Readers wives !

Well not exactly but it struck me as an entertaining and amusing way to introduce boats put forward by readers in the starter boat / budget boat series.  I guess that some readers may have noticed the occasional series of posts that follow a theme and where i try and make the titles follow one another.  That approach comes from my time as a climber where new routes were often named in sequence : “zero gulley….then point five gulley and so on”.  So if you are hoping for a bit of bikini clad cavorting around sun-drenched beaches today you have sadly come to the wrong channel , today its rain, mud and a full set of foulies as per usual (plus i look crap in a bikini)


Today’s post introduces boats suggested by other readers in the budget boat challenge. Given that i start posts often a couple of weeks before they are published it’s likely that the post might seem out of sequence because my initial budget point was very generous for a starter boat but since the original post and before this one comes out there will be another budget point in-between (half and half).   So let’s look at a reader suggestion from the post where i thought that it would be a good challenge to find a £1000 boat.


I wrote about this little boat in a post 2 summers ago when we were in St Aubyn (Jersey) and the boat is the ‘Poacher 6m cat ketch , i was actually trying to buy one of these just before the Liberty came up although the Liberty is similar in concept it’s a much bigger boat and much higher up the budget.  Stephen Mundane found this one which i think i actually saw in Emsworth when we had the Liberty craned out there.


In his post about this Stephen Mundane made a very good point when he compared the micro-cruiser that i put up as a link with a very common boat at the same size ie the Wayfarer dinghy.  Many Wayfarer’s are more expensive boats than some ‘lidded’ micro-cruisers and not as good if you really want something that you can crawl inside at the end of a cold wet day on the water.  I am a bit limited by being tall and having a problem back but even i can be comfortable on the solebaord of a small boat with a thermarest, a sleeping bag and some way of making a brew. That will most likely the approach i have to take with my cuddy boat.

Poacher cat ketch.


From what i know now it is the original boat that i saw in Jersey and that one needed a lot of work according to its current owner, i remember seeing one of the very early boats cruising in the Menai straits not long after i started sailing so that must have been before 1980.  When i saw the boat up close it did seem like a big dinghy with a lid and not much space inside but the 2 young guys sailing it were having a lot of fun getting into very shallow areas and beaching it which was a radical concept when most of our boats had 6 foot lead keels under them.  I think that the original hull was intended to be a mini-tonner, it certainly looks like an IOR inspired hull.


I was thinking about something at around this size as i thought that i might just, with a lot of modification, get one onto our property.  Today i doubt that as we are at about the limit with the DY but it would have been fun trying.     The connection today is that i have often wondered about converting an old race boat into a simple and basic cruising boat and that it was boats from Quarter-ton down to Micro-ton that would have been the likley candidates and this hull would be about in the middle of that group. As standard a lot of the later generation of Quarter-tonners are difficult and twitchy boats to sail without a crew as most of them rely on crew weight to keep them on their feet.  They are in a way the total opposite of the dull and mediocre British cruising boats of the same era : its no joke that one post in this series might have been titled “gone to see a man about a dog” ! . For those not familiar with race boat parlance a ‘dog’ was anything slow and clunky and that description covered many of the porky and underpowered small boats of that era.   For the sort of thing i am talking about go back to Dylan Winter’s first boat for his round UK project where he had to find a very cheap boat.  His choice is one that i would never make but even that one got the job done for a while.

Dylan’s Slug and Mrs Dylan i believe.

I think the actual boat is up on ebay right now : ttps://


What i found at about this size and budget is i think amuch better sailing boat but one that keeps the conventional fin keel and fractional rig as the IOR mini-ton, this is another of the late David Thomas’s designs and another Hunter build : the Sonata. Here is one  .        Price wise there are at least 3 of these on the one brokerage and i would say that their average budget point is around £2000 with rough ones down around the same cost as the Poacher.  The Sonata i know sails very well and has a better cabin, they are a very responsive boat too but for my requirements they fail in that they have a fin keel, that isn’t so much of a problem in a mud berth because the keel will just make its own hole but it won’t do that on a hard surface.

Hunter Sonata ‘Alto’ currently for sale.


Back to the Poacher though and that is a boat i could imagine sailing except that it is much smaller inside than my own boat…perhaps a younger man’s version of the Liberty and once again i can imagine doing a project to raise that central deck area.



With the small race boat concept you usually start with a light canoe-form hull but then stick a fin keel under that and as big a rig as will rate on top. I often found IOR boats underpowered in very light air but even they were much better than the absoloute ‘dogs’ of small mediocre cruising boats.  It strikes me now that de-powering the big IOR rig might be beneficial to the shorthanded local waters cruising sailor and maybe the ultra-simple cat ketch rig is one way of achieving that. What i will say though is that if you really want to go ‘ocean’ in a small boat then you need more sail area than the standard boat because lots of ocean miles are done in very light weather.  Changing the keel to lifting or centreboard as well brings the boat into my current requirements too although it does take space inside.  I do know of another boat at about this size with a lifting keel which has done ocean passages : the ‘E’ boat.

The ‘E’ boat , officially an offshore one design.


As of this morning i can’t find one in the broker market although they regularly pop up on Ebay (pun) and here is a couple on the owners website :   This is a standard original boat but there is a version with a low coachroof which gives much better space inside.  One of those came up locally a few years ago at around £3000.

E. boat for sale with trailer .

Ethelred 08


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