The following notes and photos were submitted by mark as part of his nomination for the 2016 Hal Harper award conducted annually by the NSW Wooden Boat Association.
The Stevenson Weekender is a boat that borrows some good ideas from the golden age of working sail, as well as some new wrinkles from space-age materials. It's a project that combines the best of both worlds - the classic lines of the sea-wise sloops of the turn of the century - and the quick-to-build, lightweight, low maintenance of modern materials.
What would one of the old master boat designers do with modern tools and materials? That was the question that the first Weekender set out to answer when the boat plans were featured in Popular Science magazine over 30 years ago in 1981. To date over 100,000 plans have been sold with the majority being built. A real testament to the cleverness of construction.
Marks Weekender Interior Completed
Hull-building was just like building a plywood box. After assembling the keel, we cut out the deck, bottom, and bulkhead parts, assembled the deck and hull bottom, screwed the bottom down onto the keel, then fitted the bulkheads and deck down in place. If we kept the centre lines of the parts lined up, there's no way the boat could come out lop-sided. And once the side panels are screwed to the edges of the deck and bottom, the whole box-section becomes extremely rigid. Inside, parts like seat-bottoms and shelves doubled as side-framing. You'll find a lot of parts on the Weekender doing double-duty. That's what keeps it light. (see construction order below)
The shallow full-length keel and the hard chine of the hull bottom bit into the water and keep the boat sailing well into the wind.
Marks Weekender Hull Completed
The result is an extremely rigid, self-aligning structure that pulls itself straight as it is built. This worked great for reducing building time, but it also had some other bonuses. Working with my son and friend the total build time from the purchase of plans to the first sail was 13 months.
Inside, there's over six feet of sleeping room for two. The reason for the extra room inside is the absence of a centre board trunk that usually sits square in the middle of where you want to be. The extra room is what really makes the Weekender a pocket yacht, as two people can take it on a camping trip and still have a light, compact boat that's easy to trailer. To get a sense of the relative sizes of the Weekender I built a paper model first.