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(Updated 8 June 2011)
Plans Review: PocketShip - John C Harris - Chesapeake Light Craft
|Links to Order||PocketShip Plans
(Price Plans, Full size Patterns and Manual $249 as of June 1,
( Kits also available)
|Building Method||Mostly Stitch & Glue for Hull, other techniques for additional features.|
|Length / Beam||14' 10" LOD / 75" Beam|
|Sail Plan / Sail Area||Gaff Rig mainsail 109 Sqft, Jib 39 sqft, Drifter 90 sqft|
|Weight||800 Lbs. Including 107.5lbs of lead in keel and 160lbs of lead beneath the floorboards|
|Draft||36" board down, 16" board up for rowing|
|Power||Oars / Yuloh / "can carry an eggbeater outboard for those who simply cannot live without gasoline"|
|Number of sheets in plan set||286 page Manual, 11 plan sheets and 7 large sheets of full size patterns (up to 16' long)|
View, Details for Tack, Bowsprit, Throat, Masthead, Sail Areas main, jig
Plan, Gaff Main, Jib, Reacher-Drifter
Mast, Boom, Yard, Bowsprit
|Sheet 4||Top View, Side View|
View, Floor, Floorboard detail, Stitched Hull Assmbly and Full size
details, Keel nose block full size, Centerboard trunk details, Lead
Tiller, Rudder endplate, Foil shape
|Sheet 8||Bulkhead section details, wiring conduit, flooring, rails|
bulkhead sections, seating frame detail, floor boad,frame detail, rails
top, Companionway sliding hatch
hatch slides and detail, Hood and companionway slide placement, Com
|Pattern Sheet 1||Bottom
Panel, Footwell Sole
|Pattern Sheet 2||Side
Panel, Top Side Panel, Ports
|Pattern Sheet 3||Rear
cabin wall, Centerboard trunk, Foreword
deck, Bulk 2, Transom,
|Pattern Sheet 4||Floor 3,4,5,6, Bulkhead 1,8, Seatback frame 6,7,8, Dorade box parts, Transom Gallows, Seat Back Top, Transom skirt, Upper / Lower Breasthook|
|Pattern Sheet 5||Keelson,
Setback, Keel side, Pattern for
Tabernacle, Tille, Bowsprit, Surround for Lokcer in seatback,
|Pattern Sheet 6||Rudder,
Rudder cheek, Rudder End Plate, Cabin
Side, Deck, Cockpit Deck
|Pattern Sheet 7||Building
Cradle, Companionway Drop Board Upper,
Lower, Campionway top, Hood top
Best Boats You Can Build" is the mission statement of John C. Harris's
company Chesapeake Light Craft, and his PocketShip design embodies it.
The Com-Pac 16 is one of my favorite boats I've owned, with
it's salty appearance, room to sleep two, and
big feel for it's small size and shallow draft.
Well now you can build a similar boat that really expands on
those virtues. When John described for me the inspiration
for the design, he said :
" PocketShip was designed for a select audience of one, myself, so there was no pressure to simplify. I've done a lot of small boat cruising, and everything visible in the drawings is there to resolve some
specific issue I've encountered over the years."
Sophisticated is the word that best describes PocketShip. Stitch and glue, (epoxy) is the primary method for building the hull and additional features such as seats and seat backs and cabin structure are added with simple framing and plywood. PocketShip has a boxed keel with lead ballast which adds seaworthiness not found in most home built boats this size. The sophistication is provided in other features such as the previously mention seat backs and cockpit accessible storage compartments in them. Dorade boxes which provide dry ventilation to the cabin and a convenient place for mooring cleats. A transom skirt extends the combing of the seat back around the transom which is very pleasing to the eye. A planked floor is also a high end touch that is also very functional.
