Copyright 2024 - Woods Designs, 16 King St, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 2AT UK
  • production Strider 24

  • 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 28, Pixie, Mirage, Saturn, Strike 15, Strike 16, Strike 18, Strider, Eclipse

January/February 2012

We spent much of January snowed in. But at least it gave me a chance to get on with the drawing of the Vardo and Skoota 28 and 36

In February we drove to Lake Havasu Az, USA, home to the old London Bridge, and the HPCC, with our Strike 18 in tow. A 2820 mile round trip!

You can see more here Nearly 200 boats made the trip into the desert, along with over 350 people

I gave a seminar "Multihull Sailors Have More Fun!" which you can see HERE

We had a great time, staying in a "Room with a View", see below. And it only rained twice! Actually rain was a surprise, as was the cold wind. Average yearly rainfall is 35mm (11/2in). We have been sailing our Strike in Canada for three years, yet this was the first time we ever had to reef.

We took three youtube videos taken during the meeting. In the first you can see how far we were ahead of the second boat in the Long Distance race. We led from start to finish and sailed though the fleet again on the run to the finish while the rest were still beating up to the turning mark. No real surprise there though, most of the boats were small monohulls. But it is always nice to prove that multihulls can sail to windward

There were several Windrider trimarans at the event, this one is a 17 so similar in size and concept to the Strike. Only the Strike has much more room in the main hull (it can seat 6) and can be fitted with a cabin (sleeps 2)

This last video was taken from our hotel balcony, you can see in the above photo how small the area was that I was sailing in. Obviously the wind blowing round the hotel made for very flukey sailing conditions. You can see our new furling genoa, approx 8sqm (80sqft) which adds significantly to windward speed as it is nearly twice the size of our old Tornado jib, and it is 40 years newer

March/April 2012

We have decided to have a Skoota 28 powercat built for our own use in the Pacific North West. It is being professionally built in Sequim, Wa, photos will be posted when work has started.

We spent a month touring the UK, primarily England and Wales, however we did drive north of Hadrian's Wall so we would have been in Scotland in Roman times.

Apart from being tourists I was also viewing customers boats

The first was the "Panama Mirage" currently on a mooring in Poole Harbour

Unfortunately the seagulls had made a real mess of the decks over the winter, but you can see the large covered cockpit complete with outside galley/bar and steering console. The boat certainly didn't give any impression of being a singlehanded transatlantic veteran

Then it was on to the Cotswolds, right in the middle of England and about as far from the sea as is possible. In a cowshed I found John's Eclipse being beautifully built, although it was hard to see how he was going to get it out of the farm, never mind to the sea. You can see his build on his great website

In the NE was Martin's Strike 16 which you will remember is being built outside (his build was stopped by snow last year). Almost ready for launching, he is using his 5 year old Pixie as outriggers. He epoxied 65mm aluminium stub beams into the hulls and then used a separate outer tube sleeved over the stubs so he can still use the Pixie as a beach cat. A great idea. Martin plans to sail his Strike on a local reservoir

We stayed in the Lake District for several days and while there I sailed on Noit Volmaat, my old Strider Turbo that we used to win the 1987 Micromultihull UK and European Championships. I hadn't sailed it since selling it 25 years ago. Last year it was completely refurbished by International Paints and looks stunning, see their blog

The Strider is operated by Nichol End Marine on behalf of the Calvert Trust . So if you want to try a Strider yourself contact Nichol End Marine as it can be chartered for the day

The day after our sail the weather changed, and from 20deg (70F) temperature snow fell and the wind blew, and many of the roads we had driven over a few days earlier were closed because of snow.

Earlier on our trip we'd gone punting along the "backs" at Cambridge and motor boated on the Norfolk Broads, so quite a mix of boating experiences. Unfortunately my planned sail on a Banshee was aborted due to a complete lack of wind

We were travelling in a campervan (RV) which had an interior smaller than the Skoota 28, so it was a very useful test of how we could cope with the space limitation. Very well as it turned out, even when my sister came to stay for a week we had plenty of room. Bodes well for the Skoota 28

1980 miles driving, not as far as the Havasu trip, but even so, it cost a lot more in fuel, I'd grown too used to the very cheap fuel in the USA, so spending GBP100 (USD150) to fill the tank was a shock. Especially as 300 miles later we had to do it again.

Then it was back to Millbrook, the Multihull Centre, and some work before flying back to the USA

May 2012

Josh took our first Skoota 28 hull out of his shed in Sequim, Washington, USA, in mid May, see video and photo below.

