The long and short alternative.

With any luck i should be going sailing again soon which will at least allow me to get on with blogging, filming and photographing the voyage and the real boats out there but for now please have patience while i yab away at more of my own boat ideas.

My intention is that this should be the last in this series but does take me in a different direction and is the one other potential project i have been kicking around for a few years now.  To introduce this one i just want to talk about time again and once again that i really don’t have the time to spend lots of it bogging epoxy or chopping out smelly rot from the bilge of a nasty ‘classic’, rather that the time i have i would rather be sailing or at the worst doing a rolling refit in-between trips much like i have done with the liberty : when we bought her we were out sailing within hours, had her home in days and sorted reasonably well in a couple of weeks, since then its been more gradual work on the detail and i am getting quicker at that.  The thinking that has got me as far as the Dehler has been both valuable and useful with the little Dehler being in the frame now for a thorough look at this year.

The thinking about a boat like the Dehler is still in the short term though as i could potentially be sailing one next year and it could be a very good boat for a few years….and yes thats a hint that there is potentially a longer term plan that i am working on and yes i am.  The longer term plan is that at some time i am going to try and retire (again) and have another go at going cruising for a while (open ended) and that i am thinking about the boat for that job.  I know what i would like and definitely can’t afford it (an OVNI) unless i miraculously win the lottery ! so i am working up the parameters for a longer term cruising boat that would have enough space and capacity to be a long term liveaboard boat and potentially an ocean going boat again.  The model if you will is along similar lines to my Frances, could be about that size or it could be a little larger and yes i am very aware of what happens as soon as i think upwards in boat size and here its possible that there may be a sweet-spot in between too small at one end , therefore ultimately cramped to live aboard and then rapidly too expensive to buy and equip at the other end. The sweet spot probably kicks in just over the 26 foot mark based on my experience with the Franny and then i think cuts off really quickly at around 30 feet where gear and sails just starts to get very expensive.

Here is the first possibility and FYI its a Westerly GK29 : one of only 3 Westerly’s that i have any time for.


These were designed as a half-tonner but weren’t that competitive but they do make good club racers and cruiser racers and i can see a way to convert one into a good cruising boat along the parameters that i want : and that is still the shallow draught and beach-able but a much more powerful, steady and roomy offshore boat.  The key would be to reduce the draught and change the keel down from the big deep fin keel that these boats have….my plan being a shallow draught fixed keel, either a winged Scheel-keel or a similar Warwick Collins tandem keel.  If i can get the draught down to 4 feet or so i would still be able to get into the same areas that i can sail in now on the liberty with her board down…and with beaching legs dry her out in the same kind of places.  I have been kicking around the idea of centreboards and lifting dagger boards but its possible that the engineering is beyond me where simply reinforcing a hull and bolting on a new keel isn’t.  There is even a keel foundry just up the road here !.  For sure it would then need a shorter rudder so over-pressing the boat wouldn’t be a good idea (it isn’t anyway) but that one (expensive) change would give me a boat in the right ballpark….and these boats now come on the market down to the £7000 mark and thats about the same budget as the Dehler and its trailer.


There are apparently 2 different versions with most of them being  the moderate cruiser-racer version with just one quarter berth aft and then there are just a few of the ‘full-race’ variety with a taller rig and more open interior…..ok ‘hands-up’ on which one i am looking out for !. I once saw the race version , i thought it the more practical with quarter berths both sides at the back and a simpler centre section and empty forepeak.  I have already skteched out an interior very much like the open plan layout of the Frances except that the extra length and beam might afford a partial bulkhead forward to allow a heads and shower in the bow and then use the widest and deepest  part of the hull for a galley one side more like the setup in the Freedom 33 and a lounging area/double bunk opposite.  For a while i have been thinking that i would never be able to afford to do something like this, now with the base boat at a decent price i am not so sure.

Its also worth adding that there is a reasonable time budget here too so i don’t have a great need to rush at this project : all being well this would be the boat i need to have ready to sail in about 5 years….thats realistically about the same time it takes many builders to finish their cruising boats and this would be a re-purpose and refit which should be a lot easier.

The other side to this is that this kind of hull and boat is very much what i grew up with as a sailor so i’m not in the least bit intimidated by the IOR concept, the rig on the crusier version isn’t big at all in terms of my experience especially given that most of these will now have roller furling gear, yes adding gear like proper anchors will be more expensive but its also likely that the ones that have been cruised would come with some useful kit.   Right now and thinking past every similar boat that i sailed in the past and rejecting most of them this one comes out as maybe the best of its type.  I did think of doing a similar job with the much smaller GK24 or a similar volume quarter tonner but TBH there is only a small  advantage over the Liberty.


I’m sure i will have another great idea any hour now !.


  1. GK29 I never new that westerly built anything other than caravans ! You can use a vertical drop rudder with your shorter keel, base the size / strength round whats there already. Farr did a small boat that had a drop keel and I think Jim Youngs IOR boats had centreboards, I will look in the book, there is probably room in the saloon for a plate case. Next plan 🙂


    1. There were just 3 non caravans to my knoweldge : GK24 (quarter ton) GK29 and GK34 (three-quarter ton) all good boats but not that competitive as they tried to build a cruiser-racer. Next time i find a friendly designer i am going to ask about getting a scheel keel drawn and then see what the casting cost would be. The alternative does seem more complex and more boat engineering as its quite a big keel to hang in the boat and would i think need more than a baby winch to crank it up. There is a french production boat around with the scheel keel idea and 2 rudders, that seems to work ok.


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