"SUN DANCE" —
A sporty little 17Vi' outboard cruiser with a beam of
6'. Designed for 25-30 HP outboard motor. Hull is wood,
mahogany carvel planking. Designer calls her a "cruisemite".
With this unique arrangement plan, sleeping is done under
the spray-hood canopy, leaving the fore cabin for dry
duffel, a practical setup. Plans include lines, offsets,
construction drawings, arrangement plan, outboard profile,
article reprint, etc. 3 sheets.
basic function of any cruiser is to go places, and
this technically excellent little cruismite is designed
to do just that - she'll bulid from materials obtainable
everywhere, and you can count on her to handle big
IF YOU are one of the many who are dreaming
of an outboard cruiser, you will do well to read of Sun
She is distilled out of an experience
with outboard "cruisers" which stretches over
the last a6 years. It was in April of 1928 that the plans
for the first planing V-bottom outboard cruiser appeared
in print. This boat was named Quadster. She was designed
for the then new 18 hp four-cylinder Eito. A great many
of these hulls were built. I had the good fortune to have
designed her, and have designed a number of others since
Now, as I get into the business of
planning the latest of this line of successful boats,
I have again been involved in doping out a hull shape
which will best fit the real usage to which such a craft
is put. Again I come to the same basic conclusions about
outboard cruisers. Out of this has evolved Sun Dance—an
excellent bottom, a hull made a little better by a knowing
arrangement plan, but basically embodying the same integrity
toward wind, wave, rain and motor that has characterized
the earlier hulls. They were all dandy boats.
Is an outboard "cruiser" a
cruiser? No. Not if one attempts to crowd into a hull
approximately 18 feet long the same creature comforts
the 30- to 40- footers carry. A toilet takes room, real
berths take room, a stove takes room, a fuel tank of decent
cruising radius takes room. Sure—you can pack these
things in. If you do, two things happen: one, the extensively
extendable extensions of the trick arrangement always
require that you unpack the toilet to get at the fuel
lank so you can break out the anchor; second, weight piles
up and the "go" in your boat evaporates.
If, as some designers do, you go out
in beam to support all this weight, and go up in freeboard,
you get a hull which wallows about at reduced speed in
head seas, or at best acts like an inflated paper bag
in any breeze.
Keep the boat and gear simple. As with
the experienced traveler who moves with little more than
a toothbrush, razor and change of socks, see to it that
your outboard cruiser and her gear is simple. Then ' she
will have some "git thar" in her. The basic
fundamental of cruising is to go.
Mobility on land—trailerwise—is
another factor you must consider. Given a crew of two
or three, a stove for occasional hot eats, a gurry bucket
for plumbing, two or three good berths to sleep on, and
you can design a hull shape the cubic contents of which
will be slim enough to cradle on the average trailer.
Your bluff-bowed bathtub-ended hull with overhanging stem
is a curse to transport.
The more you get to adding it up, the
more you return to essentials. The first outboard cruiser
designed by the writer was frankly stated to be functional
as a canoe is functional: to carry a reasonable load on
runs of short duration, to be able to take a beating if
need be, but also to be able to scuttle for haven in time
for bath and supper ashore, securely beached for the night.
Sun Dance has these attributes.
Next come some considerations of cost,
and the building factors. I have kept Sun Dance a raised
decker. The current trend is toward the trunk cabin, or,
as it turns out in some designs, a glass cabin with top.
O.K. by me if you like 'em that way. Build some other
boat than Sun Dance. She is raised deck for a number of
The first reason is that when I leap
gracefully from the dock to the deck of my trusty ship
I want to stay topside. I do not hanker to flap on through
into the bilge with a load of glass and shattered shingles
in my crotch.
The second reason is cost. The time-tried
canvas-covered deck on Sun Dance builds easily and cheaply,
whereas any honest builder will tell you that the glass-windowed
trunk cabin will cost from a third to a half as much to
build as the hull itself if done adequately. And add as
much proportional time to building.
