Tuesday, September 6, 2016

_______________ CANOE YAWL 'AUTUMN LEAVES' UPDATE _______________

Shipmates, this is a copy of the Form Letter update from John C. Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft regarding the plans for the Canoe Yawl 'Autumn Leaves'. I can't wait to get my hands on the plans for this little boat. The build is relatively speaking very, very simple. This design is a serious contender for my next major retirement project. I have blogged about this little boat before here:

"  To: Alden Smith. Fwd: Canoe Yawl "Autumn Leaves " Update! :

The design of the canoe yawl "Autumn Leaves" is the sort of undertaking that exercises my brain in the midst of dreary instruction manual work, magazine deadlines, and (most of all) answering email. As such it has been hard to keep Autumn Leaves on the front burner. But there has been so much enthusiasm and feedback that I have made completion of the plans a priority and we are ALMOST there.

So many emails have arrived, in fact, that I've abandoned hope of answering each and every one. I am resorting to that most lugubrious of dispatches: the form letter.

I did read every single email I got about Autumn Leaves and pulled out your questions, which I hope to answer here.

When will plans be available?
We're down to a few weeks. If Jay and I weren't headed out on CLC's West Coast Tour the final drawings would be done next week.  I will ping this list with another email the moment we stick a fork in the plans.

What will the plans look like?
At present the plans comprise 18 pages on 11x17 paper. They will be offered as a downloadable PDF.  Here are some snippets of the plans to give you a taste of the detail:

What will the plans cost?
The cost for the PDF download will be around $50.

Will there be a pre-cut kit for Autumn Leaves?

Sure, we can cut a kit for you. All of the CNC-cut marine plywood parts, shipped on a pallet, would fall in the region of $4000.

Has a prototype been built?
No, not yet.

What is the plywood thickness for hull sides and bottom?
The sides are 1/4", reinforced with four stringers and six bulkheads.  The bottom is 3/4", with an additional 3/4" doubler running down the center.  (So you're grounding out on 1-1/2" of plywood.)  Decks are 3/8".

Do you think "chine runners," a la Matt Layden, would work instead of bilge boards?
This has been a common question. I'm an unabashed fan of Matt Layden's designs and admire everything he does. Chine runners as on his "Paradox" design simply aren't very effective upwind, however. The canoe yawl philosophy requires that the boat have EXCELLENT sailing qualities on all points, and can be sailed in and out of tricky spots, including dead to windward. For this I think the specified bilge boards are the best solution.

Would this be a good Everglades Challenge boat?
It would be the most comfortable Everglades Challenge boat on the course. It's heavy, though, something like 1300lbs rigged, so getting it off the beach during the Le Mans start of that race would be a real challenge.  (I note that Autumn Leaves is still light enough to tow easily with a 4-cylinder car.)

Could you sail Autumn Leaves to the Bahamas?
Yes. At this displacement, any such cruise is going to be mostly about the skill of the crew. Given a good boatman at the helm, I would have no reservations about sailing this boat from Miami to the Bahamas on a good weather report.

Could there be an engine?
Impossible to avoid this question. The original canoe yawls were engineless, of course. The original canoe yawl partisans favored a Zen-like philosophy that your itinerary worked with the wind and tide, not against it. And this was all in the fast-moving currents and tricky shoals of Britain's Thames Estuary.

However, it may be impossible to use the boat in some scenarios without an engine of some sort. In this case I would rig a side-slung mount near the stern for a 2hp 4-stroke Honda.

How tall are you?
This from several folks contemplating the published drawings and lamenting the absence of a scale.  I am 6'1" tall. In the process of making this sketch I actually mocked up the interior of the boat with cardboard and scrap lumber. It's a small cabin but extremely ergonomic.

Are there any other rig options?
No plans for other rigs, no. I think I've got "engine" and "chassis" matched up pretty well. If compelled to do something different, it would probably be a cat-yawl with balanced lug sails for main and mizzen.

Are you going to do a larger version? What would that look like?

The second-most common question after "When will plans be done?"

Short answer: No.

