Pocket Cruiser (comments wanted) click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By Bob Throne - Willow Grove, Pennsylbania - USA

Attached are sketches of a 15’ pocket cruiser I plan to build and I’d very much appreciate helpful comments as to it’s practicality, sailing and building.

I’m 64 with two artificial hips and need a boat to sit in and be easily handled, with room for 2 - 3 adults or me and 2 - 4 grandchildren. It will be used mostly for daysailing on lakes in eastern PA and the Adirondacks, with occasional forays on sheltered ocean waters - the upper Delaware & Chesapeake, Jersey shore, etc. These outings will be strictly fair weather. A couple of times a year I will take 1 - 3 day overnighters, usually on northern Lake George or the central Adirondacks.

These are webcam shots - don’t have a scanner. It’ll be 15’, 14’3” on the water, with a 6’ beam. 100 sq. ft sloop rig (from a Snark Wildflower), adding a larger polysail jib, genoa. The swing keel is offset 1’ to give good floor room. Ii will probably be ½” steel for 100+ lbs. ballast down low. There will be 1 or 2 batteries on the floor under the step into the cabin, plus some weight down low from potable water and a porta-potti. It will need this because there is 50” from bottom to top of the cabin, allowing sitting head room, and the seats in the cockpit are raised a bit to see over that roof. The cockpit is 5’; the bunks are 6’6’’ x 5’6”+ and that galley is 2’ long. The center of the bunk will rise to become a 2’ x 4’ table. The roof has a 2’ X 4’ slot w/ sliding hatches to each side so that, with ample windows, it is a pleasant place to sit.

I can conceive of 4 adults: 2 in the cockpit, 2 in the cabin. There will be two floatation compartments, fore beneath the bunks & aft beneath the cockpit (shaded), and the cockpit will slope aft to be self-bailing. The cabin doors will start 6” above the cockpit floor. With closed lockers under the cockpit seats and cabin seats and that cabin I’m hoping that it will be nearly unsinkable. There will be an electric for sailing plus a strong transom to carry a 4 - 10 hp four-stroke for motor cruising w/o sail on calm days .. I figure this will double my usage of the boat, at least with my wife.

It will be built with nail/tape/epoxy of marine ply, ¼” mostly; perhaps 3/8” bottom. The exterior will be fiber-glassed, interior seams tape/glassed, I think. Will build on a strong back - not sure bottom up or deck up. The sketches don’t show a slight pitch forward and to the sides on the cabin roof. Nor does hardwood framing for the cabin, especially to give strength to that roof mounted mast. The model was done with filing folders which wasn't stiff enough, but it illustrates the design. Some might call it "a bit severe" but I like what I think is the practicality and a good paint scheme will help.

There are other details that I’ll add to a final draft, but this is the basic design. On the water it resembles a Michalak FatCat2 and a number of other multi-chine designs. I will welcome all constructive comments, but I am especially interested in these questions:

- With that steel keel will it be steady enough? The power/ weight/ drag should make it slower than the Wildflower. I’m not aiming for self-righting, but I don’t want her to be precarious. Will the weight below compensate for the higher center of gravity and the sails ?

- Is there enough flotation? I think so, but haven’t really calculated everything. And with the height of that first chine & the rocker (9” stern, 12” bow), where will the waterline fall.

- This said, is there enough power ? I expect that I’ll want that larger jib/genoa. I can envision a larger poly-sail main on a longer boom eventually.

- Just how strong is fiber-glassed ¼” marine ply. (I’ve rejected luan even though the price is tempting). Has anyone had a hull cracked or punctured using it ? I’m pretty careful sailing, but eventually a rock or log will be hit.

- Would appreciate suggestions on hinging that keel. I think I can find a local shop to fabricate it with a rounded leading edge and tapered trailing edge .. and drill holes for the hinge and attaching a stainless steel line to raise it. But how to hinge it; a simple steel bolt ? And will it be stiff enough; it’s 4’. And will the 1’ remaining up in the case be sufficient to keep it steady ? What kind of wear does the interior of a case get - it would seem to me that this might be a maintenance issue.

- With this hull shape, how will it handle the 1’ - 2’ seas that I expect will be typical ? And how will it handle outboard power; seems like most designs call for 4 hp, but I notice Michalak and others are finding more acceptable with experience.

Hope this isn't asking too much.

Bob Throne

Editors note: You may reply to Bob in the comment feature below if your remarks are 100 words or less (he will get an email copy) or you may write directly to Bob at: revBob87@excite.com