Pram was my first design to get built. Here is
a photo of Chris Feller's up Chicago way.
She is shown with the original 55 square
foot rig. I still have the boat. The sail rig has been
experimented with many times but the hull is identical
today as then, except for color. You can see the big bow
transom, the sweeping sheer and the multichine section.
She's 4' wide and 11' long, wide and short and she sails
so well because of those multichines I think. The size
was quite right, easy to slide into the back of my pickup
truck, which was the original idea behind the boat. And
at 90 pounds light enough to cartop on an economy car.
In the center is a 6-1/2' long cockpit which will hold
two adults and sleep one on its 2' wide flat bottom plank.
At each end are buoyancy/storage chambers, about 6 cubic
feet each as I recall, plenty to keep a swamped cockpit
floating very high although Piccup never capsized on me
except on purpose.
After a couple of years with Piccup
I got to wondering how much the boat's success was due
to the multichines. I dreamed up a flattie version of
it, the same overall length and layout, but with a 3'
wide bottom plank with hard chines in lieu of the multichines.
I called it Piccup Squared.
Here are the lines:
I gave the boat a small amount of flare
which allowed a good spread of the oar locks while maintaining
the 3' bottom width. I thought the 3' bottom width was
about the most I could use and expect any sort of handling
in rough water. It was the bottom width of my old Bolger
Teal and I was familiar with it. Also in the best Bolger
theory I gave the sides and bottom the same curvature,
a feature which is supposed to provide the least turbulence
at the hard chine. I swept the bow well up to clear waves,
but the stern was kept a bit low such that the transom
would just meet the waterline with two adults. That feature
also resulted in a fairly wide stern. The extra stern
volume was supposed to give the boat a chance at using
I built the boat in my usual cheap way.
I used lauan underlayment for the sides and fir exterior
plywood for the bottom. It was a nail and glue job all
the way with lumberyard stuff with external chine logs
as you might notice in the line drawings. I had a bunch
of old paint around and dressed it up in a camouflage
paint scheme, a feature I copied in later boats. (The
funny thing about the camo paint job is that sportsmen
like fishermen and duck hunters took to the boat immediately
even though I was sailing it, unlike a white boat which
is apparently a yacht paint scheme.) I found that the
boat blended in with surroundings much better as I went
beachcombing or bushwacking or shore camping. And from
a practical standpoint it's the easiest sort of paint
scheme to apply and touch up since nothing is supposed
to match or be smooth and shiny. I varnished the interior
with no sanding between coats so the interior has a dull
natural wood finish. No slipping on the bottom and doesn't
show dirt or mud. Since it is best left rough for footing,
refinishing the inside bottom is a breeze - just sweep
out the big chunks and add another coat or two of varnish.
I'll add that varnishing a natural wood boat all over
might be the very best camouflage scheme.)
By the time I'd built Piccup Squared
I was already thinking Piccup could stand more sail area
and Piccup Squared quickly became a test bed. My first
polytarp sail was tried on it as shown below. This sail
has 74 square feet of area and is
to the Woobo
sail plan. This sail was made exactly as a Dacron sail
would be made. I cut the tarp into 3' wide strips and
sewed it up with normal broadseams.
Looking at this great photo reminds
me of how it came to pass. Karl James had called me saying
he was thinking about making my Jewelbox
design but was unsure about the lug sail rig. He was returning
to Texas from Woodenboat School and stopped by Rend Lake
for a sail in Piccup Squared with a lug rig. That's Karl
at the helm. Karl went on to build the Jewelbox and went
on to many adventures with it. (Jewelbox has a new owner
now in Florida somewhere. Karl replaced it with his own
design, sort of a blend of Bolger's Black Skimmer and
Martha Jane but he's stuck with the balanced lug rig.)
In the photo you can see the wind is
quite light but the boat is moving well under that big
sail. She is heeled a bit and Piccup Squared is in her
element. Under these conditions she is probably as fast
and as good as the original Piccup. Many folks would think
she is more comfortable because of her wider bottom. The
heeling is pretty important to a flattie and I think the
trick to sailing one is to keep the heel just right with
the windward chine barely out of the water. In really
light winds you might sit on the "wrong" side
of the boat to keep that chine out. Piccup is different
- sail it flat whenever you can. In high winds you need
to tend the sail so the heel is just right. I never capsized
Piccup Squared except on purpose. The sides were low enough
that I'm pretty sure she will take water over the side
before capsizing, unlike higher sided flatties, and I
feel that is a good feature in that you get a small wet
warning instead of a big wet surprise. The original Piccup
really is better in rough water but you would expect that.
Here was another test sail on Piccup
Squared. Jim Huxford was at the
helm here. The green sail was my second polytarp sail.
This one was made in one piece though, no cutting the
tarp in strips and sewing it back together. "Darts"
were sewn in four places where a Dacron sail would have
variable seam widths. This sail was also the first 68
square footer, the sail I advise everyone to use on the
Piccup family. The yard and boom are the same length as
with the original 55 square footer, but the hoist is 2'
taller. When reefed this sail returns to 55 square feet.
Looking back at this photo I'm reminded
of the troubles I had with stretching of the luff. A balanced
lug sail will set closer to the wind if there is a lot
of tension in the halyard, as will almost any sail. But
the stretchy polytarp had trouble in the highly stressed
luff. It didn't tear, but it would stretch a lot of the
draft out of the front of the sail. The result was the
front of the sail was very flat and the draft was mostly
in the aft half of the sail - not the ideal. This sail
luff was later stiffened with a couple of fiberglass tapes
which helped a lot.