14' Long Distance Cruiser Happy
|Design Number 168|
John Guzzwell made yachting history when he sailed back into Victoria, B.C., in 1959 aboard Trekka. He had set
a record for the smallest boat on a solo circumnavigation that stood for many years. In recent years several
sailors have set out to break his record and at least one has succeeded.
When Howard Wayne Smith came to us in December of 1977, he was a crewman on a tugboat on the Canadian West Coast.
He'd been reading and planning his new boat project for some time. His dream was to create a distinctly smaller
boat to break the record set by his hero, John Guzzwell.
To a smaller group in the boating world, John Guzzwell is equally famous for his skill in fine yacht construction.
Earlier in 1977, he had set up shop on Orcas Island, the next ferry stop over from where we then had our office, on
San Juan Island. Over there he had the first of the 37' pilothouse cutters of our design, Corcovado, under
construction, and we were able to talk with him about some of the questions we had about his voyaging and about
Howard Wayne Smith's specification to us was to try to get the maximum amount of boat we could in under 14 feet
of length. After considering many alternatives, we came up with the plumb ended cruiser shown in the accompanying
drawings. Howard wanted everything kept as simple as possible, for each pound of weight would be important.
The designed auxiliary power was a small outboard engine. The locker in the stern was designed to be watertight,
sealed off from the rest of the boat. This locker holds the engine as well as the fuel tanks.
The companionway hatch is hinged, making it easier to seal against water coming inside. The boat can be well
ventilated in warmer climates through the 6 opening ports, 2 Dorade vents, the foredeck hatch, and the companionway
The raised deck amidships provides an area in which there is sitting headroom below. The pipe berths shown on the
drawings extend aft under the cockpit seats, keeping the crew in the area of least motion when at sea. The forward
part of the boat is devoted to storage and has space for the very simple galley that is used for cooking aboard.
The mast is stepped through to the keel creating a very strong mounting. The jib and Genoa can be poled out opposite
each other for downwind runs. A wind vane, mounted on the boomkin, is hooked to the trim tab on the rudder. Mooring
and rigging cleats, not shown on the deck plan, were through bolted to the deck. The pair of small winches are more
than adequate for sheeting the Genoa.
The small area of hollow in the keel amidships gives a place for bilge water to collect and makes it easier to pump
it out. This is one of the ideas that were incorporated in the design as a result of comments from John Guzzwell.
"Hull speed" is just about 5 knots. Howard wanted to be able to average 3 knots for most of his passage making.
The motion on a short and fat boat like this is much better off the wind than bucking to weather. With the NACA
foil sectioned keel, she has the lateral plane and lift to sail to weather, but Howard prefers to do most of his
sailing off the wind.
The basic hull construction was done by Finn Nielsen at Maple Bay on Vancouver Island. Howard did a lot of the
outfitting himself. Most of the construction materials in her are native to the Pacific Northwest, including a
lot of fir and cedar. The construction is cold-molded cedar planking over fir longitudinal stringers.
Howard's story of working his way from the idea for a solo circumnavigation in such a small craft through the design,
construction, transportation and sailing phases is highly entertaining. He writes in a personable style, and a number
of magazine and newspaper articles by and about him have been published around the world. His plans include a book or
two and we'd recommend the reader keep an ear out for news of these if stories of adventure, determination and skill
are of appeal. Excerpts from some of his early writings follow:
"Once Jay and his young associate, Peter Dunsford, heard more of the story and saw my preliminary plans, their
eyes lit up and they were tossing ideas back and forth a mile a minute. They were enjoying themselves. I sat
there fascinated. Realizing that this might have been the last time I could go custom with a boat, I wanted to
go all the way: all wood, with lots of varnish and bronze, tan bark sails, etc. I had been thinking in terms
of single carvel or strip planking for the hull, but Jay immediately informed me that for my size vessel, these
were too heavy a medium, and we'd have to go with a cold molding method...Well, we talked for a few hours that
day, and I was very pleased when Jay agreed to start work on the design even though he said it would take about
three months by trying to squeeze it in with other work."
After a slow trip across the Gulf Stream for a shakedown cruise to the Bahamas, and a holiday there, Howard sent us
another report: "The trip back across the Stream was a very quick one, just under 12 hours. We were surfing about
half of the way back, and averaged a little over five knots!"...
"By March, 1978, the design was completed, and as you can see, Happy turned out really nice. Jay did a fine job.
I think he really enjoyed himself on this one, as she's a little out of the ordinary, and that's his bag really."
"With the 8 hp diesel engine I installed and plenty of plywood (there are bins and drawers in every available space),
Happy really gained some weight, and is now about 2500 to 2600 pounds."...
"I found that, for her size, Happy is pretty stable, and I could walk around on her deck without heeling too
After sailing 10,000 miles from Miami, Florida, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific, touching at the
Galapagos, Marquesas, Fiji, Tahiti and on towards Australia, he touched a little too hard on a reef off Noumea, New
Caledonia. There, towards the end of November 1982, the beautiful Happy was lost, an hour before Howard was
due on watch in the early hours before dawn. Howard was able to scramble into his dinghy and surfed his way over a
number of treacherous reefs (spending the night on the overturned hulk of a steel wreck), landing in Noumea the next
day. Friends he'd met in the Marquesas took him back to Happy to salvage all possible gear, but she was
otherwise a complete loss.
However, Howard Wayne Smith was a determined adventurer. With the aid of an aluminum builder in Noumea, he put
together yet another miniature offshore yacht. Economics and record-breaking tables ever in mind, the Happy II came
from our drawing boards at 9 1/2 feet. Howard felt that his most-used space on the 13' 10" Happy was really the
equivalent of the space he had available in the smaller vessel. He had to mainly forego stores-carrying ability and
This vessel was built, with the stern fore-shortened to make her under nine feet long and he sailed her to Australia.
There he had a series of misadventures with the Australian Customs and lost her to them. At that point, thoroughly
frustrated, Howard returned to Toronto, setting aside his plans to complete the voyaging.
|Length overall||13'-10"||4.22 m|
|Length designed waterline||13'-8"||4.17 m|
|Raised deck||3'-35/8"||1.01 m|
|Displacement, cruising trim||2,240 lbs.||1,016 kg.|
|Displacement-length ratio||392|| |
|Ballast||750 lbs.||340 kg.|
|Ballast ratio||33%|| |
|Sail area, square feet||180||16.72 sq. m|
|Sail area-displacement ratio||16.82|| |
|Wetted Surface||84.4 sq. ft.||7.84 sq. m|
|Sail area/wetted surface ratio||2.13|| |
|Prismatic coefficient||.55|| |
|Pounds per inch immersion||285||50.9 kg./cm|
|Entrance half-angle||28°|| |
*CAUTION: The displacement quoted here is for the boat in cruising trim. That is, with the fuel and water
tanks filled, the crew on board, as well as the crews' gear and stores in the lockers. This should not be confused with
the "shipping weight" often quoted as "displacement" by some manufacturers. This should be taken into account when
comparing figures and ratios between this and other designs.