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

Boats mentioned: Skoota 20, Merlin, Transit 38, Saturn, Strike 16, Strike 18, Acorn, Strider, Eclipse, Windsong, Flica, Wizard, Surfsong, Eclipse, Gwahir, Janus

January February 2011

Martin's Strike 16 build (see 2010 Year Review) was indeed stopped by snow. I got the following email "Work has now resumed on my Strike 16 after a collapse of my temporary shelter due to 12 inches of snow overnight. (I needed to dig out the boat)"

We sailed down through the Bahamas with family and friends until we arrived at Georgetown, right on the tropic line. After a few days stay restocking we headed north again as we plan to leave the Transit in mid March and then head to the UK before going back to Canada for the summer.

One of the more unusual places we anchored was at the aptly named "Pig Beach" home of the famous swimming pigs. Anchor close enough inshore and they will swim out to the boat to be fed, or take a dinghy ashore if your draft is too great.

We do seem to sail a lonely furrow, rarely seeing other boats but sometimes, especially over the Exuma banks, we had upwards of a dozen boats in sight. We have still to be overtaken by any boat, the video below shows a typical day, close reaching at 8 knots or so with the boat steering itself. That day a Norseman 43 had passed us under sail while we were still at anchor. But despite its longer length and half hour start we slowly caught it up.

Slowly the wind headed and moderated, so the Norseman motored into the next anchorage whereas we hardened sheets and carried on under sail, pleased that we could easily overtake them and in fact we were the first to anchor. Note while filming I let the boat steer itself, so bore off slightly. The Transit usually sails to windward at 32deg to the apparent wind.

Later when we were back in the Abacos we met a 57ft catamaran sailing the same way. Winds were about 10 knots and we were both lazily sailing downwind under full sail but with no spinnakers set. We were very surprised to find we were slightly faster. See the video below.

Later still, in more wind, we met a Kurt Hughes 57 catamaran. It was faster, but not by much. Again a surprise as it was nearly 20 ft longer. See video below

One "problem" with having a comfortable boat in a great cruising area is that everyone wants to come out and visit us! And they don't want to sit on a beach in the sun, they all want to sail. For example, our last visitors were on board for 17 days and in that time we anchored in 15 different places and day-sailed over 300 miles.

Even after they had left there was little rest for whenever I see another boat I want to race it, as the videos above show.

March 2011

A few days after we took those videos we met up with a 41ft Fountaine Pajot Lipari (so nearly 10% longer than a Transit), below.

When we met them they were going the opposite way from us, so it took a bit of time for us to luff up and give chase, by then they were some way ahead. But not for long. We sailed a complete circle round them in less than 15 minutes, including time spent in their dirty wind. See the video below for more. Sorry about the shakiness, but it is very hard to steer and film at the same time.

Meanwhile in Australia another builder, this time one of the first Acorn customers, is working fast, for more photos see the Acorn page.

In early March he emailed to say: "the build is going well , the hull is planked but not yet glassed. Build time so far 35 hours, no more photos yet as the girlfriend dropped the camera in the drink at the beach ..."

MAY 2011

"I just want to thank you for the cabin plans you put on the web. I have used ideas from those plans and the open Strike cabin to build a cuddy to suit me and my wife for our Strider - a suitable shelter for daysailing which can easily be converted with a tarpaulin (or in the future something more sophisticated) into a night time cabin.

It looks much better than I hoped and as soon as I get it on the water again I will be able to find out what it is like in practice - but I am confident it will fulfill my needs. All the best and thanks again" John. Strider number 37

Eclipse launched in Italy by G. Bruno Corsi

My Eclipse has been launched! I’m satisfied and would take the occasion to thank you for the good project and the clear information I could follow. The construction is very strong and also during the lift in with the crane I couldn't see any noise or movement of the frame. The boat is floating level and seems very stable in the water.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SOHkY6l9z0


 

We raced our Strike (above) in a local multihull meeting on May 21st. We made the best start and had two 3 mile reaches followed by a beat to the finish.

