JOHN NASH - A versatile and elegant 23ft river and lake cruiser


version Francais

LOA 7.0m (23ft); Beam 1.56m (5ft 2ins) Draught 0.15m/0.75m (6ins/2ft 6ins) Sail Area 9.2sq m. (99sq ft).
Weights: bare boat ready to sail approx 250kg - load capacity 350kgs approx.


The John Nash is an unusual design, custom-designed by Andrew Wolstenholme for use on the River Stour in Suffolk near Sudbury; she is named after the artist, who came here with his wife in the 1920's, renting one of the cottages attached to the Mill - who "....painted and punted at Wormingford...." (as her brass dedication plate records)



On the river at Wormingford

...evolution of a design.... (cf also "Grand Designs" by Andrew Wolstenholme in Water Craft magazine no 62 of March/April 2007) - As the River Stour is narrrow and shallow, the owner was somewhat torn between choosing a classic Thames Punt or a traditional gig or skiff for two rowers (thinking of his sons) also to be used on other, wider, rivers and lakes. Well, why not have a bit of both? The size of the boat allows for rowing with two oarsmen and passengers - or - you can remove the thwarts, throw in some cushions, and lounge comfortably, with the boat propelled from the sterndeck in familiar style. (The daggerboard case is free-standing and supports a removeable table). This is, indeed, a spacious and comfortable boat for "messing about in" - not only that, we call her "multi-modal" - so the owner can do all sorts of different things afloat - from the lazy day out to the ambitious cruise.

...hull form.... The coupling of these approaches was instrumental in the choice of hull form - Andrew thought of designing a "...cross between a Swampscot Dory and a Norfolk [Broads] reed lighter...." - her type is that of a flat-bottom dory-skiff with rounded clinker topsides and decked buoyancy compartments bow and stern. Long and narrow, such hulls are easily driven, and a flat bottom gives stability, and other practical advantages.
This sort of boat can sail well, and, given that the boat might be used almost anywhere, a rig was added to the equation. I think Andrew would have liked to use leeboards (and I personally would have preferred an off-centre daggerboard) to keep the centre of the boat free but in the end a central daggerboard was settled on, and made to be able to stand without relying on the middle thwart for lateral support so that this could be removed at will. The rig chosen was a sprit with a boom and performance is very satisfactory.

...construction... The is built of 12mm gaboon ply with a double thickness bottom, a method which avoids much framing (and also provides useful buoyancy in the hull skin). She is not a light hull, deliberately, but with a good piggy-back trailer she is easy to tow, launch and retrieve. The bare boat weight ready to sail is around 250 kgs. The weight of the whole boat with all her equipment (including outboard) on the trailer is around 300kgs; the trailer weighs approximately 150kg, and is rated for 3/4 ton, un-braked).
...finish, durability, maintenance... Every effort was made during construction to make the hull resistant to wear and tear and protect the ply. The bottom is sheathed inside and out with glass cloth & epoxy, and all ply edges (except upper plank lands) capped or taped to prevent moisture penetration. As the hull is finished in 2-pot paints, maintenance should be very low for some years to come, unless the coatings suffer accidental damage. Trim is in teak with laid iroko decks (oiled) fore and aft.

Thwarts etc are ash. She was equipped with good quality oars, punt pole, paddles, a sculling oar, an all-over camping tent, a storage cover with ridge pole, plus the whole sailing rig of course, and a very good trailer which incorporates a separate launching trolley and, finally, a 3.5 Tohatsu outboard motor.

She is classed in Category D of the RCD - for inland waters – her hull is a seaworthy type, however, though her relatively low freeboard would make rough conditions something of a challenge. I've been asked if she'd make a good "Raid" boat - the answer is : "possibly" - length and hull form are good, the rig is rather modest (but a racing rig could be made) and she is heavier than the "competitive" boats - that said, it probably depends upon the wishes of the crew.....

....some more details and records of construction....


sheathing over bottom two planks

making the sculling notch in teak


ridge for storage cover; and fibre-glass tent hoops for the tent - they slot into sockets around the gunwale.


the daggerboard case is free standing with wood/glass/epoxy fillets reinforcing the joint with the 25mm thick bottom.


making up the stern deck - note glass tape protection of ply base.

button-headed machine screws fix in the thwarts which can be removed without tools


stern thwart, backrest, outboard clamp pad. (Note glass/epoxy protection of planking in way of thwart.)

views of the boat nearing completion to show foot rests etc.

...some rig details....

Note that the sail is on a track on the mast,which makes the rig easy to set up, drop, reef, and so on.



Managing the trailer

The jockey wheel on the trolley is put in place as the trolley drops off the trailer. The winch on the main trailer is used to haul the trolley out once the boat is on it. Guides, coupled with the flat bottom, make positioning the boat on the trolley for hauling out a breeze!



Punting the John Nash

(the wetsuit was for testing the boat - not falling in!)

Testing the John Nash
The following photos show what the boat is like capsized. This was a rowing capsize test, and although the daggerboard is in position the hull is being righted by a single crew without using the board as a lever - the boat is not at all stable when upside-down, and floats quite high on righting.