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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Navigator - John Welsford design

Fellow blogger Robert Ditterich has reminded me to include one of my favourite open boats the Navigator, designed by John Welsford this pretty and traditional looking boat has proven to be a highly successful, fast and capable open cruiser.

The words and pictures are of Robert's own Navigator Annie, the build log of which is chronicled on flickr.



LOA 4.5m 14ft 9in
Beam 1.8m 5ft 10in
Weight 140kg 309lbs
Sails 12.6sqm 136 sqft



Robert explains - Available as a sloop or yawl rig the latter seems to find favour with builders and sailors due to it's flexibility and frankly it is a very handsome rig.

Annie is one of hundreds of Navigators dotted around the globe, and while not all of them spend endless days cruising placid bays, and camping on impossibly beautiful beaches, plenty have done that, and all are capable of making many of our boating fantasies real.




Mine was launched towards the end of our good weather, so experiences are limited and action shots are scarce. But I have to say that I was surprised and very pleased with Annie's manners since I first took her out. The most surprising thing was her initial stability. When the first gusts caught me, I was amazed to be still within the cockpit, and not making use of the tiller extension. I don't mind 'sitting out', but it is wonderful to have a choice about these things in a dinghy.

Building a Navigator has the distinct disadvantage though, of making it harder to justify building another boat, because it is attractive and practical and flexible, and it gets you 'cred' with the stink boat people at the ramps. Every outing will create at least one good conversation with a total stranger. So another boat often seems to be just a gratuitous, superfluous thought. A pity, if you like building as much as sailing. Some of you might see me wriggle and squirm as I try to rationalise my way out of that one.




JW got something very right when he drew Navigator, and for my money the most important thing he got right was to make it possible for so many people to be able to build such a good boat themselves. All strength to anyone who empowers ordinary un-skilled people to get away from the TV, into the shed and to make something wholesome and exciting and capable of bringing people to-gether in a natural setting.


Robert a who also makes violins professionally has built Annie to an incredible standard, the pictures which show the plank stringers and the planked up hull above has an almost sculptural quality about them. I also agree with Robert's comment about encouraging others to build, while not many of us can build to his exacting standards we can all be encouraged by his enthusiasm and enjoyment of building.

Robert is also author of a book "Something About Navigator" which is available as a download and thankfully for those of us who still prefer a volume we can brush with our fingers as we work along the book shelf a printed version.

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