Thursday, December 03, 2009
‘Caleb’ 50/50 Canoe
I asked Paul Fisher to design me a decked canoe that could be paddled and sailed efficiently, in equal order. He did a pretty good job, but there’s always a compromise in such a situation. If she were to be designed purely for sailing without taking into consideration paddling, no doubt she would be wider in the beam for stability. A canoe that is too beamy cannot be paddled with a double-bladed paddle.
Hugh Horton has perfected the 50/50 – that’s a decked canoe that can sail efficiently and be paddled equally efficiently, but at the time I wanted my plans, he did not have drawings that could be sold to the general public. Since then he has produced ‘Bufflehead’, a lightweight plywood canoe that can be paddled with a double-bladed paddle or a single-bladed one. Now, that’s another difficult thing to achieve – lightness, because this is needed when transporting a canoe overland, or when putting her on a roof rack. I never weighed my Paul Fisher 50/50 ‘Caleb’ that I built, but I feel sure she was heavier than 45lbs, the designed unloaded weight. I could get her on the roof rack of my car, but the task was not easy.
This is Paul’s description of ‘Caleb’:
A 50/50 canoe is a boat which has been designed and built with the intention that it should be as easily and efficiently powered by sail as it is by paddle (in this case a double paddle). This means that the rig needs to be both efficient and easy to erect and stow—she can use any of the rigs we have for our canoes but the one detailed on the plans is of a batwing type with spars which can be hinged to lie along the mast so that it can be stowed inboard when not in use. The cockpit is wider than normal for a single crew member so that the crew can sit on the canoe bottom out to one side when sailing. Construction is simple stitch and tape using 4mm plywood. There are stowage/WT compartments fore and aft.
Here are her statistics:
LOA 15' 4.58m
Beam 35" 0.9m
Hull Mid Depth 17" 0.43m
Approx. Dry Weight 45lbs 20kg
Approx. Capacity 650lbs 295kg
Hull Shape Multi-chine with 4 planks per side
Construction Method Stitch and tape
Because I had her Batwing sail made professionally, and because I used the very best marine ply and epoxy, she was expensive to build - £1,296.30. In the UK, the cost of the plans today are £55.00 and for the US, $75.00 (£47.00).
When I test-sailed ‘Caleb’ alongside similar canoes, her performance to windward was usually better, I think due in part to the combination of the Batwing sail and her leeboard. So that I could paddle her more easily, I made a removable seat to raise myself off the floor. When not being used, it was stowed under the aft deck within easy reach. I fitted ‘Caleb’ with a tent that was comprised of a shaped piece of waterproof material and the sail reefed. See photos to understand how it worked. I could sleep aboard while the canoe was afloat, or when she was on land. With hindsight, two inches less beam, and lower freeboard amidships would have made her easier to paddle.
Paul Fisher – My 50/50 ‘Caleb’
Canoe Sailing Magazine – ‘Bufflehead’
Duckworks Magazine – good photos of ‘Bufflehead’
Cedar Key Small Boat Meet - May 2008 – more good photos of ‘Bufflehead’