Jetti took the video below from on board our Strike

While this video was taken from on board a 35ft catamaran, Flying Kiwi by Tim Poustie.

 

Strike looks SO small compared to the others, but not that much slower, although we lost out to some of the bigger boats when we came on the wind and were no longer able to use our screecher. But then our jib WAS made in 1972!!

Also sailing was the first Saturn (above and below). After a slow start it overtook us and then seemed to be about the same speed as the F24 to windward. Very encouraging, especially as the Saturn was in cruising mode with 5 adults on board. More to come once I've sailed it.

Our Strike alongside Andrew's Saturn

June 2011

The Strike is a real trailer sailer, as this following short video shows. Just before the video starts I had lowered the starboard outrigger and done up it's beam bolts.

As you can see, lowering (and raising) the outrigger is a easy one person job. The next stage is to move the mast back on its supports ready for raising. The mast foot pivot bolt needs fitting each time, but the stays are attached permanently to the outriggers, as are the trampolines.

Next the mast can be raised, I had only done this twice before, so need a bit more practise (and I'm getting old!), while the forward mast support needs a slight re-design. Note the forestay has a 3:1 purchase which helps raise the mast and then tighten the rig. This remains as the forestay, so once the mast is up the boat is ready to launch. Also note that we are using a cut down Tornado mast on our Strike, which is a heavier section than that used on a (recommended) 16ft beach cat rig.

The mast has light in-line shrouds so cannot fall over sideways during raising. See the Strike Plan Update pages for details. As you can see, the total for these three major pre-launching jobs is 85 seconds, obviously in reality it takes a bit longer than this video shows, but we are now consistently launching and retrieving in under 20 minutes.

Strike has fingertip steering, even at speed, and tacks fast and reliably. Note the speed we are sailing! In maybe 8 knots of true wind we are approaching wind speed.

July 2011

We are getting faster at rigging the Strike. After a great sail to this deserted beach we sailed back to our launching site. I timed it, we sailed up onto the beach (no motor) at 4.36pm and drove away with the boat lashed down on the trailer at 4.49pm. Thirteen minutes! And I'm sure we will get a bit quicker.

Last year Cameron helped us finish off our Skoota and we were very pleased when he decided to buy our Merlin "Tucanu" a few weeks ago.

By coincidence Tucanu has gone back to its old mooring in Victoria, so both Andrew Slow (the original builder) and ourselves will see it sailing around, as indeed we did last week when out motoring our Skoota.

 


 

Browsing around online recently I came across a really good blog written by some Flica sailors. We had met the boat (below) in Tobago a few years ago, so it was great to learn that it is still actively sailing.

One comment I noted was from the surveyor who said "I’d been expecting her to be passable at best, given her age. He was delighted to announce that he’d be giving her an “above average” rating. The only thing better is “Bristol” (better than new). For an 18-year-old boat, built in England, sailed to Turkey and, variously, the South Pacific, the States, assorted Caribbean islands, and South and Central American destinations, she had hardly a wrinkle".

You can see more here http://aboarddjango.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html

And by coincidence the same day I had an email from a French Flica builder. See http://paquita.blogs.stw.fr/

I sold a set of hard chine plywood Sango plans on June 4th, and received this photo on June 16th. More photos and the accompanying email are on the Sango detail page. Look closely and you'll see the "catch". This sequence of photos is also worth looking at if you are thinking of building a Wizard or Acorn

Although Cockleshell Hero, the prototype Windsong, was my first design, we don't often get news from owners. However I recently received the following photos and email:

"Hi just thought you might like some pics of Willow (your Windsong design) after many years of building her, on her maiden voyage down the river Avon and then into the Bristol Channel for a day sail.
The boat is not really properly tuned but she went really well ( about 11- 12 knots on a reach and 7-8 knots to windward and coped with some very bumpy (Bristol Channel chop) seas on the way back. Very very pleased. Regards Bob"

Those who live in the Pacific North West will know of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival
(see http://www.woodenboat.org if you don't). Andrew Slow will be attending the event with his beautiful Saturn, and I will be crewing for him. Dates are Sept 9th to 11th, so we look forward to seeing you there.

