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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Tricorn - A very early all-GRP cruising dinghy

The Tricorn dinghy was designed by Illingworth and Primrose in 1962. Since theirs was one of the most famous names in offshore racing yacht design at the time, she came with some impressive pedigree. The design brief appears to have been to create a low maintenance dinghy, capable of serious open water passage-making, that would be better and faster than Ian Proctor's well proven and famous Wayfarer class.

Back then in the early 60s there were very few dinghies purpose-designed for construction in GRP. Almost certainly this was the first boat of any type designed by Illingworth and Primrose for this type of construction, and at the time the Wayfarer would only have been available in plywood, so although Angus Primrose had certainly designed dinghies before, the Tricorn brief must have come as a considerable new challenge. His approach, in common with most other designers who were learning to work with this little known material, was make the boat strong and not to spare on materials. When you examine the layup of a Tricorn, you'll notice a predominance of woven rovings throughout, and lots of reinforcement in areas where a contemporary wooden or plywood dinghy might have had a tendency to develop stress cracks or other weakness.

Very unusually for such an early fibreglass boat, there is almost no wood, except for the tiller, rudder, and some backing pads for deck fittings. This may have been a bit too avant-garde for the times, since boat enthusiasts in those days would have expected quite a lot of visible wood trim, coamings, decks, floorboards, benches, hatches, etc. The all plastic Tricorn might have been regarded as just too space-age and factory produced, and this perception, as well as its price and the narrowness of its marketing concept, may have seriously limited sales. Eventually only 37 were built.

Not that there was anything wrong with the performance of the Tricorn, nor its ability to shelter its crew of 2 adults, plus maybe a child, for overnight camping stops. Contemporary boat tests make it clear that Tricorn had the edge over the Wayfarer in both departments, although nowadays, after 50 years of Wayfarer class development, the Tricorn would probably struggle to keep up on some points.

Almost certainly, however, Tricorn would still show a Wayfarer a clean pair of heels to windward, since with her centreplate fully down she draws 1.6m (5ft 3in) to the Wayfarer's 1.17m (3ft 10in). She is also a few inches longer overall and carries around 1sqm more windward sail. Compared to the Wayfarer, Tricorn is noticeably less stable at rest, though she stiffens up when under way.

Tricorn's domed foredeck and short cabin roof enclose a cuddy with sitting space for 4 adults or sleeping space for 2 (in quarter berths extending under the cockpit side benches). There would be just enough space left over in camping mode for a child of up to about 11 years old to stretch out. There's a large watertight locker aft, and two capacious cockpit side lockers, probably not really totally watertight in the event of capsize, but which resist rain, spray, and even a fair amount of solid water landing in the cockpit.

4 years or so ago, I found and bought an old Tricorn. It was very scruffy, had a hole in the bottom, and lacked its original moulded forehatch cover as well as the original winch for lifting the centreplate. This 1963 example had at some time been used as a sailing school boat and was fitted with a horrible non-original rusty steel plate, weighing in at 50kg or more, double the original design spec. In addition, the mainsail had been reduced in area by cutting the foot off it to a depth of about 1m. These modifications must have made her extremely slow and dull to sail.

Salvo is now back in sailing order with a few minor changes to her original specification. I changed the overweight rusty centreplate to one that weighs about 20kg, about the same as the original design, but mine is home-made from a sandwich of steel, epoxy and plywood. I had to give up on finding an original plate lifting winch and fitted a simple tackle instead. I made a forehatch cover from plywood and clear polycarbonate, and lastly, I changed from a transom mainsheet track to centre sheeting for no better reason than I was scared the sheet might foul on my outboard motor and cause a capsize. The old roller reefing boom was replaced by one from a Fireball, to which I fixed some fittings for slab reefing.

I made a new rudder blade cut from the plywood centreboard from an old Miracle dinghy, but it snapped in half in a fearsome tiderace in Brittany, so I have gone back to the original which I might repropuce in aluminium plate.

