A Boat on the Side

A New Cargo Ship

The life of a boat designer is nothing if not challenging and I wouldn’t have it any other way for we are defined by how we respond to challenges. Me, I relish them.

The big challenge for me is the drafting of a new generation of sailing cargo ships. It’s all very well to drool over tall ships under full sail but the reality of 21st century cargo logistics soon put a stop to any turquoise trade wind fantasies. So the challenge I set myself was to design zero emission cargo ships that would fit in with the current freight handling procedures. As members of the International Wind Ship Association http://wind-ship.org/go-sail-cargo-iwsa-associate-member/  we are well aware of the sustained and passionate push for cargo boats that don’t pollute our planet and I can only applaud most of the innovative new ships harnessing the wind. Nevertheless the challenges are daunting – how to move millions of containers efficiently, safely and responsibly.

My own experience is in small – tiny by comparison – vessels and I’m certainly not experienced enough to presume otherwise, so my efforts focus on one, two, or at the most twelve container capacity boats.

I started with a 30-metre cargo ketch with a hold for two x 20-foot (or one x 40-foot) containers plus a dozen pallets. The rig is manageable with a crew of three or four – that’s my Electric Clipper 100. From there I went up in size to a three masted schooner for twelve 40-foot containers (coming soon!) and down to a 19-metre for a single 20-foot container – the new Electric Clipper 64. This one progressed in leaps and bounds. Then I shrank the drawing board back to our smallest boat, the Shimmy 12 as I’m re-drafting this, our most popular model, for a new mass production version in both all electric and sail. The Shimmy MKII will be in fibreglass or roto moulded and fitted out beautifully in timber. I will be getting the boat manufactured to commercial standards as we are keen to make the new Shimmy suitable for hire or lease, and for use in resorts and schools. It is also to be the designated clipper ships’ boat.

Electric Clipper 64

Electric Clipper 64

Back to the big ones. The new cargo boats incorporate all the tried and tested features of the original sailing ships but use them in a cost conscious 21st century efficiency driven marketplace. And that’s the key here really – the marketplace. The shop must appeal to the buyer – the ship owner, government, co-operative or whatever, but most importantly, to their accountants. For they rule the world, don’t they?

So here’s a pitch just for the accounts department.

Choose one:

Boat A – a diesel powered short sea cargo boat shipping a couple of containers from say Brisbane to Port Moresby. Costs include diesel fuel and a percentage of engine maintenance – several thousand dollars.

Boat B – a sail electric powered boat as above. Same crew, same capacity, same reliability but zero fuel costs and dramatically reduced maintenance costs. But there’s more!

* Free advertising hoardings – the sails

* Paying passengers

* Excellent publicity opportunities – photo opportunities abound.

* Zero emissions – a clear conscience, you are making a difference

* Ongoing low operational costs

Build a better boat – leave the world in a better place.

Visit our dedicated website for more information http://www.gosailcargo.com/

Cargo Ketch

This is a typical 19th century cargo ketch with the main gaff being used to unload her cargo. Photo: The London Stereophonic Company

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Pirates and payloads

Our world is all about boats and boatbuilding and the people that indulge in that ancient and honourable activity so it’s timely I think, to take another look at the past, the present, and the future of small boats.

Years ago a man would build his own house, shed, or boat and enjoy the simple rewards of life without the need for instant gratification. I think it’s time for younger generations to revisit those days. A good house or boat took time and hard work to build but a boat, let’s not forget, is your only link to life if you’re caught out in rough weather and you’re not a good swimmer – like me. Which is one of the reasons I get a tiny bit obsessed by seaworthiness, sea kindliness, that easy motion in a nasty chop which all good boats have.

I come from a long line of British seafarers, none of us good swimmers. It’s an old Royal Navy tradition – I mean what’s the point of being a good swimmer if your frigate is shot full of canon off the Spanish coast? You ain’t going to be plucked out of the water and wrapped in warm blankets by caring Hispanic lifeboat men, are you?

Anyway, the seas my ancestors sailed were just the same as today so the boats need the same attributes for safe passage making. Yes, it’s true, their oceans were still teeming with marine life, the atmosphere was carbon balanced, Mother Nature was Queen – a world in perfect equilibrium. Since then we’ve just kept on reproducing, kept on polluting, kept on with our unceasing efforts to mould the world to our own greedy whine. And then there’s Trump . . . . oops, sorry I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.

Back to boats. I’ve studied boatbuilding for well over half a century, it started in earnest in Roskilde, Denmark when I was 15 and on a sort of student work experience thing. I sailed a clinker built dinghy on the fiord, I visited the Viking ship museum and discovered Scandinavian girls. Three things to change a boy’s life – forever.

Now the Vikings knew a thing or two about the way of a ship in the sea. Take a look at the footage of the Norwegian replica Draken Harald Hårfagre – 35 metres of lithe longship – in stormy weather. Look at the way she moves – poetry. It’s no wonder that countless modern designers take these long simple shapes, push and pull them a bit and call them their own. They worked well over a thousand years ago, so why not now? So thanks to you, YouTube for something other than small furry animals and laugh out loud disasters. Talking of YouTube, our own video of the Secret 33 has passed the 3,000 views milestone as I write in October. That’s with no paid publicity and no fake views either, I wonder if it will go virus . . . or is it viral?

While I don’t do Viking ships, my own boats have a lot of workboat DNA in them and I’m certainly rather fond of the lug rig – it’s carried on nearly all of our boats and after all, it was good enough for Bligh to sail 6,000 miles in an open 22-footer. Seen the SBS series “Mutiny”? Rather light on boat details but good viewing and it proves the point – a good little ship and a good navigator can withstand nearly anything the irritable sea gods can hurl at them.

I’ve been thinking about sailing cargo ships a lot lately and designed a modern mini Thames barge – a mix of the past and a possible future.

The new boat is to be built from pre-fabricated containerable 3 metre by 2.4 metre steel sections and shipped out from China or Korea as a kit. They will take one 20-foot or 40-foot container, depending on how may middle sections you weld together. The ends are as fine as I can make them and the rig is reduced to its simplest components with a boomless main, a low aspect gaff with vangs, and its crane convertible too. – not for 12 tonne containers, though. So pretty much any cargo can be loaded, all covered by a concertina hatch on rollers with as many solar panels as possible stitched on the canvas. Solar panels? Yes, it has twin electric auxiliary motors plus a diesel generator and water turbine generator tool. Now, of course you’re not going to get far on solar alone, but all the time you’re sailing you’re powering up the battery banks.

