Friday, March 15, 2019

First Mate Sailing on the Wind

Here is a twenty second clip showing First Mate sailing to windward on an enjoyably fresh day. This should give some indication of a number of things - the benefit of a sharp entry when it comes to spray suppression, the effectiveness of a well cut balance lugsail (in this case 76 sq.ft.), and how pleasant it is to sit low in the boat with one's weight concentrated in the weather bilge.

Note that the skipper is sitting forward against the main thwart, so that his weight is in-line longitudinally with the centre-of-buoyancy, ensuring that the boat trims correctly.

Video courtesy of Ian Hamilton - First Mate skipper David Lillistone

Monday, March 11, 2019

Dinghy Cruising with a Mothership

I am approaching sixty-five years of age and for most of my life I have spent my nautical leisure hours sailing a dinghy of one sort or another. Dinghy sailing has added greatly to my understanding of a range of subjects, and other than the experience of being a spouse and a parent, sailing has been my central passion.

A recent three-day trip allowed me to add to my dinghy cruising experience in a manner which may be of interest to others who are reaching an age where comfort and shelter send out a Siren call to dinghy sailors who have reached an age of decrepitude. One of my sons accompanied me and my equally decrepit friend Ian, and he suggested that we pair of oldies would benefit from something more comfortable to sleep aboard that a pair of light-weight sailing dinghies. Dave's suggestion was that we should take along my Phil Bolger-designed 16 ft diesel lobsterboat to act as a mothership.

Phil Bolger Lobsterboat powered by a Yanmar 1GM10 diesel of 8 hp (continuous rating)

The Lobsterboat as drawn by Phil Bolger with an open interior, strip-planked smooth hull, and powered by a long-shaft 15hp outboard. With the designer's consent, I built mine with a glued-lapstrake hull, a cuddy, and an inboard diesel.

Ian wasn't impressed with the idea of taking along a motorboat, but I could see the advantages given where we were intending to go, so I told him it was going to happen whether he liked it or not.

The initial plan was for the camping gear, food, and water to be carried in the Lobsterboat and that we would all take turns sailing the dinghies. The combination looked good because the Lobsterboat cruises very happily at five or six knots despite her semi-displacement hull, and she has a big propeller well suited to towing if required.

The dinghies were  a Flint and a First Mate - both being 15 footers (or very close to) - Flint is a rowboat which sails well, and First Mate is a sailboat which rows nicely!

Flint showing a 59 sq.ft. sprit-boomed Leg-o'-Mutton sail as used on many of Phil Bolger's small sailing craft

First Mate with a 76 sq.ft. Balance Lugsail
Flint is currently rigged with a 59 sq.ft. Phil Bolger generic sprit-boomed Leg-o'-Mutton sail left over from a previous boat, while I wait for the 'as designed' gaff-headed sloop rig to arrive. The combination of a tall rig set on a heavy composite mast and a sail without the capacity to be reefed meant that the idea of sailing Flint down the bay for four hours into a blustery south-easter was not practical. So, we set off with Flint under tow, and David sailing First Mate. Strike one for the Lobsterboat...

We were sailing into the lee of Green Island here and the water was relatively flat - but outside the lee things were pretty boisterous!
The conditions outside the harbour were 'character building', with a strong wind right in or teeth. Dave sailed hard on the wind, but the combination of a strong headwind and an outgoing tide meant that we were making slow progress. Nobody wanted the sailing to stop, but in order to get to our destination before dark, it was decided to cut short the sailing at a point just under one quarter of the way to our anchorage. This situation demonstrated just how beneficial the mothership concept was turning out to have become. We were all time-limited, and therefore did not have the luxury of anchoring-up somewhere until the conditions improved. But with the Lobsterboat and her muscular Yanmar diesel, we were able to continue - straight into the teeth of the playful south-east wind while towing both sailing dinghies. Strike two for the Lobsterboat...

