Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cape to Rio 2014 - "Black Cat" Preparations

Start day for Cape to Rio 2014 draws near, now only 4 days away. Preparation of our radius chine plywood Didi 38 "Black Cat" continues. Most of the big jobs have been completed but somehow the list of smaller ones never ends.

Earlier this week we were able to go sailing for a few hours to try some of the new sails, all made by the North Sails Cape Town loft. The mainsail and jib are both carbon and are a real treat to use. They set beautifully to the designed shape and are very stable. There was a bit of swell running and I found the sails to be easier to helm to than the previous laminated Dacron sails, with the sail shape not changing from surging in the swell as happens with a softer sail.
North carbon jib. Sexy see-through clothing.
Photographic conditions were not great, so these are not the best of photos. They show the new carbon mainsail and jib. For purposes of optimising our IRC rating for the race, sail area has been reduced in the headsails, with our big (and very old) Genoas with large overlap gone for good, replaced by a jib that hardly overlaps the mast, does not foul the spreaders or shrouds and is very quick to tack. It also sheets very close and allows "Black Cat" to now sail very close to the wind. This will be a great sail any time that we have to go to windward.
North carbon mainsail
The reduction in headsail area is somewhat compensated by the larger roach of the new mainsail. The larger roach and stiffer fabric means that there is a lot more conflict between backstay and mainsail, so she now has a flicker on the backstay, which you can see on the photos, to lift the top of the backstay away from the sail to allow it to pass through.

The new Code zero has massive area and showed itself to be surprisingly close-winded also, able to sheet to a very close reach, almost a beat. With large shoulders, it is also very stable and much easier to steer to than a conventional spinnaker. This sail rates as an asymmetrical spinnaker rather than a Genoa, allowing us to sail to windward with a spinnaker in light to moderate breezes.

I have written previously about some of our crew for this race. Without bio info from the other two, here is as much info as I can give for them from my own knowledge.

Dave Immelman is the normal skipper of "Black Cat" and has graciously moved into the navigator slot to allow me to come in as skipper. Dave is very experienced in competitive sailing, having crewed in the South African "Shosholoza" America's Cup Team, a Volvo Ocean Race campaign and extensive racing in South Africa, UK and the Med. Dave is very tough as well, having rowed 3000 miles single-handed across the North Atlantic Ocean. It was intended to be a double-handed voyage but his partner took ill and was taken off the boat very soon after the start and Dave decided to continue by himself.  We will have many interesting stories to swap on this next voyage. Dave is married to Susan, an award-winning seafood chef. They have a daughter of 5 and another arriving while we are mid-Atlantic.
Dave Immelman at the time of his rowing voyage.
Adrian Pearson is the owner of "Black Cat". He was my partner in her from during construction through to 2000, when he took over full ownership. Adrian loves to sail on her but does not often skipper her, preferring to hand over that job to someone with more experience. Not that Adrian lacks ocean experience, he was in my crew for the 1996 and 2000 Cape to Rio Races, crewed on her for the return from Rio in 2000 and did many coastal regattas and races with me around the Cape of Good Hope. Adrian is a retailer in Johannesburg, co-owner of a large grocery store.  He is currently unattached and has two sons and a daughter.

Don't forget that you will be able to track our progress across the Atlantic. Go to the official race website Cape to Rio 2014 and click on the tracking link at upper right of the screen.

I should be able to make one more post before we sail away. I hope to make an occasional post while on the water but can't guarantee that it will happen. Our Internet connection will be via costly satellite phones so has to be used sparingly. We will have a separate boat blog for the race and I will post the address of that blog in my next post here.

Read about our designs at http://dixdesign.com/.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Long Distance in a Bigger Boat

My last post was about people going long distance in small boats and most of my readers know that I am soon to go long distance in a slightly bigger boat. This will be on the Didi 38 "Black Cat".

She is well on the way to being ready, with smaller items like installation of new electronics going on and the major still outstanding items being to tune the rig and test the new sails (which have still to be delivered). She is looking awesome, after a full repaint and new graphics. This 18-year old lady is looking young again.

"Black Cat" with her new paint & graphics.
Preparation of "Black Cat" for her next adventure has been a lengthy process but a worthwhile one. It was unfortunately extended by 2 weeks due to damage sustained at Royal Cape Yacht Club during a gale just after she was relaunched when the repaint had been completed. Cape Town is well known for furious winds and this one apparently gusted to 75 knots in the yacht basin. Some mooring chains holding the marinas broke and "Black Cat" was in the unfortunate position of serving as the meat in a steel sandwich, not good for a plywood boat.

My navigator for this race is Dave Immelman, nicknamed Wavy. Dave has been in charge of the preparations and has done a great job of it. That includes getting the extra work done that resulted from poor "Black Cat" getting squeezed tighter than any lady in a corset. She has been freed, repaired, repainted (again), given the OK by the doctor (scrutineer) and is raring to go.
New Cat logo on port side. Starboard has the butt end.
 This is a boys' adventure on which we are embarking. As in 1996 and 2000, "Black Cat" will be the only lady enjoying it with us. That said, we would not be doing it without the support of the other ladies in the lives of all of the crew, namely wives, mothers, daughters and others. They tolerate our passion for boats, adventures and ocean crossings. Maybe some of them look forward to our departure to get us out of their hair, I don't know. I do know that they will be happy to see us again when we return and we will be equally happy to be greeted by them when our adventure is over. We will return home with another big drawer full of images in our memory banks, memories that cannot be equalled by any travel documentary or computer game, no-matter how good the filming or graphics may be.

For those who have never experienced this, it is a big one to add to your bucket list. Having done it 3 times before, I can say that it will take a big bucket if it is to hold other items that are bigger than this one. But you have to have a strong sense of adventure and not be easily scared. If you don't have those qualities you will be petrified at times, incapacitated by sheer terror while your shipmates are enjoying a great roller coaster ride that goes on for 2-4 weeks (depending on the speed of your chosen boat), with no chance of getting off the ride.

We have sailed this boat very hard in the past and the new go-fast goodies on her will help us to do so again. We sail her safely but we do so sometimes at very high speed, with lots of spray flying by and mixed in with flying fish, squid, albatross  and even the occasional sword fish. "The Cat" enjoys it and allows us to enjoy it with her.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Long Distance in Small Boats

For as long as man has been on this gorgeous blue planet of ours he has sought to find adventure wherever he can. There have always been those who simply have to see what is over that next hill. When we all know what is over that next hill then the adventure becomes going over that next hill in some way that has never been done before. It has probably not been done that way before because it is just too big a challenge for most people to consider trying.