You may rightly snort derisively and quite reasonable point out that sustainable sailing isn’t exactly compatible with steel container ships but mark my words, it’s coming – look at your roof solar, look at Tesla, look at South Australia. Better still, look at our own Secret 33 launches. We can build you one, you know, and you’ll never buy diesel or petrol again. There’s a lot going on around the world with sailing cargo ships from the sublime – the three masted lugger Greyhound, a replica privateer – to the not so sublime but some interesting projects nevertheless. The Greyhound has shipped cargos of wine from France to the UK, returning with cider. Where do I sign?

Lots of interest then, including a two container capacity catamaran which apparently took six naval architects, a team of IT professionals and a good few engineers and researchers plus a catering division and a university department, all to come up with some working drawings.

The new take on the Thames barge took just me at my dining table. Of course I had pencils, a scale rule, a good rubber, cups of tea and Annette to help with scanning in the drawings and typing my copy. It’s a funny old world sometimes. They have EU backing, I have a lovely view from my table.

Finally got the new Sienna in the water last month. Not much wind but she slipped along nicely and the new electric sail drive unit worked well. 2HP, 12 hours range and 1.5 knots – if you need more get something big and wide with 200HP and, well you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?

So a little bit goes a long way then and yes, it will push a loaded boat into a short chop and a headwind. Not quickly, I grant you, but it’s only an auxiliary and it’s a sailing boat, after all.

We did the sea trials at of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and took a couple of their sailing academy guys and a journalist with us. They were all very complimentary and “shocked “as to how well the 19 went in winds not exceeding 4 knots. We’ve completed the Sienna’s extensive checklist (see scruffie.com/sienna19-EX) and we’ll convince the world of the lugger’s many virtues.

We’re developing the Sienna 19 as a 17 footer too – it has a transom baffle to cut off the counter stern for an easy to hang rudder and there will be two new versions of the electric one plus a gaff sloop. We’re also seriously considering sending them out as semi kits with all the internal mouldings fitted in for stability but the decks left off, leaving the customer to fit out and trim. Sure, it’s not like our timber kits and, let’s face it, not as cheap either but for a no maintenance sea kindly 19 or 17 footer, it’s probably going to be available at two thirds the price of a completed one. The mast/sail pack is much the same as our tried and tested kit versions and the timber trims are similar too. Most of the fit-out is by way of bolting on things, so don’t be put off by the fibreglass thing. Talk to us if you are interested.

I’ve always had an unnatural fear of any theatrical productions involving pirates or any seafaring for that matter. I suppose it’s all that fake “Arrgh Jim lad!” stuff, uttered in fake Cornish accents. That plus the awful sets with fake yardarms and let’s not mention the “musical” aspects of anything by Gilbert and Sullivan.

But I’m being the bad Derek here – the Bah! Humbug! Man of boating. So when I was asked to design and build some sets for a local amateur production involving maritime looting, pillaging and um, violence the good Derek stepped forward and said “Yes, I can do that!” So with a budget running into nearly a fair day’s pay (including materials) I was off and splicing the mainbrace before you could shout “Avast there!” Here’s some photos – the theatre people painted them – judge for yourself. I suggested that the director introduce some unsavoury seafarers sayings to spice it all up a bit, old naval gems like “Ashore it’s wine, women, and song but at sea it’s rum, bum and concertina.” I shudder to think of the unbidden images . . . .

Fair winds and don’t forget to Box the Compass.


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Sienna news

New model - well nearly, in actual fact we’re cheating a bit with the new Sienna 17. The Sienna 19, the sailing school’s favourite, was always designed with optional keels to allow either sailing or power versions and we always had in mind a transom stern version as a replacement for the venerable Scruffie 16. Not that the 16 will ever go out of production, but the 17 is to be a smaller simpler sloop rigged version of the 19. Cheaper too.
But then we were approached to do an inboard diesel or electric launch so the 17 began to take shape in earnest. It seems a simple matter to build a transom shaped baffle to fit neatly in the hull mould, cutting off the counter stern and a couple of feet in overall length. Not so fast, there’s more to it than that. Firstly we build a new transom plug to fit precisely into the mould – the right amount of rake, the correct deck camber, and all perfectly fair and polished. From that we fabricate a snug fitting removable mould which can be securely clamped in place without damaging the counter. Then it’s all wax, gelcoat, cloth, core-mat, and chopped strand. Followed by “boom! tish!” and out pops a seventeen footer. Easy. Just as we were about to start along comes not just one but two orders for new full length Sienna 19s, sigh . . . . In doing the new 19s we’re lowering the cockpit coaming a touch but otherwise if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Here are some renderings of the electric version - more on this version on the website.

Rig decision - I agonize over rigs, there’s so much going for the loose footed main but the gaff really is superior in some ways. When tendering for a big contract a while back we were, however, shocked to read that crash helmets were to be mandatory for sea cadets in a country we decline to name. So it’s back to the boomless main then . . . . . oh to hell with that, you’re not a proper sailor unless you’ve been whacked with an errant boom, the new Sienna 17 will therefore sport a gaff sloop ring but crash helmets will be optional.

More Sienna news - just got one of Blue Peter’s boats back for refurbishing. The sailing school should properly be referred to as “the sailing school of hard knocks.” For in her short life, she’s had a few. One of them was when she wasn’t even afloat but innocently strapped on to the trailer. A three vehicle end to end shunt resulted in extensive damage to the three cars and to the trailer. Sufficient force was generated to bend the steel winch stalk, the bolts and base plate as the boat tried to overtake the car in front. Result? Very expensive repairs all round but only cosmetic damage to the Sienna. Cue relieved mopping of brow and grateful entreaties to the gods of luggers.

And the moral is? Keep your distance, maintain your trailer and its brakes and buy a Sienna 19 just in case. See details of this model on the website Sienna 19 EX page.

With our second Secret 33 electric launch now completed and operating in Perth, it's Sienna time and we're really enjoying it!

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In good hands

There are times when those who design and build things – be they cars, bikes, boats, musical instruments, or even lawnmowers – rejoice to know that they are in good hands. For us it is always a source of great pleasure to hear about the voyages our owners undertake, especially those who are demonstrably competent sailors. Such is the case with our youngest builder Kael Kloosterman who has recently built his Shimmy 12 as a school project. His video – you can see it on our website – will lay to rest any doubts you may harbour about the future of boatbuilding and sailing. The footage is simple, yet effective, it’s just one teenager in a small boat but it speaks volumes about sailing as we imagine it should be – effortlessly enjoyable. Well done Kael and thank you for the inspiration.

