amidships YlVi" Cockpit length 31" Cockpit width 16" Designed displ 250 lbs Weight 43 lbs

Steve Killing Boat Design
the hull-deck joint. ~ 1

Screws key the deck to the hull and provide -A clamping pressure for the glue joint.

The sheer clamp is secured to the deck first (rather than to the hull, as is the usual sequence). This procedure allows for accurate positioning of the hull and deck for their final assembly.

fiberglass cloth — rather than the specified 6-ounce cloth), I'll wager we can bring this boat out of the shop at less than 38 pounds. Not bad for a kayak that will take us just about anywhere along the coast. And won't it look sharp!

Screws key the deck to the hull and provide -A clamping pressure for the glue joint.

The sheer clamp is - bonded and \ filleted to the deck

Two Sea Kayaks

Designs by Rob Bryan and Glen-L Marine Designs Commentary by Mike O'Brien f J ob Bryan's 17-foot 10-inch Seguin and Glen-L JA Marine's 17-foot Sea Kayak might come from J. Vthe same family, but they are second cousins — not identical twins. The boats share the hard chines and upswept ends of their Greenland ancestors, and they share clean stitch-and-glue plywood construction. But the comparatively low (7-inch-high sides at the cockpit) and narrow (ZVA-inch) Seguin is a highperformance touring boat that will challenge and reward experienced paddlers. Glen-L's Sea Kayak (9-inch-high sides at the cockpit and 24 inches wide) is a pickup truck that will build beginner confidence and carry a lot of gear.

These kayaks show a similarity of form that belies their variance in proportion. Beyond any reasonable doubt, Seguin, with its finer lines and less beam, will be the faster, more easily driven of the pair, and the Glen-L will be initially more stable.

Both boats have little flare in their topsides. This configuration combines a relatively wide bottom for stability with a narrow deck for light weight and ease of double-bladed paddling, and it might soften the shoulder of the stability curve.

We should be able to lay Seguin right over on its side and hold it there with a good high paddle brace. Eskimo rolling will prove smooth and easy. Bryan's drawings illustrate the thigh braces and other foam padding needed to fit the cockpit to our own dimensions if we're to pursue such sport.

The Glen-L boat, similarly outfitted, can be braced and rolled, too — though the final 180 degrees might prove diificult for some paddlers.

Bryan has designed a retractable skeg for Seguin to combat potential control problems.

Spectators watching sea kayaks working into a heavy chop sometimes comment on the daring of the pad dlers. In fact, blasting to windward is the easiest part of rough-water kayaking in terms of the skill required. Sea kayaks, with their low profiles and pointed noses, love that game. The real test of operator ability occurs when paddling across, or off, the wind. Some kayaks tend to dig in and root when traveling with wind and wave.

With the wind on the beam, many kayaks insist upon rounding up to windward as predictably as a well-oiled weather vane — whether or not we want to go in that direction. In simple terms, here's the reason: As we propel the kayak ahead through flat water, pressure builds evenly on both sides of the bow. But, if a breeze springs up, say, over our right shoulder, it will nudge the boat to the left, causing the pressure under the lee (port) bow to increase and turning us to windward. The harder we paddle, and the stronger the wind, the more the boat wants to weathercock.

We can mitigate the problem by pushing hard against the weather foot brace (the right one in this case). This simple, if somewhat unnatural, act leans the boat into the wind, which creates effectively asymmetrical waterlines (more convex on the weather side and somewhat straighter on the lee side) that tend to turn the boat away from the wind. Also, pushing hard with our weather foot automatically increases the power in our weather arm.

Of course, altering various elements of hull shape — such as building in more freeboard forward and more draft aft, or reducing the prismatic coefficient — can help us. If we wish, a fixed skeg can be fastened to the bottom, well aft. But this solution often isn't totally effective, and it forever limits the kayak's maneuverability and increases its draft. Another remedy involves fitting an instantly adjustable sliding seat. Moving this seat aft while underway trims the boat down by the stern, reducing weathercocking. It's efficient, but some paddlers don't like the loose fit of the large cockpits required by sliding seats.

All of the above notwithstanding, foot-controlled rudders supply the most commonly applied cure for sea kayak control problems. Modern store-bought rudder systems can be impressive pieces of engineering, and they work well. But they are expensive, they're not immune to breaking, and their foot-pedal controls tend to be less firm than we would like. Despite clever on-deck storage systems, the rudder blades are never completely out of the way. They can ruin themselves, or the paddler, in surf or rescue situations. When cocked at an angle to the hull's centerline in order to prevent weathervaning, they can cause more drag than a simple skeg. And, contrary to popular opinion, rudders usually make kayaks less — not more — maneuver-able. As may be, some designers are loath to spoil the symmetry of their creations by mounting oddly shaped aluminum plates on the kayaks' sterns.

