This is going to be a little different than my other entries. The Hvit Skygge is the only
boat I own that I didn't build. So while there will be some construction photos, they won't be mine. I won't
be able to give any hints on how to build the boat. Instead, I'll be telling how I use the boat, what I found
good about it and what I decided to change. The mods should be interesting to any future builders, while how
the boat behaves and what it can be used for should be interesting to potential builders.
Back in February of 2013 John C. Harris, CEO and chief boat designer for
Chesapeake Light Craft, wrote an entry for his blog,
The Life of Boats, called
Two Faerings for Sail and Oar. It was the entertaining
story of the trials and tribulations involved in trying to update a traditional Scandanavian boat design
to modern plywood, stitch and glue. At the end of the saga, he mentions a customer who came to him with a
request for an idiosyncratic boat design:
There's a coda to the CLC Faering story. In 2012, an individual came round looking for a custom design for solo coastal
cruising and island hopping. He had three rigid requirements: the boat must sail, it must have auxiliary oar power with a
sliding seat, and it must have sleeping accommodation beneath a hard deck. My reaction was that he could pick any two of those
but not all three, and my first dozen sketches weren't very inspiring. I pointed out that a stock Bolger Dovekie came very close
to what he wanted, but that's a design you either like or don't, and he didn't. We stewed awhile. Six months later I lit upon
the fembøring, a larger relation to the faering that sometimes featured a sleeping cabin aft. By stretching the 19'8 CLC
Faering to 22'6", it was just possible to cram in a small enclosure aft, a sliding seat amidships, and a decent layout for
The "Faering Cruiser" is not for everyone, but I confess I'm taken with its shipshape looks. Having cruised hundreds of
miles in open boats, I can appreciate having a dry lid over my bedding after a long day in the rain. I would have preferred
a "companionway" in the aft bulkhead for easy access, but the client wanted the absolutely watertight seal that a top-opening
hatch provides. Thanks to the self-bailing cockpit and tight hatches fore and aft, it should be possible to right the boat and
sail away from a capsize.
In order to have even a modicum of performance with a solo oarsman, I had to retain the slack underwater lines of the faering.
This will make for spirited sailing when the wind is up. For this reason, we settled on the single modest lugsail, with its
low center of effort and all-around efficiency. The sloop would be a little livelier, but this isn't a self-righting boat,
so reefing early and often will be the ethic. 270 pounds of water ballast beneath the cockpit help keep her upright.
There's plenty of storage for long cruises. The boat is light---about half the weight of the 15-foot PocketShip---so there'll
need to be care in distributing the stores for good trim fore and aft
We started assembling the boat at CLC in December 2012. The Viking DNA is evident even belly-up in our shop. Stretching the
LapStitch™ hull from 19'8" to 22'6" made it easier to stitch the hull---the bow and stern posed no special challenges, and
the easier bends translated into tight fits for all the CNC-cut parts. As of this writing, there's no momentum to turn this
into a kit like PocketShip. The costly and thankless task of documentation for plans and instructions gives us pause. Still,
I suspect a design like this would appeal to a few rugged latter-day Vikings.
In 2012 I had launched Puzzled Mullet, my 18-foot adaptation of Bolger's
Singlehander Schooner. The boat was fast, exciting to sail, a lot of fun with all the strings to pull and, if I do
say so myself, a real beauty. It had won Best Smallcraft at Okoumefest 2014 and 3rd place in its class at the Mid-Atlantic
Small Craft Festival in 2013.
But nice as it was, it didn't quite match up with my type of sailing. I had hoped to use it for small boat cruising and
boat camping, with the eventual goal of boating the entire John Smith Water Trail. But it isn't really a good gunkholing boat. The
main problem is the 3-foot draft. The 120-lb drop keel gives it wonderful stability (I only went over once and that was
in a 28-kt wind) but it also makes it impossible to launch from anywhere but a ramp and impossible to beach. It really is
more of a racer than an explorer.
I began looking for a beach cruiser. I wanted something that could be launched from the beach, be taken into very shallow water
and that could provide comfortable accommodations for one for several nights. I didn't want a stinkpot, so at least a limited
rowing ability would be required. It also needed to be reasonably seaworthy. Another feature would be a quick build time.
I started looking at designs.
It was looking as if I could have any 3 out of 6 and the build times were all over the place. Then I noticed the Faering
Cruiser again. CLC had in fact made a set of plans available after the reaction on the Wooden Boat forum, as well as a basic hull kit.
But what really caught my attention
was that hull #1 was available. It seemed that the original owner could no longer use
his boat, so it was being sold with CLC acting as a broker. Unfortunately, while it was a fair price, it was beyond my range.
However, a few months later, the price had come down and I entered into negotiations. After a lovely afternoon test sail on the
South River, we settled on a price. The paperwork went through and, according to the statement at the end of John's blog, I was officialy
a rugged latter-day Viking.
One thing that was missing from this boat was a name. Because of its sudden changes in status, it had never had a christening ceremony. So I had
to come up with a name for the boat. My usual way of doing this is to sail a boat for a while and let it tell me its name. Fortunately, the boat had
figured out during the test ride that it was coming home with me, so it let me know then. When we first went out onto the river, the wind
was almost non-existent. The water was very nearly glassy, yet we silently ghosted across the water like a shadow gliding across a field.
That's when the boat told me that its name was Hvit Skygge - Norse for White Shadow. You really can't get away from your Viking DNA, it seems.