Mk 5 Sailing
Unusual fin keel version
The Silhouette Mk 1 was a Robert Tucker design with some of the characteristics of the larger Caprice, although I believe lines for the Silhouette were drawn before those of the Caprice. She had long bilge keels, and a big skeg to which the rudder was attached. Made of marine plywood, this 17’ 3” by 6’ 9” single chine, two berth sailing cruiser, was uniquely distinguished by her double-curved sheer line. To my eyes, the bendy line was an aesthetically attractive feature that enhanced her appearance. The increased height of her topsides, forward of amidships, was a practical solution to providing more interior space than would otherwise have been possible for such a small boat. The Mk 1 had a solid, 20 foot wooden mast mounted in a substantial, galvanized tabernacle. Modestly rigged with a 45 square-foot jib and a 65 square foot mainsail, her forestay came short of the mast top by a few inches, and her side cap shrouds were attached to chainplates mounted abaft those for the lower side shrouds. She had fixed, swept-back spreaders clipped to the cap shrouds, and a standing backstay. In the late 1950s when the Mk 1 Silhouettes were being built, most of them would have relied on Seagull outboards for their auxiliary power. A few Mk 1 boats were fitted with Stuart Turner inboard engines located under the bridge deck. These early boats were mostly built from plans by amateurs, but in 1960 Hurleys of Plymouth supplied kits for the Mk 2 version. Incredibly, by the end of 1961 there were over 1,000 UK Silhouettes and others in various parts of the world.
These classic craft evolved over the years from the Mk I chine version to the Mk 5 round bilge boat. For a detailed account of the changes that took place between 1954, when the first Silhouette was launched, to the late 70s, when the last boat was produced by Beresford Marine, have a look at the web site of the Silhouette Owners International Association.*Only 25 Mk 4 boats were built, and they can be distinguished from other versions by their lack of forward-facing cabin windows. Made of GRP, the Mk 5 boat was considerably different to the original plywood Mk 1. The Mk 5 had round bilges, higher topsides, more spacious accommodation, more sail area, and she had metal spars. All versions of Silhouettes are popular today, despite the fact that none have been manufactured in recent years. Plans for building the wooden Mk 2 can be obtained from Tucker Designs, and the Honorary Secretary of the Silhouette Owners International Association will, for a nominal fee, forward A4 mini plans to you. (I think this applies to both members of the Association and non members.)
*Silhouette Owners International Association
Hurley Owners Association
Hurley Silhouette Brochure