There are still a lot of niggling problems to sort out. For instance the original self bailers let more water in to the watertight cockpit than they remove, so my feet are always wet. The in-mast jib halyard emerges from the mast foot in such a way that it is difficult to tension properly. I'm considering making it external from a point just below the spreaders so that I can swig it up tight. Most importantly, because of the total lack of rowlocks, a rowing thwart, and a stowage space long enough for decent oars, it's impossible to row the boat in the event of flat calm and engine failure. Emergency propulsion consists of a long paddle at the moment.

In spite of the age of the design, and these minor shortcomings, I like my Tricorn.  She is a fine, strong, and capable boat - with one hell of a pedigree!  

Tricorn Sailing Dinghy
Designed by Illingworth and Primrose, 1962
Built by Martin Goacher Ltd.

LOA:  16ft 6in (5m03)
LWL:  15ft (4m57)
Beam:  6ft 2in (1m87)
Draft:  9in (0m22) plate up, 5ft 3in (1m60) plate lowered.
Air draft:  24ft 6in (7m46)
Sail area:  139 sq ft (12.91sqm)
Weight in sailing trim: approx. 580lbs (263Kg)

Link: http://bursledonblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/tricorn-dinghy.html

Friday, 8 May 2015

Cornish Cormorant - Tosh

This is my own and favorite dinghy Tosh, built by the original Cornish Crabbers down in Rock across the Camel estuary from Padstow, in 1983.

Designed by Roger Dongray I like to think of her as very much a modern adaptation of the traditional America Beetle catboat. Modern designed foils, minimised wetted surface and a high aspect gaff sail all combine to give her good performance, but what makes her really special is she's just a joy to sail.

At 350lbs she's no light weight, but stable, forgiving just the thing for a family day sail and a picnic, when you can be sure no one is going to get frightened if it blows up and you won't loose the sandwiches overboard. When the wind pipes up she will lay hove to gently while I effortlessly pull in a reef. And in strong winds she will even give a Mirror dinghy a run for it's money as we did in Bart's Bash last year.

There's a great write up here from the early 80's.

Shown here on her combination launch and road trailer, I keep trying to think about ways to improve her, but frankly Roger Dongray did such a good job there's not anything I'd alter. The un-stayed mast is easy to step even on my own, and I can have the sail laced on and be sailing in minutes.

One of the coolest things is being able to sail her backwards off the club slipway and past the dock when the wind is is the right direction, especially is there's an audience watching from the terrace.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ingrid 38 - Spiritus

William Atkin's study on the Colin Archer type, the Ingrid 38 has featured on 1001 Boats previously , and as one of my favorite cruising yachts I have no hesitation about a second post, which was prompted by an email from Russ and Carolyn Harper.

In Russ's own words, "You posted a couple of photos of our boat "Spiritus", which is an Ingrid 38. When you took the photos, we had just purchased her and she was still in very rough condition. We have restored her fully and are now sailing her in Mexico. I would like to offer a couple of photos for your use of her in her current restored condition."

I think we all agree that Spiritus looks fine indeed and especially so under sail in such beautiful surroundings.

It's been a few weeks since I received the photo's at the time, Russ and Carolyn were heading to Barra de Navidad  in Mexico, it's well worth visiting their blog for an account of their cruise.

Thanks for getting in touch and sharing your story with us.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Tidewater Cutter - Brego

The Tidewater is one of Maurice Griffiths designs, a cutter of 30 feet the original was mentioned in the famous journalist and designers book "Little ships & shoal waters".

The Tidewater is a classic Maurice Griffiths design with his signature shoal draft. The cabin roof is extended out to the full beam of the yacht and thus gives a volume in the cabin which one would not believe in a 30’ yacht. The cock-pit is deep, safe and very sheltered because the dog-house roof is extended aft to cover it. With her buoyant bows, 50% ballast ratio, full bilge and good freeboard this is a yacht which will sail relatively upright, she is a dry boat for her size even in a chop and her 4 ½ tons weight gives her a comfortable motion seldom found in modern designs of a similar size.