Some twenty years ago I took a family out for a test sail in a brisk wind and to my surprise the father gave the helm to his youngest – a girl of around ten or eleven. “She’s the best” he said. And she was. A girl born to sail, she tacked, gybed, thrashed to windward and flew offwind with unshakable confidence and enviable poise. I hope she’s still sailing as dad didn’t buy the boat.

For those who are thinking of buying a a boat, for just under $4,000 will get you a complete 3.6-metre sea going boat in a box. Add a Protruar 2HP electric outboard, a couple of batteries and one of our rowing kits and you’re on the water without trashing the planet. You’ll also be fulfilling a primordial urge. Go to our Shimmy page on the website to see more about her features.

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Secret Sisters

This year marks a number of significant milestones and events for us at Scruffie Marine. First, of course, is the Practical Boat Owner order from the UK. That Britain’s best selling magazine  has chosen to order one of our Secret 20s as their project is certainly a feather in our cap, for them to choose us over all the kit manufacturers in Western Europe is an honour itself but for the editors to pick one of my own photos for their Facebook masthead is especially pleasing – much appreciated David and Ben – thanks. Follow the progress on line and in print starting soon. This kit is a standard issue Secret with a few added bonuses such as quarter-sawn veneers to stern, cabin, and coaming. I say veneers but they are 3 to 6 mm in thickness for ease of application and to give the builders a bit of leeway when sanding.

The Secrets have evolved over the years now, with slightly more ballast, lifting tiller, retracting bowsprit, modified tabernacle and so on. A good boat is now better than ever. Modesty? Pah!

This kit marks a milestone being the only one where I’ve machined and manufactured every single component myself. I’ve even built the crate and while I’ve had a hand with packing, strapping, and loading, it’s all my own work. A good feeling actually, to design the boat, design the kit system, work out how it all goes together, build everything, and then drive it to the shipping agents for its big adventure on the high seas.

Also this year the first of big sister, Secret 33, is plying her trade on the Swan River. Customer feedback is good and work progresses steadily on Boat II, also for Perth.

As well as the solar-electric version we have finalised the layout and rig for the gaff yawl which is much more like it. Yes, the solar-electric launch will be popular but I desperately want to sail the yawl.

The first sailing Secret 33 is the plug we built to take the moulds off for GRP production. Like the electric boats, we built her as a 12-passenger commercial vessel but under sail with a 10kW Oceanvolt electric sail drive for irritating calms, unruly headwinds, foul  tides, and we’ll be late times. That said, if she’s anything like a Secret 20, she’ll be off in the faintest of breezes.

The electric version will hit nearly 6 knots with only 3kW of power, another is 5 needed to push her to 7.8 knots. That’s fully laden too.

The yawl has a deeper keel, of course, but still comparatively shallow with a draught of 1 metre.

For private use the yawl will be a party like its 1920 boat, so roaring is encouraged and posing on the net “wings” compulsory. Well, for the trim and tanned among us. While I was once young and attractive, those days are sadly long gone.

There’s so much more going on this year I could write for another hour but my editor implores me to be brief, so I’ll stop then except to say hurry up and buy the Secret 33 yawl so I can borrow  her back and go sailing.

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Super Secret

We bade a fond farewell to Secret 33 No. 1 as she was loaded on to the big rig for her new life on the Swan River in Perth early last November. Now she’s on the water in Perth, attending the opening of Elizabeth Quay and getting out and about generally.

Secret 33

Secret night life

Secret 33

Secret on the Swan River

Secret 33

More fun on the river

A year ago this boat did not exist. In eleven months we’ve designed and refined her lines, her layout, her power-train, and her aesthetics.
Lots of custom fittings, gleeful use of fibreglass, foams, resins, and plastics with an abundance of red cedar, some of it over a century old and nearly black. Purists queue here for outraged spluttering and sundry accusations.
But really, a 21st Century commercial ferry/charter boat is obliged to exploit all the advantages of modern materials and her hull, while looking like something from the roaring twenties, is actually a racing yacht in disguise. Which is really why she goes so well and yes, sea trials prove it. In 22ish knots and plenty of white horses she proved to be stable and comfortable with nary a drop of spray disturbing the passengers.
“Faster!” I cried, “full ahead both!”and her skipper wound her up to over 7.5 knots.
“What range captain?” I enquired.
“At 5.5 knots we’d do close on 15 hours, sir.”
“Excellent! – I assume that’s with 1.6 watts of solar on the roof?”
“Yes, and allowing for the fitting of fast props.”

Secret 33

Secret 33 first sea trials

Incidentally, the new ferry hulls are sprayed in Colourthane B62 Midnight Blue which is a nice colour but has a touch of purple in strong sunlight. I fancied a purer blue, perhaps a little on the cooler spectrum, so I called up Wattyl with a Pantone reference – more like a deep dark turquoise. They were very helpful, so Secret Blue, a new Wattyl colour, will be tested in the coming weeks and be available nationally as soon as we’ve settled on a formula. Hopefully Ferry II will debut the all new shade of blue – perfect for the bay on cooler days.
On to other news, we’ve re-worked the Shimmy 12 to a 13 in GRP again, this one with a skeg keel and fully enclosed centreboard. A centreboard? – Yes, not a dagger-board – I’d never live it down, but a nicely engineered centreboard fitted entirely under the flat floor and raised via a concealed block and tackle. The beauty of this arrangement means that two versions, a solar/rowing/outboarding one plus a sailing version are easy to manufacture. Easier, that is, once you’ve built and fine-tuned the plug, done the sea trials, made all the moulds, worked out how it all fits together and . . . . . sigh. God knows when I’ll get time.
Meanwhile, talking of plugs, am I the only one who is truly pissed off by modern electric plugs? I have an old grinder fitted with two polishing wheels for when we do our own metalwork and the plug is still perfect. Contrast that to a new good quality jigsaw which is great apart from a crap plug.
Question: how does the rest of the world work a jigsaw? Answer: you pick up the tool and plug it in.
Question: how do Australians work a jigsaw? Answer: you pick it up, attempt to plug it in, bend the prongs, and try again. Next you bend them a little more and finally plug the thing in. It’s the same with nearly all of my newer tools, am I cursed with weak plug syndrome? My new socks have both got holes in them too – both sides . . .
I’ve looked at socks from both sides now and still somehow its socks’ illusions I recall, I really don’t know socks at all . . . . . .

