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December 1, 2001 Issue


December 15, 2001 Issue




December 1, 2001

Adapting A Kayak Or Canoe To A Sailing Trimaran

By Gerard Van Wyk

After living with many different sail, paddle and rowing rigs for many years we have reached these conclusions:

Small boats are used the most. Simple boats are much better than complex craft. Safety is primary. They ought to go fast!

This little jewel meets all these criterion and it is so easy to build and sail.

We have drawn up simple prints showing the way we have adapted our stock CLC Millbank 15 sea kayak to become a safe and easily driven trimaran. The concept is appropriate for any narrow easily driven hull. Your boat may be different in length overall or beam, but the sail plan will be similar.

The amas use any good waterproof plywood for the inner and outer skin, they will be identical. The top, bottom, stem and transom can be made of any clear wood; they should be 1-1/2" square stock. The entire cavity is filled with rigid styrofoam. 12" lumberyard insulation board works just great. Leave an opening large enough to accept a 13" length of 1-1/2" aluminum pipe at the forward and after ends. Use your own imagination for the leading and trailing edges. It is not critical that the bow and stem be tapered to a great extent. Assemble the amas using epoxy, and allow to cure for 24 hours. Clean them up, and cover the bottom and the forward and after edges with a 4 to 6 ounce fiberglass coating to resist abrasion.

The akas are made from 1-1/2" aluminum tubing, it has adequate strength for most any small craft. The secret is to not kink it in any way in bending. Your local muffler shop has just the tool to do this, and they will bend it to your exact specifications in a few minutes. Determine your waterlines and allow the amas to be about 2" in the water when your boat is empty. The vertical and horizontal sec-tions of the akas are joined by a specific elec-trical fitting and a common automotive clamp. These are readily available at Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. The beauty of these connections is that the entire boat can be assembled or disassembled with just one 5/16" nutrunner.

We built a pedestal on the kayak deck to create a flat surface for the 1-1/2" aluminum tube attachment. We made this removable. I would not do this again, but would make the support a permanent part of the kayak or canoe. You will have to fabricate this support to fit your particular boat deck.

Allow sufficient space between the main hull rail and the amas to permit you to paddle should you desire. There are many small fully battened sails which the windsurfer set have cast off which can be puchased for a pittance, and they work beautifully on this type of small trimaran. The wishbone works like magic on these tiny cut down sails. They can be easily laminated or purchased. Don't spend a lot of money on them, however. I believe a double-sprit rig would be nearly as fast. Our plans do show a small self-tending double-sprit rig, that can be sheeted right down the middle and left to care for itself. It gives the rig a strange appearance but it does a lot for the speed and handling of the boat. It has a 1-1/2" aluminum mast.

The windsurfer gang has also cast off many fiberglass spars. Saw as much as you need from the bottom of one and plant it in the boat with at least a 14" bury. They are marvelous! But don't pay more than ten bucks for one.

If you have any questions, or need any help feel free to call me at (616) 532-4725. Have fun messing about in boats.

Jerry Van Wyk, 4253 Red Bush Dr., Grandville, MI 49418



December 15, 2001

Fred Shell's CrabClaw Cat

By Bob Hicks

Fred Shell states in his flyer on his newest creation that "the crab claw is probably the most efficient of all sail rigs in terms of power per square foot." I can neither confirm or dispute this assessment after Jane and I enjoyed a pleasant sail with Fred and Deb on St. Albans Bay on Lake Chamlain in early October. But I can say his small catamaran is a really nice day sailer with lots of sprawling space for the four of us. We had the bay all to ourselves with a breeze building to maybe 10 knots a ways out away from the wind shadow alongshore near the launching ramp. Fred got us out to the wind with one of the two electric outboards fitted. One's enough for almost any needs short of having to hurry back ahead of a squall (as he did last summer once).