I received an email from Paul Calvert who clearly believes the Tidewater design is one of the best having owned Brego since 1995.

In Paul's words "She is, in my opinion, Maurice Griffiths best design. She sails very well, is well rigged with ample sail area and does well in light airs. She remains very balanced and reassuring when reefed down and sailed hard. She also steers herself hour after hour with no help from anyone (the Aries vane has only been on a year)".

"An extremely comfortable boat to live aboard and having a very good motion at sea. Starting out at Walton on the Naze in Essex we have sailed the East Coast Rivers, then to Whitby, Peterhead, Inverness, Caledonian Canal. All over the West Coast of Scotland. Then Ireland's East and South Coasts until she is now in Valentia Island, Co Kerry."

For a boat cruising the often chilly UK, that extended doghouse is a great feature as is the clear deck space forward, ideal for working and anchoring.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Lafayette's frigate "Hermione"

This week, at Rochefort in France, a replica of the 1778 frigate “Hermione” began her sea trials. The Hermione was a typical light warship of her day carrying an armament of 26 guns, each firing balls weighing 12 pounds, designed to pound enemy vessels to matchwood. 44 metres long by 11 metres beam, she carried 1500 sq.m of canvas on her 3 masts.

What makes Hermione more interesting historically than her 3 sisterships, or any other French warship of her day? The fact that in March 1780 she left Rochefort on a secret mission that was to culminate in Boston, US. On board was a contingent of French troops led by the 23 year old Marquis de Lafayette who had persuaded Louis XVI to send military and financial support to General Washington in his campaign against the British. He and his men arrived in Boston 38 days later.

The United States has never forgotten the debt owed in those most precarious days of revolution to the extraordinary young French visionary, who not only served as a Major General at Washington's side, but also won his respect and friendship. “Nous voila, Lafayette!” announced American Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stanton, on disembarking in Boulogne in July 1917 with the first 200 American troops to set foot in France in World War 1. The debt would be repaid by America's aid in the victory over Germany and the liberation of eastern France.

Hermione under construction at Rochefort
The replica Hermione project dates back to 1997 when a group of enthusiasts came up with the idea to reproduce the original 18th century frigate using traditional ship building skills and techniques. The keel was eventually laid with considerable ceremony on Independence Day, July 4, of that year. Since that date 3.7 million visitors have visited the construction yard, in the historic 18th century graving dock at the old arsenal in Rochefort, as the vessel has taken shape. In 2012 the bare hull was floated and towed up river before another huge crowd of fans.

Hermione will now undergo sea trials whilst her young crew learn 18th century sailing and seamanship skills climbing kilometres of rigging and handling vast square sails. After calling in at Bordeaux she will return to Rochefort for further fine tuning then in April 2015 set off across the Atlantic; destination Norfolk, Boston, Baltimore and New York.

Lafayette was more than just a revolutionary – he was a genuine innovator in the field of human rights. He supported the abolition of slavery even when it was common in America, Europe and the West Indies, and even tried to persuade his great friend and father figure, George Washington, to ban slavery during his presidency. In 2002, an act of the U.S. Congress made Lafayette only the sixth of seven honorary citizens of the United States. He is buried in Paris under soil from the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Whitehall Build

I received an interesting email and photo's from Bob the other day, about a Whitehall build, but let me tell it in Bob's own words.

"I have a boat I am finishing up it is a Whitehall type boat 18x5 ft. I am building it to row and sail. I saw the mould for sale on craigslist it was in my area so I went and looked at it was such a pretty boat I just had to build me one.

I have no history on the boat mould, the man I bought it from lived in No Name Key the Florida Keys, with no electric run to that island it is kinda rough and his family was going to move him to the mainland so they wanted to clean the yard up to sell the house. The old guy said a man that lived across the canal from him about fifteen yrs ago built the mould, made one boat, sailed it around for awhile. He was going to store the mould for the use of it to build him a boat he never did the mould sat in the bushes for years until I came along and bought it.

