Philosophy aside, lets get into the actual specifics of the boat. I have spent about a year and a half refining my ideas and looking at various configurations.
My requirements are:
1. Needs to be small enough to be sailed solo, but large enough to accomodate two people.
2. Must be large enough for extended travel away from civilisation, between two weeks and a month.
3. Must be small enough that I can drag it up a beach in an emergency.
4. Must have space to store a kayak.
5. Must be simple to build.
6. Should have ample deck space for relaxing on sunny days.
It would be a thousand times easier to just buy a boat instead of make one, and I’m sure I could get one that satisfies most of my needs to an adequate degree for a reasonable price. Decent boats can go for as little as 2000GBP. (my stupid foreign keyboard doesn’t have a pound sign) But there are some problems with that. Primarily because these boats, while in good repair will almost certainly be 30 to 40 years old. That pretty much guarantees that they will need regular maintenance from the go. A noob like me, with no sailing or woodworking experience is not going to have a chance of doing it properly. However, if I have made the entire thing, then I will know exactly where and what the problem is should one arise.
Thats the logical consideration.
Emotionally speaking, I can scarcely imagine the satisfaction of cruising around in a boat you made from scratch, exactly to your specifications, no compromise.
For those wondering why I think I am capable of building and sailing a boat with no experience, well, for better or for worse, I am not familiar with self doubt. I have done extensive research and I am confident this project falls well within my limitations.
At the bottom of this post I have added links to some websites that have steered me in helpful directions and provided inspiration. The full list would be ten times as long if I could remember all the webpages I have visited since the thought first popped into my head. Veterans like Sven Yrvind and Matt Layden are exactly the people you want to be taking advice from when it comes to sailing small boats.
After lots of reading, the state of the art for small boats is widely accepted to be Matt Layden’s ‘Paradox’, and Sven Yrvind’s ‘Yrvind’ (links below). These boats are 13′ 10″ and 15′ respectively. They are mono-hull and shallow draft. The ‘Paradox’ being the easiest to build because there are plans on sale.
However neither of these designs could fulfil all of my requirements. Specifically they were too small to comfortably house two people and I could not store a kayak on either. A little more research and Quenet Yann (boat-et-koad) stepped up to the plate. A man who has built and tested an 18′ version of the shallow draft boats invented by Matt Layden. I looked at his design, did some cost calculations and was stoked for a while, thinking that I had found my design. After a while however doubts started to set in. Would it be right for my needs? Would the effort of building be offset by the advantages of having it tailored to my needs?
I started losing enthusiasm for the whole project and thought I might as well just buy one for cheap and find ways around the limitations.
For those nautically challenged, shallow draft (the amount of boat under the water) is necessary for me for several reasons. Firstly it allows me to avoid many submerged obstacles, secondly it is necessary for beaching, thirdly, flat bottomed craft are much easier to build.
My ‘buy and make do’ opinion changed completely when I saw this!
This type of boat is a Proa, a very old micronesian type. The basic point is that the smaller of the two hulls, known as the Ama, is used instead of a keel and ballast to offset the sideways force on the sails. What that essentially means is that the boat can be lighter and carry more sail than a similarly sized mono-hull.
The immediate benefits for me are:
1. Plenty of storage space in the Ama.
2. Can have a shallow draft.
3. No heeling (leaning sideways).
4. Plenty of ‘deck’ space for crusing comfortably in the sun.
5. Plenty of main hull space for sleeping.
6. Can keep my kayak onboard.
Long story short, I have roughed out a design for an 18′ Pacific Proa, ‘Mastodon’ by Daniel Powell Conti.
This is the basic design that I made 3D with a bit of free google software. I did a pretty poor job of replicating the details of the actual design, but it will do to get across my idea. It was my first time using the software and took about an hour. The next model will be much more accurate.
More on that in my next post, its lunch time now.
For anyone interested here are some links that I found extremely helpful.