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Past Designs by the Author


Hi Mike.    Thanks for all the great design info you are sharing.   As you seem to think somewhat more outside the box than most, my New Year question to you is:    What other boats have you designed over your life of doing this, and can you please share a little about them ?         

Thanks. Tim B, CA


Well, you had me scratching around to find some info,  but having dug back into old photo files, I now have this I can share that I hope will interest some readers.   And thanks for the question as it was fun to take 'a trip down memory lane', as many of these were decades ago so brought back fond memories of times past as we head forward into the unknown of 2021.    (Work on various wing masts and boat gadgets, is not included).


FIRST, for those less interested in details, here’s a list with minimal info.   (But for those interested, more info is available in a PDF that I will attach below).

Pixie  8ft pram   (1952)

Designed at 17.  My first use of ‘Simpsons Rule’ to calculate displacement volume.      Boat was built by a work colleague of my father, who said ‘it felt stable and rowed great ’.    Had a rear skeg with a hand grip incorporated.  Designed and built prior to common use of glues for boatbuilding.  (for explanation of Simpson's Rule ...go here).


Venturer 14ft cruising dinghy  (1952)

Mahogany and oak frames made in final year at high school.  Completed in 1953.  Double chine boat, somewhat like a smaller Wayfarer, but with a straighter stem and less keel rocker.     Deck seats fitted (to hide coaming) for more sitting-out comfort.  Case and rudder also of solid mahogany.    


Flying Moth, International Moth boat, Mk l, ll, lll  (1953-62) 

Started UK company Single Handed Products to build these …exhibited at London International Boat Show (Earls Court) in 1955 where orders for 12 were taken.   Developed building system to incorporate side buoyancy tanks with perfect joints.

28 built in all, including one Mark lll (Crew Cut) with an unstayed mast like the OK or Finn Dinghy.   This Mark lll also included a variable attack centerboard (1962)  (MW-023)


Flying Wing 24-29ft catamaran, concept only  (1958) 

Hybrid construction with a semi-circular fiberglass underwater ‘shoe’ with rabbeted sides.   Hinged down the middle for folding on trailer.


Flying Gnat  12.5ft    (1958)   Original construction and mast (MW-007)

Basically the latest Flying Moth model with an added 18” for a separate helmsman’s cockpit aft of a self-draining crew space, reminiscent of the YW Hornet.


Fisherman  12ft (1961)

This light, plywood sharpie was designed and built under a contract accepted by Kitcraft of Canada*, founded by the designer in 1960.   The boat was designed to be either rowed or motored and also have built-in compartments for both bait and caught fish.  These were built-in under the rear thwart.   *The company died early as I learned no one in Quebec, Canada wanted KITs in the '60's, only complete boats.


Mosquito  11ft  (1972)

This was designed to be easily and inexpensively built as a project for the designers' 12 year-old daughter.  Built from 3 sheets of 3mm birch plywood, this 11ft sailboat was a stitch and glue boat using wires, polyester resin and automobile body-filler for the joints.  PU foam sheets were bonded to the floor to stiffen the ply to create a system subsequently named Plifoam.  My daughter christened her boat 'The Sting' ... ( she was also a Paul Newman fan ;)


Flying Spray  14ft motor runabout  (1958) 

This hard chine boat featured a low, revised chine line and a cambered bottom with a small reverse lip at the chine for more efficient planing.  The boat proved able to tow two water-skiers with a 25 hp Evinrude.


Micmac canoe 15ft  (1979)

This canoe was designed for my son to build, also at 12, and was also built with the Plifoam system using 3mm birch ply plus PU foam and polyester resin and filler, but lasted way longer than the earlier Mosquito due to a layer of glass cloth over the floor foam to seal it in from water intrusion.  When the canoe was finally cutup and scrapped some 26 years after being built, the joints made of CSM, polyester resin & body-filler were still 100% sound but the 3mm birch ply it was once joining, had totally rotted away.


Canadian Beaver 13.5ft family dinghy   (8 built)   (~1975)

This boat was specifically designed for members of a newly formed Richelieu Sailing Club, located at that time on the St Lawrence River near the mouth of the Richelieu at Tracy, Quebec.

The boat was to be able to be sailed alone but also sometimes carry a family of 4.  The rig was simple with a mainsail rig on a Finn-like flexible, tapered, unstayed mast of spruce.   She was of round-bilge design with hull shells produced in fiberglass by a Seaway Plastics of Montreal.  However, the prototype was built using plywood with two small strakes at the bilge, creating a very attractive form, similar to the British Osprey that is longer at 17ft.


