Sun Dog
by Keith Lawrence

"Now the sea never changes, and when you have a good hull, it always stays good." These are Weston Farmer's words from 1954, the year Sun Dog was introduced. With the five or six-fold increase in fuel prices in the intervening years, this good hull, if anything, is "gooder" In 1984.

The genesis of Sun Dog actually dates back beyond 1954 to shortly before World War II and Bill Fleming's Elcoette. "The hull," Farmer said, "is mine, as needs be, but the feel...(is)...Fleming-Farmer." She is Farmer's "re-creation" of the popular 30 footer from the famed Elco yard.

My interest in Sun Dog stems not so much from an historical appreciation of her heritage, but from a long standing fascination with rum-runners and lobster boats and powerboats that in general, can be pushed to relatively high speeds (high to a rag sailor, that is) with relatively small engines burning small amounts of fuel.

The typical contemporary 30 foot cruiser Is capable of speeds of over 30 knots with a pair of 250-plus horsepower engines burning 30-plus gallons of fuel per hour. Consider that Sun Dog has a realistic cruising speed of about half that much, with one fifth of the horsepower, using about one tenth the fuel. If the reaction to the high fuel costs of
cruising is what originally led many of us to become sailboat sailors, one is forced to wonder whether or not the powerboaters switch to sail over the past few decades is really a reaction to rising fuel costs (we still drive big cars), or to post-World War II trends In powerboat design.

It is not my Intention, I would have you understand, to question these trends In design, for they are determined by the consumer, more than by the designer. Rather it is to suggest that cruising under sail is only one way to reduce the expense of getting from here to there. Driving an efficient hull-form through the water, rather than bouncing it across the surface, is another. I must admit that as I grow older, the Idea of making 12 knots good to windward without ever having to put down my glass to pull a string or grind a winch, sounds better and better.

The plans call for Sun Dog to be carvel planked In 7/8" mahogany or cedar over sawn frames of white oak. Indeed, for the Individual wthh the reverence for tradition and the required cash to back it up, the historical significance of the design could warrant the expense of this type of construction. My suggestion, of which Mr. Farmer would not have approved (he, being no admirer of plastic boatbuilding, materials), Is that one-off construction In C-Flex or foam-cored fiberglass would be quite suitable and satisfactory and relatively inexpensive. He might, in light of today's lightweight diesel engines, agree that a single Perkins 6-354 or Cat 3208 would be welcomed in place of the single or twin gas engines specified.

It is this fuel-efficient and seakindly hull-form that prompts me to include Sun Dog here; a hull that lends itself easily to a variety of commercial and recreational applications. Her wheehouse, which was no doubt stylish In the 40's and 50's, takes a little too much getting used to for my eye. But. ah...add, some larger, rectangular or eliptical opening ports, eliminate the wheelhouse In favor of a navy top and a windscreen in New England bassboat style; and you have what, for me, is the ideal small cruising powerboat. Beyond a couple of decent-sized berths, a workable galley, and a head large enough to open up the funny papers; what more does one require in a cabin? I'd gladly give up the livingroom type cabins of the current breed of cruiser, for a big open. cockpit and a canvas awning. We cruise, after all, in search of the Great Outdoors. Sun Dog will open up a lot of same.

Plans for Sun Dog are available at:
Duckworks Boat Builders Supply