23 Jun


Pursuit of the Perfect Pram Continues (Readers’ Prams)


As part of the research for our article In Pursuit of the Perfect Pram (SCA Issue #106), we asked readers for information on their favorite prams. To our surprise we received a huge response, with many stories and photos. Because we couldn’t possibly include a photo of them all in the magazine, we’re publishing a bunch of them below. Thanks again to those who participated. —Eds

Christine DeMerchant built this 7′ Chuck Merrell-designed Apple Pie pram several years ago as a tender to her Tanzer 22 sailboat.



Jim Dumser’s young daughters, Hannah and Kyla, did most of the work in building the 7′-10″ stitch-and-glue D5 pram from plans available at Bateau.com



Gabe Leavitt of Oregon sails the Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport nesting pram with his daughter on Trillium Lake. Gabe says the kit went together in about five weeks, including paint, and it sails and rows well.



An 8′ pram designed by Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Design serves as a buffet table during a small-boat cruise to Panther Key by members of the Sailing Association of Marco Island, Florida. The nesting pram was built and photographed by Dan Singer.


Reader Mike Harper built this Howard Chapelle lapstrake pram, lofting the hull from lines in a Chapelle book. The pram is mostly used on Donner Lake in California.



Jack Vincent built this L. Francis Herreshoff-designed Neria pram more than 35 years ago, and recently restored the tender. He confirms Herreshoff’s view that the pram rows and tows very well.


Capt. Charlie Huie built this CLC Passagemaker Pram during a workshop in Port Townsend, WA, and finished it back home in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2011.


This CLC Eastport pram was built eight years ago (and has survived a “lot of abuse” since then) by Syd Roberts, who says it’s easy enough to drag the 42-pound tender aboard his larger boat. “The boat tows well and is stable for an old dog,” reports Syd.



If you really want a lightweight pram, consider the skin-on-frame approach. This Stasha 7′ design, a 22-pound nesting model, is available from www.woodenwidget.com and was built by reader Martin Arlidge.



Richad Maldonado studied other pram designs and wondered if he might be able to come up with his own design…and build it from a single sheet of luan plywood and leftover scraps of wood. The result was Tartlet, an under-30-pound one-person micro-pram Richard uses on protected waters. “At its best,” says Richard, “the boat can look almost elegant, and at its worst Tartlet makes me think it looks like I’ve painted a coffin and put it in the water.”



Crayfish is a 4′ x 8′ stitch-and-glue pram designed by Richard Woods of Woods Designs. It weighs about 40 pounds, carries three adults, and as indicated in the attached photo of Richard standing on one side of the tender, it’s a very stable design.

Crayfish rowing

crayfish stability

Here’s another skin-on-frame pram with solid bottom panel and transoms, designed by Dana Munkelt. The 9′-6″ tender weighs about 47 pounds, and plans are available from Duckworks Boat Builder’s Supply.



Roy Schreyer designed Thorn several years ago for rowing, sailing and electric-outboard power. The 8′ pram is built with three sheets of 1/4″ plywood, and one of its unusual features is the full-length fore-and-aft bench seat, which allows different sitting positions for the rower and passenger(s). It also appears to be lower-slung than a lot of other pram models, so less windage but also less freeboard.


DSCN9962 touched upRSCN0097

Drew Fetherston built a modern version of an old Auray Pram design that was first celebrated more than 100 years ago, when British yachtsman Claude Worth visited the French fishing village of Auray and drew lines of the original 10′ prams used there. The newer, smaller plywood version is 7′-6″ and has a small bow transom that’s reminiscent of Norwegian prams. Drew found the Hannu Vartiala plans online, but mentions that the Vartiala website appears to have been dismantled. (Philip Bolger also drew plans based on the Auray Pram, for those who might be interested.) The photos show Drew’s pram, along with a shot of an original, smaller-model Auray Pram in France.




Reader David Whitehead send along this photo of his Carl Stambaugh-designed Baby Dink pram, built by Tieman Roe.