As always seems to be the case, the camera makes the sea look more calm than it actually is - as you can see from Flint leaping over a wave, it was rougher than it appears.
It was late in the afternoon when we reached out destination, but as soon as we were safely anchored, Dave rigged Flint and went off sailing around the anchorage and beyond. Our harbour was excellent as a anchorage, but it was so well protected that we only got light and flukey wind, and the sailing was less than exciting.
About a mile from our intended anchorage

Mothership safely anchored , allowing  for an evening sail in Flint

What became immediately clear to all three of us was just how pleasant it was to have a roomy, stable boat upon which to set up our accommodations. In our part of Australia the UV levels are cruel to humans much of the time. In our dinghies we rely on sun-screen and protective clothing, but in the Lobsterboat we had the tremendous benefit of a bimini and a cuddy cabin. We all sufferred from the sun over the three days on the water, but it would have been much, much worse without shelter. Yet another strike for the Lobsterboat...

The Lobsterboat and Flint. In the late afternoons we attached shade-cloth around the western-facing end of the bimini.
We spent a pleasant few days exploring - mostly in the sailing dinghies, but when we weren't sailing it was very convenient indeed to have access to the shore by way of  rowing.

Flint acting as a tender

I'm expecting to get hold of some more photos and video, but in the meantime, here is a short Youtube clip of the outing...

Monday, February 25, 2019

Fleet under Oar Power - a short video clip

Since publishing the previous article about Fleet and Fleet, and their respective performance under outboard power, I've been asked by several people to report on performance under oar power.

Flint was designed from the outset to be a dedicated rowing boat - the power and sailing options were after-thoughts. She rows beautifully in my biased opinion.

Fleet on the other hand has a hull-form which is not optimised for rowing, but because of her light-weight and lean hull, she does got surprisingly well - certainly much better than the typical aluminium outboard skiff (they are about as bad to row as you could imagine - even compared with an inflatable!

Here is Fleet in the only worthwhile clip I possess:-

Next is a nice clip from a Flint builder in Italy (I think) - such a pleasant little clip:-

These two clips should be viewed in the context of the previous post if you haven't read it already

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Flint and Fleet - Different Hulls for Different Jobs

My introduction to “reading” the shape of a boat’s hull by viewing a lines drawing came from watching over Dad’s shoulder as he read copies of “The Rudder”, Motor Boating’s “Ideal Series”, Howard Chapelle’s “American Small Sailing Craft” and other such documents. I guess I was about five years old at the time, and it wasn’t too long before I had a practical introduction to a table-of-offsets when Dad started to loft the lines of William Atkin’s Nancy, a 15ft 6in LOA modified sailing dory of 5ft breadth, and 13ft 6in length on the waterline. My part was to read out the offsets as Dad marked everything on his full-size lofting. I didn’t understand what the numbers meant, but I knew they were somehow very important.

Full-size lofting taking place in my workshop around 2003. Basically, expanding a set of lines from the scaled paper drafting to full-sized pencil and ballpoint drawing on white-painted plywood.

Full-size lofting taking place in my workshop around 2003. Basically, expanding a set of lines from the scaled paper drafting to full-sized pencil and ballpoint drawing on white-painted plywood.
As years went by my free days were spent sailing a Charles MacGregor-designed Sabot at the local sailing club and generally living a salt-water life, enjoying the freedom afforded to kids in the early sixties. But in the evenings I found myself drawn more and more frequently to the stash of books about boats which lived in a particular part of the wall of bookshelves in our TV-deprived house.

The drawings which attracted my attention most were the outboard profiles and the sail-plans. To me it appeared that the lines drawings were only for higher beings than myself, and they meant little to me.

Moving on fifty or sixty years, I now know that a boat drawing without a set of lines is like music without notation. Yes, music can be played by ear, and a boat can be built by eye or half-model – but for most of us, a set of lines is the key to visualising and understanding the shape and behaviour of a particular boat.

A typical lines drawing, showing waterlines, buttock lines, and hull sections. I also draw diagonals, but they are not shown in this particular drawing
But just as I know people who are amazed that I can’t ‘hear’ a piece of music by looking at the notes on paper, I find myself puzzled when someone who has a set of plans for one of my small sailing or rowing designs asks me if she will take their 15hp outboard!

