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Welcome to PeepHens.org. This is a hobby page devoted to owners of this neat little boat, and I hope we can assemble a crew here to share information about sailing, modifying, and trading Peep Hens. There's not much here- yet- but I'm hoping to assemble a complete history of the boat, and all the historical materials associated with it.
Reuben Trane designed the Peep based on his dissatisfaction with other small cruising boats, most notably the popular West Wight Potter 15. As he wrote in the Hen's Nest group:
"...when I designed the Peep, the one boat I was targeting was the Potter. I was always amazed that ANY of those boats were sold! Cockpit is tiny and uncomfortable (unless you'rs a Munchkin). Cabin is like crawling into a small pup tent. Sloops make little sense in a boat this small (unless you enjoy more strings to pull and are racing.) In a cruising boat, it is much better to have one, self tending sail. The only reason to add sails in a cruising boat is when any one sail gets too big to handle (drop, furl, reef, sheet, etc.). Thus, the popularity of ketches in mid and larger size cruising boats. There are purists who want the most speed and windward ability under sail - to them I'd say, forget either a Potter or a Peep. Get yourself a performance boat (cat-rigged or sloop) and camp cruise on the beach.As a 6'2" former Potter owner I'd have to say I agree in large part with Trane on the Potter 15- although shorter owners find it very suitible- particularly the original Potter, with its better layout (berths under the cockpit seats, sitting room in the cabin). A 5'8" or shorter sailor might find the 480lb P15 an ideal cruiser. But at 6'5", Trane wanted a boat that had comfortable sitting and sleeping room above and below deck, and he wanted it in a package that could be towed behind a compact car. Here's how he describes the Peep Hen (also taken from the Hen's Nest group):
"Try sitting in the cabin of a Potter. Try getting comfortable in the cockpit. See how easy a Potter is to tack out a narrow channel single handed (next to impossible). With the Peep (or any cat rigged boat) you just put the helm over for each tack."
Here's another summary of the Peep from Reuben's early advertising:
"She is quite handy, tacking quickly and positively in all wind conditions, by only putting over the helm. Of course in heavy winds, she needs to be reefed.
"She does not point extremely close to the wind, but she can make her way to windward in a narrow channel due to her tacking ability. Probably no closer than 50 degrees.
"She loves reaching and running. Her sail area is quite generous, and before the wind, all of it is being used (unlike a sloop with her jib being blanketed). With her free standing rig, the main can be wrung out at 90 degrees, acting more like a lazy man's spinnaker.
"In a small boat, there is no need for more than one sail, unless you are into class racing, or pulling lines. The single sail is more than ample and makes her easily single handed.
"Because of her free standing rig and tabernacle mast, she is quickly and easily rigged. In fact, the mast can be lowered and raised so easily, that you will find yourself exploring beyond fixed bridges that bar the path to most sailors.
"The Peep is the most comfortable boat in her class, both inside and out. High coamings, long, wide seats (long enough for me to sleep on and I'm 6'5"). Sitting headroom in the cabin (again enough for me), one long berth and one just over 6'. Storage in the bow for wet gear. Storage and galley below. Optional summer cabin, a bimini that can be left up while sailing (another unique feature in her class).
"The Peep Hen will win no races to windward, but once off the wind, she is quite lively. She will tack easier than other small cruisers, and is easily single handed. In my opinion, she more than makes up for her lack of windward ability with her other features. BTW, I have noticed that most sailors, at the end of the day, when faced with a long windward leg home, will light up the motor. And the Peep has a really handy placement for the motor, easy to use.
"When I designed the Peep Hen, I used my body as a template, measuring the distance from my seat to over my head. Adding for a cushion, this the distance from the top of the berth flat to the underside of the deck (which is full width, extending to the side of the hull). This allows you to sit down and lean back comfortably. It's nice enough to spend an afternoon sitting below, reading a good book.
"The port berth is also long enough for me to stretch out on. The width of the floor space is ample for my size 14 shoes. There is room for me to sit on the portable MSD, again with my size 14 feet (the MSD stows under the cockpit sole).
