Thursday, May 27, 2010

Solway Dory Shearwaters

All photos are from the Solway Dory Website - Link below.

An Internet friend of mine who is more fanatical about small boats than I am has just bought a second-hand Solway Dory Shearwater, which has focussed my mind on this class of sailing canoe.

To my eye, these decked canoes are very attractive, and with their easy-flowing lines they present little resistance to forward motion; hence they sail well. Their firm bilges amidships provide initial stability and their sharp bow with a slightly curved stem, cleaves the water effortlessly. They have an attractive varnished wooden leeboard fitted on their starboard side, and their single 5 square metre Bermudan sail can be furled around a metallic freestanding mast. For more stability they can be equipped with side floats attached to a cross-member. Their side decks are perfect for hiking when conditions warrant it. An experienced helmsman will play the gusts, rather than reef his sail. Steering is by a tiller extension attached to a transverse arm fitted to a kick-up wooden rudder. The general standard of finish is very good, and they have quality mouldings with substantial fittings for securing the deck hatches, the leeboard and the rudder.

Shearwaters are advertised as decked, expedition sailing canoes suitable for one or two people. Their length is 16’ and they have a beam of 3‘4”, which in my experience is rather too wide for efficient double-bladed paddling. The paddler has to be seated several inches above the waterline to use his double-bladed paddles, which increases windage. At 120 lbs rigged, without gear, a Shearwater is quite heavy for portaging. In this respect, handles at the bow and stern are useful. Carrying the boat overland may not be too difficult with a crew of two, and her folding two wheel trolley would make the job easier. Shearwaters have been proven suitable for expedition sailing. They can be car topped, and they will just fit into an average UK household garage. At £3,000 each, they represents good value for money, but a new owner must be prepared to pay another £300 if he wants the floats, and for a trolley he will have to fork out an additional £90. On top of that there will be a delivery charge, or arrangements will have to be made for collecting the package from Grange over Sands, which is between the Lake District Fells and Morecambe Bay.


Solway Dory Shearwater

Steve Robinson’s Blog

Solway Dory Home Page

Shearwater Fast Reaching

Shearwaters and Others at Windermere

Shearwaters on an Expedition around Jura

Grange over Sands

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