Donall Cullinane of Limerick, Ireland, built this Iain Oughtred-designed Granny Pram five years ago for his son Paul (then 6, now 11). Donall has a lug rig for the pram, which he says “works great,” allowing for a relatively large sail area and a mast that’s far forward in the boat.


Reader Chris Harlan has enjoyed sailing and racing many dinghies over the past 25 years, but one of his favorites is the Chesapeake Light Craft Passagemaker pram he built. “She’s a feisty, salty and capacious little pram,” Chris says, “performing best with two aboard. Despite the boat’s light weight, she can easily handle a 20-knot breeze. The pram bow makes for a very dry ride, even in blustery conditions, and her curvaceous lapstrakes produce a lovely and confidence-inspiring gurgle that continues to ring in my ears.”


David Whitney, of Auburn, Maine, bought this 7-foot fiberglass “mystery pram” on Craigslist and says it “rows like a charm and tows well behind his cruising sailboat.” He’d like to know who built the pram, if any fellow readers recognize the design.



Reader Marian Buszko built a CLC Eastport Pram, 7′-9″ overall, and entered the 2013 Everglades Challenge, becoming perhaps the smallest boat to finish the race. (Not only that, he continued beyond the finish line to circumnavigate the Florida coast, hauling out at St. Augustine…closer to his home.) During the event he hit a channel marker and damaged the pram’s bow, not compromising integrity of the hull but calling for repairs. During the repair, Marian’s friend Hugh Horton converted the pram to a pointy bow and extended the stern…making the boat about 11′ overall, but both of the extensions were above the waterline, so the hull is still essentially the same as originally built.


Scott Christianson was doing some volunteer work for The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, and was asked if he’d like to take on restoration of a damaged 9′-6″ Nutshell pram that had been donated and was taking up space in a storage container. Having graduated from a local boatbuilding school, Scott figured he could replace the split garboard plank, so he did a nice job of repairing the Joel White-designed pram–built originally in 1984 with cedar planks, copper clench nails and nice mahogany rails. Scott added a sailing rig, daggerboard trunk, rudder and tiller, and has enjoyed rowing and sailing the boat in local waters. (He even caught a coho salmon from the pram while rowing in Lake Washington last summer!)




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07 Jun


R2AK III Kicks Off



Photo Debra Colvin

An assortment of links to articles and media on this year’s Race to Alaska.—Eds

The R2AK homepage where you’ll find updates and team info.

Here’s the CBS Sunday Morning segment on R2AK by Luke Burbank.

A nice audio report from Nevada Public Radio.

An article focused on a team sailing a 27-foot O’Day.

Cruising World article on the race.

Here’s a newspaper article on Team Sistership

Today’s R2AK “Ruckus”

26 May


Dave Lucas on SCAMP: Hauling Ass, Easy as You Please



We received this fun report from Small-Boat-Guru, Dave Lucas about his experience at the Cedar Key rendezvous and his thoughts on SCAMP specifically. —Eds

We’ve all seen the videos of the SCAMP dancing and flipping around and have even sailed with some, but this weekend at Cedar Key really showed me the true nature of these little boats. It was blowing a solid 12 to 15 with higher gusts and us hot-rodders were having a ball showing off and speeding around the slower boats when what do I see ahead of me but a SCAMP.

We’ll just zip up, sail circles around him and be on our way. He was only a hundred yards or so ahead of us and we figured to catch him in about two minutes; It didn’t work out that way. It took us about two miles to finally get to him and I was beginning to have my doubts.


Many of you have experienced these 16 foot Melenseeds that Roger Allen designed and know that they’re real rockets

These guys on SCAMP were just sitting drinking beer and hauling ass, easy as you please. They could tack and jibe and mess around like it was dead calm where we were having to be really careful. You know that’s impossible, this kind of performance cannot come from a clunky little 12-foot boat. This thing somehow ignored everything I thought I know about hull speed. I would strongly recommend this boat to anyone who wants a simple, lightweight, safe, dry, fast boat.

