Designing and Building a Microcruiser

Going Global.

Going on the world wide web (eeeek)

Well folks this weekend I got registered on a dozen or more sites that are important to getting the message “out there” What an unbelievably complicated and time consuming job.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Boatbuilding | 1 Comment

My new “TEN”

// Manie’s TEN – Boat Design Forums

Well folks it’s all official now. I have started building my “ten”

Many people thinks it’s crazy, but many more people love the idea and would probably do it themselves if they could. The idea of sailing long distances in a ten foot (3m) micro yacht will only appeal to the very adventurous and people that are fascinated by extreme sports and challenges.

You can also see a new blog dedicated to this project.

We have also created a dedicated site for this challenge, called SaToSa which stands for “South Africa To South Africa” the concept being that we will do something similar to the Jester Challenge, but for micro yachts. We believe that a race around the world in a micro yacht is definitely do-able and it is simply a matter of time before somebody actually goes and does it.

Sven Yrvind is obviously the master guru in this field and we applaud the good work he does. Roger Taylor has done some fantastic sailing and of course Webb Chiles is at sea at the moment showing us how it’s done! And as always the help and support that I received from Wynand is tops!

I will post regular updates and pictures and videos of the build. Please go to the different sites – like us – join us – follow us – support us – WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT PLEASE !!!

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September 15, 2014 Posted by | Boatbuilding | Leave a comment

Mast and Sail

Well folks good news, the balanced Lug Sail is done and the boat is on it’s mooring at Bayshore Marina Vaaldam. Now extensive testing will start and I will publish more data as we go along.

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May 29, 2014 Posted by | Boatbuilding | 1 Comment

The Complete Set Of Build Photos.

Well folks, with the success of the last trip and the relief that the boat is really comfortable for extended periods of time, I am now highly motivated to get the boat sailing. My focus is now totally on getting the mast up with the balanced lug rig. The boat in it self is not finished, but I am starting to realise that you are forever thinking up new ideas to make living more comfortable. But these “extras” can wait now; sailing is now the primary goal.


Over the years the amount of visitors to the blog has been fantastic and inspiring. The little boat has most definitely got a huge audience out there. At the best the blog had well over 5000 visitors per month and it usually sits between 2000 and 3000 per month. When it went over 5000 per month, I was blown away and really could not understand it. That is when I started learning how WordPress statistics works. They have many really clever analyses that give results from all over the world. The big surprise was that ITALY has as many followers as the USA. So to all the supporters – A BIG THANK YOU.


The support and interest keeps one going. When you start a project like this there are many times that you get tired (and lazy) and then when somebody drops you a simple short little note :- “How are you – what’s up” -you get off your backside and you get on with it once again.


I have over the years also learned a lot from all the mates at Boat Design. Net, this has been my crutch and where my help came from, time after time. Some of my questions were silly and some good but I always got honest and helpful response from all at To all at – YOU ARE THE GREATEST you have become personal friends that I will cherish forever.


So with all of this in mind, the one primary thought that stands out above all is,




And that is why I sat down, took the time, and did these slide shows of the entire build.

You guys, all of you, have helped me along, so I hope that this contribution of mine can help and inspire you. Hopefully it will inspire somebody somewhere and I am sure somebody will get a kick out of this.


The next chapter of my adventure has started, get her sailing to go and explore the many lakes and harbours out there. The focus will become less building and more exploring.


Thanks guys, Enjoy.


January 27, 2013 Posted by | Boatbuilding | 2 Comments

Trip 6 Interior Slideshow

I added an additional video – slide show with many pics of the interior

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Boatbuilding | Leave a comment

Trip 6 – 2 New Videos added

The first video is of the general surroundings and the second of the boat on the water.

The main problem with shooting the videos was my nervousness. I handsteered for hours on end, every day.
The Garmin charts that mark out the original “river” as she sweeps along under the dam is probably 95% correct but the charts show depths of the dam in a FULL state. Over the years the mudflats and sandbanks have also shifted so the depth sounder becomes of pivotal importance. Some of the shallow areas are now ABOVE the water and definitely not 2m deep. I think that the Vaaldam at 75% full is approximately 3m shallower that the charts show on average. The charts also only cover the dam, when you go higher up you are once again dependant on the fish finder.

