Cruiser — daysailer
— race trainer
Navigator has turned out to be the surprise
package of the whole bunch, 300 plus sets of plans in today’s
market is a lot! Navigator was designed for Boat Books Auckland’s
proprietor Tim Ridge as a race trainer to serve the needs
of a local club!
Originally she had the rig shown on the study
print below, a crew of three teenagers totaling about 150
kg was intended, with its big sloop rig and shallow draft
centerboard, to reward good sailing technique in a fairly
open and windy club venue. There have been quite a few of
these built, and I am told that they are very good boats,
much enjoyed by their owners.
the surprise came with my friend Bob Jenner who came to me
wanting a long range cruising dinghy just a little bigger
than his Rogue.
We sat down for a browse through my drawings
for some inspiration and Bob was very taken by the hull and
internal layout of Navigator but wanted a rig with very different
We took the standing lugsail that Bob had liked
from Rogue, powerful but very simple and easily handled this
is a good sail for a cruiser, we then looked at a means of
balancing the boat in severe wind conditions as well as trying
to make the boat as easy to sail as possible.
I had used the yawl rig in other small boats
and had succeeded in making the boats self steer on the wind
with little more than a piece of shock cord on the tiller,
in this case I organised the sail proportions to have the
boat balanced with either main alone, or mizzen and jib only.
This means that in a really hard chance the main halyard can
be cast off and the boat is still able to be steered and handled
when things are very bad.
Another consequence of the sail layout is that
the mizzen can be sheeted on hard, then the boat will lay
comfortably hove to head to wind while the crew take a break,
very nice if a hot drink or meal is to be prepared on the
looked hard at the seating, side decks and helm so she is
really comfortable, there is space for up to six but she is
still an ideal singlehanded cruiser.
Bob needed lockers, enough space for a weeks
gear stowed securely and out of the way of the spray, a space
for the little outboard and 2 a place for a little ballast
( in his case wet sand l in bags alongside the centrecase).
So we have an anchor well keeping the muddy “hook”
and l its chain out of the main part of the boat, a big locker
under the foredeck, big lockers under the side seats and in
All of these are sealed off with watertight
screw ports or hatches so that there is enough enclosed air
space to float the boat really high enabling her to be righted
and bailed if swamped. In fact when we tested a later boat
she supported her crew comfortably and was easily bailed to
get back under way.
built his Navigator over about 4 months, the simple glued
plywood lapstrake over stringers construction proving both
fast and economical, the lightweight hull went together surprisingly
quickly in the single car garage and it wasn’t long
before we were down at the waters edge christening her with
We launched her on a very windy day and had
a really good time, rocketing around the bay until the (very)
second hand wooden mast gave up. It had screw holes filled
with putty and painted over right around the deck area and
putty isn’t very strong!
It wasn’t very long though until we had
her fitted with a piece of alloy tube in place of the wooden
stump and “Ddraigg “ was off on what turned out
to be a very distinguished career, we cruised her, we raced
her with a lot more success than most people thought would
be the case, we daysailed her and all in all she did more
mileage than almost any open boat I’ve seen.
Performance wise she is a real surprise, very
fast in most conditions, close winded and easily handled,
the hull, though light is seaworthy and stable, powerful enough
to drive through a big wave and she has a surprisingly comfortable
motion in the open sea, something that is not easy to achieve
in a light dinghy hull but a real bonus in a boat which may
be at sea for a whole day on some coastal passages.
yawl rigged version of Navigator has been really popular,
there are Navigators as far north as Finland, Norway and Denmark,
and as far south as Invercargill ( 47° deg south, really roaring
forties territory). We have had a letter from an owner who
sailed from Torquay in England along the coast, across the
English Channel and north past France and Holland, ending
the odyssey in Sweden! A very long way in an open boat, but
as the letter said, the only long voyage was the 32 miles
of open water as they crossed to France and from there on
it was ten or twenty miles at a time.
In spite of the original club project not going
ahead, they opted for an existing class boat, she is my most
popular single design.
There are groups racing with three clubs that
I know of and we even have an informal “owners group“
who promote dinghy cruising and the design has been built
in many variations including several with cabins ( which I
feel are just a bit too small, watch this space for a bigger
version named Pathfinder with a cabin as an option later in
the year) and has somewhat humbled me with the enthusiasm
with which she has been received, She is my favourite, one
of those happy coincidences of fate, and perhaps one day I’ll
have one of my own.
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