The Van de Stadt Blanche

Came across Space Oddity’s plans in the bilge the other day, and look at the lines – isn’t she pretty? The Dutch designer Van de Stadt’s portfolio was extensive, and this is the Van de Stadt Blanche; his boats are known for being strong and seaworthy. Space Oddity, not that I’m biased, is stylish too. Here are the plans (a bit tatty, obviously).

Van de Stadt Blanche.jpg
The Van de Stadt Blanche


The rest of this is mostly for our many non-seafaring friends out there. A short discussion of what makes this boat so strong and seaworthy. Starting at the bottom, check out that keel there. Now there are lots of keel shapes, from the long one to the fin one; our keel’s more on the long side. Since it doesn’t extend for the boat’s length entirely, somewhere between full/long and semi-long in type, both the bow and the stern having slight cutaways. This is nothing approaching a fin’s extreme, of course, which is a sole weighted spike in the middle. Longer keels are slower, but they’re a lot more sturdy.

The rudder’s a keel-hung one. That’s almost a default for a vessel of this style. Not issue-free, thinking of the position and angle, but other options have their problems too. A stern-hung one connected straight to the tiller tends to make the steering heavy, while a spade one sticking down all alone and hanging on nothing is bendable and breakable. Skeg rudders can be rather nice, the rudder supported by a mini-keel behind the real one, but the wetted area does increase. We’re hoping this keel-hung system will steer fine. Only way to tell is to try.


So, first, this is the Bermudan sail shape, the commonest modern sail shape. Meaning that main and mizzen are those triangles, with one boom at the foot, that you see all the time. Second: two masts, main and mizzen, as I’ve said there. (Deck-stepped and wooden, by the way.) With a mainmast only, the yacht would be of the sloop type; often seen in craft of this size. Here are some sloops, for example.

Sloop-rigged vessels of various styles
Sloops of various styles

Those are from a useful book, The Sailmaker’s Apprentice, which we’ve encountered before. Our new home contained this soggy copy. Well then, we have two masts, but vessels with two masts aren’t all the same. Bigger yachts tend not to be sloops because of that single sail’s unmanageable size. But they’re often ketches, like these.

Ketch-rigged vessels of various styles
Ketches of various styles

Ours is a yawl, and not a ketch, the strict definition of which is that the mizzen’s behind the rudder, though there’s an implication also that this mizzen’s rather a little one. Like with sloops, the main of the yawl supplies the power; unlike with ketches, the mizzen’s point isn’t to split the sail area (after all our yacht isn’t of such massive size). The smaller sail’s meant more for balance.

Yawl-rigged vessels like Space Oddity
Yawls like Space Oddity

Ours is the top left, the jibheaded one. And honestly, we don’t have yawl experience. I think my ocean sailing’s been in ketches completely. So that’s something else to learn as we try.

And in conclusion…

Overall, our Space Oddity’s of the traditional style. Her keel shape and hull shape make her weatherly and seaworthy. Each of her ends has a longish overhang, above the waterline, also typical of classical styles. Always been fond of this from an aesthetic perspective. Though I’ve said she’s traditional, Space Oddity, she’s not without some modernity. Thankfully she’s a steel boat and not a wooden one. No hard chines; numerous small plates creating a curved appearance. The construction seems to be of excellent quality. This applies to the interior too, all slotting apart with impressive ease. Screws are better than gluing for nautical furniture.

And that’s all the information these plans can provide on our vessel’s performance. We’ll have more to tell about the Van de Stadt Blanche when she’s repaired sufficiently to take her out for the first time. You can follow us down below! (That button at the foot somewhere.)

Rig illustrations from Emiliano Marino, The Sailmaker’s Apprentice: A Guide for the Self-Reliant Sailor, illustrated by Christine Erikson, International Marine, 1994.

One thought on “The Van de Stadt Blanche

  1. Jill

    Nice article, Xoë. Your ‘tin can’ looks as if she will sail very nicely, especially after you’ve got those dings out, someday.

    You’ll be able to use the mizzen just as we do on Molly, only more so. Properly set, it’ll lighten the load on the helm. You might want to see if you can get an e-copy of Venturesome Voss. He did his famous round the world trip in a dug-out (and I’m not sure if he got all the way round…), but afterwards he had a yawl. I think she was quite like ‘Space Oddity’ but a bit smaller. And she was wooden, of course, that being the only material available at that time. (1905?)

    With his yawl, Voss survived at least one typhoon off Japan. You will probably be interested in his thoughts on sea anchors – because he credited his survival to that device. It would be very easy to make a similar one.

    Keep up the good work. Hugs to both of you.



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