“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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Pyladian 31

Pyladian 31


(Renderings courtesy Devlinboat.com)

This is a design — and build — from Sam Devlin in Tumwater, WA, US.

She’s a recent design from Sam, and I confess to liking her.  Then again, I’m on a kind of powerboat kick at the moment.  Her launching is scheduled for late 2013.

The Pyladian is a smaller version on Sam’s 33′ Storm Petrel.  Here are Pyladian’s specs:


Length: 30ft 6in (9.3m)
Beam: 9ft 3in (2.82m)
Draft: 2ft 7in (.79m)
Displacement: 9,200 lbs (4,173 kg)

Power: 300 HP Yanmar 6LPA-STC diesel

Hull type: Semi-displacement

Speed: 20 knots cruising; 26-28 knots top speed

Hull plating: Cold-molded marine plywood; stitch and glue

Here is her design brief:

“[A] couple.. was looking for a commuter boat to run from Vancouver Island, specifically Sydney, British Columbia, to their island home located about 34 miles north in the Canadian Gulf Islands. They needed her to be able to make good and economical speed so that they could spend their time on the island not just going back and forth to it. The boat needed to be able to handle anything from a few groceries to large units of wood, fuel, and all the myriad of items necessary for comfortable island life. The weather would not always be compatible to this lifestyle and so the vessel would need to be able to handle the weather in whatever form that would be presented to it.

With those requirements set down, I had no hesitation in recommending the Storm Petrel type hull as a good model to choose from. But the customers wanted a single diesel (not the twin diesels that the Storm Petrel had) and needed the potential for more speed than the Storm Petrel boat had so the Yanmar 6LPA was chosen. With 300 horses under her engine box, the hull should top speed out at about 26-28 knots and cruise at 20 knots without difficulty. With the single diesel layout, the cabin changes considerably in its layout and in the potential layout options for the customers. De-emphasized was the need for berthing and a galley with those being way down on the list of priorities and moving up on the list was the need for handling tough waters at all times of the year and keeping a load of people warm and dry while being transported to the island for a visit.”

Pyladian 31B


Sam Devlin is a very diverse designer and builder.  I’d love to hear from those of you who have built or bought one of boats.  I am thinking of building his 5X10 skiff at WoodenBoat’s Family BoatBuilding during the WoodenBoat Show next June.




For more information on the Pyladian 31; please go here:


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