West Wight Potter


A Big Little Cruiser

by George Radzykewycz
Illustration by Marya Butler fins_n_feathers@hotmail.com

Small Boat Journal #59, February/March 1988

After owning seven sailboats, including a large, swing keel trailer/sailer and a permanently moored keelboat, my wife and I concluded that to really enjoy sailing, we needed a boat that was easy to launch and recover, light enough for trailering, and that could be rigged in 10 to 15 minutes. We therefore chose a 14-foot West Wight Potter (see SBJ #41). However, in order to enjoy this small boat to the fullest, I decided to add some features to make it more comfortable.

With such a small cabin, most of the work was limited to the exterior. Nevertheless, I was able to make a number of useful modifications inside. For example, I hung a gimballed stove from the cabin roof forward of the hatch. It is shielded from the wind and used from the cockpit. For storage, I added cloth pouches along both sides of the cabin, shelves with teak rails under the forward window, and plastic book pockets to the bulkhead. In addition, I found room for storage bins under the bridge on each side of the centerboard. My fire extinguisher mounts to the centerboard trunk, my barometer attaches to a corner of the cabin, and my compass mounts between the forward shelves.

Crowning Glory

The crowning glory of the modification came with the addition of a mast pulpit. The rail is like a bow pulpit, but is 12 inches high and just fits on top of the cabin roof. This rail provides great security while going forward and is easy to step over. It also provides strong points for attachment of the awning (a plastic tarp), which together with the boom and two short struts at the aft end produces a spacious protected interior at anchor.

Another modification was adding a bowsprit. Made of a 17-inch-long, 7-inch-wide teak board which tapers to 5 inches forward, it is cut out to fit around the bow above the rubrail. It is attached to the bow with two -by-b-inch-long bars and stiffened by an oval -by-3/8-inch aluminum brace 15 inches long. This bowsprit makes a handy anchor storage place, and looks good, too. By the way, this makes my boat a 15 footer!

Additions to the rigging included a topping lift, reefing hardware, spinnaker, storm jib, and related lines and hardware, such as storm jib sheet leads on the cabintop. Whether factory-installed or additional, all hardware subject to stress was backed by fender washers. For self-steering, I devised a capstan drum connected to the tiller snubbing lines, which looped around the rails and tied off to a jam cleat on the tiller. This simple arrangement provides for infinite rudder adjustment.

I made many other modifications, such as adding amber and red reflectors in strategic locations around the boat to be better visible on the road and when anchored, sealing the ends of the mast and boom with canned spray foam, adding safety lanyards to vent and hatch covers, adding flotation fore and aft, installing a 2-inch-diameter PVC fishing pole holder on the outboard bracket, cutting cubbyholes in the cockpit back rests (backed with boxes for watertightness), fitting a fabric pocket for mainsheet storage, and many more.