We have to finish painting our Skoota! It's still covered with gray primer. But we have fitted a bimini and made the interior more useable and liveaboard friendly. One of the Skoota features is that it has asymmetric hulls, with the finer side on the inner side, to help reduce wave interference. In the photo below, taken at about 11 knots, the difference in bow waves is obvious.

Below is a video taken at the same time

In mid July we took our Skoota out for its first real cruise. Three days on board, two were in torrential rain. We motored 40 miles from Saturna to Nanaimo to a multihull club BBQ. The photo below shows four friends enjoying the comfort of the Skoota saloon. It's amazing what "stuff" you need, even for a few days away.

I also had the opportunity to sail Andrew's Saturn for the first time. Even though, as you can see, there was very little wind, it sailed really well and tacked easily through the anchorage.

Then we motored home again, using less than 5 gals of fuel for the 40 miles at an average speed of nearly 10 knots. And that was with some of the time fighting the tide. At one stage we were motoring at 11 knots, yet our speed over the ground was only 5 knots. Tides run fast in British Columbia!

August 2011

Those of you who contacted me in late July will know there was a delay in my replying. That was because we were away again, cruising on our Skoota. We have now motored it for over 200 miles and lived on board for 10 days non stop. Obviously it's quite small, but comfortable enough for two, especially with the cockpit tent fitted. We have averaged 10 knots and use 1gal/hr. The video below was taken on our latest trip.

I fitted the essential spray deflector to one hull, you can see the difference it makes. The last few shots show the boat motoring with no one steering, something you cannot do with a conventional speedboat. Obviously at 10+ knots we still have to keep a good lookout, but it is directionally stable enough to give time to boil a kettle or take a video.

I then raced with Andrew Slow on his Saturn, below, in the Cowbay regatta and PNW multihull championships.

These were Andrew's first races and we were hampered by slipping halyards on the first day. So the luffs were slack and the sails too full forward. We didn't point well, but were fast off wind, as the video shows. The boat under spinnaker is a Santa Cruz 52, a well known downwind flyer. We caught it up. The Saturn is certainly a no fuss, no drama boat at 13-15 knots.

We lashed the halyards for the Sunday race and the boat went significantly better, so we were much happier. Amazing what a little tuning will do and how much performance can change on what is essentially the same boat.

As the computer predicted, and as we had found in May, we were about the same speed as a well sailed F24. Unfortunately the handicapper didn't agree and we were given a rating higher than a F27. Reasonable I guess for the first regatta for a new boat, but we hope it changes for next year.

Andrew later reported "Got back to Ford Cove at 4.30 yesterday after a great spinnaker run from Nanaimo over to Lasquiti, gybing at Sangster Island, again at Sisters light and then home. One hour twenty minutes from False Bay to the Cove (12 1/2 miles) and 61/2hrs from Nanaimo."

News from a Strider Club owner "Hi Richard, I bought a Strider Club from a beach in the Baltic, dug it out and restored it to sailing condition and sailed it back to the Lelystad, Netherlands. 6 days sailing for 600 miles, only daysails. Baltic, Kieler canal, north sea, Wadden Sea, Ijsselmeer. So we had good fun with a top speed of 14,8 knots for more than 10 minutes.

Best sail was from Cuxhaven to the island of Borkum in less than 11 hours under spinnaker. Worst was north of Ameland where we had more than F6, heavy rain and high waves. We tried to flee to the Wadden Sea but the waves were breaking between the islands and we could not get through. The Strider behaved like a beach cat, very impressive sailing clear from all that violence we were in. cheers, Pepijn"

September 2011

Summer was a long time coming here in British Columbia, but it eventually arrived with a vengeance in late July. Only one day of rain since then, and blue skies and warm/hot weather. So I apologise to those waiting for drawings but we took time out to go sailing and also motoring our Skoota powercat.

