Monday, April 18, 2016

Long Steps, the build is about to begin.

Time to get back to work, on the blog at least as I’ve been very busy on other things.  I got home from Chile to find a pile of work stacked up and waiting for my attention .The engineering work  that helps finance my lifestyle has grown due to one of the very few woodworking machinery engineers in this area no longer being available,  he was an older gent and some of this work being heavy it had just got past him.
I appreciate the work,  the income is very welcome as there is some financial catching up to do, but it does take me away from important things such as boats, design, blogging and so on.
 All that plus maintenance on my ship, a family member needing support and being honest, tired after a long and busy trip away in a country new to me meant that I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

So, I’m close to caught up, and its back to the drawing board, literally.  I’ve two major projects on right now, one is a custom junk rigged cruiser which will stay out of the public eye until the customer is ok with putting it out there  and the other is my own “Long Steps” project.  That’s ben mentioned here before,  but for those who missed it, the boat is a long range sail and oar expedition/adventure boat intended for a 3 month voyage which will be  in mostly open waters. 

My intention is to  get out there and have “the adventure of a lifetime” before the years catch up with me. They’ve been flickering past at a distressingly rapid rate of late and its high time I got on with it.
The idea is to have a boat that is about 70% sail, but which will row well enough to cover a few miles in dead calm, or to work into a narrow space up a river or in a harbour. It has to be able to cope with very bad conditions in open waters, so needs to be close to being fully blue water capable in spite of being an “open boat”, and needs to provide some shelter and comfort for my no longer as young as it once was body.

I’ve two designs which provided information for this design, one being SCAMP, astonishing capable for only 11 ft 11in long, with her ballast, self draining cockpit floor, easy righting from capsize and her little shelter.  Someone recently called that shelter a “Cuddly”,  I suspect that he was using a smartphone which translated “cuddy” into something that was in its lexicon but what a good name!

Anyway, SCAMP has a lot of the virtues that I wanted, but extra length gives speed under both sail and oar, so I looked at Walkabout which has been described by a very experienced sailor as “the fastest monohull I’ve ever sailed”.
It’s a long slim boat, especially on the waterline and moves very well under its modest sail area, as well as being nice to row.
She has other virtues in that she’s easy to roll back up after a capsize, can be sailed away without bailing, and has a particularly easy motion in a seaway.

Long Steps is a slightly larger “Walkabout” style hull, her shape massaged to give more form stability, ballasted with a big water tank under the self draining cockpit floor, with an offset centerboard like SCAMPs one which frees up the cockpit so making a nice space in which to lie down and sleep, she has the same “cuddly” and storage/high up bouyancy locker in the forward part of what looks like a mini cabin, and I’ve used some of the extra space at the after end to provide space in which to stand at the helm as well as a space for my favourite piece of small boat cruiser furniture which is a small swimming pool bean bag.
Yes I tie it in with a lanyard.

So I drew the first draft of the plans, did all the arithmetic, worked over the structure, and was ok with it,  mostly. I did though think that the space under the “cuddly” was a bit tight, and we have some interfereing beaureuocrats  in local governments who believe that dying is bad for you and have made up a rule that when out in boats under 6 metres long ( just under 20 ft) lifejackets ( PFDs) must be worn at all times.  This nonsense only applies in a few places but still, it can be avoided.

I promise, when I get the plans a little further along I'll get them scanned and put a pic up that will include the full sailplan and a bit more detail.
In the meantime, this will give you an idea as to what I'm up to here.

Now I’m not about to row Long Steps up a river against the tide on a hot windless day while wearing same,  and  when I built a mockup I found that that space under the shelter was a bit tight, so I’ve redrawn it.  I’d only built two components, so there is not much to discard, and the Mk 2 version is a little longer, same beam, has a little more freeboard, more headroom and length in the “cuddly” and a bit more volume in the ballast tank.

I’ve two engineering jobs on today so wont be able to do much with that, but the Tax man is sending me a refund this week, part of which will pay for enough plywood to get properly started on the project.  Watch this space!


  1. Looks great, John. Almost a double-ender! It's difficult to read the specs as they are hidden by the date. What are the pertinent dimensions / data?

  2. This one has really got my interest.

  3. This one has really got my interest.

  4. Another yawl, good. No push-pull, straight tiller?

  5. I have Pathfinder plans, albeit I know I won't get to build another boat till the kids grow up, but longsteps could be a better alternative... watching with interest.