When paddling Seguin, we'll lower its retractable skeg (a small quadrant-shaped centerboard, really) to balance the kayak on a beam reach and to improve directional control when running off. We'll raise it to let the boat head into the wind and to carve tighter turns. Note that the skeg fills its trunk below the waterline at all angles of adjustment, thus reducing turbulence.

Both boats are built using virtually the same construction sequence: cut the hull panels (4mm plywood for Seguin, and 4mm or 14 inch for the Glen-L) to shape, bend them around two permanent bulkheads and one temporary mold, and stitch them together with copper wire. Then, work thickened epoxy fillets into the seams on the interior of the hull, and remove the wire ties. Apply fiberglass tape to those inside seams. Add decks, coaming, and hatches. Fair external seams, and apply fiberglass tape.

The working plans for these kayaks are extraordinarily complete. Bryan supplies a five-page set of well-crafted drawings and a 40-page instruction book. Glen-L furnishes several booklets, 28 sequential construction photos, and full-sized paper patterns for virtually every component in its kayak. Perhaps because I designed and built boats on the humid shores of Chesapeake Bay, paper patterns make me nervous (their dimensions vary wildly with fluctuations in humidity, and the changes in size are not necessarily equal in all directions). As may be, Glen-L's builders have employed paper patterns for decades, and my friend Joel White supplies full-sized paper station patterns for several of his designs. We've heard no complaints, and I'm beginning to suspect that my concern amounts to tilting at windmills.

No matter how we might arrive at the end products, these stitch-and-glue composite boats tend to be stiffer and lighter than either fiberglass or roto-molded plastic kayaks.

I'll offer just one suggestion to potential builders: Drill a small (say, 3/i-inch) hole near the bottom of each bulkhead, and plug the holes with softwood stoppers attached to a %-inch leech line, or some such, running to the cockpit. If leaks develop in either end of the boat while we're offshore alone, we need to have the water drain to the cockpit so that we can pump it overboard, so in the event pull on the lines to pull the plugs. (For this reason, among others, my own sea kayak has neither bulkheads nor hatches.)

Plans for Seguin are available from The WoodenBoat Store, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616; 800-273-7447.

Glen-L Marine Designs sells its Sea Kayak plans at 9152 Rosecrans Ave., Bellflower, CA 90706. Glen-L also offers construction kits for this kayak.

Particulars, Seguin LOA 17'10"

Beam 2VA"

Weight 42 lbs Cockpit size 21" x 16" or 28" x 16"

Cockpit Drain Design

Rob Bryan's Seguin, a sports car of a kayak, will reward experienced paddlers with spirited performance.

Seguin Kayak Plans

Seguin's cockpit details show the custom-fitted padding helpful for bracing and rolling.

Particulars, Gl LOA Beam Weight Cockpit size l-L Sea Kayak 17'0" 24"

40 to 60 lbs

29lA" x 16"

Plywood Kayaks

The Glen-L Sea Kayak's stitch-and-glue, plywood construction, illustrated here, combines quick building time with stiffness and light weight. Sequin goes together in similar fashion.

Two Double-Paddle Canoes

— Designs by Iain Oughtred — Commentary by Mike O'Brien

Nothing, absolutely nothing, communicates the feeling of being afloat quite so purely as a light, human-powered boat. This pleasant fact has not escaped contemporary builders. During the past two decades, pulling boats and "Indian" canoes (the British would say Canadian canoes) have enjoyed a renaissance in form and numbers. Now, with help from the striking Iain Oughtred designs shown here, and similar boats drawn by Pete Culler and others, double-paddle canoes seem poised for the same fate.

To many late-nineteenth-century paddlers, "canoe" implied a lightly built, half-decked, lapstrake boat propelled by a double-bladed paddle. John MacGregor usually receives credit for the introduction and early development of the type. Described by small-craft historian Atwood Manley as an "odd mixture of religious zealot, intellectual, and sportsman," this Scottish philanthropist and adventurer journeyed to North America in 1859 — eventually traveling as far as the Bering Sea. Upon his return home, he designed the first of his Rob Roy canoes, which were based loosely on kayaks he had studied.

MacGregor later paddled his Rob Roys through Europe, packing, among other supplies, copies of the New Testament and his own religious writings. He detailed his adventures in a series of engaging books and lectures, the proceeds from which went to charity. How MacGregor fared as a missionary for his faith remains unrecorded, but it is certain that he converted thousands to canoeing.

