Friday, December 31, 2010

More Lake Baikal

In my previous post I highlighted Lake Baikal in Siberia as an example of how our boats are being built in parts of the world about which most people have never heard. Following on that post, I have received photographs of two more of our Lake Baikal boats, both built by Stanislav Pechenkin.

This is a Didi 38, for which he bought plans in 2002.

This is a Didi Mount Gay 30, for which he bought plans in 2003.

It looks like Stanislav made a beautiful job of these two building projects. It is always pleasing for a designer to see a builder produce good quality.

If you have built one of our boats in a remote place, please send me some photos. You may see your boat in a future post on this blog.

We wish everyone a great New Year celebration and a wonderful 2011.


See our designs on our website.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

We've turned 80

About 9 years ago we turned 50 and had a big party. Now we have turned 80. How did we age so fast, another 30 in less than 10 years?

The answer is that we have now sold our boat designs to customers in 80 countries. That is the power of the internet. It allows us to reach, communicate with and support people in almost any country in the world. We are able to support a builder in a small country on the other side of the world just as easily as a builder around the corner from us.

As long as we are able to communicate by email, the builder can send me questions and I can respond in a reasonably short time. That is easy enough if the builder is fairly comfortable with English but it has sometimes presented challenges when neither of us understands the language of the other. On-line translation services have helped tremendously, allowing me to translate the questions into English, write the answer then translate back into the builder's language before sending the email. The translation sometimes needs a bit of interpretation because of the translation program using general terms rather than boating terms but the message does get through.

When I was a kid, my parents used to talk of Outer Mongolia as a really out-of-the-way place, even more unreachable than Timbuktu. They were right, of course, but the world has changed. Now we have 11 boats, from 15 to 43ft, being built or already in the water, in a city named Irkutsk. This city is on the shores of Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world. It is more than 1 mile deep in places, holds 20% of all of the fresh water in the world (as much water as all of the Great Lakes together) and it would take the Amazon River 5 years to fill it. Irkutsk is in the middle of Siberia, Russia, to the North of Mongolia. I find it amazing that we have so many customers in a remote place like that. Their water is frozen almost half the year, so they have a short sailing season. That doesn't stop them from wanting to build boats. Read more about the amazing Lake Baikal.

The boat above is a Didi 26 being built in Irkutsk by Ivan Vasilyev. A bigger sister, the Didi 38, is being built by Stanislav Pechenkin.

We have other boats being built in many other places that are seldom, if ever, heard of. You can see the countries where we have sold plans on our countries page.

It is growing cold here but not as cold as Siberia, I am sure. We have snow flurries in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow will be the day for adding Christmas lights to the outside of the house. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.


Visit our website.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amateur Boatbuilders

We have developed a strong following among amateur boatbuilders over many years. This did not happen by accident because my own roots are deeply bedded in amateur projects of my own. I built my first boat in 1974, a 4.5m (14' 9") tortured plywood single-handed trapeze catamaran that I raced for a few years. This was also the first design that I drew, as an inexperienced amateur.

That was followed in 1975 by the 11m (36ft) "Tai-Neam" to a van de Stadt design, the 10m (34ft) "Concept Won" to our award winning CW975 design and the 11.5m (38ft) "Black Cat" to our Didi 38 design, prototype for our very successful radius chine plywood building method. There were also a few dinghies and canoes, the last being the prototype of the Paper Jet trapeze skiff design.

But this post is not about my own projects, it is about other amateurs building our boats. They number in the thousands. Most go about building their boats at their own pace, then launch and sail them without ever contacting us again.

The boat above is an Hout Bay 30, built in Germany by Christiane and Jorg Langanky. They built their boat, sent me photos and have now sailed away to cruise the world.

There are also many builders who like to show  their projects, to proudly display what they have achieved. I am thankful to those builders for sending us the info, either photos or links to websites or blogs about their projects.

We have a large section of our website dedicated to amateur projects of all sizes, with photos of boats being built and completed projects. Some of them have links to websites where the owners have taken the trouble to document every step of the build with photos, posting them for others to follow.

Time pressure has prevented me from adding to that section for awhile but technology came to my rescue. Now many builders choose blogs to show their projects. When they send us the link we list them on our Amateur Builders Web Links.

If you are considering building a boat yourself and are concerned about your ability to take on such a build, take a look at the projects. The links are sorted by design to make it easier to find what you want. Most of these pages are in the language of the builder but some browsers can be set to automatically translate them into your own language.

