Category Archives: Caledonia Yawl

Picking up the Pieces

This friday Tania and I went down to Port Townsend to pick up the sheets of marine plywood machined by Turn Point Designs. The boat plans I purchased were designed by hand by Ian Oughtred on a drafting table. But Jordan Boats in the UK went through the trouble of licensing the plans and digitizing them to develop a file of cuts that can be performed by a CNC cutting machine. The North American license is held by Hewes and Company in Maine who sold me the kit, but to cut down on shipping costs have subcontracted the cutting on the west coast to Turn Point Designs in Port Townsend.

To me this is an amazing example of the new world we live in where a design can be transferred and machined anywhere. Although this process was reductive, ie: cutting marine plywood sheets. The concept is the same as the advent of 3D printers. The ability of a design to be shared and produced simultaneously in very disparate geographies. At the same time it will be a very traditional design wood boat, the juxtaposition make the prospect of completing the project all the more exciting.

Caledonia Yawl freshly CNC'ed at Turn Point Designs.
Caledonia Yawl freshly CNC’ed at Turn Point Designs.

Seeing this pile of plywood was super exciting and at the same time I suddenly realized how daunting my goal was to turn this pile of two dimensional plywood into something three dimensional.

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Starting a new adventure: building a small boat

The idea has been brewing in my mind for many years. I’ve been pondering a way to reconcile my love of simple self propelled travelling with having two young children. I want to be able to share the experiences, while not inoculating them from every wanting to do it again when they are older. So my wandering mind has settled on a plan that will satisfy many requirements.

I would like to build a small wooden sailboat.

  • Seaworthy enough to sail up and down the inside passage from Vancouver to Cortez Island and maybe even up the inside passage up to the Broughton Archipelago or Prince Rupert.
  • Capable of taking my whole family with camping equipment and food for several days
  • Able to sail in light to strong winds
  • Able to be rowed comfortably by one or two people when there is no wind.
  • Capable to accommodate sleeping aboard when in still water with a canvass boom tent and plenty stowage for equipment and food.
  • Beachable, so that people and equipment can easily be brought to shore in remote locations.
  • Can be stored on trailer on land or in the water
  • A small motor well or mount when conditions and distances warrant.

So these parameters in themselves do narrow down the possibilities somewhat. But the key determinants of narrowing it down to a smaller list might be the subjective design qualities. The intangible special sauce that mixes function and form into a beautiful seaworthy sailboat. The final element is one of size, how small is too small for a family of four? Would an open boat on a typically rainy west coast day be too miserable for my family? Does the boat have to have a cabin or could we manage without?

Caledonia Yawl
The Caledonia Yawl sail configuration I chose