Golant Gaffer

The boat being built is a Golant Gaffer, a wooden sailing boat with long keel and a gaff rig.

There are probably thousands of self build boat plans. The challenge is not in finding plans, but deciding which plans to use.

My criteria were:

  • Size
  • Sailing comfort
  • engine type
  • Construction Method
  • and most importantly – prettiness!

Size: the boat had to be large enough to take a couple of adults and 2 or 3 children in the cockpit. No point in having a boat if you can’t take your grandchildren out sailing. But otherwise, the smaller the better. Small means easier to build, lower cost in the marina, easier to moor.

Sailing comfort: I do most of my sailing singlehanded, and when I have company, it is likely the adult is fully engaged making sure a child doesn’t go overboard. Also, I am no longer interested in returning to the mooring having been dunked. I certainly did not want a dinghy.

Engine Type: Having an engine is a necessary evil in a marina. I find outboards get in the way and are too much hassle to maintain. I prefer an inboard. This criterion ruled out quite a lot of the smaller boats.

Construction Method: Most small boat plans involve gluing plywood panels together. This isn’t too difficult and you can build a robust boat. However, it isn’t possible to bend plywood panels into 3 dimensional shapes, and you end up with a boat that has sharp edges and awkward shapes. Some brave souls go for traditional boat building techniques, clinker or carvel. These have two disadvantages. They require significant skill and the resulting boat tends to leak as all traditional boats did and do. Strip planking sort of comes between these two. It allows a traditionally shaped hull to be made and, being sheathed in epoxy results in a boat that can sit in the water or dry out without letting in water.

Prettiness: I know subjective, but there is something about a traditional looking gaff rigged boat that is just right.

I don’t know whose Golant Gaffer this is.

The Golant Gaffer was designed by Roger Dongray. Although primarily an architect, he had designed the Cornish Shrimper 19 and multiple Cornish Crabbers before he designed and built the Golant Gaffer for his own personal pleasure. It was designed as a pocket cruiser with the amateur boat builder in mind. Roger built and launched the first Golant Gaffer, Irena, in May 1995.

The specification is:

  • Length on deck: 18’9″ (5.71m)
  • Length waterline: 17’9″ (5.41m)
  • Beam: 7’0″ (2.1m)
  • Draught: 2’9″ (0.83m)
  • Displacement: 3300lbs (1496Kg)
  • Ballast ration: 45%
  • Sail Area: 265sq.ft. (24.61 sq.m)

I bought the plans and right to build sail number 138 in April 2016.