Here are some examples from our list.
Quinn Farnes building his Paper Jet in California.
Sergey Bogdanov building his Argie 15 in Russia.
Roland Zellweger building his Didi 26 on a beach in the Philippines.
Jarl Steffanson building his Hout Bay 33 in Iceland.
Marco Gheri and Alessio Bianchi building their Vickers 45AC in Italy
If you are already building one of our boats and you have a blog for the project, please send me the link so that I can add it to the list.

Have a great holiday season.

Dudley Dix

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Italian Job

Today was the launch day for the new Dix 38 Pilot, “Imagine”. She is owned by Giulio and Lidia Mazzolini of Milan but will be berthed here in Trieste, near to the holiday home of the owners.

“Imagine” was beautifully built by the expert Italian craftsmen of Cantiere Alto Andriatico S.r.l. This is a yard that is expert in building and restoring wooden boats to a very high standard. I was privileged to be able to see a number of boats that they have built or restored, some of which were on an exhibition that I was able to visit in Trieste.
“Imagine” is aluminium, so somewhat out of the main area of expertise of Caintiere Alto Andriatico but they seem to have adapted their skills to finish her in gorgeous style. They received an unfinished hull, after the original builders went into liquidation and have taken her through to completion.

The rig must still be fitted to “Imagine” and a few other things sorted out, as is always the case with a new boat. It will be a few weeks before she comes to life under sail.

I congratulate the owners and the builders on the new baby. She makes me proud.

Dudley Dix

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Italy visit

On Tuesday 2nd November I fly out to Italy, for a two week visit. I will be the guest of the owner of a new aluminium Dix 38 Pilot that will be launched in Trieste on 6th November. She is being built by professional builders in Italy. Here are photos of her when the structure was completed.

I will also visit the builders of a Vickers 45AC in Florence and spend time doing touristy things like soaking up whatever I can of the ancient world, not available to us in the New World. The young guys think that I am old enough to be part of the Ancient World anyway but there is no doubt that I can benefit from being immersed in culture for a couple of weeks.

My wife, Dehlia, will keep the office running as usual. She does all the important things around here anyway, while I draw pictures of boats. I am indebted to her for putting up with me all these years and helping to make boats so much a part of my life.

I will be back at home 16th November.


Friday, August 27, 2010

CNC kits for Didi 28

A few posts back I announced the latest addition to our radius chine plywood Didi range, the Didi 28. This design was commissioned by an amateur builder in Greece who wanted a maxi trailer-sailer, along the lines of the Didi 26 but with more space and comfort.

Panel files are now complete for the bulkheads and all of the skin panels for hull, deck, cabin and cockpit. They can be cut by any of our normal plywood kit providers, who are listed on our kits page. The panel files will be supplied to whichever of those suppliers you choose to cut it for you. There are contact links to all suppliers on that page.

See our full range of designs.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cape Henry 21

I was surprised a few weeks ago to hear that a photo of a Cape Henry 21 is on the front cover of the June issue of Sailing magazine. It was another week before I had a copy in my hands to see for myself . It really is a beautiful Billy Black photo of "Mehala" in drifting conditions on Long Island Sound. It was taken while we were waiting for some breeze to do a sail test for Wooden Boat magazine in June 2009.

I contacted the staff of Sailing to thank them and have also sent them all that is needed for a design review. Watch for that in an upcoming issue.

"Mehala" was owner-built by South African Mike Smith, who lives in Darien, Connecticut. He berths her at Norwalk Yacht Club on Long Island Sound, where he is a past commodore.

Mike did a very nice job of building "Mehala". She is very pretty and sails well (not that I was able to experience her sailing ability, the breeze never did excede about 2 knots).

I was on "Mehala" with Dan Segal, who was commissioned by Wooden Boat to author their sail test. He gave her an excellent review, which covers 6 full pages of the July/August issue of Wooden Boat, currently on the shelves. My thanks go to Dan Segal and the staff at Wooden Boat for such a wonderful review and to Mike Smith for allowing us the use of "Mehala".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The tale of "Vlakvark", a very cold warthog

"Vlakvark" is a steel Vickers 45AC . She is named for an African warthog but she has spent much of her time in the past two years in the Antarctic. Owned by Stuart Sugden and Charmaine Lingard, this beautiful photo of her appeared last week as Cruising Shot of the Week in Cruising Compass, The Weekly Newsletter for Sailors & Cruisers.

"Vlakvark" was originally named "Tantalus". She was built by Brian Alcock and his team at Hout Bay Yachts, for John and Rose Stockwell. They cruised her across the Atlantic and chartered her for a few years in the Caribbean.

Her next owner renamed her "Sweetwater". She was based on the East Coast and cruised the Caribbean.

