How about a cool, refreshing glass of…


My new soft drink.

Thinking boating

Another week, another umming and aahing about boats. Thinking about boats, watching videos about boats, drawing boats. It’s a new hobby of mine. Soon I will actually get to sail a boat!
Can you imagine the hilarity if I end up hating sailing…

What was I thinking about? It was about my lovely little design for the Salmo 19′. I spent a long time looking at the plans for the boat, sketching out bits and pieces and working out how much it was all going to cost. Including any modifications that I would need to make to help it fit onto the most economical amount of plywood. Turns out I would have to reduce the sides by a hundred milimetres to fit all the pieces on the fewest plywood sheets.

Then I imagined living on it. Seems stupid that after all this time I never actually considered living on the boat I was hoping to build. Turns out I think it would be pretty horrible actually, like perpetually camping in the rain. Salty rain at that. With nowhere dry to go. It turns out that the most boat I can build for my budget is just not enough boat. Three thousand pounds is a lot of money to spend on somewhere I cant even sleep comfortably in (At least it seems a lot when I am trying to save it up!)

I want a boat that I could comfortably live in for months and months. I am just not going to be able to manage that. I think there has been another use for my hundreds of hours thinking about and drawing boats, even if I am not going to build one at the moment. Even the hundred or so pounds I spent on the plans and Junk rig book were well spent because I feel now that I have  a greater appreciation of what some of the different aspects of a boat actually mean.

I used to think that a boat was basically a little box with a sheet attached that got blown around by the wind. Now, after all that effort learning I can appreciate how little I actually know about boats. If it seems like a bit of a long way round to realise that you don’t know much then think again. If I were to think that I understood the full amount of anything immediately it means that, either it is really simple (and therefore hardly worth devoting effort to), or I have failed to grasp the subtleties of something that, in this case, cound actually get me killed!

Even though I will not be building a boat for the forseeable future does not mean the time thinking about it was wasted, because now I feel a little over prepared for the rather more simple task of merely choosing a boat to buy.

If only it were so simple….

I have been scouring (The New Zealand version of ebay) on a regular basis. Turns out the turnover of boats is pretty slow, which is good for me if one catches my eye. Follow this link if you are interested.

My parameters are a yacht between 5 and 9 metres and up to $15,000. My actual budget is more like $6000 but there is not specific option for that. It is good to see that there are around fifty boats within my price range, so a good bit of choice. What I am mainly considering at the moment is the correct balance between condition and size. Within my price range there are the full range of boat sizes, but of course the larger ones are the ones that require the most work, and I don’t want to have to do any work at all.

So do I want a slightly smaller boat in excellent condition or a larger one that will need more maintenance?

I am leaning towards the small but sound option. I find myself a averse to complication (no doubt one of the things that makes me want to try this lifestyle in the first place) and I have absolutely no interest in gambling. A small, good condition boat with a swing keel and enough foredeck to strap a kayak or two to is preferable to roomy yet leaky (or one of the other potentially infinite repair jobs a yach throws up constantly)

My thinking is this. Plus sides: if the boat is cheap then I will have more money and be able to cruise for longer. If the boat is in good condition then it will require less time and money in repairs so will be cheaper so I will have more money to cruise for longer. If my boat is small (between 18 and 20 feet long) then it will be cheap and in good condition. You get the idea.
Down side: If my boat is small then I can fit fewer friends on it.
Thats the only downside as far as I can see it. Looks like ‘they’ might have to get their own boat…


Thoughts on the arab spring



I am feeling in a kind of limbo between old life and new life, though things are moving forwards. Just a sample list of things that I have to do before I actually leave. Hopefully writing the list will help me remember to do these things!

1: Get my british certificates for my various qualifications approved by the New Zealand government so I will be able to teach while on my working holiday (£400!!!!!!)
2: Join the New Zealand teaching council
3: Find a method of transferring my savings to a New Zealand bank account
4: Apply for a short term Australian holiday visa
5: Sell my remaining unnecessary posessions
6: Kit myself out for mobile blogging and youtubing (This is the fun bit!)
7: Finish editing my book
8: Draw more
9: Finalise the rules for my game

The list can be split into three sections. The top few are absolutely necessary for me to be in a good position when I finally get to NZ. I want to be able to teach while I am travelling, much better than all the other unskilled jobs that would otherwise be available to me, like bar work or packing vegetables. I have done enough of both of these jobs to last me a lifetime. Honestly I have probably spent a total of around five weeks working in a bar and/or picking fruit, and it was definitely too much! SO boring I can barely describe. However teaching is great fun. Despite the fact that I was hit with a surprise £400 bill to have my qualifications checked I think that it will be worth it in the end. An added bonus is that it puts me a few steps ahead in securing a perminant work visa if I have a skilled job already.