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Scruffie Marine 25 years old

Life in our miniscule part of the universe is subject to linear time and punctuated by an infinite number of significant events, some clearly signposted, others as a result of the toss of a coin. Particle physics or fascinating multiverse theories aside, it’s what we live with.
Some of our life chapters start with an explosive fanfare of fate, some creep up on us in the shadows. It is how we react that is important, we can wallow in a self-indulgent funk or we can stride forward with confidence.
Scruffie Marine started after a perfect storm of multi-adversity but our 25th Anniversary this Easter is founded on unwavering persistence, hard work and unshakable confidence – we chose to stride. Our first boat slipped off a makeshift trailer into the water on Easter Saturday 1990 and now, 327 boats later, we’re still here.
The name Scruffie was chosen by a Courier-Mail journalist who asked “well what kind of boat is it, then?”
“It’s a simple no frills knockabout family sailing boat you can build from a kit” I replied, then adding something like “a boat that doesn’t stand on ceremony.”
“A bit scruffy, then?”
“Well yes.”
“OK, a scruffy boat then” he said as he scribbled away on a dog-eared notebook. Later I spelt it with an “ie” to make it, well, less scruffy . . . . We’ve often thought of changing it – the joke quickly wore thin but re-branding is a costly exercise and you’d have to re-brand the designer too – something he wouldn’t take kindly to. Besides, the customers just won’t have it.

Scruffie 16

Derek, Chris and Andrew in the first Scruffie 16


The simple essence of the original Scruffie 16 lives on in every single kit boat we produce. The tried and tested build systems imitated by many and lauded by the boating media have been fine-tuned and fettled to make the boats easier and quicker to build. With the Secret 20 we designed a composite hull with double chines, strip-planked and faired off to a nicely rounded bilge. Forwards a 4mm ply section is bent around the bottom and glassed over, continuing the rounded sections to the boat, the whole hull then glassed. “I wish I had thought of it” said Dick Phillips of the UK magazine Watercraft in 2009.
The boats have stood the test of time and this month we’ll ship out Shimmy No 84 (AUS) – A lightweight version, Queensland Red Cedar trimmed with tanbark sails and a Torqeedo electric outboard.
We can never stand still, however, and many innovations have been tried and accepted or rejected. In ’98 we were the first to use custom 3D routed rigid foam hull sections as a part of a catamaran kit. The 20-footer weighted just 360 kg all up and went very well indeed. But we only ever sold one. It was an expensive project but the experience was priceless. This system has since been adopted by other kit catamaran manufacturers.
Some years ago after much hand wringing we ventured into the world of fibreglass production, a move accompanied by much gnashing of teeth, especially as it coincided with the fallout of the Great Wall Street Shuffle – the shuffling of capital from us to them. Undeterred, “Forward!” I cried.

Sienna No 1

GRP Sienna Ex No 1 - owners Jono and Martin with Derek and Annette

Secret 33 – sparks must fly

And now another significant milestone is being passed – the new Secret 33.
Now when you set up production for fibreglass or composite boats most people build a fake boat, albeit a beautifully finished one, in MDF. This is used to build the mould and it’s then thrown away or used to decorate bars. In a similar way a strong-back is used as a mould for strip-planked boats. It all seems such a waste to me. Of course hundreds of moulds are taken from existing boats, old and new, and this is our preference. We’re building Secret 33 No 1 in foam core glass over what amounts to a Scruffie Marine kit, this one will be a yacht (we’re building them with interchangeable keels.) The framework is, of course, our usual set of interlocking bulkheads overlaid with closely spaced stringers. The 15mm foam core sheeting, in 2.4 up to 12-metre lengths is then bent, kerfed, and cajoled over the framework, filled, faired and glassed all over. The catalyst for all this furious foaming is an order for two electric passenger ferries for Perth. An honour gratefully accepted. We’ve been serious about electric boats for a decade or more and a good many of our sailing boats carry electric outboards – Torqeedos or Protruars. Our first all electric passenger launch was the GRP Sienna 19, a 5.9-metre motor boat also available as a lugsail yawl. The motor we fitted was a Torqeedo Cruise2, powered by a bank of lithium batteries charged by the canopy mounted solar array. Such is the efficiency of the Secret derived hull and efficient power train that she uses half, yes half, the power of similar electric production boats and in several years as a hire boat not once has shore charging been required.
Free power, free of pollution, free of profit-sapping overheads – everyone’s a winner. Sienna’s big sister will use a pair of new generation Torqeedo Cruise 4.0s and be rudder steered. For day to day ferry services, up the north bank of Perth water and down the south, the batteries will need an overnight plug in to top up the solar input, and lithium batteries can be quickly topped up between trips if need be, but this will rarely be necessary. The new Secrets are unashamedly vintage in appearance, an important part of the brief, but thoroughly modern under the skin. They’ll fly too!
Thank you project head Kevyn for having the vision and the persistence to carry it through and thank you for choosing us – here’s to many more and not just in Perth.

Secret 33

The new Secret 33 taking shape

And now back to the archives

The lead photo shows me and two of my sons sailing Scruffie No 1. This was the first of many pictures taken by professional photographers. From early ‘92, however, most were taken by Scruffie owner Ray Cash, without a doubt one of the country’s best – recently chosen to cover the G20 sortie and the swearing in of the new government in Queensland. We’ve been delighted by his work over the years and many examples have graced these pages. Our website and blog are identified by his stunning photo of Secret and Stornaway on Moreton Bay. Ray can be contacted at raycashphotography.com
The sepia photo shows the original Secret in a bit of a hurry crossing the English Chanel. An old friend’s father commissioned her in the ‘30s from Shuttlewoods of Paglesham, a yard famous for traditional working craft, notably smacks and smack yachts like Secret. The difference being mouldering oilskins in the hold, rather than rotting fish. With war clouds looming and a new bride to placate, the old man kept her a secret as long as he could but she found out. Thankfully she then became a family secret – the boat, that is. Still sailing in the UK, her DNA lives on here at Scruffie H.Q.

