Copyright 2023 - Woods Designs, 16 King St, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 2AT UK
  • production Strider 24

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

Once again we exhibited in the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival Sept 11-13th, showing not only our Skoota power catamaran - for the third time - but also a 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy.

An important part of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is the 2 day Edensaw Boatbuilding Challenge. The Duo we showed this year is the one that Josh Turner (our Skoota builder), Dan Carter and I built in last year's competition. Shown here painted, but it was structurally complete after 2 days, see here for a report

Those of you who went to the 2015 festival will have seen us "star" on page 3 of the festival guide, for it shows me holding the nearly finished Duo above my head with one hand while Dan and Josh look on. This is the Edensaw poster that shows just a small part of the original photo

The Duo build was a bit too easy for a boatbuilder as skilled and fast as Josh, so we decided that this year our team would be building a 14ft Zest, my new singlehanded racing dinghy. We were joined by another expert boatbuilder - Bob Lange, who works at Westport and according to Josh "taught me all I know". Even so, it was a real challenge, as we started the build with 5 sheets of plywood on Friday and I had to sail the Zest on Sunday. You can see brief details of the boat here

To make it even more challenging I decided to try to take a short video of each of the five teams progress every hour and upload it in the evenings after work stopped for the night. The other teams were building a 14ft sailing dinghy, a classic plywood dory, a coracle and a dory built entirely with hand tools from recycled wood.

The competition started on Friday at 9am, I hoped to finish Friday's planned building jobs by 6pm so I could go to the Race to Alaska presentation (I raced in it this year). But it was not to be. We made a few mistakes that cost us time to make, and then correct. So we actually stopped work at 7.30pm.

Even so, starting from scratch, we had the bulkheads bonded in, the hull bottom and hull sides all glassed together and the daggerboard box fitted. So we had a watertight boat that could be launched and paddled Saturday morning. Other teams carried on until the stop time of 11pm.

The video from the first day is hereĀ

Saturdays weather was again perfect, maybe a bit too hot in the late afternoon, so we had to rig sunshades. As the day wore on the videoing took a back seat as the pressure to finish the Zest on time mounted. Wisely the coracle builders took their hull downwind of the show before boiling and pouring the pitch, so I missed that part of their build.

Our hull was glassed on the outside and was watertight after day 1. So Saturday's video, see below, starts with Bob and Josh turning it over and it could then have been launched. However we actually spent most of the day dry fitting the cockpit (Bob is seen marking and then cutting out it out - it fitted first time, no trimming needed), aft deck, rudder post and foredeck.

The hull was built by Josh and Bob, while Dan and I were responsible for the temporary "wings", getting coffees and taking photos. However we all spent the last three hours glassing the inner chine joints and epoxying all the dry fitted decks. I've not worked on a 14ft dinghy with three other people before, all using epoxy. It did get us a bit sticky at times! But by 8pm we had it all done (filling screw holes in the dark was a bit challenging, in the morning we realised we'd missed a few!)

You can see the video of the second day's build here

We knew that Sunday would be a manic time, so I took some video of each boat before the 9am start. Epoxy takes several days to cure properly and shouldn't be over painted in that time, while of course paint will never dry once immersed in sea water. So we decided on a radical approach to finishing the Zest - chrome finish sticky back vinyl!

Finish time was 1pm and Josh reckoned it would take an hour to fit the vinyl. So at 11am I began bolting on the wings and fitting the deck gear - shroud plates, rudder fittings, mast step, kicking strap, cunningham, toestraps (I had to do it as I was the only one in the team who had ever seen, never mind rigged and sailed, a racing dinghy). Then outside at 11.30 to do a trial rig using a mast and sail from another boat. Amazingly it all fitted!

At 11.55 the hull went back inside and Josh got to work. He actually finished at 12.45, so we had time to add a purple stripe (encouraged by what was then a large crowd)

I videoed each boat at the 1pm tools down. We then had to carry each boat about 1/4 mile to the launching beach. Zest was last to arrive as we had the mast, boom, sail to carry plus a wide hull. So the other boats were long gone by the time we launched.

I wasn't looking forward to a downwind start through a very narrow marina full of expensive boats in a brand new design that had never been sailed before. But after a few wobbles I got away.

You can see my video of the final day's build here

I sailed round to the beach and the prize giving. You can see the sail out of the marina in a video here

It was taken by good friend Mike Scott, the only other experienced racing dinghy sailor in the crowd who also helped me launch

Kiwi, boss of Edensaw, then presented the prizes. Third place was the "girls" team from the Wooden Boat building school with their dory. Second was the all-hand-tools dory while we were very pleased to be awarded first place.

Thank you Edensaw and their team led by Anna Nasset and Kiwi!!

But especially thank you to Josh Turner, Bob Lange and Dan Carver. Next year we plan an even more spectacular crowd pleasing design. If you feel up to the challenge why not join us and enter a team yourself? I understand that Edensaw are keen to have a school team next year.