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Sailing Related Sightings Round-the-Sound

More info on Sailboat #55 - 2.17.07

With a lack of fanfare, Dennis Clark launched this 18 foot home built boat in January of 2007. Since then he has been testing it on the waters of Puget Sound near Gig Harbor. Of course this boat is hardly typical of a home built boat. With many molded fiberglass parts, a modern rig with assymetrical spinnaker, and a canting keel, this isn't a slightly modified Thistle or C-Lark. Fortunately, Dennis was nice enough to chat about his boat after a day of testing on a brisk February day.

DC55 reaching under spinnaker

My first question was 'Why?'. Dennis wanted a boat that could be single or double handed in a wide wind range. To this end he needed a relatively light boat with substantial sail area. The canting keel allows the boat to carry lots of canvas without requiring lots of human weight on the rail. Dennis contacted Andy Vance to design the rig and hull. Dennis also talked about the concept and design to his friends, family, and neighbors. And he listened to what many of them had to say. By the time the boat was finished he had incorporated ideas from many different individuals.

Dennis built the hull by hand. It is a cedar strip core covered with fiberglass and epoxy. Carbon fiber was also added in high stress areas. A mold was created for the deck which is also fiberglass but with a balsa core. This hull is narrow compared to most modern boats. Just 36 inches of beam at the waterline. The boat is self bailing with bailers positioned on the sides of the hull to evacuate any water scooped into the cockpit.

The canting keel is the star of this show. With a maximum 50 degrees of cant, it is able to get the 98 kilogram bulb way out there. The keel currently uses a 10:1 block and tackle purchase system. A canard handles lateral forces. The canard is removed like a daggerboard for trailering. The rudder is not transom hung on this 18 footer but is 'cassette style'. This design was chosen to allow removal for trailering.

The rig is designed to be built from a shortened star mast. Both lower and upper stays are swept. Despite it's Star heritage, the mast does not utilize any backstays. The top of the mast is approximately 24 feet off the water. The boom is a modified Laser spar. Dennis did not know the exact area of the asymetrical spinnaker but it is not insignificant.

With just a couple months of sailing under it's keel, Dennis seems happy with his toy. He reports that the boat is quite responsive to the canting keel. And it has a neutral helm even while heeling.

After discussing the boat I changed the subject. I was curious if Dennis planned to get back into the boat business. He wasn't sure. His first goal was to work out the bugs in this boat. He wants to sail it in various conditions, get more feedback, and see what needs improvement. He also offered to take me sailing. Sounds like this article might have a 'Part 2'. Stay tuned.

Sailboat #55 Specifications
LOD 5496mm
hull weight minus keel: approximately 133 kg
beam 1371 mm
waterline beam: 914 mm
keel bulb: 98 kg
keel strut, bulb, and pivot: approximately 133 kg
draft: 1676 mm
maximum keel cant: 50 degrees
mainsail area: 10 square meters
jib area: 6 square meters
sprit length: 550 mm