Flaquita (Spanish for skinny little girl), was designed and built to be a lightweight, car toppable, fast, safe sailboat that can be paddled, sailed or motored. I looked all over for plans for a boat that was similar to this. I found none. I would have been happy to purchase some plans. Itís a heck of a lot easier building a boat with plans, rather than having to design from scratch.
I wanted a boat that I could strap on top of my car, or haul on a small trailer, and travel to far away shores. Once I got there, I wanted a boat that could be unloaded and launched by one person. And could be launched without using a boat ramp, if none were available.
I had built a sailing dinghy before. It was a Bolger design Cartopper. I cartopped it from Texas to the Pacific Northwest as far north as Desolation Sound British Columbia. I sailed it in the Florida Keys. I traveled as far south as Rio Dulce, Guatemala. It is a terrific little boat, but it has some serious limitations. It sails great. It rows great. But with its rounded bottom, it's a dog under power. It also has quite low freeboard. That, combined with the lack of a self-bailing cockpit, made it less than safe in rough water. It would never sink, but if turned over in deep water, righting it and getting back in and sailing away seems improbable.
I wanted an improved boat.
I wanted a boat that was:
If capsized, easily righted by one person
Capable of carrying lots of gear in water tight compartments
FAST. I set a modest goal of at least 10 knots under sail AND power
These goals made me look at multihulls. I had seen dugout canoes on the Rio Dulce fitted with outboards that were quite fast. Why not design a long, skinny hull with an outrigger and make it a real sailboat that was capable of good speed under power also. I saw photos of traditional Polynesian outrigger canoes. I liked the design. But car topping one and setting it up to sail with all that lashing to hold the outriggers on looked too time consuming. I wanted a boat easy and quick to set up, with no tools.
Flaquita is fast. It is easily driven. It is not as fast as a Hobie Cat. It has much less sail area.. But in moderate winds it does an easy 10 MPH. I have sailed the boat a half dozen times, but never in really strong winds, yet. Top speed, so far, according to my GPS, is 13.2MPH
With the ama to windward, she sails like a proa.
With the ama to leeward she sails like a trimaran.
I canít tell much difference in speed between the two.
With the ama to windward, one can enjoy the excitement of flying a hull. In gusty winds, one hand on the mainsheet to release it from the cam cleats is recommended.
When the wind stops, the trampolines may be roller furled out of the way and Flaquita may be paddled like a kayak. Cruising speed is about 3 MPH.
At this point. I have not tried a motor.
To make getting in and out of the water easy, I wanted an ama with enough dispacement to hold my body weight.
Flaquita can be cartopped or trailered. Beam is a legal 8 feet on the trailer
When ready to launch, the hinged outrigger gets flipped over
Once lowered. The outrigger is secured with four carriage bolts and wing nuts.
Unfurl the trampoline and secure it. Slip the mast into the mast tube. Ready to launch.
The mast is freestanding. The sail roller furls around it.
Flaquita can also be cartopped. Simple wheels are attached to roll her around.
One person can handle the weight of one end at a time.
I have been in email contact with Joe Henry and he has kindly allowed me to post his website here. Please note that as of March 2012, Joe is still selling plans, though it is more of a hobby as opposed to any real business. My personal opinion is that Flaquita is superbly designed, such a capable and useful boat.