mighty, miniature long range cruiser
Luis Nin Estévez' Swaggie "Atiti"
on her launch day
Swaggie: (Australian slang)
A tramp, or itinerant who carries his bedroll, or “Swag”
upon his back.
My client loves small craft and has long
had an ambition to cruise a very small cruiser that would
be capable of blue water voyaging from his home on the Southern
Coast of Australia. For those not familiar with the area
that’s roaring 40s territory and there are very long
stretches of coast without shelter or refuge. In a storm
the best option is to get as far out to sea as possible,
close the hatch and get into your bunk but of course few
very small cruisers are designed to survive this sort of
We’d corresponded about ideas for
more than a while, and we seemed to have similar ideas if
slightly different approaches so I drew a study proposal
and sent it off to see what he thought.
Bingo, a cheque arrived by return! Hit
the jackpot and rang the bell!
So here is Swaggie!
(click to enlarge)
The basic premise of the boat is that
she is sailed from inside. Her Junk rig is the key to this,
the sail being able to be hoisted, reefed and sheeted from
the main hatch means that a conventional cockpit and sail
handling areas are not really required. This is a huge help
as at less than 18 ft she is not big enough to have both
a useful cockpit and a spacious cabin, seeing as she is
a cruiser and needs to be comfortable the cabin is the priority.
Her accommodation is as follows:
Double bunk forward, sorry but the big
free standing mast intrudes but the bed is still better
than most you will find in a boat this size. There are large
lockers underneath the double with room for a substantial
battery bank, 25 gals of water and dry storage for extra
clothing and stores.
There is sitting headroom over the after
end of the double, a small locker port and starboard, a
galley bench one side at the after end of the bunk and a
general purpose bench on the other with storage under both.
(click to enlarge)
There is a lot of storage in this area,
a long voyage with two crew needs a lot of stores and provisions,
so I have designed in enough space for lots of water, stores,
equipment and spares.
Aft of that, and still under the low part
of the cabin are port and starboard armchairs, its important
to have some really comfortable places to sit when off watch
or just relaxing and these are as good as you will find,
handy to the bookshelf and the galley stove, near the on
watch person but separate enough to nap in when taking a
break from the helm.
Step aft slightly and there is a single bunk down each side,
sitting here your eye will be up at window level, with your
hand on the inside tiller you have 360 deg vision and a
view of the sail through the Polycarbonate “astro”
dome in the main hatch. You can sit in here in full control
of the vessel and be totally sheltered from sun, wind or
More water tanks and extra storage goes
in under those bunks and the armchairs, I’ve allowed
for 180 litres of water which is consistent with the boats
planned 30 days with 2 persons range.
Cruisers spend a lot of time anchored
in company, the boats functioning as floating accommodation
while their skippers explore paradise, and such mundane
issues as privacy for body functions need to be considered.
I have drawn in a portable heads of the type sold for caravan
use, stowed in under the after deck it can be drawn forward
into the cabin, used and slid back without disrupting the
rest of the boats functioning.
Similarly it would be practical to divide the boat across
the fore and aft cabin sections with a curtain to allow
a sponge bath for a modest crew.
There is also space in the same area for a valise packed
inflatable liferaft, compulsory for some countries if the
boat is to be sailed beyond territorial waters.
Her deck layout has a large anchor well
up at the sharp end in which the main anchor and warp can
be stowed, a cabin top organised so that a custom designed
6ft 6in dinghy can be carried on the forward part of the
cabin top where it protects the big skylight while at sea,
and a flat between the cabin and the transom which is large
enough to lie down and stretch out on, or to sit up and
steer with the outside emergency and self steering tiller
if the weather is clement. For nice weather I would carry
one of those little folding beach chairs and fit some cleats
to stop it sliding around, real comfort in any sized boat.
She has a permanent pushpit railing aft which not only reduces
the chances of man overboard, but trebles as the mainsheet
horse and the self steering vane mounting. I have drawn
wide enough side decks to allow access forward and suggest
that a secure line be run forward around the mast and back
so anyone going on deck can be secured by a safety harness
at all times.
hull form is that which my smaller Houdini design has so
well proven, a narrow flat bottom, steep deadrise chine
panels and well flared topsides, the fine entry gives a
nice easy motion and the cross sectional shape gives a gentle
roll with very high ultimate righting moment, both safe
and comfortable in a boat that is intended for long voyages
where one cannot duck into a sheltered spot when the weather
Construction is simple two skin ply over
sawn frames and stringers, very easy to build and extremely
tough, there is nothing here to bother a keen amateur with
reasonable tool skills, Her ballast is 450 kg of lead some
550 mm down below the waterline, and heeled to 90 deg she
will lift something like 60 kg with her masthead which is
a huge righting moment for a little boat.
Swaggie's plans are detailed for real
beginners, very basic woodworking skills, a good attitude
and an ability to read is about all a Swaggie builder will
need to begin with and the other skills will come as the
project progresses. I anticipate a lot of builders will
be people who find themselves trapped in a soulless desk
job which condemns them to commuting for hours in heavy
traffic, living in a thin walled and crowded apartment and
dreaming with longing of the freedom of the seas, golden
sands and warm breezes.
The space and resources needed for building
a Swaggie are not beyond the city dweller, and with determination
the dream can become reality. I am really looking forward
to reading of the adventures of Swaggie builders who have
made the voyage to paradise. Its not so far away!
LOA - 5.5 m - 18 ft
Beam - 2.4 m - 7 ft 10 in
Draft - .8 m - 2 ft 8 in
Sail Area - 22.5 sq m - 247 sq ft
Headroom - 1.7 m - 5 ft 6 in
Headroom under dome - 2 m - 6 ft 6 in
Displacement 1200 kg - 2650 lbs bare ship, rigged
Displacement 1750 kg - 3850 lbs normal full load
Displacement 1900 kg - 4180 lbs maximum safe