Al's 26, a Pilothouse Sloop
Objective of the design
Al's 26 is designed for cruising the coastal waters between Puget Sound and Alaska. I specifically wanted a simple rig, small enough so that the required ground tackle would not require a windlass and sails small enough to be easily handled by myself in all weather. I wanted a vee berth, one quarter berth, davits for a dinghy, a small diesel, and the ability to sail windward in any weather. The pilothouse is just large enough to allow standing room at the inside steering station, the galley and the head. Freeboard is low, so there isn't a whole lot of volume inside, and the pilothouse is narrow to provide plenty of space on deck.
This is wood epoxy construction, a combination of strip building and cold molding. I chose to build the hull upside down and to plank over temporary molds. This makes it easier and quicker to get the planking started but results in added work later on, (About 500 hours as I discovered later) installing in the frames as they have to be fitted to the hull.
History of the design
My fondness for wooden boats goes back to early childhood so a wooden boat is a dream of long standing. I looked at several older wooden boats, but I couldn't find a small one that had the comfort of a pilothouse for sailing in wet weather. After several years I had reviewed hundreds of plans from every source I could find. I bought dozens of books, study plans, and catalogs, and even built two small boats, just to get the feel of building in epoxy. I finally met up with Nate Smith, at ACCUMAR in Poulsbo, WA and explained my dream. Nate showed me all their smaller designs and one really caught my eye. It was a 22 foot pilothouse gaff rigged sailboat with great character designed by Scott Sprague. I later met with Scott and explained my fantasy of building the boat in my garage and keeping it moored on the tide flat in front of our house. Scott became fascinated with the idea of a small bilge keeled pilothouse, and did sketches for Al's 24.
It had the right character but I was disappointed that there was no room to stand in the head, which ended up under the vee berth, so Scott started over and stretched the design and it became Al's 26. By this time, it was too wide to fit through the garage doors, so he slimmed her down, which meant redrawing all the lines. Then my planking lumber arrived and I had a chance to realize how crowded building a boat this size in my garage would be. So I started designing a shop which I built on our property over the next year. Meanwhile Scott finished the plans, and I started having second thoughts about the reality of keeping a boat on our beach, and the structural aspects of building a cold molded twin keel hull. Once again, Scott got out his eraser and redrew her with a single keel. By this time I was completely satisfied.
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