Gannet takes it’s spot in the shed.


The Gannet is too big to fit through the door to the basement, I knew that already, and Terri is using some of that space as her studio now, anyway (she has a show coming up in March, yay!).

So for now, the Melonseeds have given up their place of privilege in the shed, and are parked on the trailer under a tarp arrangement, enough to provide some reasonable protection I hope, and the Gannet has moved inside.


Tarped Melonseeds

There’s no electricity or heat in the shed, so little will get done on the new boat until spring, or later. Plenty of time to catch up on house repairs, and do some planning.


Iain Oughtred is so well known for his double-ended, Scandinavian style boats that few people are familiar with his other works. He’s been tweaking a half dozen of his Scandinavian models through multiple iterations for most of his career, so has achieved a high level of refinement in those. All beautiful. Those boats have become so popular, iconic really, that his other designs are mostly overlooked. But he has also designed several families of transomed boats, and cruisers, too.

There’s a series of sail-and-oar dinghies with at least a moderate following: three small tenders – the Auklet, Auk, and Puffin – followed by the Guillemot, Tammie Norrie and Penny Fee. Altogether they make up one family. Good all-round sailboats that row well and look great. There’s also a series of longer, leaner skiffs optimized for rowing that also sail, including several sizes of the Acorn, which together make up another family.

The Gannet, however, is in the middle of one of the least known families – high performance planing dinghies. This series includes the Shearwater, the Gannet, and the Fulmar. In terms of relative scale, the three boats can feasibly carry two, four, or six adults respectively. A PDF of the study plans is here:



Gannet, Tammie Norrie & Acorn as seen in the Water Craft article.


Duck Flat Wooden Boats has a downloadable PDF of a nice article by Alice Driscoll in Water Craft Magazine comparing three of these boats, the Gannet, Tammie Norrie and Acorn:



I’ve done quite a bit of digging, but could only find a few examples of the planing boats that have ever been built. There are a some Shearwaters, a handful of Fulmars (a nice stretched one is underway on the West Coast), but only three or four Gannets. Fortunately, those have been done really well. Variations are half decked, recessed deck, and completely open.


 source unknown



from the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis, England 



from the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis, England 



 source unknown



Emma, a Gannet built by John Hall in England



Emma, a Gannet built by John Hall in England


By definition, planing sailboats are overpowered, carrying more sail than is perhaps prudent for folks averse to adrenaline rushes. Add to that the fact Oughtred is typically very generous with his sail plans, even in his more tame designs, and you have the makings of a very exciting ride. I have no doubt the rule will be reef early and reef often when sailing this boat.

It will be a marked contrast with the Melonseeds, which don’t even have a way to reef. They can stand up and behave themselves even in a gale. They just don’t go terribly fast. Fast, just not heart-thumping fast. The Gannet will be a racehorse, I’m sure.

Why do I think so? Well, let’s look at the specs:

The Gannet is only 8 inches longer than the Melonseed, and, though it is a foot and a half wider, the hull weighs exactly same. But, the Gannet carries twice as much sail – 118 sq/ft. For another comparison, the venerable and stable Marsh Cat is but 7 inches longer than the Gannet, carries 152 sq/ft of sail, and weighs over 1300 pounds. The Gannet only weighs 200 pounds. Got that? The Gannet carries more than 77% the sail area of the Marsh Cat, but only 15% of the weight to hold it down. Jeeze Luiz.

Like I said: reef early and reef often. I’m not surprised that all the photos I’ve found of a Gannet under sail were taken on very calm days. This boat will win a race in a dead calm.

I did find one video of a Gannet sailing in a fresh breeze. There is a group of Aussies (of course!) who have both a Gannet and a Fulmar in their midst. Fulmar is the 16’8″ big sister of the Gannet. This video was shot from the Fulmar. Note that both boats are double reefed. Dousing the jib would surely make things more civilized, but remember, they’re Aussies.


Cetonia from Paul Hernes on Vimeo.

Iain Oughtred designed Gannet built by Ian Colledge sailing at Caloundra Queensland Australia winds about 12knts Camera boat another Oughtred design a Fulmar.


I can’t tell if the Fulmar is hanging back to shoot the video, but the Gannet appears to be gaining. In the last frames, you can see she’s way ahead, almost out of sight, which sort of blows the video shooting theory.

And the Fulmar is no slouch, by any means. A real screamer, in fact. Here’s some footage of what I believe is that same boat, the Fulmar, also double reefed, shot from a Navigator and uploaded by the same camera man:


Pastime II, shot by Paul Hernes, on Youtube 


Hmmm. I imagine I’ll typically take one of the Melonseeds when sailing solo.

Certainly the reefing system will need to be planned well. I’ll want to spend some time conferring with Stuart “Dabbler” Hopkins before settling on particulars.

The Gannet will have some advantages, though, besides speed. It will hold more people. Two or three easily, and four reasonably, so it will be more fun when taking along friends. With its high sides and topside flair, it will be much drier than the Melonseeds, too, making it more appealing when the water gets chilly. And, if the transom is built with some forethought, the Gannet can carry a small outboard and make a nice planing skiff for exploring while the wind is away.