Fred has had an ongoing off and on af-fair with multihulls, way back he built and sailed a 24' trimaran, long gone now. In the fall of 1995 we travelled to the northwest corner of Vermont to see Fred's Clipper Tri, and it became the cover feature in our November 15, 1995 issue. On that day the wind she blew and Fred went out alone to demo sail the tri along the shoreline, no hands.

Now Fred's back with two hulls, and a crab claw rig has replaced his signature leg-o-mutton curved sprit boomed rig used on all his line of monohull boat kits. He announced his initial concept in our November 1, 1998 issue, at the time it was in the modelling stage.

This year the wind she again blew upon our arrival Saturday. After viewing the wild horses racing over the bay, we opted out of a sail ourselves and looked in on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's shipyard project in nearby Burlington. We stayed over to Sunday and, after the front passed through Saturday night, were blessed with a mild sailing breeze.

The cat is trailerable (beam 8'6") and easily launched and rigged. The unique bipod masts from which are hung the crab claw main and mizzen stay fight in place over the road and the yards from which the sails are suspended lay on the cabin house top ready to raise. It's all very simple. Maybe this rig has an odd appearance compared to today's high aspect marcom rigs, or traditional gaffers, but it does the job without fuss. The main and mizzen can be raised and lowered and trimmed from inside the cabin house should the skipper so desire. The jib is tacked to a little bowsprit and its mast is a fold down extension on top of the main tripod.

The broad bridge deck forward is sprawling/sunning space, or with its canvas cover in place, overnight sleeping accomodations. The cabin house is a summer porch concept with easily removed windows (Fred's were plexiglass, but lexan might take more abuse) that can be used to provide protection for any weather conditions likely to be encountered when daysailing or overnight coastal cruising. With the foredeck cover in place this cat has mucho sleeping area.

Catamarans are becoming more attractive to more sailors, those who have reason to prefer sailing flat and not on their ear all the time. Fred's cat is a very stable platform, we encountered only a mild one foot wind chop out on the bay, but the cat sailed across this with hardly a nod. Our moving about on the bridge deck and into and out of the cabin while underway did not affect the trim at all, a really good reason that this cat makes a great family sailer, more social than being cooped up in the cockpit on an 18' monohull. The major obstacle for those thinking of getting into multilmlls is the absence of affordable entry level boats, new or used. With so many good used monobulls available cheap, the outlay for a new multihull is just not an option for most. Fred offers a solution, his CrabClaw kit for the home builder costs $4,750 (complete with sails), a finished boat $9,750. In the multihull market these are low prices indeed. Despite the CrabClaw Cat's 18' x 8'6" size, Fred dry assembles each kit as he does with all his smaller kit boats, so the buyer knows it will go together without hassles.



Fred says...

After two years of testing and modification the CrabClaw Cat is now available. A great boat in every way, I have had a ball working out this design and using it. This is a boat for (almost) all seasons. The canopy provides shelter from the summer sun or an occasional shower. It is also a favorite diving platform and sunbathing area. Add the easily fitted windows, and sliding doors, and you can enjoy sailing even when the weather turns cold. The enclosed area has room for a galley/chart table, plenty of sitting room and even a head. The boat can be sailed from under the canopy or from the open cockpit in front. The cockpit cover rolls down for trailefing or to create a generous double bunk area for overnighting.

The crab claw is probably the most efficient of all sail rigs, in terms of power per square foot. In addition it has a very low center of effort. This allows the CrabClaw Cat to have good speed potential and the great stability necessary for a small cruiser. This rig is very easy to use; the main and mizzen can be raised or lowered from under the canopy in less than a minute. A small motor, gas or electric, can be mounted behind the canopy area, and accessed through the sliding rear windows. You and your crew are well insulated from any noise or smell. If you choose an electric you will be delighted with the quiet, smooth ride. The fine hulls and light weight of the CrabClaw Cat make it ideal for electric power. I have even found myself intentionally going "sailing" on days with no wind!




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