That insurmountable challenge is the best of reasons for some people to try it anyway, to prove that it actually can be done and to prove themselves to themselves. In the process of succeeding they also prove themselves to the rest of mankind. Some of mankind thinks it exceedingly silly to do these things and will be eternally critical of those who try. They have no adventurous spirit themselves and would never attempt anything that they consider the least bit risky or dangerous. Some of them become bureaucrats to control others or they encourage bureaucrats to stop the adventurers from being adventurous, a misguided attempt to protect them from themselves.

I have written here before about one such adventurous person, Anthony Steward. He is the only person to have sailed around the world in an open boat. I am fortunate that Anthony selected my TLC 19 hull as the basis for his open boat voyage. Everyone thought that he was crazy in his quest but he was permitted to do it. That is how it should be.

Now I am working on a design for another person who has the aim of circumnavigating the globe in a different way from how everyone else has done it before. His name is Davey du Plessis and he plans to peddle his way around the world. My job is to provide to him the boat that I believe will give him his best chance for success. At the same time, it has to be economical to construct because he is on a tight budget for the voyage.

The result is a multi-chine plywood craft of approximately 23ft length overall. The hull is of fairly classic form that will also make an excellent pulling boat. It has a fine bow at waterline for wave penetration and a fine stern for low drag at the low speeds that can be expected under long term human power.
Hull of the Ocean Peddle Boat for Davey du Plessis.
The superstructure is also multi-chine plywood, so that it can be quickly and easily built using stitch-&-glue building methods. It is a closed boat for maximum protection from the elements but with the ability to open up large surfaces of the central cockpit area to allow air to flow through when needed. This also increases the safety tremendously in rough conditions, making her essentially self-righting if all of the gear is properly stowed and secured.
Basic 3D model of hull and deck.
The model above is very basic, it doesn't show the details of the deck, like windows, opening panels, hatches, solar panels etc, which are detailed into the building drawings.

The whole concept is conceived to make a seaworthy boat. It is not designed for speed, it is designed for cruising slowly under human power, aided where possible by wind, wave and current.

What about the crazy man who will live long term inside this eggshell? Maybe Davey is not as crazy as you think or maybe he is more crazy than you think, I doubt that he knows for sure. He is no doubt less crazy than Anthony Steward because Davey has chosen to have a boat that will give him shelter for his long voyage. Does Davey du Plessis have the legs for this voyage? You can bet that he does, he has ridden a bicycle the length of Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town. Davey is an adventurer and I applaud him for it.

Davey's boat will be built in Knysna on the South African South Coast. The builder is his uncle, Tertius du Plessis, who has previously built one of my designs, a Didi 34.  I doubt that I will even get to see Davey's boat because his route is unlikely to pass anywhere near to me in USA.

I will add this boat to my website when the design is complete. I will no doubt offer it as an open pulling boat but it is possible that there are others who would also like to build it as a trans-ocean rowboat or peddleboat.

To see our full range of designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/.

Update on Didi Sport 15 and Didi 950

I have recently added two new radius chine plywood designs to our range and wrote about them on this blog. Here are updates on both boats.

Yesterday I visited the prototype of the Didi Sport 15 (DS15) that is being built by Hunter Gall in Virginia Beach. I hadn't seen it in the flesh for a few weeks and wanted to see how the deck is looking as it comes together. Hunter is doing a really nice job of his project, working slowly but meticulously.

His boat, "Scallywag", is looking very pretty. He stained the hull surfaces blue and the deck surfaces red before doing the epoxy coatings and these colours will be highlighted by areas of clear-finished timber. It all entailed a tremendous amount of extra work to get it right than if he had painted it in the normal way. The final result is very attractive and she will be an eye-catcher when complete. Hunter can be pleased with the overall results.

The deck configuration that I designed is unusual, with a raised mast deck and wave-breaker above a flat foredeck and the open self-draining cockpit. It gives a decidedly retro image to the deck, over the thoroughly modern hull. It reminds me somewhat of the Lightweight Australian Sharpies that my Dad sailed in South Africa when I was a child. That makes it  somehow fitting that Hunter Gall is Australian, I am South African and we have ended up working together on this project in USA.


Hunter Gall's DS15 project nearing completion
Other news on the DS15 is that work will start in the next few weeks on moulds to build a composite version in Europe. I will release more information about it after I return from the Cape to Rio Race, by which time the builder may be ready to start receiving enquiries.

The other boat was the Didi 950, for which the prototype kit has been cut and will be delivered to the builder in the next week or two. It appears that this is going to be a popular design because we have sold plan packages for another three boats since announcing the design.
Didi 950, bigger sister to the DS15
 One of those boats will result in a variation on the design, with a lifting keel. A lifting keel was part of the original concept for the builder of the prototype but he decided in the end on the simplicity of a fixed keel. The lifting keel proved to be a very viable option, using the same basic keel support arrangement as the fixed keel with no structural redesign. The major difference will be moving the motor aft to a position under the companionway, driving a saildrive rather than a shaft. This is to make room for the lifting keel to rise through the galley central locker unit.

The prototype of this design is to be built in Ohio, USA. The others that have been ordered will be built in Australia, Latvia and Greece. There is interest from other countries as well.

To see our full range of designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Migrating South with The Geese

There will be some disruptions in our normal service over the next few weeks. We will be away from the office while we fly with the very sensible migrating geese from the cold northern hemisphere into the summery south. I will be skippering the Didi 38  "Black Cat" in the 2014 Cape to Rio Race, which starts from Cape Town, South Africa, on 4th January. Dehlia will be in Cape Town also, to wave goodbye and to have a well-deserved holiday.

That means that the entire staff will be away from the office for a few weeks.  We will do what we can to minimise disruptions for our supporters.

Printed Orders
We can supply printed orders that are placed up to 11th December. Any printed orders received on 12th December or later will be supplied after Dehlia returns on 15th January.

Email Orders
Email orders will be supplied throughout the break. The process may slow down a bit but you will receive your order by email within a day or two. Items that can be supplied by email are study packs for most of the larger designs and plans for the Dixi Dinghy, Argie 10 and Argie 15.

If you will be in the wintery north, think of us in the sunny south. You can follow the progress of "Black Cat" and the other boats in the fleet across 3250 nautical miles of open ocean. There will be electronic trackers onboard all of the boats that will allow you to keep updated at  2014 Cape to Rio Race.

I will be back sometime during the first week of February.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Time to Order for Winter Projects

The weather is getting colder in the north and our minds move to thoughts of staying inside to keep warm. Staving off cabin fever from being trapped inside becomes a problem, particularly if you have children. Keeping them interested and active can become a problem as the cold months go by.