I only had the time to pick up the video camera when I was sure that we had a good stretch of straight deep “river” ahead of us.
My other problem was that I only sat down and read the instructions for the Raymarine ST1000 on the last day when I also happened to have good weather. The autopilot now works much better because I got it to “settle down and take it easy”

The odd fisherman that I saw along the way must have thought that I am dilly, winding my way back and forth along a dam that looks perfectly good from the edge. The Vaaldam is definitely not deep in the middle and shallow along the sides, it winds its way along like a snake.

This map is of the mudflats area which is actually a bit shitty and dangerous.

Vaaldam mud flats

January 17, 2013 Posted by | Boatbuilding | Leave a comment

2013 January – Trip 6 – Vaaldam to Frankfort to Villiers

Trip 6 Vaaldam to Frankfort and Villiers.

Wednesday 02 January 2013 to Tuesday 08 January 2013


This was the first big one, 214 nm over 6 days.


When I started designing my micro cruiser some five years ago, little did I know that a project like this would become such a passion and life changing experience. Over the last six years I have built a number of small boats which was to learn how to work with Epoxy and the various materials that are integral to Epoxy construction. Very modern and sophisticated materials such as Carbon fibre – Aramid / Kevlar and the different glass woven cloths that accompany Epoxy construction methods. Although the core is high grade Marine ply to BS specs, your woodworking skills are only a small part of the build. You essentially have to become proficient at working with epoxy laminations; this is what gives the ultimate strength to your boat. It is this strength that becomes your safety cocoon in the middle of those stormy nights. Those stormy nights when you are tossed about inside the boat like a manic Yo-Yo on steroids. It is very difficult to put into words what it feels to be inside a washing machine that is on the back of a pick-up truck being driven a high speed through traffic by a drunken sailor, but I think by now you are starting to understand how it feels.


This story is not about terror in the middle of the night, this story is a wonderful story of discovering the unbelievable beauty of the magnificent outdoors for the “Aqua-Tourist”.

I love the term Aqua-Tourist; it describes the adventurer that enjoys seeing the world from a water-levels perspective, be it the sea, dams, rivers and canals,–all included


I started building this boat as a hobby on Saturday 13 June 2009, in my garage at home.

She was christened “Fargo” A micro cruiser-trailerable sailboat to EU microclasse standards.

She was launched for the first time on 28 January 2012 two and a half years after construction began and had since made 5 trips to test, check and modify. The boat is not finished; I still have to do the centreboard with the bulb keel and then the mast with rigging and finally the sails. The important issue for this story is that the interior of the boat is 90% done and I can live in her comfortably.


When you set off on a build like this, which is customised around your own personal preferences and requirements, it is very easy for things to go wrong and the boat becomes a dog. When that happens the boat ends up standing and never gets used. So it is of prime importance that you first build a couple of very small boats to hone your skills and to acquire the multitude of different tools that are needed for this type of build. Then when you build your dream boat make sure that you know exactly what you want and expect from this vessel. Building a boat is time consuming and often you can’t turn back. Most important of all is KISS; keep it simple and small. Learn to understand the differences between WANT and NEED. Forget about the dreamboat on which the extended family will sail off into the sunset. Women are notoriously involved with the grand layouts of extended galleys with gold taps and silver whistles, on bloated megacats that have private staterooms and heads even for the mother in law and an entourage of cats and dogs. The first time that they hit a spot of bad weather; or the wind slams the superyacht coming back in onto the jetty at the five star yacht club – THEY JUMP SHIP.

Never to be seen on the superyacht again. And the world has another harbour queen. The yacht clubs and marinas world wide are testament to this fact. Millions of dream boats rotting away at their moorings, boats that only went out once or twice.


Let’s get back to this story of trip number SIX. I have tested my boat on the five previous trips and I have made the changes and tested everything over again. I can confidently state that my boat is 110% of what I wanted, she is a beauty, safe, seaworthy and very competent. I can live in her totally comfortably for extended periods of time. This trip proved that over again, and what’s more I cannot wait to get back out there on the next trip. I love voyages of discovery. Voyages into the unknown where you are completely on your own, where you take charge and you are totally responsible for your own well being and that of your vessel. Your life and destiny is firmly in the grip of your own two hands and what ever Mother Nature can and will throw at you.