The middle few bullet points are things that would be very helpful to have done before I go. I have a bunch of boxes of miscellaneous stuff that I have hoarded in my parents loft for the past few decades. Probably about a quarter of it is any good. Its off to a car boot and then charity shops.

Something that I have enjoyed doing is getting everything I need to youtube and blog on-the-go. My basic kit that I have to work with is an iPad which imposes some limitations as it has not got as much easy versatility as a laptop or even a mac, however I wouldn’t change it for anything else. I don’t care what people say, for my needs its better than a computer. Here is a picture of my kit, excluding the iPad of course.


Circling clockwise from the top we have: A surprisingly powerful speaker, a gopro hero, a USB powered external microphone, an SD adaptor and a selection of micro SD cards, and finally my drawing stylus. I got some waterproof tupperware to carry it all in.

The gopro is ace, even my few little test videos just walking round the house look crisp, I cant wait to get it out on the water. Having said that I was frustrated because initially I could not get videos off the device and onto my ipad. I thought I was going to be stuck holding videos on the camera itself until I got to an internet cafe or something. Hardly ideal. The ipad camera cable does not work for this function for some stupid reason so I had to get the SD cable. I am sure this is all part of Apples cunning plan. Long story short I can now get videos onto my ipad. Three cheers for a small victory!

I also got a microphone that vastly improves the sound quality of my recordings. Again, it did not work straight away, but ingenuity prevailed and is the subject of my very first youtube video!

There are still a few things missing from my ‘kit photo’. My ipad and wireless keyboard of course, but also a protable solar panel and waterproof battery! This type of gadget has to be the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. Check out or the picture below. It means that I can be completely self sufficient with my electronic devices no matter how long I am going to be spending in the wilderness or the ocean. No having to worry about my batteries running out, so I can write, draw and film to my hearts content!!

imageclick for higher resolution

Obviously I will need to get back to civilisation to get some internet to actually upload things, but still, an entire media centre that weighs less than 5kg, fits in a day bag, charges itself and is 100% portable is, in my opinion, amazing! I will no doubt make a video when I have everything packed. Its too tempting not to!

Finally the last few items on the list are personal projects that would be really great to have pretty much done before I go. Unfortunately having to work all day does not lend itself to creative juice, so drawing is suffering a bit. Havent drawn in weeks and weeks. My book however is coming along nicely if a bit slowly. I want to have it for sale on itunes and kindle before I leave this hemisphere. I also have my last warhammer model to paint and sell. I started the conversion almost four years ago, started painting it two years ago and hopefully will get round to finishing it in the next six weeks.

Looks like I will have to pull my finger out!
(No hints as to where I have to pull it out from….)

Junk Rig

I know, I know! It’s been almost three weeks since I posted anything. Ithere have been many things happening, but nothing much to do with drawing or with my boat so I thought I would spare you the drivel. I am editing my book. 100,000 words to edit, am about halfway through and needing (so far) to completely rewrite about 3-4000 of them. The rest are looking pretty well chosen (thank goodness!).

In boat news I got my copy of Hasler and McLeod’s Practical Junk Rig. Basically THE definitive tome on all things to do with Chinese style rigs. They are notoriously easy to sail, cheap to make and require minimum of stresses on both the hull and the sail. Perfect, no?

Thing is that my boat plans do not come with a junk option so I had to design one. It took all day and about eleven slightly different sails to arrive at the perfect configuration. I initially thought that you just plonk a siutable piece of cloth on a stick and call it a sail. Sadly it is about a hundred times more complicated and involves several things including your LWL, CLR, CE, rake and displacement (ballast in my case). You can see I am deliberately being cryptic.

Basically it is very important that the ‘average’ centre of pressure from the wind on the sail is more or less directly above the centre of lateral resistance of the hull. If not then your boat will not easily sail in a straight line, sacrificing speed and handling. If the point is too high above the boat then you will easily capsize, too low and you miss the swiftest winds. The height of your mast depends on the depth of your hull, so a little boat can’t have a tall mast because the mast will fall off and/or my boat will tip over in a gust. Finally the mast has to be the right proportions fore and aft of the mast to allow space for the rigging, and the right height above the boat to not hit you or trail in the water.

