Length at Waterline
Beam Overall (canoe hull only)
Beam Overall (amas extended)
Beam at Waterline (canoe hull)
100 sq ft.
I enjoy canoes
that are designed as small, lightweight trimarans
as I feel they present the greatest number of
solutions for serious, expedition sailing
for larger views)
I have a very serious passion for sailing canoes. Principally,
I enjoy canoes that are designed as small, lightweight trimarans
as I feel they present the greatest number of solutions
for serious, expedition sailing with few of the compromise
limitations the sailing canoe genre can represent.
I wanted to design a big boat; something out around 18’+
with a modest beam for the length in the 35” neighborhood
and the ability to carry a hefty expedition load without
sinking the hull too much or hammering the freeboard. Canoes
that long with beams of 35”, or so, have a real chance
of being quite fast under paddle if the hull is shaped correctly.
There are some really fine boats out there that could,
in the right hands, become very good cross-over sailing
canoes when equipped with outrigger floats (amas) and a
well thought-out rig setup.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration was the John
Winters designed, Cirrus.
About six years ago, I had a conversation with John Winters
in which he told me that there had been a decked Cirrus
prototype built at one time by Swift Canoe. He indicated
that the design had not been further explored in that manner
and it’s sitting on a rack somewhere out behind the
Swift Canoe shop. The idea of a hard decked canoe for adventure
sailing was very appealing, so I stashed the concept while
I worked on other design questions.
|I stretched the length
out to 18’6” to be able to handle
the heavier loads.
Like the decked Cirrus, I was looking to include an integrated
hard deck on the XCR design to replace the soft, full coverage
spray skirt setup typically seen on expedition boats of
this type. The deck would also provide incredible strength
to the hull and allow for a fairly aggressive sail rig as
When I plugged the Cirrus numbers into my design software,
along with a rough approximation of the hull shape, I found
that I was going to be compromising a bit on the targeted
design displacement of 800 lbs. So, I stretched the length
out to 18’6” to be able to handle the heavier
The other standard for boats of this type is the highly
Cruiser. The Kruger boat is built like a tank
with 11 layers of Kevlar along with a heavy gel coat. Because
of the design requirements, there is a vast chasm of build
level between the normal, recreational canoe and one that
is ready for serious expeditions in remote locations. While
I respect the boats, as well as the owners of the Kruger
Company, I don’t think that most adventure canoeists
will ever need to have a boat that is built to that level
of expense. For the “way out there” expeditions
in which your very survival is dependent on the ability
of your boat to hold together in harsh conditions; Yes,
the Kruger style of boat is appropriate. For everyone else,
a much lesser degree of build technique is more than adequate.
Take a look at what types of canoe adventures were accomplished
by explorers before Kevlar ever reared it’s head from
the chemistry vat at DuPont.
With the XCR, once you meet the basic level of structural
properties of the design, you get to make the laminate decision
yourself. If you like, you can give the interior of the
hull several layers of Kevlar set in epoxy, along with four
layers of S-Glass on the high wear areas outside for an
expedition layup. You will end-up with a structural toughness
to match the Kruger boats.
Or, you can go “expedition lite” on the layup,
hold-off on some of the big dollar laminates and have much
lighter, more easily portaged boat as a result.
Take a look at
what types of canoe adventures were accomplished
by explorers before Kevlar ever reared it’s
head from the chemistry vat at DuPont.
Displacement vs Capacity Numbers
Perhaps I should provide a brief explanation of just
what is going on in the canoe world with all the load numbers
you see in brochures and various Internet sites.
Many designers put together a hull shape with a specific
design displacement weight in mind. This is the total, all-up,
weight to which the hull is designed for optimal performance.
For one reason or another, many manufacturers like to give
a number that indicates the hull capacity and it’s
usually way up above the displacement number. While it is
true that most canoes can safely carry the higher weight
without too much of an issue, the boat will not perform
anywhere close to the design displacement weight as indicated
by the designer.
Sometime soon, I’ll write an article about canoe
loading safety as there are many issues to discuss in that
area and this article is not the place for the material
The XCR is a decidedly asymmetric hull form. Unlike the
more traditional styles, the widest part of the underwater
shape is behind the center of the boat. This design style
aids in the hull’s ability to track smoothly in a
straight line among other benefits.
|Normally, added rocker
makes for a boat that always wants to turn, but
the asymmetrical hull counteracts that effect.
Because a sailboat has to be responsive to helm input,
the XCR has considerably more bow and stern rocker than
a typical tripping canoe. Normally, added rocker makes for
a boat that always wants to turn, but the asymmetrical hull
counteracts that effect. The result is that the boat has
many of the best characteristics for a tripping design.
She wants to run straight when you have a big crossing to
take on and she will turn on a dime with subtle steering
The XCR is designed to be built from marine plywood with
6oz. glass skins in epoxy on both the inside and out. The
build techniques are straightforward and easily accomplished
by the homebuilder. I estimate the building costs for this
boat, complete with sail rig, amas, aka beams, foils and
hardware to be right around $3000. When you compare this
price to the cost of just the Kruger Cruiser at $4200 without
the sail rig or outriggers, you can immediately see the
value of building your own XCR exactly the way you would
The Rig Setup
For the rig, I wanted a setup that could be extremely adaptable
to a wide range of wind and sea conditions as well as provide
for some very nice performance potential. I chose to install
a pair of half-wishbone, sprit rigged sails, each about
50 sq. ft. in area. I may, in fact, end up with a ketch
rig by increasing the sail area of the forward sail and
decreasing the aft rig. That’s still out there in
the to-be-determined category and can be chosen by the builder.
