Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wooden Boat Festival 2015

The 2015 edition of the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, happens 11-13 September. Organised by the Northwest Maritime Center, it is their premier event of the year, attracting hundreds of wooden boats of all description, a wide array of exhibits and with 120 speaker sessions on boating subjects.
Some of the boats at the 2014 Festival, Didi Cruise-Mini in right foreground.

I will be taking part in three sessions, one on each day of the Festival.

Friday 11th - 2:45pm - Yacht Designers Panel Q&A - six designers to field your questions about boats and designing them. A session like this highlights the variety of opinions held by different designers on boating issues.

Saturday 12th - 2:30pm - Plywood Boatbuilding Methods - PowerPoint presentation showing information and details of the methods for which I design, illustrated with drawings and photos of my own projects and those of amateurs who have built these designs.

Sunday 13th - 1:15pm - Plywood Kits for Larger Boats - PowerPoint presentation about constructing kit boats that are larger than open dinghies and kayaks. This will cover boats from a 21ft lapstrake plywood trailer-sailer through to a 55ft radius chine plywood cruising catamaran.
Paper Jet "Water Rocket" at the 2014 Festival

The Didi Cruise-Mini "Segue" of David Blessing will be there among the on-the-water boats but I don't know yet what other of my boats will be there.

When not involved with other things, I am happy to meet with builders or anyone interested in my designs. If you can't find me then visit the Didi Cruise-Mini. Whoever is in attandance at the boat should know where I am and how to contact me.

If you are in the Pacific Northwest, or able to get there, this is an event worthwhile visiting.

To see our designs, visit our main website or our mobile website.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Update on DS15 "Bateleur"

Jim Foot launched his Didi Sport 15 (DS15) a few months ago. After initial photos and reports Jim went quiet. I suspect that he busied himself with regular sailing to learn the characteristics of his new boat, to understand how she likes to be handled in a range of conditions.

Today Jim has sent another report, detailing his sailing this past weekend. He sailed on Algoa Bay, off Port Elizabeth, sailing in sportboat mode with the lead bulb on the keel. Starting with light breezes, it rapidly changed to 35-40 knots, as happens pretty regularly in this part of the world. Unperturbed by the gale force conditions, Jim and his crew Thomas Ochabski put in a reef, left the big asymmetrical stowed in its bag and carried on sailing. Jim says that there was a keelboat in attendance in case of mishap, which gave him the bravado to carry on sailing.
DS15 "Bateleur" about to get wet for the first time.
 Here are extracts from Jim's own words about his experience with "Bateleur" in these conditions.

Beat back to harbour (from about 2 nm offshore) and then had a blast reaching around for about an hour or more.   Great fun.   Naah, understatement, awesome, awesome fun!

For the first time really felt that things were a step up on the speed stakes.   When I was building the boat I imagined a mini Volvo 60 with associated responsiveness and upwind speed. And this is what I felt the boat was achieving.

He promises some GoPro video by the end of the week.

And what about light wind speed? More words from Jim.

The other thing, the boat is incredibly fast in very light winds with weight forward. Everyone who has sailed her in light conditions (<6 kts) has remarked about this characteristic.  Thanks Dudley for a great design.

To see more of this and our other designs, visit our main website or  mobile website

"Black Cat" Launch Video

In November 1997 we launched our Didi 38 "Black Cat" after 2 years of building, only 2000 hours for an amateur-built ocean-crossing sailboat. That boat launched a whole series of designs and new developments in plywood boat construction.

That was 20 years ago. I had video of the occasion that was recorded off the TV with a VCR. It was bad quality and it was recorded on the PAL system used in South Africa. Attempts to convert to the NTSC format used in USA were pretty disastrous, resulting in unusable files.

Today I have received a good copy of the video, in a usable format. Watching the video now reminds me just how long ago this all happened. I didn't even have much grey hair then, now it is totally silver.
This video shows the shape of "Black Cat" very clearly. So many people came to me at that time and would not believe that this beautifully rounded shape was a plywood boat. Nobody had seen a rounded plywood hull before and they would only believe that it was not fibreglass after going inside to look at the structure.

Now my radius chine plywood designs are well-known and have been built in many countries. "Black Cat" is no longer unique but she remains the leader of an exciting time for plywood boatbuilding.

To see more of our boat designs, visit or

Friday, July 3, 2015

Inlet Runner at the Wooden Boat Show

This time last week we were in Connecticut,  participating in the 24th annual Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport. We drove there with two boats in tow, the Paper Jet prototype that we have exhibited the past few years, and the prototype of our new Inlet Runner 16 garvey powerboat design. Sorry, no hyperlink for that one yet, I am still working on the design package.
Paper Jet and Inlet Runner 16 nested for long-distance travels.
The Inlet Runner was built by Kevin Agee and exhibited by him in the "I Built it Myself" section of the show. As a first-time amateur boatbuilder with little woodworking experience, he made such a great job of his project that he took 2nd place in the amateur-built powerboat division, winning the Honourable Mention Award. Congratulations to Kevin for a job well done. I helped out at the end of the project with a bit of sanding but Kevin did everything else himself.
Inlet Runner in the "I Built it Myself" section of the Wooden Boat Show.
The Inlet Runner has my interpretation of a classic garvey hull.
 The Inlet Runner received a lot of interest and we have a few builders waiting for completion of the plans. Also a few requests for both bigger and smaller versions of the same concept. Watch for those on this blog in the next year or two but they must wait in line behind other projects that are currently in progress.

This boat has side seats aft and foredeck with lockers under for stowage, icebox, bait well etc. It also has a self-draining wet deck that can be left clear for fishing space or fitted with a swivel seat for flat-water fishing. We will also offer a Jonboat format with transverse seats and a centre console format on the wet deck.
Deck layout of Inlet Runner, set up for flat water fishing.
Overall, a successful show for us. Thank you Wooden Boat Publications, for organising this show for the benefit of lovers of wooden boats of all types. I look forward to being there again in 2016.

To see our full range of designs, please visit or, for the mobile viewers,