Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why build a 'Paradox'?

Motif of my Old Paradox Website

Just imagine you are lounging in a comfortable bed while observing trillions of stars twinkling in the night sky above. You are, in fact, sailing Paradox as she glides over a glassy sea. She's being propelled by an almost imperceptible zephyr. You sip a coffee and replace your mug on its purpose-built gimballed tray. From within the cocoon of your immensely strong, compact ply and glass boat, you scan the horizon through 360 degrees. This is easily done without moving from your bed, since you can conveniently see all around through the toughened Perspex cabin windows. There's no sign of life, apart from the triple loom of the lighthouse which you observed half-an-hour ago, the one that matches the waypoint programmed into your GPS. This marvellous navigational aid is conveniently set at eye level, attached to the port side window by its vacuum sucker, and, as is the case for the echo sounder, the grid compass light and your PDA, it is powered by the mains battery, which, is charged by an efficient solar panel. A chart is spread on the transverse table above your lap.

Routinely every hour you mark your position as determined by the GPS. The red LED lamp that's plugged into a cigar lighter illuminates the chart. There's only another 12 miles to go, but at 2 knots you'll be arriving after daybreak. Comforted by this fact, you relax and enjoy the satisfying gurgling sounds made by the stem cleaving the water. Astern there's a magical phosphorescent wake resembling millions of showering sparks streaking from a Guy Fawkes rocket. Paradox holds her course - only now and again do you rest your hand on the steering line to make the slightest tweak so as to realign the luminous north-pointing arrow of the compass central within the grid.

As you look around your boat that you so carefully built according to the wonderfully detailed drawings of Matt Layden, you realize your deep contentment cannot be measured; no other yacht, no matter how expensive, luxurious or prestigious could bring such joy. When the going gets tough, her overhead hatch can be pulled to, and being watertight, the interior is kept snug and warm, while fresh air enters the cabin through an ingenious ventilation system, i.e., a 'vent box', that also supports the mast. Should your miniature, but rugged coastal cruiser get caught in the ultimate storm, she most probably would survive because of her strength. Even if she were to turn turtle (a most unlikely event, because of her well above average ballast ratio), she would definitely right herself. Her arched deck and the buoyancy of her cabin top would make her unstable in the inverted position. What if somehow she became flooded? Her fixed buoyancy in the form of foam insulation should keep her from sinking. Perhaps the feature you love most about your treasured possession is the ease with which her sail can be hoisted, lowered or reefed from within the cabin. There's no need to venture on deck, even in the roughest conditions, which means you can avoid exposure and the dangers of being outside the boat. For these reasons you admire the ingenious, but simple system Matt devised that allows the single lugsail to be furled around the boom. This procedure is hardly more difficult than rolling a window blind around its roller, except you need to use two hands and have a little practice at synchronizing the movement of the halyard and the furling line. When there's no wind, out comes your yuloh that is stowed on the starboard side deck, and the sail, yard and boom are lowered, before being secured on the port side deck where they are retained by a metal loop.

While you remind yourself of the fine characteristics of Paradox, you note that a swell has started to make itself felt from the south west, and the masthead light is gyrating accordingly. The wind suddenly freshens and there's a pitter-pattering as waves slap the side of the hull. Your little ship begins to heel and her inclinometer shows 6 degrees. You adjust the sail and secure the sheet in the jam cleat while you make a mental calculation as to your new ETA. You are thankful that Paradox is now sailing at her average cruising speed of 3 knots, which should mean you'll be able to find shelter by entering the creek at sunrise, where you'll beach her on the sand just after high water. Her flat bottom and chine runners will enable her to creep right up to the water's edge, where she'll find the best lee behind the cliff from the freshening wind as it backs to the south east. You'll drop your small Fisherman anchor astern as you approach the beach, and when the stem nudges the sand shortly after high water, you'll lay out your 7 kilo Danforth from the bow mooring cleats. That'll be the conclusion of another fine night sail, and you'll wonder why so few yachtsmen take advantage of the generally more stable winds to be found during the hours of darkness.

When the water ebbs, leaving the boat high and dry on the gently sloping sand, there's a welcome lack of movement. The sound of wavelets against the hull can be heard no more, but there's just the faintest rustling of trees above the cliff, and through the open hatchway you hear the soothing, rhythmical sigh of breakers as they discharge their energy on the distant dunes. You bring out the eggs and bacon from their plastic boxes in the food storage locker below the cabin floor and you light the stove. Three thick rashers of bacon are first placed in the frying pan, and when they are partially cooked, two large eggs are broken into the pan to accompany them. As the smoke-flavoured bacon sizzles, the fried eggs assume their familiar, irregular form - a marbling of white and yellow. You heartily gobble down your choice cereal, lubricated with fresh milk. Your kettle is partially filled in readiness for a cup of tea and for washing up after breakfast. To your mind there's nothing more pleasurable you could possibly be doing. After a morning nap, you will spend the rest of the day exploring the area, even if it means wearing waterproofs, which you never wear when at sea, because your are protected from the elements by your cleverly designed boat. Matt even thought about how to make it easy to get in and out of the boat when she's beached by providing a permanent step attached to the rudder stock. In conjunction with a loop of rope below the waterline, you find the step is useful for boarding the boat after enjoying a swim at some idyllic spot. The kick-up rudder can be fully raised to the vertical position, and it is unusually large, because to a degree it functions as a keel. Both it and the chine runners combine their magic to minimize leeway.

As you ponder these attributes you also wonder what adventures tomorrow will bring, and you further conjecture what you may be doing next weekend. Perhaps you'll take the boat on her trailer to one of the East Coast Rivers and you may invite your grandson to share the experience? After all, although your boat is small, there's enough room for both of you, even over night. You know you can meet the costs of taking the boat by road, because you are not lumbered with mooring fees and storage fees for hard-standing during the winter, neither do you have to fork out for having the mast taken out by a crane when laying up the boat; indeed you can easily maintain her with little expense.

You clap your hands with glee, because you know you are the most fortunate of sailors; one who owns and sails a characterful little ship that has so many excellent features.


These are YouTube Videos of the Paradox ‘Faith’. All of them are attributed to Al Law, except the last one, which features my first attempt at working the yuloh; this was filmed by my daughter.


Thomas Armstrong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Armstrong said...

All of which begs the question,why did you ever let her go? Is this just a remembering of a past love, or do I sense pangs of regret? Faith was/is lovely, and I remember being surprised when you parted with her, she seemed such a part of you.

William Serjeant said...


Mostly, I've never kept a boat longer than a couple of years, but with 'Faith' my intention was to be wedded to her until I died.

Then along came a gentleman who coveted her and offered me a very good price, one that I felt I could not refuse.

I was unfaithful to her! If I could find the same money I would try to buy her back, but I doubt her new owner would part with her.

Indeed, she was and is part of me, despite her few faults and a multitude of mine.


Bruce Thomas said...

Thank you for republishing this inspiring account revealing the unique design features found on Paradox. I recall reading it and deciding to order the plans for the boat about two years ago; I still miss the web site you had maintained about building Faith.

I had wondered what happened to Faith. Rest assured that your Paradox experience, building her and sharing your trips with her, has been very informative for myself, and I believe many others you have yet to start construction.

I am willing to re-host some of your original web site about building her, if you want.

Agent98! said...

"..miss the web site you had maintained about building Faith"

Bruce (and Bill) that's been archived here:*/

Agent98! said...


so pleasing to see most if not jpegs