Saturday, July 14, 2012

Little Egret - Launching

I am very excited to report that my Little Egret design, built by John Hockings, has been launched.

For those who don't know about this boat, you can read her history here, and here, and here, and here.

John has done a wonderful job of building his boat, showing that a determined first-timer who reads the correct books, and approaches things in a methodical manner can achieve first-class results. You can read about John's building journey on his Woodenboat Magazine Forum thread here.

Launching day was overcast, rainy, and almost totally free of a sailing breeze. However, we did get a few short-lived breezes off the edges of passing showers, and were able to experience a little bit of resonable sailing - enough for me to form some opinions about stability and hull-balance. At this stage of the game I am very happy indeed with how the boat performed. In particular, I am delighted about the ergonomics of the internal layout. Here are some random photos: -

John just after arrival at the boat ramp. The rudder appears to be small, but it does comply with the rules-of-thumb regarding required area. However, I have given details for an alternative blade in the plans, which is somewhat larger. We had hoped that the use of end-plates would render this small rudder effective, and so far it seems to be very good. John has incorporated the old-time sharpie trick of being able to lower the entire rudder-post about four inches so as to drop the rudder deeper when clear of shoal water.
The hull-form of Little Egret is a cross between a sharpie and a dory, with a bottom panel wider than a pure dory, and with more flare in the topsides than is common in a sharpie.

Although it was early in the day, John and I indulged ourselves in a celebratory shot of rum and coke before the launching. That is John on the left, and a very nervous me on the right!
Moments after launching, sitting high on her lines as she has no load on-board. You will notice that she is very slightly down by the head, which is what we wanted, because the addition of crew weight should get her sitting level if my calculations are correct.
That is John and me on the very first sail. She proved to be very comfortable, with one person sitting beside the centreboard case and leaning against the forward coaming. The helmsman sits with back braced against the side-deck carling and with feet against the opposite side of the boat. This is a secure and effective way to travel. You can see in this photo that the fore-and-aft trim is just about perfect.
In from the first sail. The wind has dropped out, but we had encountered enough to discover that she sails nicely. That is me giving the 'thumbs up' to my wife who took the photo.

This boat is very lean, and has fine entry lines

With two people aboard, the boat trims with the top of the rudder just below the surface.

John with his wife on launching day. His face tells a story about he feels...

Building plans for Little Egret are complete, but I won't be releasing them until a basic assembly guide has been written.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mayfly 14 Launching

As some of you know, I've been building a Jim Michalak-designed Mayfly 14 for a friend here in Australia. You can read more about the design using this link.

Mayfly 14 copied from Jim Michalak's catalogue
The building process was delayed by a number of issues, including having our house and workshops flooded. However, my patient friend waited cheerfully, and we have finally got the boat in the water.

Here I am holding Mayfly 14 while owner Tony snaps a photo.
For many decades I've been trying to convince people that flat-bottomed boats have lots of virtues, but that they must be designed properly. The standard comment is, "...flat-bottomed boats are easy to build, but very difficult to design...", and that is a fair statement. Unless the designer understands the critical relationship between bottom rocker in profile, and curve of topsides in plan view, the resulting boats frequently turn out to be very poor performers.

Jim Michalak has a wonderful understanding of flat-bottomed hull design, and Mayfly 14 demonstrates his mastery.

Mayfly 14 showing-off her well-designed hull shape and pivoting leeboard
On launching day, Mayfly 14 was loaded down with the weight of two large men and gear, but she sailed superbly right from the start. The boat was very light on the helm, demonstrated precise handling, and proved to be unusually close-winded. The last point was largely due to the excellent shape in her Allwood Sails, made by Joel McDonald.

Joel McDonald, from Allwood Sails, makes very good sails for traditional rigs
One of the particularly nice elements of the Mayfly 14 design is the amount of uncluttered sprawling room in the cockpit, made possible by the use of a pivoting leeboard instead of a centreboard. The leeboard is very effective, and the apparent assymetry is completely unnoticable when sailing.

A shot showing the pivoting leeboard in action. It works equally well on either tack.
Very simple sheeting arrangement. Note the straps and Fastex buckles used to hold the excellent deck-hatches securely closed. There is a large hatch in both the foredeck and the aft deck.
Everything in the rig is super-simple, and almost every component can be made from line and wooden parts
The boats travels well on her custom trailer, made with crosswise supports appropriate to the flat-bottomed hullform
Another shot showing the trailer with three crossways bunks covered with UHMW plastic.
A simple, cheap, and highly practical boat. Wholesome fun!