Monday, July 31, 2017

Wooden Boat Festival, Port Townsend

That season is coming around again, time for the Wooden Boat Festival in the beautiful little Pacific Northwest town of Port Townsend, WA. This is the 41st edition of one of the most popular wooden boat events in the world, with hundreds of wooden boats on show and dozens of presentations on a wide range of subjects of interest to boating people. Dates are 8th to 10th September 2017. The festival website is not yet fully functional but that will come soon.

Among those many boats will be three of our 21ft plywood sailboats, all different, which can be visited on the docks.
David Blessing's Didi Cruise-Mini "Segue". This is the detuned cruising version of our Didi Mini single-handed trans-Atlantic raceboat.
Michael Baccellieri's Cape Henry 21, "Slough Coot". She was built with some deviations from our design but the current owner is working to get her closer to the original drawings.
Mark Paterson's Didi Mini Mk3 "Voodoo Child". This is the full racing version of our Mini-Transat racer, with the newer hull shape and rig. 
I will also be taking part in the presentations. I will participate in the Designers' Forum, along with other boat designers, moderated by Jay Benford. This is from 12h00 to 13h00 on Friday 8th in the Cascade Room. Bring your boat design and construction questions to this session and observe how diverse the range of opinions and solutions can be among designers with different backgrounds and design styles. This is normally a very interesting gathering.

I will have my own session in the Cascade Room from 09h30 to 10h30 on Sunday 10th. My presentation is titled "Surviving a Capsize on the Ocean". Nobody can guarantee who will survive an ocean capsize but this presentation is aimed at making boaters aware of the many factors that are working together to reduce their chances of escaping alive from a capsized boat. Armed with that knowledge, they will be better prepared to choose the best options if they do ever have the misfortune of being inside or under an inverted boat.

To see our range of boat designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Two New Steel Boat Launchings

Steel boatbuilding has been in a slump for a decade or so, with not many new builds starting, either as professional projects or by amateur builders. It has even become very difficult to find any professional boatbuilders who are still working in steel, in many countries. Most of the steel boats currently being built are the work of amateur builders.

I think that this was due to a combination of causes, mostly related to the state of the world economy squeezing disposable income. Fewer people able to afford spending years cruising the oceans of the world has changed cruising dreams to smaller boats of their own for coastal or trailer-sailer cruising, or chartering bigger boats for a week or two at a time from others in the islands.

That may be changing though, we have recently seen an increasing interest in our more serious cruising designs, including those of steel. There still remains the problem of a dearth of professional yards that will build in steel but it does seem that the interest in steel boats may be returning.

The past few weeks have brought two new launches of steel sailboats to our Dix 43 Pilot design. These two were built many thousands of mile apart, in different hemispheres.

Ian Edwards built his boat in Caernarfon, Wales. A 10-year project, she is now in the water and ready to start cruising.
Ian Edwards built his boat in Caernarfon, Wales
Ian turning his hull using the spit-roast method.
Andre Siebert built his boat in Gauteng, South Africa, then had her trucked 1000 miles to Cape Town for launch. I have a few more photos of Andre's boat than Ian's, so apologies to Ian for showing more of Andre's boat.

Andre's boat about to hit the highway from Gauteng to the ocean.
Andre Siebert's launch of "Sea Bird" at Royal Cape Yacht Club, Cape Town.
Beautifully finished pilothouse of "Sea Bird".
"Sea Bird" with her rig stepped.
Congratulation to Ian and Andre for their impressive projects. We wish you happy cruising.

To see more of this and our other designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Argie 15 & DS15 at Wooden Boat Show

This past weekend was time for our annual road trip to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, 500+ miles each way. We had our usual Paper Jet, slightly spruced up with a new coat of deck paint and non-skid. Normally we would take one boat on one trailer, an easy tow. This time we also needed to get the new Argie 15 to the show for Kevin Agee to exhibit in the I Built it Myself division of the show. So they had to both go on one trailer. The two boats made a neat package, more aerodynamic than the Argie 15 by itself.
Argie 15 and Paper Jet, the way we travelled to Mystic.
12 Hours aft of us on the road was Hunter Gall with his Didi Sport 15 (DS15) All three boats and our booth in the main tent were set up and ready for visitors Friday morning.
From left, Hunter Gall's DS15, Kevin Agee's Argie 15 and my Paper Jet.
This 26th edition of the Wooden Boat Show proved to be an exceptional one for us. The weather was good and the show was well attended, with a tremendous amount of interest in the two brand new boats. The high quality builds were rewarded with first place for Hunter and runner-up for Kevin in the "Owner-Built Sail" division of the competition. I extend my congratulations to both of them, their hard work and attention to detail really paid off.

Hunter's DS15 is a very interesting boat and really drew the crowds to talk about all of his details and innovations. It might be best described as stated by the head of the judging panel, who said that Hunter is like "the mad scientist of boating". I provided a clean and simple design, which Hunter used as a blank canvas onto which he applied almost every go-fast innovation that he could imagine. Of course it is his boat and the final result must make him happy and fire his passion for it.
Hunter's DS15, with red, white and blue colours achieved by staining the wood before applying the epoxy coatings.
The wet deck with open transom seemed to worry some visitors, mostly women. Surrounded by mostly traditional boats, they can't imagine boats sailing faster than the waves around them.
Hunter had intrigued the judges with his explanations of the theory of tacking daggerboards, his removable heart-shaped daggerboard foil and other add-ons, as well as the unique ways that he had executed some of the more mundane dinghy features. The judges encouraged visitors to chat with Hunter about all this and he had a ball with it. The boat has many 3D-printed items on it, including a carbon spinnaker chute that he had modeled in a 3D CAD program for printing.

Kevin's Argie 15 provided a big contrast, standing right next to the DS15. It is a big 3:1 dinghy that is outfitted for easy and efficient sailing with a minimum of fuss, able to get onto the water quickly and also to carry a family of adults and children in safety and comfort. Kevin built this boat to a standard that caused many to ask why a fiberglass boat was being seen on a show for wooden boats. The bright-finished woodwork of the boat is all two-tone in poplar and cedar, which set off the nicely painted hull and deck surfaces.
The pretty sheer and clean lines of the hull attracted many admirers to the Argie 15.
Spacious interior with minimal complication, as well as space for a bunch of people.
The Argie 15 may have originally been conceived as a 3:1 dinghy for basic family fun but it morphed later by adding seating all-round. This added 40-50lb to the weight but improved comfort big-time, also boosting safety by adding buoyancy if capsized or flooded. These are all features that attracted the lovers of simple boats.

The Paper Jet, Argie 15 and DS15 provided a nice contrast to each other, three very different boats from the same designer. Between the three boats and our display booth, Dehlia and I were kept very busy for most of the three-day show. I would like to thank both Kevin Agee and Hunter Gall for their efforts in building and showing their boats, also for their obvious pride in their own workmanship.

To see more of these and our other designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.