The third reason is dryness. No living
man has yet made a cabin trunk that won't eventually leak,
come spray and rain. Does one make the "cabin"
of a boat this size a grand salon for social affairs?
One does not. The best of cabins call for a shoehorn to
help one enter; the function of the cabin is shelter,
generally while asleep. Therefore since it is empty of
humans 80 per cent of the time, and then is filled with
humans generally prone in slumber, headroom is a delusion
dearly paid for in performance. Comfortable ducking room
is all we have in Sun Dance. We sleep in the cockpit under
canvas shelter. But we do have a drum-tight dry place
to stow gear where said gear will stay dry. If we want
to anchor and sit out a rain, or if we have to run out
a squall, up comes the spray hood and presto! —we
have cover, sitting in the cockpit uprightly as the righteous
The seating arrangement or flying bridge
or squatting department, what-you-may-call-it, has been
swiped by me from an Ohio builder who built a Quadster.
His boat had a 50 hp Cross four-cycle five-cylinder radial
outboard. She fairly flew. This builder incorporated in
his boat a semi-demi flying bridge with the protected
seats forward. Riding up there was great fun. Dry, good
vision, all the good qualities.
All this explains why Sun Dance looks
as she does—that is, like a baby express cruiser.
She has a stem that will be stiff. More, Sun Dance has
forefoot; slow her down in a head
chop, and her "legs" go down into the water,
she slides through and is comfortable.
This estimable journal (Sports Afield)
gets into a lot of the world's remote places. I have specified
materials which can be obtained or substituted in Australia,
Durban in South Africa, in Chile, or on the shores of
Lake Superior. All these are places in which hulls of
this type have been built and from the owners of which
I have had letters.
Contradictorily, though the bottom of
this boat cannot be planked with plywood in one hunk,
her topsides can. It'll take two sheets of 3/8" exterior
type plywood 2'-8" x 19' long, which means two special
panels with 1'-4" x 19" wasted. Roughly 33 per
cent waste. Hardly practical.
No, I think that for the good mechanic,
which is the average Mr. American, the smaller the pieces
of wood the easier your boat will build.
Now we have gone into Sun Dance's design
at some length because I find that boat enthusiasts read
to learn, and are not so much interested in being told
how to hold a hammer or how actually to build a boat as
they are interested in why a boat is as she is. It is
this initial noodling stage that really decides a person
to build a boat. The methods of building nearly always
furnish themselves; so, later, we will give specifications
of materials and fastening sizes, but first a word about
the pure naval architecture of the
In 30 years I have found nothing that
is superior to a moderate beam-to-waterline-length ratio.
We used to do boats that had a beam of .25 of length.
Early, I began to use the
higher beams, and in utilities and runabouts designed
for production boatshops. I have gone as high as .33—
such boats wallow at lower speeds. So the optimum seems
a compromise, and Sun Dance has a B/L ratio of .28. The
breast of a small hull which meets big water must be rather
high and fine. On the planing surface it is best to keep
the chine and keel and running lines parallel in elevation.
This is now called "monohedron" bottom but is
certainly nothing new. Five degrees of deadrise from keel
to chine, or 3 inches in Sun Dance, is optimum. More deadrise
results in a mushy beamwise feel to the craft when at
rest. These facts are elucidated because current yelps
of the semi-demi-cruiseola dopers are all for beam, beam,
beam. It is a factor easily overdone.
To build Sun Dance you will have to
have a covered shop or else a shop outdoors where it does
not rain—ever. Rain on partially finished boat building
work ruins eventual tightness and warps the whole deal.
You will also have to have a couple of hundred bucks aching
to be spent. It will take between $200 and $300 (1953
prices) to build her. This is less by about half than
comparable kit boats, but of course you are supplying
the whole way through.
This boat may be built in a number
of ways, all of them good and all of them will produce
an active, sharp little hooker that will become one of
those treasured material things that comes along but rarely.
