Micro “Oink”, conversion to Navigator
Don Baldwinson. oink@paradise.net.nz 

I built Micro “Oink” to plan around 1998, but completion was delayed when we carried out house renovations prior to selling. Suddenly the house was sold, and “Oink” was rushed to seaworthiness and popped onto a mooring, where she largely stayed while we built our new house. She was sailed only a few times, but when house-building finished it was time to take stock. 

Standard Micro-

Oink as originally built

  • my wife doesn’t like it, too exposed. Alternative sailing companion, a large clumsy dog would obect to being isolated in the cabin, and uncontrollable on deck.
  • Auckland, New Zealand has lots of light airs with some heavy blows. Micro is really undercanvassed quite often in these conditions. 
  • clear atmosphere and ozone holes mean the highest melanoma rates in the world. Kids are urged to wear hats outside in summer.
  • after house building, I was itching to get back to boatbuilding!

First Alterations

Lengthening the boat and moving the mast back would allow extra sail, so I drew the bow to a point and added a bowsprit. Standing back, she looked as if the stern needed pushing aft, so she has a semi-closed motor well now, with floatation chambers either side, and is just under 18’ long. I sought advice regarding a new rig, then saw the Navigator upgrade on the net, which seemed to answer most of my needs with few disadvantages-

first alterations

  • wife could recline in comfort, as could the dog, both under control! I told my better half it would be just like riding in a tram.
  • the larger more powerful and controllable rig would help.
  • sun protection.
  • I could keep on boatbuilding!
  • I think it looks cute.

As I write, construction is well underway. I have thought of some disadvantages, others may surface later-

  • cost. The conversion is not cheap. Because it is a conversion, there is quite a bit of ply wastage. Most of the rig is new.
  • time. Takes longer than you would think.
  • it will require a new sailing ethic, will I panic at the first hint of trouble and leap for the hatch, or simply sit in comfort and twiddle the controls!
  • lots of rope and gear, though almost all of it will remain in place after erection. A few extra lines to watch for on deck when stowed.
  • I suspect windward work in fresh or lumpy conditions will be motor sailing because of windage.
  • may have to add ballast.

Much of this is conjecture.


construction begins

The one sheet plan is very basic. Mr Bolger says the plan is intended for someone who has already built his boat, fair enough. There are no dimensions, however there is a scale, and most of the changes are in multiples of 3”, or relate to existing structure. Mr Bolger said he will look at more detail on the plan when he is able, because some unusual detail would be helpful, such as mast wall thickness, glass window thickness. I compiled a list of queries for one email, and good information was faxed back.


The boat was set up level both ways, and it is essential to be particular, because the house is all verticals, and a wrong angle would look awful. The builder is constantly referencing to vertical/horizontal. Heart in mouth, the foredeck is ruthlessly cut out in one piece, rather like a heart transplant without the blood! Cockpit was left in place to hold the boat in shape, and is a good working height on which to stand while building the house. The boat will be used for day-sailing and overnighting, so I eliminated the for’wd bins and part bulkhead, and will run the bunks right through to the front bulkhead> To compensate, I built a beefy breastwork around the house base. This is screwed to the foredeck stringers and kingplank, and anchored to the remains of the old hatch bulkhead. The structure is very stiff.

The House:

cabin stripped

There seemed to be 2 ways to build the house. A framed structure with light ply skin, or a ply stressed skin with glass/epoxy joins. I chose the latter, and it is quite light and stiff, framless except for some light ceiling beams. I used 9mm ply. All faces were one-piece. I think now, a frame with ply joined where required for economy would be a faster and cheaper option.

Rear Deck:

The rear deck is narrow, fore and aft, and really only used for access. However, it felt awkward because the roof overhang pushed into ones belly, and it felt insecure, so I extended the deck a little further aft. This extension should also shelter and provide a drip to discourage water from entering the cabin via the tiller slot, except in unusual conditions. The plan shows a sort of flexible gasket around the tiller. I hope this will not be required.


progress made

I had hoped my overweight douglas fir mast could be ditched, and the alloy tube shown on the plan looked to be an attractive option. Stepping a Micro mast can be daunting, and wont be easier on Navigator I suspect. Mr Bolger gave me the wall thickness, and, shock, horror, this would weigh 33kg. My fir mast is just over 20kg! He did say the Micro mast would be fine, so I will probably adapt my existing stick. A half-hearted enquiry about carbon-fibre has been initiated, but no reply yet. It would be ideal but the expected price I could not justify.

Since the photos, I have completed the aft deck, built hatches and grab rails, readying the house for paint and windows.

Other matters:

My wife asks…”Are you sure you know what you are doing? You will be the laughing stock of the boatclub”. Her friend the other day came down the drive and yelled....”What are you building, a bus shelter?” Hahaha, I love these comments, secure in my certainty and enjoyment of the concept. I had terrible doubts when the blank ply house was erected, “Oink” had a coffin on top. The act of cutting out windows and removing the cockpit unbelievably changed the character. The sense of space and light was a revelation, and enthusiasm leapt! (except from my harshest critics!). The Navigator reminds me of that classic prewar english small car, the Austin Baby 7, sort of a chummy, friend for life?

Will keep you informed. If anyone has questions, please email me.

Don Baldwinson. oink@paradise.net.nz