How Small is too Small?
by Jim Betts
The search for a practical (easy to build and
cheap) boat goes on. And on and on. The DO IT NOW! (Aug/Sept
issue) got a lot of comments from members, mostly negative.
"Too small" etc. Yes, there is a point where small
can be taken to the extreme.
So here is BURRO (small working animal). It
is 12 ft. (3.657m) LOA and offers standing headroom, four-foot
galley, head, cockpit and a fair turn of speed with 25 HP,
or just putt-putt around with less. The 25 should give speed
to 35 mph.
The main "feature" is the cabin form.
It is much like an airport control tower in that it has reverse
slant all around. So the hull is 6'-6", but the cabin
top is 8'-6". So it is still trailerable, at least in
Make Space Where There is None
The main thrust here is to make a small boat
seem spacious. In house architecture they talk about "view
lines." If your eye goes only to a wall, that's not much
view. If there are large windows so you see well beyond the
walls, that is expanded view line. As you see BURRO has large
windows all around - 360 degrees. Even if your eye focuses
on the window, you are still inside a boat that is more or
less 8'-6" wide, not the 6'-6" beam of the hull.
The windows lean out at the top for several
1) They do not collect seagull droppings;
2) They reduce glare;
3) They do not collect as much rain as vertical
On the downside, they pose some problem when
docking and locking. You want to stay away from tall pilings
and, when in a lock, secure the boat bow-to. While the drawing
shows a berth for one, you can expand the berth to a modest
double if you simply eliminate the locker on the starboard
side and make the galley smaller. Or you may move the cabin
aft to the transom and put the motor on a bracket. Depending
on your personal wants, you may design the cabin to suit your
needs. Do not feel bound by this preliminary design.
There is always a way to get what you want and
get rid of what you don't want or need. If you do not want
the cabin sides to lean out, make them plumb. If you want
more cockpit, move the cabin back and make the galley smaller
and eliminate the hanging locker. If you do not want flashing
speed, use a smaller motor. If you are not keen about a plywood
boat, cobble it up of real lumber or aluminum, steel or fiberglass.
NO ONE SAYS YOU MUST FOLLOW SOMEONE ELSE'S RULES! (One potential
builder already sees a railing around the cabin top so he
can stand up there and shoot pictures. Just be sure you stand
in the middle and in calm waters.)
As for BURRO doing any work, you could have
a small crane on the bow, or scuba dive or whatever.
Anyone want to play with this? Send your ideas.