My custom NIS 31/35

Here are some thoughts and ideas I have for customizing my future Norwalk Island Sharpie, which will either be 31 feet as the original, or stretched lengthwise to 35 feet, depending on which has more pros vs cons (still remains to be seen). The ideas are divided into things I’m sure that I want to implement, things I’ll probably implement and things I might. I will update this list along the way. The basis of all (at least most) of these features is that less is more.


  • Soft wing sail(s), built (or at least made possible to repair) using low tech materials, ketch or yawl configuration
  • Watertight compartments, to make the boat more or less unsinkable
  • Samson posts both fore and aft (for anchoring and sea anchors/drogues), probably also strong fastening points on side decks
  • Decent height bulwarks and solid grab rails along the cabin and deck
  • Huge cockpit drains (2×4″?) for fast drain after a poop/capsize
  • Some kind of wind vane self-steering (trimtab or preferably servo-pendulum)
  • Some method of steering from the inside in rough weather if self-steering is insufficient
  • Solar panels as sole means of power generation
  • Stove for heating in colder climates, most likely solid fuel


  • No through-hulls, instead pump seawater from motor well into day tanks, pump/carry freshwater from main tank(s) into day tank(s)
  • Pumpable holding tank for galley and shower
  • Shower, with water from day tank on the coach roof (black, gets heated in the sun), fed down by gravity, drained to the holding tank
  • Day tanks for galley (both fresh and seawater, fed by gravity, drained to the holding tank
  • Dinette to port (might require some acrobatics to get over the centerboard trunk though, have to make some measurements and tests)
  • Composting head
  • Double berth combined with one or two quarter berths aft under cockpit (more or less flush decked cockpit for more room down below)
  • Office / workshop in the forepeak (+ storage of course).
  • No sliding hatch with washboards (or sliding doors, or hinged doors), instead normal watertight hatch in 30-ish degree angle to horizontal for maximum seaworthiness.


  • Two servo pendulums (connected in tandem) on each side of the rudder (in case of breakage only one can be used, moved to other side when needed)
  • If I go with the standard double berth forward I might consider using two centerboards, one under the cockpit and the other one under the forepeak. This would create a lot of space in the main cabin.
  • I’m also considering two centreboards, one on each side.
  • Steel plate (1/4 inch / 6 mm maybe?) fastened to the bottom (covered with glass/epoxy?) a) to strengthen vs grounding and b) for ballast
  • OR! Copper plate instead of steel! Altough much more expensive, it would work as anti-fouling as well
  • Chine runners might help preventing leeway, especially when sailing in shallow waters where the centreboard can’t be deployed

A lot of these modifications are ones that I would like to do to my current Fingal as well, if I decided to keep it. Given the amount of customization it just feels like a much more sensible choice to start from scratch with a clean design and bare hull. I would also save a lot of money by scrapping my old boat for parts, like I mentioned in my previous post on the subject. Things like lead from the keel, winches, hatches, ground tackle, lighting etc. cost a lot of money when added up and would be worth considerably more separately than the sum of them.

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