Building a small boat in your workshop or basement can do wonders in this situation,. It draws the young ones away from computer games and cell phones, teaching them new skills that they can use throughout their lives. They will be helping to create something with character, something that would not have existed without their work, which will give them a lot of fun in the warmer months and which they will appreciate more and look after better because they helped to create it with their own hands. We all take more care of things if we had a big hand in creating them.
Argie 10 built by 2 young brothers while Dad was away
We have designs that are well-suited to building in small and cozy spaces. Some of these boats have been built in bedrooms or dining rooms, even apartments or basements that have only standard doors through which to remove them when completed. They can be built with basic hand tools; you don't need a well-outfitted workshop nor to be a woodworking craftsman to produce a small boat of which you can be proud.

Louis de Lassus built his Argie 15 in his Paris basement
The plans to kick off a project like this make a good Christmas present, whether for a husband or one of the children. If this is your plan, please order soon to ensure that you have the package before Christmas. We will soon be closed for a few weeks and will not be able to supply from 10th December through to 14th January.

To see our full range of designs, please go to http://dixdesign.com/ and our pricelist.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Didi Sport 15 - A Family Boat with Juice


Some of my supporters have been waiting for this boat for a long time. I have posted sneak previews of the Didi Sport 15 (or DS15) but the design was taking its time to reach completion. It was leap-frogged in the design queue by designs that were much more demanding of my time.

Now the plans are complete aside from some minor details and the prototype is into the final stages of build. This boat is looking very good, with interesting finishes and excellent standard of finish. The builder is creating a work of art of which he will be justifiably very proud.

This design, like the Didi 950 that I introduced last week, is a development from the Didi Mini Mk3. It has a modern hull shape with topside chine aft, built from plywood.

Didi Sport 15 hull, radius chine with topside chine.
The concept of the DS15 is a boat that can be stable and safe for family sailing and raid type racing, exciting as a little ballasted sportboat and super-fast as an unballasted trapeze dinghy. Choose your style of sailing or switch back-and-forth depending on conditions or who will be sailing with you.

Didi Sport 15 rig
The rig combines a reefable square-top mainsail with self-tacking jib, as working sails, with an asymmetrical spinnaker on retracting bowsprit to supercharge it downwind. It also has a light drifter/reacher Genoa for light airs when your wife is aboard and doesn't want the excitement of the asymmetrical.

Didi Sport 15 Prototype, round bilge from plywood.


Didi Sport 15 plywood framework ready for stringers.
It can be built by amateur or professional builders, from plans and offsets, from plans and full-size Mylar patterns or from plans and a CNC plywood kit. Go to our pricelist to order plans or plans and patterns. Go to our USA kits page to order a kit of all plywood components, accurately cut by CNC router.

Please visit our website at http://dixdesign.com/ for more info on this and our other designs.





Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kits for our Plywood Boats

Kits for our plywood boats have been available in USA for more than 10 years. This has had mixed success, depending on who was cutting the kits. Following on the sale of the company that had the rights to cut our kits, the quality of service deteriorated to a level that was no longer tolerable, so I rescinded the cutting rights. That brought us to the current arrangement of marketing the kits ourselves and sub-contracting the cutting to Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis.

This has worked out very well. The quality of the kits supplied to date has been excellent and the shipping has been both economically priced and efficient. They have cut numerous dinghy kits, including the Dixi Dinghy  and the Paper Jet.
Plywood Dixi Dinghy, fun little 3:1 dinghy to row/motor/sail.
The are currently preparing to cut a large kit, comprising 61 sheets of plywood, for a Didi 950 that will be shipped to a builder in Ohio. This is a radius chine plywood boat with topside chine that is designed to the Class 950 Rule and makes a very nice fast cruiser, in addition to its primary racing purpose.
3D image of radius chine plywood Didi 950
We have also sent them an order for a smaller but nevertheless substantial kit. This is for a Didi 29 Retro that will be shipped to a builder in North Carolina.This is also a radius chine plywood boat but without the topside chine. It is a development, in classic image, from our popular Didi 26 trailer-sailer design and will be rigged with the cruising rig option of the two gaff rigs that we supply with the design.
3D image of radius chine plywood Didi 29 Retro
I have reworked the panel files for these large kits so that all parts that are larger than a sheet of plywood are jointed with jigsaw joints. These joints are easy to assemble and produce very accurate panels.  Click to read about jigsaw joints.

The range of plywood kits that we can offer in USA is expanding fast. Click to see the full list. If there is a plywood design for which you want a kit, please email Dudley and ask for a price. It may take a week or two to rework the panel files to suit the Chesapeake Light Craft format then get a price for the kit but we will get that info to you as speedily as we can.

If you are outside of the USA, you can still order one of our kits from our suppliers in other countries .

To see our full range of boat designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Racing to Rio - A perspective on Crossing the South Atlantic Ocean

I have crossed the South Atlantic under sail four times. Three times it was with full crew from Cape Town, South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the Cape to Rio Race. The other crossing was double-handed and going the other way. I will do it again in January but this time the build-up is proving to be very different.

First, I am not there to prepare the boat for the race myself. I have always been there to take charge of the preparations, with much able assistance from my crew and my family. This time I must rely on someone else to sort out any issues and to ready "Black Cat" for her 3,250 nautical mile voyage. That distance is nearly 3800 land miles and more than 50% longer than the famed Trans-Pac Race.

This voyage is small compared with a round-the-world voyage but it is, nevertheless, a major voyage and it is across waters that see very little traffic. Aside from commercial fishing ships and the boats that are racing, there are very few vessels crossing this ocean at any time. We have to be self-sufficient, to take care of whatever situation fate and the weather gods might send our way. We can't make a VHF call to the Coast Guard or US Towing to come fetch us. Each boat has to rely on its crew in an emergency and vice-versa; boat and crew are totally inter-dependent and both have to be fully prepared.  And, in the traditions of all seafarers, all boats are ready and willing to assist each other if needed.

