Boat Tests and Comments

If you are contemplating building a small craft you will agree it is a big job choosing THE one! Assessment of individual designs is very difficult and especially so if not many boats have been built to a particular design.

This page is intended to make assessment easier by offering thoughts and opinions from those who have been involved with either building or sailing the Firebug. It is important to remember that it is only a very small boat and therefore has limitations. Its not for offshore voyaging or performing heroics in. Dont plan to cruise the Pacific or go around the Horn! But as an introduction to boat building and as a small boat for learning in its hard to go past.

Here are some comments from owners, builders and sailors. Have a read...

"It has been a fantastic little project to occupy the time and exercise the body and brain cells. Thanks for all your assistance!" Theo, Brisbane

"The second time my 10 year old grand daughter sailed the Firebug their were 6 Toppers in the in let with 2 older kids in each boat. I said to Charlotte, "Turn around and pass those Toppers", which she did. The looks on the older kids faces as the young girl passed them was amazing and I'm still grinning!" AW Cromwell

"We launched White Dwarf on the Parramatta River at Putney (Concord Ryde Sailing Club) on Saturday 17th September 2006 in beautiful weather. Both my son Jason and I were delighted with her responsiveness and I with her performance with near 90kg on board. A Firebug is after all less than eight feet long.

The wind never topped 10kts but she displayed an unexpected acceleration as well as extraordinary manoeuvrability. Also at less than 50kg, handling on and off the trailer was excellent while rigging launching and recover were a breeze." RV Sydney

"GDay Peter, Well I had an awesome trip. Thanks heaps for letting me come and check out all the Firebug stuff and setting the boat up on the lawn. Its not something Ill soon forget!" JP New Plymouth.

"FireBug 533 aka 'Fandangle' is now officially launched in a gusty wind. Capsized early but it was easily righted. The next day was better and I took my daughter for a sail (all up weight 127kg)." JS Wellington

"Thankyou for your quick responses via email and being such a pleasure to deal with!" BR Indian Head USA

"Hello! Here its Maria, I am ready to start project but now Im 3 months pregnant so Im living to start that when I'm back in Brazil next summer. Dont worry since Im still in love with the Bugs!" MFBF Brazil

"I hope Im not sounding too amateur..this is my first time at building something like this. It has been a fantastic experience!" JS Wellington

"Hello, Im Nick. Im trying to convince my teachers into building a FireBug." NA Tannum Sands QLD

"We soon caught up the Sabots. The other guy sailed around, over and under the them and generally blew them away." CS QLD

"What can I say, this year has been awesome! I never thought in a million years that I would be making a boat." AL Mangere

"Yet another question: Have you got any info about sleeping on FireBugs? ...I do want to tell you Ive been on an extensive internet tour and I found nothing like the FireBug." AS Uruguay

"What a fun little boat! My seven year old son has been out in it twice now, my wife and I have been out together and she has been out on her own. Once again thanks for a great designed little boat!" JH Sydney

"Hi Pete, I received the sail and love it - cant wait to get finished and get out on the water! Many thanks, SK" (a mum) Christchurch

"Dear Mr Tait, About 7 years before I buy the plans for the firebug. Now that my boy is 7 years old we start the construction. We spent a lot of time having fun and learn together. It is amazing how much you can learn, and how close you can get withe the children. Thanks again fore the plesure you share withe us." Yours V N Greece

""He wanted to know how we handicapped our FBs against Optis and Ps. It was interesting to hear him say how the FBs are sailing faster than the other two." RO Christchurch

It was a great day for all and we look forward to next sailing year, when once again, the Firebugs will be the basis for our teaching fleet. I.T. Lake Tarawera Sailing.

Dear Peter: I am sending across some photos of Stink Bug at various stages of muanufacture. I had great pleasure in building it& & I hope you can use these photos in some way to promote these great little craft. B.H. NSW.