More photos are on the Skoota powercats page.

You can see how light the hull is, the 6 men are carrying it easily.The outer stem has yet to be fitted and the transom still has to be trimmed back (and the temporary frame removed). And sanding, filling and painting of course! The second hull should be finished by early July. Then the central cabin will be made so hopefully the boat can be assembled while it is still good weather. Only then will it all be painted.

We are very pleased with the quality of Josh's work. If you would like him to build your own wood boat please email me and I will pass on your request.

June 2012

We moved back to Canada for the summer May 1st and spent a few days refitting the Strike and launching it.

The first event in the BCMS calendar was on Pender Island, the next island to us. We raced our Strike in a light, but slowly building wind. The normal triangular course was enlivened by having to do a loop round an anchored ship.

We were, of course, by far the smallest boat. Even so after an hour racing we went round the lee mark just ahead of a Crowther 40 trimaran.

They beat us home though. Still we had a good sail which is the main thing. And the rain held off, just, although Jetti was prepared.

She prefers to sail in weather like this (well maybe a bit warmer, but it was only May)

The Swiftsure Race, held over the last weekend in May is the biggest offshore race in the Pacific North West. Long time readers will recall that I raced on Bad Kitty a few years ago when we were first to finish. This year I was asked to helm Flying Kiwi, a 35ft Banks catamaran, in the inshore race. Flying Kiwi is a 30 year old boat, sailed on a budget. The genoa is original and the only dacron sail in the fleet, so usually it finishes near the back.

The start was postponed for 30 minutes due to lack of wind. When we did eventually start the wind slowly picked up to maybe 5 knots true. We had a 10 mile beat (actually we laid it on one tack, the tide helped) and rounded just behind the consistently best sailed boat in the PNW, "Geneva" a F24.

On the run downwind we passed Geneva, but we only had a small symmetrical spinnaker and an even smaller asymmetric, so we were overtaken, temporarily, by a much modified Viva 27 racing catamaran. However we kept the F31, F27's at bay.

You'll all groan, but I'll write it anyway.

By sheer fluke I managed to orcastrate some killer whales to surface just next to the boat

See below for the video. I just wish Tim had used his phone to upload the video as then it would have been a real podcast. Told you you'd groan!

We then had to wait for a couple of impatient ships to barge past us before we could start the close reach in a building wind to the finish. You all know that sailing is often hours of nothing much going on and then it all happens in a rush. That's what it was like on the reach home....

"Sheet in, more downhaul, tighten the foot, what's the mastbend like?" "Quick - more on the runner, where's the Viva cat? "behind us", how deep is it Ian?", "only 12ft", "what's that kelp ahead? how fast are we going, "18 knots", "I can't release the mainsheet, dump the traveller!!!!" "No, I can't luff because of the rocks, what do you mean the furlers jammed!!! where's that kelp now?, s**t the Viva's overtaken us."

And so on to the finish. Here are the results.

July 2012

We have just been day sailing our Strike 18 and working on new designs. In particular on the new Strike 15, which is currently being built. Cutting out the panels, gluing on the framing, making and fitting the daggerboard case took about 25 hours. Then the assembly of all the parts ready to glass took 12 minutes.

You can see a 12 minute video of the assembly of the main hull below. More details are on the Strike 15 page of this website. (This video has sound, so turn the speakers up, and note it is all one shot, no editing even when I drop the screws)

I spent a wet weekend looking through our old sailing videos. There will be more to come, but this one of us sailing past the Statue of Liberty on our Eclipse is one of the most dramatic.

In a couple of weeks I will be away for the weekend and camping on board our Strike 18, so we made this tent. It works well and keeps the cockpit dry, even in a recent severe thunderstorm. It hooks down at each beam box and to the centre of the outriggers. The plywood removable cabin is almost finished (no hatch yet) and so is still to be fitted.

Two Strike 16's have recently been launched. Sailing photos will, I hope, be coming soon, but, for now, here is a trailering shot. A somewhat longer load than would work in Cornwall!

One owner reported "I finally got my Strike 16 into the water last week. In summary, I expected it to not feel very nimble in comparison to the original SeaSpray cat, but it actually maneuvers quite nicely. I don't have the jib cleats yet so when sailing alone I can't use the jib but it still tacks which surprised me. Perhaps not super fast. My top speed this weekend was 8.4 mph, but I expect I will get higher with more consistent winds later this year. It works well for my family."