Back in about 2003 I was asked to draw a design for a fifteen-foot rowing boat which was to be used by a very experienced waterman when he needed to row to the mainland from his island home on Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Moreton Bay is a wonderful and varied paradise for boat people, but one of its notable characteristics is the ability to generate a particularly short and steep wave pattern. This new rowing boat design needed to be shaped to handle such conditions.

The resulting design, called Flint, has turned out to be very popular with home-builders. In fact, I use a Flint as my recreational boat-of-choice at the moment. She is 14ft 10in x 4ft 3ins and weighs in at as little as 40kg (88lbs). The boat is arranged to carry a small outboard for those who for whatever reason need that facility, and shortly after the plans were released, I started to receive letters and emails about using motors larger than the 2 to 2.5 horsepower units I recommended in the plans and instructions. Much time was taken up in writing emails to potential builders, explaining why excess power was counter-productive

In order to be an efficient rowing boat, and to be able to sail effectively with the optional sailing rig, the lines drawing for Flint shows considerable keel rocker, and the buttock lines (i.e. the bottom of the boat in profile) sweep upward at a significant angle to the waterline, terminating above the water at the stern transom.

In order to satisfy the many people who still insisted on using larger outboards, I drew another design - based on Flint - which has almost zero keel rocker aft of amidships – she is called Fleet, and will run happily at speeds of up to 20 knots (23 mph) in good conditions. More importantly, Fleet will run quietly and smoothly at her sweet-spot of about 12 knots (14 mph). At such a speed she is covering ground to windward at nearly four times that of a similar sized sailing boat. A potent and efficient magic carpet for an explorer who has limited available time.

Flint is 14ft 10in x a fraction over 4ft at the outside of the hull planking – Fleet is 15 ft x 4ft  - and both are made from the same pile of plywood and can carry similar loads. But from there the similarity ends. Flint is sweet as a rowing boat, close-winded and fast under sail, and cruises nicely with a two horse-power motor throttled back to the point where noise is not intrusive – under such outboard power she sits in proper trim at about 5.5 knots (6.3 mph).

Late last year my boating friend, Ian Hamilton, and I had a wonderful opportunity to carry out a series of tests, comparing the speed and behaviour of a Flint and a Fleet while using a range of motor sizes on both boats. The conditions were perfect, and because there were two of us, we were able to photograph and video the action, as well as recording the GPS-derived results in a note book. What a tough job – but I guess that someone has to spend a couple of days on the water playing with boats in the interests of science…

Although we tried a range of engines, I’m only going to discuss in detail the results from the two engines which I consider to be a good match – in efficiency and utility – for each of the designs. These engines were a 2hp Honda four-stroke; a 4hp Suzuki four-stroke; and an old 4hp Yamaha two-stroke. Fleet has a planing hull appropriate for higher speed operation, and Flint has a displacement hull as is appropriate for her row/sailing hull-form.

The reason that I was particularly interested in discovering the performance characteristics of Fleet with a 4hp motor, was because that is the size of motor I had in mind at the time of drawing the boat – but it was one size I had no performance reports about. One of the reasons for my curiosity is that 4hp/2.9kW is the maximum size motor one can use in my State without having to register the boat.

Flint – one adult
Flint – two adults
Fleet – one adult
Fleet – two adults
2 hp Honda BF2
6.8 kts/7.8 mph
6.2 kts/7.1 mph
7.9 kts/9.1 mph
7.1 kts/8.2 mph
4 hp Yamaha 2-st
9.7 kts/11.2 mph
8.3 kts/9.4 mph
11.2 kts/12.9 mph
9.9 kts/11.4 mph
9.8 hp Tohatsu 2-st
21.3 kts/24.5 mph
18.5 kts/21.3 mph

The speed data shown in the table is exciting to me, because it demonstrates just how efficient a lean, light-weight outboard utility can be, and how the law of diminishing returns works in reverse when the size and weight of power plant is reduced.