That owner sold her to Stuart and Charmaine, from British Columbia, who renamed her "Vlakvark". They wanted a connection to her South African origins, so chose the Afrikaans name for the warthog. They then took their warthog out of its normal hot climate and headed through the worst cruising waters in the world, to the ice. They have done this not once but twice. It seems that she has enjoyed the change and has carried her crew in comfort and safety. Now she is en-route North through the Pacific, heading for her home base in BC, Canada.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Shearwater 45

The Shearwater 45 came into being via a rather strange route. The Shearwater 39 had proven to be a popular cruiser and soon built a reputation as a seaworthy voyager that caught attention wherever it went. There were people who wanted a bigger sister but nobody would commit by commissioning the new design nor coming up with money to finance the cost of building a plug and moulds.

Eventually my friend Pat Fraser, who had been a professional boatbuilder, came to me with the same thoughts but with an idea to make the whole process more viable with a limited budget. He suggested that we take bow and stern mouldings from the moulds of the Shearwater 39 and set them up further apart, then fill in the rest of a 45ft boat between them. Crazy as it sounds, it was a practical idea, so we ran with it.

I drew lines for a 45ft hull and blended the ends into as much of the 39 as I could use. The result was in many ways a stretched out 39, with only small increases in beam and underbody depth and no change in freeboard. Aside from trimming off the skeg and changing from a transom-hung rudder to an inboard spade rudder, the rest of the hull and deck concept was to stay the same. From a relatively beamy 39 footer, we produced a relatively slim 45.

By that time Nebe Boats, builder of the Shearwater 39, no longer existed. Pat Fraser contracted Fortuna Boatbuilders to build the hull for him. They set up the two pieces of the Shearwater 39 on a frame, I gave them the shapes of the intermediate frames needed, then they built the remainder of the hull with Airex cored sandwich.

Pat had a partner in this project, his colleague at Manex & Power Marine, Dennis Colclough. Moulds were taken off Pat's hull and Dennis' boat was the first one from the moulds. These first two boats were to be staysail schooners but I anticipated that most others would be cutters and made allowance for it in the design.

These first two boats were fitted out by Pat Fraser and his team in Woodstock, Cape Town. Fortuna Boatbuilders now had moulds for building production boats. Richard Acheson entered at that stage and set up Shearwater Yachts to complete the hulls ordered from Fortuna. Later he was to buy the moulds for both the 39 and the 45, taking over all production.

First boats into the water were the schooners. They attracted a lot of attention, with their good looks and heavily raked masts. However, it was the first cutter to be launched that really attracted attention. Built by Shearwater Yachts, it was a high quality boat, beautifully detailed and it sailed past almost everything on Table Bay.

I recall the day that the test sail was done by a journalist from a British yachting magazine. I took a photographer out on my lightweight flyer "Black Cat" and Richard Acheson and the journalist went out double-handed on the 45. I had not yet sailed on the 45 so figured that my 4.75 ton 38 footer would be faster than a 45 footer that displaced nearly three times as much on only 10% more waterline. I set my full mainsail and blade #3 headsail, expecting to have similar speed. Boy, was I wrong.

Most of the sailing was in 8-10 knots and the 45 was slightly faster but the harbour entrance had about 18-20 knots of Westerly. Close-reaching through the harbour entrance "Black Cat" was cooking at 11 knots and I was dumping power from the mainsail to keep her on her feet. The 45 came through my lee, going at least 2 knots faster. They did not even have to drop the traveller to maintain control. They just flew past us looking very relaxed while making us look stupid. That boat has a big sailplan and the stability to just pick up its skirts and go.

Ever since that day nothing has surprised me about the performance of the Sheawater 45. Every sail test that I have seen has remarked on the extraordinary speed and manoevrability, which catches everyone by surprise. Owners have told me how much joy they get out of sailing past boats that look like they should be faster or of surprising hard-nosed racers round the buoys.

Richard took the first boat to the London Boat Show at Earls Court and it also went to the Southampton Boat Show. It received rave reviews but there seemed to be a resistance to buying a boat built in South Africa. The next boat that Shearwater Yachts built went to the Annapolis Sailboat Show, where it received the top awards as Traditional Cruiser of the Year and Overall Boat of the Year. Again it received rave reviews.

Richard received many USA enquiries but they resulted in no sales. He was to find out later from someone highly placed in the USA boating industry that enquiries for the Shearwater 45 were diverted elsewhere. Much as I would like to say more about it, I cannot do so in a visible place such as this. Suffice to say that the marketing effort in USA was killed by vested interest.