He told me the mould was made from a very old planked boat that could not be saved so they faired it and made the mould discarded the original.

Regards Bob"

Well she certainly looks nice, and that's a great looking workshop which on the assumption that Bob lives close to Florida might get a little hot in summer, but no issues with it being too cold to cure epoxy.

Looking forward to seeing the finished boat and thanks for sharing the story with is Bob.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Cara 16

Very few of these craft were built during the 1980's to a design by John Shuttleworth and built by Amber Boats. A classic looking gaff day boat with a semi modern underwater section which balances stability and a steel centre board.

Locally a member of the Old Gaffers Association sails this fine example "Miss Nighy" above.

Further afield I received an email from another Cara owner who sails "Carrots" in the Golf of Morbihan, below.

They might be few and far between but if a Cara 16 comes up for sale it would make a really nice day sailor.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Stevenson Projects "Weekender"

This is an example of the Stevenson Projects "Weekender"  built by Charlie Duerr of Jackson, Wyoming, USA.

Charlie explains "The boat isn't a tacking boat at all due to the small keel, but she really goes across the wind or running! I have spent the last 4 years Abusing her and testing her limits in WY, but have only turtled her once... During a crazy thunder storm. But, luckly she sails like a Dingy and rights like one too... Just stand on the keel and she comes right back up!"

The weekender is described as a boat that borrows some good ideas from the golden age of working sail, as well as some new wrinkles from space-age materials and power systems. It's a project that combines the best of both worlds-the classic lines of the sea-wise sloops of the turn of the century-and the quick-to-build, lightweight, low maintenance of modern materials.

Weekender is only one of many interesting pocket yachts and day sailors designed for DIY construction.

L.O.A.: 19'6" L.O.D.: 16' BEAM: 6' DRAFT: 3' (1' w/RUDDER UP) HULL WEIGHT: 550LBS SAIL AREA: 120 SQ.FT

I had to look up Wyoming which is about as far from the sea as you can get in the United States, none the less Charlie has a great little boat and what some fantastic locations for sailing.

For more details about Charlie's boat please see the Stevenson's Project pages and thanks very much for sharing with us.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Pascal sent an email recently saying he was returning to Europe in his Joshua class yacht named Primadonna, from the photographs he sent me it looks like he has been cruising the Caribbean and frankly what better yacht to do it in?

Joshua was the famous 39 foot steel ketch commissioned by Bernard Moitessier in the 1960's and in which he entered the Golden Globe Around the world yacht race.

According to accounts Moitessier was leading the race, but rather than sail homeward from Cape Horn he continued to sail on around the world again towards Tahiti. the video above was taken at the 2012 Vendee Globe in Le Sables d'Olonne, Joshua is something of a French Maritime treasure.

Pascal's boat is built to the same design, in steel.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Cruising Tug

Peter Leenhouts of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Port Hadlock which is located on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, northwest of Seattle wrote with some details of a cruising tug which was launched in August of 2012.

Tug boat derived pleasure boats are popular in the US but very rare in Europe, perhaps that comment will elicit a flood of emails from European owners, if so please send photos and details we'd live to feature more examples.

Back to the boat in question, it was designed by an American, H.C. Hanson in 1957 for the US Forest Service as a Scaler's Boat. Scalers determine the amount of board feet of lumber in each log cut by a timber crew.

Three boats were built commercially in the mid-1950's to this design for the US Forest Service for use in the Pacific Northwest. Construction on this latest example began in 2010 and finished in 2012, with the school's classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012 all contributing to the build.

The tug is 26 feet long with a beam of about 7 feet, a draft of four feet and displacing around 4 tons.

