Monday, April 18, 2011

Skipper 14; What the Heck is That Paul?

Around the beginning of March, I got a call from Paul Weiss, another International 14 buddy from the 1970's - 1980's who I haven't heard from in a while. We worked together on an International 14 design in the late 1970's (truth be told - it was more Paul's design in the final version). Paul was working with some nascent computer hull design software for the Navy (on some ancient hardware - maybe a VAX.... talked to Paul and he said it was a PDP which was DEC's earliest high end computer) and I would wager this International 14 was probably the first dinghy to be designed by a computer. We would build cardboard models from scaled hull panels drawn out by the computer (this was a multichine plywood design). Paul eventually built the Weismin Mk1 which turned out to be very good in light air, not so good in a breeze.

Well, Paul (and wife Gerri) invited me and the missus over for a St. Paddie's day ham and cabbage dinner and I took a look at Paul's latest Craigslist freebie boat project. Paul told me over the phone that he had picked up a Skipper 14 for free. There are probably ten people in the U.S who know what a Skipper 14 is and I'm one of them. You see, my Auntie Doris knew of my love of sailing and sent me the English "Yachts and Yachting" magazine throughout my teenage years. As a result, I'm more knowledgeable about English dinghy classes than I am about American classes. And I've always felt the Skipper 14 was a superb multi-purpose dinghy design, though small by American tastes (we like our 19 foot Flying Scot's).

The Skipper 14 was designed by Peter Milne in the early 1970's (Peter Milne being the designer of the very popular Fireball dinghy) and was built in England by Richmond Marine. The Skipper 14 featured deep freeboard with a very complex deck molding for that period, lots of fancy molded wells and seats. Paul is currently hard at work on his Skipper 14 replacing various rotten plywood bits but I expect this one will get in the water sometime this summer. Hopefully I will have a sailing report later on.

Here is a photo of the fancy molded deck layout of the Skipper 14 which I've lifted from the Internet;

And here is Paul's project Skipper 14, safely ensconced in the garage, serving as a storage holder for a stuffed hammerhead shark!

Let's go to the videotape. This Skipper 14 is rigged like Paul's; a single gunter mainsail on a mast that slots into mast tube on the hull (there was a sloop version available for more power).........

Back in the 90's, I took a kayak tour on Elkhorn Slough, off Monterey Bay, California, and came across another Skipper 14 launching off a public launch ramp.... so I know now of at least two in the U.S.


doryman said...

So sorry to say - the Skipper looks for all the world like a hot-tub. Mmmmm maybe there is a million dollar idea in there somewhere...?

So you must know of the Enterprise? I have one in my boatyard, but don't know much about it.


Tweezerman said...

Enterprise, two man dinghy designed by Jack Holt in the late 50's, a plywood three planker per side. About the same length as a Laser. Class requires blue sailcloth in the sails. Large main, small jib, no spinnaker, planes really fast, roll tacks in a dime. In the 60's and 70's the Enterprise was considered one of England's national classes, you could find a fleet almost anywhere in the UK. Doryman, when you get her going, I think you will find the Enterprise a very sprightly sailing dinghy.
(Now let me go to Wikipedia and see how much I've got wrong)

Savannah Sparrow said...

Tweezerman, I just came across this post while doing research on the Skipper 14 that my grandparents own. They bought it in the 70s, and I've grown up sailing in it on a lake in Maine. This boat is perfectly sized for our lake (enough water, but not a huge lake). So there's another US Skipper 14 to add to your list. :-) Did Paul's ever make it on to the water?

Tweezerman said...

Mr. S. Sparrow,

I was over Paul's house this summer. Unfortunately not enough progress to have a launching. I did get an interesting lesson on LED lighting strips which he and his son were putting up around the cabinets surrounding the stove.

Please contact me through my profile email and send pictures. I think the Skipper 14 is an excellent design, well suited to smaller lakes.

JPH said...

I have a Yellow Skipper 14 on Moosehead Lake Maine.

Anonymous said...

I have a Skipper 14 in St Louis, Mo. It is for sale to someone who would use it and appreciate how rare they are in the US.

picklejuice said...

Just picked up a blue skipper 14 with the original seagul motor. Trying to figure out how to set it up, bought it with all rigging just thrown in the boat. Anyone up to making a video of the set up. Lots of strange looking parts that I've never seen on a sail boat.

Tweezerman said...


Last time I checked with Paul he hadn't got the Skipper 14 into the water so I'm not sure we could be any help. You could check my profile and send me an email with specific questions.

Anonymous said...

Hi, picking up my Skipper 14 today! Looking for any info on the sailplan - the rigging will be missing parts and sails. I tried searching for it and didn't get much more than site. I have a 5hp Gamefisher that I plan on usuing in the immediate future but would like to setup the rig for sailing in the harbor with my kids. I will be a while before my Irwin 37 is in the water. Thanks in advance! Alex.