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by Roger Mullette - Eastham, Massachusetts - USA

On choosing the Selway Fisher "Able"

In 1992 I started building a Haven 12 1/2. You can see my launch day. To me, at that time in my life, the Haven was the personification of what a small wooden boat should be: smooth lines, lots of bronze fittings, varnished mahogany, gaff rig - it was beautiful. I sail up on Cape Cod where shallow water and tidal issues dictate where and when you can sail, so the Haven's 18" draft made it fairly easy to get in and out of the water, however, setting the mast etc was becoming a bear.


I'll admit to dropping the mast at least once. I tried, unsuccessfully, to come up with a system that allowed the mast to fold, but really got nowhere with that. That was before the Internet really opened up windows to the world on these things. I finally sold the Haven a couple of years ago and started my search for a new boat.

So I decided to list my criteria for the new boat:

  • Roomy
  • 16 to 20'
  • Trailerable
  • Stable
  • Shallow draft. I would like to be able to beach it.
  • Easy and quick to get in and out of the water.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • Easy sail management.
  • Teach my grandchildren how to sail.
  • Quick build.
  • Reasonable cost.
  • Character

I must admit that I really like the catboat form. Pleasant Bay on Cape Cod is full of them for the Sunday races. They're beamy with lots of sail area, and most importantly, lots of room. The Haven fits two people. I wanted to take three or four for the day. I fell in love with a 16' Lapstrake Cat Boat, attributed to John Little, but couldn't find any plans. I looked at The Marsh Cat, Selway Fishers "Woodlark" and "Petrel" were too small. Paul Fisher offered to draw up plans for a clinker ply catboat, but that would have eaten up half of my budget. I bought study plans from you for John Welsfords' "Pathfinder" and "Pilgrim". Bought Iain Oughtreds' book on Clinker play construction. Loved the European dinghys from Francois Vivier and then ran across John Sharpe's gallery of photos building Selway Fishers "Able"  The "Able was still on the small side of what I wanted so I emailed Paul Fisher about enlarging his plans. He suggested that there would be no problem with a 10% increase in size.

Haven launch
John Little, 16' lapstrake Cat.
Pattern development

Here's the website for the build photos. [External link to Google plus.]


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