The serpentine sheer of the deck line is possibly the distinguishing characteristic of the Silhouette. A typical boat is probably built of marine plywood, with a single hard chine. It has separate stern skeg with rudder mounting, probably painted Oxford blue, with light blue decks and varnished mahogany cockpit, handholds and rubbing strakes. The mast will be about twenty feet in solid wood and the overall length of the boat 17ft 3ins with a beam of 6ft 9ins. Internally, two berths would be typical and some form of gas cooking, a water container and a toilet box would be normal. Two sails: a jib up to 56sq ft and main 65sq ft would be expected. There should be an outboard engine somewhere, probably a seagull, either in the starboard locker in the cockpit or sent forrard in the cabin if sailing hard but probably on the transom. 

Lockers will be found everywhere: cockpit one either side and a large one under the stern deck (don't load this one with heavy items or you will have a problem with getting the trim correct); cabin lockers under the berths, in the bridge deck possibly three, then two more forrard off the mast step and finally the forepeak to take the anchor warp, spares, etc. 

The SII could be a bilge keel boat with centre stub, or have a fin keel, or have a retractable centre board or plate. S11's were built in plywood, GRP or steel and of course, some boats not originally built in GRP are now sheathed in it. SII spars were originally wood but alloy bars were used on GRP hulls but since the SII was sometimes built from plans or kits, a number of wooden boats had alloy spars as original equipment put in by the private builder. Others had alloy spars fitted when the wooden mast got broken and Hurleys had given up supplying wooden masts.

The forestay is taken to a plate some fourteen inches from the stem head or in later boats , to the stem head itself. The shrouds are led to a pair of chain plates on each side. The cap shrouds are more often taken to the aft plates of the pair and the lowers brought to the forward chain plate. With this arrangement the spreaders should be swept aft in line with the shrouds and fixed, not free to swivel. If the shroud positions are reversed, the middle part of the mast will tend to bend aft causing bagging in the main sail. The function of the lower shrouds is therefore to maintain a straight mast and a flat sail. 

Internally, the usual layout is two berths but there are layouts sacrificing cockpit locker space for one or two quarter - berths as well.Some achieve family sleeping by converting the whole cabin into one large cushioned berth! (The smallest sleeps forrard; all sleep athwartships). Note that no locker space is lost.

The SII has a mast step or support in the cabin, if an outboard engine was fitted, the most usual will be under the centre of the bridgedeck. As some SIIs were built by "home builders", small boat - yards and others, from plans, not all SIIs have numbers. Some of the boats sent out in a part finished state likewise did not have sail numbers and these were and still are only issued to completed boats.
Owners may find a pencilled or stamped number on some of the loose bits of wood - work, particularly on the Hurley boats but this is the job number not the sail number. If your boat has no sail number and you would like one, contact the Sail Registrar, Mr. Dennis Heald. No mention has been made of the various sheeting arrangements as, except that custom dictated that the jib sheet went outside one shroud and inside the next, the variations are legion. As for the mainsheet, the original was a wire horse with a block to an eye in the centre but most of these were converted to a rigid horse or a length of mainsheet track with a traveller. 

In all Classes, the problem of maintaining a proper balance between healthy development and irritating modifications is bound to be a difficult one. Since 1957, the Silhouette has gone through the change from the original rig to masthead rig and from inboard fitting of the forestay to the permitted nose fitting. Some people feel that the stemhead or nose fitting makes for a better balanced rig and that the slightly larger jib is an improvement to prevent back-winding of the mainsail. These are matters of option. On a number of occasions during Plymouth Rallies the question of maximum permitted sail areas for the Silhouette has arisen. In October 1987 it was agreed that there should be no change to the 1983 interpretation which reads as follows:-

"For Silhouette events organised by the SOIA, standard sized jib and mainsail are the only authorised sails". 

When Silhouettes are racing at their own clubs, genoas and spinnaker are possibly allowed. At the SOIA Rally, standard jib and mainsail are the only sails allowed in the points series of races. However, if a Silhouette Owner declares in his entry form that he has a genoa and/or spinnaker, these may be used in the open events such as the Yealm and Breakwater races. What are 'standard' jib and mainsails? The original SII had a 3/4 masthead rig, that is, with the forestay running from about 10"aft of the bow to about 3/4 of the way up the mast. The jib measured 45sq. ft. and the main 65sq. ft. Subsequently, a masthead rig was adopted (forestay running from bow to masthead), giving a larger jib of 50sq. ft. The main stayed at 65sq. ft. The jib size was further increased to approximately 56sq. ft and this is now the maximum permitted standard size, together with the 65sq. ft. mainsail. 

Although it is sometimes dismissed as just 'A dinghy with a lid', the MKIII Silhouette was consciously designed as a tough little seagoing yacht, with seakeeping qualities appropriate to that kind of craft.

The SIII has similar measurements to the SII, the major differences being 5 inches more draught and 10 inches greater waterline length. SIII is a GRP boat with a rounded hull, the familiar serpentine sheer and alloy spars. The most usual form was twin bilge keels with encapsulated ballast weight at the bottom - 225lbs of cast iron in each keel. This extra ballast was necessary, as the sail area was increased to 165sq ft. There is no centre stub keel. Some fin keel boats were a spade rudder, the underwater section is very clean so the boat moves through the water with very little turbulence. MKIII boats up to number 364 were built by Hurley Marine, Plymouth. Manufacturing standards were very high and these boats carry a Lloyds Series Production Certificate. 

The weakest component on these boats is the lower rudder bearing, which is simply a steel pin rotating in a fabricated sheet steel housing. After a few years the pin wears down to about1/4" diameter and the housing disintegrates. It is a simple item to renew but has to be made from scratch. 