We must understand that this is Africa. You are completely and utterly on your own. There is no 911 that you can call to send an ambulance, helicopter or doctor, there is no NSRI – there is nothing; and not even a cell phone signal for days. I doubt it if a VHF signal would climb above and beyond the valleys. But what there is – is the unspoilt beauty of the African countryside as seen from the river. Beauty that touches the innermost part of your soul. Days that go by where there are no humans, days of utter peace and tranquillity. Just you, the boat and the water. It is often hard to understand that in this over populated country of ours that you can still find that peace. The scenery changes around every bend, sometimes you will see cattle and sheep, sometimes horses; even at times wild deer and buck, but most importantly of all NO HUMANS. The countryside varies from wild unspoilt mountains and gorges to enormous farmlands where they grow mealies (corn).


Stunning sunrises and beautiful orange sunsets are separated by pitch black nights where you can see billions of stars with no light pollution from cities. There is nothing on this earth that can give you more pleasure than lying on the front deck of the boat with a glass of red wine and just staring at the exquisite wonders of the heavens, and listening to an orchestra of frogs croaking away. I always drop anchor while the sun is still up and I have at least an hour’s sunlight left to do my final checks for the night. Safety first. Then I shower on deck in the cockpit, and once the days sweat and sun block cream is washed away; I cook supper. I enjoy a warm meal in the evenings when it gets cool; one pot cooking a curry stew is always perfect for that meal under the stars.


I wake and rise early because that first cup of coffee and the sunrise is a winning combination. You know you are alive and well when breathing in the cool crisp morning air that fills your lungs. At my age of almost sixty, every sunrise is a blessing, many of my good mates are not around anymore to enjoy these simple pleasures of life. Muesli is the standard breakfast and lunch is usually a can of fish and whole wheat biscuits like Provita. I seldom drink alcohol during the day but must confess that there have been days when I did have a beer or a cider with lunch.


The days are very busy navigating. There are treacherous stretches of water and you are constantly on the look out for partially submerged trees. I had to hand steer for long distances because the Raymarine ST1000 tiller pilot does not cope well in narrow channels with strong cross winds blowing. The oversize rudders were fantastic as it gave a lot of lateral and directional stability. I am confident that the centreboard will enhance the directional control magnificently and that in turn will assist the auto pilot. The charts; when available; will show shallow waters but definitely not trees that were washed down by last years floods. I constantly navigate with my Garmin nuvi 500 and my iPhone 4s. The Garmin Fish finder 90 is THE MOST valuable instrument on the boat. Not only does it give you depth but it also gives you an indication of what the bottom is like. The Garmin nuvi 500 has good charts of some of the inland waters, and the iPhone is excellent for a Google satellite perspective and Navionics charts; where and when available. I try to anchor in clay sediment at around two to three meters deep. My primary anchor is a 5kg Bruce with 5 meters of 8mm galvanized chain and I pay out scope at 10 to 1; plenty for a 5 meter boat that only weighs 450 kg empty. I carry four anchors in total, the other 3 are light fisherman types but after my disaster of dragging anchor in the middle of the night on trip 5 I went for a Bruce as a primary. This Bruce anchor is tested beyond any shadow of a doubt; it does its job without fail each any every time. I can now sleep at night completely at peace with the world. The guys that have sailed and anchored in unknown bays will appreciate the importance of good anchoring skills.


It’s simple; your life hangs on that anchor at night, stay in position or face the perils of a rocky lee-shore and the frightening possibilities of being washed out onto rocks in a dark cold wet night.


My oversize rudders prevents the light boat from sailing around the anchor too much, but drifting with the wind shifts is fun as the scenery changes constantly, I enjoy that. She does not ride so much that the wind gets beam on; she keeps bow into the wind most of the time.


Travelling at a GPS speed of around 5 knots I burned 25 litres of petrol every 18 hours. When I cruise at 4 knots the fuel consumption is much better but on this trip I was pressed for time as I only had the six days for the trip and then the seventh day to pack up and get back home. For a small 5 hp Parson 4 stroke motor this is good fuel consumption, running at 75% throttle most of the time.


My advice to anybody that would like to do a trip like this is:-

You will motor 99% of the time, sailing is just too problematic. A lifting centreboard is essential.

