The Higham Ship


Yes, it’s a mishmash of a picture but there aren’t that many junks and viking ships around and I haven’t time to photoshop all night.  Basically, this is what it’s about.

It uses a narrower version of the lapstrake [clinker] Viking ship, 53′ long and 8’6″ wide, with a wineglass hull section, decked in [sorry about the paintjob in the photo], four crossbeams and an outrigger which will contain supplies and bath area at the rear [therefore ballast].

The outrigger will have a “windwardboard” for extended upwind work, the main hull has a shoal keel and underslung rudder at the end of that – haven’t decided wheel or tiller yet.

The sailplan is modern junk – with camber between the bamboo battens and with batten chocks to hold the battens off the mast so the sail can fill on the other tack [if that makes sense], 1100 square feet in all.

To get an idea how it sails, let’s say fast. The picture below gives an idea of it going through the water.  Nice, eh?


Remember it has two junk sails, not the square sail.  Don’t forget [below] that there’d be an outrigger to keep it flatter.


Crew of four [two couples or lucky man and two women plus me – doesn’t worry me].  It is designed for long distance voyaging and fairly big seas.  If I ever get it built, it will be my home, of course.

9 comments for “The Higham Ship

  1. October 13, 2009 at 19:08

    Nice. Are you going to forsake stuff like a cabin with beds and a fridge and cooker in it?

    • October 13, 2009 at 19:22

      Basic but comfortable inside – four foot wide airbeds with bedding, properly appointed galley, shower arrangement with hot water poured into a holding tub above the bath area in the outrigger, toilet [head], beanchairs in the living area. Potplants about in tubs. Cockpit has a hard dodger to sail behind. Comfort is a big consideration on a long voyage and needn’t cost the earth or add weight.

  2. October 13, 2009 at 21:14

    I need to move away from my river and onto my remote island retreat before you can visit me don’t I 😉

  3. October 13, 2009 at 21:25

    Have you ever sailed Higham?

  4. October 13, 2009 at 23:13

    Cherie – unless I can find some way to get it overland.

    William, do you mean, “Have you ever sailed, Higham?”

    A: that’s me racing on Pain in the A.

    … or, “Have you ever sailed Higham, as in the Higham Ship?”

    A; not yet, not yet built.

  5. Peter Mc
    October 14, 2009 at 11:30

    First thoughts – your beam (when you’ve put in lockers and insulation) won’t allow much living and moving space. I also wonder how the outrigger beams will transfer stresses to such a long, lean hull. Interesting mix of well-tested seagoing ideas. Needless to say if you need crew…

  6. October 15, 2009 at 03:32

    Thanks, Peter. Firstly, it depends on the length of the akas and their weight. They are unstressed by rigging [the masts are sunk in the keel and stayed at the gunwhale] and there are four beams. Remember that the square or junk sail does not stress mast or rigging to anywhere near the extent of a Bermudan – that’s the key and the only reason the whole concept would be contemplated. Even a gaff, sadly, must be out, due to mast stress.

    It then comes down to the weight of the ama. This is not in the region of a typical cat hull of that size – it’s considerably less, narrower and is supported at four points. The bottom line is whether you could cantilever four beams from a wall, say, and support the weight of the ama from that. You’d clearly do that test and if an engineer gave a certain ama weight, you’d put beams in to that weight – even running to a fifth.

    The main thing is that it is not going to encounter much stress, unlike a modern trimaran, as you’ll reduce sail for increased wind strength and that sail is carried along the length of the boat and stresses different beams. Now, as for the narrowness of the vaka [main hull], 8’6′ is not narrow, given a beam extension beyond that of the same and a half. It’s not wide beam you’re looking for here but just counterbalance to the main hull.

    One reason for the 8’6″ is trailerability – the thing is deconstructable. Mooring would be a problem unless a Farrer type method was used. With the shoal keel, the boat is beachable so it’s important to know which haven to pull into. Some British mud flats would be treacherous. A tropical beach would be fine.

    As you know, Peter, the question then arises of going upwind. The rig has camber built in, is low and long [high drag to lift unfortunately] but for closehauled work, a lee board [actually windward board] from the ama would drop down between two of the beams or it could be a swing arrangement and it would give moderate pointing ability [I’d say 50 -55 degrees which is enough in cruising on long tacks]. This is on top of the hull shapes natural lateral resistance. Admittedly, the board adds stress to the ama so the box would have to be built more heavily and the joints epoxied at that point.

    Like any multihull, it is better to let it run free and gain ground with speed than try to point high with that punishing motion in the sea. Given its build [clinker] and weight with a stripped out functionality but still comfortable inside that cocoon [cushions etc, and don’t forget the motion through the water is nicer – deep V up front, some rocker and a wine glass hull section], there’ll be space to live. 53 feet, crew of four makes for comfort, especially with full walkability headroom [6 foot 3].

    I think you might have a monohull concept of space with one cabin but this has two compartments, divided in two again. Lockers would go on the dividing walls at the end, not sideways against the hull. Four foot berths still give four feet to pass by. In the galley, the table/benches are in an L in the stern corner left, looking forward and that gives bags of space for cooking further forward [overall compartment length 10 feet].

    I’ll need to do a diagram and show this.

    This build method doesn’t need as many ribs [except in the mould at the time of building] and platforms for beds and so on give added strength.

    Again, I have this image that we’re not carrying full sail at any time because instant reefing is second nature to this sail plan. This hull shape/rig/displacement should realize 17 knots on a flat/broad reach, if full sail was carried. Normal sailing 10-12 knots made good.

  7. October 15, 2009 at 20:09

    Nice try, Higham, but your comma is superfluous.

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