The Stornaway Brief
In designing the Stornaway Weekender I had one simple aim in mind: to build the perfect small cruising yacht, the best in the world. To this end, I wrote a set of criteria. The boat should be:
- Safe, seaworthy and a joy to sail.
- Able to comfortably withstand winds in excess of 30 knots and seas in excess of 2 metres.
- Able to support 4 adults and their gear when fully swamped (7 adults in the open version.)
- Very good self righting properties and excellent stability
- Sail herself unaided in most conditions with good directional stability and a steady near neutral helm.
- Use the mizzen to heave to and reverse the vessel.
- Flat packed and shipped anywhere on the planet with ease.
- Capable of being built with minimum tools and facilities.
- Able to be rowed or motored efficiently with minimum effort.
- Able to rig, launch, retrieve and sail single-handedly and able to operate all sail or power controls without leaving the tiller.
- Able to easily raise and lower the mast, reef and anchor from the centre of the boat.
- Able to brail up the mainsail instantly or completely drop the mainsail in under 30 seconds.
- A boomless main for safety and roller furling genoa plus storm jib.
- A comfortable cockpit and cabin with room to sleep 4 – 2 under canvas.
- Space for a cooler, port-a-potti, stove and sink with ample water.
- A large hatch on the cabin versions with ample room for storage.
- Low topsides for easy access and a part self-draining cockpit.
- Able to be built by a home handyman in under 6 months part-time.
- Have a draught of less than 2 feet (600mm.)
- Easily trailerable with a 2 litre car and able to be rigged and launched in under 20 minutes – the quick owners so it in 10.
- Main yard long enough to use as a ridgepole for a tent or awning and able to stow all spars in the length of the boat.
- Elegant, timeless traditional lines which will look good for generations.
- Will hit 6 knots, ghost effortlessly in light airs, take the roughest conditions in her stride and never, ever let you down.
And did we fulfil the brief? Undoubtedly, the boat is a great success and over the years Stornaways have been subtly improved and updated. The new Cuddy Cabin Version allows more room in the cockpit but leaves the forward bunks intact. The Camper shares the same layout. New keel and rudder profiles, introduced in 2000, have further enhanced windward ability and new fuller aft sections since 2004 have enhanced stability and balance. Lightweight versions with extra ballast are both quicker and stiffer.
The Stornaway has become very popular with schools and outward bound operators. An excellent little ship is now better than ever.