Best performance sailing rig

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by DriesLaas, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. DriesLaas
    Joined: Aug 2009
    Posts: 159
    Likes: 4, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 48
    Location: South Africa

    DriesLaas Weekend Warrior

    How to start this?
    I have been wondering about building a small sailboat for the kids and myself.
    We have a 11' plywood dinghy which goes OK, but I want to go larger, so that the growing kids will sail with me a bit longer.
    So there are two diverging lines of thought:

    A nice traditional type boat like a Pooduck skiff, that is pretty and goes well.

    Higher performance large dinghy type like Core Sound 15 or Goat Island Skiff, that goes fast.

    Severe budget constraints apply, mainly because I already have a floating indiscretion in the form of a little center console fishing boat.
    Oh yes, and the other dinghy....
    .....and a racing surfski.....
    ......and a sit on top fishing kayak

    The question I really want to ask then is this.

    If it was an absolute requirement to MAKE EVERYTHING MYSELF!!!!, how high performance a rig and sail combination could I design and build.

    I have seen pics of the polytarp sails, and I will never knock any attempt to save money, but does that represent the high end of home-made performance sails? ( I am not talking about stitching together a sailrite kit here, that is cheating....)

    And in terms of masts, how well can a hollow plywood mast be built, or do aluminium tubes with tracks etc work better? I can certainly see a decent homemade carbon stick being built, but I will need to keep it to sensible materials and stay away from the magic black purse-destroyers.

    Any decent examples?
  2. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,866
    Likes: 299, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Never seen a plywood mast. Blue tarp is low tech.

    Dont know about your part of the world, but the cheapest way to get a small rig is to buy a secondhand one.

    Kids usually get really bored with slow sailing - so good performance is probably going to make or break the deal
  3. DriesLaas
    Joined: Aug 2009
    Posts: 159
    Likes: 4, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 48
    Location: South Africa

    DriesLaas Weekend Warrior

  4. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,866
    Likes: 299, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    First up - how much is straight, dry, structural timber in your part of the world ?
  5. JosephT
    Joined: Jun 2009
    Posts: 856
    Likes: 107, Points: 43, Legacy Rep: 218
    Location: Roaring Forties

    JosephT Senior Member

    DriesLaas, you may want to give Hobie in South Africa a call or e-mail. Here are a few boats for sale. I would bet you could find an older Hobie or other good catamaran. They're fast & fun. If you can find a set of pontoons & mast for a catamaran, with a little work you could have a boat under way with reduced cost.

    I know the Cape Town Royal Yacht club has a lot of boats, many of which need a good home. Ask around for sail material & hardware.

    It goes without saying the winds off the coast can jump to 30+ knots in the blink of an eye so watch the weather forecast closely and plan accordingly.
  6. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
    Posts: 2,410
    Likes: 237, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1082
    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

    How old are the kids? I really like the Pooduck skiff - hadn't seen it before. I started venturing out on my own little expeditions, with or without a boat, when I was about 12. The Pooduck would have suited my purposes perfectly. Speed was of absolutely no concern. I had a bike if I wanted to go fast. If it will get them across to the other shore of the lake, or to the nearest island, it will do. You can make acceptable sails out of Tyvek. There's still some art in it, but plenty of info on the web.
  7. Richard Woods
    Joined: Jun 2006
    Posts: 2,208
    Likes: 165, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1244
    Location: Back full time in the UK

    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    An iceyacht mast is very big compared to a dinghy mast. And it will rotate. So I don't think that one is suitable for a dinghy

    I agree with the buy used comments, but understand your reluctance. I also agree that kids want fun, excitement ans speed. they won't want a "slop along placidly" boat.

    There is lots of info on making sails on line. Try A household zigzag sewing machine can make any dinghy sail. I have made dozens.

    I would go for a boat with high freeboard and a lot of built in buoyancy

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs
  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 479, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A plywood mast is very heavy and half as strong as a wooden mast, built conventionally, mostly because half the veneer layers are going the wrong way for a mast.

    I you want fast, you want light. Carrying a boat load of kids at speed, requires a fairly big boat, just to have the capacity to get up and scoot. A GIS is a solo or two man boat, if you want any performance out of it. The same with a CS-15, though the CS-15 has much more load carrying capacity.

    Poly tarp sails represent the lowest form of tech, not the higher, in terms of a home built sail. They really suck actually, don't last long, aren't good for stiff winds and make a racket that's hard to live with.

    You can make everything yourself, though if doing so, you'll have to accept the compromises associated with this decision. Home made sails will not set or wear as well as professional built. Home made blocks will not be as friction free as manufactured. Most designs, intended for home building don't have the performance you might desire. Some are moderately quick, but compromises in the design, shape, etc. to accommodated the home builder, detract from it's abilities. Don't get me wrong, it can be done, but the "usual suspects" in these size range choices aren't going to do much with a few kids and an adult aboard.