"Same for the cockpit. The seats are long and wide enough for me to stretch out on. The Bimini high enough to sit upright under and still it clears the boom when sailing (something no other micro cruiser can claim). The Bimini can also be left up when the mast is in the lowered position (this let's you spend the day motoring and easily passing under fixed bridges without even raising the mast to get it out of your way.
"These are all unique features of the Peep Hen. She has been designed to be the easiest, most comfortable, micro cruiser around."
The PEEP HEN is never going to be accused of being pretty. Her lines are the result of packing a lot of full sized features into a micro sized vessel. In spite of her small size, the PEEP HEN is, in fact, a true cruising boat.
Let's start down below: The cabin has more than 4' of headroom so you can sit, relax and lean back without hitting your head (something really unusual in a small boat). Any cruising boat needs a place to sleep. The Peep Hen has two good quarter berths (one of which is over 6'6" with 2' of knee clearance.)
A cruiser (or even a daysailer that's used for more than an hour or so) needs some sort of plumbing facilities and the place to use it. The Peep Hen has room in the cabin to use a Porta Potti, cedar bucket or what have you (in complete privacy from the cockpit and without disturbing either berth occupant), and room to stow it under the cockpit floor out of sight, out of the way.
The Peep Hen comes complete with a galley counter big enough to handle a camp stove with room left over for food preparation, a 25 quart ice box, dry storage space for groceries and cooking utensils, and even the kitchen sink. In the forepeak is room to stash a couple of duffels during the day, and sleeping gear can be kept at the foot of the bunks. In other words, everything has its place aboard a Peep Hen, and even in full cruising trim, the interior need not look like an overfilled gunny sack bursting at the seams.
Now for the exterior of the Peep Hen; the place where most sailors are likely to spend the majority of their time while sailing (or cruising). The cockpit seats are designed to fit full sized adults (it is a common myth that most small boat sailors are small people) so they will be comfortable for a full day's sail or an afternoon's lounging at anchor. The self-bailing foot well is low enough to provide good leg room. the seats are wide enough to sun bathe on (the starboard one is 6'6" long) and the coamings are high enough to give good back support. A cutout below the starboard seat has room for a cooler(within easy reach of the helms person) and a gas can. To port, a notch in the transom lets you use a short shaft motor, real easy to get at.
Foreward, we have recessed the deck. This gives you a secure place to handle lines, a good spot to stow the anchor, and a special place for kids to ride (a couple of corks in the scuppers and several buckets of sea water convert the well to a hot tub).
Finally, any cruiser needs a manageable rig, especially if she is to be single handed. This is an area where the Peep Hen shines. Her single gaff sail is quickly raised, lowered or reefed without going on deck; one simply stands in the companionway to handle the halyards and jiffy reefing lines. Her free standing mast is mounted in a tabernacle (mast hinge) making raising or lowering a breeze (even in the water) for even the clumsiest of us sailors. (My 10 year old son can do it unaided). When lowered, the boom and the mast rest on the boom gallows, the sail still furled on the boom. The Peep Hen can be launched, rigged, sail raised, ready to cast oft in under 10 minutes, single handed.
A word about options. A Bimini top with full sitting headroom is available giving ample protection from the elements. Add to this the Summer Cabin and the cockpit becomes a bright, airy main salon, or guest stateroom. Our stainless swim ladder bolts to the starboard transom and swings up when not in use. The sailcover can be used both with the mast raised or lowered in trailering position and will give you the maximum life for your sail.
Probably the best part is how much fun the Peep Hen can be. Her simplicity means less time spent working and more time spent sailing. With only one sail to handle, the crew need only sit back and enjoy; the skipper needn't bark orders at every tack, he simply puts the helm over and the Peep quickly responds. With only 9" of draft, she can sneak into the coziest of harbors, away from those sailors restricted by their deeper draft vessels. She is safe for the beginner. In the event she tips over, the Peep Hen quickly rights herself; what little water comes aboard quickly drains from her cockpit.
In spite of her micro size, the PEEP HEN is maxi in features; her comfort, handiness, safety and simplicity are unsurpassed by any other micro cruiser.