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by John Welsford - Hamilton - New Zealand

Duckworks has many stories of “how I built myself a boat”, but I note that over the years its often the same contributors, and there are far more readers than builders which suggests that there are a lot of interested people who just need a little help to get started.

 A pic by Dan Phy from the Cedar Quay Small Craft Skills Academy,  Howard teaching helming techniques, sometimes it pays to watch where you came from rather than where you are going, at least until you get the feel of the tiller.  The boat by the way is one of the first kit built SCAMPs, nice one Dan.

For some, the need to learn not only the boatbuilding part, but the tool skills, the use of glues and fastenings, fiberglass cloth, paints, the transferring of the drawings to the full sized materials and cutting expensive plywood and wood to shape is a huge hurdle.  A bigger one than some are able to contemplate without assistance.

Many who want to build are isolated in that they don’t know anyone else who shares the interest, don’t know where to get help and the thought of going it completely alone is a very hard one.

Forums can provide some support, books also, but there is nothing like having a friendly guy who knows what he is talking about leaning on the project alongside you and explaining what to do next, someone who will pick up your hand plane and in a few words explain why its clogging up and showing you how to correct it, someone who will tell you that the mistake you’ve just made is not fatal and with a few minutes work will fix it for you, at the same time showing you what to do next time.

Teaching sailing technique, you’ll note by the wake that the boat is in the middle of a standing gybe in quite strong winds, and Teacher Howard is still standing up, safe in the knowledge that SCAMP is exceptionally stable.

Change of subject, but connected.

SCAMP, that’s the little cruiser commissioned by Small Craft Advisor magazine, the name being an acronym for “Small Craft Advisor Magazine Project”, was intended for beginner builders, and the kitset has made that much easier again eliminating a couple of the more challenging parts of the build.  The boat itself has proven to be much more than just a 12 ft open family daysailer, she’s done some serious cruising, is capable of bringing her crew home safe and dry in serious conditions, is fast enough to be fun to sail and has proven to be a good enough racer to have embarrassed a lot of much bigger boats.

Mike and Howard out in Mikes “Famous Red SCAMP” at the Lake Havasu pocket cruiser convention.  They raced among a fleet of over 100 rather bigger boats, and finished high enough up the fleet to embarrass a lot of the skippers behind them.

This is a boat for everyone, fit in the garage, carry the whole family, hugely stable, fun for beginners through experts to sail,  and safer than any other small boat you’ll find.

For those who don’t know SCAMP, have a read through the postings on this thread at WoodenBoat forum, she has a lot of fans.

When Small Craft Advisor magazine editor Josh Colvin commissioned the design, he had not envisaged that there could be this degree of shelter in such a small boat, but now that he’s tried it, he wonders, “how could you do without it?”

Combine the Two?  

The North West School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock on the shores of Puget Sound has a two week fulltime course coming up on building SCAMP.   Here is the course information.

Some points of interest, for those who wish to learn but who aren’t able to build their own SCAMP just yet, they are encouraged to participate, and will come away with all the learning and skills that the “builders” do, and will be well prepared to build their own SCAMP, or for that matter any boat that is of modern plywood construction.

In among her big sisters.  There is a saying that the amount of pleasure that you get from a boat, is proportional to how small it is.  While those lovely big boats are wonderful, SCAMP will have you out sailing when the crew of the bigger boats are all sweaty and covered in crud doing the maintenance.  I know which I’d rather have.

The course will be run at the NW Maritime workshop a few minutes walk from the motels, camp grounds and the center of Port Townsend itself, right on the water for inspiration and motivation.

I’ll be one of the tutors, as will Small boat adventurer and Small Craft Skills Academy founder Howard Rice, who is a professional educator as well as a highly skilled sailor. Howard’s credential goes deep with a solo rounding of Cape Horn in a fifteen footer, sailing traditional Pacific voyaging canoes, Olympic race management, managing numerous world, North American and European championships, training US military special forces small boat teams and a lifetime of cruising in the worlds wild places aboard the smallest of boats. Scott Jones and Jason Bledsoe from the North West Maritime Centre will be the other two, both are instructors in boatbuilding so you’ll have the designer, an extraordinary sailor and teacher, and two professional boatbuilding instructors at your disposal.

This is the sort of picture that really says it all, here is Howard heading out for a couple of nights aboard, ghosting in the first of the breeze but prepared for anything that comes along, really, she’s a picture.  Thanks Debra Colvin for this inspiring photograph.

For those who wish to participate, Howard will be using SCAMP number one to take students sailing in the evenings so the course content covers everything from the first cut to sailing the boat.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

The teacher in action, here is Howard using SCAMP as a teaching platform in very fresh conditions, the exceptional stability of the boat is evident as she bustles along.

Dates are  August 6th to August 17th,  visitors welcome over the weekend of 11/12th.

Note that there are a limited number of spaces available and to make this work for you tuition has been set at only $995, which by any measure is a bargain.  Be quick as space is limited and sign up has started.

See you there,
John Welsford

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