Hi Peter, Nick Palleson here I had such a great weekend at the FB champs, I came second out of the seniors. The first race I came first out of the fleet and the second race I came second also. Do you think you could zoom in on this picture of me in sparky and could you put it in the website gallery thanks reply bac asap thanks nick palleson. PPYC.

I did have a good sail yesterday. On one trip we were sailing through flying fish and got within 5 metres of two big turtles heading for the beach. Exciting! Good breeze so moved nicely with two aboard. About 130kg of crew! N.C. Vanuatu

Yes I had to make the shed before building. It only has 4 Dyna bolts in the mortar that can easily be removed and filled. The pillars are weighted by concrete that was poured into plastic shopping bags. J.H. NSW

Thank you for all your help with the boat building. The final product looks great and sails great. I have yet to get developed photos and when I do will forward you a couple. Look forward to catching up one day." J.W. Greymouth

"A lot of people who watched the racing commented on the Firebugs with their colourful sails and how well they sailed against the other yachts." T.S. Lake Wanaka

"Of the 55 starters (all classes) only seven finished, one Firebug. There were boats upside down all over the estuary. When the race started the wind was gusting 35 knots, but half way around the course we were getting as much as 55 knots. Being an off the wind start, I had a real screamer down to the gibing mark at times Im sure only the transom was sitting in the water, especially when coming off a swell!" R.OB Christchurch

"I am enjoying sailing my Firebug it is a lot of fun and I am looking forward to my first race on Saturday" C.C. Hamilton

"Im happy my familys learning to sail in a Firebug" B.B. Switzerland

"We will send you a photo or two as soon as they have been developed. Thanks for all the time and effort to get another satisfied customer. I am looking forward to a wonderful season sailing this boat and I have enjoyed every minute building it." S.W. Canada

"After reading your articles on How To Build and Sail a Firebug in the Australian Amateur Boatbuilder over the last couple of months, I cannot wait to join the growing group of builder and owners to sail this lovely little sailing boat. Could you please forward a Firebug planpack to the above address, cheque enclosed. Thanking you." D.E. South Australia

"We were sailing in 30+ knots yesterday!  And.... we survived!!" T.A. Christchurch

"Have received plans, patterns, etc for the Firebug. Congratulations on your instructions and plans. They are certainly easy to follow." F.M. Masterton

"We sailed six shortish races in the regatta,(approximately 40 mins each) and were lumped in with Starlings, Sunbursts, Optimists and the odd sailing dinghy. We are pleased to report that one or other of us always was first to cross the line but it was close at times. The Firebugs created favourable interest winning on line and handicap." T.A. at Lake Mahinapua

"I am intending to do some Firebug hull tank testing soon, heel angles etc. The theory being to tie Lazybug midstream in the river at the rear of our house and put a gauge on the bowline and see what angle she likes best. If it works I might apply to Team NZ for a job!" T.A. Christchurch

"We had great fun with #446 last season. The boats sail very well and Michael on several occasions managed to blitz his older brother who was sailing his P Class. We are looking forward to next season as there are now four Firebugs in the local Omokoroa Beach area. Thanks again for your assistance. G.F. Omokoroa

"Sails fine, once I got the hang of it. Never sailed before my first time in the boat. Now that winter is upon us, Ill be chomping at the bit to get back on the water in my Firebug! Thanks Peter for the great plans!" J.K. Canada

"We launched Mums Bug at Clarks Beach Yacht Club, with a 25 knot south-wester and an outgoing tide. It was a great ride. Gybing several times around the bottom mark we never capsized. The little craft manoeuvred well, in the strong breeze and heavy seas. An exhilarating feeling to be sailing a boat I had built myself!" K.W. Auckland

"I'm impressed with how the bug sails so far. It goes fast and sails easy. The boatbuilder from our port said, "Well, it's not really beautiful, but it sails very well.' For him that is a big compliment!" K.W. Enchede The Netherlands

