Little Cruiser

LITTLE CRUISER  is our fifteen foot sharpie designed and built by our friend Matt Layden as a coastal microcruiser. Constructed in 1988, LITTLE CRUISER was one of his favorite boats and he sailed her engineless as far North as the Bay of Fundy in Canada and as far South as the Exumas in the Bahamas. After we acquired her in 1992, we sailed Little Cruiser to the Bahamas seven more times.

Design Particulars
LOA=4.62m (15'2")
Beam= 1.4m (4'7")
Draft= 0.23m (9")
Disp=726 kg,709 L
S/A 11.6 sqm 

Other interesting Details:

- 30 gallons of fresh water ballast
- Unusual bow centerboard to maximize   interior space.
- Mast is supported by struts to facilitate raising and lowering, which is handy for getting under low bridges.
- Inside steering and reefing.
- Extremely robust construction with a 1" thick plywood bottom.
- Room for two below
- Foam insulation and floatation providing positive buoyancy  
- Balanced lug sail.
- Completion of 8 winter cruises to the Bahamas and intracoastal passages from Connecticut to Florida and back. This amounts to over 10,000 miles in all!

 LITTLE CRUISER was designed and built by an experienced small boat sailor by the name of Matt Layden. Over the course of more than a decade afloat, he traveled aboard many of his home-built boats for thousands of miles and figured out what worked and what didn't. Though his micro-cruisers were not fabricated out of any high tech materials, they were in fact quite advanced in their design. To maximize their cruising potential, several of his boats employed the use of "chine runners," while all of them used water ballast and had inside steering. In our opinion the development of his chine runners were probably one of his most unique innovations since they eliminated the need for a centerboard or a keel, and they allowed his boats to sail upwind in very shallow water. Incidentally, Paradox, GJAC and Swamp Thing use chine runners, while Little Cruiser employs a bow mounted centerboard. Another thing that is notable about Matt's micro-cruisers is that they are sturdily built out of readily available materials. This has ensured that they are capable of surviving real cruising conditions. In the case of Little Cruiser, she is fashioned out of thick AC grade plywood with a bottom that is a full inch thick. She also has inch thick framing throughout to support her 1/2" plywood sides and her 3/8" thick plywood deck. The only fault that we have discovered in her construction (and it is a minor one at that) is that she was not covered in epoxy and fiberglass; therefore, the plywood has developed some checks over time. Therefore, we have decided to sheathing the whole boat to reduce our yearly maintenence (2005).

Despite this cosmetic shortcoming, we can attest to Little Cruiser's tough build, and over the years she has survived impacts with just about everything including reefs, engine blocks, rocks, jetties, docks, steel pipes and even other boats. Believe us when we say that if you go sailing you will hit something eventually! We think that our boat's stout build has saved us many times from sinking, albeit only in a foot or two of water. For instance, on our 1998 trip to the Bahamas we hit a reef while navigating a narrow passage between two islands at dusk. When we checked the damage the next morning, we noticed a ugly looking 3/8 inch deep gash that was at least 8 inches long in the bottom. Thank goodness Little Cruiser had a thick hull or we'd have been pumping from the get go. Instead, we sailed on to our next destination, and then we repaired the damage at our own leisure. The fact that our boat was small and that it did not have a keel allowed us to simply beach her to undergo these repairs.

After twelve years of owning Little Cruiser, we still believe she is one of the best boats for the job. She is simple and inexpensive to maintain, and she tows nicely behind our small four cylinder car. There have been times when we have considered buying a bigger boat that would be more spacious, but in the end we realized there were always more disadvantages than benefits in owning something larger. For us, Little Cruiser has the best set of compromises that we can live with.

More info

By the way, below are some pages from the original drawings that Matt used while constructing Little Cruiser for his own personal use.  Unfortunately, he never got around to putting together a set of plans, but luckily he has given us permission to reprint some of this information so that others can have some idea of how this microcruiser was put together. Of course these images are for illustrative purposes only.  They are not intended to be used as plans to build another Little Cruiser , and this website nor the original author make any promises as to their accuracy or their suitability for any purpose whatsoever.

lcplantotr.jpg - 53492 Bytes

lcplans1rc.jpg - 123197 Bytes

Additional Pictures Of LITTLE CRUISER

Inventory Of Gear