The original Secret in the mid '30s

The original Secret in the mid '30s

Secret 20 No. 1

Secret 20 No. 1 on Moreton Bay, 70 years on

Stornaway – Scruffie grows up

The first Stornaway was originally a stretched 16 with a counter-stern. She quickly underwent a whole series of modifications, including widening the hull aft, remodelling the stern, rig and rudder. Stornaways are our second best seller with 77 Of them out there.
Photo No 5 shows Michael Liles and crew roaring along in the Roaring Forties off the coast of Tasmania.
All of our kit boats are built around a solid timber keel and the frames and bulkheads slot in to the keel and to each other. There aren’t many production boats built this way, most of them use centreboards or the devil’s own dagger-boards, sliding down through vestigial keels.
Ah dagger-boards! I can tell a tale or two of those evil contrivances, in fact here’s one.
As a young student who knew everything about sailing, I once took out a lovely young sweet-natured girl, blessed with cascading ringlets of shimmery bronze. The boat was her dad’s, a nice little clinker dinghy with a dagger-board. It was dead calm as we launched so I began to row out up the narrow muddy Leigh creek. Within minutes I had caught an oar on the muddy, fishy bank and splattered her lovely hair with flecks of black estuarine goo. She shrugged it off.
As the wind piped up I set sail on a dead run and a little wayward gust caught the little mainsail unawares and the little boom gaily swung over collecting the little angel on the forehead en route – involuntary tears welled up. Mine, I think.
This was definitely not going to plan.
We sailed on, morosely.
We picnicked on the sunny sandbank, envious eyes cast over to other happier, unblemished, mud-free sailors.
On the way back I touched ground and the rigid non-retractable rudder tore out the bottom transom pintle. I managed a makeshift lash up and we continued, the broken rudder banging on the varnished transom.
The final humiliating end to this day of maritime disasters came as we were tacking back up the creek to the cockle sheds. The devil’s dagger-board was down, the water was shallow, the wind was brisk and gusty from the west. We picked up speed on the final leg and the dagger collected a bit of bank that shouldn’t have been there. The boat stopped dead in the water but the crew carried on – both thrown forward, her lovely lips making contact with an unyielding mahogany thwart.
Blood trickled.
I was mortified.
I apologised for the seventh time but it was way too late.
Her features set in a grimace that did not bode well for future dates or meeting the parents.
We packed up the gear and trudged silently up the hill. We parted at her gate without a word and I never saw her again.
I have never, ever, built a boat with a dagger-board. Even today most of my smaller boats carry boomless mains.
More stories, articles, and even recipes on the Captain’s Blog blog.scruffie.com

Stornaway 18

Michael Liles taking it green in the Tawe Nunnegah Raid Tasmainia 2013

Cherchez la femme

I did and at the end of 1994 I found Annette!
In those first few years I struggled on with two boys to look after and a business to build but then Annette joined in and we became a team. In short order a proper functioning office took shape with a proper filing system and all. Annette and I both have an art school background so between us we have been able to cover just about all of the business design needs in house. So from boat design to boatbuilding, from brochure design to bookkeeping (the long-boarding of office work) from costing to customer care, from component design to . . . . anyway, we make a good team.

Export or die

Starting in the late 90s we began to export the kits. We exhibited at the Southampton Boat Show in 1995 and sold our first three export kits. Classic Boat did a favourable story on us, the first of the three, and after a couple of false starts we appointed Max Campbell as our UK agent. Max built a Secret and a Shimmy and sold numerous boats before the Wall Street Shuffle trampled the UK market. The photo below shows his Shimmy on the Norfolk Broads.
We exported kits to nine different countries, most to the UK and America and by 2008 half our business was in exports. Then someone moved the goal posts, the sign posts, and even the gate posts. We took a collective deep breath, tightened our belts and panicked.

Shimmy 12

Max's Shimmy on the Norfolk Broads

Back to the Secret, then

We’ve certainly had our fair share of challenges but no corners have been cut and indeed THE CORNER has been well and truly turned with the new 33s. We’re all very excited to be working on a new model. It’s lovely to see her evolve from early concepts – the 29 and the 36 – into the current 33, rapidly taking shape in the yard. Her hull follows current racing yacht practice with a needle sharp entry merging into a wide flattish section aft of centre – a big Secret 20 in fact and still trailerable. That’s not to say you’d put her in for an afternoon sail, no, you’d keep her on a mooring or caravan up to the Whitsundays for a few weeks.
While all boats are both a challenge and a compromise, the good thing about our production system is that, like the Sienna, many different models can be built from the same hull, power or sail. No 1 will be a sailer and a scale sketch appeared in the last issue of AAB.
While I’d prefer an over-canvassed gaff cutter with an outrageous jackyard topsail, I have drawn this as a yawl with an eye to working the Swan River and Rottnest. A lower main mast is essential to clear the bridges and while the gaff is being dipped to clear the lowest, she still has plenty of power with the staysail, jib and mizzen.
While the electric ferries have a draught of under 600mm, the sailing version with their deeper 1-tonne ballasted keels draw a metre – still not bad for a 33-footer. I’ve been studying a number of comparable boats in the Spirit of Tradition sector and most of them draw 6 or even 8 feet with a fin keel – a fixed dagger board – no good for the shallows or overconfident teenage skippers and a bit of a problem with the trailer unless you had a 30-foot drawbar or a handy mobile crane.
Then there’s the weight – the boat and trailer must total no more than 3.5 tonnes to suit most newer 4 x 4s and of course a beam of 2.5 is the limit without flashing lights, flags, and nerves of steel. There’s an end to slipway fees of course and an electric outboard on a sliding track is quickly serviced or even replaced, unlike an inboard diesel.
While I really can’t see a big market for a kit version, we’ve already had enquiries about home fit-out, so I could be well wrong.

We couldn’t have done it without . . .

