Son of box.

Yeah ! and the next one in the series will be “what the box did next”.

I suppose really that ‘Dewdrop’ as above could actually be better described as ‘Father of box’ because to the best of my knowledge the first Hurley Silhouette was designed and built at least 10 years before the Mousquetaire.  Stretching the memory a bit from when i had the files it may be that the Silhouette was the first production boat in ply construction : anyway my history with the design is that i almost bought one waaay back as my first boat except that one of the yard blokes came past and discretely coughed ‘rot’ in my ear so i ended up with an equally rough folkboat instead.  Not so long ago a veritable convoy of Hurley owners swarmed up the Lynher when i was anchored there and its possible that there was an early plywood boat amongst them.   Generally i don’t like most early post war British yacht designs, strongly dislike for example the Eventide (MG what were you thinking ?) but always quite liked the Silhouette with its odd ‘S’ sheer.   The mousquetaire is the better boat by a long shot and not just that its longer and has a better keel arrangement but to be fair to the boat its really only a dinghy with a lid .

This amused me for some reason :

SIIs on trailer

History lesson over ! and time for a possible error admission : i’m not sure now if the little yellow boat in the previous post is a Mousquetaire or not, it might be the basic plywood boat that the late Eric Tabarly designed : and that folks is my lead-in to the late and very great Eric Tabarly ….bit of a hero of mine !

I was telling porky’s by the way as the real son of box i think is the boat that Eric Tabarly designed and sailed in the 1964 transat race : Pen Duick 2, and this is was a very radical boat in its day certainly when compared to the heavy and moderate crusiing boats that she raced against in that transat.  Here is a video of the great Loick Peyron doing a 50 year anniversary transatlantic race aboard the same boat : and for those visitors that aren’t familiar with Loick Peyron all i can say is “banque-pop”.

Quick !

I visited the Eric Tabarly museum last year in the hope of seeing this boat, Pen Duick 3 and 6 : had really hoped to see this boat and the other Pen Duick’s, sadly she wasn’t there so once again here is a borrowed photograph *


The relevance here is that this was a very radical boat in its day : multi-chine plywood construction  and very light but with a much more modern looking bulb keel and a light practical interior, there is even a full sized mock-up model of the centre section of the boat inside the museum with Tabarly’s trademark canting chart table arrangement. Take a look if you will at this boat i comparison to everything else that sailed in that race and you will see just how far ahead Eric Tabarly was in his thinking.  The logical progression from Pen Duick 2 was obviously the longer Pen Duick 3 built in chine-alloy but also continues the theme with the split rig : Pen Duick 3 sporting a wishbone staysail in the centre.   I have a great affection for boats of this era by the way as i see it as the breakthrough and experimental era that began to give us the boats we have today that many more of us can afford to build or buy and sail.


At risk of going off-thread can i just add that the use of chine alloy really appears in sailing at this time with this boat and chine steel starts to appear in many of the larger home build cruising yachts of this era : walk around a French boatyard today and you will always find home built multi-chine steel boats from about this time onwards.

I use this group of boats really just to illustrate 2 threads of simple boat design that became much more popular at this time due to the availability of plywood, the simplicity of drawing a simple single chine design, still relevant today and before GRP really took over for mass boatbuilding.  I don’t know of many designs in either single or multi chine ply that stayed around in mass boatbuilding for very long : the silhouette was one but became a GRP boat early on, the Mousquetaire came later on and there are a few others such as the Waarschips and the early Cornish Shrimpers made in ply.  There were then a few on-offs and short production runs and quite a few boats where the original is ply but then goes to GRP construction and i think that this is where things start to break down : ply construction quite clearly gives us a series of curved planes with each plane only really curved in one plane (ok they can be tortured a bit) and i just don’t get why designers then just take a mold off that….laziness i feel.  Although boats like the Shrimper look good and work very well i can’t help but see a bit of fakery in the design.


Anyway : son of boat .

So we now have 2 early threads of plywood boat design and construction ie single chine and multi-chine, later on we will see the design and build process occasionally going towards even more panels with ply-lapstrake and similar.   The design limitations with single chine are still that what we end up with is a simple plywood box and its my opinion that it only really works well with quite small boats, ok so its personal opinion only but with the exception of a few boats such as sharpy’s and dory’s very few of the larger single chine designs look anything like right and some look downright ugly…i detest the eventides and later similar boats for example.

Today ply-chine design and build is still very much with us but not thankfully in the world of mass boatbuilding but very much in the home and backyard boatbuilding world : take a look at the Selway-Fisher catalogue for example.  Somewhere kicking around i have the plans for a Selway-Fisher ‘prospector’ canoe to build sometime and somewhere else are the study plans for the NIS 26.   By the way i like sharpy’s and dory hulls so much that i am going to cover them in a separate thread.

*All rights and credits for other peoples photographs go to them, that includes here the silhouette’s and Pen Duick 2.

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