As a rig platform, the XCR is quite versatile, as long as
the intended rig does not interfere with the objective purpose
of the mission of the hull in the first place.
Both sails can
be aloft at the same time. They can both be
reefed equally for rising conditions.
For this design study, I went with the matching rigs. The
layout of the very large cockpit is such that the crew can
have the following rig setups:
Both sails can be aloft at the same time. They can both
be reefed equally for rising conditions. The aft rig can
be doused completely and stored with the forward rig being
moved to a central stepping location and have the boat sailed
as a sloop. The forward sail can be doused along with the
deployment of a sea anchor and a reefed mizzen can be left
up for control in very serious conditions.
The cockpit is sized to allow for the breakdown and storage
of the rigs within the hull. There will be a large, cockpit
rim around the opening to shed water and provide structural
strength to the deck. The standard, fore/aft canoe paddling
positions are left intact. There will be two, glassed-in,
thwart tubes at the outrigger beam (aka) locations. These
tube thwarts will replace the traditional, flat wooden or
aluminum tubing thwarts of more familiar canoes.
This approach is borrowed from the manufactured Kruger
Canoes. Kruger uses these tubes for the function of joining
two boats together in a catamaran style. I’m not especially
fond of the catamaran mode for sailing canoes with this
method. I feel that a fully loaded canoe has the potential
to generate serious loadings on any potential, inter-hull
connector in this manner in all the path axes. A boat designed
from the beginning to be “catamaraned”, if you
will, would have substantially stronger, hull mounting points
as well as stronger connecting beams.
The seating in the XCR will be addressed in a similar
fashion to that of the previously shown Tribal
Menace. The seats will be infinitely adjustable
fore and aft, up and down and also in pitch fore and aft.
This means that the crew will be able to set a seat height,
get into a flow for an extended period of time and when
their bodies start to feel the results of a fixed position,
they can adjust it slightly to get into another comfort
zone. The seats are also totally removable to allow for
a huge range of use with the boat.
Because of the rather long interior volume, one crew member
can slip below to take a nap prior to their turn on watch
while the boat can be sailed by the other crew member.
|The seats will be
infinitely adjustable fore and aft, up and down
and also in pitch fore and aft. This means that
the crew will be able to set a seat height, get
into a flow for an extended period of time and
when their bodies start to feel the results of
a fixed position, they can adjust it slightly
to get into another comfort zone.
The two foils used on the XCR are optimized for the sailing
range of the boat as well as for utility of the boat’s
application. That means that the foil sections and planform
are selected to operate within the sailing speeds that can
be generated by the rig and the hull shape. I prefer higher
aspect foils for a number of reasons; mostly because they
work well when the boat is sailed quickly and there’s
no penalty for the extra draft if they are of the kick-up
The keel form is handled through a leeboard arrangement.
The mount for the leeboard is removable from the hull/deck
mount to allow the canoe to be paddled without the extra
baggage of the mount. Both the rudder and the leeboard are
the “kick-up” variety to keep the boat from
being damaged by an underwater obstacle or when beached
with the foils down. The leeboard simply rotates up through
an aft arc and the rudder flips up in a similar fashion.
The amas are designed to be crafted from marine plywood
in a stitch and glue style of construction. They will be
quite light and will mount to 6061T6 aluminum tube sections
for aka beams. Builders of the design will also have the
option to construct their own, “gull wing” akas
if they choose. Full length trampoline surfaces can be affixed
between the fore and aft akas as can hard, hiking platforms.
The hiking platforms will allow the crew to sit out on the
benches, providing additional righting moment for faster
The aka tubes are sectioned to allow easy take-down and
setup of the outrigger assembly. They are held together
with the same stainless snap buttons that you see on take-a-part
paddles. There is a removable aka section on each side of
the canoe hull for each aka tube. Once removed, the ama
can be remounted to the hull for transport, OR, the ingenious
owner can then use the canoe with the amas in place for
a whole new set of possible water-borne adventures. How
about duck hunting from your canoe with no danger of tipping
over at all? How about taking the grandkids out for a day
of fishing on the lake without having your daughter get
on your case about being careful with the kids? The potential
is quite wide open.
The amas are
designed to be crafted from marine plywood in
a stitch and glue style of construction. They
will be quite light and will mount to 6061T6
aluminum tube sections for aka beams.
The images supplied show the renderings of the proposed
finished boat as well as photos from the first, on the water,
paddling test of the hull without its deck installed.
The XCR paddled wonderfully in the test. It is fast, tracks
well and responds to turning strokes like a much smaller
boat. The bare hull was weighed at 51 pounds. I expect this
canoe to be ideal for sailing or paddled adventures. The
XCR can easily take enough gear and supplies to last for
a two week adventure on the water, so the horizon is really
wide open as to where this boat could go.
The hull shape and construction will be seaworthy in anything
from calm lakes to fairly heavy conditions. This boat can
serve as a serious expedition machine and would be serious
contender for a honed and fit two-man crew in such coastal
adventure races as the Watertribe Everglades Challenge.