I took the short video below at East Point, a two minute walk from our house. You can see why we like the area so much. The shot starts with views of the San Juan Islands in the USA, 6 miles away, but across the border, then Mt Baker also in the US and finally in the far distance, Vancouver, BC.

Someone once said that the best cruising boat in the Pacific North West (PNW) is a sailboat without a mast but with a big engine. That's because winds are generally light (as the video above shows). Which was one reason why we built our Skoota.

One of the most popular destinations in the PNW is Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls. They are about 100 miles from our house and nearly 60 miles inland, right at the head of a fjord. We went there and back over a four day period on our Skoota. The photo above shows us moored at Egmont, the last marina before the Falls. You can see the bimini and side screens which transform the cockpit into an additional private cabin. With the hatch raised we have standing headroom in the cuddy and cockpit. The hull locker holds our 4hp spare outboard, plus spares, tools etc

We averaged nearly 10 knots and did about 9mpg (because we were heavily loaded, eg 15 gal fuel, 10 gal water, three computers, lots of books etc. When empty the boat goes faster and is more fuel efficient). Our longest non stop trip was 80 miles down the Strait of Georgia from Pender Harbor to Saturna. We have now motored it over 600 miles and slept on board for nearly a month in total.

You can see more about the area here http://www.princesslouisa.bc.ca/

while our youtube video is below. Spot the wild life one minute in.

When we first trailed our Skoota we did so at its full width. Totally illegal of course, but we are on an island where almost anything goes (especially at 5am). However we now have the proper folding brackets, which we bolted to our old flat bed trailer. The concept is the same as first used on the Wizard and Sango, nearly 20 years ago. No one likes heavy lifting. So why not let nature do the hard work? When launching the boat the hull buoyancy opens it out. When retrieving it gravity folds the hulls down (which can happen fast, as you can see).

We launch off a gently shelving, muddy beach rather than from a proper slipway. So we have to push the trailer in much further than most people do. My trailer design calls for hinging brackets which can fold down, thus lowering the height. Unfortunately we found that our trailer winch was broken so we had to keep the supports at their full height.

Even so, you can see in the video, below, how the system works. I was a bit concerned about lining the boat up on the trailer, but in practice that was very easy, even with a relatively strong cross wind. Remember this was the first time we had even launched and retrieved the boat, and on a very old trailer. You can also see how easily the hull swing to and fro.

To ensure that the hulls float out, not in, when launching two preventer lines stop the hulls from swinging in too far. One of these was not correctly positioned, which is why the starboard hull hasn't fully folded. But of course it is easy to adjust properly once the boat is out of the water and before driving away.

 


We raced our Strike 18 trimaran in two events over the early September holiday weekend. The first was the Saturna Island regatta, held in 15 knots wind and was mainly against monohulls. We finished second behind Bad Kitty, a 35ft racing catamaran, but some way ahead of all the monohulls (which included three 40 footers plus the usual Hunters, Cal 25s and the like).

 

The next day was the last BCMS multihull event of the year. 12 multihulls entered but unfortunately the wind had dropped and was very fluky with a strong tide running. So local knowledge was at a premium. My crew was Bob Bruce who has sailed and kayaked in the area for 35 years and knew all the back eddies and wind shifts. With his help we were doing really well, rounding the last mark in third position, just behind Bad Kitty. Mind you, making the best start (see video below) helped!

Unfortunately on the beat back to the finish we had a stronger gust and our over-stretched, elderly screecher ripped from leech to luff. So we were reduced to using our 40 year old ex Tornado jib. As a result two boats overtook and we finished 5th over the line. Narrowly beaten by the Reynolds 33 (see above, the Reynolds is to the right of Strike, Bad Kitty is to the left) but well ahead of a Farrier 32. Three of the four boats that beat us were racing boats with high tech laminate sails. So we didn't think we did too bad!

