Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Nautilus Sailing Canoe

My 'Caleb', a Paul Fisher 50/50 canoe

I was looking through the Yahoo! Small sailboat groups to which I am subscribed and I came across a reference to a new 50/50 canoe, i.e., a decked canoe that sails as well as she can be paddled. Followers of this Blog may know of ‘Caleb’, the 50/50 that Paul Fisher specifically designed for me, and subsequently made the plans available for anyone who wishes to build her.

Hugh Horton in the US developed 50/50 canoes and he came up with Bufflehead. She’s more demanding to build than Paul’s canoe, but from accounts she is easier to paddle and her sail has proven to be very efficient.

Talk of a new 50/50 from the board of John Welsford excited my curiosity. A little probing and I discovered two Internet discussion groups chatting about the canoe. (See the Wooden Boat Forum link below and the Yahoo! Group link, ‘New Welsford Design – Nautilus sailing Canoe’.) Both discussions were initiated by Brian Pearson who is really keen on sailing canoes. You can see a sketch of the new canoe on Brian’s Flickr page: - here’s a direct link to it: (Just copy and paste the link to your browser’s address box.)

Contributors to the Wooden Boat Forum thread include John Welsford, the designer, Dan Miller of Dragonfly Canoe Works and Howard Rice who is an intrepid sailing canoe veteran who sailed and paddled a canoe around Cape Horn in 1991.

The new canoe based on Baden Powell’s Nautilus sailing canoe is quite different to Paul’s and Hugh’s canoes, in that she has water ballast and twin asymmetric boards. In fact, she is a sailing canoe that can be rowed. So technically, she is not a 50/50 in the defined sense as a canoe that can be paddled as well as she sails, or vice versa. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of interest in John’s boat , even before he has completed her plans.


50/50 Canoe designed by Paul Fisher

Paul Fisher – My 50/50 ‘Caleb’

John Welsford’s Website

Duckworks Magazine – good photos of ‘Bufflehead’

Wooden Boat Forum – Nautilus Sailing Canoe by John Welsford

Yahoo! Groups - New Welsford Design - Nautilus sailing Canoe

Baden Powell’s Nautilus Canoe 1875

Photos of Baden Powell’s Sculpture Portrait at Poole

Dan Miller’s Dragonfly Canoe Works

Howard Rice

Howard Rice – ‘Sylph’ Sailing Canoe (Another thread of Brian Pearson’s)


Brian said...

Hi Bill, you caught me out! Ever since seeing the Nautilus in real life at the Turks auction last year, I have dreamed of bringing a design using her style of powerful hull back to life. These wonderful cruising canoes were killed off by new lighter sit out on a plank American racing canoes.

So, it was wonderful news when John Welsford accepted my commision for a new Nautilus. With John being an expert in rowing ergonomics it made great sense to set her up for rowing with short outriggers rather than trying to paddle her. She needs her beam, 38" to give me the stability I and others my age need.

John feels he can produce a high stabilty hull form, she will row when the tide is too strong, and she can be slept aboard.

Lets see how things go, but it will be tremendous when such a craft is produced, a new Nautilus cruising canoe.

William Serjeant said...

Well, Brian, I think your project is really exciting, and the canoe could be very popular, if John can keep her simple and relatively cheap to build.

My 'Sharpy' cost £1,600 - that's with a professionally made sail. 'Nautilus' will have two sails and masts, two boards with their own boxes, and will no doubt have to be built on a frame. A water ballast tank has also to be incorporated into her hull. If she's strip planked, she will need glassing on the inside and outside. Are we looking at £3,000 for building one? I think she will also require a trailer or a special device for getting her onto a roof rack.

I'm not pouring cold water on the project, because I think the concept is great. I hope it goes well.

Incidentally, she would just fit into my garage!!

Best wishes,

Brian said...

Hi Bill, she can be strip planked but that is a more expensive and heavier method than the lightweight "aircraft construction" in 4mm ply John is designing her for. I have the ply already. I can design and make sails for her for less than £50 using SailCut4 software but the R=J sails on my Tirric are very good and were very good value.
Planning on a lightweight alloy square tubed trailer.
It was interesting reading your build costs. One sort of thinks ply, epoxy, sails, but chandlery costs were highest. I have a lot of 16mm aero blocks and dyneema in stock.
Alloy spars (ie standard tubing) are very low cost, much quicker than wood and much cheaper, plus reliable repeatable performance.

It is exciting to think that a new Nautilus is being developed. For all of us who love sailing canoes, it's good news.
Thank's Bill for saying the project looks exciting - I really appreciate it.