Red Onion
An 18' Flat-Bottom Cruising Sloop
By William Atkin
An Eighteen-Foot Sharpie
Many years ago a friend of mine built a big flat-bottom sailing skiff, built her as the work progressed without plans or model, and when she was finished she did not look just right. A little off here and there, and a lot cockeyed along her sheer. In the water she looked even worse than on the land. Her owner christened her Red Onion. Asked why, he replied, "Every time I look at her, she brings tears to my eyes." Which she did in truth. One of the world's worst-looking boats. And sad to relate, after thirty years Red Onion is still being used; still bringing tears to the eyes of all who see her. Her name always interested me; honest, plain, and forthright, just the thing for a useful little hooker made for use and not for style. Just right for the latest of our fleet. So, herewith, Shipmates, another Red Onion!.

Red Onion is rigged as a sloop with gaff-headed mainsail. The sail area is 199 square feet.

The cabin is of very simple character; two 6 feet, 1 inch long bunks each side; a 1 foot, 10 inch long seat; and table opposite for small alcohol stove. Locker space is provided under the stove and under the bunks. Then there is the space under the forward deck for stowage of ships stores, anchor, lines, etc. Laying the floor boards directly on the tops of the bottom frames gives 3 feet, 9 inches headroom under the house top beams. The cabin floor is about 6 inches below the cockpit floor and the companion door sill is 4 inches above the cockpit floor. This arrangement necessitates a high step up; but as well prevents water from spilling into the cabin. There are deadlights shown in the cabin house sides, 4 inches diameter is as big as will look well; and a 4-inch diameter port light in the forward end of the trunk with two similar ports each side the companionway doors. These, with the forward hatch and companionway, should provide plenty of air on hot days and nights.

The lines show the simplest kind of hull, 18 feet over all, 17 feet on the water line, 7 feet in breadth, and 1 foot, 3 inches draft. On these small dimensions it is not easy to erect a trunk cabin of sufficient height to provide sitting headroom below without the trunk and the freeboard being a little on the high side. However, the cabin would be quite useless without sitting headroom and so it becomes a matter of utility before appearance. As it is, there is only 3 feet of headroom above the tops of the bunks; most people can sit comfortably upright in this space. The bottom and the sides are perfectly straight in section, making the easiest kind of surface to cover with planking. There is modest sweep to the bottom fore and aft, and modest sheer. The stern extends straight across. Therefore all the construction can be accomplished without the use of a steam box.
There is much to be said for Red Onion and other boats of her type. Without question this is the cheapest form to build and undoubtedly is an ideal type for shallow water. This business of being shallow does not mean the boat will not be able. Properly handled shallow hulled centerboard boats have made long sea voyages and are especially easy on their rigs and crews.
 
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