I’ll let the multihull gurus fight over the question of whether this is a “trimaran” or an “outrigger.” I think of trimarans as boats that are optimized purely for sailing. An “outrigger sailing canoe,” on the other hand, is understood to have a wider variety of uses. A “variety of uses” is an understatement, perhaps. When handed the design brief last fall, I recall whistling and thinking: “Now THIS will be interesting.”
Billy and Sierra Swezey are among that marvelous cohort who have turned an ocean-cruising lifestyle into a full-time job. (Or is it the other way around?) It seems straightforward enough: Billy and Sierra entertain office-dwellers like myself with their compulsively watchable YouTube Channel, Tula’s Endless Summer, while they get to play in boats.
It SOUNDS easy, sure, but these guys work looong days…and that’s before they start editing their video footage into watchable content. I fear that the popular YouTube channels have conditioned us always to expect nice video production. But count on 2 to 4 hours of editing per minute of video, and that’s if everything goes perfectly.
I digress. Billy and Sierra have leveraged their way up through several major cruising yacht restorations, and their next ride is going to be a medium-large cruising catamaran. Understanding better than most that we go to sea…to see new shorelines, the couple have calculated that carrying a capable coastal exploration vessel on the deck of the new catamaran will multiply the fun.
Thus we get to that tricky design brief: An expedition machine that could store in a 12-foot by 4-foot rectangle on the mothership’s deck. Compared to the more usual monohull dinghy, Billy and Sierra perceived that once the mothership was swinging from two anchors in some snug harbor, they could go further, faster, and have more fun in a small multihull.
Multihulls always benefit from length, so early in the process it was resolved that if four feet of bow and stern could be unbolted, that would give us a 20-foot main hull, a length at which the performance gains become pronounced. The “amas” (the term of art for the “outriggers”) would be 12 feet long, enough for genuinely respectful upwind performance, if not fly-two-out-of-three-hulls-like-those-crazy-French-yachties performance.
Comment: Both the Everglades Challenge video and John Harris’ write up of the design have been up for months. I’m surprised I missed it until now. John and CLC have designed multihulls before in addition to their fleet of small boats. This is a pretty simple design reminiscent of larger Hawaiian outrigger canoes. The outriggers are carved from solid foam and encased in fiberglass and carbon fiber. I’ve never seen that in a CLC project before. I wonder how it will be done in the do-it-yourself kit. There is a short video covering design development that’s interesting along with some CLC boat building videos that should be good.
The Everglades Challenge video is very well done and very long. You can skip through it to get the gist of it, but I recommend setting aside the time to watch the whole thing. It’s healthier use of your time than watching non-ending snuff films from Gaza and Ukraine. I note they have a constant problem with cockpit swamping. A lot of that can be alleviated with the use of spray skirts. I’m quite familiar with the very effective spray skirts used on sea kayaks. They work well in the roughest seas. Since this outrigger canoe won’t be doing any Eskimo roles, a much lighter skirt would be sufficient. I have one on my kayak made of coated nylon with velcro closures. It works well in waves and big boat wakes. My younger son finally got one for his kayak and now shares the joy of paddling without a wet bunghole.