A spin-off which came from our testing is that we had two boats of the same length, breadth, and weight, being powered by identical engines, with the only significant difference being the bottom shapes from amidships aft to the stern. This allowed a photographic comparison of the longitudinal trim of the displacement and planing hulls under power.

Fleet above and Flint below

The drawing above shows the profile view of both hulls. Length, breadth and depth are just about the same, but the bottom shape from the midsection aft indicates major variations in performance.

Fleet at 8.5 knots (9.8 mph)

Above - Fleet running under the urge of a 4hp Suzuki four-stroke, making 8.5 knots (9.8 mph) at part-throttle – the engine being new and still in the early stages of the running-in process. Trim is good, but in a small boat like this, crew placement is critical.

Fleet at 8.5 knots (9.8 mph)
Above - another shot of Fleet running at 8.5 knots (9.8 mph). In both photos the boat is running cleanly, and is probably consuming around 2.5hp. Not much energy being wasted making spray. 

Fleet running at 9.8 knots (11.3 mph)
In the photo above, I'm at the tiller of an old 4hp Yamaha which is pushing Fleet at a GPS-measured 9.8 knots (11.3 mph). The boat is carrying two men weighing a total of 171 kg (376 lbs) plus anchor, chain and a few gallons of drinking water. You can see just how clean and flat the wake is, and I find it amazing that the boat is doing this on 4 horse-power.

Now things changed! We put the exact same motor on Flint to see what would happen with a displacement hull. Most people would not think a  4hp engine to be excessive power, but read on...

Flint being pushed by an old 4hp Yamaha

Here we see Flint being also being driven by a 4hp motor – in this case an old Yamaha. Note the completely different fore-and-aft trim, caused not by crew placement, but by hydrodynamics. A substantial amount of the engine’s power is being converted into spray and wave-making. This is borne out when you look at my speed and power tabulation - Fleet is fully 1.5 knots (1.7 mph) faster than Flint with the exact same engine and the same skipper – a 15.5% difference.

Another shot of Flint displaying what happens when a hull optimised for displacement speeds is provided with more power than she requires. If you look carefully at the angle the aft gunwale makes with the water and then refer to my profile drawings, it is easy to deduce that even though the bow is cocked high in the air, the aft bottom of the boat is nearly parallel with the water’s surface.

Although Flint looked most inelegant when pushed by a 4hp motor with an open throttle, she should not be written-off as a power-boat.

Flint at 5.5 knots (6.3 mph) powered by a Honda 2 hp BF-2 at reduced throttle

Here she is looking efficient and capable, running at 5.5 knots (6.3 mph) pushed by an eighteen-year-old Honda 2hp air-cooled four-stroke. The engine is throttled well back to a comfortable level of sound and vibration, and the boat is running sweetly. I am not a powerboat person by inclination, but there is great pleasure to be gained by running along quietly like this, and you can cover a surprising distance in a short time – all on a cupful of fuel.

Flint at 6.8 knots (7.8 mph) - 2 hp Honda at full-throttle

But even with the 2 hp motor, the boat starts to look out-of-place when all two of those horses are let loose, getting the boat up to 6.8 knots (7.8 mph). One-and-a-half miles per hour faster than before, but the pleasure has gone out of the experience – noisy and lacking the slicing motion.

Flint looking purposeful and dignified under sail.....

....and nestled into her surroundings under the gentle power of oars.

So what are the lessons illustrated by this interesting little series of experiments?
·         Two boats of similar proportions, weight and displacement, but with differing bottom shape in profile, will operate in vastly different ways when pushed beyond displacement speeds;
·         It is folly to use a motor which is larger than recommended by the designer, if your boat has a displacement hull (unless she is a tug);
·         A long, lean planning hull can be extraordinarily efficient when driven by a motor which is unusually small by current power-boat standards. Even a confirmed sailboat person such as myself can derive lots of satisfaction from the effortless speed, economy, and low noise-level of such a boat. A gentle way of covering distance in a short time, without conspicuous consumption;
·         Theory is wonderful, but gaining proof through gently controlled experimentation is a powerful way to demonstrate results.

