Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Wee Pram

Yet another Stone Horse story...

The Sam Crocker Stone Horse, Belle Starr has been mentioned in these pages many times. Hopefully you are not tired of hearing about her yet, because here is a new chapter.

Cruising on Belle Starr is a treat. She's a well mannered boat and comfortable. Except for one thing. Headroom. Inside, one must sit down, no options. Please don't get me wrong, the design appeals to me aesthetically, wherein lies a quandary.
Most of the time, the low profile is just what is needed. Under sail, there is no obstruction for a clear view in all directions. The flush deck is a joy for working around. But there are those wet days at anchor when it would be nice to stand up, if only in the companionway, to get dressed, or take a look around.

There is a local boat, also designed by Sam Crocker, called the Macaw. She is obviously a big sister to the Stone Horse. In this photo of her, please note the raised companionway doghouse. Very pleasing to my eye. How would Belle Starr stand up to such a design change? After all, the Macaw is a thirty-six foot boat.

So, I sketched a raised companionway for Belle, to fill the available deck space, and came up with a trunk three feet wide, five feet long and a foot high, with a sliding hatch, shown here.

Still not convinced this protuberance would not spoil the look of a well designed boat, I decided to mock-up the add-on in the shop, with heavy cardboard. The full sized model was soon abandoned, because it quickly became apparent that with a tweak here and there, what I would have was a Wee Pram.

A tender less than six feet long apparently has few uses, because I was not able to find many appealing designs for such a vessel. My calculations showed me that the Wee Pram would carry 3-400 pounds, so I designed one of my own.
The pram will fit over the hatch, behind the mast. The aft transom has a removable panel, to facilitate access to the companionway.

The forward transom will notch around the mast, to help secure the load. I may even install deadlights in the hull panels, to give a more cabin-like appearance.
(hard to tell which is the bow and which is the transom, eh? This is the view looking aft.)
Cold weather (and an unheated shop) have temporarily suspended construction, though here in the Pacific Northwest, freezing weather doesn't last long, so look forward to photos of the Wee Pram-as-trunk-cabin, in the near future.


Galen said...

I was going to suggest you look at the popup tops that T-Birds use. I once cruised way up into B.C. When I needed headroom I popped up the top, and put a canvas cover over it with clear window sides. Worked great.

doryman said...

I considered a pop-top, Galen. Still may, depends on how this project turns out - after all, when the Wee Pram is in use, there will be no cabin.

Galen said...

Sure. There was a boat not long ago across from the Blue Moose in the yard that had a dinghy over the cabin top like you are talking about. It had two removable sections if I recall, one to go around the mast, and one for the entryway.

Anonymous said...


doryman said...

What I failed to mention, is that I've been trying to solve how to carry a tender on a small boat for some time. I don't like towing, and this current solution aside, don't really like having obstructions on the deck. That includes folding dinghy options as well. Which leaves the inflatable option - the one we currently use. Not a great option, either. A small inflatable is a chunky vessel, even the kayak on board Belle Starr. And, if we are in a different anchorage everyday, which happens often, the tedium of pumping and deflating the kayak becomes an unwelcome encumbrance, for many reasons. I don't expect this solution to be a cure-all either, but hope it has qualities to make it worthy.

Scott said...

Looks pretty good! Your original idea of having a view makes me wonder if you've considered skin-on-frame at least for the sides with that transparent vinyl material? Maybe even a two-part hull with a hinge in the middle to allow the aft part to be lifted up for better access to the companionway? Probably there are many reasons, unknown to me why these or similar ideas would not be appropriate, but I figured I'd throw them your way just in case.
All the best, Scott

doryman said...

Hey Scott! I have an old (Old Town) canoe in the shop that needs a skin. Been thinking of covering it in skin-on-frame style instead of the traditional canvas.
As you can see from the recent photos added at the end of this post, the dinghy is plywood. I seems to be working out, so the experiment is now the real deal. I think it will have a couple deadlights, and others have suggested a skylight, though that might be taking it a bit too far.
I considered a two part nesting dinghy, but part of the design brief was simplicity of build and use (and this dinghy was made from shop scraps, which helped define how complex it might be).