After years of building boats and sailing them for thousands of miles, I didn't think I could be so impressed by sailing a single boat, but here I was and I just couldn't stop smiling and saying this is way too much fun!
This was truly my feeling the first time that I sailed the little trimaran that I had just finished building. That little boat was called the Seaclipper 10, a design by John Marples and it really was great fun to sail it.
The old saying, " A boat's enjoyment is inversely proportional to it's size" is right on.
The 10' trimaran is quite easy to build using John's plans that provide complete details along with full size patterns for most of the parts. The boat is built primarily using ¼" plywood and standard lumber yard material. The plans are keyed around very conventional materials including the spars that are made of standard aluminum tubing and homemade fittings. The construction is a combination of stitch and glue and conventional construction. It is highly recommended that you use epoxy glue for the construction adhesive. The cross arms are made of aluminum pipe and in my case were standard aluminum conduit available from most electrical suppliers. The plans give complete information on all materials including all sail hardware. The sail rig consists of an unstayed mast with a sleeve type of main sail and the rig can fly a small spinnaker. All controls are handled from the cockpit including the using of the spinnaker. The spinnaker uses the float hulls to set and brace the spinnaker so that no pole is needed. The rudder can be pulled up or down, again from the cockpit and the dagger board is pulled up while sitting in the cockpit seat.
The boat is demountable by simply removing bolts from threaded fittings. The first two that I built when they were demounted would fit in an enclosed box on a trailer that measured 4'x4'x10'. 2 main hulls on the bottom with 4 float hulls above them on a shelf along with the rudders and dagger boards and aluminum tubing stored in and around the hulls. When we pulled up with the trailer ready to go sailing we called it "opening a box full of boats".
Sailing these boats are a dream for any level of sailor from total novice to very experienced sailor. The experienced sailor has a vang, outhaul and downhaul for trimming the sail along with a spinnaker that can be set for reaching on either tack or running. The beginner has the complete assurance that he or she does not have to worry about moving around from tack to tack or the need to be to concerned about capsizing. The sail does not need anything other than someone handling the main sheet unless you want to tweak things for more speed or performance.
As a matter of fact, one occasion I put a woman who had never sailed anything before into the boat and by following along side her in another boat, giving her basic instructions had her sailing so well I had a hard time getting her to quit and let us go home.
When I built the first two, one was for me and one for my wife who had sailed thousands of miles with me and after she sailed away on her own, said it was the first time she had sailed completely by herself. Also because the boats are sensitive to weight, we found that she had no trouble sailing past me no matter how I worked to use my sailing skills. For that reason if the boats are to be raced the rules call for the addition of sand bag weights to bring some parity to different skipper weights.
The trimarans also make an almost perfect boat for handicapped people who have a loss of use of their lower limbs. We modified a few of the boats to replace the foot pedal steering in favor of a hand lever that would allow steering with hands instead of feet. On one occasion when letting a young handicapped sailor use one of the modified boats I didn't think that I was going to get the boat back.
The boats move with nothing more than a whisper of wind and on one sailing day of warm weather and gentle breezes I honestly found that I was dozing of and almost fell asleep sitting comfortably in the cozy cockpit. With all this praise for the boat I did find that it did have one shortcoming. While sailing I found that you were alone and could not have someone else along to talk with and to enjoy this comfortable way to be sailing. So------. I found that John had a new design that would cure this by having 2 cockpits otherwise keeping to the same design ideas, but that's another story that we will hopefully tell in another article.
The following pictures show the last Seaclipper 10 that included some modifications that I made to the cockpit area.