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 Trekka.

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 hatch.

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."

"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 much."...
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!"...

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 speed.

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 overall13'-10"4.22 m
Length designed waterline13'-8"4.17 m
Beam6'-3"1.91 m
Draft3'-7"1.09 m
Freeboard:Forward3'-1"0.94 m
Raised deck3'-35/8"1.01 m
Aft2'-4"0.72 m
Displacement, cruising trim2,240 lbs.1,016 kg.
Displacement-length ratio392 
Ballast750 lbs.340 kg.
Ballast ratio33% 
Sail area, square feet18016.72 sq. m
Sail area-displacement ratio16.82 
Wetted Surface84.4 sq. ft.7.84 sq. m
Sail area/wetted surface ratio2.13 
Prismatic coefficient.55 
Pounds per inch immersion28550.9 kg./cm
Entrance half-angle28 
Headroom4'-10"1.49 m

*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.

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