Anyway brace the contents of your various sphincters for the finished article!



I know…amazing…

Anyway, the important thing is I have plenty of sail (15 sq ft) and my CE is above my CLR, and my mast is a decent 19/20 ft. It should go like a scolded cat even in light breeze but I will have to reef early or risk taking a dip.

I was tempted by many things, extra masts, funky sail shapes, but I am going to keep it simple, this time.


I felt that my ‘Boat’ section has been hogging all of the limelight recently so here is the first page of a comic I finished recently. The words are omitted because I hope to publish the whole thing together eventually. Click for higher resolution.

You all knew

The boat I designed doesn’t outright suck! Yay!
I spoke to the people on and the comments were mainly about details. So I was very pleased that my little piece of egestion would go somewhere.
Of course there is a however. It was a half decent boat, however only really useful for lakes or protected waters. This was due to several of the design aspects including it’s long straight hull. I designed it like this because I can’t get my head around how to design curves that curve in two planes. I want to sail in the sea, and my boat would not have been able to cope with probably even average sized waves, or have been able to ride surf onto a beach.

Luckily for me a very helpful chap who runs the website pointed me towards a few excellent designs. I had lots of fun designing some (awful) boats, and I feel that thinking about all of the various aspects of design will undoubtably help me when it comes to the build. However I will leave the design in this instance to the pros.

In the end I chose this design: Salmo 19 by Andrzej Książyk. Here are some photos of it in action. Click for higher resolution.




As the name suggests it is 19′ long, weighs 185 kg and is a tacking outrigger. That means no shunting and no worrying about having to reverse the rig.

I will be making a few modifications. Firstly and most importantly for me I will be adding a ‘sacrificial’ keel to the underside so I can hit rocks and drag it up the beaches without too much worry.
Secondly I will be using a junk rig instead of the Gunter shown in the photos.
Thirdly I will be increasing the potential displacement of the outrigger by making it a bit taller. The benefits will be that I can carry more weight, and the crossbeams will be horizontal so I can attach a nice wide platform for chilling out.

Those are the ‘simple’ modifications and the ones that are guaranteed to happen.

After that I am considering raising the deck so it is more of a ‘sit on’ boat rather than a ‘sit in’ boat. This will give me more storage and less time bailing water. Plus then I can have ‘scuppers’ and a ‘poop deck’!

Finally I really do not like the idea of a keel stepped mast because it necessitates a hole in the deck, so I will see if there is a way for me to attach the mast to the forward crossbeam. This will be the most dificult thing to accomplish properly so I will spend plenty of time getting it right.

I bought the plans yesterday, and I bought a book about designing junk rigs for a bit of light reading.

One step closer.

With trepedation….

…I quietly announce the ‘pretty much’ final design for my boat.

Mastodon 21′ by Daniel Powell Conti

Everything was well and good with my previous final design, so as I mentioned before I was doing some 3D modelling to put up a picture for your entertainment. It was then that I realised a horrible design flaw.

It looked shit.

I am not going to spend thousands of pounds on a boat that doesn’t look awesome. I realised too late that my final design necessity was a cool looking boat. The problem was that the accomodation hull was too tall and fat. It looked like a supermodel and her retarded sister trussed together and passed off as a princess. To put it nicely.

So this is the newer, sleeker design. Hopefully it will actually look like one boat instead of two random ones bolted together. Click on the picture for higher resolution.


The vitalstastics

Lee hull (with the mast)
Waterline: 21′
Beam at waterline: 1′
Displacement: 68kg

Windward hull (accomodation)
Waterline: 21′
Beam at waterline: 2′
Displacement: 136kg

Centre to centre beam: 10′

Hull displacement: approx 204kg
Draft: 2″

This is a ‘weight to windward’ design of pacific proa, giving greater stability than a more conventional ‘flying’ design. I will talk a little about the important changes. The crossbeams, the hulls length, the mast step, and the accomodation.

