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The Sharpie project


(The content on this page are copied from Olle Jeppsson's former website, "Olle's Boatbuilding Page". Text and images are published with the author's permission)

Sharpie 600
Illustration: Björn Thomasson

On these pages you can follow the construction of a "Sharpie 600".

More about the construction:

The construction in text and images,
written by Olle Jeppsson (Opens in new window).

The construction started in September 1999 and was completed May 16., 2004.
From the moment I put the saw into the wood to the boat’s first test ride was finished, it took 2869 hours, mainly at the weekends and holidays. If the building had been a full-time activity, I am convinced that the construction period had been much shorter.

On this page I will update with new pictures and comments afterwards that I had set sail and started to use the boat in earnest. Click the link above to see the boat during construction, and the finished and sailing sharpie "Kuling".


Why a sharpie?

The reason I chose this type of boat are as follows: Having built two sea kayaks with good results, designed by Björn Thomasson, so was born the idea to build a sailboat. Since Bjorn also had designed some smaller boats, I decided to look at these. I wanted to have a boat for longer tours and accommodation, so the choice fell on the sharpie. That dimension suited to build on the existing premises was also a requirement. In addition, I wanted also the boat to be easy to transport and launch, and so the flat-bottomed design is excellent.

Before I decided to buy the drawings I needed some more information about the type of boat. At the library I found the book "The Sharpie Book" by Reuel B. Parker. In that you can read all about these interesting boats and also find drawings for several different models. Everything from small open boats for still waters, to the large spare rigged offshore sailors.
Boat type is derived from the 1850's North America and was used for fishing in shallow fishing grounds. Then, the models become more and more leisure and racing oriented. There was even the case that at the beginning of the 1900s was banned to participate in some sailing races because of the Sharpies' superior speed resources (this depends on the flat bottom structure).

Some data

Hull: Flat-bottomed with a centerboard
Length: 6.5 m
Width: 2.04 m
Draft: 0.2 / 1.2 m (centerboard up/centerboard down)
Weight: 800kg (with ballast)
Sail area: 21 square meters (the gaff-rigged version)


Björn's design (which has won awards at shows) based on the "egg carton principle", i.e. the transverse bulkheads of plywood joined together through slits in the two longitudinal bulkheads. This structure which is placed upside down, then acts as the building jig.

The material of the ribs, planking, interior and deck are plywood. Since the boat is being built with the "WEST" system, i.e. that all bare wood is protected by epoxy and epoxy/fiberglass, it is quite sufficient to use ordinary single ply of reasonably good quality. This makes the cost of construction kept at a very reasonable level. Other wood in the boat can be, as in my case, larch, and in some places oak. Spruce and pine of good quality as well as any other suitable hardwood as oak, can also be fine. In the past, they built boats of the wood that was available locally. Read the book "Buehler's Backyard Boat Building" by George Buehler (available on the library) and see, this with boat building is not hocus pocus but can be performed by the public hands, and with the materials and methods that are readily available.

Bjorn Thomasson's drawings show two rigging options; lug or gaff rig. The lugger with a small mizzen has advantages, like the absence of boom and its fine handling characteristics. Gaff rig is somewhat more difficult to handle, but with the advantage that it has more tuning options, and that it (in my opinion) gives a slightly more "classic" style. The latter was therefore the option that I chose.

The dimensions of the plywood used is 12 (13) mm for frames, 2 x 12 (13) mm at the bottom, 9 (10) mm in the hull and deck, and 4mm for the lamination of the transom and sharply curved surfaces. I have assumed 1220x2440mm sheets, which are more economical than 1000x2000mm held by some builders merchants. As I mentioned earlier, it is enough simple quality but of course you have to check up so that it is not bad. It must be so many layers veneer as possible and do not contain cavities. Also ensure that you get pretty flat discs. To the shell, I chose a slightly better pine plywood.

All surfaces underlined by lamineringsepoxi. On the hull exterior is also a layer of fiberglass and the bottom two layers. Since the painted surfaces with appropriate marine coatings, preferably a two-component polyurethane varnish. This "canning" technology means that you get an easy and powerful boat.

The model's classic lines will inspire many different detailed solutions. Why not a little varnished wood strips and some bronze fittings here and there? Not too much, but "the right details" bring life to. I can recommend a look at the English magazine "Watercraft". It gives you a lot of inspiration.

Mast and booms is made preferably hollow. This is to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. Remember, this is a centerbordsbåt and therefore may be more prone to capsizing. According to the designer, it is the final stiffness of large and the boat can not blow down. Theoretically, she is self-righting, but the margin is not greater than that in the end it depends on the weight distribution of the hull / deck / superstructure, weight of the spars and rigging etc..

A few tips.

Try as much as possible during the construction time. The mast can of course, for practical reasons, be difficult to test fit on the boat if I build inside, but the rudder and centerboard should be tested as soon as possible. Naturally I tried centreboard weeks before the boat could be launched and it turned out that the theory does not always correspond with reality. I had to make some minor adjustments so that it was free in the centerboard drum.
Although my design of the motor well for outboard motor proved to be somewhat narrowly dimensioned but it works. Some adjustments will probably be done during the first winter storage.

More about the construction:

The construction in text and images,
written by Olle Jeppsson (Opens in new window).

© 2010 BHM/Contessa
Org.no. 984 130 910
Design: A. Bull-Hansen