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.

David Dawson

The Autumn Leaves has a towing weight of about 1500 lbs. and doesn't require a large truck to pull it. The Volvo here has a towing capacity of 3,300 lbs.

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