Nancy’s China is probably the most popular design in the Devlin Catalog. The name is a tongue-in-cheek observation that the finished boat should cost about as much as one new place setting of the then-new White House China. Bear in mind this design dates back to 1980.

The original design had a stayless sprit sail sloop sail plan and a dagger board type hull. The result was easy to handle, easy to set up from trailer, and an enjoyable boat that was an instant success for Devlin Designing Boatbuilders. Recently, Sam dusted off the old drawings and reviewed the design to add a couple of different sailing rigs for her.


The idea here is an economical day sailor with enough cabin to provide some shelter if the weather turns. It’s small enough to store in the garage, light enough to tow with almost any vehicle, and easy enough for anyone to sail.

Nancy’s China is a true classic in the Devlin catalog. Scroll down and read Sam’s design notes from the early days to learn the details.

Nancy’s China is available in study and construction plans, and as a CNC precision cut kit.

Nancy’s China Specifications

Length 15 ft. – 3 in.
Beam 6 ft. – 2 in.
Draft   Up/Down 16.75 in. / 34.5 in.
Dry Weight 850 lbs.
Ballast 300 lbs.
Sail Area Varies by rig


Nancy’s China Design Notes

Back in 1980, we decided to design a small trailerable boat sailboat with a large cockpit for day sailing and a cozy cabin for two, complete with sails and trailer and perhaps one of those stinky outboards on a tilting bracket on the transom. The result was an economic solution to that period’s recreational sailing dilemma, which coincidentally, cost about the same as a one place setting of the then-new Reagan White House china service.  Excuse my small bit of political humor with her name, but the resulting boat has provided at least as many happy faces and good experiences as the original china service did (or at least that is what I wished).

The original design had a stay less sprit sail sloop sail plan and a dagger board type hull, an easy to handle, easy to set up from trailer and enjoyable boat was an instant success for my fledgling company, sparing us some of the grief and anguish of the Reagan recession.  Strangely enough some of those same conditions economically exist today and so I decided to dust off the old drawings and go back thru the design, add a couple of different sailing rigs for her and am very pleased to introduce this new version of the “Nancy’s China”.

She can handle comfortably a couple for sailing and in a pinch more of a crowd, her tiller control is fingertip and she is very stable and comfortable to sail.  A large slide out hatch gives access to the cabin and if cushions (or a backpackers sleeping pad) are fitted she will sleep two in remarkable space and comfort.  You can also stand in the hatchway and raise and lower the sails making her very easy to live with.  I chose a Daggerboard for her to keep her simple, clean and hydrodynamically efficient, and I still think that is a fine conclusion – time worn but still credible.  At 6ft.-2inches of beam and 300 lbs. of ballast she is a stable and comfortable sailor, in fact I very often find myself sitting on the lee side sailing her with my ear close to the water and her so very light helm being almost sports car like in touch and feel.  At a total trailering weight including her ballast of 850lbs. virtually any car can tow her and she sits like a small duck on a good galvanized powerboat type trailer.  She sits so low on her trailer (about 70inches tall) that she will fit in virtually any standard garage opening and with set up for sailing in the under 20 minute range there is lots of reason to just trailer sail her, but she can sit on a mooring in front of your house just as handily.

I designed a new Gaff rig version for her and a smart looking Knockabout sloop rig also in addition to the original Sprit rig, all of them can be good companions, my wife and I sail one of these little boats and I love the Gaff rig, looks good, sails very well and suits my needs.

There are a lot of pluses on this little vessel besides charm and convenience, and after 30 years of life I find she is still an effective solution for the sailor on a tight budget.

– Sam Devlin

Artfully Designed and Crafted Boats since 1978

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