I have four crossbeams instead of the more conventional two, generally something more often seen on catamaran. This may be a case of structural overbuilding but I want to feel safe in this thing. I feel that with a hull made of 4mm marine ply I could use a little extra support for the extremeties of the boat wich would otherwise stick 7′ free from any lateral support. The four beams will have strong internal support built into the bulkhead below as well as longitudinal support from one crossbeam to another. There are other advantages too. I am now able to build the rudders closer to the end of the hull, increasing their leverage. I will also be able to string trampoline mesh between the outer and inner crossbeams, doubling the available deck area.

I have increased the length of the hulls as well as making the ama and vaka (main and outrigger) the same length. This was after I saw a similar design called ‘Ping Pong’ by Terho Halme. It has equal length hulls and sails just fine. It solves several problems for me. The problem I was having with the ‘weight to windward’ design was not having enough space or displacement in the windward accomodation hull. Having a 21′ windward hull solves it nicely. I have not gone back on my ‘easy to build’ principle either. By sacrificing a bit of inside space the hull can be made to be 2′ high with an additional 1′ cabin top. This still leaves space for two to sleep, head to head instead of next to each other. The space will allow two to sit and face each other with space to cook or play chess inbetween when they are not sleeping. However generally, while sailing, two crew members would not be taking sleeping shifts at the same time. If moored or at anchor there is space on the 14 sq ft deck to pitch a tent.

I have chosen to step the mast to the crossbeams rather than into a hull. I want a mostly freestanding mast for ease of manufacture. As I said in a previous post, stepping the mast inside the hull raises problems that I can just avoid. Furthermore, having the mast on the crossbeams allows me to move it, repair it and generally be able to access any part of it without having to mess with an integral part of the boats structure. It also makes it easier to earth the mast incase of a thunder storm, I can just trail some copper wire in the sea.

The unloaded displacement is 204kg for 2″ draft. Day tripping with three or four people would be around the maximum displacement of 520kg which would give a draft of about 6″. Adequate for smooth seas.

The only real complexities are the angled, three chine hulls. I feel they are quite necessary to avoid slamming into waves at high speeds so they stay. Because the boat has no rocker so it is a manageable level of complexity.

I have a boat designed. It is simple yet elegant and will look sweet as when decked out in bright red paint. Now I just have to think of the…cost…
14 x (4mm x 1.2 x 2.4) marine ply = GBP 252
60kg epoxy = GBP 624
27m sq of CSM fibreglass 300gsm = GBP 24
40m sq of 300gsm woven glass fabric = GBP 52
Paint plus antifouling = GBP 100-200

total cost of hull = GBP 1052

Then all I have is estimates for the other costs.
Workshop and tool hire GBP 800 (?)
Aluminium poles GBP 80 (?)
Sail GBP 200 (?)
Rope GBP 100 (?)

Estimated bild time: 240 hours

Assuming my estimates are sound the minimum cost will be around GBP 2232. Knowing from the outset that there is a snowballs chance in hell of sticking to the minimum budget I am giving myself a budget of GBP 3000 to complete the project.

That seems like a lot of money so I thought of other stuff I could buy for three grand that would help me enjoy travelling around New Zealand.
An old car and 6 months of petrol and insurance.
An old monohull sailboat.
A 14′ racing catamaran.
A cheap Armani suit. (Wait, that wouldn’t help at all)

So to hell with common sense!


Should probably stop…

…announcing new boat designs. I have gone through four designs so far, each time thinking I was done. Well now I am actually done. Pretty much.

Why am I done now instead of being done the last few times? It’s a little to do with optimisation and a lot to do with finding an awesome boat!

Last time I posted I mentioned something called a Harryproa. The interesting thing about this type is the accomodation is situated in the windward hull and the rig is situated in the lee hull. The result of this is greater stability due to the distribution of sail force and weight of passengers. However all the designs I saw were too small and had too small a payload. Until I saw ‘Sidecar’ by Doug Haines, a modified Elementarry Harryproa. I based my design around it, and this is where the optimisation came in. I needed a greater payload available, but I also didn’t want to waste wood making something fat and slow (like my other designs).

The hulls are 20’x2’x2′ for the lee and 14’x3’x4′ for the windward. The 20′ hull can be made out of 4 sheets of oversized ply with very little waste. The 14′ hull will take a few more regular sized boards, but the accomodation section has been designed with space and ease of building in mind. The whole thing can be stitched-and-glued and there is no complex geometry. I should have about 300-500kg max payload without having to sacrifice much in the way of speed.

