Sport cruising on a budget
Sweet Pea was designed to produce a racer for a club I based
on a very large estuary. With a mostly mature membership and
close to 200 miles of sparsely inhabited fairly sheltered
tidal coastline to play with, there was a need for some simple
cruising accommodation as well as enough performance to be
a fun class racer.
To provide this within a budget I proposed that they build
the boats as bare hull and deck sets as a club effort and
send them home for finishing. This way the boats would be
turned out quickly, the building jig and patterns would provide
control for the class rules, and the advantages of bulk purchasing
would still be available.
There were 6 Sweet Peas Built in the first winter effort,
and by all accounts the boats are doing their jobs admirably.
I gather that there was to be another “batch”
done at the end of the season so they must have made an impression!
I am offering here two new versions of Sweet Pea that would
still measure under the class rules, but the structure is
better suited to building one at a time. Using plywood bulkheads
and stringers with a 9mm plywood skin over, building her is
about as simple a job as one could get in a boat this size.
Simplicity saves costs as well, so there would be few boats
with the combination of low budget, speed and cruising capacity
that this one has.
Light in weight so that the tow vehicle can be quite small,
needing only ankle deep water with the plate up so she can
be slid into the water pretty much anywhere, Sweet Pea has
a cockpit big enough for six, even allowing for the outboard
motor in its well at the after end of the starboard side seat.
There is enough space to seat four below, she can sleep two
in better comfort than some and has permanent mountings for
a stove, storage for the portaloo and enough gear for a weekend!
Sweet Pea is a hot performer, she has a very high power to
weight ratio, a fine entry and a clean run. There is enough
lateral plane in the big steel centerboard to minimise leeway
on the wind, and there is enough weight in that board to steady
her a little. With her kite up out there on the fixed prod
there is enough speed there to keep even the most avid racer
She’ll plane on a reach or run, even the alternative
yawl rig derived from the cruising Navigator has the power
to really move the little craft and it will take a pretty
serious dinghy to keep up whether racing or exploring the
coast and inlets.
As a cruiser, this sort of boat is a camper rather than a
five star hotel, but there is enough space for a couple of
friendly people to enjoy a few days away.
With the cruising yawl rig, she’ll be simple to rig
with short spars, easy to handle, easily reefed in a blow
and very capable.
I like boats like this, for a relatively small investment
in time and a few dollars a week buying the materials the
builder gets a capable little cruiser, the social contact
of club activity and a huge amount of satisfaction.
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