They say that BOAT stands for ‘bust out another thousand’ – or in the case of our government, potentially £200m – but it doesn’t have to cost the earth to get on the water, especially if you build it yourself.
Here are 10 pocket cruisers under 25’ (7.6m) to get you afloat without breaking the bank.
François Vivier Méaban
If you’re after traditional looks, François Vivier doesn’t disappoint. The 22’4’’ (6.82m) Méaban brings the understated Breton working boat aesthetic to pocket cruising, with modern construction allowing for a light boat suitable for trailer-sailing.
Designed to be either cold-moulded or strip-planked, with a clever pivoting centreboard to allow for maximum cockpit space, the Méaban’s shallow draught and legs allow for exploring the upper reaches of rivers and small drying harbours.
Back in W60 (November/December 2006), François Vivier talks through his design in our regular ‘Grand Designs’ feature.
Iain Oughtred Kotik
When Iain Oughtred was commissioned to design a stretched version of his popular 18’6’’ (5.6m) Wee Seal, he came up with the Kotik. At 21’ (6.4m), it is designed to fit up to four berths, with either a sloop or yawl rig. The glued clinker construction and canoe stern make for a real headturner.
See W146 (March/April 2021) for Ewan Kennedy’s account of building a Kotik for cruising the at times challenging waters among the islands of Scotland’s west coast. “Final touches were a nice Harris tweed cushion for my bunk and a clock and barometer from Wempe of Hamburg; in a self-build you can spend the money you save on nice things.”
Contact: Iain Oughtred +44 (0)1470 532732
James Wharram Mana 24
At 23’6’’ (7.15m), the Mana 24 is the same length as TANGAROA, James Wharram’s first catamaran design and build, in which he successfully completed his ground-breaking transatlantic voyage back in 1956.
Only available as a CNC-cut plywood kit, the Mana 24 was conceived as a trailable family camping boat, with provision for extra accommodation to be offered by a low-cost dome tent on deck. The kit is designed to be assembled like flat-pack furniture, although with the help of James’s partner Hanneke Boon’s meticulous sketches and notes rather than a series of bewildering diagrams.
In W115 (January/February 2016) James Wharram explains his vision behind the design.
Stevenson Projects Weekender
Loosely based on the Friendship Sloops of New England, this 19’6’’ (5.9m) plywood gaff sloop (see W81 May/June 2010) has proved hugely popular with first-time home builders, thanks in part to the accompanying video series from Stevenson Projects which details the entire build process and techniques required.
In our current issue, W148 (July/August 2021) Penny Morton begins building a Weekender; the latest boat in a long and impressive amateur boatbuilding career.
B&B Yacht Designs Princess Sharpie 22
As her designer Graham Byrnes explains in our W126 (November/December 2017) Grand Designs feature, the Princess Sharpie 22 was designed to be sailed, launched and rigged with ease single-handedly by the original client. “He wished the boat to be as economical as reasonable to build; a simple to build project that he could complete fairly quickly in his spare time.”
At 22’ (6.7m) with a distinctive cat ketch rig, the V-bottom sharpie hull is built using stitch-and-glue construction.
Selway Fisher Morning Tide 14
Formerly the Tideway 14 (not to be confused with the open sailing dinghy of the same name), at 14’6’’ (4.42m) long and 6’1’’ wide (1.85m), the Morning Tide 14 is “about as small as you can go for a ballasted cruising yacht which still has pretensions towards some comfort”, as her designer Paul Fisher of Selway Fisher Design explains in W92 (March/April 2012).
In W91 (January/February 2012) & W92, Graham Young brings us his build of PICKLE, built to this design, using a plywood cut kit supplied by Jordan Boats.
Paul Gartside Design #225
“A miniature ship for miniature voyaging”, writes Paul Gartside in W123 (May/June 2017) about this pretty little 18’6’’ (5.6m) gaff-rigged centreboard sloop. “Or maybe not so miniature; it’s surprising how far a little boat can wander given time and persistence.”
Designed to be strip-planked with glass sheathing inside and out, or alternatively built using wide plywood strakes before sheathing and epoxy coating, it has a “snug little cabin to warm up some soup and lay out a sleeping bag.” What more could you want?
If you’re looking for bluer waters than those within the average pocket cruiser’s range, the Glen-L Amigo at 22’ (6.7m) is intended as a trailable offshore cruiser. Designed for one-off fibreglass or strip-planked construction, amazingly it has standing headroom throughout the cabin, without compromising traditional aesthetics.
Dudley Dix Cape Cutter 19
The Cape Cutter 19 is one of the most popular GRP ‘pocket gaffers’ around, but as her designer Dudley Dix explains in W131 (September/October 2018), these days there is also a CNC-cut plywood kit available for home builders.
Its high-peaked gaff main and flush deck favours performance, while the raised sheer allows for comfort below and ample sitting headroom.
Chesapeake Light Craft PocketShip
CLC designer John C Harris drew up this popular 14’ 10’’ (4.5m) pocket cruiser – over 60 have been built or are in construction worldwide – to be quick to sail and build, for a tricky customer; himself.
With a cockpit large enough to enjoy daysailing with friends or to provide extra berths at night, the PocketShip’s stitch-and-glue construction is expected to take the amateur builder around 30 weekends and occasional evenings to complete. Plans include full-size patterns for nearly every part in the boat.
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