‘Talitha’ was the most radical of the boats I have built and owned. What in part made her so very different was her extreme drop keel having laminated fish-shaped lead ballast bolted to the tip. This made her virtually uncapsizable despite her narrow beam. Another unusual feature was her lateen sail which was very efficient on all points. Spilling wind from the sail was easily done by easing the sheet which gave curvature to the sail, instantly reducing drive. Hence it was perfect for when the wind was gusty. The single set of reefing points reduced the sail area for the stiffest of blows.
She was tremendously exciting to sail because the helmsman sat low facing forwards, and the proximity of the water gave an increased sense of speed. Steering was by foot bar with lines attached to a yoke fitted the rudder. She could be propelled with a single-bladed paddle.
I had hoped I would be able to carry lightweight camping gear for undertaking short cruises, but in practice this did not work and I found that launching and retrieving her from a road trailer was not easily done. The main drawback was the weight of her keel, the ballast being comprised of two laminated parts, each about 40 lbs. The keel had to be slotted into place while the boat was on her side and one of the lead ballast weights had to be bolted to the other that was permanently joined to the keel.
As a fun boat on a lake or river she would have been excellent for racing around the buoys. Her performance was by far the best in terms of speed and pointing ability of every boat I have built. Beaching her had to be done with care for fear of damaging the lead ballast. Landing on a sea beach where there might be surf was totally out of the question. Getting her up a shelving sand beach would have been difficult on account of her weight. Sand and gravel entering the keel box would have caused problems because the tolerance between the box and the keel was minimal, no more than 1/8 of an inch.
There is no doubt in my mind that she was a super little boat, but she was not suitable for camp cruising as I supposed she would be. I didn’t keep her for long, but she gave me great satisfaction when building her and when I was out on the water.
‘Talitha’ – 2011/12 – ‘Talitha’ has been sold