If I Build Again

Now that Shackleton has been sold, I’ve been left to ponder over this wonderful little boat and consider its merits and weakness.  The reason I sold the boat originally was to make room for my Skiff America build, which is coming along nicely and almost done.  And, now that the Skiff is almost done, I find myself rethinking the Scamp design and longing for another small sailboat.

Would I be crazy to build another Scamp?  The thought of it makes me sort of cringe, but at times it makes me feel excited and energized.  If I did build another Scamp, what would I change?  Most of these ideas come from Howard Rice’s Southern Cross and even though Howard is quick to not encourage others to copy his design, there remains a lot of merit in many of his ideas, regardless of where one sails, at least in my mind.

So, here is a list of things I would change if I were to build again:

  1. I would add a lazarette to increase buoyancy and keep even more water out of the cockpit upon capsize.  Yes, Scamp is already incredible in this regard, but a lazarette would increase stern storage in an area that’s hardly usable otherwise.  Plus, and this is a big plus, have you seen how Howard uses the forward face of his lazarette as a back rest, with his feet resting in the footwell?  This appears to create a very comfortable place to rest, read or prepare a hot meal.  It also keeps your weight centered along the center line of the boat.  And, the creation of a lazarette would necessitate fewer filler boards when converting the benches to one large sleeping area for 2 people.  Once I grasped these concepts, the lazarette would be a must for me.
  2. I would narrow bulkhead 4:  1-preventing water (or as much water) from flooding the cuddy area upon capsize, 2-allowing more protection during a storm, by narrowing the veranda opening, 3-allowing for a vertical curtain to close off the veranda area to get a cold sailor completely out of the wind, 4- allowing a sailor to lean back against this bulkhead from the cockpit bench, looking aft and resting your feet on the bench.  Places to rest your back are at a premium on a small boat.  Between the lazarette and bulkhead 4, you could pick up two additional areas to rest your lower back.
  3. I would keep bulkhead 3 hatches high and close to the center line (snuggled right up under the roof and against the mast box.  This would keep the hatched above the water line during a capsize.
  4. I would take more time with seat hatches, making them myself following the Russell Brown design.  They would be waterproof, flush mounting and optimally shaped for better access.  Or, I might eliminate them altogether and instead go with minimal storage in exchange of more water tight buoyancy chambers.
  5. I would utilize water ballast, just because I haven’t tried this approach yet and it would make the boat lighter on the trailer.
  6. I would not incumber the aft sole area (bulkhead 6-7) with a floor hatch.  Howard taught Preston and I to stand while sailing and it felt really good.  When I added the aft sole hatch to this area, it got in the way of this premium standing location.
  7. I would keep all other hatches, including the water ballast hatch, to a minimum or eliminate them all together often utilizing 6″ round hatches for minimal intrusion and less weakening of the sole.
  8. I would add tie down areas under the veranda for dry bags to be held up against the sides, properly secured by 1″ webbing straps.  This would also reduce the floodable area within the boat, increase buoyancy and provide a soft area to lean against when napping.
  9. I would make the footwell smaller but full width.  This would allow a wide stance for ultimate low stability when sailing from this area.  I would also design it to accept filler boards.  Again, a tip from Howard’s design and others that have gone before.  The filler boards could also be used as a rowing thwart, a cook station, a mainsheet cleating area and as filler boards for the upper bench location.  How multi functional is that!  Isn’t this a big part of the fun?  It is to me!  I love the design thought that has gone into this little micro cruiser and it just seems to keep getting better and better in my mind.
  10. I would trim out the under deck areas to accept breakdown oars.  My last oar storage design wasn’t bad, but under the deck is even more out of the way and less likely to snag the mainsheet when sailing.
  11. I would add hike out seating over the cockpit skirting.  Not so much for hiking out, as to offer a great place to sit and swing my legs over the side when boarding and un-boarding.  It would also create yet another place to sit and rest otherwise sore muscles.  The more body positions you can design, the better able you are to rest tired muscles.  When I spent 36 continuous hours aboard Shackleton, I was amazed how stiff my muscles became.  More ways to change up your body positioning is very important.
  12. I would build integrated fender storage under the hike out seat platform.  This would keep wet fenders out of the boat, close at hand for instant deployment and provide yet additional buoyancy during a capsize.  It would be fun to see how this would effect a capsized Scamp.  I believe the idea may have some merit.  In fact, the design could allow one to sit directly on top of the fender for a soft cushy ride when hiking out.  They could pop out of their holder and hang down, allowing vertical adjustment when docking.
  13. I would spend the money for Gig Harbor carbon fiber break down oars to optimize the rowing experience.
  14. I would leave the motor off the boat to deliberately slow me down and create an authentic old world sailing experience.  If I’m in a hurry or want to see more country, I’ll take my Skiff America 20.
  15. I would design a tent similar to Howard’s utilizing 3 hoop shock corded poles that could come completely off the boat when sailing.  It would allow access to the outside by rolling up the sidewalls.  This is very important!  My tent design felt claustrophobic, maybe stuck is a better word.  I couldn’t easily row or get on or off the boat once the side walls were zipped into position.  It took too long to deploy, was awkward to set up and take down and the entire ensemble was exposed on the deck when stored.  There’s a simpler design and Howard has led the way. 
  16. I would utilize a basic flat bed trailer.  The flat bed design would allow Scamp to rest relatively flat on it’s skegs.  A forward cross plank would keep the boat from shifting forward (by resting against the forward edge of the skegs).  The boat could simply be secured down by the front wench and each aft corner.  The flat bed would allow great access to your boat when loading and unloading by allowing you a platform on which to stand and walk around.  Flat bed trailers are also very abundant and affordable.
  17. I would store the mast, sail, yard and boom by placing their forward end through the bulkhead 3 hatches,  with the aft end resting on the transom (held in place by some sort of bungie system).  The sail, yard and boom could be placed in a sail cover.  I would paint the top 6′ of the mast bright red and attached a red flag to the top of the protruding mast.  This would be a fast, simple and effective way to trailer your boat with spars and sail.  I got tired of attaching and removing the mast carrying system I design previously.

Just a few of the things I would consider if I were to build another Scamp.  I would be all about trying to further simplify the systems while keeping it seaworthy and practical.  Simple keeps it safe and reliable.  Simple is repeatable, even when cold, tired or weary.  It just sort of works.  

I must say, just enumerating these ideas has caused me to seriously consider building yet another Scamp.  I have scoured small boat designs and cannot find another boat I would rather build.  All things considered, this is a very hard boat to beat.  Don’t tell Jennifer what I’m thinking or I may have to live aboard.  

Finally, I would love to hear any ideas you may have regarding your personal experiences with your Scamp.  How to make is simpler, safer or more comfortable.  After all, that’s how we all learn.  So, please share your comments below.