Thursday, August 18, 2011

John Welsford's Penguin Yawl

The Ann Martin, a mini-yacht.

In April of 2010, I met Phil Rossignol at the Depoe Bay Wooden Boat Show and Crab Feed. He was exhibiting a traditional Banks dory which he had built with solid timber and was quite proud of. He had never built a boat before, or anything other than some bookshelves.

Phil and his wife and have had great fun with it, fishing on lakes and crabbing on the Yaquina river.

Just when I was wondering how Phil was, he wrote to me and said he was launching his second boat.

I had to see it!

The pocket cruiser in question is John Welsford's Penguin. Following the success of the clinker-built dory, Phil's ambitions were high. He made a great choice, as you will see:

"Overconfident about my abilities, I suggested to my wife that we build a small cruiser and explore the Inside Passage. My double garage has a workshop extension and can accommodate building a twenty plus foot boat."

"I spent a few months reading about small boats in books and on the web, and finally settled on Penguin, designed by John Welsford. I also considered great designs by Oughtred, Dix and Selway-Fisher. The Penguin is just short of 21 feet, with an 8 foot beam. The cabin is spacious, can accommodate a head and a galley, and has four berths. The cockpit is self draining. The hull is flat bottomed with sides of five overlapping strakes."

"I started the build in March 2008. I’m not a woodworker, and more of a wood butcher, to use Charles Stock’s phrase. I used the ‘looks good from 10 feet’ rule, and sometimes stretched that out a bit. I proceeded working on it about an hour every night. I read that a boat that size realistically will take 1000 hours for an amateur to build, and I believe that’s correct. In my opinion, a risk for homebuilders is sporadic progress, leading to discouragement. My solution is to do something every day, however little, and see continual progress. It keeps your spirits up."

"The first major challenge was turning it over in order to glass the bottom. My garage is long but only a few inches higher that 8 feet. I suspended both ends from the ceiling beams and slowly spun it around."

"The second challenge was the ballast keel. The plans call for 900 pounds or so of lead poured in a fairly complex curved shape. I could not locate anyone in the Pacific Northwest who would pour it and I don’t have a property suited for safe smelting, so I had a welding shop find two solid iron bars, close to 500 ponds each and drilled recessed holes. It adds about an inch of depth and two inches of width over the lead ballast, so it worked out fine."

"I focused on the exterior, hoping for a float test in 2011. I pulled it out of the garage and onto a trailer in early summer. It barely made it out of the four-panel high door! We threw champagne at it and christened it the Ann Martin. It trailered easily over the Coastal range on a surge brake trailer."

Phil and his wife Ann pulled the boat over the Coast Range to launch on the Yaquina at Toledo, OR. My friend Lou and I were lucky to be there in time to see the moment when trepidation becomes triumph. They took the Ann Martin for an inaugural spin and were obviously very happy:

"This design feels very steady and stable and was easy to move with a 2hp Honda outboard."

"I’m very satisfied with the boat’s handling and appearance. It’s a great boat!"

"The rig will be a yawl with a gaff main and lug mizzen. Last winter I cut a small Doug fir from our property for the mast, which has dried very nicely. Next winter I’ll sew sails from a Sailrite kit, bolt on the ballast and finish the interior. It should be ready next spring."

"Then it’s on to Alaska!"


Tiffany Garcia said...

I can't wait to see pictures of her first inner passage voyage! Well done, Phil!

Grant Thompson said...

Congratulations, Phil! Well done.

Bursledon Blogger said...

Congratulations she looks great, gaff yawl is my favourite rig so I'm slightly biased!

doryman said...

Yes, congratulations are in order! Phil completed this boat in three years. It's much larger than I thought and three years is an amazing feat, especially for a man who is still teaching himself woodworking!
With Phil's ambition, we might even see the rig this fall.

Hiram said...


Moving the iron bar ballasts, must have been quite an adventure and taken a lot of ingenuity. Maneuvering those big bars into place was not an easy task. That feat is as impressive as the beautiful woodwork.

Phil R said...

Thanks for your comments.

Heavy objects can be moved with ropes, chains, pulleys, wedges, levers and wheels. Credit goes to Archimedes. Plywood and epoxy came somewhat later.

As for rigging, I can probably get the masts, yards and cordage ready soon, but the sails will take a while longer.

I'm aiming for a spring sail and definitely showing up at the Toledo boat show later in the summer. I expect to see all of you there to celebrate on board.

Dave said...

Beautiful boat! Well done. I look forward to seeing her with the rigging.

Patricia Hartge said...

She's a real beauty! Send more pictures for those of us who won't be able to go out with you for a while.
-- Trisha

David G said...

Phil - I've always liked the looks of Penguin. I had the chance to sail aboard Peters - which he brought over from Idaho for the PT Wooden Boat Show last weekend. Sails very nicely - though he's still sorting out the rigging. The space below was amazing. I expected it to be big. It was bigger. Look forward to seeing yours!

Harbor Woodworks