    I'd recommend the Quattro 16, from Richard above, as a good choice for speed and limited capacity. It has enough room to get a few kids aboard, though will do it's best with a couple in traps.
  9. DriesLaas
    Joined: Aug 2009
    Posts: 159
    Likes: 4, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 48
    Location: South Africa

    DriesLaas Weekend Warrior

    So jackpot on this post, with Paul Ricelli and Richard Woods both answering. Thanks for taking the time guys, it is honestly much appreciated, and I am slightly starstruck......

    JosephT, I could not agree more that a 2nd hand Hobie is fantastic bang for buck.
    Had a look today, and you can find Hobie 16's locally from R50000 ($5000) down to about R10000 ($1000), with a good boat going at upwards of R20000 ($2000) approx.
    Looking at a cost/knot criterium, Hobies do real well. I do however relish the prospect of coming up with it myself. It is like a disease, this building urge. And I did not build that CNC router for nothing.....

    Philsweet, the girls are 11 and 5, and if I can get them on the water quickly we may still save their souls.... ;-)

    I have stitched some sails, and actually read my copy of Sailmaker's Apprentice.
    I am not sure how good the sails are compared with the homebrew-state-of-the-art, but will continue to labour under the impression that they are OK.
    Mast extrusions in South Africa are controlled by the rig-builders mafia, you can not buy an extrusion anymore. I was thinking about the ice-mast method as a concept. Please help me understand, is a rotating mast on a dinghy a bad thing? I know some yachts use them, and of course all the beach cats.
    The principle of building stuff new is something I would like to try and stick with (pardon the pun...)

    Paul, thanks for confirming my suspicions about polytarp sails. I phoned a sail loft today, and hope to get some prices on real sailcloth tomorrow.
    We really do not have an established amateur boatbuilding culture in SA, so in many cases we have to rely on coming up with parts of boats ourselves, or begging and borrowing. (Some stealing also happens, but for the worst reasons: you see, an aluminium mast has some value as scrap metal.)

    I have built boats from scratch, and they sail ok, but the whole reason behind this thread was to try and determine how far behind the curve I have been.

    About sailing in South Africa ( and pardon me if this becomes a rant:)
    The industry is quite schizophrenic, with some real decent stuff happening on the professional front, while the amateur scene is sadly lacking. I built boats with Aerodyne Marine for a few years, and we did nice examples of designs by Rodger Martin and Jean-Marie Finot. I appreciated that we did not understand production boatbuilding when visiting some yards on the US Eastcoast like Sabre and TPI, and saw what a production yard looks like. Our only real production yard locally was (and remains, to my knowledge) Robertson and Caine who churn out the Leopard charter cats to high standards. We have a relatively robust powerboat sector doing predominantly catamaran sportfishermen, and a few monohulls, tailored heavily to local conditions, which become lumpy to say the least.
    Exactly this shortage of benign cruising grounds is one of the reasons for a lacklustre interest in sailing, with most of the old salts regaling one another around the bar every Wednesday, with stories of their oft-imagined exploits at sea ( I am probably going to get in so much trouble for this...)

    The serious yacht sailing scene very much takes the shape of a quick dash around the cans on Wednesday nights, with the odd regatta, and lamentably few ocean races.

    Most of the dinghy classes struggle to gather the required numbers to even qualify for recognition during a nationals, with the exception of 505's, Lasers (of course,) and Oppies.

    So my interests are purely the mental challenge of design, the therapeutic process of building, and the opportunity to steal a few golden moments with my girls before they discover I am not really as smart and strong as they currently believe me to be.
  10. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
    Posts: 1,270
    Likes: 25, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 271
    Location: Hampshire UK

    SukiSolo Senior Member

    If you get really serious you can get the extrusion custom made. You may not like the price of the die and minimum quantity but it can be done. In actual fact here in the UK it would cost about 4 X what you would pay for a mast, but you need to add all the fittings etc, which could be raided from a broken spar. If you ran a bit more length off the die, say 100Kg of material you may recover the cost by selling the lengths off. Biggest problem I can see is cutting tapers and rewelding and heat treating. For a primatic section, far less trouble.

    As far as I can ascertain, and I have conducted a few real section size (but within limit dimensions up to 75mm fore/aft) experiments, a rotating mast only helps if in the form of something like a short wing. See Bethwaite's High Performance Sailing. Having played around with a number of sections, I have got a couple to give marginally better flow attachment and flow for the type I wanted. My winter project is to build a wooden/glass spar to try and improve performance. Still need a little more optimisation on the test rig before settling on the exact shape. I am also limited in rotation by Class rules which I will be bending severely anyway...