I am very grateful for the work that is being done in Cape Town by Dave Immelman in preparing "Black Cat" in my absence. Dave will be my navigator for this race and was her skipper for the 1,800 mile Governor's Cup Race from Simonstown to St Helena Island in December last year. He is the only one on the crew who lives in the Cape, so a big load has fallen on his shoulders ahead of this race. The Cat is now 18 years old and Dave has been charged with upgrading anything that needed upgrading, from structure through to finishes, rig, systems, equipment and sails. In many respects the St Helena Race served as a good shake-down to highlight any issues that have developed in the years since I handed her over to her current owner, Adrian Pearson.  I look forward to test-sailing her on Table Bay with all the new goodies that she has gained since I last sailed on her.
Racing under spinnaker into inky darkness.
Sean Collins & Adrian Pearson in the cockpit.
 The other difference is that for previous races I lived in Cape Town and  this time I live in USA. In Cape Town I was always surrounded by people from the sailing community. Cape Town is a beautiful place to sail, one of the best in the world. It can also be one of the toughest places in the world to sail, with sometimes violent weather and extremely testing seas. In that environment the fact that I was soon to cross an ocean on a small boat was of passing interesting but not considered to be too much out of the ordinary. After all, if you can sail in Cape Town you can sail anywhere, so what could be special about an ocean crossing?

This time it is very different. My neighbours know that I design boats for a living. They have not seen the big boats that I have built, only the little Paper Jet that took shape in their neighbourhood and drags around faithfully behind my minivan when I am going sailing. They have not seen the boisterous to wild conditions in which so much of the Cape Town racing happens. Here I am a bit of an oddity because I just don't fit into the mould. They are very supportive of what I am doing but don't really comprehend it; the who, where, what and how of sailing across an ocean. I must admit that I do enjoy explaining to them what I will be doing, where we will sail, the beauty of Cape Town and Rio, the good and bad experiences of sailing a small boat across thousands of miles of open water, through good weather and bad and the real or imagined dangers. In their view I fit in somewhere between eccentric and totally crazy, leaning mostly toward the crazy end of the scale. They worry mostly that it is a very dangerous thing to do.

The truth of a voyage is really somewhere between how it is viewed by my friends in Cape Town and those here in Virginia Beach. In each of the races that I have sailed we have had to cope with at least one big storm and another one or two smaller ones. Yes, it is dangerous; but we do what we can to reduce the danger. As far as I can recall, only one person has died during the Cape to Rio Race in the 42 year history of the event. Thousands have participated, two boats have sunk on the race, two have sunk on the return voyage and only one person has died. That was from a heart attack that would likely have happened on land anyway.
Gavin Muller repairing sails during the 1996 race.

We all take precautions because it is dangerous to be on a small boat way out of sight of land. The boats are all fully equipped with a wide range of safety equipment, which has to be maintained according to mandated schedules. All boats are scrutinied before being allowed to start. All boats have to prove a high level of experience and/or certification among the crew before they are accepted. That experience and certification is for ocean experience, navigational and seamanship skills and the ability to take care of medical emergencies with the very comprehensive medical kit that we carry with us.

Additional to those documented requirements, every skipper sets his/her own standards for behavior on their particular boat. I can't vouch for other skippers but on "Black Cat" we go into safety mode in bad weather and from dusk to dawn, when no person is allowed on deck without first putting on their safety harness and clipping onto one of the many secure points on deck before exiting the interior of the boat. Along with this, a clear head is always required, 24/7, so there is no drinking of alcohol except for one optional drink at happy hour each day. There will be plenty of time to imbibe in Brazil.

An ocean crossing like this does not need to be dreaded but neither is it a cakewalk. We need exciting activities in our lives to build the memories that we cherish. They help to remind us that we are alive and have a purpose in our lives, they give us the material with which to tell the stories that will entertain our friends and grandchildren in the autumn years to come. If we don't reach those autumn years we still come out ahead because we have had a lot of fun and excitement along the way.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Anthony Steward - Around Alone in an Open Boat

More than 20 years ago Anthony Steward sailed around the world on a tiny open boat. He took the mould plug from my TLC 19 trailer-sailer and turned it into a boat to circum-navigate the world. Nobody had done it before him and nobody has done it since.

Ant Steward's little boat shipwrecked in the Seychelles
Anthony has always been very modest about his achievement and has done very little to publicise it. Most of the publicity that it has received has been through articles that I have written for magazines, the article on my website and his chapter in my book "Shaped by Wind & Wave".

I am pleased to see that this has now changed. A video that was made 20 years ago, documenting his voyage, is now on YouTube. It is worth the 30 minutes to watch it, to understand just how tough this voyage was.



Anthony modified my little boat extensively to serve the purpose that he needed. We have many designs to take you more comfortably around the world or just to take you across your local pond. Please visit http://dixdesign.com/.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wrap-up of Georgetown Wooden Boat Show

Last weekend we exhibited our Paper Jet on the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show in South Carolina. This was our 2nd time at this show, having been there in 2009 and won a special award for our Paper Jet. This time she wasn't lonely and was in the company of two sisters from the area. The show was on Saturday 19th October, on the Georgetown waterfront.

Three Paper Jets at Georgetown Wooden Boat Show
In the photo above, the yellow boat in the middle is my prototype, which you have probably seen many times before. The turquoise boat on the right belongs to Ted Bullock of Barrier Island Boatbuilders in Charleston. His boat is not yet complete and was displayed with the mast free-standing and no sails. The white boat in the background belongs to Bob Turner of Pawleys Island and was completed the week before the show, with the mainsail being set for the first time at the show.

Bob's Mylar sails were supplied by i-Sails . My sails are Dacron and supplied by Baxter Sails but they also offer them in Mylar. For those who are interested, you can compare the two sails in the photos. Mine is a fathead sail shaped to my original design. Bob's Mylar sail is a more modern squaretop sail to the i-Sails design that is being used in Europe. It has a marginally wider head and considerably less roach.

It will be interesting to compare the efficiency of the two sails when we can sail against each other. We intended to do that the evening before the show but heavy rain washed that plan away.



As always, my good wife, Dehlia, was at the show with me. Over the years she has become very competent and knowledgeable of our designs. She is a big help to me for talking to existing and potential builders of our boats and only has to refer the more technical questions to me.

Dehlia chatting to a visitor at the show.
We had a good flow of visitors all day. We were pleased to be visited by a few people who are already building our boats, including one who is building the Didi 29 Retro with cruising rig in North Carolina. Thanks to all who came to chat, we will be back again in a few years.

To see our full range of designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Radius Chine Plywood Class 950

The Didi 950 is our newest design and the plans are now nearing completion. They show a very modern boat that is designed to comply with the Class 950 Rules and which can be built by any reasonably competent amateur woodworker.

Sail plan of Didi 950
The Class 950 Rule produces a fast boat that is great for level boat-for-boat racing. The rule results in reasonable proportions and features, for a safe and strong boat with comfortable accommodation that is also good for a performance cruiser.

