Small boat special – Click on images to see in larger size!

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Shoal-draught mini cruisers, by Peter Poland
“When I was a boatbuilder I used to spring three basic questions on prospective buyers: Where are you aiming to sail, how often and with how many people? Clients who cross-examined themselves often ended up buying something smaller than they’d first envisaged. So it makes sense to start small and I have selected some popular variable draught cruisers up to 20ft.” Cornish shrimper, Pirate 17, Swift 18, Hunter Medina 20, Evolution 19, Etap 20, Norfolk Gypsy 19, Cape Cutter 19, Sailfish 18, Mirador 20, Sandpiper 565, Gem 550, Beneteau First 18, Prelude 19

Small and seaworthy, by Bjorn Haraldsson
“Things have a certain size and if you change this size they won’t work as originally designed. For instance if you shrink a sailing boat to a tenth of her original size you will get a boat with ten times more sail area in relation to its stability, compared with the original boat, and consequently can only sail in very light winds. I will try to explain why this is so and what happens when you modify the size of a boat…”


Size of the times, by David Harding
As new family cruisers get ever bigger, David Harding investigates what’s left at the smaller end of the market.

“A few decades ago, plenty of small boats were designed and built for offshore cruising. Too many builders have either stopped building boats altogether or moved on to bigger ones instead. In either case, the reason is the same: it has become increasingly difficult to make money from small boats.”

Round Wales in a 20-footer
A harbourmaster’s adventure through narrow locks, leafy rivers and big seas

“When we first moved to Deganwy I saw a programme on Welsh TV about a couple of guys from Aberaeron who had circumnavigated Wales in a Drascombe Longboat. ‘That Looks fun,’ I thought. The memory stayed with me and when I approached retirement I wondered if I’d like to do the same…”

Boats, Cruising and Seamanship

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The Shannon story, by Mike Taylor
Building the world’s toughest boat at the RNLI headquarters in Poole

“In 2013 the first Shannon Class lifeboat came into service to meet the needs of a 21st century rescue system. The vessel was a success and is still being rolled out today. PBO visited the new RNLI boatbuilding facility in Poole to learn more about this highly manoeuvrable hi-tech vessel…”


Nautical fiction for kids, by Kathy Catton
Exciting new authors to inspire today’s young sailors

“Almost a century on from the first volume of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series, why is it so hard to find contemporary writers of nautical fiction? A search online at Waterstones revealed only three titles under the category ‘sailing fiction’, one of which was a 27-page ‘get into reading’ book…”


Dodgy engine dilemma
Lessons learned from a spluttering engine in the Bristol Channel

“With the freshening wind, the sea was turning a little lumpy and after the engine had been running nicely for a few minutes, it spluttered, faded, surged back and then after a few more minutes cut out completely…”



Southampton Boat Show, powered by Borrow a Boat
Essential guide to boats, brands and family fun at this year’s big event

“It’s been a rotten time for UK boat shows of late, but Mayflower Park and the temporary marina can still attract the biggest names (and boats) in the industry and there is a nice atmosphere at Southampton Boat Show, especially if the weather stays fine. And always new boats!”


Hebridean escape, by John Simpson
Plus the top 10 Med destinations and why Croatia tops the list

“Continuing past the Sound of Harris after leaving Loch Maddy in North Uist keeping to the east in the lee of the land, we were lucky to have a real West Coast expert on board. Suddenly she had a brainwave, mentioning an interesting place called Loch Scadabay (Scadabhagh), which she thought would make a perfect lunch break from our windy, coldish trip…”


Practical features and projects

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The American Dream, by Drew Maglio
How a college couple turned to boat restoration to get their ideal Florida cruiser

“To some, boat ownership is insanity, as boats require constant maintenance and are always breaking. But I would argue that few other activities afford such opportunity to transcend the humdrum of modern life.” Chaparral 2100 SX Bowrider, Regal Valanti SE 202, Chaparral 2130 SS, Caparral 2235 SS

PBO Project boat – Jake Kavanagh reports
This month we see the bulkheads and beams go in!

“Designed in Australia and built by enthusiasts all over the world, the Secret 20 packs grace and pace into her streamlined hull. Started by PBO’s editorial team in 2016, the DIY kit has since been donated to the Gosport-based charity Oarsome Chance, where young people at risk of exclusion from school are offered the chance to learn boatbuilding skills”


Heads pump help, by Stu Davies
The easy way to dismantle and service a heads pump

“Jabsco hand-pumped boat toilets are cheap, simple and robust and can put up with a lot of abuse. On the flip-side, they do need a bit of looking after, and there are a lot of misconceptions out there, as the many threads on the PBO forum show…”


Make your own Sprayhood and bimini, by Ann Berry
Save £££s by sewing your own in this step-by-step guide

“A £500 industrial sewing machine could save you thousands of pounds (and still be worth a bit when you sell it on). They’re much larger, heavier and more robust than domestic machines. They have a separate external motor and a metal foot treadle and are set into their own large sewing table, so do take up a lot of room…”


Powering a windlass, by Duncan Kent
A multipart electrical installation question from a reader with a 34ft Westerly Falcon

“The most suitable type of battery for powering a windlass is an engine-starter type (cranking) battery with a high CCA (cold cranking amps) rating. You could buy a second high-CCA battery and connect it to the existing engine start battery via a single-sensing VSR…”


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