That’s probably why two of them are going together here at the Happy Hour boatshop; and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more take shape in the near future.



Dave Lucas
Lucas Boatworks and Happy Hour Club

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26 May


Tranquility : A Memoir of an American Sailor by Billy Sparrow


Excerpt from book:
Puget Sound may not look like much when you see it from the deck of a ferry moving along at a twenty-knot clip, but it’s a challenging and temperamental body of water to sail a small craft on. First and foremost, the skipper of a low-powered vessel like Tranquility must plan for the strong currents which go hand-in-hand with the fifteen-foot tides the region is known for. That’s a lot of water moving around. When the wind blows hard in the opposite direction of the current—which can run up to seven knots—a foul type of confused sea is kicked up which can delay a voyage or put a small boat at risk. Wind-against-tide they call it.

Puget Sound is nothing to play around with. It’s a vast expanse of water, more inland sea than sound in places and the surrounding terrain is generally unforgiving. Shoals extend far from shore in many places, while in others the water is too deep for a vessel to anchor a safe distance from shore.cThe mainland and islands are heavily wooded, there’s hundreds of bays and channels and inlets and passages that all look the same to the untrained eye, making it easy for a novice mariner to lose his bearings. To a beginner, Puget Sound waters can seem as listless or fearsome as the ocean. An anchorage that looks fine one day can turn into a dangerous blowhole the next, as the winds and weather move up and down the sound following the lay of the land. The forests come down to the shores of the sound, the hinterland rivers eat away at their banks, pick up dead trees and carry them to the sea, so there’s logs and stumps adrift to watch out for year-round. Several busy ports are in the region, so there’s a good deal of shipping traffic to steer clear of as well. You have storms in the fall and snows in the winter, gales in the spring and fogs in the summer. The pleasure-boating season is brief and uncertain, and, even in the middle of summer, the water is dangerously cold.

That is Puget Sound and a Puget Sound sailor is a very good sailor indeed.

And so, with nary a glance at the chart book and only a vague idea of what the tide was going to do to us, John and I motored Tranquility through the narrow sea lane, under the railroad bridge and headed her for the sublime and windless waters of Puget Sound. There were certainly no ill-omens to be read in the weather. It was shaping up to be a warm and lovely starlit evening. As soon as we were out of the shallows, we began steering a jolly old course that bent broad away from shore in a way that guaranteed we would be as far as possible, as fast as possible, from safety or assistance, for most of the night. We had no inkling of what was in store for us out there and, in a little while, we were much farther from shore than a minimum of caution would have allowed us to stray.

After a fairly aimless hour of motoring, John and I turned our attention to an enormous red and black freighter that appeared out of nowhere in the distance off our stern. She was coming up on us from out of the south and she was footing it fast. John, who was steering when we first saw her, was soon facing dead-aft watching her approach. We kept our eyes on the ship for a long time, transfixed by her steady progress, but it was impossible to say exactly where she was headed. One minute she seemed to be coming right for us and the next, she looked like she was going to pass far to the west. Yet all the while she drew nearer…or seemed to. It was pretty hard to tell, because the movements of the distant ship were soon influencing our own wandering course. When she veered a little to port, Tranquility veered a little to starboard to stay out of her way. And when she veered a little to starboard, Tranquility veered a little to port –all but guaranteeing a confrontation. As captain, I knew my job was to do nothing, act nonchalant at all times, and choose my words carefully. So it was John who spoke up first. He whistled through his teeth and said: “Just look at that thing! Do you think she even sees us?” Based on our relative speed and heading, I figured the freighter saw us and was going to pass a half-mile to the west and therefore posed absolutely no danger. I made up my mind that we were okay and I issued an authoritative, “Chill-out, bro” to John, who didn’t seem put at ease by it. Then I hopped below deck, where, from a concealed location, I watched the approach of the ship through a porthole with growing apprehension. Ten uneasy minutes later, there was absolutely no doubt about it. The freighter was bearing down on us! And I had to do something quick…but what?

More information on the book visit here.

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