Sweet Pea


A Performance sloop, or a cruising yawl with two bunks and a space for the cooker

LOA 5.3m 17ft 5in
Beam 2.24m 7ft 4in
Board up 0.2m 8in
Board down 1.34m 4ft5in
Sail areas:
Sloop 18.39 sq m 198 sq ft
Yawl 16.72 sq m 180 sq ft

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 happy.

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.