The Skimmer 25 is a portable sharpie type with gaff rig. It is far from the typical trailer-ready sailboat and offers some distinct advantages. If you were a fan of the Howard Chapelle books on boat building, as I was, you are well acquainted with the sharpie hull form. If not, just think of a Star class boat to get the general idea. The sides are flat with a single chine, and the bottom is curved. You would be amazed at the wide range of hull shapes you can get confined to a shape governed by a chine and flat topsides.
Despite its quaint appearance, the Skimmer 25's hull shape is very close to contemporary in many ways. The overhangs are short. The near-vertical stem stretches the waterline forward. The stern has been lifted just enough so it won't drag the transom through the water. The D/L ratio is 138. The centerboard is large and retracts for a draft of 16 inches. The long skeg aft of the board helps to protect the traditional-shaped sharpie rudder with its strong area of balance forward of the pivot. This is obviously a boat you need to sail upright in order to keep that shallow rudder working. Note the low freeboard.
I have sailed plenty of gaff rigs. You don't sail a gaff-rigged boat with the expectation of matching the performance of modern rigs. You hear some offbeat claims, but the advantages of the gaff rig are certainly not speed. The loads on a low-aspect-ratio gaff rig are much smaller, and, therefore, you can simplify much of the hardware. The gaff is raised with a peak halyard and a throat halyard, and, even on large gaffers, halyard winches are rarely required. Note the length of the boom. Imagine jibing in 20 knots true, it can be done. The mast is stepped on deck in a tabernacle for transport. The shrouds have deadeyes, and they are far enough aft to eliminate the need for a backstay. Of course, you are going to sail with some sag in the headstay, but you won't be pointing to 30 degrees anyway. The SA/D is a very healthy 26.5.
Below you have enough accommodations for some basic cruising, or the Skimmer can be your motel on wheels while you make that highway passage to a distant cruising ground. Options include a freshwater system, a marine head, battery and electronics package and a Bimini top. You can row your Skimmer, but an outboard is advised for cruising.
|Draft||1'4" - 3'10"|
|Sail Area||375 sq. ft.http://features.boats.com/boat-content/wp-admin/post.php?post=3124&action=edit|
|Auxiliary||Yanmar 16M 9 hp|
This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.