Note: this Strike is sailed on a mountain lake at 7000ft where the air pressure, and thus driving force, is less than at sea level.

Not many boats, even monohulls (try it if you own one) can be sailed round and round in circles with the rudder held down. So this video of our Strike 18 doing donuts may surprise some

And this one shows the same thing without using the jib.

OK it was slower, but it still went round and round. Yet if you check back on my earlier Strike 18 videos you will see the boat sailing "hands off" on it's first ever sail. And in a later video sailing at 8 knots in 5 knots of wind with the tiller balanced on my thumb. Not all multihulls are unresponsive or unmanouverable!

The second Skoota 28 hull came out of its shed a couple of weeks ago. Only 4 men to carry it this time. Currently the decks are being fitted, photos will be posted in next months report

Cameron has been working on the Strike 15. After a total of 57 hours the boat looks like this, below. More on the Strike 15 page. Plans for the main hull (to begin with) will be available from August 1st. Outrigger and beam drawings will be available shortly after. Introductory cost GBP100

August 2012

In early August I crewed on a F24 in a local regatta. I sailed about 25 miles to the regatta on our Strike 18 and lived on board for 4 days under the cockpit tent.

It was comfortable and roomy, but the tent did little to dampen the party music from the boat next door! We had a fun time in very hot, sunny weather and came third overall

September 2012

This was a busy month. It started with two regattas on Saturna. Our Strike 18 came second overall in the multihull regatta, while Tucanu, our old Merlin, won the most prizes in the Saturna Island regatta

We then packed up the Strike 18, the part built Strike 15 and our house for the winter and drove to Port Townsend, Wa, USA to the Wooden Boat Festival. With no boat to exhibit this year, Jetti and I were volunteers. Somehow Jetti ended up running the bar while I was on garbage detail. Not sure how that one worked out!

On day I saw a Pixie on the beach. Built by Sean and Robert, with only a little adult help, it looked very good

Next year we plan to to exhibit both the Strike 15 and the Skoota 28. With no boat of our own to sail I had to crew for others. First in a local race on a Thunderbird 26. We finished second, even though it was the first time in 15 years that I had worked the foredeck on a monohull. Then a day cruise in a Caledonia yawl (open decked 18fter) and a junk rigged 18ft Alacrity, built in the UK in 1965.

I thought the yawl was a poor windward performer until I sailed the Alacrity! This was the first time I'd ever sailed a junk rigged boat. I knew it wouldn't sail well, but I was very disappointed to find that it hardly went to windward at all. And I was equally surprised by the number of lines that dropped into the cockpit on every tack and gybe. Very dangerous I thought and I can see no reason for fitting such a rig on any boat.

Each week we'd go over to Sequim to check on the Skoota 28 progress. Josh is doing a superb job. The photo below was taken in late September and shows the complete interior. A "queen size" double bed, large galley with double sink and fridge plus a big shower compartment. We are still looking at an early 2013 launch

October 2012

In early October I flew to Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma right in the middle of the USA to help run Sail OK, a few days of small boat sailing, racing, demonstrating and lectures. The first day was perfect sailing weather, but then not one but two cold fronts passed over us. The temperature dropped from a pleasant 26C (85F) to a less pleasant 12C (55F), then 8C(45F) , then 4C(37F). And you can guess which was the day I demonstrated the capsize recovery tests!

So as a result there wasn't much sailing and we presenters had to work hard to think of things 80-100 people could do at a sailing meeting that didn't involve sailing

However the highlight for me was to sail a home builders Strike 18, the first I'd seen. This was fitted with Prindle 16 outriggers and rig. Despite three heavy men and two boys on board it sailed as fast as a Windrider 17 (the video of us overtaking a Windrider 17 at Lake Havasu was from our boat which had a bigger rig than a Prindle 16)

The owner started assembling his Strike about noon, launched before 1pm, took me and several other interested people out on sailing trips, took the boat ashore, packed it up and left to drive home again at 4pm. If nothing else it showed the Strike was a genuine trailable daysailer.

After the meeting I flew to the UK for work and meetings. But I did find time to sail. Twice in Lasers (once in a local race, which I won despite not having raced a Laser for nearly 15 years), once in a Walker Bay 10, and also in a 24ft monohull and a 43ft catamaran. So in six weeks I sailed ten different boats in five locations, and three countries yet not one boat was mine!

As I always say, designers should sail as much as possible in a variety of boats to get a wide range of experiences, which they can use when designing new and better boats