Sail and Awe !

The future boat project.

Sail and Oar perhaps !

While my attention is firmly focused on my hiking, training and preparation for our potential trip to the Utah canyons and the High Sierra mountains next year i am giving considerable thought to my future boat project because it’s something that i can work on and tinker with as soon as i sell my current boat.

I’ve already got a few ideas about what the next boat might be like and potentially it could come from several very different avenues of design : here though i don’t yet want to talk about an actual boat but more about the kind of things that i would like to be able to do with a boat : one feature of boats that i learnt from my current boat WABI”’ being that almost any boat sets it’s own limits of what can be done with it….larger or smaller….and so this time i want to set the task and parameters first and then see if anything within my budget might fit the bill.

First, the next boat has to be one that can live on it’s own trailer, in the drive at home and ideally could be heaved in and out of the water just by me in reasonable conditions. That immediately sets some hard limits on the size and weight of ‘FB’ as i think of it, for example that i can just about get a 17 foot boat into the common driveway ( since i widened the entrance) and store something that size in our own drive. Ideally again, it will be under a hard shelter all the time so it stays dry and in much better condition than being on a mooring or wet boatyard. That i may have to build a boat shelter, especially if i ultimately decide to build rather than buy, is a consideration, although a boat shelter could be officially a car porch style of structure outside the workshop which in itself would be a useful addition to my work space.

If you’re thinking “hang on and haven’t we been here before” ?, then yes we have and with the Devon Yawl/Dayboat….and excellent boat in many ways but much heavier than i want to have to manage with it’s steel centerboard and internal ballast.

Second, my budget. Whatever i get from the sale of WABI”’, assuming it does actually sell, is the total budget for this project unless something very special and unique comes along and completely surprises me. WABI”’ is on the market for £4500 and i’m not prepared to go lower because she is a well sorted boat, in good condition and similar Liberty 22’s go for more than that. That overall budget wouldn’t see off a new build plus trailer and gear and that would be the exception to the tight budget : that if i decide to do a complete new build then i could drip-feed the project early on and save the budget until i had to spend money on the expensive stuff….a trailer for example.

Third, that this is obviously going to be a small and largely solo boat that ideally will be sailed and rowed (or paddled) , would only need and get the smallest of engines but does need to be a capable craft for ‘coasting’ with : although i dislike the term , James Wharram’s expression ‘coastal trek’ comes to mind…which brings me onto the main section of this post : the parameters and ‘the task’.

So….what do i want to do and how do i want to do it ?

It might sound a bit obvious that i want to be able to go out on the water and mainly move under simple sail or heave on a pair of oars, a paddle is fine for a small boat and i wouldn’t object to having a small motor strapped to the back….must stop calling it a strap-on though but !. What i want is much less a ‘cruising’ boat with all of the size, weight and panoply of living aboard and more like a ‘big canoe’ , although not actually a canoe but capable of carrying me and my bivi kit on the water but not needing the size and space to live aboard.

My earlier concept for such a craft was a ‘bushcraft’ boat but not either of the 2 boats that are usually associated with bushcraft ; those being primarily the open canoe and partially the sea kayak. While being fine craft in their own right they’re not sailing craft without a lot of modification and even then nothing like as good as a boat originally designed to sail or sail and row : the latter is actually a difficult compromise because the needs of sailing are very different from the ideal design for a pure rowing boat. It’s an aside but useful to know that a pure rowing boat needs to be slim for it’s length to reduce resistance as much as possible whereas a pure sailing boat needs beam for maximum stability.

The task then is to get me and my bushcraft kit out on the water and along the hidden shoreline of tidal rivers and estuaries where very few people go and even less stop and make camp : i know of dozens of spots like that spread out around long tidal shorelines, below the agricultural land and where this often no access possible except by a small boat that can be beached. It would be very useful if the same boat could be sailed along the coast in reasonable conditions and if you’re wondering whether such a thing is feasible then check out local man Steve Parke and his coastal voyaging in a home made 14′ sailing dinghy !

In the next post in this series i’m going to start to take a look at how i might achieve that goal and what kind of craft might be capable of the task : a modified sailing dinghy is one way of doing it although there are now some better hybrid boats for sail and oar.


My new Facebook multi-adventure group here :

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