There was a stage in my search for different small boat types that I was interested in designs with twin hulls (maybe I still am?), and I came across the Numbat.

You’ll have to pardon the poor quality picture, but it’s one of the only two photos available, placed on the web by the WA builder who commissioned Ray, and (I believe) who built the only example. Ray said his customer was very happy with the little Sea Sled.

Ray is (was?) a Cheltenham based boat builder who from memory was around 90 when I contacted him, and like a few other vintage boat builders I know was not frightened to have a chat and reminisce about the old times.

I recall he told me about a recent trip he’d made to the NT to assist in putting one of his designs together for a station owner. He needed some 6 metre timbers for as part of the build, and the customers set off to the big smoke in their wagon (not the horse drawn type) to purchase them. Ray reported that it rained that day and also the next. The customer at last returned with - no timber strapped to the roof - or indeed, in evidence!  “Ray”, says his client, “We knew you wouldn’t want the timber to get wet, so we had them cut it up to fit inside”!

Ray spent the next few days scarfing it all back together. It’s hard to get good help.

So what about Numbat? Numbat measures 3.6 x 1.5 metres, and is in reality a small Sea Sled, and…. Hang on, this is what Ray tells us.

“Numbat is a double chine design based on small panel sizes, overlapping panels, and "stitch and glue" keel and chines, thus obviating the need for those timber members, while utilising inwales, topsides stringers and most importantly, bottom stringers. Thus it can be truthfully said that the design uses construction methods which are neither 'traditional' nor 'modern'. I believe this method of construction allows all, even those with little experience in boat building, to build a better, stronger, lighter and more durable vessel than many we see in use today. The key specification guiding this design was that she must be as economical to build as possible, consistent with achieving safe, efficient performance under minimum outboard motor power.

Before you start to build her, find a good spot, and a comfortable chair in front of somewhere where you can spread the sheets out. (Kitchen tables used to be great, but they have almost disappeared). Then settle down to read everything in the design package. You will quickly realise, as mentioned in the introduction above, that NUMBAT is a hybrid design of traditional and modern methods using a system of building which tries to pick up the best and strongest aspects of both. There are no timber chines and no timber keel. These are constructed of glass fibre "stitch and glue" joints.

Read and re-read the material in the design package, and study the sheets of drawings, until you are sufficiently au fait with the job ahead to start building the components for the Building Jig.
The design package includes the following:-
1 The drawings
. Sheet 1 Lines and Hydrostatic analysis
. Sheet 2 Outboard Profile and General Arrangement.
. Sheet 3 Inboard profile and Deck framing
. Sheet 4 Building jig and construction frame stations
. Sheets 5 & 6 Full size half sections
And - How to Build Instructions, which include a list of the main materials you will require”.

So why haven’t I undertaken this interesting and unusual challenge?

I’d have to buy another motor, build another trailer, and be left with an interesting but unrequired vessel to be sold on at a loss ….and, the Margaret doesn’t like the look of this beautiful design!!

Club members, the plans are available for FREE if you want. I reckon this would be a drier boat than “Takapunt”, Chris, and probably slicker through the water!

David O'Dempsey

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