    Wood masts are fine if you have relatively low compression loads. If you want to have a large jib and hold a lot of luff tension, go aluminium, or custom carbon. Also do not ignore wrapping a wood mast with glass and all other manner of hybrid composites open to the 'amateur'.....;)
  11. tdem
    Joined: Oct 2013
    Posts: 130
    Likes: 5, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 41
    Location: NZ

    tdem Senior Member

    Well... the obvious answer is wing sail, right :) Just like building a skin on frame boat. Probably overshooting the curve now...
  12. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 2,936
    Likes: 144, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1593
    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    there are lots of places on the www that shows how to home make carbon masts. Typically you make a light hollow wood mast and cover it with carbon cloth and epoxy. For many centuries all sailboats used wood masts, I have built a number of wood masts, both solid and hollow, from clear lumber I had available, they all worked fine they are not as light as a hollow carbon mast, but they still perform well and do not cost much in materials.

    Fastest and best bang for the money is buying used of course. but if you would rather build, which is not usually cheaper than buying a good used boat, than just plan on making all of the major components and it will keep costs down. You have to also consider the time involved, you nor your children are not getting younger, if it takes ten years of spare time to build than you kind of missed your window.

    I have built a number of simple dingys using low cost or salvaged materials, I sailed them with my two daughters on local lakes and near shore in sheltered water. Most of them took just several weekend worth of time to build, no more than a month of spare time, so we were able use them for several summers before they needed any major repairs. I also built each of my daughters skin-on-frame sea kayaks for about $100 each, so were went paddling as a family together too. my daughters are now 21 and 24, and not particularly interested in going out with their parents anymore, but I know both of them savor the experience we had with the various boats we built and used. If I had started something made from conventional modern high performance materials and a modern design sailboat, likely they would have still not be finished and my daughters long out of the house. Having fun does not always mean having the latest design nor spending a lot of money.

    consider the amount of time it takes, as well as cost, to build your bigger, faster, sailboat. It might take a lot longer and more money to build than you have time left to do. you can buy a boat this weekend and be out on the water using it, or you can be still thinking about which plans to buy for the next 6 to 8 months.
    Joined: Jun 2014
    Posts: 166
    Likes: 1, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 31
    Location: Land O' the Great Lakes

    UNCIVILIZED DIY Junkyard MadScientist

    I'd say, have a look at some of the one design classes, especially anything in about the same size range which you're looking. Those guys literally have quivers of sails, spars, & rigging. And get rid of their old ones as fast as used toilet paper. Even though to most of us, said gear would be more than serviceable.

    Look into the Olympic fleets, local fleets, & anything within a reasonable distance online. If nothing else, these components can be modified to use as you wish. Not that there's a thing wrong with wood & carbon. Quite the opposite. With it, it's easy to tune the rig for stiffness & strength by adding or removing materials. Not to mention that adding fitting's to them's a snap. As is building a super high performance main at a low cost - meaning square top via battens, or Dutch Gaff, such as Paul Bieker designed for the Port Townsend Wooden Boat School's mid sized daysailer.

    Also, take a look at Dudley Dix's "Paper Jet". It's a dinghy designed for all ages, sizes, & skill levels of folks. With the rig & sails tunable to suit same.
    And Russell Brown's PT11/Spear @ has a GREAT rig, not to mention sail design. It might even actually fit your boat.

    As to sails, if you're up for doing a bit of stitching, inexpensive materials can work decently well for patterns. And are easy to adjust, if you use say contact cement & or duct tape for adjusting panel sizes & shapes.
    Finding older sails usually isn't tough if you're looking for material to work with to make your own, once you have the shapes worked out. And in my experience, every sailmaker I've ever met has been very generous with their time & help. So both in the planning stages, & during the learning curve, odds are you can find someone willing to throw some key knowledge your way.

    In the end, it's all about attitude, & I applaud your can do/DIY spirit. Especially in terms of keeping the family playing together.
  14. johnhazel
    Joined: Jun 2008
    Posts: 250
    Likes: 5, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 60
    Location: Michigan

    johnhazel Senior Member

    I'll share one of my building fantasies here:
    Consider a Marshalese style outrigger sailing canoe. The Marshalese build thier outrigger with some ability to pitch independently from the main hull and this allows the hulls to follow the waves independently.

    The outrigger sailing canoe also scores high if your figure of merit is a combination of speed*capacity*stability/materials_cost

    If built so the Aka and ama are removeable, it is also easy to store.... reducing the floating indiscretion factor

    Joined: Jun 2014
    Posts: 166
    Likes: 1, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 31
    Location: Land O' the Great Lakes

    UNCIVILIZED DIY Junkyard MadScientist

    Not to steal your thunder, but on outrigger canoes, couldn't you just lash the connectives to the hulls, or to the outrigger at least. Polynesians have been doing such for millennium. And Wharram aficionados, for decades.
    Plus, with that style of boat, one could always redesign/rebuild or simply build a new ama, if the first one wasn't satisfactory. Kurt Hughes designs just such items for a LOT of multihulls.
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.