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by Mikael Haapalahti - Finland

I would like to introduce the boat I have built. The boat just got into the water couple of days ago.

A little background: I started sailing three years ago when I bought 18” trailerable sailboat (Mikro 550). The boat was great to handle, it had full lifting daggerboard so it could be beached and trailered relatively easily. However, after two sailing seasons I started to miss a couple of features. The set up time for trailering was couple of hours, beaching the boat was not that easy because after lifting the keel, the boat didn’t have any steering abilities. Also with the 700kg weight it was heavier than I would have liked.

So when I discovered that I would require a bigger fixup due the leaking keelbox I had to decide, should I fix it or buy a different boat. I started searching and discovered that there are absolutely no boats for sale with the features that I wanted. Then I got a crazy idea about building that kind of boat myself, but the options were pretty limited also on that sector.

I was considering CLC’s Pocketship and SCAMP, but then I found out about small catamarans and Duo480C by Bernd Kohler. When reading the boat specs I immediately knew that this boat had everything that I was looking for! Low weight for easy handling (180kg), furling mainsails for ease of use and safety, lots of room for hanging out outside, sleeping option for two people, small displacement (30cm) so easy to beach, no keels so no problem with leaking keelbox or jammed keel and simple construction method. I was so impressed that I immediately ordered the plans, read them for two weeks and then sold my sailboat!

I built the boat during 10 months in Finland. At the same time, I was finishing my studies so I had a pretty busy year since I could build mainly on weekends. There weren’t any major difficulties with the build and I got awesome support from the designer himself and also from other builders.

So the boat "Aurora" went to the water a couple of days ago. I have only done short trips with it, but it feels really good. At first sail we had a motor breakdown and had to come back to dock with sails only. A little scary thing to do with a completely new boat that you don’t know how it’s going to behave. It went really smoothly and I could immediately see the advantages of furling mainsails. We approached the dock with only one sail and gradually furled it in thus controlling the speed accurately. At that point I knew I had made the right decision with the boat. Right now I have only experimental polytarp sails without any shape or camber, just made them with straight cuts during an hour for testing how the furling system works and where to put the cleats etc. But they already move the boat in light wind, so I’m pretty sure that boat is moving very well with properly made sails. The space outside is enormous for this size boat. I can easily carry two mountain bikes on the bow net without affecting usable space on the boat during sailing. The same would require a very, very big monohull. The rudder system is modified from the Storer rudder  system, it’s a combination of dagger rudder and kickback rudder. I think it’s a perfect solution for a small sailboats rudder. The rudder blade is made per the plans and I think that is also the best way to make a rudder. Basically the structure is bending plywood on a simple jig, inside is a stringer and carbon fibre for strengthening. This produces a very light, rigid and exactly shaped rudder.

My biggest concern was how the boat was going to handle strong side winds on the marina, as there is a lot over water surface, no keels and boat is light. Surely the boat gets pushed sideways, put it’s not as bad as I feared. All in all, I think that this boat is a perfect solution for someone who is looking a light, very easily trailerable boat that could be used on camping trips.

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