Building a Scamp Saiboat

For me Boat-Building is a bit of an obsession and as my Puddle Duck Racer was almost finished, I was at the stage of watching the paint dry between coats, I needed a new project.

What is a SCAMP and why is it my next boat building project?.

photo of sailboat scamp

Josh Colvin, editor (and co-founder) of Small Craft Advisor Magazine had ideas about the perfect small craft and asked John Welsford, a successful New Zeland small boat designer, to see if he could design a micro cruiser incorporating the features that Josh Colvin had though up. S.C.A.M.P (Small Craft Advisor Magazine Project) was the result.

What makes Scamp Special? First it's a small boat, an inch short of 12 feet and 5'4" wide. That means it fits easily on a trailer. At about 400 pounds it's not light, but it can be pushed around on a trailer by a couple of people. It can also be launched by one person.

SCAMP has shallow draft, only 7 inches, and because it has double skegs and a flat bottom, it can be beached and will stay level.

SCAMP has an offset centerboard that pivots down. Placing the centreboard to one side means that the large cockpit is uncluttered and because of this it allows someone to sleep on the floor. By putting boards across the (relatively roomy) seats 2 people can bunk down comfortably.

SCAMP has a lot of closed in flotation chambers, 5 in total, that double up as storage lockers.

Another feature that increases comfort is the Cuddy/Cabin at the front. Part of this gives dry access to the waterproof front storage compartment, and part makes a small porch where a person can sit and get out of the weather or get out of the wind to make lunch.

Below the cockpit sole, centrally located, is a water ballast tank that holds about 170 pounds of water. It is easily filled by opening a watertight bolt. Even with the bolt forgotten open, the boat will not sink because of the buoyancy. To entirely fill the tank you actually have to pour in some water to get the last few inches filled up.

The boat is rigged with a balanced lug which is a docile and effective sail, particularly if it has lazyjacks to control the lowering. Because of the large area of square sails, the mast can be relatively short. This and the fact that the cuddy/veranda helps support the mast, means that it can be unstayed. This results in a simple rig that can be easily handled by one person.

Being easy to single hand is an important feature for me. When I am sailing my Tanzer 22 in increasing wind, it becomes difficult for a somewhat incompetent lady of diminishing faculties to easily handle. I could not want a safer and more reliable craft than the Tanzer but Lake Erie can be sneaky and I worry. My main fear is that the boat will be caught in a side wave when I have left the tiller for a second to deal with something. Lake Erie waves come up really fast and are steep. I sail at the far end and prevailing winds which means a long un-obstructed stretch allow waves to build up.

My lovely Skerry is a perfect dinghy, light, responsive and very safe. She is my boat of choice when the wind is between 4 and 10 knots. She is lots of fun, dry and beautiful. Once the wind goes above 10 knots she is harder to sail because she is so light. Windage makes it difficult to tack because there is not enough mass to carry the boat across the wind. Sand bags or water bottles help but I don't usually have extra weight. The Sprit sail is one of my favourite sail but it is not easy to reef while on the water.

The SCAMP has proved itself to be an exceptionally safe boat even in heavier wind. With lots of buoyancy, extra ballast as water and weight in the centerboard, and an easily reefed sail it provides exceptional safety. One boat is being prepared for a solo journey down Tierra Del Fuego.

Even when someone is deliberately trying to tip her over, it is not so easy. Once over she floats high and recovers easily. Because of the high sides, Scamp sailors usually have rigged a stirrup to get back in in case of capsize, otherwise she is tricky to re-enter.

photo of Winston with scamp

My Team and I have received the plans (kits are available too) and we have been studying the manual. Building a scamp is not impossibly difficult but I don't think it's a beginner's boat either. The building method is a combination of stitch and glue reinforced with wood backing at the seams. There are many bulkheads and interior partitions for the various flotation chambers which provide great rigidity to the boat.

Plywood has also been ordered and received. I got my wood from Oliver Lumber. It's meranti, a bit heavier than the occume that is often used but stronger. This was the cheapest supplier of high grade marine plywood I could find. Not a lot of suppliers in my area. S. Ontario, Canada.




emails: Christine

This web site reflects my personal ideas and doesn't represent anyone else's point of view.