Cape Cutter 19 by Dudley Dix

Plywood Lapstrake Traditional Trailer-sailer

Length overall22' 4"6.8 m
Length on deck19'5.8 m
Waterline length18'5.5 m
Beam7' 3"2.2 m
Draft4'1.22 m
Draft (cb up)1' 6"0.45 m
Weight1918 lbs870 kg
Ballast weight838 lbs380 kg
Displacement2425 lbs1100 kg
Sail area253 sq. ft.23.52 m2
Main area143 sq. ft.13.32 m2
Jib area54 sq. ft.4.99 m2
Genoa area110 sq. ft.10.20 m2
Engine power6
Hull construction Plywood



  • The charm of tradition
  • Accommodation for family weekending
  • Comfortable cockpit
  • Towing behind the family car
  • Choice of gaff or marconi rig
  • Shallow draft to access favorite spots

The Cape Cutter 19 was commissioned by Cape Cutter Yachts, as a GRP production trailer-sailer. Their brief was very particular in requiring a little cruiser which was to be traditional workboat in image, with lots of character, shallow draft and good sailing characteristics. She also had to fit inside a 6m (20ft) shipping container for economical transportation to international markets.

There are already other designs which fit some or all of those criteria, so part of our job was to draw a boat to satisfy those needs in a different way. I believe that we fulfilled this need and added valauble features as part of the process.

The Hull

I took the unusual step with this one of drawing the lines on paper then moving them across into the computer lines fairing program for final fairing. I did this because it is easier to assess the aesthetics and proportions of a chine or lapstrake hull on paper than on a computer screen. I felt that I would produce a prettier hull this way.

The next step was to move it across into a 3D modelling program, which allowed us to generate accurate full size patterns of all of the skin panels. This, along with full size framing patterns, speeded up the building process of the plug. It produced basic plug surfaces that were relatively quick to bring to production plug standard.

She has a plumb bow and long waterline, to maximise top-end performance. The bow is fine down at waterline to allow her to punch through a wind chop, for good windward ability. This flares to a full plan shape at deck level, giving reserve buoyancy to resist bow burying and to keep her dry on deck.

Aft she is quite full on plan, with straight buttocks. This powerful stern gives her good reaching speed and the volume distribution to carry reasonable crew loads in the cockpit.

She has a long and shallow keel moulded in, which runs from the leading edge of the centre plate through to the outboard engine well. A rudder horn is bolted to the heel of the keel to give protection to the semi-balanced spade rudder, which is hung off the transom on pintles.

On Deck

Her deck layout has been drawn clean and simple, keeping the best spots available for the crew rather than occupying them with deck hardware and ropes.

She has a raised sheer and flush deck, maximising usable space both on deck and down below. The sunken self-draining foredeck acts as an oversize anchor well and also provides a comfortable spot to sit, both sailing and at anchor. She has a handrail/toerail detail along the deck edge, to give safer footing on deck and useful tie-on points for fenders etc.

Her cockpit is deep, giving good protection behind the cabin from wind and spray. The seats have comfortable backrests and the coamings are wide enough to sit on. The outboard engine well is in the cockpit footwell, with a dam formed around it to contain accidental fuel or oil spillage which may otherwise make the sole area slippery. Drainage in the event of taking a large wave onboard will be very fast, via the engine well.

Halliards and headsail furling lines are led alongside the companion hatch and through stoppers to a pair of 6:1 winches on the aft end of the cabintop. Headsail sheets are led through pivoting fairleads with built-in camcleats to the same pair of winches or directly to the crew for hand control from whichever position suits them. Mainsheet blocks are mounted on the top of the transom and reefing lines have been kept on the boom. She can be reefed by one person standing in the companionway, from where all lines can be reached.

Centreplate and Ballast

Her centreplate, of approximately 100kg, is raised by means of a simple drum winch housed under the companionway step. Fixed ballast is lead, glassed over to form the cabin sole.

Powerful Gaff or Marconi Rig

The gaff mast is the same length as the hull, so that it also fits easily into the shipping container while lashed to the deck. The marconi mast is built in two sections that can be separated for shipping inside the container. The joint is made with an internal sleeve and machine screws and is standard mast detailing.

Both rigs use a deck-stepped mast in a tall tabernacle and the boom is hinged off the tabernacle rather than the mast. This simplifies lowering the mast underway without first unshipping the boom. Shrouds go to outboard chainplates that are through-bolted to the hull.

She can be sailed with both headsails on close reaching to broad reaching courses in light to moderate winds. For beating she should be sailed with only the genoa in light winds and only the staysail in stronger winds. The roller furling genoa ensures good speed in lighter conditions and the ability to get rid of it quickly if needed. The hanked staysail gives a snug fully in-board rig for stronger winds and is easily lowered and snugged down if rigged with a downhaul line. The forestay goes to the stemhead, with the staysail hanked to it. The genoa furler has no stay in front of it, so the hinged bowsprit can be folded back to lie along the deck when not in use, if preferred by the crew. The bowsprit can also be used as a lever to assist in pulling the mast up into position for sailing, although it is easily raised by two people without use of the bowsprit for leverage.

The gaff and marconi mainsails are both of the same area and have roach and battens, for light air efficiency. They are fitted with two rows of reefing so that they can be snugged down for heavier conditions. Sheeting is through a 5:1 tackle system fitted to the top of the transom, and a boomvang to the base of the tabernacle helps to control mainsail twist.

Comfortable Weekending Accommodation

Down below she has an open layout, with sitting headroom all the way to the sides. With no sidedecks to get in the way, you can lounge back against her hull in comfort.

Her compact galley is equipped with single-burner cooker, sink and plenty of locker space. With berths for 4 adults, she is great for a small family. The quarter berths double as settees, with space for 2 people each side.

The Portapotti toilet is under the aft end of the forward berth. Located in a wide well, it is used athwartships rather than fore and aft. A privacy curtain can be fitted, hiding behind the galley lockers when not in use.

Build her in Plywood

Since the first showing of this design, we have received many enquiries after a plywood version. This is now available in a comprehensive plywood design package. The layout has been very slightly changed to suit the construction requirements of plywood but she is the same pretty, seaworthy and speedy little cruiser. We received orders for 20 sets of plywood plans in the first 9 months after completing them.

Hull construction is plywood lapstrake over stringers and plywood backbone. Stringers are notched into the bulkheads and the backbone is locked into the bulkheads eggcrate-fashion.

The stock plan package includes full size patterns of the bulkheads plotted on stable mylar. These are plotted in colour to make them easier to follow and minimise chances of builders making a mistake. We also offer an optional extra of full size mylar patterns for the hull skin panels if you feel that you need help you through the process of laying out these panels. These patterns can be ordered with the stock plan package or later.

A CNC cut plywood kit for all components was available for a few months; unfortunately we have had to withdraw this option. The rights to kit production are linked to the GRP moulds, which have now changed hands. The new owners have chosen to withdraw the kits and concentrate on the GRP boats. If you want to build from a kit, please look at her new bigger sister, the Cape Henry 21, for which a kits are available.

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