The first boats built by Shearwater Yachts were of excellent quality. The one on the Annapolis Show was so good that the judges were unable to fault it in any regard. Their overall comment was "This is an extraordinary boat". Later, when the wheels started to come off due to financial difficulties, problems started to come in. Owners of these boats had issues to resolve but their boats are now also in good shape.

I have contact with owners of some of the boats but I have lost track of most of the hull numbers. Here is the info that I do have.

Daniel Hall has his schooner "Apella", ex "Wave-Maiden", on Cayuga Lake in central New York State.

Terry Usher of Cape Town has the cutter "Sharyn-Leigh", currently in Florida.

Steven Schapera has his cutter "Becca" in Caloforte, Sadinia and reported that "Peperuka" is on the same marina.

Steve Hunt has his cutter "Maggy May" in the Caribbean and really appreciates her performance and sailing characteristics.

Chris Hull of Cape Town and owner of the Shearwater 39 "Sea Lion" commissioned preliminary design work for a Shearwater 52 last year. He has now decided not to proceed but that work could form the basis of a new design at some stage in the future.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Our new Maxi Trailer-Sailer

We have a new design, as of today. It was commissioned by Nick Sverkos, of Athens in Greece. He wanted to build the Didi 26 but asked if he could have more space. He particularly wanted more headroom and beam and was not concerned about his boat being a bit more than normal towing width. He set a maximum beam of 2.9m.

Computers and CAD are wonderful for taking a design and rescaling it to create bigger or smaller clones. In theory they can do all of the work for us and then we print the drawings of the new design. Designing stuff is easy, isn't it?

That is fine if all is scaled up by the same proportions. Open a drawing, tell the program to rescale by the amount you want, adjust here and there for differences in material thicknesses, refit the result to the output paper size then hit print. But!!!!!! Make the proportional adjustment in one of the 3 directions different from the others and  the situation changes completely. Shapes of all sorts of things change in ways that can be awkward. Circles become ellipses, squares go out of square and angles change. To simplify the whole issue I keep the proportional change in width and height the same so that the overall section shape doesn't go out of whack and the structural sections used for stringers etc don't go out of square.

Working with the Didi 26 as the starting point, I blew it up in all directions, more so in width and depth than in length. Next came another 100mm of freeboard, done by extending the hull sides upward without changing the side angle, so the deck became wider and the overall hull shape remained unchanged. After that I added another 100mm of height to the cabintop and adjusted stringer spacing to give a sound structure.

This all ended up as a large amount of redrawing for the structure. After all that the rescaled interior had some oddities, so I reworked that as well to make it work better. Final changes were reducing the cockpit width from the racing type of the 26, adding coamings for comfort and to give cubbyholes for winch handles, ham sandwiches etc, and a saildrive inboard diesel in place of the transom-mounted outboard.

The final result is a boat that will be a nice coastal fast cruiser. It will be light and stable enough for excellent speed, yet still able to get into shallow water. It will also follow the lead of the Didi 26 by being a great club racer. The sail plan is slightly more conservative than that of the Didi 26, yet this boat will still be fast enough for some exciting sailing.

 More info on the Didi 28 is at .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Shearwater Designs - the 39

Today I received an email from Magnus Murphy to tell me that he has started a Shearwater Yacht Owners Group on FaceBook for owners of boats to our Shearwater 39 & 45 designs, as well as anyone else who has an interest in these boats. Magnus and his family own a really nice and rather well-known Shearwater 39 named "Losloper" (Afrikaans for Wanderer), pictured below. She was built in Cape Town by perfectionist craftsman Gary Back as his personal boat, was refitted after being damaged in a hurricane in the Caribbean, then was bought by Bernadette and Douglas Bernan. For a few years they cruised on her as "Ithaka", recording their adventures in Cruising World magazine, where Bernadette had been employed as Editor.

The Shearwater 39 design was commissioned by Gerfried Nebe, of Nebe Boatbuilders, who wanted a seaworthy and fast cruiser with modern underbody and classic good looks. The result was a very pretty and extremely capable offshore yacht that turns heads wherever it goes. Marketed only in the small South African market and mostly during the era of political isolation, it nevertheless gained a good following. I have lost track of many of the boats but here are some bits of info that I hope will not bore you to tears.

Hull #1 was built from wood and was Gerfried Nebe's own boat "Gabriel". The moulds for the GRP boats were taken from her. Gerfried has cruised her extensively in the Atlantic and is now readying her for her next voyage.