November 2011

My apologies for the long gap since I last updated this page. That is because we have had a very busy couple of months.

We sailed Andrew Slow's Saturn to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival ( http://www.woodenboat.org) About 300 boats of all types and sizes were on display, all of course built in wood. We were the only catamaran and the only boat with a red mast, so were easy to spot. Its not a show, so there was no pressure to sell anything, instead lots of talks and demonstrations. In fact far too much for a 3 day show, especially with about 10,000 people a day coming through the gate.

The weather was perfect, not to say hot. But sadly there was little wind for the sail past at the end of the show, but we did get up to 8 knots at one point. Port Townsend (PT from now on) is a wood boat building Mecca and a major sailing centre. Locals said that without the boats there would be no town. A bit like Cowes I suppose. It's is also at the end of a peninsular at the end of the state at the end of the US, so very un-American. The only fast food is one Macdonalds, no Walmart and no shopping malls for 40 miles.

A few days later I flew to Los Angeles so that I could race on Ralph Maggio's beautifully built Wizard in the "Summer Splash" from Long Beach to Catalina Island. It was billed as the largest multihull race on the west coast, but there were only 9 boats (we had 12 multihulls at our regatta on Saturna 2 weeks earlier) so I guess they meant SW USA coast. Even so a bit disappointing.

Ralph had modified his Wizard into the open deck version. He is a keen racer and experienced sailor but hadn't had time to sail his boat much. In fact this was only his third sail since making the open deck mods. So we spent the first beat trying to sort out genoa leads etc. Sailing in S California is very easy as the seas are basically flat and winds light. The race was 30 miles offshore to Catalina Island, just about the only place LA cruisers can sail to, so it's very crowded.

We beat out to sea in a F2 and were 4th boat to the end of the island. We were both very pleased with that as we were rated slowest boat (no surprise as we were 4ft shorter than the next longest boat) and we were ahead of larger Farrier trimarans. Then the wind dropped. We decided we wouldn't retire until everyone else did. The photo below shows us about 1/2 hr after the start slowly pulling away from the other boats (Contour 34, F27 etc in the distance behind)

A very slow sail as one by one the others dropped out. But at dusk a light wind filled in and we slowly sailed the last 7 miles to finish at 10.30pm. By which time it was of course completely dark. 101/2 hours to sail 30 miles. Monohull speed! So once again I entered a strange harbour in the dark. Very tired and hungry as we had expected to be finish in time for an evening meal ashore.

After a day off seeing the sights of Catalina - chiefly a bison and a beer festival - we raced back on Sunday. We had a terrible start; we were over 1/2 hour late, as we couldn't get the engine to run for more than 10 minutes at a time and the start was 8 miles from the mooring and there was a very light headwind. We eventually crossed the start line at 12.30 (the others started at 12 noon) and then had a 30 mile close reach home. A fun sail, so I didn't let Ralph steer! (I'm a bit of a tiller hog on a good sailing day)

The wind slowly built to a F3-4 so it was ideal sailing, especially as the sun had at last come out. We took 3hrs 20 min for the 30 miles, so averaged 9 knots, top speed 13.5. See the gps print out below

Not bad for a 22ft long boat! And really annoying that we were late for the start. We later learnt that the third boat to finish (a 40ft racing cat) took 3 hrs 15mins, so we would have been 4th boat home.

Then we pulled the boat out of the water, I said my goodbyes and went to a hotel. So in three consecutive weekends I sailed three different boats in three different locations.

 


 

The Skoota 24 plans have now been finished and are selling well, see the Skoota page for more details, where you will also find brief details of the new Skoota 26

Back home on Saturna for our last few weeks in Canada Cameron and I started to build the removable cabin for the Strike. It sure adds a lot of room. The photo below shows it partially complete. It won't now be finished until we get back to Saturna in May and have a workshop again.

 

We left Canada October 27th and drove (with the Strike in tow) to Port Townsend where we will be spending the winter.

