I may have mentioned before how much I like Phil Bolger’s Jessie Cooper design. If you are looking for a VolksCruising design that gives you maximum bang for minimum bucks that is buildable in a short time frame, you’d have a difficult time finding better…
That said, it’s not exactly an easy boat for most people to understand being just that bit further out of the box design-wise, so there is a WTF or two for anyone checking it out.
For instance, both the mainmast and mizzen are off center, there’s only one dagger board (off center as well), and the boat only draws a foot. To say those attributes drive some people batshit crazy is something of an understatement.
The fact is, we built our Jessie Cooper for a special short term purpose. We had no thoughts of keeping it long term so we built it as a temporary boat. I’ll be the first to admit that I was as surprised as anyone when it turned out to sail incredibly well and, as a result, made me rethink everything I took as gospel where boat design is concerned.
Those off-center masts were non-problematic; never causing us to sail in circles as some opinionated dockwalkers said they would and, more to the point, they were actually advantageous in making a small boat’s interior much bigger than it had any right to be. The lug rig (also something that made some people froth at the mouth) was powerful and although the sail on the mast on the bad tack distorted the sail shape, the difference in drive between the good/bad tack was not enough to actually measure a positive or negative difference in drive or tack angle to windward.
Pretty much the same could be said for the off-center daggerboard… While I’m sure there was a tiny difference to windward and, just possibly a kiss more leeward drift on one tack, I never actually found it problematic enough to be able to measure said difference. I’ve come to believe that a dozen or so square inches of lateral resistance is well within the mind’s subconscious ability to self-correct as you trim sails and steer your course to the point that it really is a no-brainer.
As far as the one foot draft goes, once you’ve experienced the varied joys of real shoal draft cruising you’ll never want to go back to anything else.
Some more on what I’d change if I were to build a Jessie Cooper with the addition of some hindsight soonish…