Hull #2 was built from aluminium by Jacobs Brothers Boatbuilders in Cape Town, for Lofty Huysamer. Lofty was a perfectionist but his own workmanship did not meet his own high standards. He fitted out the boat himself and kept rejecting his own work and ripping it out. When he left Cape Town his boat was little more than an empty shell, with only a nav station, galley and platform for a berth. She is now named "Skylark II" and is owned by Chris & Desiree Tattles of New Zealand. (Updated March 2012)

Hull #3 was built by John & Jo Fensham. She was launched as "Tamborine" and was sold about 2002. John says that she has left South Africa but he does not know where she is now. (Updated Jan 2012).

Hull # 4 belonged to an Italian family and was named "Kalahari", pictured below. She was lost in a small port in Croatia or thereabouts, when every boat in the harbour was shelled and sunk. Being a war situation, her owners received no insurance payout.

Hull #5 is a gaff-rigged excursion schooner built by Roddy Johnston. She carried passengers in Hout Bay, South Africa, for a seaon or two. He then moved her to the Caribbean, where she has carried thousands of excursion passengers as "Spirit of Anegada". She was owned/operated for a few years by Nick & Lyndsay Voorhoeve, who later commissioned our successful little Cape Cutter 19 design that is now built in UK.

Hull #6 - was fitted out by Brian Bax and launched as "Erica-Joe".

Hull #7 became "Shoestring III", owned by my good friends Petr Muzik & May Lyon. Petr has circum-navigated on her, completing his voyage in December 2007 at the age of 69. She is now based in Port Owen on the SA West Coast. Here is "Shoestring III" on her launch day.

Hull #8 was owned and fitted out by Richard Acheson, who later started Shearwater Yachts to build the Shearwater 45. His 39 was named "Askari". He sold her ro Richard Brown, of Portland, Oregon. (Update March 2012).

Hull #9 was built by John & Hilary Price and named "Talitha Koum". She now belongs to Gordon Joyce and is based in the Persian Gulf, named "Talitha". (Updated March 2012)

Hull #10 is named "Pinta". She has a custom traditional two-box deck and gaff schooner rig and is owned by Robin and Laetitia Ellis. She is based in Port Owen on the West Coast of South Africa.

Hull #11 belonged to Thys Henson. On delivery to her new owner, Gordon Joyce, in the Persian Gulf in January 2008, she became entangled in fishing nets at night. Her delivery crew scuttled her in very unfortunate circumstances soon after, so that they could be removed from her by a passing ship. This episode resulted in the delivery skipper losing his RYA certification. She was named "Pamelou". Gordon Joyce bought #9 to replace her.

Hull #12 was bought by Juri Terblanche then sold to Ken Nicoll before Juri had progressed much with the fitout. John Fensham (owner of #3) fitted her out for Ken. The Nicoll family sailed her for a few years before a declining economy forced them to sell. Her next owner was Willie Vanderverre, who once told me that she was the most seaworthy boat he had ever owned, which included much bigger boats. Her next owner was Walter Burgoyne, who sold her to her current owner, Dennis Jud. She has been renamed "Centime" and is cruising the world. (Added March 2012)

Hull #13 was Gary Back's boat "Slithermoon". She was bought by Douglas and Bernadette Bernon and renamed "Ithaka".  She is now magnus Murphy's "Losloper".

Hull #14 was launched as "Helen Mary" by Bill Howard. She is now named "Cathexis".

Hull #15 is "Freyja", originally owned by Koos Steyn and now Michael in Tasmania.

Hull #16 - Still owned by her original owner, Richard walker, and based in Fort Pierce, Florida. Her name is "Luric". (Updated August 2014)

Hull #17 was built by Nebe Boatbuilders for Lewis Gerber and named "Honeychile". She now belongs to champion South African canoist Robbie Herreveld.

Hull #18 - "Enhantica", owned by Chris Ellis and in France as of July 2014.

Hull #19 - Owned by Alan Ward and based in Port Owen on the South African West Coast, she is named "Windward".

Hull #20 - This boat was originally commissioned by a Mr Wessels. By a process of elimination, this seems to be the boat launched by Peter van Andel in Mossel Bay as "Take Five". Her next owner renamed her "Amajuba". She is now owned by Jaques Gregory and is named "Navigator". (Updated August 2014)

Hull #21 is based in Kiel, Germany, owned by Dr Reinhard Wiegers.

Hull #22 - Wooden boat being built by Richard Styles in Australia, status unknown.

Hull #23 belonged to Mark Sweet, who was fitting her out with custom deck and gaff schooner rig for excursion work in Knysna, on the South African South Coast. One cold winter night a group of bergies (vagrants) climbed over the fence to shelter under her from the rain. Their fire got out of control and Mark's boat went up in flames.

Hull #24 was launched a couple of years ago by Rod & Mary Turner-Smith. Named "Sheer Tenacity", they are cruising in distant waters.

