IMPORTANT – FIRE Project forthcoming changes


During the coming weeks a number of changes will be made to the FIRE Project portals that are open to public access. These changes will include some changes to portal addresses and some changes to editorial addresses. We would appreciate it if our readers would make a note or bookmark of This portal will list any new addresses and any deleted addresses. For those of you who send us your news and information, please make a note of our main editorial address which is This email address will always be available. Email address changes will also appear at Some portals may suddenly vanish and reappear in a new form but, during these outages, information will be copied to sister portals

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Last Chance – Win a great book – enter now – closes 24:00 hrs Zulu December 31 2015



Win one of three copies of “Kings of the Air” by entering the FIRE Project December Book Competition.


Competition December 2015

Competition open Wednesday 16th December 2015

Last date for entries Thursday 31st December 2015

Question: Name the French fighter ‘Ace’ who was the first pilot to use a machine gun firing through the propeller arc

Send your answer in an email to:

Enter in the subject field  FIRE Project Competition Number One

Enter in the email body your answer, The name of the French fighter ‘Ace’

Then email before the Closing Date; which is Thursday 31st December 2016 24:00 hrs Zulu (UK time zone)

Judging: On Friday 1st January 2016, the FIRE Project judges will select the first three correct entries. The winners will receive a congratulations email to the address in their entry and will be required to reply by email with an address that they wish their prize to be posted to by surface mail. The FIRE Project will only use information provided by entrants for the purposes of the competition and that data will be purged after the prizes have been dispatched to the three winners. The judges decision will be final and binding

How To Order


To order plans, or for more details on any of the above, contact by fax, mail, or telephone:

Conrad Natzio,
15 Lanyard Place,
IP12 1FE
United Kingdom

Telephone/fax: +44 (0) 1394 383491




Shoveler (lug-rigged) – shows her paces

Shoveler – gets away from it all

Shoveler – and her sisters are easily launched

Shoveler – a home-built sailing off Antigua, photograph courtesy of Steve Mearns

The smallest boat in the fleet; a beamy but compact pram dinghy with a spacious interior, she offers overnight accommodation for the single-hander when a tent cover is fitted. Sails well with her twin bilge keels, rows well, and tows well.

Dimensions: 3.0m x 1.4m ( 9′ 9″ x 4′ 8″)
Hull weight: 47kg (103lbs) Sail area: 5.3 sq m (57 sq ft)
Plans: £25 post free (£27 outside Europe)

Shoveler is, like the duck for which she is named, most at home in lakes, ponds, rivers, and the upper reaches of tidal estuaries. She is a flat-bottomed pram dinghy with the unusual feature of twin bilge keels instead of daggerboard or centreplate, and this gives her a remarkably roomy interior for a boat of her compact overall dimensions. She is light enough to be carried on the roof of the average family car.

Shoveler has comfortable sprawling space for two adults, but if tented over makes a minimum cruiser for the single-hander. Her long bilge keels give her the feel of a much bigger boat; she tacks well under oars or sail, and goes to windward in very shallow water with her endplate rudder.

Construction is similar to other boats in the range –  (6mm) plywood is the hull material, and only three sheets are needed. Rigidity is provided by the solid gunwales and chines, with buoyancy built in fore and aft.

She can be easily rigged with a lugsail or spritsail, perhaps boomless for simplicity and to spare the crew? heads! A small outboard can be clamped to the transom.

“What could be simpler for a first boat – or a first boatbuilding project?”
Water Craft, March 1998

“A good boat for children to learn to sail in, or as a general-purpose tender & easy to use and practical both under sail and oar.”
Classic Boat, March 1997



Spoonbill – is ideal for quiet relaxation

Spoonbill – prefabricated components laid out flat

Spoonbill – the bottom panel goes on in one piece

Spoonbill – can be rowed

Spoonbill – can be motored

Spoonbill – can be sailed

A simple but roomy scow hull, only weighing 111kg (244 lbs), gives a lot of boat in a compact space. Spoonbill can be sailed, or used with a small (electric or petrol) outboard motor as an open launch with loose chairs.

Dimensions: 4.8m x 1.5m (15′ 10″ x 5′ 0″)
Hull weight: 111kg (244lbs)
Sail area: 7.4 sq m (80 sq ft)
Plans: £45 post free (£48 outside Europe)

Spoonbill has a flat-bottomed scow hull (with a bow transom), with easy lines for good sailing and simple building with no hard bending – like her sisters, she is put together without any need for moulds, jig, or building frame, from pre-cut panels and prefabricated frames using readily-available materials. Five sheets of plywood, preferably marine, are needed for the basic hull structure – two of 3/8″ (9mm) and three of 1/4″ (6mm). Frames and longitudinals are made up from hardwood or softwood.

