In my last post I mentioned that I haven’t found any production boats in the max 36-37 ft range that would fit my requirements. I still haven’t, but I did however find a design that fits them quite well and it’s only 10 meters (32 ft 10 in)! Meet Gary Underwood’s design Shoestring.
Shoestring displaces around 5 tons and was designed by Gary Underwood by the request from Keith Levy, who had lost his previous boat due to being dismasted in the Pacific in 1994. He found himself in New Zealand with his only possession being the clothes he was wearing. And ideas! He started laying out the requirements for his next boat and then met Gary Underwood, who was able to create the design based on Keith’s needs. In Keith’s own words:
Shoestring is hard-chine, plywood on Kwila frame, shallow draft with very simple systems. Solar panels for power of course, an outboard motor in a well, and a simple and robust anchoring system. The twin sinks in the galley are twenty litre buckets that lift out easily to empty over the side. The toilet is a simple porta-potty. Water is stored in many ten litre containers.
That sounds exactly like something coming from me! Although I’d switch the porta-potty to a composting head. The original Shoestring was built in one year with the help of students from Auckland’s Unitec Boatbuilding School.
Some of the features of Shoestring
Shoal draft. The design uses a ballasted fin keel that draws 1 meter (3 ft 3 in), but Gary reckons it would work with inside ballast (plus center/dagger/leeboards) as well.
Easy construction. Hard chine construction out of plywood. I just ordered the study plans so I can’t comment that much on the hull shape yet.
Transom mounted rudder. Simple, strong and accessible. Also caters well to self-steering arrangements.
Minimal foot well in the otherwise flush-decked cockpit.
Double berth in the aft cabin. You can see the small footwell with its portlight in the image below.
Fast. David Thatcher has reported that he regularly hits 9 to 10 knots downwind.
The cockpit “extension” is quite unique in my eyes at last, and provides a big area for work as well as leisure. As it also extends aft of the rudder, the boat could be rigged as a yawl, by stepping the mizzen mast in the extension. That was actually what one of the two Shoestrings did.
The interior is traditional with a galley to port, navigation table to starboard. Forward of the galley is a dinette, and on the opposite side there’s a settee. Between the navigation table and settee David Thatcher has built a head. I would consider enlarging it to fit a small shower stall that could double as a wet locker.
I am eagerly waiting for my study plans to arrive. They will answer most of the questions I still have about this lovely design.
Read more about how Shoestring first came about on The Flying Tortoise.