I have been having problems copying my Multihull Sailors Have More Fun! and Daysail to Russia videos in a format that everyone can watch. So I decided to add them to my youtube collection. OK the quality isn't great, but they are now free to watch, copy and distribute!


I am now in a strange position, as, for the first time in 30 years. I don't actually own a sailing catamaran! Just the Strike 18. So it seemed sensible to start two new websites which I will use for some of my designs. Namely www.small-boat-designs.com and www.power-catamaran-designs.com (nothing there yet though!)

Also a strange winter awaits us. For it will be the first time in 10 years that I won't be spending a winter sailing onboard a catamaran. So I do hope we can get out on our Strike on Christmas Day as some consolation. And we will be going south in February, see below

Lake Havasu Pocket Cruiser Convention 2012

One of my Strike builders sent me details of this event. It is being held from Feb 13th -20 2012 on Lake Havasu, just south of Las Vegas. A place that many English people have heard of, because it is the new home for the old London Bridge which was deemed unsafe for London traffic in the 1960’s

Anyway, the LHPCC has now been running for four years and is getting more and more popular. Over 120 boats arrived for the 2011 event and as I write this 150 have already signed up for 2012. But no multihulls until now!

Despite the 1500 miles drive each way, we have decided to go there with our Strike 18 trimaran. Besides showing off our Strike I will also be one of the seminar speakers. My talk will, of course, be titled “Multihull Sailors Have More Fun! So all are welcome, whether you have a boat or not. See more on my forum as the date gets nearer, or at www.sailhavasu.com

 


 

I recently found the following on an ebay advert, the first news I had ever had of this particular Surfsong:

"Alley Cat was built in 1989 and has been our home since 1996. In the same year we sailed from Ravenglass, Cumbria, UK bound for sunnier climes. We followed the classical route southwards and through gales in the Irish Sea and Biscay, to the sweltering heat of the Mediterranean, she has kept us safe and warm, or cool, as required.

This simple way of life, with very few overheads, has allowed us to enjoy what many can only dream about, on a minimal income. Very reluctantly age is now forcing us ashore. Since 1997 she has been cruising in the Western Mediterranean, and the Balearic islands in particular.

This is a very deceptive boat, offering more space inside than you would think. Yet she is light and fast, achieving 18 knots in a stiff breeze. Under power she can move at 5 knots, but it is under sail where she really performs.

She can tack almost like a dinghy, yet running in a sea she is steady, dry, and very easily handled. In light airs she also out-sails most other yachts, and in the sometimes sloppy, short seas to be found in the Mediterranean this is a distinct advantage."

And here is a link to a really professional website showing a strip plank Eclipse being built in the UK. Watch the time lapse photos of the build - great!

http://www.swingcat.co.uk/index.htm

December 2011

I have been travelling round the UK for the last few weeks. That meant I didn't get out sailing as much as I would have liked. In fact the only sail I did was on a Shuttleworth designed Lynx 26, one of the wettest boats I have ever sailed! I remember sailing against it when it was newly launched in my Sagitta and then a couple of years later in my F1 Strider. Both the Sagitta and Strider were faster (and drier!)

However I did get to see a few of my designs. The photo below is of a beautifully built strip plank Eclipse. I hadn't been on an Eclipse for some years and I'd forgotten just how much room it has

John (Bigwow) is a regular poster on my forums and at last I got to get on his Flica - built in a year(!) some 20 years ago

Finally I went to see the original Gwahir. Built as a lightweight racer and launched in early 1982 it may well be the oldest Woods Design in commission. I was very impressed with how well this 30 year old boat looked. For sale at a very attractive price (see my Preowned page), sensibly it will only be of interest to someone who is a keen racer

I'm now settling down for a busy winter of drawing, for I have now sold two Vardo plans, the build of the first is already underway, and also the first Skoota 36 (which will be built in flat panel foam sandwich)

Finally, here is a great video from Poland, showing a Janus with a cuddy.