MacGregor's writings carried Rob Roy's stories across the Atlantic, where they influenced the growing sport of canoeing. For the next few decades, the sale of double-paddle canoes provided a major source of income for many boatbuilders. The most successful — or at least the best remembered — operation was run by J.

Henry Rushton. This master builder from Canton, New York, benefited from having articulate customers such as outdoor writer Nessmuk (George Washington Sears) praise his work in print. Sears, a frail man, cruised extensively in his 9-foot by 26-inch 10 '/-pound Rushton canoe Sairy Gamp.

These days we have a changed environment for double-paddle canoes. Rushton was assured that, used where intended, his elegant small craft would never encounter large, breaking waves. He could afford to give many of his boats low sides and hungry bows. Today, a proliferation of high-speed powerboats complicates the design equation — metal-flaked monsters might lurk around any bend. Iain Oughtred's canoes are prepared for this. Each, having a cutaway forefoot and buoyant lines, resemble baby whaleboats. They should cope comfortably with confused manmade seas as well as with the natural variety.

Many contemporary canoes are destined to spend considerable time bouncing along on cartop racks, where they're dried by speed-limit winds and baked until well-done by the sun. The wood/epoxy lapstrake construction specified for the boats shown here will, no doubt, survive this torture with less trauma than traditional types — though it should be said that conventional lapstrake canoes also handle drying fairly well, and their solid planking absorbs abrasion better than can plywood's thin veneer hide. Perhaps the modern construction's most important advantages for amateur builders lie in off-the-shelf availability of materials, clean frameless design, and the superb gap-filling properties of epoxy.

Iain Oughtred tends to the details in his drawings. Builders' questions are few, and I've never seen a bad boat come from his plans. Much of a lapstrake boat's beauty depends upon properly lined-off planking. If

Two Double-Paddle Canoes you spot a droopy garboard or squeezed plank after you've finished your canoe, she'll lose her appeal. Oughtred shows where the planks should land on each mold — he has a good eye for it, and little is left to chance.

The relatively narrow (28 inches beam) Wee Rob can be built as a 12-footer, but her length can be increased to 13 feet 7 inches or 15 feet 2 inches for greater speed and capacity. The 31-inch-wide MacGregor is shown at 13 feet 7 inches LOA, and Oughtred has included 15-foot 8-inch and 17-foot 3-inch options. Drawings for both boats detail open and decked versions.

The balanced lug rigs combine short spars and low-centered power with easy reefing, and they're more or less self-vanging. This last is most important, as it reduces sail twist that can lead to rhythmic rolling when running in a breeze — an annoying phenomenon in any sailing boat and downright dangerous for narrow, slack-bilged canoes. I should say that these boats are suited primarily for paddling, and individual builders will have to justify the expense and complication of adding the sailing rigs. No doubt both canoes — particularly the wider MacGregor — will sail creditably.

At the risk of offending proponents of the oar, I'd like to make a case for the double-bladed paddle. First, I'll concede the power of oars for moving heavy loads. Also, fitted to specialized craft with sliding seats or riggers, oars can produce higher speeds (though their advantage is not so great as one might expect). But, for moving people at pleasantly acceptable rates with a minimum of strain, the double-bladed paddle seems better in several ways. It allows the canoeist to sit lower than the oarsman — increasing stability and decreasing windage. As nothing is lost to recovery, the paddle's power stroke is virtually continuous — particularly helpful when working to windward in a breeze. Facing forward clearly is safer than staring over the stern, and a backrest reduces fatigue. Lifejackets can be worn comfortably for paddling, but they're awkward at best if you're rowing.

Nearly everyone acknowledges the advantages of paddles for work in tight quarters. I'm inclined to think that they are superior for open water, too. Although there are variations in rowing strokes, oars literally are locked to their fulcrums; they can provide propulsion and act as crude outriggers. Paddles, on the other hand, can attack the water from many angles with an almost limitless variety of strokes and braces — increasing maneuverability, sport, and possibly your chances for survival.

Double-paddle canoes might well be the ultimate "impulse" boats. Light and simple, they'll sit happily atop your car waiting to explore small streams that flow barely noticed under highway bridges. Yet they're able to handle serious coastal cruising. And you'll be welcome in any harbor because of your complete control, absence of wake, and silence.

Plans and instructions for building Wee Rob and MacGregor are available from The WoodenBoat Store, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616; 800-273-7447.

Nesting Canoe PlansWee Rob Canoe

A Sailing Canoe

Drawn by Ned Costello

The accompanying lines were taken from a 14-foot 6-inch sailing canoe discovered in the yard of a curiosity shop in Belfast, Maine, by members of the small craft department of Mystic Seaport. Two brass plates bore the legend "William F. Wiser, Builder, Bridesburg, Pennsylvania."

