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Unconventional Craft, Part 1

“People who do not know that a sailboat is a living creature will never understand anything about boats and the sea.”  — Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way

Every now and then, readers send us photos of unconventional, custom-built  vessels.

Tom Dougherty snapped this photo of a vessel apparently named Tin Can in the Mare Island Strait in February.
© 2019 Tom Dougherty

These boats don’t just break the mold, they redefine it altogether.

“Here’s our homebuilt trimaran,” wrote Luke Pratten. “It’s an Australian surf-rescue rowing boat bolted to a Hobie 16. It’s our first attempt at a boat build; we managed 12 knots on a 10-15-knot day.”
© 2019 Luke Pratten

Sometimes, home builds can cross a line — or rather, the builder and sailor does something that causes the community to take pause and say, “Hey . . .”

In the early ’90s, Latitude “inadvertently” intervened in the proposed voyage of Signal of Peace, a self-designed craft built by a man with no sailing experience. In 1992, after we notified the Coast Guard, the boat was declared Manifestly Unsafe for Voyage. We admire the spirit of building something different, but there is no substitute for the years of experience required to attain good seamanship.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC /

We live be the phrase, “Whatever floats your boat.” If you’re seaworthy, safe, and a good dockmate, then we consider you part of the Latitude Nation. We do not judge, we only celebrate innovation and outside-the-box thinking. On Monday, we’ll bring you news of an exciting, mold-redefining project with a serious Bay Area pedigree.

For now, we’re wondering — as we always do — what kind of unconventional craft you’ve encountered over the years. Please send the pictures to [email protected], or comment below.

1 Comment

  1. Wayne 5 years ago

    I am not making this up. As I remember, some thirty or forty years ago a guy in Southern California designed and built a vessel to go sailing in. A newspaper reported it to be bucket shaped, with a sixteen foot chain hanging off the bottom and a large weight attached as ballast. I don’t remember any mention of a rudder. It was launched, somehow, and drifted into the surf of a nearby beach, where it anchored itself.

    There’s a saying among businessmen: The innovator always takes the bath.

    I wonder if his next effort was that boat in your last picture, with a salad bowl covering a hole in the bow?

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