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Sabot Brigantine
by Jordan J.Dobrikin

Once upon a time, in a far off land, Her Majesty’s Crown Colony of British Columbia, Dominion of Canada; the idea of the Sabot Brigantine was conceived of by Leslie P. Alfreds at the Jib Set Sailing School.

A committee was struck to plan the building and operation of a Fleet, in time for the Captain Cook Bicentennial of 1978. Plans, Drawings and Specifications were commissioned and the building of the Sabot Brigantine VENUS was completed during the Spring of 1977. Several boats were made and they participated in the Bicentennial Festivities.

Subsequently the Vancouver Small Ships Society was formed and a building program was started, aiming at EXPO 86 in Vancouver. There were several Building Workshops at the Vancouver Boat Shows; Venus was used as a centerpiece of Parade Floats for the Vancouver Sea Festival(s) where the Society was awarded several Ribbons over the years. The Fleet(s) were augmented by several Scouts Canada groups: and then expanded activities in and around Southwestern BC. Nanaimo Sea Festival(s) (Bath Tub Races), Burnaby Days, the Fraser River Raft Races, as well as Internationally, by participating in several Wooden Boat Shows in Port Townsend WA USA. The Boats and Society were given a big, seven (7) page, colour spread in the Spring, 1985 issue of beautiful BC Magazine. The Society and Boats were called upon to give a Command Performance for his Royal Highness Prince Phillip.

The original plan/design was based on borrowing Sabot hulls and building temporary plywood skirts for the hulls and minimally intrusive fittings for the Rig. This produced a boat that went well on a Run and a Reach, but not all that well to Windward. In fact it was next to impossible to tack. Some boats were augmented with small electric trolling motors affixed to the rudder.

After Expo 86 when many of the Sabot hulls had to be returned the plywood skirts and Rigs were salvaged by using stitch & glue technology to put a bottom on the existing skirts. This resulted in a nice light weight boat with a decent underwater profile/surface, that went well to windward and allowed intermediate and advanced sailors to Tack in moderate sea and wind conditions.

The Sail Plan consisted of ten (10) fully functional sails; configured as a Hermaphrodite Brigantine; with three (3) headsails; three Square Sails on the Main Mast; a Gaff Spanker and a Triangular Top Sail on the Mizzen Mast, both fore & aft, hence the hermaphrodite terminology; and two (2) triangular Stay Sails between the masts.

The Sabot Brigantine Plans, consist of four large sheets and a multi page 8 12 x 11 set of Instructions and Tips. These were offered for sale and were sold the world over, we know of completed boats in Eastern Canada the United States and Australia, and about fifteen boats that were built in Southwestern British Columbia. The Yankee Friendship was built on a ten (10’) pram hull, (from the Friend Boat Works in Everett WA), with no drag inducing skirting, and was the inspiration for the Stitch & Glue retrofit.

While the Society was building and operating Brigantines and planning a BLUENOSE an amateur builder was building a sixteen (16’) rowing skiff. In mid project he converted it into a 17th Century Galleon Hull and brought it to the Society. A Member of the Society bought it in and the Society then proceeded to Rig the boat, and make a suit of sails. A square Sail on the Bowsprit, Course and Topsail on the Main and Fore Masts and a Lateen Sail on the Mizzen Mast. The hull was fitted with a dagger board; and an outboard well, suitable for a six (6) horsepower outboard motor.

The Bluenose never got finished; and alas, all of the Society’s boats have gone to the knackers yard. The Yankee Friendship disappeared into the BC Interior via a Tool Rental Shop in North Vancouver; and the Galleon is somewhere in Port Alberni, on a trailer, with a hole (repairable) in her bottom.

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