One Rough Schooner

by Paul Austin - Dallas, Texas - USA

After putting Cricket together, I wanted a longer model.  Cricket is perfect for light air, but with the high peaked sail, it gathers too much wind and tips  in no more than moderate winds.  So I searched the internet for a 2 foot model at a price I could afford.  I found plenty of sloops, marconi, but nothing that would stir my imagination.

I was in an arts and crafts store – slipping around all these sewing things without telling any of the old women I was a boat-guy – when I saw 7/8 solid soft pine boards 2 feet by one foot – just right and cheap since it was meant for home decorative purposes.  Little did they know their fine pine board wasn’t going to decorate any classy home – ha!  I got out of there with two of them, glued them together and drew freehand a deck line as the shape of the model.

I once heard a professional modeller say you can’t cut a fine shape unless you have a band saw.  I found this out the hard way.  You can cut a curve with a hand saw, but you’re going to spend the best years of your life sanding it, and sanding it, and sanding it some more.  So, having no sense, I went ahead anyway with the hand saw.  I sanded it as much as I could stand, and let the dark blue paint hide the flaws.

Lines on the pine board

I had to think a great deal about the sail rig. These two pine boards were heavier than most pond models, so I knew I had to give it plenty of sail. If the rig were sloop, yawl or cutter that meant the mast would have to be about 3 feet tall. A marconi rig would be the simplest to put together but the most boring to look at, day in and day out. So, knowing the model would need some sail area to move it, I went to the schooner rig.

My Cricket already had a dipping lug rig, so I knew how well a boat sails with this rig if the upper spar is roped to the mast about 1/5 from the bow end. I saw how the designer of Cricket made his, so this would be how I’d make the sail rig of the schooner. The foremast would be practice for the mainmast; in fact the foremast would teach me what doesn’t really work in lug rigs, so I’d at least get the mainmast right.

The neat thing about a lug sail is you can move the upper spar along the mast to get certain effects. For instance, if you want windward ability and light air sailing, move the spar forward to almost 1/3 the distance from the forward end; if you want the sail to dump winds which are too strong for your hull, move the spar back till it is 1/5 from the forward end. This is the same as sailing short.

The four parts

Knowing I’d have to give this pond sailer substantial keel and ballast, I made the model in two parts so I could glue the keel in between the parts–very simple and totally secure.  After I did this, I realized this arrangement adds weight, but I wasn’t thinking ahead when I cut the pieces.  Anyway, with five clamps the keel went in between the hull halves quite well.

Here it is rigged, with all those loose ends to the lines yet to be taped down, to make it look clean.  I don’t have a name for it yet.  Still, not being a designer, I couldn’t be sure the boat would float or sail as well as Cricket.  I waterproofed the deck, so it wouldn’t absorb any water, and thus become heavier than it already is.


Rough Schooner

16″ stem to stern

5″ beam – greatest at midsection

5″ depth of keel

11 1/2″ height of mainmast above deck

Inspired by Crowninshield Fame


In light airs

It sailed beautifully, that keel made all the difference in the world.  It sails a bit lower than I’d prefer but it doesn’t tip in light or medium air.

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