Class 950 accommodation
Construction is radius chine plywood with a hard chine aft in the topsides. This format produces a very modern hull that is built mostly from a very low-tech sheet material, yet looks as good as any moulded composite boat that can only be built with skills that most amateurs don't have. Most men are comfortable working with wood and this construction method allows them to use those skills to build a competitive boat.
3D Profile of Didi 950
The more that I look at this boat the more that I would like to be on it for offshore or ocean racing. This would be a great boat for sailing trans-Atlantic in the Cape to Rio Race or going across the Pacific in the Trans-Pac Race. Close-reaching to broad-reaching under asymmetrical and powered up by water ballast tanks, she will be a thrilling boat, reeling off the miles like few others in this size range can do.
3D View with contours to highlight hull shape.
Someone close by, please build one of these boats. I need to sail on this one.

For more info go to http://dixdesign.com/didi950.htm and visit our website at http://dixdesign.com/ to see our other designs.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Georgetown Wooden Boat Show This Weekend

Saturday 19th October is Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, on the waterfront of Georgetown South Carolina. We will have our prototype Paper Jet on display, among the land exhibits on Front Street.

This year we will enjoy the company of two other Paper Jets, local to that area. Bob Turner of Pawleys Island has just completed his boat and Ted Bullock of Barrier Island Boatbuilders in Charleston will exhibit his one, which is nearing completion.
Paper Jet #007. Numbers are now approaching 80 boats.
The Paper Jet is very different in concept from most other boats that will be on display. The very light but robust construction and thoroughly modern image of these boats provides a sharp contrast with the generally classically styled boats, of mostly traditional construction methods, of other exhibits.

If you are within day-trip range of Georgetown, please come by to talk about the Paper Jet and any other of our wide range of designs that might interest you.

The red boat in the photo above is for sale. It was professionally built with nice detailing. If you are all-thumbs when it comes to woodworking then this boat can provide a painless route to getting afloat in a light and fast performance dinghy. It won't be at the show but we will be able to give details and put you in contact with the seller.

To see our full range of designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/ .

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Get your Orders to us Early

The end of 2013 is coming fast. We normally have a rush of orders around year-end but this year it is going to be different. Remember, I will be sailing in the Cape to Rio Race and that is going to create considerable disruption in delivery of orders. I will fly out on December 14th, via Istanbul in Turkey to Cape Town, South Africa. After sailing across the South Atlantic, I will return home from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, about the first week of February 2014.

Dehlia is the person who glues this operation together. She is my wife and she receives the orders, processes the payments, prints the drawings and magically sends them all over the world, allowing me to spend my time drawing pretty pictures of boats and backing up you, our builders. Normally Dehlia would continue unflustered while I am away playing boats. This time it will be different, Dehlia is also going to Cape Town, to wave goodbye tearfully from the dock. She will leave our home and office before I do, on 3rd December. She will not be back to resume business until 14th January 2014. For a month there will be nobody here to print drawings.

Please don't leave your order until the last minute, we may not be able to supply. This is even more important if you intend to order a plywood kit to build one of our boats. It takes more time to set up a kit order than only to supply plans.

We hope to set up systems to take orders while away, for items that can be supplied by email. That will be for our 3:1 dinghies, study packs and eBook "Shaped by Wind & Wave". Paper orders will have to wait until after Dehlia returns 14th January.

Please send your orders by 29th November. After Dehlia leaves I will be able to process and supply only limited orders.

Thank you for your support both past and future. I apologise for any convenience that this disruption may cause you, we will be back as soon as possible.

Go to http://dixdesign.com/ to see our full range of designs.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Crew of "Black Cat" for Cape to Rio

 Our crew for the 2014 Cape to Rio Race is mostly the same as we had for the 1996 running of this race. Here are bios for two of the crew.

Gavin Muller

Gavin Muller was 21 years old on the 1996 Race. He was the baby of the crew by a long way and received the brunt of the good-natured insults and joking on the voyage from the rest of us. He took it all in very good spirits, was a great crewman to have with us and proved to be very capable in all aspects of sailing our boat at high speed across the Atlantic.

Now, 18 years later, Gavin is a much more respectable age. At least he is now more than half my own age. Gavin can't have had any permanent damage from all of our ribbing on that race because it was he that put the thought in front of me to get the 1996 crew together again for the 2014 race. Wonderful idea, Gavin.

He obviously has a good sense of the ridiculous. The bio that he sent me begins with "I started sailing quite late in life at the age of 14". Heck, most sailors wish that they could have started sailing at that age instead of 30, 40 or even 60 years old. When you are 21 then 14 must be relatively late in life. After his late start in sailing, Gavin hasn't wasted his time and has accomplished much. His achievements include:-

Sank an Optimist on the start line of his first Interschools Regatta.
Rose to captain of his Bishops High School Sailing Club
Was part of the youngest crew to sail the Cape to Rio Race, in 1993
Crewed on "Black Cat" in Cape to Rio Race 1996
Member of line-honours crew in St Helena Race 1996 and sailed return to Cape Town.
Achieved Yachtmaster Offshore in 1997, with better grades than he managed in school.
Sailed his 2nd St Helena Race in 1998 and return voyage to Cape Town.
Moved to England Feb 1999, where he still lives.
Sailed 4 Fastnet Races and all qualifying races.
Sailed 7 Cowes Week Regattas.
Sailed 8 Round the Island Races (Isle of Wight).

Gavin is married to Nicole and they have two young children, Alice and George. He is Head of Operations at one of the most prestigious catering companies in London, so I guess that qualifies him to serve us some imaginative high-class meals in the middle of the South Atlantic.
Gavin with wife Nicole and children, Alice and George.

Gavin in Solent sailing garb.

Sean Collins

In my 60 years of sailing, Sean is the one who has sailed more miles with me than anyone else. We always clicked together on boats and have confidence in each other doing the right thing when needed, including to extricate us from some silly situation into which I have put us.

Sean first sailed at about 7 years old, with an uncle who owned an Enterprise dinghy. The bug bit and he broadened his sailing experiences with the Sea Scouts. Sean's first offshore experience came in 1976 with his uncle, sailing from Durban to Cape Town on a newly-launched 45ft ferro-cement cruiser. Continuing further on the long-term cruise was thwarted by the need to finish schooling.

Sean is a surfer and spent a few years sailing Hobie cats before buying his own first offshore boat. This was a 28ft plywood double-ended ketch named "Elise". After breaking the mizzen mast she had lee-helm problems and that was what brought Sean and me together for our long association. He commissioned me to redesign the rig as a cutter. He sold "Elise" after he started crewing for me on my CW975 "Concept Won" sometime later.