To address sailing performance PocketShip has a V bottom, unlike many of her stitch and glue peers who typically have flat bottoms. The planked cabin floor provides a level surface in the cabin the extends under the bridge deck and cockpit seats to provide tons of room for sprawling about in the cabin. There's also sitting head room in the cabin as well. Plenty of sail area is provided in a gaff main and jib supplying 148 sq ft, plenty to drive this hull and the designer points out in his youtube.com video you should be prepared to reef as the wind kicks up into the teens. A 90 sq ft drifter is also provided in the plans for speeding downwind or to aide performance when winds are light. The centerboard is a pretty standard layup of two layers of 3/8" plywood, with a rectangular opening for lead balast. The rudder however is a more unique set up. The rudder and rudder cheek is a single unit with the rudder blade being hallow constructed with a skin of 1/4" ply over a tapered timber frame. The rudder is short to help keep the draft of the boat minimal, so to increase it's efficency an endplate is added to the bottom of the rudder, to form an inverted T. John explains this approach in the manual: "The endplate is not optional as it nearly doubles the power of the rudder... Observers seem surprised by this component, though not surprised by wings on keels or winglest on airplanes. The rudder endplate works the same way. It's also handy as a step when climbing back aboard from the water. If you decide, for some reason, to eliminate this feature, please make your rudder about 8" (203mm) deeper, or you won't be able to turn"
The plans and patterns package is robust, consisting of a nearly 300 page manual with well over 700 pictures of the PocketShip being assembled, a set of 11 plan sheets, and seven large (over 15') full size patterns of the plywood parts. The manual is written to support both building from plans or the CLC kit. It is written for any level of boat builder to understand and some boat building humor is subtlety written in along with lots of things to double check and suggestions to avoid making rework. The manual has epoxy and S&G primers written in. These primers are needed as most of the structure is held together with epoxy fillets and covered with fiberglass cloth and epoxy. The plans sheets supplement the pictures in the manual for assembly, hardware, and rigging. Fitting PocketShip to a trailer is also discussed in the manual. The full size patterns are laser printed to provide very accurate panel and part shapes. The patterns are used to directly transfer the part shapes onto plywood by using an awl or similar to punch holes in the ply at the pattern lines to define the shape for cutting. The more curve in the part, you'll need to increase the number of hole punches to define the shape for marking with pencil for cutting. The full size patterns, eliminates the need for lofting shapes onto the ply and should be beneficial to the novice and experience builders.
All designs are compromises and sophistication does come with some strings attached. The price of the plans at $249 may at first blush seem expensive, however the full size patterns and the robust manual with all the pictures will definitely stop some mistakes and material waste, especially considering the use of quality marine plywood. If you choose to build PocketShip you will not want to use anything but marine plywood. You will not want to have an inferior wood underly the epoxy and fiberglass. John also points out early in the manual that if you are on a luan budget, that you will be better served by another design. PocketShip will be one of the more expensive to build boats of this size range, in both time (500-600 hours) and money but you'll have a boat that will rival and likely surpass production boats in performance and beauty.
I had asked John about the most common question he gets about PocketShip, his response :
"I guess it's about engines. I'm snobbish about engines on small sailboats. But there are definitely stretches of water where you'll need an outboard. So: Yes, you may mount an outboard on a bracket.
For a trip to Puget Sound mine acquired a Honda 4-stroke 2hp, good for hull speed into a squall. The next release of the manual will cover that."
In conclusion PocketShip is definitely the "Class" in the 14-16' (Pocket Cruiser) category. The plans package is top notch, you will find that CLC will support you during your build, John has been extremely responsive to my questions in preparing this review. In my opinion after reviewing and even building sailboats of this size, PocketShip is "The best boat you can build" at this size.
You can find additional information on PocketShip at the following links :
Small Craft Advisor Issue #55 as back issue or PDF version
Woodenboat issue #207 as back issue
Youtube video on building Pocketship
Youtube video : PocketShip under sail
Websites of home builders of PocketShip
Podcast interview with John C. Harris on FurledSails.com
and of course:
Chesapeake Light Craft website
Sheet 2 Sheet 3
Sheet 4 Sheet 5
Sheet 6 Sheet 7
Sheet 8 Sheet 9
Sheet 10 Sheet 11