Nutshell PramBy Steve Killing

Joel White's Nutshell Pram is over 15 years old, but it is still as fresh as ever. If you have an urge to build your own boat, this perky little number would be a great way to get your feet wet.

The boat's late designer once wrote this about his nutshell pram: "Little boats are fun to develop, but not easy. The design constraints are so strong, and the requirements are so firm, that the plans for a small boat can be a real challenge." He is so right. For one thing, controlling the aesthetics of a compact dinghy is rather complex - there's not much length to develop graceful overhangs or elegant sheerlines. Add to that the restriction that the boat has to be easy to build for novice woodworkers, and the design task escalates.

Plywood panels are used to create this build­it-yourself boat - a single panel of 3/8- inch plywood on the lower surface and three-quarter- inch plywood panels up the side. They overlap and are fastened in a rather unique way during the construction process. The top edge of the lower plank is bevelled to receive the plank above and the joint is liberally coated with epoxy resin. While the resin is setting, small plywood tabs are placed inside the hull, overlapping the joint, while a screw is driven through from outside to hold each one in place. The resulting pressure holds the joint tight and ensures a watertight seal. This seemingly crude approach of using tabs and screw holes every four inches is actually brilliant. After the epoxy sets up, the screws are pulled out, the tabs are removed and the holes are filled with epoxy.

I had the chance to watch 14 of these tenders take form at a community building project here in Midland, Ontario. Ken Woods, a local boat-building enthusiast, launched the "Build a boat with your mom (or dad, or grandmother, or scout leader...)" program. For most of the participants this is their first boat-building experience and the Nutshell design worked well. The participants built the larger version illustrated here (the original is only 7'7''), which will handle a more substantial payload while rowing or sailing. Each boat had an adult and at least one child sawing, gluing and sanding side by side. I only had to watch this group for a few moments before my belief in the therapeutic power of wooden boat building was reaffirmed. There are few places where you can find a more diverse group of people, working in such close proximity, joking together and, unknowingly, testing their own limits. It was wonderful.

Some of the small boats designed for amateur building have a final appearance that somehow seems fragile - they look like boats, but you could never imagine tackling any serious weather in them. This is not the case with the Nutshell. Its solid gunnels, ample knees that reinforce the transoms and full-length outer keel make the boat robust. The bow and stern are both flat transoms and the only tricky parts to the construction are a laminated central frame and forward inside keel. The shape of the hull and that all-important sheer-line are just right.

The sailing rig is a simple 55- square-foot sail with boom and yard that your children could toss about with one hand. The daggerboard, although presented on the drawings as a flat plywood blade with bevelled edges, would perform better with a nice foil shape, but when you built the boat yourself, this kind of customization is easy to do.

If this boat sounds like a project for you, the drawings are available from Wooden Boat magazine. I encourage you to join the thousands who know the satisfaction of creating a fine-looking boat with their own hands.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s Sailpast 1999 issue.

Specifications:
Length 9' 6"
Beam 4' 5"
Weight 110 lb
Draft 5" (board up)
2' 3" (board down)
Sail area 55 sq. ft.

Destinations

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Thornbury on Georgian BayJennifer Harker

To borrow a line from Monty Python, “and now, for something completely different”.

Normally, our boating adventures are spent weaving our way amongst the picturesque backdrop of the 30,000 Islands of eastern Georgian Bay aboard our Sea Ray Sundancer 268. This time we’ve traded power for sail as friends welcome us aboard their 38-foot Irwin for the Canada Day long weekend.

We’ve set our sights on a decidedly different destination for this journey, charting a course for Thornbury. This small town, located in the southern reaches of Nottawasaga Bay, is an oft-overlooked area of Georgian Bay - but it shouldn’t be. Although we’ve explored this shoreline on countless road trips, this will be our first visit from the waterside.

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Lifestyle

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Cruisers Yachts Cantius 46The Cantius 46 is the latest evolution of Cruisers Yachts’ Cantius line – now there are five models from 42 to 60 feet. The new Cantius 46 is a great example of “easy boating” the way Volvo Penta imagined it and how Cruisers Yachts has executed it. The idea is that you just come on board, unlock the glass doors, fire it up, cast off, and enjoy - alone, with a spouse, or with a huge group.

Since the first Cantius model was introduced, Cruisers Yachts has continued to refine the concept for ever-greater convenience, more clever and innovative features, and also greater performance.

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Sun Odyssey 410By, Zuzana Prochazka

The revolution continues – with a twist

The Jeanneau 410 is the eighth generation of the Sun Odyssey line, but even with that long history and umpteen years of tweaks and iterations, what the French builder has done in the latest revamp will make you say, “Wait, what?”

 Last year, Jeanneau turned the sailboat deck layout on its ear with the introduction of their Sun Odyssey 490 and 440, and the concept of the ‘walk-around deck’.

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DIY & How to

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Ask AndrewAndrew McDonald

Last time we looked at making proper electrical connections – the tools, supplies and methods needed to make connections between components and wiring.

When planning out electrical work, one of the more common questions that I address is on the set-up, installation and sizing of breakers and fuses.

Fuses and breakers are collectively called ‘overcurrent protection’ – and these come in many different shapes, styles and sizes. Their purpose is the same: to prevent a situation where a larger than intended electrical current is running through the circuit, which puts the circuit at risk of overheating, fire and damage to equipment. 

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Marine Products

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