JIM LUTON CUSTOM WOODWORKING AND DESIGN
The Windward Sharpie "Cricket"
This is my most recent boat. I built a stretched out Windward 15 from Karl Stambaugh's Chesapeake Marine Design here in my Brooklyn Navy Yard shop. Karl's Windward designs are derived from the crabbing skiffs and seaside bateaus once found on Virginia and Maryland's eastern shore. I added 2" to the station spacing, which brought the length to 16' 2" on deck, about the most boat that I could fit into my freight elevator! The body sections were unaltered.
I built Cricket on molds, over which I set up the permanent longitudinal members. This method is much like that described in Reuel Parker's "The Sharpie Book". She is planked with 3/8" BS1088 occume ply, from Roberts Plywood, and she's sheathed with 9 oz. biaxial glass fabric. If I did this again, I would definitely try the xynole polyester from Defender Marine that Reuel recommends. The biax required a lot of micro-balloon filler to hide the weave, adding unnecessary weight to the hull.
After flipping the boat upright, I put in the frames and bulkheads. There are 2 watertight bulkheads, one forward and one aft. I plan to install additional bag type floatation as well. The deck beams and carlins went in, and the interior was painted prior to installing the deck. I also installed a mooring bitt, which steps on the keelson and notches over the stem knee. After decking, the coamings and seats went in. There is stowage under the stern sheets, accessible from the removable center section.
The centerboard is built with ply skins around a solid wood core, like Reuel's but much thinner in section. There is a lead insert in the board which I made from scrap sheet left over from shower pans and given to me by a plumber. I hammered the sheets together into a brick, and epoxied it into the board. No fumes! I must have nailed the weight, because the board drops to its exact required depth, and needs no line to keep it from dropping further. There is a simple uphaul, and retainer pin to keep it up. The rudder is simply 3 pieces of ply laminated together. Both boards were laid up in the vacuum bag before shaping.
Rather than screw the floorboards directly to the bottom framing, I made them up in 3 removable sections, one either side of the centerboard, and one large section aft, much like the removable grates in a dory. This allows access to the whole bottom for cleaning. The floorboards are flat everywhere, and parallel with the waterline. I made the center thwart removable for sleeping aboard under a boom tent.
I built both mast and boom hollow, from Douglas Fir, to the birdsmouth pattern. I rigged this boat with a "conventional" boom on a Dwyer gooseneck, and set up the mainsail's luff for track and slides. There are good points and bad points to this setup. I love my mid-boom sheeting, which would not be possible with a traditional sprit boom. I've used this sheeting arrangement on many boats, and find that it works well, and falls right to hand. Also, I keep the sail furled around the boom, with the slab reefing lines always made up. So the rig is quick to set up for sailing. I also use a topping lift, and may add lazyjacks as well. On the down side, this setup requires a vang, and of course is more expensive to rig. There are good things to be said for both arrangements. I may set up the sloop rig this season for excitement.
The sail was built by Douglas Fowler, and I could not be happier with both the process and the result! I found that we were always on the same wavelength throughout the project. I rigged up the mast and boom on the shop floor with the mainsheet, and measured the mast bend at various sheet tensions. Douglas nailed the luff curve spot on, and the sail sets beautifully. Our very first sail out in Jamaica Bay was in wind to 25 knots! We tied a reef in under the lee of the closest island, and had a comfortable reach back home. I wouldn't recommend this for a first outing, but it all went well. We routinely sail from Jamaica Bay out to Coney Island and Breezy Point, handling the sometimes rough water with ease. A typical daysail for us might be 20 miles. I'm looking forward to some longer trips, and some overnighting aboard for this season.
See you on the water!
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