Copyright 2017 - Woods Designs, Foss Quay, Millbrook, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1EN, UK
  • home built Flica 37

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

Chris Pearson writes "I am the owner of Shadow no 6 which I built in Tanzania, launching her in December 1990. I have shipped "Catanga" back with me to the UK. As you can imagine, there is a world of difference between sailing in East Africa and sailing off the Cumbrian coast! I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the design of "Catanga" which has given us a very great deal of pleasure. According to my log I have now sailed the boat 3500 miles with absolutely no problems, which is as good a recommendation as you can get!"

L. Gregory, building a wood Mira in Cheltenham writes "The other day the WEST System rep came to see me and seemed to think all was going well, but I think building is slow, but then falling off a trestle and breaking two ribs didn't help". A local boatbuilder broke his arm very badly when he fell off a trestle and was off work for 3 months in considerablc pain - so please be careful!

Stan Hawkins, building his Flica 34 in S Africa complains of the problem common to all builders "Trying to work for a living and build a boat cuts out any chance of a social life! I have got someone working on it full time and have completed the hull decks and bulkheads. A carpenter is about to give me a quote for all the interior. I have used foam throughout, including bulkheads and cabin soles. The boat looks very stylish as I have put large radii on lots of corners. "

Another builder struggling to find time to build is Tony Moyes building a strip plank Sagitta "I actually prefer sailing to building and did far too much of it last summer when I should have been building. Anyway, I have completed one hull and almost completed the second and am very pleased with the result so far. I have not had any problems with the strip planking. I have also made various kits in my workshop, which is separate from the boat "tent". This was done during the winter as I will not use epoxy under 15°C and I have no efficient method of heating the tent during the winter. We are both still very excited about your design and assure you that we will do your design justice. It is looking very nice. "

Bill Richards from Auckland New Zealand, one of the first WIZARD builders, writes: "Work is progressing well on my WIZARD. I've 75% completed one hull and the other is all ready to be glassed. I'm now waiting for better weather so that I can go outside and finish it off. At the moment I am busy manufacturing everything that I can fit in my small shed. I've just about finished the beams and the cockpit and cabin pieces. So when the sun shines again everything should come together really quickly. The plans are really good and I haven't had to scratch my head too much. The pictures of the boat you built are a great help as I can compare what I've done with what it should look like."

The first Woods Design was Cockleshell Hero, built by Richard in 1979/80. He launched it after only 900 hours work and at a total cost of £1500 - but he did make everything himself, including the spars and sails. We sailed it extensively eg to Norway and the Baltic in 1981 and lived on board until 1985, when, in order to raise money to build the prototype Banshee, we sold it to Chas Bradley, who has lived on it ever since. We had heard that it had been seen several times. in the Canaries and also in W Africa, but we recently received a letter from Chas:

"The good news is that Kobo alias Cockleshell Hero is alive and well and still looking after me despite all I have inflicted upon her. We are sailing among the Azores and enjoying every minute. It is a pleasure to see clouds and watch fronts passing through. It seems that blue skies and trade winds can become tedious. Not many boats use the numerous small harbours here and the welcome is normally warm. Sailing alone has been a new experience and of course provides plenty of time to wonder at our surroundings. Fortunately with so many good people around and nature's beauty small hassles, like zealous customs officers don't seem too bad."

In the last newsletter we wrote about the Kruger's home built plywood Mira and their voyage around the world. Timena has now sailed quite a distance from it's home port of Sylt Germany - over 10,000 miles in the last year visiting Maderia, Canaries, Caribbean and Venezuala. Then feeling a little "island sick" they wanted to see "some real civilisation" so sailed north to New York and Maine.

Reporting on his self steering Jurgen writes: "The trim tab(on the rudder) is controlled by the Autohelm 4000 and steers the boat pretty well with very little power consumption. It's far better than the expensive servo pendulum wind vane gear which we used in the Atlantic trip. And its also 30kg lighter and more elegant. After Venezuala we sailed to Grenada and met Alan Nixon on his Windsong (built in Millbrook). Then up through the islands to the Bahamas. On the way there (630 miles) we had everything from force 0 to 8 including really big waves. But, since we had visited many other multihulls in the West Indies we know that we sail on a very strong and safe boat.

We saw many production catamarans with real structural problems after only a few years sailing. We are very surprised by the Bahamas. The islands are very nice with beautiful white beaches and good coral reefs for snorkling. The sailing is marvellous, especially going north with the SE trade winds. Often we sail in only 3-6 feet of water over white sand. Going in and out through the cuts in the cays and islands is no problem with only 2'9" draft. With a multihull you always find nice places without any other boats. Sailing between the islands is exciting and good fun for shallow draft cats with experienced crew. We like the Bahamas much more than the West Indies. Well, there is a small catch. Everything is very expensive.

We reached New York on 18th June. We anchored just in front of the Statue of Liberty, free mooring and good holding! But we've had lots of "English" weather, ie fog etc. Very often visibility was only 20m. Thank God for the GPS! Navigating in the New York harbour with 100 metres visibility is very exciting. Especially with all the big ships, tugs, high speed catamaran ferries and barges. But the city of New York is marvellous! It's worth all the hassle! But these cities are very expensive, so we sailed further north..."