W22 trimaran   (1 built, 4 others building   (2008)

After a 28 year gap in small boat designing, during which time I switched interest, ownership and experience to several multihulls, I was persuaded to design a small version of my fast 25ft demountable Dragonfly “Magic Hempel”, and this W22 would also sport a rotating wingmast.  The prototype was finally built in Belgium in foam-core and then trailed to Portugal    Other boats are now building in Europe and Australia.


W17 trimaran   (~20 built so far, but many more building)  (2009)

Currently the most popular design, this trimaran was developed and built for the designers personal use and incorporates many unique and desirable features, including much design knowledge accumulated over many years of study and sailing.     Numerous plans have been sold into 33 countries and the boat is receiving fine reviews from those who have sailed her.    See more at the W17 Main Page


W32 - conceptual only so far   (2015)

After experiencing the advantages of the simple box mainhull form and asymmetrical amas of the W17, it was realized that a larger cruising trimaran could also benefit from these features.     So a center-cockpit design is slowly developing that will be based on high safety, sea kindliness as well as show excellent upwind performance, all with a rig that can be easily handling by the solo sailor.   She will be foldable using a swing-arm system


Hourglass dinghy (10ft Snuggy) for the elderly  (2018)

After noting the unsuitability of conventional pram dinghies as tenders to go from the dock to larger moored boats to disembark personnel and supplies, a new concept was born.  This small tender lays close to the side of the master vessel, offering increased safety and ease of use.


W19 trimaran      (2020)  building 2021-2

This is a 20ft version of the W17, designed specifically for those wishing to sail, camp, race solo in RAID events. She sports a single enclosed berth, a swing-arm folding system and extended sail plan for competitive performance in all conditions.  Prototype presently under construction (2021).   For a Sail Plan, go to Small Boat Designs by Mike Waters. PDF linked below and Scroll Down.


W8 pram  

New design developed during Covid (2020) that incorporates a Sea-Sled bow.   Planned owner changed requirements so the W-Scow was developed to replace the W8.


W-Scow 12ft    (building)    (2020)

A small, car-topable boat designed to do everything acceptably well, so ideal for those still not sure which form of boating they really want to get into. For sailing, motoring, fishing, rowing, picnicking and pottering.

Added January 2022:  This 'Do-Everything-Well' boat is now complete except for the sail.   As the CBC (Cdn Broadcasting Co) thought this was a pretty cool COVID-isolation project, they decided to come and film the launching and it was televised coast-to-coast across Canada on Nov 7th 2021.  See their website story here:  Launching of the W-Scow "Corona"



For those interested in more details of these designs accompanied by a few sketches and photos, you’re invited to revue this 8-page PDF file that gives a little more detail.   Enjoy and tell me what you like, or even, what you don't ;)

Small boat designs by Mike Waters .. PDF

But as most now know, I spent over 30 years designing SHIPS not small boats, so just for some perspective, here is my last one.  One of four 600ft cargo liners for Polish Ocean Lines delivered in the 1980’s, but now apparently all 'retired from active duty' (ie: scrapped!).   Such is the short 35 year life of most commercial steel vessels, in part due to out-dated systems.

By extreme, and somewhat comic, comparison, this example of one of my plywood Mk.ll Flying Moths that we built in our truly medieval workplace** at Netley Abbey, UK in the early 1950’s, was recently discovered in remarkably good structural shape and then lovingly refinished.  Now over 65 years old, she’s again racing against other vintage dinghies in the UK.   Give me wood over steel anytime ;)    .** For about 3 years, 3 of us 20 year olds with our start-up 'Singlehanded Products', got permission to set up a couple of boat building stations under one of the only areas which still had a roof in the abandoned Abbey.  There were no doors, just stone Gothic arches, so it was pretty damp and breezy as I remember, but 'an adventure' for us nevertheless.  Some years later the Abbey came under the English Heritage Group, and they permitted Shakespeare plays to be performed on the grounds in the late 1900's.  It has long been a site for the romantically inclined artists, and author Jane Austen was just one who was often seen there.


In passing, I also played with sailboard design in the 70’s and 80’s, so in case this still interests anyone, here is ....