Built as a cruising boat, the planking is aromatic port orford cedar from southern Oregon, over white oak frames. The cabin house sides are of mahogany. Power is supplied by a 39 hp Yanmar diesel engine.

 Not surprisingly the tug was quickly sold to an owner, who based in Michigan will use her to enjoy the fresh water of Traverse Bay.

Thanks to the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wooden twin screw pleasure yacht

An update on the recent Bursledon Blog  post about motor yacht Vagabond,

It was almost exactly a year ago that I spotted Vagabond ashore in a local yard while I was out for my morning run, I could see she was rather special, but the crowded marina and weather didn't do any favours when it came to taking picture.

Several google searches later reveal that there is a VAGABOND on the Historic Ship register, described as a wooden twin screw pleasure yacht, built by Saunders-Roe Ltd. at Cowes in 1937.

 She was registered at Cowes and her official number is 164825. She is made of teak on rock elm frames and has twin steering positions. She entered service on 3 May 1937. Prior to 1995, she was owned by Helen Jane Morris of 2 Cannon Hill Gardens, Shrivenham, Wiltshire and was extensively rebuilt in the 1990s with new beam shelves, deck beams, laid decks, s/s tanks etc. She currently has an internal combustion engine, with 104 kilowatts, made by the Gray Marine Motor Co.

Her hull was faired and repainted in 2006, the wheel house roof was epoxy sheathed and all points were addressed on a full survey.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Jay Benford Cruising Dory, Badger

In 1978, Jay Benford expanded on his cruising experience in the 34 foot topsail ketch, Sunrise, to create a dory hulled cruising boat. There were naysayers then, as now, about the capacity of a sailing dory to weather off-shore conditions.

 Annie and Pete Hill made the Badger famous and proved Mr Benford's design by sailing their dory over 100,000 nautical miles. Since then, we find Benford Badgers being built everywhere. It is a cruising yacht designed for the home builder.

Annie, of course, loved her plywood dory and had this to say in her book Voyaging on a Small Income:
"Badger can be built simply and for very little money. Sheathed in cloth and epoxy, she is easy to maintain and can be kept up to standard at very little expense - an essential prerequisite for a boat that is sailed on a small income." 
The Badger was originally designed with a cutter sail rig, but most builders prefer a fully battened schooner junk configuration, which has been touted as possibly the best short-handed cruising rig ever devised.

In Ullapool, Scotland we find a recently launched Badger setting out for it's first cruise. Dan Johnson is the happy builder of Hester. He and his wife Charlotte Watters have spent several years exploring northern Atlantic venues, so for their first cruise on Hester, will be heading south.

Dan, with occasional help from friends, built Hester in two years. An impressive schedule for readying an open-ocean cruiser and a testament to Annie's claim about simplicity of build, also to the commitment of the builder.

Dan and Charlotte have been impressed with the boat's handling, as documented in Dan's log:

"...we had made it down to Oban where we left Hestur for a week. After that, Charlotte and I returned to sail north again back to Ullapool. Of course we were hit by five days of northeast winds (absolutely our direction of travel) This would really show us how Junks go to windward - they do."

"Heading north we decided to go inside Mull then outside Skye taking in the Outer Hebridies. This proved to be a good plan as the Minch provides a great seaway for tacking against northerly winds! Heading west across the Minch towards Barra we experienced our first largish sea and strongish wind aboard Hestur - F6 with 10 foot crashers. She performed perfectly with nothing unexpected and we were broad reaching at 6+ knots with two panels up on the foresail and three in the main. Very easy sailing with no deck work - all reefing done from cockpit"

"When sailing on the wind she will sail herself if you balance the sails - we often leave the helm quite literally for hours and hours, not even lashed. This surprises me as she is a fin keeler - I think it must be the substantial skeg arrangement."

Being a dory sailor myself, I find this account impressive and would like to offer congratulations to Dan and Charlotte. May they find many happy miles at sea!

Thank you, John McIntyre and Chris Perkins of Ullapool for the photos of Hester.