of the most interesting, least expensive, and perhaps most neglected hull
forms is the sharpie. My sharpie designs range from 16 to 75, with
drafts of less than ½ per foot of length. Simplicity throughout is a must;
a low rig is required; and ample amounts of sail can be carried. Properly
handled, a sharpie is extremely seaworthy and most suitable for gunkholing,
island hopping and for coastwise cruising. In larger sizes, they are capable
ocean-cruising vessels. Those over 50' are not stock plans.
basic axiom in sharpie design and construction is that if there is not enough
room in a given size, make it longer. The sharpie will not tolerate excessive
beam and freeboard as a means to gain additional room. From 35 up they can
be built in steel, but only in the lightest type of steel construction.
Properly handled and properly sailed, the sharpie is capable of surviving
weather that many other types would find extremely dangerous. However, as with
all light displacement vessels, they have to be sailed continuously.Because of their shoal draft, there is only about 4 of headroom in a
32-footer, and it is difficult to achieve full headroom in lengths under
50. It is cheaper to build a 50 sharpie than, say, a heavy displacement
hull of about 35 in length, and they both have about the same amount of
interior cubic. All of the centerboard sharpies can be beached, and the
smaller ones can be trailered. Inboard power is not practical in sizes under
40; however, outboard power can occasionally be utilized. Poling and rowing are
practical forms of propulsion on sharpies up to 35 or 40.
sharpie is one of my favorite hull forms on which to experiment with rigs. I
have built more than 40 of them over the years. The least expensive hull form
has a plumb stem and square stern, although the round stern is prettier.
Combining features, I incorporated both plumb stern and round stern on
PANDORA. The double-ended hull is also possible, but the clipper bow seen on
many sharpies just adds expense in construction and, for a given deck length,
decreases the usable space and stability of the hull.
gaff rig and Chinese lug rig are also happy combinations with a sharpie hull. The
article, Observations of a Non-Conformist, which appeared in the August,
1966 issue of Rudder Magazine (and which also appears in COASTWISE AND
OFFSHORE CRUISING WRINKLES) was based on my experiments with three different
rigs on the same length sharpie hull and sailing trials conducted with them. I
have also built sharpies with a fin keel which adds to interior room but at
the expense of not being able to work in thin water.
every dollar spent, the sharpie has more to offer than any other hull type as,
for a given deck length, it costs about 1/3 as much to build as a moderate
displacement vessel, and about 1/5 as much as a heavy displacement vessel. The
smaller sharpies are well-suited to aluminum alloy construction, but wood
construction is by far the cheapest method for the owner/builder.
interior arrangement shown above is for a 34 sharpie. As can be seen, there
is plenty of linear room but not a great deal of vertical room. On the smaller
metal sharpies, the centerboard was sometimes moved off-center by a couple of
feet in order to increase the usable room in the cabin; however, the best
solution was to use a fixed keel when the added draft was permissible.
wooden sharpies go up to 55 in length. Aluminum sharpies are usually of the
double-ended type from 30 to 48 on deck. The steel sharpies are from
32 to 78 on deck. Up to about 40 in length, I build the sharpies
upside down; for the larger sharpies, building right side up is easier. Stock
plans are available up to about 50' on deck.
the departure is made from the true sharpie hull configuration and concept,
one is beginning to gild the lily.Costs
soar and the result is seldom an improvement.