Hull #25 is named "Sea Lion" and is owned by Englishman Chris Hull. She is currently in the Caribbean (Updated March 2012)

I have lost track of those that are shown as "Unidentified". Hulls sometimes changed hands during fitting out, so their histories are not easy to follow. I hope to fill in more of the blanks as info comes my way

Another boat that is not on my list is "Ukelele Lady", built for and owned for years by my good friend Nick Taylor. I sailed on her in the 1993 Cape to Rio Race as navigator and sailing master. Although we are still good friends, Nick swears that he will never sail long distance with me again because I am a madman on a boat. In explanation, I should tell you that I like to sail fast and efficiently. Nick likes to cruise and to do so slowly when he cannot see where he is going, such as any time that the sun goes to sleep. This normally happens about 12 hours out of 24, so Nick was very unhappy with my need to sail very fast 50% of the time that we were on the ocean. He named me "Herr Doktor" because he felt that I had been expelled from the Gestapo for cruilty. Like I said, we are still good friends.

A few other 39s are also being built from wood or aluminium in other parts of the world.

The Shearwater is one of my favourite designs. I don't think that there is anything in it that I would change if I were to draw her again. It is one of those most wonderful of boats that sails much faster than it looks like it should. It is bad to design anything that looks fast but isn't, whether a boat, car, airplane or whatever. In contrast, it is great fun to pass anyone who believed their car/boat/airplane/whatever to be faster. The Shearwaters do that with style.

I will leave the Shearwater 45 for another time.

Link to Shearwater 39 web page.

:-) _/) _/) _/) (happy sailing smiley)

Dudley Dix

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wooden Boat Regatta 2011

Wooden Boat Magazine is organising a sailing regatta for wooden boats for next year. Details are still being firmed up but it looks like it will happen in May 2011, with May 20-22 as the provisional dates. The planned venue is Rock Hall Yacht Club on the Eastern side of Chesapeake Bay, across from Annapolis MD.

This will be a good opportunity to show off your wooden boat, whether it is newly constructed, original classic or has been rebuilt. Logistics of hosting a wide range of boats and running races for all types dictate that there have to be limits on type and size of boats that will be eligible. This issue is being discussed on the Wooden Boat Forum, at, where you can watch and participate in the development of this worthwhile event. The maximum size is likely to be set at 30ft length overall, including boswprit but excluding rudder.

I have not visited Rock Hall Yacht Club but it looks like a really nice venue. Sailing waters are good, with excellent facilities and on-site camping space available. The club has much experience running regattas, so they should be able to host a great event.

I plan to take my Paper Jet #1 to the regatta and hope that we will get many other Paper Jet owners to join us as well. The prototype of the Paper Jet's big sister should also be ready to join us by then.

If you don't own a wooden boat but want to, you have ample time to build a plywood sailing dinghy and have it in the water by May 2011. There are many plywood sailing designs of all concepts that you can choose from. To see what we have in our design range that may be suitable, go to our budget projects page 
or our stock plan pricelist.

If you already have one of our wooden designs, please try to join us at Rock Hall Yacht Club for this event. Your boat does not have to be an established one-design racing class to participate. As long as your boat fits into the basic parameters of the regatta you will fit into a class under the handicap system that will be applied.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passage to India with the World Wide Web

It is about 27 years since we first signed up with an agent to represent us in a foreign country. We were in South Africa and that agent was Graham Shanon's Coast Yacht Design in Canada. That long ago, all written/sketched correspondence was exchanged by snailmail letter post, even before the advent of faxes to speed up our lives. Letters took 2-3 weeks each way by airmail between South Africa and USA. Builders had to think through problems for themselves or plan well ahead because a question would not receive a reply for 4-6 weeks.

The fax initiated the death of the leisurely pace of our lives forever but it took years for the mindset to change. Urgent issues were dealt with by fax and telephone but all else went the snailmail route as before.

Drawings were all done by hand with pencil or ink on velum or plastic film. The eraser was as much a creative tool as was the pencil. If I got the layout of a drawing wrong I had to erase it and redraw, start again from the beginning or tape a piece of velum to an edge of the drawing to adjust the position of my work on the sheet. Plans were printed by hand, one at a time, by the dyeline ammonia process. They had to be well cared for and builders had to protect them from light or the information disappeared from the paper.

Now, working in CAD, I just grab whatever I want to move with my computer mouse then move it to where I want it on the drawing, or I can change the size of the drawing in an instant. CAD is still just a tool, an electronic version of pencil and eraser, but it brought with it so many conveniences (and as many frustrations). CAD and computers offer countless features to speed up the design process but, when things go wrong electronically, they take back all the time that they have saved us, with interest. When the design is done, we print with permanent ink onto 50m long rolls of paper or Mylar, with one computer spewing prints out of two plotters and another printer simultaneoulsy.

