Boximus max.

Having missed my main sailing slot in April which should have been 5 days last weekend and then 3 days this weekend all due to sickness i haven’t had any sailing to talk about and neither do i have enough film in the can to make another video.  Instead i have had to fall back on some of the posts that i have been working on such as the series on simple plywood boats.  I was also full of the intention today of going down to the boatyard and seeing if there is anything going on : up until just recently Chris the owner was having a real problem with some owners just not getting on with their work, not being ready to launch and blocking those owners who are ready.   The yard is so small that its difficult to move even one boat to get at another and i know that one selfish git had been effectively blocking the slipway there for weeks, that’s why i couldn’t do a scrub before i left and i’m not looking forward to seeing the waterline on my boat when i do get back there.  The good news for my sailing is that i have got 8 clear days coming up and i intend to make the best use of it, i think the first thing i will have to do is a beach and scrub and maybe run some antifoul around the waterline at the least.


I have been going to work and its been a real struggle as several of the staff have been down with the same thing and that has meant us running a bit thin, on the few days at home when i have felt like doing work i have been continuing with some heavy jobs that i can just do half an hour at a time and even then have had that zero energy feeling. At some time i intend to build a cabin here and am working on a design that looks like one of the beach sheds made from a section of an upturned boat just like the ones at Hastings and some i think at Lindisfarne.  That by the way is the ‘other’ boat that i think of as boximus max….basically a big ply and scrapwood boat-like shed that i can retreat to up in the back garden : i only joke that i am going to become completely eccentric and live up there.  My partner says “what do you mean by become eccentric” !


I quite like that but don’t think i could get it past planning regs, this might work though :


Not so many years back it would have been the easiest thing to buy up a decommissioned wooden fishing boat and chop the chunky section out : it would be ‘fun’ to say the least getting that into the garden, realistically it wouldn’t work without completely blocking the lane and hiring a very big crane.  Oh and by the way although my site here is really only about this tiny corner of interest lets just hope that we can shake off the insane stupidy of the common fisheries policy and maybe an intelligent UK fisheries policy and a decent livelihood for UK fishermen.

The other maximus box that i was going to talk about today are the boats that come about when their designer takes the basically flat material and throws away any pretention of making the boat look like a traditional ie rounded and curved classic shape : in a way taking the plywood and using it to determine the shape of the boat.   In my own discovery of the odd corners of boat design this is exactly what i found when i bought a copy of the late Phil Bolger’s book “Boats with an open mind” : and just to also say that this was when i was working on what our man Jaws unkindly referred to as my ‘shed’ ie the Wharram catamaran that i was finishing.  It was a genuine and for real yacht designer that pointed me in Bolger’s direction and even for someone with my completely weird aesthetic sense in boats even i found his plywood ‘boxes’ a bit on the brutal side.   At that time i was mainly working flat out in the NHS to try and clear my negative equity situation, working far too much to be honest, not sailing at all and only keeping a toehold in the hamble scene by helping out on odd projects : by chance i was helping Jaws out getting the other and final ‘max’ in this series ie the maxi-boat ‘Maxima’ refitted and back on the water.  Maxima by the way is the boat that started off its life as ‘Martela of Finland’ raced in the same Whitbread race as both Jaws and i sailed in …..except that Jaws was at the front and we were some 4 days behind….anyway Martela’s keel had been wobbling around for a few days until it finally fell off completely somewhere off Argentinia.  From what i know now the hull was recovered by the Urugyan’s and later sailed again until it ended up abandonned in a UK boatyard.  The entertaining thing for me is that when i did get to sail Maxima after her refit we were out in the soylent one day and running hard back towards the bramble bank on a big spring flood and yeah…cracking on a bit : 15 of us on the boat, big kite up and me at the back calling the nav with a handheld GPS, basically i was calling down the time to where we were going to have to dump the spinnaker and harden up for southampton water. The owner wasn’t believing my numbers but luckily Jaws was : at some time during that blistering run Jaws asked me how the speed compared to my little plywood Wharram and i cheekily replied “not bad….in fact we are nearly going as fast as i was last week in the little Wharram cat” !.

Today sadly i don’t have any surviving photographs of either Maxima or my little Wharram and what a contrast in boats that i was sailing at the same time : i genuinely did have that little boat running faster than a full-on racing maxi with 15 crew, ok so i had my heart in my mouth until i could round up and get some sail off but its a good story.

Back then to the true Boximus max of this story and what i think is the very essence of a Bolger ‘Box’ : if i have this right then this is his advanced sharpie design and several have been built.

Picture 1


They seem to be well accepted in parts of the USA notably in the thin water areas : i have seen one in NZ and have seen reports of them in Australia too : they really are the simplest and boxiest shape going and yet they are said to sail well and make a good liveaboard for a couple as having a much more squared off interior space than any classically proportioned yacht.   At the time when i first thought about building a boat to live aboard i would have built one of these on the basis that they are the simplest of shapes to build and i hasten to add that that so many ‘proper’ yachties seem to offended by them : my idea was to go for a completely ‘waterworld’ aesthetic for anyone who remembers that film…..kind of the ultimate post-apocalyptic sailing shed. It would have been i wonderful bad taste to park one next to some gilded classic in the Hamble and watch the blazer-clad and gin-soaked ‘proper’ yachties all having conniptions.

I must admit to having a boat aesthetic that is very different to most people that i know : i for one loved the IOR era for their weird shapes, equally i like rugged working boats, have a soft spot for sharpies and odd house boats like the one i saw and photographed in Paimpol.  I love the ocean-going ‘rugged’ look which you will see here again and again : i quite like Wharram’s even though they are some of the most uncomfortable boats i have ever sailed.


If you are a bit lost with which box is which and which max is maxi then don’t panic : its pretty obvious to me.  The only real boat here is/was Maxima which was genuinely a Frers maxi of the late IOR , i sailed aboard her after her UK refit, she is i believe now for sale again under a different name.  Before Maxima there was Maximiser which i also worked on but didn’t sail : she was a mini-maxi btw.  There was a ‘Maximus’ apparently but with no connection to the others. Maximus box and boximus max are purely my own invention and could either be a sailing shed or a boat as shed…take your pick.



  1. Great read, thanks. Just catching up now, take care of youself.
    Good to see you and Dylan out and about again.


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