The hull of the Wiser canoe represents a modification of the sailing canoes of the early 1880s. This was the height of their development, before all advances pointed toward speed. The rockered keel and rising floor give an easy motion and a dry bow. The decks and watertight bulkheads make her virtually unsink-able. She has rather moderate sail area, which permitted Wiser to design a much larger cockpit opening than usual, nearly 6 feet in length. Thus, two people could share an afternoon sail, or one could venture on a cruise.

Dixon Kemp's A Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing, first published in 1878, provided drawings from which I adapted her rig. About one-seventh of the sail projects forward of the mast, shortening the boom over the cockpit without reducing sail area. The full-length battens allow quick reefing with a simple pulley system. The vertical seams help to support the weight of the boom, allowing lighter sail cloth. Using this rig, centerboard, and hull shape, she would sail like a dream, though no closer than 45 degrees off the wind. The use of a double paddle with a reefed mizzen would be an excellent way to go straight upwind.

In a time when machines have soured the natural beauty of our land, and when people are turning again to sports that demand intellectual and physical agility, sailing canoes like this one may well enjoy a renaissance. The relative sizes of the canoeist and the canoe set up a close, interdependent relationship seldom achieved. The canoe becomes an extension of the body.

Imagine sitting with legs wedged against the hull, feet controlling the rudder, leeward hand on the main sheet, and windward arm pulling your weight to windward, while flying along at 8 or 10 knots!

For further information, contact: Mystic Seaport Museum, Ships Plans Division, P.O. Box 6000, Mystic, CT 06355.

A Sailing Canoe

A Sailing Canoe

Karl Stambaugh Boat Designs

Two Day sailers, Chesapeake Fashion

Designs by Karl A. Stambaugh and Howard I. Chapelle Commentary by Mike O'Brien

Easily built and distinctive in appearance, Chesapeake Bay sailing skiffs come from rugged stock. Predecessors, simply rigged and steady on their feet, served as seafood harvesters and common transportation. Often regarded as little more than waterfront equipment, the boats survived in spite of sometimes desultory care. A measure of their strong character can be seen in the two skiff "yachts" shown here. Neither is a direct copy of a traditional design, but both bespeak their Bay origins.

In his search for a trailerable daysailer, designer Karl A. Stambaugh discovered plans for a 21-foot 7-inch crab skiff built by Bill Reeves at Wingate, Maryland, in 1909. But the Reeves boat is large and heavy by most daysailing standards, and the traditional cross-planked Bay construction does not take well to travel by trailer. The old boats lived in the water and got where they were going on their own bottoms — frequent drying and the stress imposed by roller flanges were not considerations back then.

In drawing the Windward 15, Stambaugh combined the crab skiff's flavor with contemporary materials. Plywood, his choice for planking the hull, forces some decisions. And the decisions start right up forward. In no way can sheet plywood be talked into bending around a traditional deadrise forefoot. Most Chesapeake builders would stave the forefoot (use short, thick planks worked to shape); but this technique can be tricky for the inexperienced, and the staves don't mate well with the plywood you might want to apply to the remainder of the bottom. The forefoot could be carved from a single block of timber, as seen in some early deadrise skiffs, but that construction is heavy and prone to rot. In this age of epoxy, cold molding provides an elegant solution — if you can tolerate the increased building time and expense.

The Windward's designer chose a simple path. He drew shallow forward sections that should present no impossible obstacles to sheet plywood. In a light boat intended for sailing, any compromise in performance will prove minimal. To make this hull even more compatible with sheet construction, he raked the stem — thus reducing twist in the sides up forward.

The powerful rudder, styled nicely in keeping with the old Bay skiffs, will give sharp control and carry a fair portion of the lateral plane load. But, for its protection, you might consider tucking the blade up behind the ample skeg. A Neoprene strap bridging the gap between the bottoms of the rudder and the skeg would preclude your snagging pot warp.

Despite the best efforts of Howard Chapelle, Phil Bolger, and others, the joys of sailing a sprit-boomed leg-o'-mutton rig seem to remain little known. This rig's simplicity speaks for itself — no blocks, no standing rigging, simple sheet leads, solid mast and boom. Its sophistication might not be so evident. Because the boom can't lift appreciably (the foot of the sail tightens, reducing lift), the affair is self-vanging. Sail twist is reduced, often resulting in higher speeds and more docile steering. The sheet is needed only for trimming in the boom.