The two boats – similar size and weight, but very different performance.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Evolution of Phoenix (I, II, III, and (maybe), IV)

The very first Phoenix III built - Paul Hernes' Willy Wagtail
(photo courtesy Paul Hernes)
Mike Schuit wrote asking:-

Sorry if the answer to this question is common knowledge already, but I’ve been wondering about the nomenclature of the P3... was there a P1 &P2? What were those like and how different are they from what appears to be the final product? Will there ever be a P4? (the post is on the "Ross Lillistone Builder's Group Page on Facebook ).

Here is my brief reply:-

Hi Mike, The original Phoeinix (1) was designed and built by my late father back in 1970. She is now coming up 49 years of age, and is still going strong, and still in our family. She is 15' 2" x 5' 11" built batten-seam multi-chine with marine plywood planking over Western Red Cedar stringers. No epoxy - resorcinol, nails, and screws.

She was originally rigged with a deck-stepped mast and a sloop (or "Knockabout") rig of 103 sq.ft. She has a lovely shape which manages to look traditional, but without trying pretentiously to appear that way. Many of the designs around these days try hard to look traditional, without it coming naturally as a by-product of their shape and layout.

Phoenix II was a design exercise on my part as part of my self-education, and never built.

Phoenix III was what came of that exercise when I was sort of forced into producing a buildable design for Paul Hernes (the builder of the first example). It was not Paul who forced me, by the way, but my old, deceased friend, Doug Laver. He told Paul I'd design the boat for him, even though nobody had bothered to tell me!

There is a Phoenix IV in my portfolio, but I haven't decided whether to make her public, because I like number III, and she is easy to build.

Phoenix (I) with her original rig. She was about 17 years old at the time of the picture.

Phoenix as she is now (photo courtesy Steven Lillistone)

Phoenix as she is now (photo courtesy Steven Lillistone)

Phoenix II - I do have drawings as well, but the half-model gives the idea.

Mike wrote back:-

"Also curious, if you would be willing to share, what sorts of alterations you are thinking of for the P4, if it were ever to come to pass. Completely respect your choice as a craftsman and a businessman if you would prefer to keep that under wraps, though".

Well, a number of years ago I drew a "New" Phoenix III hull - a sort of, "what I would have drawn originally if I had known then what I now know". The centre-of-buoyancy is a little further forward, and there is a bit more flare up forward. Also, the quarters are not as firm as on the original.

All of the above changes were aimed at producing a hull which has less need of being sailed flat. I would possibly have designed some of these features into the original Phoenix III, but I was trying to keep the number of hull planks to a minimum to make construction easier for a newcomer to glued-lapstrake construction. The resulting wide planks needed to be "developable", which means their shape when bent and twisted into position on the hull had to be a segment of a cylinder or cone at every point of along their lengths. This placed some limits on the three-dimensional shape I could design into the hull - particularly in the forward sections.

Here you can see the fine forward sections of Phoenix III - very nice for getting to windward in a chop and staying dry, or for rowing. (photo courtesy of Al Burke) 
When I started to draw a "New" Phoenix III, I decided to disregard the need for developable planks, and the constraint they place on hull shape. In order to achieve that freedom, I judged that I would need at least eight planks - instead of the five on the original design.

The lines of the "New" Phoenix III. Note that the curved black line at the bottom of the picture do not represent the other side of the boat - they are the developed shapes of the diagonals. 

A very basic rendering of the hull shape

A very basic rendering of the hull shape
The new hull shape is pleasing to my eye, but when I ran some hydrostatic calculations and some hull resistance predictions, I discovered that the original boat was as good or better than the new one. Having discovered this, I reflected upon my egotistical thoughts, and decided to leave Phoenix III exactly as she was when I first drew her back in 2003.

I do have another embryonic design for a 15 foot boat, but she is not a replacement for Phoenix III. She is a different boat - heavier, beamier, and with a layout similar to that used in Periwinkle. This boat is derived from a 17 foot hull I have in the works, but shorter by two feet, and about 3 or 4 inches less beamy. She also has very slightly less freeboard than the 17-footer. Don't hold your breath waiting for these designs to be published, though...