Then I designed the crossbeam fastenings, the crossbeam supports and the internal bulkheads. There will be space to sleep two and a 2′ x 2′ x 7′ store in the 14′ hull. The 20′ will have a 2′ x 2′ x 6′ store for light objects. The remaing hull space can be filled with structural foam to make it theoretically unsinkable (touch wood).

All I need to do is design the mast to be stepped into the crossbeams like on ‘Madness’, but I need to see whether that is a good idea. So I’m going to bother the nice people on the boatdesignforums.

Also just got the call yesterday, my school is hosting OFSTED for the next two days…wish me luck!

Drawing and Thinking

I was doing a lot of drawing yesterday, literally all day sat looking at boat designs, making modifications. It was all extremely enjoyable and eventually I had myself a set of study plans, all to scale.

It, She, The Mastodon looks good, just exactly what I want from a boat. Cabin space, deck space, simple mast and rigging (er…), easy to build (um…), small and easy to handle….damn, I think I may have failed on those last three points.

Sure, you might think that 18′ is plenty small for a boat, but when you include the outrigger (ama) then it starts to get pretty heavy and unwieldly. Pretty much no chance of paddling it if I needed to, and that’s my measure of boat size. I have only ever handled a kayak before.

Mastodon has two masts and two rigs. This was fine in my imagination before I actually started to think about how to build them. It’s a lot of canvas, rope, battens and pole to be fitting. Furthermore, the setup involves stepping the masts to the keel. What that means is the mast goes through the deck and is attached to the floor of the boat. This would mean that the part of the boat that takes the most stresses would be 9mm from the sea. Even if I reinforced it at the base, that still leaves a hole in the deck. Simple enough I guess, but not as simple as possible. Plus I would need to do it twice.

Furthermore with the building complexity, Mastodon main hull requires 9 bulkheads. That is 9 perfectly shaped wooden boards that must cross the hull to give it lateral support. That doesnt include the actual prow either. Then I would need another 5-7 for the outrigger. The whole design also requires more than 500 sq ft of plywood, including ten complicated scarf joints.

The complexity is just going up and up the more I think about it. It’s not that I think myself unable to complete the project, but I am almost certain that it would be over time and over budget.

Simplification. I need simplification.

There are some more links at the bottom that helped. It took me until past 3am but I have a plan again. Meet The Mastodon 14′! (The name is getting less appropriate! Perfect.) Click for a higher resolution image.


The red shows 9mm plywood, the blue is 48mm aluminium scaffold and the black is a photoshop job of two front ends of ‘Paradox’.  This is actually my plan, ‘Paradox’ is a well proven design, it’s the right size, and I can easily buy plans for it.

I estimate that this boat will have an unladen displacement of 200kg! Means that by herself she will probably sit about an inch in the water. With myself, my stuff, food and a few other people she might get up to 500kg, which should have her sitting a mere six inches in the water. For people who don’t know much about boats, low displacement means speed.

The simplifications are:
1: 4 foot shorter. Means 3 fewer complicated scarf joints.
2: Deck stepped mast. Its now attached to the scaffold frame.
3: There is also only one mast and rig that does not have to make holes in the deck.
4: Because I am appropriating from plans, the bulkheads will have been designed for me.

The outrigger has been reduced in length by 2′ down to 10′. I am considering trying to make it less than 8′ so the sides can be just one piece of ply. That would reduce my scarf joint total to just 3! However the downside is that I would have to fiddle with some awkward angles on my scaffold crossbeams, come up with a different attachment method at the prows, or make the crossbeams out of different  material. Any of my options, be it 8′ or 10′ adds it’s own complexity, so I will just have to see which I dislike the least.

That pretty much solves all of the issues I had with the 18′ design. As you can see it is the same shape and has the same sq ft of accommodation. There is one berth on the lee pod and up two on the floor. Also in nice weather there is the option to sleep on the decking. Actual decking dimentions are to be confirmed.

So as I was saying, I had been growing more uncomfortable about my design. My “Aha!” moment came when I logged onto and and began looking around.

The Harryproa designs and highly unconventional and I toyed about with making my own version until that complexity demon started creeping.

Sansboussole is another very interesting site about two French adventurers who have crossed the Atlantic with no instruments of any kind, solely navigating by the stars! It was their design of Micromega 5 that made me decide that my stubby little Proa would work.

So I am back on track with a cheaper and simpler design. If you have any boar know-how please let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Or if you know anyone who would be interested then please let them know.

Thank you for reading!