An Improved Meerkat!

by John MacBeath Watkins

I've been messing about preparing Meerkat for this season's sailing, but I've also been mousing about in Freeship/Delphtship working on an improved Meerkat.

The new design is inspired by the fact that I've discovered a cheap source of good new sails. Intensity Sails advertises a Laser 4.7 practice sail for $125, which is less than I paid for the awful rag of an El Toro sail I designed Meerkat around. It's about 10 square feet more sail area. To make Meerkat fast with a small sail, I designed most of the stability out of it. The Meerkat 2.0 is more stable, has a flatter run, and is a foot longer, so that it's more practical to bring a companion with you when sailing.

The mast has to be farther forward to make the rig balance with the short hull, so if the boat has a foredeck the mast will step through it. I'm thinking the boat can be built lighter by omitting the air tanks and relying on flotation bags.

Although the new Meerkat is a foot longer, it's still designed to fit in the back of my little Nissan pickup truck, so it's only 4 feet wide.

I might also switch to a daggerboard to save weight, although I must say, the combination of a barn-door rudder on a skeg and a centerboard is quite nice for working off a beach.

The boat still has a flat bottom and slack bilges, based on the same faceted midsection I used on the original, but the run is straighter and the deflection angle of the bilge panels is less, so this one could be prompted to plane with a light crew and a good wind.

I think this design would be better for the novice sailor, relying more on initial stability than on crew reactions as in the original.




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