Tuesday, August 17, 2010

‘Skylark’ – an unusual junk-rigged Yacht


View of the stern

Box Mast Collar

Twin Rudders

Anything a bit different to the general run of things is interesting, but not always worth the time spent looking at. One yacht that I have seen recently and was worth examining, was the ‘Skylark’. I’ve not seen anything quite like her before. I think she must be a one-off, perhaps designed and built by her owner.

The photos tell more than I can with words, but certain features are worth examining:

1 Why does she have twin rudders? If she had a wide stern, then I could see a valid reason for them. Two rudders double the drag, and they are not far enough apart to mount an outboard engine between them. Note that they are held in place with strops - not the usual gudgeons and pintles.

2 The mast collar, in the form of a box, combined with wedges that can be clamped in place, would appear to be a sound arrangement. A canvas or rubber upper collar may be needed to prevent ingress from rainwater.

3 The small cockpit looks decidedly uncomfortable, and there’s probably only room for one person to use it satisfactorily. Furthermore, its shallowness does nothing to make the person on the helm secure, and the tillers look really short, especially if there’s any appreciable weather helm.

4 When the crew has to do deck work, such as anchoring, there’s little to protect him. Adding to the lack of security, the side decks curve downwards -this is OK when the crew is on the windward side, but not so good if he happens to be on the leeward side!

Despite oddities, the yacht appeals to me, because of her uniqueness. I like her high freeboard, which will help to make her a dry boat to sail, without waves and spray coming aboard. Her ample freeboard also makes for good standing headroom and loads of space for comfortable accommodation. She has a very deep keel and equally deep rudders, which should help her to be weatherly, even though she is rigged as a junk. She does not appear to have an engine, because I could not see a prop. The fact that she does not have a trace of varnish anywhere is sensible for easy maintenance. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, ‘Skylark’ is being neglected, so that paint is peeling in places and the wood is becoming exposed to the sun and rain.

With a few things done to her, this yacht could be a very good vessel for single-handed long-distance cruising.

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