Sean estimates that he has sailed roughly 10,000 sea miles with me on "Concept Won" and "Black Cat". He was my chosen partner whenever available for the double-handed races and regattas at Royal Cape Yacht Club and Hout Bay Yacht Club. He sailed with me on numerous Double Cape Races, Telkom Regattas, Old Brown Table Bay Regattas, Hout Bay Admirals Regattas, Hout Bay Double Regattas and the weekend and Wednesday night racing at RCYC, as well as the 1996 Cape to Rio Race.

Sean was in the crew of "Black Cat" right from the start, long before she even hit the water. He spent many weekends helping with building her, much of it doing a sterling and nasty job of epoxy coating and fibreglassing the joints of the drinking water tanks, to ensure that they would not fail us in mid-ocean.

Sean moved to England in 1998, with wife Lanesse (now ex-wife) and three daughters. There they spent time sailing the estuaries of the Thames and acquiring the new skills of safely navigating large tides and strong currents. Eventually they bought "Vortex", a Nicholson 35, which Sean refurbished for family cruising. In 2004 they headed South to find sunshine and spent 16 months cruising to the Canaries via France, Spain and Portugal. From there they all flew back to settle back in Cape Town. A year later Sean and his nephew double-handed "Vortex" to Cape Town via Cape Verde, Brazil and Tristan da Cunha.

Bad economic times in RSA resulted in Sean working for a few years in Bahrain, where he joined the Bahrain Yacht Club to keep in sailing. Back in RSA again, work commitments keep him away from home but he gets back to Cape Town regularly. Most of his sailing is currently  on inland waters, where he is an instructor with the youth sail training programme at Mountain Yacht Club on Ebenezer Dam.
Sean with Lanesse and daughters Abbey, Kelsey & Megan
Sean on "Vortex" at Hout Bay Yacht Club.

Gavin and Sean, I look forward to sailing with both of you again.



  







Thursday, October 3, 2013

Our Boat for Cape to Rio 2014

A few weeks ago I announced that we will sail in the Cape to Rio Race in January. If you missed it, you can read it here. Now I would like to tell a bit more about the boat.

Her name is "Black Cat" and she is very special in my life. I designed her, I built her in my garden and I have sailed her across the South Atlantic three times. I have also raced and cruised her for many, many miles on the notorious Cape of Good Hope waters and she formed the foundation of my best selling range of boat designs. She is the prototype of the Didi 38 design and older sister to designs from the DS15 (Didi Sport 15) through to the DH550 .
"Black Cat" with her crew on launch day.
 I started concept sketches during the 1993 Cape to Rio Race on the Shearwater 39 "Ukelele Lady". "Ukelele" is very comfortable and carried us across the Atlantic in 29 days, excellent for a cruiser.  Still, I resolved part-way across  to do the next race on a boat of my own, which would be better able to take advantage of the downwind surfing conditions found on this race.

The new boat was to be cold-moulded wood. It was to be very light, with a big rig and deep bulb keel for high performance. Light and beamy boats are uncomfortable at sea and I sometimes get seasick, so I designed her relatively narrow for comfort. Narrow beam would also make her even faster.

I had nearly 3 years to build but I had a very big problem, I had no money to start. It was nearly a year before I had money to start building. Now the problem became a lack of time to build the cold-moulded boat, so I had to find an alternative solution that would be quicker to build.

My solution was to develop a method for building a rounded hull shape from plywood, using a radius chine form developed from my metal designs. I needed it to be mostly sheet plywood for fast construction but a rounded shape for performance, aesthetic and resale value reasons.

The resulting boat was 4 tons displacement in measurement trim and with 50% ballast ratio. She turned out to be clean, simple, pretty and a delight to sail. In two Cape to Rio Races she carried us across the Atlantic in 21 days in vastly different conditions. In one race she topped out as 18 knots and covered 250 miles in 24 hours. On the other her top speed was 22 knots but her 250 mile record went unbroken.

Where did her name come from? She is, after all, a yellow monohull and not a black catamaran. Black Cat is the top-selling peanut butter brand in South Africa and they sponsored her in the 1996 race. The kids knew her as the "Peanut Butter Boat" and her big  Black Cat spinnakers attracted a lot of attention.
Moving well in very light breeze.
She is quick on all headings in light breezes. The above photo was taken while racing on St Helena Bay in only 3-4 knots of breeze, a race in which she took line honours with a very comfortable lead over the 2nd placed boat, also a 38ft cruiser/racer.

She also loves to run free in a strong breeze. From cracked off on a fetch through to a run, she flies in strong conditions. Like me, she loves to surf. I surfed her at 22 knots down a very big wave mid-Atlantic after a storm.

Yet, she remains a home-built plywood boat and I look forward to spending 3 weeks with her and her crew as we cross the ocean once again. In the next few weeks I will write about the crew who will keep me and "Black Cat" company on this voyage.

To see our full range of designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/ .

PS. Entries for the race currently stand at 26 boats, with another 19 pending. The race website is at http://www.cape2rio2014.com/ .

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Georgetown Wooden Boat Show

Georgetown Wooden Boat Show takes place on Front Street, in the waterside tourist area of the very quaint Georgetown, South Carolina. We exhibited the Paper Jet there in 2009 and won the Special Award because of the innovative features of the new design that hadn't been seen in those parts before. Our very modern little yellow boat stood out in the midst of traditional wooden craft.

Paper Jet set up and waiting for the 2009 show to open.
We are going to be there again this year and we will have company. Two local Paper Jet builders will have their boats on the show also. This is a great opportunity for those who are interested in building this design to see the boats in the flesh, look at the details and discuss the building process. Or just to come along and look at what has proven to be a very eye-catching and interesting design. It never fails to draw crowds wherever we show it. The PJ is very different from any other boats that are normally seen on wooden boat shows.

At the time of our last appearance in Georgetown the Paper Jet sail numbers had just reached 35. Now we are at more than twice that number, with numbers 77 & 78 supplied in the past few weeks. We now have 13 PJs on the water or being built on the US East Coast and those numbers will continue to grow.

Kits are now available through our office, cut for us by Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) in Annapolis MD. Don't try to order from them, they will not sell it to you. You must order from us, via our USA plywood kits page . CLC have cut 6 kits for this design in the past year and delivered very high quality along with excellent service. You can order just the plans to build with your own materials or you can order a plywood kit that has all plywood components accurately cut on a CNC machine, packaged and shipped to your door ready for you to start building. You can also order a kit of epoxy, fibreglass and consumables needed to build the PJ.

Our East Coast PJ numbers are now growing to where we can start arranging regattas. We have a tentative arrangement in place to hold the first Paper Jet East Coast Championships in 2014, as part of the WOOD Regatta on Charleston Harbor. With enough support, that can become an annual event.