. . .Our suppliers, our service providers, the locals here on Tamborine Mountain, and most of all the customers whether they be schools, commercial operators or you, dear reader.
Here then are some of the people, in no particular order, who continue to make it all possible.
That Oregon Place has supplied us with beautiful close grained Oregon Pine or more correctly, Douglas Fir for 25 years. Every single boat we’ve built has incorporated Oregon. The best comes from high up in the Cascades and is shipped out from Portland on the Columbia River. Oregon State law allows only sustainable logging and rightly so.
Keith Smith has been supplying us with rich Red Cedar and Silky Oak for over 30 years. He’s a builder too and we’ve built several houses up here. Keith and I are not good with paperwork, we rely on plain verbal agreement and Annette keeps us in line – it works.
Ben Kelly of Quantum sails – Ben served his apprenticeship cutting our sails and we’ve been with him for nearly 20 years now and followed him when he teamed up with Quantum. Ben is a racer and his sails reflect that passion – that’s partly why a Secret 20 will out-perform so many other boats, even to windward. Quantum sails and Ben Kelly – the best.
Boatcraft Pacific – a quarter century of good service with good products, courtesy of Boatcraft Pacific. Bruce, the founder, brewed his own epoxy and we’ve been using it forever. It’s superior, full stop. They supply our cloth and these days marine ply plus all sorts of stuff from their extensive range of boatbuilding products. So thanks Ian and the boys.
Col Clifford of Compucraft – I can’t remember when I first met Col but it must be nearly 30 years by now and never a bad word between us. To this day I draw up the hull lines by hand, Col scans them in and his electronic wizardry smoothes out the wobbly lines on the screen. We then work up the lines to full scale plans and while I have the final say, we are always in accord, even when I obsess over raising a sheerline 3mm at the bow. That’s not to say the design process ends there, the whole front third of the Scintilla 24 was re-modelled after the prototype and I’ve now completely re-worked the new Secret 33’s stern – she’s a little wider too, now perilously close to the 2.5 metre maximum width. This, of course, stresses the importance of building and modifying a full-size boat before you commit to a production run – there’s surely no substitute.
When Col and I were doing the Shimmy we followed the usual procedure and we each took a set of lines to fine-tune. He rang me up and said “You’d better get down here and look at this.” He would say no more. So, fearing the worst I drove down as soon as I could. He held up our two versions to the sunlight, one on top of the other – they were, within a mill or two, identical.
That’s the way we do it!
Australian Amateur Boatbuilder – what can I say? Thank you Wendy, thank you Paul and everyone else at the magazine for your unfailing good humour, even when I’m having one of those “moments.”
Ronstan – we’ve used Ronstan products almost exclusively from Day One and considering the thrashing they often get, year in, year out their gear doesn’t give up easily. That’s why we stick with them, that and their very efficient service. Sure we also buy from other suppliers, but a good three quarters of our chandlery is from Ronstan.
Lightwave Yachts – build all of our GRP hulls to a consistently high standard and they look after us very well.
Blue Peter – Jono and his crew currently run 2 Siennas and 1 Stornaway. They work their boats hard and Jono is without a doubt our most experienced skipper – in his hands a Sienna 19 will take on all comers and probably come out on top. Jono and Martin, between them have bought lots of our boats over the years for schools and outdoor education centres. We are extremely grateful.
Rite Price Distributors – I’m happy to say their prices are right by us. They supply Wattyl coatings, sanding products and various specialised industrial stuff – definitely recommended.
Oceanic Trailers – Australian built, good service, and nice alloy wheels too.
There really are so many – Runaway Bay Marine Covers do all our marine covers and soft fit-outs, a special thanks to Martin for looking after our web hosting, Ben Upton at Echo Imaging has been a great help as have all our customers, especially those who have taken the time to provide feedback, drawings, endless encouragement and lots of photos – a big hug from the captain and a big kiss from Annette.
I’d also like to thank my staff, Ian and Andy, and my supportive sons Robin, Chris and Andrew, my late parents and . . . . and . . . . wait a minute, this sounds like one of those truly embarrassing Oscar acceptance speeches where a tearful actress in a fearful frock thanks everyone from the local newsagent to the third cousin twice removed.
So I’ll stop right there.

Scintilla 20

Lew Dalgliesh in his beautifully built Scintilla 24 on the Clarence River

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Shimmy Number 78

The decade from 1960 on was pivotal in the affairs of man and pivotal in the affairs of Scruffie Marine.

1960 was the last year I regularly raced sailing dinghies and it was the year I survived several shocking capsizes in the frigid waters of the UK East Coast. This was not, I felt, the way to the warm glow of satisfaction I expected from childhood readings of Swallows and Amazons, while some wonderful sailing times were still to come,  racing had lost its appeal. I resolved to voyage instead but first there was study.

By 1963 I was at Art School full time when such things were completely free and encouragement was generous. This was a time when we studied the relationships between form and function, and between aesthetics and efficiency, for while the course was fine art based, those enlightened educators insisted on a well-rounded, all-encompassing first year introductory course.  Its effect was profound for I embarked on a lifelong study of all things related to water, particularly boats.

We studied the human form, we studied many beautiful works of man and gods, and we also studied, albeit briefly, fish. Now there’s a lot more to fish than chips. They are, for starters, amazingly efficient creatures, some reaching astonishing speeds, some diving to impossible depths and some even flying. In the 18th Century naval architecture turned a new page and inspired by fish formula, promoted the “Cod’s Head Mackerel Tail” theory of design. Remember the film “Master and Commander?” – It’s a good history documentary too.

In the late 19th Century Joshua Slocum circumnavigated the world in his converted fishing boat “Spray” which featured, you guessed it, a rather fishy hull shape. Variations of that boat still sail the seven seas.

But back to the sixties. In giving up a none too promising racing career, I began to search for answers to the perennial challenges facing all designers of cruising boats – that is how to reconcile a set of wholly inconvenient but necessary compromises. Life, however, got in the way so it wasn’t until the late eighties that the on tenth scale Scruffie 16 model was built and all the compromises were keenly agonised over again.

The first full-sized Scruffie 16 sailed in 1990 but by number two the racer in me started to refine the boat and by boat number eight a number of changes had been made, even though the basic hull remained the same as it is today. Quite soon then, the keels grew deeper, the rudders better profiled (think of fish tail fins), the sails subtly re-designed, jibs added and a host of other small but significant improvements were made. You can’t stand still, can you? Then came the Shimmy 12, the 16’s smaller sister and in some ways the nicer boat, and closer perhaps to the simple cruising ideals of Arthur Ransome. The very basic early Scruffie 16s were too compromised in an effort to produce a cheap, knockabout boat and as they became more sophisticated and thus more expensive, the Shimmy 12 went back to those early ideals, virtually unchanged from boat number one and with nearly eighty boats sold, she’s still very much in production.

Shimmy No 78

Recently we built Shimmy number 78 for a Bellingen family – two  busy doctors and two sons. Now there’s a powerful argument for kits – it’s quite simple but increasingly relevant. It’s time saved – our kits are delivered with pretty much everything you need to build the boat. Kits equate to no time sourcing parts and much less time building and so more time boating. And if you are not up to the task, or simply can’t wait, our kits are so quick to assemble that we can build them for you at a very reasonable price – which was the case with No 78 – they  couldn’t really justify the time to build.

Of course plans are even cheaper and these days often free, particularly for flat-bottomed skiffs but they too have their compromises and, of course, it’s up to each builder to carefully weigh up the pros and cons. The fact remains, however, that in our Brave New Corporate Utopian World not many of us can spare much time for the pleasures of even basic boating, let alone the creative satisfaction of sailing your own dream. The Shimmy 12 then, really is a good compromise – of course I’m bound to say that, but here’s an awful lot of research and development gone into that little boat, a lot of serious voyaging too. The runs are on the board without a doubt – there’s not many 12-footers that can safely circumnavigate Kangaroo Island.