"Construction of my firebug has been steady and enjoyable over the past 14 weeks. The wood work and painting is almost over. I am now keen the get "Euan-Me" in the water as we are at the height of summer in Scotland." S.D. Scotland

"I started sailing 30 years ago, in that time have sailed 8 different classes, but I have learned more about the mechanics of sail setting and boat trim in the Firebug than any of the other classes. I put this down to a few reasons. A relatively underpowered rig; which if not set right, is much easier to detect with a performance drop off than the larger dinghies. The spartan sail controls; which eliminate the temptation of excessive vang tension. The short hull and blunt bow make it essential to have correct trim. A larger boat will be more forgiving." T.A. Christchurch

"The 8 Firebugs at the Otago Yacht Club are in constant use. There is a waiting list of new junior members wanting to get into the school and the Firebug is the attraction. Comodore Caley says they do no advertising for Junior Members, as word of mouth is attracting the sailors and that's with their club competing with another 4 clubs around the harbour. The kids can't get enough of the Firebugs!" R.O'B Christchurch

"Well, the 'Bug to watch out for is the bright yellow speedster piloted by Nic - talk about fast!" C.S. Wellington Point

"I know of one sailor who was not complaining about the race being cancelled but he did say that it was great reaching back accross the harbour flat out as if a shark was chasing him!" R. O'B Christchurch

"I'll go for the wooden tiller extension and make something nice. I was amazed when I made the tiller. I never thought I could make something so nicely rounded and so easily." K. W. The Netherlands

Congratulations on a great idea to get Kiwi kids sailing and mucking around in boats - it looks a heap better design than the canoe my brothers and I built from corrugated iron in the '60s! M.W. - Lincoln

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed the building process so far and have learned heaps about boat construction and general woodworking etc. I'm already looking forward to the next project, something about 40 feet! P.C. Christchurch

Thirty knots in the gusts! One Spiral's mast came in two before my eyes; the mylar mainsail of a Taser was ripped right across, several other boats suffered damage! The little Firebug came through undamaged. She nose dived on me a couple of times, but I refused to fall out to which I can attribute luck, but on one howling run before one of the strongest gusts I was in flat water and keeping up with a Taser (further out in rougher water but parrallel). I must have been doing eight, perhaps ten kts. It was so intense I couldn't look astern to guess the length of the wake. Absolute hoot. When I came ashore, one of the more dour members of the club said he was amazed. "When you brought her down two years ago, I thought TOY BOAT, but I can't think that anymore after today!" RV Sydney

Simon Rutherford of the Kiwi Sailing School in Christchurch, built Firebug 173 NAMU at PPYC in 1997 and is convinced that "The Firebug is the ideal sailboat for club sailing for young and smaller adults alike. For families new to sailing they are an easy boat to own and are very good value." S Rutherford

Today the Bug finally touched the water. everything went perfectly with 10 knots of wind. She was sailing really fine and the kids were delighted. CP-T St Hilaire de Loulay, France

"As far as the sailing went she was an absolute joy, light, responsive and just slipped through the water even with me and my daughter on board. Thanks for a gem of a boat design." PJ - Melbourne

"Peter, received my plans today, absolutely buzzing and can't wait to start." IA - Penrith NSW

"The boat sails well and I had a lot of fun building it." RB - Dongara WA

"This is just a note to say how wonderfully well the Firebug sails." RC - Waiheke Island (Visiting from England)

If you would like to add some comment of your own to this page simply send them to FBHQ with a photo.

Click to order Planpack

Nick Palleson in Sparky
Nick Palleson in Sparky.
Sally Williams at Tobermory
Sally Williams at Tobermory.
Mum's Bug Clarkes Beach
Lake Mahinapua Regatta.
Mum's Bug, Clarkes Beach.
"Mum's Bug", Clarkes Beach.
Ross and Jason on White Drarf
"Ross and Jason on ‘White Dwarf’.Turn over party
Turn over party in instant shed.

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