Now we have instantaneous electronic communication in the form of email, Instant Messaging, Skype etc, which were supposed to make life easier and give us more time. Instead they have done the opposite. Sometimes if a question is not answered within 24 hours a reminder arrives in the inbox. Unfortunately, it is easier to send a question by email than to look for information that is already in our hands. We are all guilty of this when we have a problem. It makes life easier for he who has the problem but wastes the time of he who has to tell us where to look for the information that we already have at our fingertips.

Things really have changed. We live in another country and we are in daily contact with our builders worldwide. We have boats sailing or being built in 78 countries, on all continents and in all corners of the world. The Internet has allowed us to reach people whom and where I would never have dreamed possible only 20 years ago. As kids, we understood Mongolia to be an even more out of the way place than Timbuktu. Now, we have boats as large as 43ft being built to the North of Mongolia, in Siberia.

Much of this is also due to the network of wonderful agents that we have managed to develop over the years since Graham Shanon contacted me to ask if he could be my agent. These people provide the personal contact for us with our customers who are not comfortable with long-distance purchases or who do not have access to the Internet. They have proven to be particularly valuable in countries where most people cannot speak my language and I cannot speak theirs.

Today we have spread a bit further, by signing with a new agent who will represent us in India. Sailing and boating are rapidly growing activities in India and it will be good for us to be represented there. Pelican Yachts is owned by Sagar Kudale and Gaurav Shinde. Based in Mumbai, where they are active sailors and also teach sailing, they should be well positioned to sell our designs to builders in India. They have also taken on the rights to cut kits for our plywood designs, which they will be able to sell to amateur and professional builders.

We look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship with Pelican Yachts.

To make contact with Pelican Yachts or any of our other 15 agents, go to our contact page at .  

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chesapeake Power Boat Symposium

This past weekend I was in Annapolis for the Chesapeake Power Boat Symposium. This was the 2nd of what looks like becoming a biennial event. With a good crowd in attendance and ample quality papers delivered, it looks like it has a great future as an occasion to educate oneself about developments in power boat design.

Held on the campus of St John's College in their lecture theatre, I had only one complaint about the proceedings. The number of papers on the schedule meant that each was squeezed into a 30 minute segment, including question time. Time pressure meant that most of the speakers had to rush their presentations somewhat to fit into the allotted time. It seemed to us in the audience that the 1 hour 45 minute lunch breaks could have been shortened considerably so that each speaker might have had another 5 minutes. That said, it is easy to question the decisions of an organising committee such as that needed for the symposium, without knowing the background to those decisions. On the whole they did an excellent job of putting a large number of technical papers in front of us.

The technical program kicked off with a tribute to Dr Daniel Savitsky, on whose research so much of current power boat performance prediction theory is based. It was an honour to see him there with his wife.

The papers covered a broad range of subjects. At one extreme were those that gave very technical results of research in various parts of the world, with complicated formulae that most will have trouble getting their heads around. At the other extreme were papers on more easily grasped subjects illustrated with video footage. These included radio controlled testing on the open sea of large scale models of military warships and the problems of tank-testing models of racing power boats that travel at speeds approaching 200mph.

An interesting paper was delivered by Paul Kamen on the dangers of current personal water craft (PWCs). This was with particular reference to the lack of brakes, in the form of a reversing bucket on the jet, and the fact that closing the throttle to kill thrust also kills steering. Trying to avoid a collision by closing the throttle and turning is generally totally ineffective and results in high-speed impact.

Another very interesting paper illustrated the wave patterns and associated drag of a monohull as it moves through water of various depths. What a surprise it was to hear and see that a hull has less drag in very shallow water than in slightly deeper water. In retrospect, it explained to me why I have noticed that my Paper Jet slips along effortlessly and with virtually no wake in calf-depth water.

Those of us in the audience who work with 3D surface design were delighted to see the presentation by Matt Sederberg on T-Splines. These are recently developed tools for NURBS surfaces that will make it much easier for us to define the often complicated surfaces of hulls and superstructures of boats. To cap it all, they also allow much smaller design files, for faster processing and smaller storage requirements.

All-in-all, the Chesapeake Power Boat Symposium was well worthwhile attending. I look forward the the 3rd one, in 2012.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Didi Mini Mk3

The new design is complete, aside from tying up a few loose ends. It is the Didi Mini Mk3, a very much updated version of the Didi Mini design that we have sold the past 10 years.

