And so It Begins …

mulling over the plans

Paul Gartside is perhaps the premier designer of traditional wooden boats. He’d likely take exception to some aspects of the term “traditional”. He does have a varied catalog, but many of his creations could sit gracefully in any English harbor a century or two ago. His book, “Plans And Dreams, Vol. I” arrived for Christmas. Any of the 23 boats featured there can be built from the contents of these pages. Each write up tackles a different aspect of boat building  while providing entertaining descriptions of the subject vessel. The approach is delightful and worthy of re-reads. One chapter focuses on design #166, the Centerboard Lugger. I ordered the $15 study plans, stared for several evenings and compiled a partial materials list. The construction method for the hull (cold-molded, strip planked or clinker ply) is up in the air. Not having tried c-m, that method holds interests me. By laminating 3 veneers over a mold, you end up with super strong plywood in the shape of a boat. The technology was a peacetime off-shoot from WWII airplane manufacturing (most notably the English DeHavilland  Mosquito bomber).

Not wanting to short change Paul his due by using only the book, I ordered a full set of plans. I confess too to wanting the door open for questions along the way. As I’ve already asked several, the $360 cost may be slim compensation. Trained as an architect, I particularly appreciate his beautifully concise hand drawings. No information is repeated twice in the 7 sheets. This eliminates error and forces the builder to look at everything. I’ve discovered the drawings are quite expert and thorough.

So what’s next? Well, I bought lumber for all the spars. It has been milled to size and awaits for the darn rain to quit for scarfing (the main mast is 23′ long and doesn’t fit in the garage). The two masts and yard will be hollow birds mouth construction. The mizzen sprit, boomkin and main boom will be fabricated as solid spars.

milled staves for the hollow spars

It felt good to start this in earnest. Why am I doing it? Because. I’ll certainly keep UNA. There is overlap in the two boats’ purposes, but the Ducker will have to wait.



Lugger? Bugger!

There is nothing like self imposed distractions. Winter has a habit of forcing more of them upon me. Is it a restlessness? Perhaps. If so, it seems to have set in early this year.


While motoring LUNA around to the boatyard a few weeks ago, I thought it preferable not to undertake all I was about to go through: the down rigging, packing the trailer, rechecking  that, hauling the boat some 80 miles and then providing cover for the cold season (forget the hassles of a flat trailer tire, old tarps, etc.). Such was my mindset when someone suggested looking again at Paul Gartside’s Design #166: the 6 Metre Centerboard Lugger (above). Shouldn’t have done that. Firstly, Gartside can’t draw ugly lines. His catalog demonstrates that. Secondly, this pretty trailer sailer was all it took to get me dreaming of extended cruises along distant coasts. No offense is intended towards UNA, but this other lugger appeals in many ways also. Some quite differently. A couple days on and LUNA was home under wraps. I paused. The bug struck again. Attempting to be rational about it all, I began a list outlining the pro’s and con’s of not just this design, but several others. A quick spreadsheet of the contenders considered size constraints, construction limits, sail area to displacement ratios and naturally that question, “Is she fast?” Further on, an inordinate amount of time was spent perusing  WoodenBoat Forum and the myriad of suggestions and opinions. Some were valued. To justify my growing library of design books I flipped back through volumes by the likes of Chapelle, Oughtred, Culler, Gardner, etc. Another few days passed. So many beautiful small boats with history. However, undaunted, this little lugger kept popping to the surface.

I had to do something. You’d guess enlisting “moral” support from fellow sailors isn’t helpful (boy, was that putting gas on the fire!). Right, no firehoses were offered. Any critiques were mere droplets, and only objections to small details or did I even hear them?

I ordered study plans from Gartside and crafted a half hull model at 1″ to the foot.

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I find the study process enjoyable. Maybe that is part of the forever search of the “next” boat. From selecting wood, cutting lifts, laminating, planing, carving, sanding, and finishing, each stage allows meditation. What is the damage anyway?  If you choose a nice boat, at worst,  you’ve some wall art. Yea, but does it end there?


But what about the Ducker?! I know. I know. She’s not forgotten. Her molds are still hanging ready to be used in the shed.


But then, what have I done? I should have just finished putting the leather ties on the F-1 and stayed out of bigger trouble.

Why has it so far been painless? That’s good, right?  … or is it?