Wind & Oar Boat School is a Portland, Oregon, nonprofit that teaches boatbuilding not only for its own sake, but also to give meaning to math, science, design, and practical problem solving. As part of a workplace readiness program in the summer of 2013, students were tasked with building François Vivier’s Ebihen 16. With a long bowsprit, plumb stem, and workboat carrying capacity, the Ebihen 16 has the look of traditional English Channel fishing boats of northern Brittany and Normandy.
MA CHERIE was built for Norm Eder, a Portland resident, avid boater, and one of the school’s board members. He wanted a boat big enough to take grandchildren out sailing in comfort and yet small enough to fit in his garage. The hull measures 16′ on deck and has high topsides keep the crew dry, accommodations for an outboard motor, a steel centerboard, water ballast tanks, and built-in foam flotation. The roomy cockpit has three storage areas to keep miscellaneous gear out from underfoot. Vivier has drawn several sail plans for the Ebihen; Norm opted for the gunter sloop rig.
The construction was complex for such a small boat and provided lots of learning opportunities for the student builders. The plywood parts were cut on the school’s CNC machine, and each plank was cut in three pieces with puzzle joints in between and reinforced with fiberglass when assembled. Students finished planking the hull, rolled it upright, and went on to install the motorwell, flotation compartments, and ballast tanks.
Edensaw Woods supplied Sitka spruce for the spars. One piece was 6″ x 10″ x 26′, too big to be milled at the school, so students hoisted it on their shoulders and walked it three blocks down the street to have it planed and resawn at a commercial woodworking shop. After making the spars, there was enough spruce left over to use for the decking. Strips of dark zebra wood provided contrast for the blond spruce.
Bronze hardware and wooden blocks came from the Wooden Boat Chandlery of Port Townsend, Washington. For custom-made bronze hardware— mast partner, traveler, and both bowsprit brackets—and a galvanized steel centerboard, the school enlisted Portland’s Silver Eagle Manufacturing.
Launched on the Willamette River, MA CHERIE carried five adults and performed well. A 6-hp Suzuki outboard provides auxiliary power. Three Wind & Oar staffers conducted sea trials in November with winds blowing over 25 knots, and even in rough water MA CHERIE was solid, comfortable, and dry under all points of sail. Even with the ballast tanks empty, the leeward rail stayed reassuringly high above the water. Half filling the ballast tanks put the boat on even more solid footing.
Owner Norm Eder reports that MA CHERIE is a delight to sail and easy to sail singlehanded. He can get the boat on and off the trailer by himself, and has developed his system for rigging and getting underway quickly. The Wind & Oar Boat School would build another Ebihen 16 only by special request because of the complexity of the build, but for a competent home boatbuilder, the project is certainly within reach, and the rewards on the water merit the effort.
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