|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
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!
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.