Friday, September 14, 2012

Sharpie Otter Relaunched

On the Sunday of last weekend's Port Townsend Boat Festival, I was whisked away from the festivities to witness the relaunch of Alan Woodbury's sharpie on Mystery Bay. Alan has been working on restoring this boat for awhile and friends kept me appraised of progress, but I had yet to see it in person.

It's a stout boat, built of fir plywood and designed with a cat ketch rig. The sail rig has yet to be installed.

We had a poignant  de-naming ceremony and re-christening to appease Neptune.

It always helps to have a bagpiper for these occasions

I was impressed.

Alan has apparently forgotten to lower his rudder, but he'll get to it.

There is seven hundred fifty pounds of concrete blocks inside for ballast and look how much capacity is left.

Sharpies are one of my favorite designs, for their unique combination of simplicity, efficiency and seaworthiness. Many of you will be familiar with sharpies from Ralph Munroe's Egret and also from the design board of Reuel Parker.

Otter is twenty seven feet long and eight feet wide. The cabin is expansive, which at first gave me pause, but on the water has a grace I wouldn't have imagined. We took a quick tour around Mystery Bay under the power of a 9.9hp outboard while Jamie Orr and I sat down below in comfort.

There is a small unobtrusive centerboard in the middle of the cabin and a much larger one just aft in the cockpit, which you can see in the last photo above. With two masts and two centerboards, the options for trimming the helm are infinite.  

Otter took to the beach as her namesake implies and rode easily on the shingle while we celebrated. Skipper and crew could easily disembark without getting their feet wet! Such is the beauty of the extreme rocker and flat bottom of the traditional sharpie.

Alan's boat was a bit rough and not very well loved before he started. His repair work, however, is top drawer and we look forward to the finished product.

Congratulations, Alan!

Jamie and Alan scouting out an appropriate mooring. Please note the custom sailing outfits.

That's one happy, hardworking skipper.

If you're interested in reading about building a sharpie, there is a thorough description by Dale Austen of his Pangur Ban, a 28 foot Bill Schwicker sharpie design originally published in WoodenBoat #56.

Another builder/designer who finds sharpies impressive is Ross Lillistone. I recommend a visit.


Alan said...


Thanks for the article on Otter.She was a well loved but neglected boat when I bought her.

She is roomy because she is 27 feet long and 8 feet wide. There is 750 pounds of ballast all inside on the cabin sole.

Her lines are very close to Captain Munroe's "Egret" except for having a small dory transom and of course somewhat more freeboard.

The 10 inch draft is very much appreciated when beaching

Alan Woodbury

doryman said...

Hey Alan!

Love and neglect should never be used in the same sentence, in my humble opinion.
You've done a great job of bringing her back to life and like I said, very impressive.

May I reserve a spot as crew when she gets her sails?

Glenn said...


SIMPLICITY isn't a sharpie. I know her well, she used to belong to a gentleman here on Marrowstone. She is a Quoddy Pilot 38, a popular design from the late '70's; the hull and rig are based on the Lubec, Maine sardine carriers of the 1890's, see Chapelle's American Small Sailing Craft for examples. The same company also made a 32 foot version. As I recall, they are strip planked over fairly a normal wooden backbone with fiberglass sheathing inside and out. I'm not sure about framing, I've never been below on one.


doryman said...

So she's not flat bottomed? Certainly looks like she would be.

Alan said...


I'd love to have you crew or captain Otter when she's rigged for Sail. She is rigged as a Cat Ketch with almost identical sized sails so almost a Cat Schooner

Look at the original Egrets rig and that's what I have.

I've got to make a Tabernacle for the mainmast so that I can fold the mast down for trailering. The sails are in great condition and are rigged with sprit booms.


doryman said...

I'll take you up on that, can't wait.

Glenn said...

No, SIMPLICITY is not flat bottomed. I've seen her out of the water in the boat yard. She's got a heavy displacement deep midsection with a lot of deadrise and round bilges, with more Y-shaped or wineglass sections aft. Check out the plans in Chapelle for details.


doryman said...

Not so simple it seems. She'll have to feature in a different post.