Since I no longer have Mallard I’ve been thinking that at some time in the future it would be nice to get back to sailing a small boat, perhaps something that can be easily trailed, and of course I would want to build it myself. Several years ago I was thinking that a mini Transat boat would be great, fun and fast to sail but the more that looked into it I realized that a decent sail wardrobe would cost a bomb and with a deep fixed keel with a bulb on the bottom the boat would have to be lifted on and off the trailer with a travel hoist each time.
The Aviatuer by French designer Eric Hensval seems like the answer to my prayers; the same size almost as a mini Transat but with the lifting keel which makes launching from the trailer at the boat ramp a snap thus opening up almost unlimited cruising potential. Keeping it on the trailer will also mean that it can be dry sailed and thus save a lot of money each year by not having it sitting on a mooring or in a slip, neither of which are especially cheap. From a distance the boat could pass as a mini with her retractable bowsprit, square cut topped main sail and twin rudders. It is this latter feature coupled with the lifting keel that allows the boat to dry out upright, perfect for sneaking into coves and other skinny water that would be off limits to a mini.
Looking at the lines the boat is little more than a sharpie if one discounts the intermediate strake at the turn of the bilge that helps soften the shape and make the boat appear less boxy.
There are a ton of pictures on the web and at Duckworks from where, for a modest fee I was able to instantly download the study plans. Interestingly the method shown in these plans if for the boat to be built over a series of temporary frames; the seams are joined with epoxy and glass released from the mold and then the interior seams are filleted and glass taped before the rest of the fit out and deck is completed. I thought this an unnecessary complication and so I e-mailed the designed who confirmed that the boat could be constructed using the stitch and glue method. Providing that the panels are cut accurately the boat will tend to form it’s own correct natural shape as the temporary stitches are installed. It would be necessary to make a cradle for the hull to sit in while it was being made but you would need to do that anyway even if building the boat in the method shown in the original plans. Not having to make a frame structure onto which the panels are screwed will save a fair bit of time and there will be less turning of the hull as the interior can almost be completed before the boat would have to be rolled to tape the outside joints.
The video above shows the boat sailing in 12 knots of breeze and it is trucking right along. Incidentally the plastic domes, once a dead giveaway of the long distance voyager especially on French boats are not just for effect on the Aviatuer, they give much needed light below and with the secondary tiller on the inside of the boat allow easy and dry steering in inclement weather.