Proposed 15ft x 5ft design
What really matters to me (and I am very biased about this) is that more "Sail and Oar" boats start populating our waterways. There is a wholesomeness, independence, and versatility wrapped up in the sail-and-oar movement, and I believe that such boats and the associated activity is good for the body and soul. Day-sailing, beach-cruising, rowing, picnicking, expeditioning - all carried out in something which you can make with your own hands, for relatively little money.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Trim, Seamanship, and Small Boats

Hugh Blank purchased plans for First Mate in 2009, and after seven years of building (interrupted by a very heavy work schedule), launched the boat in 2016. Hugh is the man for whom the Bermudan and Balance Lug rigs were added to the plans.

I have received an interesting message from Hugh regarding certain observations he has made about using the boat, and he has agreed to me making his comments, and my reply, public. This is a good way for us all to benefit from the experiences of individual builders:-

I have sorted out how I use the standing lug rig for casual racing at my club, and also happy with the way the main can be used with the jib I have. Gives me plenty of options, depending on crew available.

The other day I had occasion to try the boat out in preparation for the other activity I built it for - cruising. I was planning to take a trip out to an island a couple of kilometres offshore, in some water that can get fairly boisterous. In preparation for this trip I took the boat down to the inner harbour at Porirua, one of two places I usually sail at - the other being the other arm of the same harbour. The wind was about 12 to 15 knots, with gusts up to about 25 knots - fairly much what you need to allow for around Wellington. There was a short little chop in the harbour, of about 1 to 2 feet.The main point of this exercise was to make sure I could raise and lower the (reefed) main in these conditions. Although there are a few small changes I am busy making to my set up - as a result of this little expedition - there are a couple of fundamental issues I came across for the first time in the boat: - When well forward in the boat - I was sailing on my own - I found that the boat pitched rather alarmingly while I was trying to manipulate the rigging. (And for that matter when dealing with the anchor at another stage.)- Part of the problem was probably caused by the fact that the centreboard case prevented my being able to balance the boat better by keeping central as much as possible. But I do also feel that there may be too little buoyancy in this part of the boat, to allow even my weight (about 72 kg) to be perched on one side of the centrecase, right forward by the mast. You may remember I asked you when building the boat about substituting a more conventional centreboard/centrecase arrangement. My original concern was the inconvenience (of the height) to any crew, and I have found this to be the case to some extent. I am now inclined to modify the arrangement for the original reason, plus the newly identified issue. Can you please comment - perhaps I am missing some points or barking up the wrong tree - has been known to happen! As for the buoyancy forward, I haven't seem a P3 in the flesh for a while, but looking at photos I just wonder if that version of the boat doesn't have just a bit more volume forward. I guess the advantage of slenderness in the bow is amply evident in the way the boat moves so nicely through the water. And I appreciate that every design is a compromise of the often conflicting forces of physics and desired outcomes. I would however appreciate your input concerning how to use the boat safely and effectively for the cruising activities I have in mind. I don't intend to go to mad places, but I want to be able to work with the rig in 1 metre+ seas. CheersHugh 22.05.18

This message brings up a number of issues, with the primary one being reserve buoyancy and stability when the centre-of-gravity of the boat and crew is moved too far forward. In a small boat, it is basic seamanship to keep weight out of the ends as much as possible, and keep weight as low as possible. Loss of stability is most pronounced when crew weight is moved to the bow - as Hugh has discovered! What he described is a very common phenomenon - even in boats with legendary seaworthiness. Phil Bolger's Gloucester Light Dory Type 6 is renowned for exceptional sea-kindliness, but even the designer stated that if you move too close to the bow, the boat will flick you overboard and come up laughing, without taking water.

I accept that a modified centreboard shape would allow a lower case, and perhaps one could stay on centreline while moving closer to the mast partner. But the distance from the point at which the existing centreboard case starts rising up (very close to the forward edge of the thwart) to the mast partner is only 3' 5" - well within reach of a person with arm extended while leaning the body forward. If I was intending to work on the mast partner, I would straddle the centreboard case on my feet, in a crouching position and lean forward. Better still, if conditions were bad, I would sit on the bottom of the boat on one or other side of the case. In my experience sailing First Mate I have not had a problem, but I do accept Hugh's comments.