I can build a Shimmy in three weeks by myself without overtime. Our customers will take longer of course, but I’ll take you through the basic stages with No 78 – it’s quite straightforward.

First up Shimmys are unlike any other small production sailing boat in that they have a fixed keel which makes building set-up a breeze and helps to endow them with  Island hopping seaworthiness. The keel is supplied ready to take the pre-jointed stem and stern, you epoxy them all together in an hour or two, and when cured set them up level and plumb on a pair of saw stools.

All framed up

Photo 1: All framed up

Next cut the ply tabs to release the frames and bulkheads and trim the slots and tabs to enable them to fit together. It’s just a big, simple, 3D jigsaw really. You do this “dry” first. Then join the seat parts together with ply pads and fit to the framework. The whole assembly is now fitted to the keel via the pre-cut slots and once the dry run is completed to your satisfaction, you can glue it all together with more epoxy – we use Bote-Cote. Use a spirit level to check everything and use scrap wood battens and the odd clamp to brace it up and that’s it – hull in frame.

Next up is fitting the transom and various bevelled battens to take the stringers and sides. We do most of this prior to assembly but it’s either or. Then it’s time to fit the laminated stringers. These come in pairs and are cut to fit at the bow, and laminated together to form a strong yet lightweight corner or chine to the hull. At the stern they are held in place by a transom slot – see photo No 1.

Fairing, floorboards, sanding, and sides

Now take a break from building and start coating and sanding and coating and sanding. Boring, yes, but if we do it at this stage it’s much easier. Basically sand everything is sight. Flatten and sand the seats with a longboard and power sanders of your choice. Apply any coving (filleting) as appropriate and sand all the fiddly bits. Saturate with neat Bote-Cote epoxy thinned down with a little TRPD and GP Thinners so the wood or ply is fully soaked. When dry sand again and try not to go through to bare timber. We then roller on a couple of coats of Wattyl Epinamel 4:1 undercoat. Then sand again, with blocks to ensure you don’t work any hollows into the job.

At this stage you can also fit the floorboards. Shimmys have two fixed side boards but the centre four are removable. We clear coat them and mask off for a strip of non-slip in the centre of each board. Now comes the sides. Very little trimming will be needed but glue blocks on the edges of the seats are epoxied on to help fix the sides. The tabs correspond with the slots in each of the side sections and each panel is screwed to the chines, stem, and glue blocks. We use 25mm x 8 gauge chipboard screws as they don’t need drilling and they’re easy to remove. Once fitted, the protruding tabs are sanded back, filled and a small section of glass tape epoxied on – see photo 2.

Photo 2: Sides and bottoms on, chines rounded and everything sanded

Photo 2: Sides and bottoms on, chines rounded and everything sanded

The fillets between seat and sides, and sides and bow are important for both strength and appearance so we’ll go through this step by step. The insides of the side panels will be pre-primed, sanded, and undercoated as will the seats, so the coving will be to a finished standard. First carefully sand the joint with coarse paper, using the rounded edge of a small piece of 19mm timber and assorted fingers. Then thoroughly clean the area and coat sparingly with neat epoxy. The filleting mix should be epoxy plus microspheres to a consistency of toothpaste – i.e. it will not slump. Work in a row of filler then work it into a concave section using a rounded stick. The diameter of ours are about 35mm and we keep the stick at an angle of about 45 degrees. The mix should then be pushed into place with excess oozing out top and bottom. This is carefully scraped off with a flat filling-knife and returned to the pot. Repeat with the stick held at a similar angle and try to complete half a boat length in one go.

 As the resin begins to set it will begin to become firmer, now’s the time to lightly smooth off with fingers and thinners, smoothing out any irregularities as you go – careful mind, stuffing up is easy. When it’s completely cured you can sand with around 120 grit and it’s ready for undercoating. The same process is repeated at the bow and stern. As you can see in photo 4, a nice neat even cove is important when the top coats are on.

Once the sides are on and sanded, we fit the gunwale trim which is rebated to cover the top of the ply. This boat has Silky Oak and it’s screwed on from the inside.

Turn, turn, turn!

Yes, roll her over and sit her on top of a couple of padded saw stools. The rabbet battens are fitted to the keel first and the chines and other bits planed and sanded off to ensure the bottoms all lay over the frames without any high spots.

So, bottom panels next.

Bow first, these are 4mm –easy to bend – and butt jointed to the sides for the first two or three hundred mil. Dry fitted first, then the joints are liberally coated with the thickish epoxy adhesive mix and screwed down with lots of 25mm chipboard screws. Meanwhile some poor bugger has to crawl underneath and smooth out all the saggy bits – a vital but hardly joyful experience.

The 6mm aft panels are on next and when all is cured and all those screws removed, the whole is planed, sanded and the chines well rounded off. A layer of heavyish glass cloth is screeded on to the 4mm bits to lock it in shape and beef it up. The chines are taped and then all is plastered evenly with filler mix and faired into shape.

Photo 3:Lots of filler on the joints

Photo 3:Lots of filler on the joints

Now there what we call the “keel coving batten” which is a concave section of timber glued onto the keel/bottom as in photo 3. This stabilises and strengthens the joint and aids in a nice easy water-friendly flow. Just like the joint between a fish and his dorsal fin.

OK, so more sanding, fairing, coating . . . blah blah blah.

Photo 4: Guide coats on and one side sanded

Photo 4: Guide coats on and one side sanded

Photo 5: Top coats – as last!

Photo 5: Top coats – as last!

A couple of coats of Epinamel undercoat and sanding, preferably with an air-sander, then final coatings are sprayed on – that was quick! And it’s rolled back over for the home stretch which is fitting all the trims and yet more bloody sanding – still it’s only a 12-footer, thank god.

Photo 6: Inner trims, seat trims, and assorted bits

Photo 6: Inner trims, seat trims, and assorted bits

Meanwhile we’ll have assembled the pre-cut rudder and tiller bits and sanded the hollow mast and yard. These are all clear coated of course, you wouldn’t dare paint that lovely close-grained top quality spar-grade Oregon, would you? Why I’d strike you off the register without so much as a by your leave!

Where was I? Oh yes, the same things apply – first a thinned down coat or two of resin, followed by five or six coats of 2-pack poly or Coelan or whatever – I’m not going to buy into any clear coat debates here.

Lastly, there’s all the chandlery to fit on, sails to be bent on, viewing seats to be sat on and so forth. Three weeks –easy.

