I was a much younger man back in 1978 and my fledgling design and Boatbuilding Company was also very young and we needed a small cabin sailboat design to build as a stock boat, one that could bring on a bit of regularity to our rather spotty and erratic cash flow. I wanted her to be trailerable and accommodate a couple in cruising mode with some shelter from the elements, but it was also important that she have a really large cockpit that could handle a couple of extra bodies for day sailing purposes. The result was a design called the Eider (after the duck) and we managed to build about a dozen of these little boats before moving onto other designs and builds. She was a great little boat with all the look and panache of larger boats but in a very compact and trailerable package. Unfortunately I never drew up the design for home builder construction and while all the original boats are still floating about and much beloved by their owners we just didn’t have anything in our quiver of home builder plans that captured the particular niche that the little “Eider” did.
Now in my middle age I will still see some of those little boats sailing about and it always bring on memories of a far simpler day when a personal little boat made so much sense, easy to care for, easy to trailer, and most importantly easy and rewarding to sail. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and apply myself to the concept but with some of the experience of the years kicked in and the result is this new little design once again called the “Eider”.
I wanted to give her a centerboard for sailing about in some of the shallower waters that we might find, and for the fact that with the board up she will load to a low powerboat type trailer and not need a deep and steep ramp to launch or retrieve. Her rig is one of my favorites being a gaff sloop with a jib that if needed can have a bit of a boom attached and could be set self-tacking. But for my purposes I still don’t mind tacking a jib, and the extra efficiency of a properly sheeted jib is not to be discounted. A small bowsprit fit the look and style of the new design and it gives the boat a much more shippy feel. All is not just about efficiency these days as sailing a boat that looks a bit whimsical is part of the appeal of an afternoon spent scooting about paying attention to the zephyrs. Her small cabin has good room to sleep two with a bit of extra space for gear to be stowed and not have to be moved out of the cabin when the sleeping bags are unrolled. In years past we had great times on the “Eiders” with a simple wooden galley box that held a small butane stove, a couple of Pyrex pie dishes for a combo bowl/plate and if stocked with a couple of cans of beef stew along with a good loaf of bread and a little cheese, a great dinner can be had in about 10 minutes. Back that up with a proper bottle of red wine and a banquet suitable for royalty can be set. I love the idea of the cabin if for nothing more than the sense of security that it gives if the evening wind dies and I really don’t feel like lighting up the little outboard and bearing a long motor back to home. I can just toss the hook out, tidy up the lines of the boat; have a drink and a good cigar, contemplating the day’s adventures and later a spot of dinner, a bit of time with a good book in the evening light to read, and early to bed.
The Mast is set in a tabernacle and folds down without much fuss; a simple Cross arm support on the cockpit seats makes for an easy lash up for trailering.
I put a self bailing cockpit on her to allow me to not have to keep her bailed out when on a mooring or at the dock. You could build her without the self bailing cockpit and end up with a far more comfortable seating geometry but it’s just too tempting to be able to leave her without worrying about rowing out and bailing her on a daily basis in our rainy Northwest Spring and Fall. On the other hand maybe it would be a good discipline to go for a short row daily to check on her and give my arms some workout to boot!
Amateur plans are $175 and consist of 13 drawings printed on 24X36 inch paper and a simple building booklet. We are planning to produce simple hull and bulkhead panel kits for her and look forward to seeing many of these little sloops on the water.
– Sam Devlin