Two years ago, when I was considering building my next sailboat, I daydreamed about a compact, shoal-draft solo cruiser with a comfortable cabin that has no need of an engine. My sailing in recent years involved cruising and racing my trimaran, sometimes in very lively conditions. That boat was all about speed and distance. Perhaps I’m getting old and lazy and even a bit cranky, but no more jibs, no more winches, no more twangy-tight shrouds for me. I’d had enough of fooling with the noise and maintenance of engines and the careful timing and physical effort that sail rigs demand simply to change direction. I wanted to revisit the low-key end of the boating spectrum, gunkholing the shallow and protected places that few cruisers visit.I had expected there would be a good list of production boats to fit the bill, and an even greater selection of plans and kits for the home builder. But no, my search was a frustrating one until I recalled seeing Chesapeake Light Craft’s Autumn Leaves in WoodenBoat No. 249. It was not just a boat that I could make work for what I had planned, but one that John Harris had drawn from scratch for exactly this purpose. Add to that the availability of a CNC-cut plywood kit and a timber package milled of quality stock, and my decision was all but made.
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More From This Issue
From The Editor
Breaking the Ice
When winter comes, is it time to haul out or head out? When cold weather doesn't entirely freeze the water, boating offers daunting challenges and memorable rewards.
Lukas Schwimann’s home is in the village of St. Gilgen, Austria, at the top end of Lake Wolfgang—Wolfgangsee in German. A friend who lives near him owns a 16′5″ rowing…
Simplicity extends to life aboard the Autumn Leaves. When it’s time to settle down for the evening, John made sure the solo cruiser would have ample comfort. In the center…
Southing in the Inside Passage
When the fog lifted, I rowed east along the upper reaches of Johnstone Strait into the Broughton archipelago through the churning currents in Blackney and Whitebeach passages. In the fluky…
One of the first things that my father-in-law taught me was how to make the end of a line shipshape by applying a whipping. The method that he taught me…
Grayl’s Geopress Water-Treatment System
The filter uses a combination of ceramic fibers for particulate removal, positively charged ions to bind pathogens, and activated carbon to adsorb chemicals and impurities. The manufacturer claims that the…
MaxxHaul Trailer Dolly
The first time I used the dolly—on the trailer I don’t have outfitted with a jack—I was impressed with how easily it can lift the trailer’s tongue from the ground.…