Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival Cancelled

This weekend was to be the 33rd running of the very successful and popular Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St Michaels, Maryland. That was until yesterday, when the weather man decided to stick his oar into the mix. He has sent Tropical Storm Joaquin in our direction and the forecasts are for it to increase to a Cat 3 hurricane at times, passing rather close to us here in Hampton Roads as well as the the Festival location 200 miles north, with intense winds and possibly a foot of water falling from the sky.

If you planned to join us there, stay home, dry and safe. This is the first time that this event has ever been cancelled. I was to be the dinner speaker and would still like to do this event, so lets plan to be there same time, same place, next year.

Seeing as you will likely be trapped inside like us while the weather demons do their thing in the sky, why not spend the time cruising the designs on our websites, at or

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival and Maritime Model Expo

The Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival takes place every year at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St Michaels, Maryland. It happens next weekend Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October. This is the 33rd running of the very popular event and this year it has been joined by the Maritime Model Expo.

Hundreds of amateur and professional boatbuilders bring their boats to this event, to participate in on-the-water events and to show their boats. This festival has a full program of boatbuilding demonstrations and other educational opportunities, in addition to the many permanent and temporary displays of the Museum. The model displays and exhibitions will take place on and around the model pond. There are also opportunities for scenic boat rides all weekend and a race to watch on Saturday afternoon, as well as live music and plenty of food to keep you going.

The floating fleet of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. CBMM photo
I will be there for the weekend, with my Paper Jet skiff. When not on the water sailing, my boat will be somewhere on the waterfront and I will be somewhere nearby. If you want to chat about our designs or my books, ask questions about boatbuilding, sailing or ocean-crossings, or just to talk boats, come looking for me, I won't be far away.

I will also be at the Festival Dinner on Saturday evening and will be the speaker for the evening. My subject will be my boat designs, concentrating mostly on those under 20ft long. This will include the open boat circumnavigation of Anthony Steward on one of my 19ft designs.

Anthony Steward leaving Cape Town at the start of his circumnavigation.
If you are looking for something to do next weekend and are within driving distance of St Michaels MD, come to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for a memorable boating experience. I look forward to meeting you there.

To see our boat designs, small or large, go to or

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review of South Atlantic Capsize Book

The first review of my book "South Atlantic Capsize - Lessons Taught by a Big Ocean Wave", has appeared. This review was written by Richard Crockett, editor of Sailing for Southern Africa magazine. I will leave the review to speak for itself.

Front cover of the book.
More Really Good Books
One of the perks of my job is that I do get to read some really good books. Two I have recently read got into that ‘must read’ category.

The first is entitled ‘South Atlantic Capsize’ – Lessons Taught by a Big Ocean Wave.
It is written by Dudley Dix and tells the story of ‘Black Cat’, the crew, the 2014 Cape to Rio Race and the storm that struck the fleet in the opening days of that race. It’s a personal account of what happened on the boat when it was capsized, what damage was done, what the men onboard did to safeguard vessel and crew, what they did to get themselves back to port – as well as what else was going on around them.

It’s rivetting reading as it is not just well written, but written by a man with a serious understanding of the sea, yacht design, yacht construction – and ultimately what happened to them out there.

I like the fact that it gives some history of the Cape to Rio Race, a pretty detailed account of the boat’s design and construction and his careful selection of crew. To many crew selection is simply a case of asking mates, but for Dix it’s far more than that.

So, for anyone contemplating competing in the 2017 Cape to Rio race, this book should be read, not for the scarey stuff, but for the practical preparation tips, and advice on handling bad weather. For those simply making passages at sea, there is lots to learn too.

Thank you Richard Crockett for the review.

To buy the book or to view our boat designs, go to

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wooden Boat Festival, Port Townsend

I will be at the Wooden Boat Festival at Port Townsend, in Washington State, next weekend. This is the 39th edition of this annual Festival, which is claimed to be the biggest of the type in the world. With hundreds of boats on view on land and in the water, many suppliers exhibiting their wares, boatbuilding demonstrations, a very full schedule of seminars and live shows in the evenings, there is plenty to keep lovers of boats and the water occupied for a day or more. Add in the wide array of food and beverages served by vendors at the Festival and nearby restaurants and you have the ingredients for a wonderful weekend to help wind down the summer.
Didi Cruise-Mini "Seque" on the 2014 Wooden Boat Festival.

The Festival runs from Friday 11th through to Sunday 13th September. I will be participating in one shared seminar session and be hosting two of my own. For those who would like to catch one or more of them, here are the times and locations.

1) Yacht Designer Panel Q&A. Moderated by Jay Benford, we designers will give our opinions in response to whatever boat-related questions you throw at us. This type of seminar shows that we don't always agree on the best way to do something. Just as well, or all boats would look alike. Friday 11th 2:45 to 4:30 in Maritime East "Cascade" room.

2) Plywood Boat Construction. In this PowerPoint-illustrated seminar, I discuss the various plywood boat construction methods for which I design and have designed in the past, showing the details used and covering the advantages or disadvantages of the type. Saturday 12th 2:30 to 3:30pm in the Explorer Room.

3) Plywood Kits for Larger Boats. Most people think of kit boats as applicable to dinghies and other small open boats, not for much bigger ocean cruisers and racers. In this PowerPoint-illustrated seminar I show a wide range of plywood kit boat options, from trailer-sailers to cruiser/racers, traditional to modern craft and both mono- and multihulls. Sunday 13th 1:15 to 2:15pm in Maritime West "Olympic" room.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest or will be visiting next weekend, spend some quality time with boats and boating people at the Wooden Boat Festival

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