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Piver 24 Nugget Trimaran — Vintage History

Multihull enthusiast Reuben Filsell sent the following link to me. The webpage offers booklets that feature compiled information from old articles and boat plans.

This page contains a booklet for a vintage small trimaran … a Piver 24′ Nugget. The booklet isn’t expensive, and might make for some fun reading for multihullers who love those early classic designs. Here is the link to the page featuring the Piver Nugget 24-foot small trimaran booklet.

I also asked Mike Waters’ (from www.SmallTrimaranDesign.com) if he’d like to share a few comments about the Piver ‘Nugget’. He wrote the following …

“I knew many of his early designs fairly well. In the 60’s, Piver had 7 standard designs and literally 100’s were built … including the 24′ Nugget, 30′ Nimble, 35’Lodestars etc.

Here are the front and rear covers of a 1962 AYRS Bulletin from the UK., called “Trimarans.” (60 pages for $1 at the time ;-)

Claims of the Nugget design being ‘ocean ready’ were really nonsense of course, though Piver did cross the Atlantic in his 30′ Nimble and there may have been one Nugget that made one crossing. But Piver was super enthusiastic … and clearly the man most responsible for the start of the multihull craze. (Piver was a do-it-yourselfer with no training in boat design but as a WWll pilot, had an engineering bent).

Others were in there too … but it’s Piver who made and sold plans for homebuilding ‘that anyone can build’, that really caught the imagination of the dreamers of the world in the 60’s. They even have a link to modern day … as Derek Kelsall once completed a kit Lodestar and was the first to actually race a bona-fide trimaran across the Atlantic .. the OSTAR of 1964.

Piver was a great promoter of his designs .. and for the period, they were indeed remarkable. Sadly, about half the Piver designs built were by those with ZERO idea on using tools etc … and are what ultimately gave them a poor reputation. Many were poorly built, many not even with marine ply and as there was no readily available epoxy at the time .. they were sheathed with polyester (which some today, say can’t be done ;-). Many rotted prematurely and they were often too heavy and slow and so disappointed their owners after all the hype.

Most early tris had very small floats at that time. (That’s ok for a dayboat but not a cruiser). The Vee’d hulls had high wetted surface and the upper superstructure offered lots of windage.

The larger boats like the Lodestar and 40′ Victress were actually more successful, as they were proportionally lower. Other important multihull designers that I remember from the 60’s were: Rudy Choy, Maclean & Harris; Geoffrey Prout and Viktor Tchetchet – who preceeded Piver by about 10 years and was credited with giving the name ‘Trimaran’ to 3-hulled multihulls.

Following those noted above, came the likes of Jim Brown, Norman Cross, Lock Crowther and another fellow from CA, who name slips my mind. Even Derek Kelsall was in there as the first pioneer to use a foam-polyester sandwich in the mid 60’s …. experimenting on both monohulls and his 42ft ‘Toria’, a break-through trimaran that went on to win the 1966 Round Britain race, named after his daughter who was about 2 at the time. [The imaginative Derek Kelsall is STILL pushing the envelope with new ideas and I’ll be reporting on these soon through my website].

Of course, Herreshoff’s first catamaran (Amaryllis) preceeded them all ;-)

After winning it’s first race by a large margin, the 2-hull ‘format’ was then banned from all competition. That was in 1877!

Later, faced with lots of new competition, Piver went on to develop a new series of trimarans called the AA series .. (to be built by Advanced Amateurs) .. but they never came to much as other designs by Brown, Cross, Crowther etc with more refined engineering, were eventually preferred by the growing crop of multihull enthusiasts.” Some of the large Pivers are still sailing in the Caribbean and with a few mods to their keels etc, have at least provided happy vacation homes for their owners.”

— Mike W


  1. The Nugget may not have been ocean ready out of the box … but when properly set up it was a capable and safe ocean cruser. In the late sixties and early seventies, my wife and I spent several years in a circumnavigation aboard the “No Name.” A great trip. We never thought that we were in danger for even a couple of seconds.

  2. I built a Piver Nugget and launched it in July 1964. It took six months of part time work.
    I built it exactly according to plan, except I used two surface piercing daggerboards
    pivotting out fron two “sheaths” at the wing folding junction.
    This allowed a double berth in the main hull by folding down the back of the bench seat and it’s back cushion, to form a comfortable double.
    The twin daggerboards were not a success as they flexed too much and were a pain to operate at night or in bad weather. After the first summer we replaced them with a Cross 24 type LAR keel. The helm balanced perfectly.
    The full sized berths fore and aft slept my two teen aged sons. We sailed and cruised for four years in comfort. The open aft end of the cabin was covered by a tailored canvas top and was completely dry when buttoned up.
    The folding system was crude and simple—but it worked and we had no problems with it.
    The deep Vee floats had hatches, in which we stored light belongings and equipment. But the deep Vees caused violent rocking by power cruisers wakes, as the floats would submerge and then spring up again, like squeezing an orange pip. Several times we lost soup off the stove like that. Any Tri you consider—nix on vee bottom floats.
    The mast, as designed, was a flat 2″X6″ Fir plank. We sat this on a trailer tow ball in an oak socket to allow it to rotate, limiting it’s rotation with two door stops. Worked well.
    The self tacking jib worked on a track formed by a chrome plated towel rail, as did the mainsheet. Believe it or not we had wheel steering. A small cast metal ,wooden handled wheel, acting thru pulleys to a yoke on the top of the rudder, was bolted to the centre of the rear beam in the cockpit. It was convenient from either side. When monohull sailors told us “Multihulls can’t tack or go well to windward” we would invite them on board. Sailing on a close reach we would tell them to hold the wheel all the way up to windward. As the boat came up onto the wind they would always instinctively start to back off the wheel. “No, no we would say. Hold it over” When they did, the dear little Nugget would come up right through the wind continue on down, self jibe and then come on back to the original heading all by it’s self. Just blew their minds. :)
    That boat cost me $1,500 to build, (in 1960s dollars). I sold it in 1968 for $3,150.
    Happy memories.

  3. Wow Patrick! Wow.
    What a review on the handling of your Piver Nugget. Thanks for sharing this with us :-)
    Again … wow.

  4. I want to sail back to the states in small multihull what do you recomend cat or tri v or flat bottom. I am thinking 16 to 20 ft with wind gen. and wáter desal. . I had a piver nimble but hurricane Andrew took it I am 64 and maybe my wife will join me we are both crazy about multihulls. i have my own design but would like to hear about my options before I try to build thanks anthony

  5. Hi Tony,
    When you say, “sail back to the States,” then I assume you’re out of the country … but not across an ocean somewhere. I don’t know that you’d want to try and cross an ocean in a 16-20 ft boat :-)
    That being said, there are a few trailerable trimarans featured here on smalltrimarans.com that would allow one to cross an ocean. Not many, but a few. The Marples’ designed DC3 trimaran was drawn up with ocean crossing in mind. And you probably already know that Searunner 25s have crossed oceans. The challenge, however, is getting a hold of one of these models without having to build one. IMO the easiest and most economical thing to do (to achieve your goal) would be to buy an older, smaller catamaran in the 30-foot range. That is very doable and would be much easier than trying to cross a large body of water in a smaller tri.
    My 2 cents, adjusted for inflation, of course :-)
    All the best to you in your journey (let us know what you decide to do) … and fair winds!

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