Spoonbill is intended as a dual-purpose vessel. She sails well with the recommended sprit-boom rig shown, but the transom will accept an outboard motor and her completely open interior can be fitted out with loose chairs as a river launch, ideal for sedate family outings or fishing trips. An electric outboard is the ideal means of propulsion. Under sail, her ability to go to windward comes from her two long 3″ (76mm) bilge keels, which also give her excellent directional stability.

With an overall tent cover, there is ample space for two people to sleep in comfort; being flat-bottomed, the boat can readily be run ashore for a peaceful night.

Buoyancy is built in beneath the bow and stern decks, and should enable Spoonbill (like her sisters in the range) to comply with the requirements of the EC Directive on Recreational Craft if necessary.

Illustrated instructions are keyed to the plans.

“… … handled well … … spacious and comfortable&an ideal craft to sail with friends for a picnic … ideal fishing boat, or river launch.”
Classic Boat, March 1998

“It’s a tempting proposition.”
Practical Boat Owner, May 1998

” … this remarkable craft … ”
Water Craft, March/April 1998

Little Grebe

A pure rowing version of the sailing skiff Sandpiper, Little Grebe follows the same style and methods of construction, with slightly reduced beam and freeboard: she is an elegant and stable boat for relaxed and enjoyable recreational rowing, or freshwater angling.

Dimensions: 4.06m x 1.22m (13’4″ x 4’0″)
Hull weight: 52kg (115lbs)

Plans: £30 post free (£32 outside Europe)

Little Grebe is (despite her handsome appearance) designed for exceptionally quick and economical building: apart from the solid timber needed for framing and longitudinals, all her hull components can be cut from three sheets of 3/4″ (6mm) plywood, though construction can be slightly simplified (and appearance enhanced) if transom and thwarts are made up from varnished hardwood. As with the other boats in the range, building requires no special equipment or skills and presents no problems to the single-hander.

There are two rowing positions, though with two people at the oars a passenger on the stern seat is desirable for good trim. A single rower will find Little Grebe fast and responsive, tracking well and with excellent stability thanks to her flat-bottomed design, which also makes her a good choice for the fisherman. Her shapely form will allow her to take her place among any group of craft at a Thames-side picnic on a fine summer’s afternoon.



Sandpiper in Mulroy Bay, Ireland - easy access to wild places

Sandpiper - beached for a run ashore

Sandpiper - first stages of construction: side panels bent around the midships frame

Sandpiper - shows the clean interior produced by this style of easy building

Sandpiper - performs well with her sprit rig

Sandpiper - was built in the four days of BOAT 99, and finished off at home, photograph courtesy of Martin Waide

Specially designed to be built by beginners over the four days of the BOATS 99 boat show, although Sandpiper reduces boatbuilding to its simplest elements she is a good-looking rowing and sailing skiff – her bilge keels give her a spacious and unobstructed interior.

Choice of rigs: spritsail sloop, as seen here, or standing lug.

Dimensions: 4.2m x 1.4m (13′ 9″ x 4′ 8″)
Hull weight: 60kg (132lbs)
Sail area (sloop): 6.5 sq m (70 sq ft)
Plans: £40 post free ( £42 outside Europe)

Sandpiper illustrates the principles of “handsome is as handsome does”, since the main considerations in her design were speed and ease of construction – but the outcome was a capable and attractive little boat. Her hull is formed simply by bending parallel-sided panels around prefabricated frames, and adding strength and stiffness with solid chines and gunwales. She is built from four sheets of 1/4″ (6mm) ply, with solid timber as required for framing and longitudinals.

Instead of the usual centre- or dagger-board, Sandpiper has twin long bilge keels which give her windward performance in very shallow water, as well as an unusual amount of space within the boat. Her light weight means she can very easily be trailed to the waters of your choice, and for the single-hander she makes a simple weekend cruiser if fitted with a tent cover. Two adults can comfortably spend the day aboard exploring out-of-the-way places generally accessible only to wildfowlers in long thigh boots.

Particularly full and detailed building instructions are accompanied and illustrated by copies of the article on Sandpiper from “Practical Woodworking”, the magazine sponsoring the event at Boats 99 where the first examples after the prototype were built.

“… an enjoyable and relaxing boat to sail … a great boat to learn about boatbuilding and sailing …”
Water Craft, September/October 1999

“… a handy little craft for use on sheltered waters for sailing, fishing, or just pottering …”
Practical Woodworking, Vol 34 no 4