An Adventure 'Sail and Oar' Cruiser Designed by John Welsford
Image Jan J Hein
I like to give a design a name that is suggestive of its aims, and this one was to be my very own ‘adventure boat’, intended for very long multi day coastal cruises, some of them in open water with sheltered anchorages far enough apart to make passages of several days quite possible.
Long Steps? We had a ‘Walkabout’ and a ‘Tread Lightly’ in the range, and my original thoug was to call this one ‘Seven League Boots’ but that’s a bit long and clumsy, so, ‘Long Steps’ it is.
New Zealand has some amazing cruising grounds, the Hauraki Gulf where I live is about 80km x 80km, (50 x 50 miles) with a number of islands in there, so it would be a big ‘jump’ to get from one side to the other in one day, but there are lots of sheltered corners to overnight at anchor. However, once having left this wonderful cruising ground things get steadily worse for a small boat, the harbours get further apart, the coastline more exposed, the cliffs higher and the reefs more frequent.
Once around Cape Reinga in the north its about 300 miles down the west coast to the little artificial harbour at New Plymouth, then about the same distance south to Wellington.
Would I do that? I’m somewhat inspired by the two women, quite separate from each other, who in recent years have kayaked right around New Zealand, so I figured that I’d design with a trip like that in mind, perhaps the North Island anyway, and once sailing the boat then would think about it.
Image Jan J Hein
This is a big ask of a small boat, long distances in open water, the possibility of having to run the boat up a beach through surf if there were no other option, the need to be able to self rescue if in trouble, the need to self steer for long periods, and the need to provide for the skippers comfort for a week or more at a time were all very much needed.
But realistically, although capable of these extended voyages, the boat would most likely be used for daysailing with family or friends, for overnighters or weekends with a group of small boat owners with whom I hang out, and a lot of those gatherings are on lakes, or well away from home so the little ship would need to be trailerable.
Before all that can happen though, and with my customer base in mind, the boat had to be an easy build. No complicated structures, no big twists in the plywood, no complicated laminated components, and a building method that did not require either expensive machinery or tools or advanced building skills.
She’s simple stringers over plywood frames, those frames forming the basis for the interior, the planking has lap joints which are very forgiving to fit, and there are detailed drawings for the fiddly bits, plus fittings lists and a step by step building guide with some pics of key stages to help.
She’s roomy, the self draining sole of the cockpit is plenty large enough to set the airbed and sleeping bag out on, and the cuddy provides shelter as well as a base for a cockpit tent. There is room in that cuddy to sit sheltered while cooking, or just sitting and perhaps reading a book. We’ve used that cuddy idea before on SCAMP and its become a much loved feature which I think will be very beneficial to the boats users.
There is space to stand and move about back aft, that’s helpful when at sea for long periods, allows the skipper to stretch and walk a couple of steps.
As she’s intended to go way past the possibilty of immediate assistance, she’s got a couple of thousand kilograms of built in bouyancy, all accessible for dry storage, but the intention is that she’ll float upright and high when fully swamped, while her ballast and bouyancy distribution makes it possible for one person to right her from a very unlikely full roll over.
The rig uses standard sails from RSS Sails, they’re both economically priced and good quality, I’ll be using those on my own boat, and they’re performing well on the prototype so are well proven.
Image Jan J Hein
She’s a big roomy boat for an open boat, there is space for up to six, but she’s easy to manage single handed. Phil, who built and sails NFRTT the first one in the water has had his out in some very challenging conditions and reports that in the very light she’s ‘a witch’ and is both fast and capable in the heavy weather that is so common in the Pacific North West where he often sails.
Rigging and launching singlehanded is simple, with no stays in the rig and two masts that just drop into their mounting boxes, the two sails leave the cockpit area clear for rowing, camping or sailing, so she’s quick and easy to set up, which maximises time on the water.
Image Jan J Hein
Heres a short report from Phil McCowin, builder and proud owner of NFRTT (that’s her in the photos with this article, say it out loud and you’ll get it). He’s done considerable miles in his, and is itching to get her out there this northern summer.
“The Salish 100. She sailed like a dream, but the flukey Pacific north west winds required a lot of rowing and though she rows easily, I did not have the correct oars which made that less than ideal. The first day was a launch from Kingston Marina in sporting conditions. I left the harbour with a brisk breeze from the east, things were rosy and I locked the tiller clutch, put a foot on the mainsheet and leaned over to locate my coffee thermos. Boom! A huge gust hit and she tipped to leeward and took water over the rail. (About 6” over the rail). She righted, turned herself head to wind and sat hove to while I utilised my bilge pump to empty the standing seawater. No problem or panic, just a little sheepish ... At Point No Point the wind came up again with 3-4’ whitecaps, no problem and she shot out in front of the fleet. I ran easily with a small trimaran all the way to Foulweather Bluff where the wind died. I started rowing again towards the stop at Mats Mats Bay, but when a nice breeze freshened from the east I took advantage and I finished a day early in Port Townsend. After the canal, I had winds from the northwest all the way into port and she tacked with joy.” – P McCowin