Sharpie 46 — New Haven Maxi-Trailerable Cruiser

L.O.A.                    46’ 7”

L.W.L.                   40’ 1”

Sparred Length       51’ 10”

Beam                     10’

Draft                      2’ 4” / 7’ 9” (board up/board down)

Rig                        Bald-headed gaff schooner, self-tending

Sail Area                774 sq ft

Displacement          16,300#

Trailer Weight         13,500# empty

Ballast                   5,000# lead in box keel & centerboard, 2,600# water

Ballast Ratio           30.7% without water; 46.6% with water

Hull Speed             8.5 knots (this hull will semi-plane to greater speeds)

This is a large Maxi-Trailerable version of the quintessential New Haven sharpie, and represents the highest evolution of the Connecticut type, where it all began. As background for the model presented here, I used the four big New Haven sharpies from Chapelle’s American Small Sailing Craft, and Fig. 3 from Chapelle’s Paper 25 (this model can be seen in Chapter Two, Fig. 2-11 of The Sharpie Book). I tried to combine the best elements of these models to create a contemporary cruising sharpie that is completely representative of the type. The narrow, light-displacement round-sterned hull is the fastest of all the pure sharpies, and will begin to plane almost when it starts to move.

One of the most common requirements of cruising sailboats is that they have interior standing headroom—a feature not possible in small sharpies. Hence I have designed this cruising sharpie to achieve two goals: standing headroom and trailerability without escort vehicles. Hence the beam is limited to ten feet, and some of the ballast is supplied by huge fresh water tanks placed in the lowest part of the hull.

The freeboard has been raised slightly (proportionately from the oyster boat models), the run has been flattened slightly (the hull will not be weighted in the stern by a catch of oysters), and a hollow box keel has been added to provide a place for external ballast, housing and protection for an inboard engine’s shaft log and transmission, a wet sump for the engine compartment, and to provide better tracking ability under sail and power.

The cruiser sleeps four in a vee-berth and (private cabin) double berth forward, and can accommodate two more in a convertible dinette aft. There is a small cargo (33 cubic feet) hold amidships on the port side. There are four water-tight bulkheads, making this vessel as close to unsinkable as possible. 

I have designed modern foil-shaped rudder and centerboard based on a long evolution of shoal-draft components. The rudder is counterbalanced, has a shaft perpendicular to the hull bottom to obtain end-plate effect from the hull, and has a foil-shaped endplate on the bottom. The centerboard is fabricated from metal (steel or aluminum), and is partially ballasted. In the down position, it is essentially a high-aspect-ratio fin keel. It is raised by an electric ATV winch. I have also provided a laminated wood centerboard option.

The rig provided is the gaff-schooner, with all sails self-tending. I chose this rig because it makes an excellent cruising rig for an extreme shoal-draft hull; because it performs very well off the wind (the sharpie’s best point of sail); and because of its utter simplicity (I have employed single halyards instead of peak and throat halyards seen on larger gaff sails). There are battens located at each deep reef point, making reefing simple and easy as well as providing good sail shape. The big New Haven boats were invariably rigged as cat ketches, but the heavier North Carolina boats were always gaff schooners. Hence this design is a combination of the two. The masts are shown in tabernacles for convenience in trailering as well as allowing the boat to run under low bridges. With masts down, the boat could pass under 90% of the ICW bridges without having to wait for openings, saving as many as several days on a cruise of the US East Coast.

The diesel auxiliary is located under a lowered cockpit bridge deck, as with many of my designs. I feel this is an ideal location, and because of the sharpie’s long cockpit and the addition of a box keel, this boat does not require the usual Hurth Vee-drive. I recommend 35 to 45 horsepower, which should move the light, flat-bottom hull very nicely in calm conditions, providing almost motorsailer capabilities. The compact and inexpensive Isuzu 3LD2 would be a good motor for this boat, being rated at 40hp @ 3,200 rpm (intermittent), and consuming about .75 gallons per hour @ a continuous 2,800 rpm. A 3-blade feathering prop is strongly recommended because of the sharpie’s high speeds under sail.

The MAXI-TRAILERABLE concept will require a long custom-modified three-axle trailer. A large, powerful 4-wheel drive truck will be required to launch and haul the boat; or a travel-lift may be used in a local boatyard. The justification for the maxi-trailerable concept is the increasing cost and decreasing availability of slip space, and the gradual disappearance of boatyards in America. The concept is that the individual owner will be able to launch, haul, maintain and store a fairly large cruising sailboat without being victimized by high costs and limited availability of slips and services.