There are a lot more people in the world sailing than there are
folk capable of putting a boat under them, ie designing or building
one which works. Designing a boat to the stage where an experienced
builder can build it is a large task. To design one to the point
where an inexperienced builder can make it is massive. The last
boat I designed took a lot longer to draw than it is taking to
build the prototype. Not to undermine building; Boatbuilding in
my opinion is scandalously underrated as an occupation. It requires
a combination of all the best qualities a human can possess and
I salute each and every person on the planet who has launched
a boat built by their own hand.
Most designers have far more ideas than time to fully develop
them, and I am no exception. For this reason I stress in my Duckworks
articles that I am talking of Concept Boats. A Concept Boat to
me is a boat I am certain, after doing sufficient calculation,
will perform well the stated role for which it has been conceived.
The natural human tendency is to want boats to do a bit more,
but they are horses for courses, and multi-role boats efficient
in many areas are as much a dream as spacious cheap boats.
My purpose in drawing boats for which no final plans are yet
available is not to annoy people, although it probably succeeds
admirably in this! It’s to demonstrate what may be, and
to explore a few areas that people have not perhaps thought about.
Boat design like so many areas is in dire need of experimentation,
and I salute the likes of Rob Denney (Harryproa.com)
who has spent a lifetime grasping this particularly cantankerous
bull by the horns. If a developer wishes to run with an idea of
mine I will be happy to allow that, given that such a developer
has the grace to respect copyright and make reference in the usual
time honoured ways to the true origin of his creation.
What many people don’t realise is that I work full time
as a computer programmer, and will not be designing boats full
time until 2008 when I will be able to semi-retire to devote more
time to boats. With today’s prices for plans, if I took
up designing full time I would be bankrupt in 3 months. I am able
to offer some hope for those of you who would like to build one
of my Concept Designs. I am about to start another full design
development and am uncertain which boat to choose from those available
on Duckworks, and the 120 Concepts I have filed away at home.
Having written this, I may be able to show a few more of these
to Duckworks people who simply like to look at ideas. It's just
they simply can't be built straight from a sketch.
If a person seriously wishes to pursue one of these Concept
Designs to completion please let me know. The design I next develop
will be driven by a “Prototype Builder”, and I’ll
work along with them to make it happen. In return for feedback
they will get free plans, and can start as soon as a month from
today, lets say mid July, maybe sooner. I simply need a head start.
Once I start this next one it will tie up my spare time for a
couple of months, and no others will be developed in this time,
although I can supply offsets for monohull designs.
The short list is Alleycat
and I hope its Alleycat. Ketchup
is another possibility but I strongly suspect Alley is the more
With Gumboots being developed along the lines of a female mould
build of a type untried before, the chances are I’ll be
doing that one with Jim Townsend in a year or so when Hot
Chili is complete. However please put your hand up if you’d
really like to give it a shot. The build method is somewhat flexible,
and uses the actual lay of the ply to virtually flop into the
shape of the boat itself. May be the person building would prefer
a more conventional build – that may not be possible as
the whole idea of the boat is to beat the conventional build cycle.
But it can be done, upside down on a strongback. The thing is
to let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you feel really serious about building one of these.
Alleycat is quite easy if you have a flat floor space 22 x 8
feet or so. It will be built a hull at a time, with a flat side
lying on the floor and bulkheads built up on that. The hulls will
be joined later.
The ideas that have developed that I possess a massive set of
stock plans and I am available for 24 hour a day advice, cheap
custom build plans etc are utterly absurd. I am simply a 50-year
old bloke possessing the following: pretty ordinary health, a
few letters after my name, a bit of spare time, many sea-miles
(mostly driving a trawler under power), a small catamaran, a clapped-out
car, a mortgage, a job, a dog, a hatred of over-administration
and large cities, and the desire to save Wooden Boat Builders
from frightful expense and over-complication. I do what I can
and it’s currently not enough. After 2008 I shall have time
to do more.
I try to design things with minimal toxicity, but epoxy with
wood is a magic combination and one must be pragmatic. I believe
plywood is a terrific modern material and to those who scorn it
I ask: “If you are travelling on a small trailersailer and
it pours rain for two days, would you rather be locked in a 9
x 7 x 4’6” high plastic box or a plywood one?“
Thank you for your time, support and interest over the years,
Jeff Gilbert 2003.