Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Shipmates it's not often that I am at a loss for words. Indeed from time to time when either speaking or writing it would be instructive for me to observe the old adage that 'Sometimes Less Is More'. This beautiful work of art has 'More In Less' than I have seen in a long, long time. She is an absolute epiphany of simplicity.

She is the 18 foot canoe yawl 'Autumn Leaves' designed by John Harris from that well known boat design and kit company Chesapeake Light Craft. The inspiration for her design has its genesis in that long tradition of wonderful canoe yawls from the Humber Yawl Club in the UK where such creative spirits of small boat design and voyaging as Albert Strange and George Holmes et al sailed, designed and had their being.

 'Autumn Leaves' is featured in the Latest Wooden Boat magazine (April 2016) ..........

..... she floats in 8 inches of water for crying out loud! Has twin bilge boards! The hull can be completed in two weeks! She has oodles of room with only 5 foot beam!!!!

Well, shipmates you can change my name by deed poll to Mizzen Top if my old eyes aren't just misting up and the old tickers not skipping the odd beat everytime I lay my eyes on this quirky little paragon of canoe yawlishness .........

You can read more about Canoe Yawls here:   http://www.canoeyawl.org/

It is very rewarding to go to the 'Designs' list (Click on ' + Designs by Designer tab) on this site to view canoe yawl designs that have been created for over 100 years.


" I've always been afflicted with Canoe Yawl Madness.  To me, a "canoe yawl" isn't just a design type; it's a self-contained small boat cruising philosophy.  According to this philosophy, skilled boatmen (and women) move their little boats along the coastline in all weather, artfully playing wind and tide to make passages without the stink and clamor of an internal-combustion engine. To watch someone make their anchorage under sail and oar is as lovely and fulfilling as watching Yo-Yo Ma play the cello." - John Harris.


D said...

You are right, Autumn Leaves is a beautiful mini yacht. His Pocket Ship is also appealing.

That said, for the absolute epiphany of simplicity another "yacht" comes to my mind, specifically, the Goat Island Skiff.


Alden Smith said...

Thanks for dropping by D and thanks for your comment.

I took a look at the Goat Island Skiff and she is certainly a simple and appealing boat (especially, for me, in the yawl rigged version).

If I built a Goat Island Skiff I would want to make sure there was enough positive buoyancy built in to keep her afloat with the gunwales well out of the water in the event of a capsize.

When a boat design gets to be over 12 - 15 feet long I think it is a good idea to have a small cuddy or cabin included in the design not necessarily to sleep in, but just to stow a bit of gear such as wet weather gear, a tent, food etc - 'Autumn Leaves' has all of these requirements in spades and that is why I think she is going to be a very popular choice in this particular niche of design and use.

Paul Mullings said...

I'm with you Alden, I really love the concept. I posted the CLC link on the Duckworks Facebook page a few months ago and it lit up! She would seem to be the perfect lone sailors choice....I want one!

Alden Smith said...

Paul, she really is the perfect lone sailors choice - a little retreat lodge of sorts that floats and sails.... with the added attraction that she would be very simple to build and it wouldn't require a Nissan Patrol or similiar Sherman Tank to tow it.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

When's the build starting, Alden? :o)

Alden Smith said...

Steve, the time saving simplicity of this boats construction is thanks to the techniques developed by Phil Bolger and others.

When this simplicity and canoe yawl philosophy and history are combined with a beautiful yacht design it builds towards a perfect storm in the imagination that demands expression - So watch this space! LOL

Sail Bad the Sinner said...

Hi Alden

Possibly there may be enough interest between Manganui and Maunganui to "Kit Set" Autumn Leaves here in Aotearoa!

Imagine a Fleet for Raid Type Coastal Racing and Cruising!

Might be possible to reverse the Big Budget High Tech Racing of the America's Cup and introduce some of the younger generation to building, racing and cruising their own boats.

Alden Smith said...

Hi SBtheSinner!

You make some interesting comments.

Yes a Kit Set would certainly make building easier. Chesapeake Light Craft, the boat business that John Harris the designer is involved with doesn't offer a KitSet... Yet, but even if he did it would be too expensive to ship to NZ - Which means producing a KitSet here in New Zealand - I am not sure of the logistics involved in all of that.

I would be very interested in a fleet of these boats getting together and doing some coastal trips - that would be very cool indeed!

I agree with you regarding the BBHTech Racing Americas cup etc - I think something has gone wrong over the years regarding far too much emphasis on money and winning at all costs - it's created an elite sailing scene focused on the Olympics and international racing (not in itself a bad thing) but because the ordinary sailor has been left out of the equation centreboard class yacht racing in clubs nation wide have been gutted. There is not too much sailing in the provinces at all. Most clubs are really struggling. Yes there are social changes and more options available these days but the elite emphasis has a lot to answer to.

I have a set of plans for 'Autumn Leaves' and I am waiting and watching to see if someone builds one and if it is featured somewhere such as Wooden Boat magazine or Chesapeake Light Crafts wed site - I will wait and see how this, what seems a fantastic little boat sails before I invest time and money in building one.

Thanks for your comments and thoughts - I would be interested to know if there are others in NZ who would like to build this boat - could be interesting!!