If in doubt, head for a handy beach or sandbank when you decide to reef. It is much easier, and going ashore on a bank is fun in itself.

My idea is that as much boat work as possible should be done from the middle of the boat. Here are some photos of how I rigged the First Mate I built for my friend, Ian Hamilton.

Mast lashed into the partner. On the port side you can see the boom downhaul, and on the starboard side, the halyard. The down-haul is a double purchase and the halyard a single purchase. Both of these lines are the blue ones, and on the far starboard side you can see a Hemp-coloured line - that is the running yard parrel.

In this view you can see how the halyard and downhaul both run through the partner, through bull's-eye fairleads, and then back to belay on the side of the centreboard case, in easy reach of the helmsman. The lines could just as easily run through turning blocks on the upper side of the partner, but my method keeps the lines lower.

View from the port-side, showing the downhaul. The halyard and down-haul are the only lines which require frequent attention. Some people may say that V-jammers are not adequate for holding these lines securely - well, in that case use horn cleats instead.

I am not against the idea of a different centreboard and centreboard-case shape, but do keep in mind that the high case prevents water entry in rough conditions in a partially flooded boat - say, after a capsise. I have a number of drawings for higher aspect ratio boards with cases which are no higher than the thwart, but there are difficulties getting the required centreboard area without having the case extend aft of the thwart into the main cockpit area. If I thought that I really needed a lower case, I would use a daggerboard. Nothing is worse for the performance of a sailing dinghy than having a board which does not have enough area. Boat-speed is seriously compromised, and windward ability is degraded.

It is correct to say that First Mate (and Phoenix III) do not have a huge amount of reserve buoyancy forward. But all boat designs are made up of a long list of compromises, and my stated aims from the beginning included the ability to cut through a steep chop with minimal pounding and spray generation, plus a hull shape conducive to satisfying performance under oars. Both of these designs have proven to be unusually dry for their size and speed, as well as being pleasant to row.

Hugh has asked whether Phoenix III has more volume, relatively speaking, than First Mate in the forward sections. Both boats have the same designed displacement, and their centres-of-longitudinal displacement vary by only a tiny fraction over 1%! So as far as the numbers are concerned they are very, very close.However, Phoenix III may have a little more reserve buoyancy forward, as these sketches show (First Mate in black and Phoenix III in red).

As for working in 1 metre+ seas, First Mate has done this many times with ease.

Maybe not a metre, but a lumpy swell, none the less...

Leaping clear of a choppy wave...

Heading down below the chop-line.

On the day that the above photos were taken, the boat was being sailed by my son, David. He has the longitudinal trim just about perfect, sitting either on the bottom up against the main thwart, or on the side-deck in the same longitudinal position. Longitudinal trim is critical to efficient sailing. Note also that even though he is hard on the wind in the first two pictures, he has not over-sheeted the main, therefore giving the lugsail room to breath. The boat was sailing really nicely, and Dave said that not a drop of water came into the boat in all the time we were out there shooting photos and video.

When it comes to anchoring, it is best to have the anchor stowed low in the boat, preferably in the bin just in front of the centreboard case. If conditions are such that one cannot safely handle the anchor rode from a crouching position forward, I would start the trip with the anchor-rode made-off to the stem-eye (trailer winch attachment point) and lead aft to enter the boat over the side, to be coiled down in the anchor bin. It would be sensible to run it up over a bow-chock or similar to prevent it dragging in the water. Before deploying the anchor, clip a snap-shackle over the anchor-rode, attached to a two or three metre length of line leading into the boat near the thwart, and securely attached to a hard point. The anchor can then be lowered over the side from within the cockpit (never throw the anchor). The anchor-rode will then pull against the stem-eye, which is relatively low to the water. The separate snap-shackle and line will slide loosely on the anchor rode, until you want to retrieve the anchor. By hauling in on the short line with the snap-shackle, the anchor-rode will be brought back to your hands in the cockpit for retrieval. If caught out without a snap-shackle, a simple bowline in the end of the lanyard will do the job.

