Monday, February 29, 2016

Update on Kidz at Sea Didi 26

Garth Steyn has been hard at work preparing the Didi 26 "Purple Heart" of the Kidz at Sea program in St Maarten, ironing out any wrinkles and doing sea trials, all to ensure that she is ready for the start of Heineken Regatta on Thursday. She will be crewed by the students who built her and who have received sail-training from the St Maarten Sailing School. The program is supported by a wide range of local businesses and it's success is now attracting international attention as well.

Here are a few photos taken during the testing session this afternoon by Garth Steyn and his adult crew, showing a nicely finished example of the work of young amateur boatbuilders.
Nice sailing conditions in the Caribbean.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Kidz at Sea on a Didi 26

The Kidz at Sea program in St Maarten was established to bring under-privileged children together to improve themselves and their chances in life. It does so by means of boatbuilding and sailing programs, that teach skills, teamwork and working toward common goals. The program, started and run by South African Garth Steyn, is producing great results and attracting considerable attention both locally and abroad.

Garth selected the Didi 26 for their first project, with the goal that the students would build the boat themselves, under supervision from adults, then race it in local sailing events. That first boat is now complete and was launched this week. They plan to sail in the Heineken Regatta, happening 3rd to 6th March, end of next week. Here are some photos from the build through to launch and first sail. They started with a plywood kit that we supplied from USA, CNC cut from Joubert okoume plywood.
Building stocks, ready for construction to start.
Hull structure completed, deck and interior soon to start.
Teamwork - muscle power in the absence of a crane to lift the boat.
Pouring the lead ballast bulb in a concrete mould.
Garth Steyn and the Kidz at Sea building team.
About to get wet.
First sail. Garth reported "balanced, plenty of power".
Happy crew sailing the boat that they built themselves.
We wish the Kidz at Sea the best of sailing in their first regatta, next week. Lots to do to prepare boat and crew before the racing starts.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Flying Cloud", A Plywood Dix 43

Roy McBride is a professional boatbuilder who came to me in 1998 for a design. He had watched my project when building the Didi 38 "Black Cat" and was there to help on hull-turning day. He liked the radius chine plywood building method but the design that he wanted to build was a more cruising-oriented boat that I had designed for steel, the Dix 43. Roy commissioned some important drawings, like construction sections, keel and rudder, and worked from my Didi 38 drawings to show him the rest of the construction detailing. He designed a deck that was a mixture of our centre cockpit and pilothouse decks and he designed his own layout. Roy built "Flying Cloud" in two years, mostly by himself, launching her 16 years ago.

The time has come to move on and Roy sold "Flying Cloud" this month. The photos that Roy has sent me the past few weeks show how good his boat is after 16 years.

"Flying Cloud" on her marina in Hout Bay.
A pretty and efficient hull that belies her plywood construction.
Taken last week, this photo shows her modern round bilge plywood hull.
Beautifully detailed and crafted interior. This is in the pilothouse.
"Flying Cloud" under sail.
Clean, dry and accessible bilges.
Roy and his wife, Jean, are sad to part with "Flying Cloud" but life must go on. The new owner is getting a nice cruising boat that was well-maintained from launch through to the present.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Didi 40cr in the Rocky Mountains

Bill Connor and his family have been causing quite a stir in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado, snow-skiing mecca in the Rocky Mountains. The neighbours have also been rallying around their project, a 40ft cruiser/racer sailboat to our Didi 40cr design. Few people expect to see a mast like his sticking up from among the houses and trees so far from the ocean. Now they are getting close to launch date and are making plans to move their new boat, "Alizée", to her ocean environment. She will be trucked the 2000 miles to Mystic in Connecticut, where she will be launched and do her sea trials, before being exhibited at the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport the last weekend of June.
"Alizée" on her trailer, being readied for her long road trip.
I have only seen her in photos and those show that "Alizée" has been built to a very nice standard. Her finishes are high quality and they have been very tastefully done. Despite the distance of their home and building site from the ocean, the Connor family are not strangers to sailing and the oceans, they are experienced boat owners and offshore sailors in their previous boats. This time Bill wanted to create his own custom performance boat rather than buying a stock production boat.

This pic shows the very high standard of finish, not your average amateur project.
Looking forward from the galley. Simply gorgeous. Easy handholds for rough water.
Nicely appointed sea-going galley, snug, practical and everything accessible.
This was the start, with son Spencer helping to fit the keel.
This is the bigger sister to "Black Cat" but finished to a much higher standard than the basic lightweight racing finish that I used when building her. Bill has shown just how beautifully a boat like this can be finished. Come and see her at Mystic Seaport, at the Wooden Boat Show 24-26 June. We will be there as well, so you can speak to us about this and other designs at our booth in the main tent.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Wide Stern Version of Didi 40cr

David Edmiston in Australia wanted to build our Didi 40cr design but he wanted some changes. He wanted a competitive racer that he could build himself using basic materials and amateur methods. Our radius chine plywood design fitted his needs well but he needed some modifications. These included a broader aft deck with T-shape cockpit. This change, with the underbody unchanged, increases flare in the topsides aft.
David's hull with the flats skinned and the radius in progress.
David is progressing well with his build and turned the hull today, with the help of friends. He constructed a strong purpose-designed framed canopy over the boat to give shelter while building and he used this to lift the hull and support it while turning, with the slings shackled to the tops of the posts.

The hull is supported by the yellow slings and is being turned with a chain block.
David has built much of the interior as part of the hull construction. I built most of the interior of the Didi 38 prototype "Black Cat" upside-down before skinning the hull. It is an interesting process, needing some different thought processes to make sure that everything turns out as intended. It has advantages in that shelves etc. can be cut a little oversize and allowed to project slightly through to the outside of the hull, then trimmed off with a plane for a perfect fit before fitting the skin.
This photo isn't inverted, this shows the saloon and nav station, built upside-down.
David's hull-turning went well, finished by celebrating with a bottle of bubbly.
She's over, showing off her broader stern and T-shape cockpit.
The saloon right-way-up, with a tarpaulin for protection until the deck is skinned.
David inside his newly-turned hull, ready to go to work on the deck.
David is documenting his build on his own blog, at, where you can follow his progress through to launch.

To see more of our designs, go to our desktop website or our mobile website.