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Eek - A Mouse
design by Gavin Atkin

click to download free plans

How I designed the Eek - A Mouse!

I've been thinking about the next step up from the Flying Mouse from the moment my kids started to enjoy sailing their FM. I wanted the new boat to be more satisfactory than I think is truly possible with an 8ft child's dink. They certainly wanted a little more thrillpower, and seemed to me to enjoy falling in the water as much as actually sailing.

The boat, like the Flying Mouse before it, needed to be capable of lasting a few years with my kids, and I thought that it should be capable of accepting a variety of rigs, which had to be significantly larger than the 35sqft the FM carries. I further felt that it would be particularly useful to offer a range of rigs that were part of a single 'family' and that would also reef well - and so I was particularly pleased to discover the bafter rig, which has these attributes, is easy to make (in its simplest form) and can be made larger or smaller (or reefed) without upsetting the boat's balance.

It would also have no shrouds.

I wanted it to be very easy indeed to build, and to be capable of carrying a reasonable sized adult - for the purposes of this argument, I reckoned it should be able to support the boat and my 180lbs. Because I have a lot of sympathy for laziness and penny-pinching, I decided that it should be buildable using either external chines, internal chines or conventional stitch & glue - though perhaps the most obvious approach is the usual Mouse method of a stitch and glue hull, with a narrow gunwale onto which a slightly oversized deck is attached - with the whole thing rounded off with a final external gunwale that covers the deck's ply edges. These drawings provide sufficient space for this to be done for both the deck and bottom.

As usual with Mouse-derived boats the lines both above and below the waterline would be very easy indeed, so easy in fact that it should be possible to avoid stitching almost completely and allow builders to duct tape the structure together while epoxy tape etc applied on the inside hardened. (Stitching takes ages, but if it can be done duct taping takes a moment and produces a good result.)

I also continue to have a small desire to create a viable alternative to the Optimist, a boat that is a very clever design, but which has at least two flaws: (i) the kids think it looks like a bath, and (ii) the limited space available to cross the boat when going about tends to cause problems for small children, including a lot of unwanted boom-head impacts. That's my theory, anyway. I think there is a gap here for a faster, leaner, cheaper and generally more appealing boat than the Oppie.

Named by my daughter Ella, The Eek - A Mouse! is all of those things. It's 53sqft sail will be a lot more effective than FM's rig. The curve of the side and bottom have identical profiles, which should according to Phil Bolger's theory reduce energy-sapping eddy-making and give the little boat some good performance for its size.

Perhaps the name Eek - A Mouse! should have a subtitle: This Machine Eats Optimists.

Gavin Atkin, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, gmatkin@clara.net Spring 2005
Copyright Gavin Atkin 2005