Photo 8: Fore hatch, unstayed mast and breast hook details

Photo 8: Fore hatch, unstayed mast and breast hook details

Photo 9: I hate it when there’s nowhere to store the oars! The rowing seat lifts off and is also neatly stowed

Photo 9: I hate it when there’s nowhere to store the oars! The rowing seat lifts off and is also neatly stowed

Trailer tales

Shimmys sit on a custom trailer and the spars (almost) all fit neatly inside with the rudder, hatches, oars and floorboards all fitted and fine for travelling. Tie downs are a pain with small boats, with many a beautifully varnished gunwale ruined by over zealous strapping manoeuvres. We won’t have a bar of it. Shimmys have a 50 x 50 or thereabouts transverse batten shaped to fit in the rowlocks with grooves worked on the outside bits to locate the ropes away from the sides. See photo 7. All our boats have special arrangements to tie them down. You can also see the seat scuppers – neat holes near the transom for fast drainage in rough weather.

Photo 7: Ready for delivery

Photo 7: Ready for delivery

Time to deliver, then.

Bellingen is a lovely little town just south of Coffs Harbour which is most definitely not. Spared by the developers iron fist, there are some delightful 19th Century and early 20th Century buildings and more importantly, some excellent ice cream.  Lots of green forest and a delightful river – what more could you want? The customer and his family are happy and we had a nice time away from Tamborine, but it’s good to get back to your own fireside.

Photo 9: Off we go

Photo 9: Off we go

Sailing the Shimmy is a pleasure in all weathers, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Annette and I have been out in some pretty tough conditions but her flared bow, long keel, and low aspect rig copes with it all and she shrugs off the white water with disdain – no unruly slamming or slewing allowed on this little cruiser. Self-draining at seat level is wonderful in such conditions – we’ve even been able to rescue the crews of lesser boats as they turned turtle. We’ve towed pontoons under sail, coped with six passengers – two too many – and given 78 boat owners and their extended families untold happy days of safe cruising.

Of course a longer, narrower centre-boarded, high aspect ratio dinghy will run rings around her, especially to windward but we can be rigged and launched in ten minutes flat and there’s two metres of uninterrupted flat floorboards for camping, dozing off and even horizontal folk dancing in quiet secluded inlets – can’t do that in a racing skiff, can you?

Shimmy – still the one for discerning doctors, cruising kids, Amazon explorers and racy retirees.

But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

To order a Shimmy send money to derek@scruffie.com but please phone first on 5545 1015

To see photos of the maiden voyage see the Facebook page

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Electric dreams do come true

We’ve been working on a new retractable electric outboard and I’m glad to report that the prototype is up and running and working well. The Protruar 2 HP based unit was fitted to the new Secret 20 finished just before Christmas. The unit will eventually be available for lots of different boats but it fits neatly and unobtrusively into the counter stern of a Secret or Sienna. I’m really pleased – finally an outboard that doesn’t entail big ugly brackets, heavy smelly cans of fuel and bits of string – way to go. The Protruar people have a 5HP model in the pipeline which would be perfect for the Scintilla but at present we have a good compromise with a standard petrol or 6HP Torqeedo motors lifting up on tracks and full-tilted with the prop back up in the counter. The all important water flows over the hull, smoothed along by a neatly fitting engine hatch.

Retractable outboard

So, the new retractable unit solves more than a few irritating hindrances. I did consider fitting the unit with servo motors for fully automated push-button operation but that means there’s more to go wrong and frankly, if you can’t manage to manually raise or lower an electric pod, you’ve no business calling yourself a sailor. I comforted myself with designing a pop-up control pod, hidden under a flush hatch on the Sienna 19 but that will have to wait oar the new GRP deck/seat moulds to be built – so many solutions, so little time!

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Fake new model

Not really a new model at all, just a new layout and one or two significant tweaks, the hull remains the same – if it ain’t broke etc. But it gives me an excuse for publicity and it’s no worse than the world’s car manufacturers who spend trillions promoting a ‘new model’ which is often exactly the same car with a new grille, new tail lights and new seat colours. So it’s really a new model then – a Scintilla 24 EX (for exploration.)

We’ve been approached by a Brunei based adventure/sail training organisation to provide a number of compact yet sea going boats for a variety of roles, based around an established sail training programme. Our Sienna 19, although developed with exactly that in mind was not suitable as parties of up to 8 needed to sleep onboard during extended voyages. The standard Scintilla 24 fitted the bill and with an interior that was always customised to her owner’s choice, it was relatively simple to accommodate.

Following the brief, the operator’s requirements called for some more significant changes. I widened the cockpit almost to the sides as per our Scintilla 19 and lengthened it by 300ml or so. As a result you can now comfortably seat 6, or 8 at a squeeze. A fold-up table or two can also be accommodated for alfresco dining and dissertation and the boat’s yawl rig makes fitting a decent awning a breeze and a cool one at that. Down below it’s a bit more radical with a fitted head and decent washbasin, a good sized galley, nav station, and bunks for four plus one in a hammock. Hang on, you might exclaim, that’s only five! Where do the other poor buggers bed down? Well they’re banished to the cockpit on li-los or other inflatable devices. But here’s the thing, this is the tropics remember and they’re better off out under the stars and an awning than down below. Nevertheless good ventilation in those latitudes is vital for safety and sanity so there’s lots of opening ports and my patented – well in spirit at least – wind scoop system to force those balmy night zephyrs to where they belong. So we do our best to keep them cool, well fed, well rested, and well happy.

Scintilla EX layout

Click to enlarge

While we’re into Scintillas, one of our European builders, Gerard in France, produces and excellent blog http://scintilla24.blogspot.com.au which provides a good step by step guide to building one. Gerard ordered a kit with a keel prefabricated to take an inboard diesel, clearly shown in the photos. Being from Toulouse he will cruise the Canal du Midi and the Mediterranean, perhaps even as far as Monaco  . . . . I am consumed with jealously.

As many of you will know, we’ve been closely involved with education under sail for nearly 2 decades with lots of our boats voyaging here and there with their precious cargos of tomorrow’s mariners. I, for one, am extremely thankful for my own experiences as a young boy on the water – we sailed our own little ship, Graham and I, to far distant islands where smugglers furtively stowed cognac and evaded the revenue cutters. Almost true that for one of the yacht clubs we sailed from was Brandy Hole on the River Crouch, a river with a fine history of alcohol anarchy. To my utter delight I’ve just googled it and it’s still there. So let’s raise a glass to all those who, with patience, guide each generation towards a better, more worldly future with the aid of small ships and infinite horizons.

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