To see more about this and our other designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/ and please also come visit us at the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show if you are in that area.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Americas Cup Value to Sailing

I have recently been quite active on the LinkedIn forums about Americas Cup. It is not in my nature to participate in forums because I have found that it is all too easy to get drawn in and become embroiled, fending off attacks by Internet trolls whose great ambition in life is to be destructive to others. LinkedIn is a more closed community and less apt to show this nastiness and aggression. If I feel strongly enough about an issue then I will have my say and keep up with the rest of the discussion.

Just such a discussion came out of my last blog entry, about Race 13 exceeding the time limit. You can read that entry by scrolling down the page or go to the blog archive on the left of this blog. The response was that races should not have time limits and should just continue until there is a winner. It referenced baseball as a comparison. Discussion then progressed to the format that is being used for this current edition of Americas Cup, AC34. Some of my posts have been well received and it was suggested that one post in particular should be read by a wider audience.

I responded to the following question. I don't want to name the poster, I don't have his permission.

"So I am going to go back to my question on the cup. Forty minutes time limit for an Americas Cup race? I would like to see the last race ground out for say 2 hours of excitement vs. just 40 minutes. Are we an ADHD society that if it goes longer that 40 minutes we loose our audiance (sic). I don't care. It's the Americas Cup. It should be raced with sweat and tears to the end. It should go as long as a football game or basketball game(including time outs and media breaks). Shouldn't it?"

Here is my response.

"We all have our own ideas on what should be and what shouldn't be. Who's to say which is right? I agree that 40 minutes does seem too short a time limit but I understand the aim of the organisers to popularise sailing competition with the non-sailors and the parameters within which they were working.

Sailing is its own sport and it is evolving rapidly with technology. Do you really want to watch these two boats sailing back and forth upwind and downwind for 3 hours or more each race and potentially for 17 days (19 days including the 2-race penalty) in a row? That will drive the TV viewers back to whatever they were watching before AC34 came along.

I grow thoroughly bored watching football and baseball. They are stop-start games and they hold the attention of the audience for very short periods of action. The players get to rest for much of the duration and only work in short bursts. They can go on all night if needed, without burning themselves out. The crews on these boats are working hard the whole time, every race.

I think that it will work to compare AC racing with cricket. Test cricket takes 5 days of play, broken into 4 sessions each day. With no limits aside from the 5-day time limit, it often ends with no winner. It bores most people to tears. Then one-day international cricket was introduced, featuring 50 overs (300 balls) bowled by each team against the other batsmen. Suddenly cricket became interesting to a much wider audience. Now they play international 20-over games and the games are very exciting to watch, with massive viewership.

Rugby was always an exciting running game but it has also gone the same route of short, very fast and exciting games with the Rugby Sevens. This is what is needed to hold the attention of the modern world, where there is always something else trying to grab attention. Why should sailing not be right there in the fray also grabbing attention with short, fast and very exciting races.

Sailing is a sport of ageing players and needs new and young blood to survive. This event is likely to attract new people to sailing in one form or another. We can watch yacht racing as we knew it 20 years ago until it goes the way of the dinosaurs or we can embrace the new world and regenerate sailboat racing as a viable sport.

There is still a place for 5-day test cricket, for a much smaller audience than the other forms. Likewise, there is also still a place for the longer duration sailing races. I will be skippering a 38ft sailboat across the South Atlantic in January. We will be racing flat-out for 3 weeks from Africa to South America. There will be exciting times for me and my crew far away from the eyes of any TV audience. I enjoy that racing immensely, as a participant but I don't expect our slow progress across the ocean chart to keep anyone rivetted to the edge of their seat the way that AC34 is doing to us right now.

I think that with AC34 they have hit a winning formula and I am enjoying every short minute of it.
"


Thank you for taking the time to read my viewpoint. It is often a bit off the beaten track but I think that it is valid.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Americas Cup Race 13 (1st Edition)

I want to take issue with what has been widely reported on the web about the Americas Cup racing on Friday afternoon last week. That was when Race 13 was run, abandoned then run for a second time.

A syndicated report written by Scott Neuman has appeared on thousands of websites and tells an entirely inaccurate story. It says:-

"They were helped along somewhat by the vagaries of the wind off San Francisco — it's been alternately too light or too strong. On Friday in a light-air race, New Zealand crossed the line ahead of USA, but it took them just over 40 minutes, which the race rules said was too long. So the result was thrown out and the defenders lived to sail again."

Either the author was not watching the race himself and published incorrect information supplied by someone else or he didn't understand what he was watching.

I might rile up people who are rooting for Emirates Team NZ but I like to read the truth, whichever side I am supporting. It behoves journalists to publish the truth, not what they want or someone else wants them to say, for whatever reason. Inaccuracies in journalistic reporting become truth in the future unless they are corrected at the time or soon after. This is especially true in the Internet era because what goes onto the Internet will stay on the Internet until there is no longer an Internet (forever? until the end of the world? Who knows?)

In this case the report says that NZ won the race and then the result was thrown out because the race took too long. Absolute nonsense.

Emirates NZ was well ahead at the time that the race was abandoned but they were nowhere near to the finish line. I can't be sure of their exact position when time ran out but I think that they were into the green circle and about to round the last mark when the abandon call came from the race officer. They still had the last leg to sail. There was no result, so how can the result have been thrown out?

You may say that this is pure semantics and it makes no difference. But it does, it makes a very big difference. Emirates Team NZ only needed to win one more race to take the cup back to New Zealand and that was the race that they needed. The report says that they won that race then it was taken away due to the time limit. That is equivalent to saying that they won the cup then it was taken away from them. If the time limit had been 45 minutes instead of 40 minutes then they would have won the race and the cup, no dispute. The fact is that they didn't finish or win that race and didn't win the cup on that day.

Most yacht races have time limits, as do most other sporting events in the world. The 40 minute time limit is one of the many rules of the event. The race committee cannot increase or decrease this limit at whim. You can be sure that the crews of both boats knew long before they even reached the weather mark that there was a good chance that the race would be abandoned for exceeding the allotted 40 minutes, unless the wind increased considerably. The commentators were already talking about it half-way up leg 3 and I am sure that the crews of both boats were watching their very accurate timepieces all the way through. All racing sailors know that in very light breezes there is a chance of missing the time limit so we keep it in mind, we watch the clock and estimate or calculate the speed needed due to the time and distance to go to the finish. We didn't see any looks of astonishment among the crew when the race was abandoned, they knew that they would not finish in time to get a result.