You can build her seam-and-batten construction, for which
specifications are given. Or you can plank the topsides
with 3/8" plywood if you think you are man enough,
and finish the bottom seam-and-batten.
can also build the little jobbie by the strip-construction
method shown in section on the lines drawing (at right).
Instead of using mahogany or white cedar planking in not
over 6-inch widths as with seam-batten construction, you
may get yourself a cutting head for making hollow-and-round
strips, and plank up the whole hull out of red cedar,
rift-sawn. In the latter case steam-bent frames 3/8"
x 3/4" will have to be bent in from sheer to keel
on 5" centers. This is no job to be afraid of; in
fact, steaming is one of the best tools in any boatshop,
and it would be well to visit a local yard to see how
steaming is done. There is nothing to it except to get
the wood hot. Even boiling it will do.
Exterior type plywood may also be sawed
up to form planking in strakes, and these may be lap-straked
with casein glue in the faying seams, clinched with 1-1/8"
nails on about 1-1/2" centers. If mahogany or white
cedar is used for planking, make it a full 3/8" thick.
If red cedar is used, go to 1/2" thickness.
The main thing is to keep the weights
about as shown in the specs, to use the framing and scantling
sizes named, for they have been used and found adequate.
Keep weights pared down to the bone. Don't go putting
in a cast-iron range, electric refrigerator or any such
gear. A boat is much like an airplane—you can't
tamper with weights and be sure of getting the boat the
designer was drawing when he made the plans.
An absolute must in building Sun Dance
is to lay down the lines full sized and to fair them.
This process means that the lines and body plan drawing
are expanded to full size and that the heights of the
chine and sheer and keel in elevation or profile match
exactly those of the body plan. If you don't do this you'll
get into serious and costly trouble. A fair boat goes
together like cream cheese; an unfair one takes a master
to pull out of the fat.
The lines must be faired. One does this
to remove from the architect's drawings minor aberrations
in scale which are unavoidable on small-scale drawings.
Use a painted floor with a chalk line snapped for a base,
or use building paper stretched to the floor with Scotch
Tape for a laying down surface. A batten about 3/4 inch
square, and 20 feet long, a straight edge and a framing
square will be needed. From the body plan subtract the
planking thickness, and you can then make your frames.
These frames plus the keel and stem are erected bottom
up on a strongback.
Most men building Sun Dance will have
the necessary skill to do a creditable job once they know
the scantling sizes. I have been especially careful to
name fastening sizes either in the specs or on the plans,
and good judgment will supply the size of bolts, screws
or anything I may have missed. So let's have at the specs:
Sun Dance to be 17 feet 3 inches long, 6 feet o inches
beam, molded depth as shown on the lines plan. Power to
be either 16 hp or 25 hp. Speed with 16 hp, '4-'7 miles
per hour. Speed with 25 hp. 20-25 miles per hour. Standard
shaft length motors to be used for construction shown.
Hull to be sanded outboard, primed with thinned priming
paint applied warm from double boiler. Good drying time
to be allowed for each coat to set up hard and bone-dry.
Exterior of hull to be marine white. Interior of hull
to be either varnished bright, or to be painted two coats
of Copper Verde. Boot top to be red. Deck to be primed
with putty thinned to creamy consistency with varnish,
allowed to dry, and painted. Paint to be colonial buff
with burnt sienna added, or a dark eye-saving blue. Coaming
and bridge casing to be varnished bright.
(click to enlarge)
Keel: Keel to be of
oak, 1-3/4" x 3-3/4", or of fir same dimension.
To be notched or gained into frames at proper laying levels
for applicalion of planking. To be fastened to plywood
floor members on frames with glue and screws, or glue
Stem to be of 1-3/4" oak, molded as shown. May be
of hackmatack or apple knee if available, in which case
one piece may be had. If stem is built up, glue the joints
and fasten with 3/8" bronze hanger bolts such as
are used for runabout struts. Counterbore bolt holes at
stem face deeply and plug with same wood as stem. Rabbet
stem to receive planking. For the amateur, this is usually
best done as you go, first cutting in a light chisel line
at the rabbet curve.
