Friday, November 04, 2011


'Amaryllis 11', a replica of the original catamaran

I prefer small sailboats to large ones, but the vessel I am featuring here is fairly small in a sense, and yet large in another, because of her overall length of 39’ 7”. I would describe her as a catamaran similar to Nathanael G. Herreshoff’s 33 foot ‘Amaryllis’ which he designed in 1876. Both vessels feature accommodation within a pod which is suspended between hulls. These pods resemble boats in themselves, each with a bow and a stern. The central structure of ‘Strings’ has minimal accommodation for 4 at a pinch and an open cockpit. Herreshoff’s ‘Amaryllis’ only had a cockpit.


Jan Gougeon is the pragmatic ‘designer’ and builder of ‘Strings’. His name is synonymous with West Epoxy Resins, because he and his brother Meade set up business in 1961 building iceboats and fast sailboats using their own brand of epoxy resins. Two years later they started selling epoxies to other boatbuilders, and their business continues to thrive today.

‘Strings’ was launched in early July of this year, but she was originally conceived over a decade ago when Jan first commenced building her. He confesses that at that time he had no idea how the finished boat would look. In his words she ‘evolved’ through periods of gestation. The main components of the boat are foam, plywood and carbon fibre bound together with epoxy to form a very strong structure.

The overall result is a creature that resembles a praying mantis, but one that moves considerably faster. She reminds me of a stick insect. Despite her unusual appearance, she has some useful features, including her ability to self-right. Her hulls can be folded inwards toward the pod so as to reduce her beam from 14’ 8” to 8’ 0”, enabling transportation by road. She is in effect, a very long trailer sailer. With only a displacement of 2,000 lbs and a working sail area of 400 square feet, she is no sluggard. Downwind she can set 900 square feet, including her spinnaker. Her two furling foresails make for easy reefing. Water ballast can rapidly be scooped into chambers within both hulls by the forward motion of the vessel. When her boards are up she draws a mere 9 inches, and when they are down, 4 foot 9 inches.

Text for the Day

John 6:19 ‘So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.’


Jan Gougeon launches ‘Strings’

West System Epoxy

Praying Manits

Stick Insects

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