If the Vaaldam level is around 75% full, most shallow draft boats, with mast lowered, can get under the low bridge at Oranjeville. Go as far as the great lake in front of the old Jim Fouche pleasure resort, drop anchor in one of the many bays before turning back. The rest of the Wilge River further upstream is a nightmare of shallows and broken trees and dangerous. There are numerous bays where you can anchor and spend the night on the hook.

Once you have made your way back to where the Vaal River enters the Vaaldam you can then proceed up the Vaal River to the great lake by Bird Island and beyond. Beware of the shallow areas. The water is clean and very little debris. The trip to Villiers is a pleasure, lots of beautiful landscapes, and plenty to see. On a quiet day there won’t be many fishermen along the banks at Villiers and you can tie up and walk into the little scenic town.


This trip number six was my eye opener.

I love it.

I love it.

I love it.


I have spent days already planning the next BIG trips;

Gariep Dam

Vanderkloof Dam

Bloemhof Dam


Gariep is the biggest dam and hydro electric station in South Africa. This will be my next big one and I will do it with the mast and sails completed. The dam is huge and deep; and I am sure that I would be able to sail quite a bit.


Vanderkloof will be motored and this is a photographer’s paradise between the mountains.


Bloemhof is also big but the challenge would be to get as far upstream as possible.


So to conclude: to all fellow boaters: build a tailer sailer and explore your local rivers and lakes.

In my country there are numerous trips that are fantastic. I can comfortably explore all my inland waters for the next year or two before I start with the coastal trips.

The success of the trailer sailer is that you can take it home, do the necessary repairs and modifications and then start packing and prepping for the next trip.


Please take note:-

A successful trip is the result of good planning and adequate provisioning.

Most important of all is KISS; keep it simple and small.

Learn to understand the differences between WANT and NEED.

Go Small and Go Now.


And finally:-

When you anchor, always do it like the “perfect storm” is coming. One day you will be right.

a Bayshore Marina2 A Trip 6a to Frankfort 110nm A Trip 6b to Villiers 104nm Distance to Rapids Frankfort turn Garmin nuvi 500 Testing motor trip6 009 trip6 012 trip6 015 trip6 020 trip6 021 trip6 022 trip6 025 trip6 029 trip6 030 trip6 038 trip6 050 trip6 058 trip6 068 trip6 070 trip6 079 trip6 099 trip6 101.1 trip6 109 trip6 112 trip6 122 trip6 124 trip6 125 trip6 127.1 trip6 127.2 trip6 130 trip6 131 trip6 132 trip6 133 trip6 137 trip6 142 trip6 145 trip6 146 trip6 148.1 trip6 148.2 trip6 149.1 trip6 149.2 trip6 149.3 trip6 150 trip6 151 trip6 154.1 trip6 154.2 trip6 155 trip6 156 trip6 157 trip6 158 trip6 159 trip6 160 trip6 161 trip6 162 trip6 163 trip6 164 trip6 165 trip6 166 trip6 167 trip6 168 trip6 169 trip6 170 trip6 171 trip6 173 trip6 175 trip6 176 trip6 177 trip6 178

January 12, 2013 Posted by | Boatbuilding | 1 Comment

Stormy Weekend at the Vaaldam

I had planned a nice four-day weekend at the Vaaldam but unknown to me mother nature had other plans. It ended up in two nights of very little sleep and being tossed around like a yo-yo. The plan was to motor up to the old Jim Fouche pleasure resort (that is closed now) and just spend a leisurely four days just chilling and cruising around. I was not prepared as well as I should have been but I really learned a lot and the experience was invaluable. Next time I will most definitely be much better prepared. Lots of new ideas that I will implement and I will post pics as soon as I am finished with the work. Here is the video

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Boatbuilding | Leave a comment

Electrical System

I have been at it for some time now and it is time now to also update the blog.

The electrical system really works well. The 2x 105 amp batteries supply lots of power. I wanted to be able to charge cellphones and other 12v stuff, have a radio and CD player and lights inside and running outside. It is a nice system for a boat that spends most of its time on a trailer in a hot and dry climate.

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Boatbuilding | Leave a comment


I added two new links to my list today

these are two extraordinary sailors that have “sailed” like very few before – my hero’s.

Sven Yrvind and Roger Taylor, what these two gentlemen have forgotten most of us will never learn.

Small boats – big oceans – long distances – giants of the sailing world.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Boatbuilding | Leave a comment