Njuzu, by Jeff Broome

plywwod partsMy boat is unique. I don't mean to brag or that it has the odd small modification to make it different from others that are similar, it really is one of a kind because it has a number of peculiar features in its construction. In addition to the satisfaction it has given me in designing and building it, it does all the things I want quite well enough for my purposes, with the exception of winning races,( but I think that may be more to do with me than the boat.)




Cruising is where sailing canoes really come into their own and this is what I enjoy most. Njuzu's optional ketch rig was specifically selected for this purpose because it keeps the mast and kicking strap out of the way of the crew. Also the locker space is just big enough for Ellen and I to stow away all our camping gear and a week's food with only our water and anchor having to be accommodated in the cockpit.






putting it togetherOne fairly recent innovation that has made landing, portaging and launching much easier when cruising has been the trolley that also does duty as the helmsman's thwart.



I set out to build a boat that was light weight and simple to construct. I was reasonably successful in the first objective, the hull weighs about 75 pounds, but it was not as easy to build as I had anticipated.



The whole process of designing the lines, messing around with the developed shapes of the components on the computer, building models and finally receiving the CNC cut ply from Jordan Boats was very time consuming, but extremely satisfying.




glass taping the seamsThe skin of the hull is effectively made from a flat sheet of 4 mm ply, scarfed together from five individual pieces and bent to shape around bulkheads, also of 4mm ply. This makes a very stiff hull with the central section a sort of double chine, with a rounded bottom, and the ends are tortured ply.




The central cockpit has vertical sides and sealed buoyancy tanks under the side decks, while the fore and aft lockers are accessed through hatches in the ends of the cockpit.


I gave it a crowned deck, mainly for reasons of aesthetics. While this may seem to be purely self indulgence, I suspect that the extra buoyancy when the boat is inverted makes righting it after a capsize easier.




Njuzu sailing canoeNjuzu is not perfect though. There is rather a lot of weather helm which can't be easily mitigated as the mast steps are built into the deck and the offset centreboard is an integral part of the construction. Adding a small bolt-on skeg doesn't seem to have improved this, but it does make paddling slightly easier. The next plan is to make a larger rudder blade to see if that makes any difference.

Various things have broken over the years due to being too lightly built and there are various bumps and hollows below the water line where the ply refused to behave like the thin birch ply in the tenth scale model.

Would I recommend somebody else to use my design? Probably not without doing a lot more experimentation to find the right materials and to simplify construction. Would I build another boat the same or similar? Not while I can still sail Njuzu, but if I did build another boat of a different type, I would still keep her.

Oh, and the name? A mythical water spirit of the Shona people of Zimbabwe


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