My Paradox "Johanna"

Building a Matt Layden
13'10" Microcruiser


par·a·dox      [par-uh-doks]
1. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
2. a self-contradictory and false proposition.
3. any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.
4. an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion.

[Origin: 1530–40; < L paradoxum < Gk parádoxon, n. use of neut. of parádoxos unbelievable, lit., beyond belief. ]
  Johanna - 11th June 2011
Johanna was launched on June 11th 2011.
From now on you can read about her sailing adventures at Paradoxically Speaking  as I will leave the Building Blog just for Build Information up to the time of completion.

What is "Paradox"

 Paradox is a small (13'10") shoal draft coastal cruiser designed by Matt Layden.Matt designed the original Paradox and she is the result of many years of experimentation and improvement, bringing together all that was good in his previous micro-sailboats.

She's a very small (14') sailing boat that can be managed entirely from below deck. All control lines for operating the boat , sheets, halyard, downhaul, rudder lift etc. are accessible within her comfortable cabin. The crew can take cover in inclement cold wet weather or sit in the open hatchway during sunny days! She has a  watertight ventilation system which keeps keeps the interior aired and dry.

Unusually for a sailing vessel, Paradox does not have a keel, centreboard or leeboards, instead she relies upon "chine runners"  together with a large rudder and a "lifting" hull form to provide lateral resistance, and hence she draws only a few inches of water and is admirably suitable for estuaries and shoal waters. Her standing lugsail can be reefed with little effort without her crew having to go on deck. She can be propelled with a yuloh although many have installed a small outboard engine.

Paradox is the 5th in line of small cruisers that Matt has refined and developed over the years along with his development of the chine runner concept. Dave and Mindy Bolduc cover the development of Matt's boats at their microcruising website. The links below will give a greater insight into this versatile small craft.

Below are some fine examples of the Paradox design:

Glen Maxwell's "Zoe" at Cedar Key, Florida.

In the UK there are two completed Paradoxes;

Bill Sergeant's "Faith"



 Al Law's "Little Jim"

In the words of Sven Yrvind;

"I am now convinced that the chinerunner concept, created by Matt in 1982, is the greatest innovation for small cruising boats in the last century."

Plans and Build Manual

Dave Bolduc sells and distributes the Paradox Plans.

He can be contacted by email at:

or by "snail mail" at:

David Bolduc
1736 Phillips Avenue
Greensboro, NC  27405

I believe the plans are still the bargain price of $40 (US).

Study Plans are available to peruse here -


The late Don Elliot has also produced an excellent "Building Paradox" manual.

Don's widow, Wanda, is selling his Paradox Boat Building Manual . She will answer all replies as soon as possible and can send all the info you will need to order the Paradox manual either by PDF or as a CD. Her email address is:

A sample of the sketches in his manual can be found here -

Chine Runners

So what is this chine runner concept?

Who better to describe it than the man himself. The following is an extract from an interview with Matt in the  May/June 2009 edition of Small Craft Advisor.


Furled Sails Podcasts

"Furled Sails" is a weekly sailing podcast focusing on cruising and recreational sailing.

There's something here for everyone, if you have an interest in sailing, but several interviews relating to microcruising and the influence of Matt Layden's designs are of particular note to the microcruiser enthusiast:

Microcruising Part 1 and Part 2:

Interview with Dave and Mindy of who have cruised thousands of miles in their 15 foot boat "Little Cruiser". They talk about their trips and go over the good and bad of cruising small. Do you really need that big boat? Find out here!


Chief of Watertribe, Steve Isaac tells us about his exciting eco-adventure races which encourage the development of small boats, equipment, skills, and human athletic performance for safe and efficient coastal cruising using minimal impact. The races envolve human and wind powered watercraft that are based on kayaks, canoes, and small sailboats. In addition Chief and Matt Layden aka wizard are currently working on a trimaran for adventure sailing called the Tridarka Raider.

Sven Yrvind Part 1:

 Sven Lundin now Sven Yrvind, winner of the 1980 Royal Cruising Club medal for seamanship and designer of the famous 'Bris' is one of the most fascinating sailors we have spoken to. In 1980 he rounded Cape Horn in Bris II a 20' boat of his own design. Now at age 68 he is still designing and sailing boats.

Part 2:

Sven shares with us his new boat design and how younger designer Matt Layden has inspired some of the changes to this new boat. Sven also has a book that is in the works. I know we are looking forward to a good read from such an incredible sailor.


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