A feature of SIII and later SII models, is that the hatch mouldings incorporate a panel of "woodgrain" Formica moulded flush with the surface. In time this cracks, breaks off in patches and becomes unsightly. It also presents a slippery surface - not particularly suitable anywhere at deck level. The remedy is simple. Scrape and pare out the damaged Formica back to the GRP underneath with a sharp chisel and rebuild the surface with epoxy filler paste, sanding down to the original contour. Finally, mask off the inset panel area, sand the surface to give a good key and paint with international deck paint. If all three hatches are treated in this way, the boat will look considerably smarter. Newcomers to the SIII are sometimes puzzled to find that on rigging the boat for the first time, the outer end of the boom fouls the deckstay. This will tend to happen if the mast is raked too far forward, if the gooseneck fitting is not pulled down or if the topping lift is too short. When the mainsail is hoisted it will become apparent which factor is causing the problem. The SIII has a self-draining cockpit, with two outlets leading down to skin fittings under the hull. No seacocks are fitted. The original connection was by two short lengths of 7/8" rubber pipe. If you have just bought an SIII it is wise to replace these with braided polythene hose, as the rubbers is very likely to have perished. In the MkII boats, a popular modification is the removal of the mast prop in the cabin and it's replacement with an adjustable one that can be removed when not under sail. Unlike the SII, the SIII has no mast prop and since there can be 1" deflection of the cabin roof when sailing hard, some owners have introduced one as a 'belt & braces' Mecabin and access to the forehatch. It can be braced between floor and roof by means of either wedges or a simple screw - tightening arrangement. (Always stow it somewhere where you won't forget to replace it before getting underway!). For correct boat trim, the mast should be raked no more than 4"aft. On most SIII's the position of the bolt holes on the tabernacle will not allow this and you may have to remove the tabernacle and make a wedge 1/2" thick at the aft end to pack under it. The upper hole may also need elongating forward to permit the correct mast rake to be achieved. As the boat approaches maximum speed, a vibrating sound sometimes develops from the bridge keels or from the rudder. The former is just something you have to put up with; the latter can usually be cured by dismantling the rudder tube assembly, re - packing, greasing and tightening the fittings. 

Only 25 Mk IV Silhouette were built, up to about 1974 and the first impression is that it is the same boat as the SIII

Earlier marques of the Silhouette had been sold as very basic boats. The appeal being that the owner was free to modify or enhance the boat to his own taste. The concept of the Mk.IV was an up - market 4 berth Silhouette, supplied with pulpit, pushpit, fancy window trim, an Elsan mini - toilet, Canteen sink and chrome plated bronze deck fittings. It was moulded by Hurleys and marketed by J.G.Meakes as a small luxury cruiser but never captured the imagination of the public. Externally, it is identical in shape, although the hull, the deck and cabin top were usually a soft mid - green called 'Madeira'. Another outward difference is that there are no forward windows in the cabin but otherwise the dimensions are exactly the same as the SIII. The mast tabernacle is stainless steel, the mast anodised and the fittings chrome plate. The chief difference is that the SIV was built as a 4 berth boat, with quarter berths under the cockpit seats - hence there are no cockpit lockers. It has the usual stern locker and the recess in the transom for mounting the outboard. The cockpit is self - draining as usual. The cabin appears a little larger than on the SIII inside, since there is no forward bulkhead, the forward bunks go right up into the forepeak, with a small moulded in chain locker above. The step into the cabin conceals the mini - loo. On each side dividing the quarter berths from the forward berths are two lockers: on one side is mounted the cooker and on the other, one can put the portable Campteen sink unit. Under the forward hatch there is a big triangular berth cushion. Right forward there is the chain locker which is much smaller than in the SIII. All berths have cushions with good locker space below. This 4 - berth boat with gimballed cooker, an ingenious sink unit with it's own water supply and a self - contained Elsan loo, never proved as popular as it's predecessors.

This is the most recent development of the class, in which the increased accommodation of the Mk.IV was retained. 

The MkV Silhouette was moulded and marketed by Russel Curnow of Marazion and then by Varne Yachts of Nottingham, though they produced only a few of them. The chief feature of the SV is it's increased headroom (45"), achieved by heightening the topsides though like the Mk.IV, it is a four berth version, with the forward berths running right into the forepeak. Forward windows were reintroduced in the cabin front. On the port side, the berths are separated by a small galley unit. Sail area is the same as the SIV.

Length overall: 17' 3" 
Length waterline 14' 
Beam: 6' 7" 
Draft (bilge keel) 2' 1" 
Tonnage 2.3tons 
Ballast 450lbs 
Displacement 1,890lbs 

Marine ply construction 
LOA 20ft 
WLL 14' 9" - (only nine inches more than the MkII). 
Beam 6' 9" 
Draught 2'.0 
Displacement 1400lbs 
Berths 3 or 4 
Mainsail area 90sq ft 
Working jib 57sq ft - (various genoas available) 
Price £780 - (kit £579) 
Builders/Kit suppliers: Myson Marine Ltd 
Industrial Estate 
Ongar Essex. 

Hull: Fibreglass 
LOA: 20' 9" 
LWL: 16' 6" 
Beam: 7.3" 
Draught: 2' 5" 
Ballast: (Twin bilge keels) 480 kg 
Engine: Seagull inboard Sail drive 
Mainsail 108sq ft 
Working jib: 90sq ft 
Storm jib: 35sq ft 
No.1 genoa: 125sq ft 
No.2 genoa: 150sq ft 
Manufactured by: 
Varne Yachts 
Papplewick, Nottingham.




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