In the 1970’s,  a neighbor turned up with one of the early Windsurfers .. that flat, overly flexible polyethylene board that looked more like a squashed whale.     He was a college football player, but still never got the hang of it, unsuccessfully trying brawn over brains.   I borrowed it just once but decided the board was WAY too flexible and shapeless, so I designed and built one of 3mm ply and foam that I called Razor l.      As my 14yr old son  also wanted one, Razor ll soon followed and we pushed each other to get better.   These Boards (later called long-boards) were then in two divisions …all the same max length (~12ft) and minimum weight (42lbs) but Div 1 was limited to ~ 125 depth and Div ll was deeper .. limited to ~200 mm.   The difference between the two was magical.  The Div ll boards were stiffer of course but also had more buoyancy and could be sailed upwind very efficiently.  Probably, the Div 1 boards planed faster, but the sprightly upwind performance of the Div ll more than made up for it, despite being a real challenge downwind.    With a more rounded ‘boat’ shape, they were way better in light winds even if less stable.   One of the first Div ll boards to hit North America came from Europe called Speedy Carrera, with an epoxy fiberglass skin over a solid PU foam core. … but then followed hollow, stiffer models with some very sophisticated composite hulls by Crit (French), Davidson (Swedish) etc  that were faster again.    As new boards became available, the older ones were available cheap, so I bought two of the early Swiss-made Div ll Carrera’s and sailed one frequently.  In the 80’s I was persuaded (in my early 50’s) to enter the first World Masters Games in Toronto, where we were all given brand new bubble-wrapped Mistral boards and Neil Pryde sails to race on equal terms.  It was a Div 1 board though which I found ‘dead’ compared to my beloved Div ll board.   (I managed to medal in the long distance race, sailing in 'lightish' winds that favored my 'lightish' weight, chasing a very fast Mexican who had been sailing 365 days of the year ;)  

In the mid 80’s, I was approached to design a new Div 1 board for a small Montreal company (FM Sports) and thought this would be a fun challenge.   Starting with my two Razor designs, I made some tweaks and then tested 5 boards of different shapes, by setting up a towing system at the side of a motorboat, with a calibrated spring to record the resistance, while carrying a large cement block that represented a 150 lb sailor.   It was crude but indicated that my new design would be almost as fast as my Div 2 board, so the company made moulds for this new Challenger 99 and exhibited her at the '85 Montreal Boat Show (see photos).  This Challenger 99 had more of a boat shaped bow, with a unique roll-down at the exterior edges to keep spray down and add to lift, as sailing the Razor designs before,  was like sailing in a fire hose at speed ;)

(In retrospect, she looked not unlike Emirates current AC75 hull in miniature ... haha ;)

I got a smile after the Montreal chapter of the Society of Naval Architects heard about my sailboard tests and asked me to present a paper on the subject. This I did in March 1985 so I guess the New York SNAME office must now have a copy of that stashed away in their archives ;).    I also drew up the lines for a new Div ll board, based on tweaks to my Carrera board .., a model that I called Olympia, the lines plan of which still hangs on my office wall, even if she was never built.  I had planned to build her with foam strips, but my interest waned after the Challenger project died when the parent industrial company behind FM Sports filed for bankruptcy.

FOOTNOTE on sailboard history in the Olympics

Although a Div l Windglider was used in the 1984 Olympics, an Austrian Lechner Div ll board was used in 1988 and 1992.   A European Mistral One Design was then used in 1996, 2000 and 2004 but by then, the sailboard was sadly becoming history in North America, with less and less regional racing.  In fact, I thought 2012 was the last time Olympic sailboarding was held but I now see that’s not correct.  A new hybrid Neil Pryde RS.X Design was introduced in 2008 and is still scheduled to be raced in the postponed 2020 -> 2021 Olympics in Japan!     Sailboarding is still quite strong in Europe with several Championships being held annually.   Today, the sails have become far more sophisticated and powerful, while the hulls are of a simpler,  flatter type that with these new wingsails, can now even plane upwind.  

For those who have never sail-boarded … you missed out on something special.

Some would even claim that you’re not a real sailor until you have mastered at least the basics of sailboarding.    Why is this ?

Well, to start with, a sailboard is a board without a fixed mast or a rudder !    That already sounds pretty bizarre, no?   But now, the essential connection between sail and board is your body!  Your two hands and two feet make the critical connection between sail and board, through their connection to your torso.

In addition, you bring the sail effort more over your head, so that there is a strong lift component .. like a birds' wing when gliding.  This way, the load on the water becomes less and your forward resistance drops, giving added speed.

You learn exactly how to balance the center of wind effort, in line with the center of board resistance with minute changes in the hand and foot loads and are thus able to steer wherever you wish to go without any mechanical means other than your own body and limbs.  Ordinary boat sailing with a wheel is NOTHING like this and even though a tiller is a little closer, it’s still not the same.   A sailboard is steered with your torso .. nothing else is needed .. and after a while, it becomes as natural as walking your body weight around a corner on your two feet. … and I am sure you no longer think about how to do that ;)      Try it if you ever get a chance.   It's sailing the elements at a whole different level.

mike ... January 2021.


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