The fact is that the non-completion of that race has forever changed the Americas Cup history from what would have been if the race had been completed. AC34 has dramatically changed from what was a hiding being handed out to Oracle Team USA by Emirates Team New Zealand to what is now an extremely thrilling spectacle, with one of the biggest comebacks ever seen in any sport in the world. With 5 straight wins in races 13 to 17 instead of the final loss that appeared inevitable for race 13, we now have some seriously competitive racing taking place.

By this evening Emirates Team New Zealand may have won that last race that they need and the cup may be in the hands of the New Zealanders. On the other hand, Oracle Team USA may have defied the odds even further and taken it to 6 wins in a row. Whichever way it goes, it has been thrilling to watch and I will watch for as long as it keeps going until one or the other does win that elusive 9th race.

 PS. Whatever time limit is applied to a race, there may be times that it is exceeded. For Race 13 the 40 minutes was too short and 45 minutes would have given a result. But 45 minutes could easily have also been too short, so where does one place a limit? The 40 minute limit was written into the rules and all crews knew that it was there.They are not bitching about it, they are getting on with the job at hand, which is to win "The Cup".

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2014 Calendar of Our Designs

Our 2014 calendar is now at the printers and we will have the first stocks ready for shipping in a couple of weeks. Get your orders in and we will ship as soon as they come in, well in time for you to use as Christmas gifts or to hang on your wall come January 1st. Order here.

We have a nice selection of photos again this year. Here are the cover photo and a few months as samples of what it contains.
Cover of our 2014 Calendar
January
May
July
September
Thank you to all who have allowed us to use your photos. For other builders who are not featured, we have already started to collect photos for our 2015 calender. This is a good opportunity to show off what you have achieved, so please send them to me by email.

We have changed suppliers this year, in the interests of keeping the price reasonable. The supplier that we used in the past has hiked their prices way up and would have necessitated a considerable increase. With the new supplier we can hold the price at the same level as the past two years.

To see our range of boat designs, please go to http://dixdesign.com/ .

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Plywood Dix 43 Launched

Back in the late 1990's Roy McBride of Hout Bay, South Africa, asked me if he could build my steel Dix 43 design in plywood. He had been very impressed by my radius chine plywood method that I developed to build my Didi 38 "Black Cat". He built his boat from the steel plan set assisted by some new drawings detailing important aspects that I supplied. The resulting boat was "Flying Cloud", which resides at Hout Bay Yacht Club.
Roy McBride's "Flying Cloud", built to a very nice standard.
I have never added the Dix 43 to our plywood design list because it is not a fully detailed plywood design. But it does make a really nice boat in that material when a builder wants to build from plywood. Another of these boats has been launched in South Africa, this one built by Gert Bruwer of Saldanha Bay on the West Coast. He has built the aft cockpit version, whereas "Flying Cloud" has a customised deck that is a mixture of our centre cockpit and pilothouse versions.
Gert Bruwer's Dix 43 "Scylla".
Gert has been a very loyal customer. He has previously built a steel boat to this same design as well as a steel Dix 38 and a plywood Didi 34 . He preferred the radius chine plywood building method, so selected it for this latest boat.

"Scylla" on hull-turning day. Much of the interior is already in.
Galley of "Scylla", traditional finish of white with hardwood trim.
"Scylla" is sailing well but I don't yet have sailing photos of her.

To see our full range of designs, go to http://dixdesign.com/.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hitting the Nail on the Head with CC19

We all know what it means to "hit the nail on the head". Taken literally, it is so satisfying to hit a nail so square and hard that it drives a long way into the timber. Just a few such blows and it is home, securing whatever its destiny in life was to hold in its given place. Taken figuratively it means that we have expressed an idea very clearly and in a way that resonates with others.

In just the same way, it is possible to design something that is just perfect, that we would not like to do any differently if we were to start again from the beginning, even if armed with the experience that came from the use of that product. A designer can and should get tremendous satisfaction from his/her involvement in the process whenever that nail is so squarely struck on the head. I have been lucky enough to find that nail a few times.

The Cape Cutter 19 is just such a design. I really would not change anything at all about that little boat. I have not sailed them enough and hope that I will get many more opportunities to sail them. The sailing that I have done has always impressed me with the extraordinary speed, handling and ability of this little boat.
Two Cape Cutter 19s drying out in UK.
 It is not a racing boat, so don't expect it to plane downwind like a sportboat. It is a little cruiser that can sometimes make you feel like you can take on the sportboats. Take it out in light conditions and it will sail past virtually any other cruiser or cruiser/racer of similar size, as well as taking out many much larger boats that should be a whole lot faster. It is oh so satisfying to sail past a boat that looks much faster but isn't.

It is not only a light-weather boat though. Remember, I grew up sailing the waters of the Cape of Good Hope and spent most of my life sailing there. Most circumnavigators tackle the Southern tip of Africa with great trepidation because of the often violent wind and sea conditions. For those who live there, those are the conditions that are given, so they have to be dealt with. I designed the Cape Cutter 19 to sail those waters safely, with due diligence by the skipper, of course.

There is a really nice independent review of the CC19 and it's bigger sisters on the SA Yacht Blog . It includes observations by the author of boats to these designs that he has seen in action around the Cape of Good Hope and how they have managed in those conditions.

These boats are loved by their owners and they are very sad to part with them. One such owner is Russell Eden in UK, who sold his CC19 this past weekend. I received these messages from Russell, repeated with his permission.

"I sold my Cape Cutter 19 today after three years of ownership.

She was number 47, built in SA. I wanted to personally thank you for creating such a beautiful craft. Each and every day I sailed her I had people approach me to talk. People would sail/motor over to take photos and video. People offered me money for her, there, on the spot.

I've only sold her because my wife says she will come sailing with me more often if we had a boat with full standing room and a heads. I would have kept her forever otherwise.

I'm sitting here now wondering what I've done; I've let go perhaps the most wonderful piece of property I've ever owned. No doubt I'll get over it in time, but I doubt I'll ever own anything quite so easy on the eye, or so wonderful on the water.

Thank you for designing her."


Russell followed up with:-

"I really meant it too. You designed something which grown men cry after.

 That said, it was only ever the white ones I lusted after. I think you need to be able to see the lapstrake, which you can't always do on the darker hulls."


Russell Eden sailing his CC19 "Zephyr".
Thank you Russell, for your kind words. I get great satisfaction from them.

The Cape Cutter 19 is a GRP production boat built in UK by Honnor Marine . It can also be built from plywood from plans that we supply at http://dixdesign.com/ . There you can see our wide range of other designs as well.