As it need not provide much downward force, this arrangement can be simpler and lighter than if it had to control a conventional boom. Draft can be changed, 23

to an extent, by varying the tension in the snotter — tight to flatten the sail for heavier air and/or windward work, eased off for lighter breezes and/or reaching and running. Sail twist can be adjusted by moving the sprit boom up or down the mast — lower for more twist, higher for less. Of course, draft can also be affected by changing the down-haul tension. Without a single piece of store-bought hardware, this rig will do everything but sit up and say please.

Howard I. Chapelle needs no introduction here. All of us devoted to simple, traditional boats are indebted to him. Best known for his descriptions — some would say interpretations — of historical types, the master draftsman also left behind a body of his own work. Often unpublished, Chapelle's originals contain an enlightening blend of workboat features recombined to create robust pleasure craft.

Though she's clearly no crab boat, Chapelle's 14-foot Sharpie Sailing Dinghy (read skiff) has her Chesapeake origins deeply etched in her style and detail. As she'd not be called upon to carry a heavy catch, Chapelle gave her less rocker than you'll see in any square-sterned Bay skiff — save for those driven by outboard motors. This boat won't get up on top as quickly as an International 14, but no doubt she'll plane, given the right conditions.

Her skipper likely won't be hauling pots or tending trot lines, so her strong flare won't be cause for a sore back. The sharply angled sides provide reserve buoyancy, a wide base for the shrouds, and room for substantial washboards (side decks) — all combined with a relatively narrow bottom. Most observers will appreciate the resulting appearance.

Sharpie sailors learn early not to sheet in too hard or too soon after coming about. A shallow forefoot sometimes won't "hold on" to the new course. Chapelle gave this skiff an impressive gripe (a forward skeg, if you will), and it should help see her through those awkward post-tacking moments. Also, it offers a measure of protection to both the bottom and the slot when beaching. (Some opinion holds that the gripe reduces pounding in a chop.)

The standard dinghy rudder shown on the plans is simple and powerful, but it can be a pintle-breaker in serious shallow-water sailing. A kick-up blade would seem a reasonable modification.

The advantages inherent in sprit-boomed leg-o'-mutton rigs were detailed earlier; Chapelle's drawings indicate an additional worthwhile wrinkle. Aesthetics aside, I've never known a sharpie to take much notice of a sprit boom lying hard against the lee side of its sail (skippers often seem more bothered by asymmetry than do their boats). In any case, if you're disturbed by the resulting crease, this skiffs half-wishbone fitted with offset jaws provides a solution. The sail will fill nicely on either tack, and this arrange ment is simpler than a full wishbone boom.

A spread of 130 sqaure feet of canvas (Dacron?) represents considerable sail area for this 14-foot skiff. Perhaps in deference to the Chesapeake's light summer winds, Chapelle drew the larger jib in solid lines, which suggests that he intended it to serve as working sail. The small 28-square-foot headsail is dashed in for stronger breezes and/or lighter crews.

The apparently squat rig is, in fact, of moderate aspect ratio for native Bay boats. Although our eyes have become accustomed to taller and leaner configurations, the mainsail shown will provide more usable power and will set on less expensive spars. It's well to remember that extremely high-aspect rigs sometimes have developed in response to artificial sail-area limits and the search for ultimate windward performance. The limits for this sharpie are imposed by cost and the ability of boat and crew to handle sail — no sense sticking a C-class wing in her.

Construction for this little daysailer is straightforward skiff fashion. Any questions you might have about the details should yield to a careful reading of Chapelle's book, Boatbuilding. We haven't been able to find a table of offsets defining these lines, and the plans available from the Smithsonian provide little more information than appears here. Still, I recommend ordering a set if you're intent on building the boat. The larger scale (% inch equals 1 foot) and lack of photographic distortion will help ensure that everything goes down right and proper.

If your skiff will live on a trailer, /2-inch plywood makes a good alternate bottom construction. By all means, plank the sides as drawn — including the lapped "rising strake" that will cast a shadow emphasizing the strong flare and nicely drawn sheer. Properly detailed, this boat can sail in any company. She's simple and inexpensive, but there's nothing cheap about her.

Plans for the Windward 15 are available from Karl A. Stambaugh, 794 Creek View Rd., Severna Park, MD 21146.

Plans for the 14-foot Sharpie Sailing Dinghy can be obtained from the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Transportation, NMAH 5010/MRC 628, Washington, DC 20560. Ask for plan HIC-103.

Scott Sprague Boat DesignsNesting Dinghies
The half-wishbone sprit boom allows for good sail shape on either tack, and it is simpler than the more common full wishbone.
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Responses

  • Mebrat Neftalem
    How thick plywood nesting dinghy?
    4 years ago

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