‘Minnow’ is almost identical to Matt Layden’s original boat. The main difference is with the cabin superstructure; not only is it constructed differently with separate windows, but it has a Perspex washboard. She does not have all-round vision, as the original, but there is sufficient for sailing the boat from within the cabin. Another difference is her washboard, which is slightly vulnerable in exceptionally rough seas, but under normal conditions up to Force 6, there is no threat to the boat’s integrity. Loss of the washboard could have consequences, but the main advantage of a washboard is ease of entry to the cabin, and another advantage is that the skipper can sit on the aft deck, and steer at the same time, by controlling the tiller via an extension. Refilling the outboard tank can also be done without having to go up on the aft deck.
‘Minnow’s’ chine runners have blunt endings which must inevitably cause a small amount of suction. Apart from that, the main hull structure is according to plan. Inside the cabin the aft bins are deeper, because they have no shelves above them, but they are useful for stowing larger objects such as my hot water bottle, paddle parts, food storage containers, and paper rolls etc. Instead of having built-in water ballast under the cabin floor, she has bilge lockers for storing heavy items such as tinned foods, Camping Gaz canisters, and bottled water. ‘Minnow’ also has room below the floor for stowing two anchors, their chains and warps.
Up forward there is no divider separating the area fore and aft. This is an advantage, because it’s easier for getting at the battery and for stowing larger items - in my case, the inflatable decked canoe, my clothing, a self-inflating mattress and my sleeping bag. I also stow a canoe pump and a water pump there.
She sails as my old Paradox, ‘Faith’. She is a heavy displacement micro-cruiser that can carry her way in choppy conditions. The best feature as far as I am concerned, is that she can be sailed from within her cabin, which means her crew can keep warm and dry. A very valuable characteristic is that she can hold a course in smooth seas with minimal adjustment by her crew. This is so good that I find my Autohelm is almost obsolete.
Setting sail is dead easy, as is reefing, on account of Matt’s cleverly designed roller system.
The original Paradox was not equipped with an outboard, but having one, greatly increases her cruising range, and it is a safety factor. The sheet lead, combined with bungees that I have devised, successfully keeps the sheet clear of the engine.
All in all, I’m satisfied with ‘Minnow’.