Wednesday 10 December 2014

Norwalk Island Shaprie - Bella

I've been intrigued by the Norwalk island Sharpies for a long time, designed by Bruce Kirby perhaps better known for his Laser design. Apparently the Norwalk Islands Sharpies are evolved from  American east coast working boats which needed to be fast, safe, economical, and easily handled,
 could go out in all weathers gathering oysters and then run breaking bars to get the catches to market as early as possible. The boats were all more or less flat bottomed, vee sided and unstayed cat ketch rigged.

The modern epoxy ply boats are lightly built and some are fitted with carbon fiber masts.while the type evolved for speed in shallow water there have been some remarkable deep water voyages most famously Robert Ayliffe's crossing of the Bass Straight in his NIS 23 Charlie Fisher.

Fast, easy to handle and shoal draft, sounds like a great cruising boat for the waters of the Solent especially if you want to get away from the crowds with their deep keels.

Norwalk Island Sharies are few and far between in the UK, but Bella has been on the river for a two or three years. If the owners are readers I'd love the opportunity to see how one sails, if you need a crew one afternoon drop me an email.

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