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 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
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 .

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

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 . There you can see our wide range of other designs as well.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shaped by Wind & Wave eBook

Yesterday I reworked the digital version of my book "Shaped by Wind & Wave". When I first released it last year it was in ePub format, readable on Nook, Kindle and the host of other Ereaders now competing for the contents of your wallet. The security features sometimes gave problems and eventually the publishing company that I use autocratically dropped the format. They removed my book and the thousands of others in their system from circulation and told us to rework the files as needed then re-issue our books without the security features.

As an interim measure we continued to sell the digital version in the form of html files, to be read on a web browser. Now I have taken the time that was needed to convert my book to the new ePub format and it is ready for purchase in the publications section of our website.

In this format you will be able to read it:-

1) On an Ereader such as Nook, Kindle or similar.

2) On a Computer by downloading the free Adobe Digital Editions .

3) On a smart phone using one of the many available Ereader Apps.

We don't sell this by automatic download because we don't use an automatic credit card processing system, for reasons of security. We process payments manually through our bookkeeping software to safeguard your sensitive information and to give us better control over the process. When the payment has been authorised we will send the ePub file to you by email.

As before, we continue to sell the paperback version of the book, which can also be ordered from the publications section of our website.

Thank you for your support in the past. Keep watching this blog and our website for new designs and other developments. We have some interesting things coming up in the near future.

Dudley Dix