If of seam-batten construction, to be 5/8" x 3"
oak, or 1" mahogany, spruce or equivalent. Glue and
nail gussets (braces) in place. Subtract planking thickness
from body plan. Notch frames after erection for seam battens.
Floors: May be of 1/4"
fir plywood glued and nailed to frames, using three 1/4"
galvanized bolts per half-side or six in all. Make proper
allowance for keel height and notch in frames, also proper
bevel for erection of these members in the gained notches.
Best construction calls for one piece white oak or mahogany
chine in single length, rabbeted for planking. To be 1"
x 2-1/4" in section as per sectional construction
view. Optional chine material is yellow pine of slightly
larger section. Counterbore for fastening from chine to
frame. Use one No. 12 2-1/2" brass or bronze screw
at each frame. Gain frame to hold chine. If inside or
blind chine is desired, use much thicker soft wood such
as cedar or soft mahogany which will swell, and use outboard
spray knocker to finish off seam.
To be of 3/4" fir plywood, exterior type, if desired,
but may also be of 1-1/4" hard Honduras mahogany
feathered at the seam. Seam to be glued with casein glue.
Cheekpieces of 3/4" x 3" white oak to be glued
to transom edges and fastened with 1-1/4" No. 10
flat-headed brass screws on about 4" staggered centers.
These cheekpieces take the main fastening strain. (See
drawing at right) Transom to be cut down for motor to
be used, allowing only opening just sufficient to swing
motor from side to side. Don't guess on this—measure
your motor. Keep side openings as small as possible to
avoid stern wash coming aboard. A plywood slop well can
be installed. See drawing.
Preferably of mahogany, to finish 3/8" thick, laid
in strakes no wider than 5 inches at widest. Wider planks
will buckle and will not fair. Planks to be spiled to
fit run of seam battens. Planks to be fastened with 3/4"
No. 8 flatheaded brass screws on 3" centers. Counterbore
lightly and drive carefully to finish flush when sanded.
Do not attempt to plug.
Alternate planking may be white cedar
of clear stock, same dimensions and fastenings. Harden
planking after sanding with shellac liberally thinned
with alcohol before painting.
Alternate planking if of strip type
construction: red cedar strips hollowed and rounded and
edge nailed every four inches with 7 penny galvanized
nails. This puts fastening job blind and is easy to do.
Planking strips to be 1/2" x 1-1/4". Must have
steam-bent frames 3/8" x 3/4" on 5" centers
bent from sheer to keel and run over band-sawed fillet
blocks at chine. Fasten planking to these frames with
1-1/4" copper clout nails on every other strake at
each frame. Use 1-1/4" No. 8 flat-headed brass screws
on alternate planks to main sawed frames.
To be of any good clear close-grained wood sized as shown.
Screw-fasten to frames with 1-1/2" No. 12 flat-headed
brass screws. Berth Tops and Cockpit Flooring: Shown on
sectional drawings. Boy Scout sleeping bag makes an excellent
Carlings: To be of white oak 3/4" x 2-1/4"
sawn to proper crown. Decking to be t&g maple or fir
to narrow widths, or cover with 1/4" plywood and
then with 10-ounce canvas laid in marine glue. Fill canvas
with creamy mixture of putty and varnish, or with patented
Light string caulking where needed, with seams and water
edges filled only after hull is completely sanded with
900 Seam Sealer run in fillets along keel, chine edges,
transom edges, etc. on inboard side. This is a rubberlike
sealer which cures into rubber and stays flexible forever.
And this just about covers it, mates.
From this, in addition to the plans, you can get a little
cruiser that will withal be a fine hooker. She sure withal
Sun Dance as she will
look snugged down for a bit of wet weather. In Sun Dance
the sleeping is done lunder a spray hood canopy, Leaving
the fore cabin for dry duffel, a practical setup.