The Life of Boats

By John C. Harris
December 2013

On a rainy and strangely warm Sunday in December 2013, we launched a matched pair of the Harris-designed Outrigger Junior designs. Look for kits and plans in May.  Here's a link to more background on the boat, including construction details.

While we were lucky for a warm day, it was raining heavily at times so the photos have a decidedly gray cast. Many thanks to Joey Schott, Austin Johntra, and Jeff Sawyer for braving the weather for this photo shoot!

Half-asleep when I posted the first set of photos, I note a bias towards port tack shots. I've added a bunch of starboard tack shots. Joey and I both felt like the boat was, if anything, faster on starboard tack, though the difference is not pronounced. The amas displace over 200% of the all-up weight of the boat WITH crew, so you're not going to bury them.


Simple lashings hold the crossbeams to the main hull. Much stronger than bolts!

The bench seats are also lashed on. Wooden tabs under the beams ensure that things can't slide around.

Rigged and ready for launch.

A fast tow down the Wye River.


We sailed for about two hours. My reaction is that the boats are fast and docile. With that long boom I wasn't sure exactly what to expect in terms of helm feel. In fact, two fingers were all you needed on the tiller. They seem perfectly "hung."

That's Brian Billick's house, by the way. 


We realized early on that a 2:1 downhaul was needed! That did the trick.

It poured rain during much of the photo shoot. At least it wasn't too cold!

Douglas Fowler did his usual first-class job on the sails. These were extra tricky because of the bendy boom and yard. If I hadn't dead-ended the halyard in a sail grommet there'd be no wrinkles at all---quite an achievement.

Yeah, okay, so the flying-a-hull thing. It was irresistible in front of the photographer, because it was so easy to do under complete control. After an hour or so of sailing, Joey and I found we could adjust the height of the ama on port tack minutely. It was also clear that flying a hull was not at all the fastest sailing. But fun!


Ideally the ama just skims the surface, like this. Light adjustments of the mainsheet, or just bearing off a little, is all it takes to get her flat.

But yeah, it's as fun as it looks.

Winds were 8-14 knots during the test sail. I didn't have a GPS in hand this time, but the chase boat said we were doing 8-10 knots. I know the boat felt like it had a lot more speed in it! Looking forward to more trials in bigger wind.

Here's me getting back into the swing of the dinghy-racer hiking-stick-and-mainsheet-handoff while tacking.


The boat's ergonomics are fantastic. Much better than a Hobie Cat and that ilk. If the rain had stopped I'd have sailed all day! Trampolines would be nice to keep the tail of the mainsheet out of the water, though.

I like how the yard curves down to terminate just above the stem. The sailplan looks (and feels) very shipshape to me.

The only thing more fun than one Outrigger Junior is TWO Outrigger Juniors.

Running for home.


The boats stowed, ready to go. We'll try to grab every warm day possible to get some video and more pictures---hopefully on a sunnier day.