Much to think about.

Before we moved it into the shed, Terri and I set the hull out in the yard to get a feel for size and such. These photos will give you an idea. Amazing what a difference that extra width makes.








13 Replies to “Gannet”

  1. Whoo-Hoo!
    Following in the footsteps of Uffa Fox…
    As you know, I’ve had the privilege of sailing a Fulmar, and even with a cuddy cabin it was a racer. And yes, reefing early was a very good habit .
    Pretty darn exciting!

      1. No, I don’t know him personally, but have read the thread and looked at his work. It’s going to be a very nice boat, but not at all the same. He does say he’s following Kee’s modifications with a cuddy cabin (and, I assume a self bailing cockpit too.)
        Being over 18 feet long and ballasted, it won’t be nearly as responsive. I might be making an assumption about the ballast but if he doesn’t put some weight in her, he’ll wish he did.
        Just a thought for you – my Thistle had about 100# in the centerboard and could have used more. I think your Gannet will be just as tender.

  2. Holy cow, the thing looks like it’s flying just sitting there. I love the flare. Now you see why we thought a “younger” man should have this one, us old farts would sprain something. I’ve found that on boats like this you have to keep the jib up in strong winds to have control. Can’t wait to see you and Terri hanging out.

  3. So where did this hull come from, Barry? Can’t figure it out from your posts, unless I didn’t look back far enough. Anyway, that’s a great boat. I’d like one myself!

  4. It’s got a ways to go before it’s actually a boat, but will be fun getting there. Lot’s of potential for excitement, no doubt about it. May take a younger man than me to really get the most out of her when she’s done.

    I know what you mean about the jib, Dave. Everything has to stay in balance when you shorten sail. Once that big main is reefed down all the way, though, pushed far enough forward – maybe a third reef? – you may want to douse most or all of that jib. Will be interesting to see what works best.

    Jim, this hull came most recently from Steve Demming, who’s a regular in Dave Lucas’ gang of boat bums and ne’er-do-wells. It passed through several other folks before it came to him, though. The original work – almost all of what’s been done so far – was done by an architect in Miami. I’ll relay the whole story later, but apparently it’s been looking for a good home for quite some time.

  5. Looking forward to the hull story. So gunter main? I’d be real tempted to go bermudan, maybe even an alu stick from a dinghy class like Vanguard 15 or 420. Then maybe pick up a spinnaker too. 100 lbs of ballast wouldn’t hurt neither. Sorry, didn’t mean to rig your boat for you.

  6. Don’t get excited, Kevin. I just like to keep all the options open. It’s a belt & suspenders sort of thing. Even if I prefer suspenders.

    Jimbo, the mast, boom, and gunter yard are already made, gratis the mysterious architect. And very nicely done, I might add. (And in wood.) There are surely some small advantages in performance with a Bermuda over a gunter in exchange for disadvantages in rigging and derigging. Some of the Old Salt books I favor speak very highly of the gunter, though. Between those rasping whispers and the fact that the spars are already in hand, it will be hard to find enough justification to alter course.

    At least at first. The nice thing about a completely impractical boat is there’s little resistance to making it more so. You can’t row it. You can’t fish it. You can’t even relax in it. All you can do is go faster in it. If you’re already all in, Hell bent for leather (there’s a nice late 1800’s phrase for you), may as well go all the way. I, too, have been thinking asymmetric spinnaker, al la 420 (if not on aluminum) . . . Let’s just say there will definitely be a boom vang. But, ye gods, that’s a big main sail. Every time I look at it I have to rub my eyes.

    And, since you mention it, I was actually thinking my two 40 pound AGM deep cycle lead batteries, the ones that power the electric motor, might be nice to have boxed in around the centerboard case. Incentive to pack that trolling motor instead of a noisy gas stinker, eh Kevin?

    For reference, at present, I’m using the Wayfarer as a guide for rigging and sailing and such.

  7. Howdy,

    I recently stumbled across the Gannet design, by Iain Oughtred, today, and found this website. I found the article informative, well-written, and it even made me a bit excited.

    Have you made any progress since December 2013?

    On a related note, I have a lot to learn about these boats and woodworking; however, I have some questions if you don’t mind answering them.

    Is the listed 280 (Rig + 100) hours build time on it complete bologna, and the build time is closer to 500-600 hours?

    The study plans also mention the costs being £900 for Materials and £750 for the Rig. Unfortunately, I have a lack of knowledge in this area, but this estimate seems low to me. Is this actually a reasonable estimate?

    Do you think it would be possible for someone to sleep “comfortably” on this boat for a night, under a boom-tent?


    Kiel Bath

    1. Hi Kiel, a new job has taken up so much of my time I haven’t been able to get back to the Gannet since I brought it home. So I can’t speak to your questions regarding build times or total cost. However, with a little planning it would clearly make a great overnight camping boat. Room enough for two (friendly) people. Have a look at some of the Wayfarer camping arrangements, which are well documented. The Gannet appears to me to be Oughtred’s faster, lightweight interpretation of the famous Wayfarer design.

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