These are small boats, despite their 15 foot LOA, and need to sailed with understanding and the application of seamanship. Sailed within their natural limitations they will give reliable performance, and their light-weight will be of enormous benefit in the long-term.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Simple Cruising

This is a re-print of a very short article I wrote for an Australian magazine about fourteen years ago. I tend to cringe when I re-read my work from the past, but there may still be something in the words....

The 15' 2-1/2" Cruising Dinghy referred to in the text. This photo should convince skeptics that a Lug-Sail can set well and take a boat to windward efficiently.

When it comes to boatbuilding, dreams don’t always come true. Those of us who are afflicted with this boat addiction know the cycle – thinking about one boat leads to thoughts about another and so on to eternity. The dreams are necessary, because without them nothing would ever get done; however they need to be kept under control.

Mike Rowe and his friend Ian were both dreamers. However as youth gave way to middle age, the dreams had become more realistic – the size and complexity of their dreamboats had reduced in inverse proportion to their experience.

As they relaxed in the cockpit of Mike’s little cat-yawl, the conversation had turned to this very subject…

“Why is it,” said Mike, “that there are so few decent cruising dinghies on the market?”

“Because people automatically assume that if you are going to sleep aboard a boat, you need a cabin,” answered Ian. “Look at the boom in production trailerable yachts during the seventies and eighties – everybody wanted the convenience of a trailer boat with the accommodations of an H28. But what they got was a very small cabin boat which was difficult to launch and retrieve, heavy to tow, too big to store in a garage and took too long to rig and unrig. No wonder the bubble burst!”

Mike stared thoughtfully at the wake before answering. He was remembering that some of his best boating experiences had taken place in a 15-½ foot cruising dinghy, sleeping on the floorboards under a makeshift boom-tent. But he was also thinking about sand, clutter, wet clothes and mosquitoes.

“You’re right, Ian, but to be fair, lots of people did lots of sailing in those trailer-sailers. To make dinghy cruising successful one has to be better organised than we have ever been.” was his response, “Let’s take a look at what is required.”

They talked well into the evening, enjoying the easy companionship which came from common interests and a friendship which dated from high school. It would take too much space to record the entire conversation, but a number of points kept cropping up: -

·        Simple projects are more likely to be finished than those which are large and complicated;
·        Small boats get used more than large ones;
·        Small boats are easy to store in a garage;
·        We live in a wonderful country for boating;
·        It is liberating as well as challenging to leave the motor at home;
·        Shoal draft boats have access to cruising grounds denied to keelboats;
·        Cabins don’t get used as much as cockpits, so we should think twice before trading cockpit space for a cabin;
·        There are very few open boats on the market which lend themselves to daysailing and overnighting. This is especially the case if spirited sailing performance is a high priority;

  The irony of this line of conversation was that it took place in the cabin of a particularly comfortable and capable keelboat, measuring only 15-½ ft LOA. She was relatively light, had been simple to build at home, carried not one inch of standing rigging, and got to windward better than most. This sparkling performance was due to brilliant design on the part of a designer who was blessed with an open mind. His deep understanding of hydrodynamics allowed him to wring good performance from his designs – even (especially) those with rectangular hull sections. He had been schooled by such greats as Lindsay Lord, L. Francis Herreshoff, and Howard Chapelle. Although known for his rectangular boats, about ninety percent of his published work was classic and conventional.

In the following week, Mike continued working on a group of three boats in his workshop. All were capable open boats ranging in size from 12ft to 18ft length-over-all; two were cruising dinghies of the very type which he had been discussing with his friend. He hoped that this situation was an indication that the wheel was turning a full circle.

These days, as always, building a small boat is a fine investment of your time. Whether it be a sailingboat, a powerboat, a beautiful rowing craft or a canoe, the result will be worth the effort. But effort and application are required – dreams are only the first bit. Dreams, like so many other things, can be addictive. Pick a simple project and start!