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Copyright 2009 Bill G. Nolen
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Construction of the West Wight Potter Sailboats

Construction of the West Wight Potter Sailboats

Manufactured by International Marine, Inc

By Bill Nolen

Photographs provided by International Marine, Inc unless otherwise noted

Revised: 8-16-04

International Marine, Inc manufactures two size sailboats, the West Wight Potter 15 and the West Wight Potter 19, at their facilities in Inglewood, California.

The West Wight Potter 15 (P-15) is one of the best known and oldest sailboats still in production, with thousands of the micro-cruisers sailing throughout the world. In the United States the largest number of P-15 are located in California where they are sailed the year around. The P-15, though small in size, has been sailed to some amazing places including being sailed single-handed from the USA to Alaska, Mexico, and Hawaii. In addition, the designer of the P-15, Stanley Smith, sailed the early plywood model of the West Wight Potter from England, across the North Sea, to Sweden.

The P-15s larger sister, the West Wight Potter 19 (P-19) while younger in design age, is also well known for its loyal owners and outstanding value for her size. Few, if any, other production sailboats offer as many outstanding family sailing features as does the P-19. Please don't think that the P-19 lacks sea adventures of its own. A P-19 named Chubby was sailed single-handed from California to Hawaii and, soon after, from Washington State to Alaska. In addition, two or more P-19s have been sailed from Florida to the Bahama Islands and back without any difficulty.

Both the P-15 and the P-19 share the same high quality construction methods, hand-laid fiberglass with balsa core construction, to provide a strong but lightweight boat that can be trailed with ease.


The backbone of any fiberglass boat is the condition and trueness of the molds being used. Here is a photo of International Marine's new P-15 hull mold. In the background you can see the P-19 hull mold. After the fiberglass is hand laid in the mold and cured, it is then removed and set aside for the final drying and curing.

After curing the hull is placed in the assembly area where gel coat is applied to those interior areas which will be exposed. After the gel coat dries, hardware is mounted on the hull. You can see that on the stern of the hull the motor mount, the folding ladder and the rudder's gudgeons have been installed.

In this photo you can see the new deck mold that International Marine is using for the P-15 sailboats. The use of new deck, hull and hull liner molds makes a great difference in the quality of the final fiberglass product.


After the fiberglass deck has been hand laid in the mold and cured, the deck then goes to the assembly area where the windows and hatch openings are cut, and the exterior hardware is installed, i.e., the cleats, cockpit rails, bow pulpit, stem plate, etc. The P-15 deck in the background is waiting its turn.

Another view of the same P-15 showing all the items already installed. The window cut-outs have been made and the windows are being installed.

Note that all windows have now been installed and the deck is now suspended in the air so that the workmen can easily reach the underside to attach the hardware.

The hull liner is also formed on new molds and the liner removed from the mold and dried. Here is a photo of a hull liner that was molded on the old mold and is drying. Photo by John McNeely

After the hull liner has cured, and while the hardware is being installed on the hull at another workstation, hardware is installed on the interior of the hull liner. This photo shows a 2001 P-15 hull liner so the mounting of hardware is different than on the 2004 models. Photo by John McNeely

The swing keel is installed in the hull, and then the hull liner is laid in place in the hull and attached with fiberglass cloth. The battery location on the starboard side is aft of the opening for the Porta Potty. You can see attached to the swing keel aft housing the electrical switch and fuse box, At the aft end of the hull you can also see the large size of the foam floatation blocks.

In this photo the liner has been fiberglassed into the hull and the rear flotation installed.

A different view of the P-15's hull and liner.

Now, the deck is being lowered onto the hull, where they will be joined together in the final assemble of the Potter 15. From this point on it will look like the little sailing ship that it is!

The joining surfaces of the deck and hull have been coated with 3M-5200 adhesive, and the workman is drilling holes every four inches, for the first set of rivets.

The P-15 has been loaded onto it's trailer for innspection and accessories to be added.

Workmen installing a Bimini on a new P-15.


First step in the construction progress is the hand laying of the fiberglass mat into the hull mold.Photo by Rob Milstead

After the cured hull has been removed from the mold it is moved to the assembly work area.

In this photo the hull for a P-19 has been removed from the mold and a workman has applied gel coat on the interior of the P-19. The adjustable motor mount has already been installed.

After the gel coat has been painted the flotation foam in installed. The front foam has already been installed and the rear foam is ready to be installed. After that the hull liner will be lowered into the hull.

The hull liner has been painted with gel coat and is ready to be lowered into place.

The hull liner has been lowered into the hull in this photo and accessories and hardware is being installed. At the aft end of the hull a workman is installing the rudder's gudgeons.

In the following photos you can see many P-19 cabin features being installed.

Note in this photo the beautiful cabin lamps. Such a pleasing interior!

While the hull is being worked on, the deck has been removed from the deck mold and is ready for the workmen to start working on it.

In this photo the deck has been turned right side up. The hatch opening has been cut and the windows openings will be cut next.

As you can see the workmen have started working on the deck and have installed quite a lot of deck hardware.

A lot of the deck hardware has been installed in this photo. As you can see the workman is installing the P-19's compass. IM photo furnished by Ron Coderre.

The deck has been raised and is ready to lower onto the hull and hull liner. It appears that the keel cable is visible on the starboard side of the deck. In the background you can see a blue hulled P-15 that is almost ready for shipment.

All accessories and hardware has been installed and the hull and liner are ready for the deck to be installed. Off to the left you can see the deck.

The deck and hull are bonded together with 3M-5200 adhesive, with rivets placed every four inches. The rub rail is then installed, also using 3M-5200, and rivets also spaced every four inches. This results in the deck and hull having rivets spaced every two inches, resulting in a super bond between the deck and hull.

As you can see, a workman is installing the rudder and adjusting the rubber blade's raising line.

After the deck is installed all finish work is completed and the boat is ready for shipment. Some lucky owner is going to receive a great boat!

The P-19 is loaded onto a trailer and inspected. Final trim will be added.

In this photo the red hull stripe has been installed.

The boats are inspected and boxed items are placed in the cabins. Photo by Steve Graf.

When boxed items are in the cabins the Potter Sailboat are placed in a holding area to await delivery arrangements.

The boats are loaded on a flat bed trailer, after being sealed in aprotective covering (new in 2004) for delivery to their new owners. First photo by Rob Milstead

Some home deliveries are more difficult than others! Photo by Colin Perkins.

Photo showing a P-15 being unloaded for it's new owner. Photo by Giorgio Sciortino.

Most deliveries are straightforward, and the boat is quickly unloaded and the owner is quick to hook up the trailer to their vehicle. In this photo you can see Steve Graf hurrying to get his pickup so he can trailer away his new P-15! Photo furnished by Steve Graf.

Once the boat is safely at the owner's home the protective cover is ripped off! Photo furnished by Steve Graf.

And very shortly a new Potter is ready to take its owners on many new happy voyages and adventures! Photo by Steve Graf.

The end!