“Once Upon a Time In the West” — The Mercury Class

We all started boating in some boat or another.  For me, it was sailing and racing Turnabouts in Maine and Mercuries in California.  They each deserve their own post.  Today, I’ll start with the Mercuries.


(Photos, sail plan courtesy Mercury Class YRA)

What’s a Mercury, you ask?  From their website:

“A practical boat for all weather sailing…at a moderate price is just as true today as it was in the early 1940’s when Ernest Nunes was advertising his new Mercury design in Sausalito, California. Designed for the rugged conditions of San Francisco Bay in summer, the Mercury proved to be equally at home in the very light air of Carmel. As a result of this versatility, the Mercury is found up and down the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Seattle including several lakes and rivers. The popularity of the class in part stems from the original Nunes idea that the boat should be simple in design so that anyone could build one. In fact, the original Mercury could be purchased as a plywood kit for home assembly, partially assembled waiting to be finished, or complete and ready to sail. To this day plans are available from the Association for the home builder.”


Her specs:

Description: Two person sloop

Length: 18 feet

LWL: 13 feet, Beam: 5 feet, 4 inches

Weight less spars and loose gear: 1100 lbs. min.

Lead Keel: Not to exceed 635 pounds

Spars: Aluminum or wood

Mast height from deck: 24 feet, 6 inches

Boom: 9 Feet, 5 inches maximum

Total Sail Area: 200 square feet

Jib: 65 square feet

Main: 135 square feet

Designer: Ernest Nunes, Nunes Brothers Boat Works, Sausalito, California

Hull #1 launched 1939

What’s impressive about this design is that the class is still very active.  She was a fun boat to learn to sail in, no blazing speed or unmannerly habits.  Being a kids’ class boat in our harbor meant there was always a bit of “bumper boating” going on.

Here’s a link to some of her plans for ply construction:  http://www.mercury-sail.com/index.php/mcyra-info/plans


So if you’re looking for a practical time-tested design to build for yourself, or to explore further, I commend the Mercury to you.


I’m sorry for the delay today:  The host for our server has been down.  And last week, I was at the Teaching With Small Boats conference.  A great time!

Thanks, Carl

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