Long answer: I'll do it if someone commissions the work. There's only so much time and money available for speculative designs like Autumn Leaves. It'll be a couple hundred hours of naval architecture work for Team CLC.

With so many requests, I did take a few hours to sketch out a larger Autumn Leaves. The big version is 21'4" long and has pleasant accommodations for a pair of consenting adults.  Here's a drawing; the original Autumn Leaves is shown at the top for comparison.

Thanks again for your interest and stay tuned for more updates.

John C. Harris "
Chesapeake Light Craft
"The Best Boats You Can Build"

[ Personally speaking, even if the larger design was available  I would build the small version (below) . I think one of its many attractions is its diminutive size - Alden Smith ]


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

That's a nice looking boat... will you do it??? :o)

Alden Smith said...

Steve, there are a few boats I want to build before I pop off to that big spinnaker run in the sky - A small cat boat (I have the plans for two contenders here) and a canoe yawl (and I have the plans for two contenders here). The simplicity and relatively speedy building time for 'Autumn Leaves' makes her a very strong contender in the canoe yawl stakes.

Graham Neil said...

Go for it, report back.
It's later than you think.

Alden Smith said...

Sure will Graham - all my compass needles are pointing to a build on this one.

Indies Dad said...

I'm building autumn leaves no 1. At least I think I am. I started jan 20 2017 and I am at the stage of glassing the topsides with almost the whole boat assembled. At this point I am trying to get her on the water by late May or June. My boat has some deviations from the plan in that I am rigging it with a gaff main. The other major modification is that I have reduced the volume of the cockpit by quite a bit. I have boxed in the seats and under the side decks so I now have abundant floation all through the boat.

I agree that the boat is fairly easy to build, but it is not for new builders unless they are moderately skilled in a wood shop, and dedicated to spending the time. The hull is pretty easy to assemble, but there is a good bit of what J Harris calls patient wood work to work out the rest.

To me this is a really big boat. The volume will surprise you. I can't wait to set up house in mine and sail someplace for a good long time.


Alden Smith said...

Al, that is absolutely fantastic news, I have been searching the internet for the last 12 months looking for news of a build.

I have seen a rig modification on the Wooden Boat Forum with a lug sail 'cat' main i.e. no jib.

Your version, A gaff main, jib and mizzen is an excellent idea in my books, especially from the aesthetic point of view and very much in keeping with the canoe yawl ethos.

Boxing in the seats is also a really good idea and I have always intended to do this when I build mine 'Autumn Leaves' sometime soon.

I am heartened to hear that you think it is a really big boat - makes building one even more appealing.

I would really love to see any photos of the build, especially recent ones - well ANY photos would be great (one of you next to the boat to give a sense of scale). You could send some photo attachments to my email:


I would be most grateful, I am dying to see what she looks like!!!

Regards - Alden

Indies Dad said...

Here's a better bet. I have a thread on the BYYB formum (back yard yacht builders) in the builders formn, building autumn leaves since I started the build. There are lots of pictures and a fairly complete narrative of my adventures. In order to see the pictures, you will have to register on the site.

I sail a Stevenson Weekender which is my favorite boat right now so when I compare sizes Autumn Leaves is easily twice if not more volume than my weekender which I cruise comfortably in. Even though J Harris claims that AL is a solo boat, it is a tandem cruiser in my eyes. For a trailer sailer, she is at my limit for size and weight. My goal is to have her at the lake Pepin messabout at the end of May. I think I can still make it.


Indies Dad said...

Your best bet is to check the building autumn leaves on the byyb forum. it is listed under the builders bulletin board. in order to see the pictures, and there are a lot of them, you have to register for the forum. it is worth a look.


Alden Smith said...

Thanks Al - you have really made my day today!! I have registered on the BYYB forum and posted a comment there. You are making a great job of your 'Autumn Leaves' design - she looks fabulous.

I dragged one of your photos onto my desktop and will use it to do an update on this A.Leaves design and a link to the BYYB site - (I hope I have your permission to use your photo??).

Mate, you really made my day - I fucking love this little boat.