Introduced in the Didi Mini Mk3:-
~ Updated hull shape with broader stern and topside chine
~ Extended cabin roof, forming protected cuddy over front of cockpit
~ Easier access between cockpit and interior
~ More power from broader and flatter stern
~ Water ballast of fixed keel version further outboard
~ Bow and stern ballast tanks in canting keel version
~ Tacking daggerboard in canting keel version
~ Redesigned foam flotation, cleaner interior
~ Inboard chainplates for tighter genoa sheeting
~ Larger square-head mainsail

Overall, these changes produce a boat that will be more powerful, faster, more weatherly and more comfortable to sail.

The underbody of this hull was developed from that of the Didi Mini, with the same profile and bottom shape but blended into a topside chine that runs from forward of the mast through to the transom. Combined with a full-beam transom, it adds more power to allow more sail to be carried for greater speed. See more info and graphics on the Didi Mini Mk3 web page.

We will continue to sell the older Didi Mini design for as long as people want it and the kit suppliers will still be able to cut kits for it.

Work has also started on our next design, a cruising oriented Didi 28 design. It will be a bigger sister to the Didi 26, with many of the same features but with considerably more beam, headroom and space. Watch for that to emerge next month.

For our full design range, go to the Dudley Dix Yacht Design website.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Progress is being made

Earlier this month I hinted at the updated version of one of our popular designs that is soon to see the light of day. I said it would be a few weeks and that would make it about now, so I should update.

The work is progressing and most of the important stuff is done. The new hull shape is sorted out and most of the structural changes have been figured. Sail plan and accommodation changes also done. I decided to update a few other aspects of the boat at the same time, so those are on the go. I guess that about another two weeks will have it complete.

Winter weather has been good for doing design work outside of work hours, rather than freezing outside. The past few days have been warmer, relatively speaking. A SE gale blew for a couple of days and brought a 15ft swell up the coast. The storm was attached to a warm front, so today was around 60F (16C). I pulled out my boards and went surfing as soon as the wind went offshore to straighten out the swell. Nice surf of 7-8ft, maybe 10ft in the biggest sets. A SE swell along a North/South beach makes strong currents, so there was much paddling involved and much walking back along the beach occasionally to get back to the start point. With water temp below 40F (4C), even my full wetsuit with gloves, boots and hood did not prevent icecream headaches every time that I had to duck under a wave.

After a good afternoon of surf I am rejuvenated, feel alive and am back at the drawings. I must get this project done because the next one has already been lined up, a new radius chine plywood small cruiser/racer. Watch this space.

See our full range of designs at .


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy, Happy New Year

As always, another year has come and gone, way before I was ready for it to disappear in the spray behind us. Some dear friends and loved family have departed with 2009 and will be sorely missed. They have bolstered my resolve to live every day to the fullest because I don't know when my turn will come.

The year also gave many happy memories, of family visiting from abroad, of my big birthday and its wonderful surprises, of good friendships and family fun, of some really nice surf in the company of good friends, of exciting sailing, of meeting great people who visit us at boat shows to look at our boat and designs, of everything else that makes life worth living to the fullest possible extent. The year also made an impression on my head when my new surfboard and my forehead dinged each other, leaving us both scarred for life.

To all our family, friends, builders and owners who have supported us through 2009 I say thank you for a wonderful year. It was tough on all of us at times, in many ways. Let's all work hard toward making 2010 a better year for all of us, wherever we may be. We have supporters in all corners of the world. Wherever you are, I hope that the next year is good to you.

Here is a little piece of news about one of our designs, or rather a hint at something that will come out soon. I have been trying for about a year to figure how to update one of our most popular designs, to bring it into the next generation. I could not get my mind around a workable way to do it, so it sat stewing in my mind for a long time. I have not had time available to do a completely new design.

As is sometimes the way with these things, thinking about it and labouring at the drawings did not bring a solution. Last week, in relaxed mode between Chritmas and New Year (or was it between a beer and a glass of red wine?) the solution came to me of its own accord. So, I am now in the midst of updating this design, working on the large base of established detail drawings. This allows me to change what needs to be changed, keep what I know to work and not have to draw it all again to suit a different boat.

It also has the benefit that I will be able to develop bigger sisters to the same concept, to fit the needs of many people who have asked me over the past 2 or 3 years to do just that. I resisted all of those potential commissions because I wanted to solve this problem for myself first. The problem is solved and the work has begun.

So, watch this space in a few weeks (hopefully not longer), when I will tell you what design has been going through this transformation.

Let's all attack 2010 with gusto. Enjoy the year, have a ball.


Please visit us at Dudley Dix Yacht Design