converting an old soling to a gaff rig

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by bda6, May 9, 2007.

  1. bda6
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    bda6 New Member

    In our possession is an old soling – just the hull, nothing above the deck or sails. its in good condition.

    After seeing this guys gaff rig 12m

    we wonder if we couldn’t take our hull and……….Convert it to gaff rig, that’s with a bow sprit, top sail, 3 jibs, and an extended stern so hull shape is similar to an early 12m. a minature if you like of the one linked to.

    what would we need to consider. Ie what do you start thinking about?
    What would a naval architect be doing if I asked them to come up with a design??

    Remember this is for fun but we are interested in the possibility ..quite interested and not just over a few beers interested….

  2. SeaSpark
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    SeaSpark -


    My estimate is that it will be possible but at a cost and loss of efficiency.

    First i would reduce the number of jibs to 2. 3 jibs will not deliver more speed than 2 but add complexity and costs. In my humble opinion 3 jibs on a boat this size just wont look good. Same for the topsail but of less importance. Topsails can be fun in light weather but are hard to handle. As for the hull extension. This may add to the looks and waterline length (speed) if done well but will not be a very easy project if you are inexperienced with boatbuilding techniques.

    Planning the rigging for a topsail gaff rig gives quite some puzzles to solve. In any case i would rig all the blocks and other line handling hardware temporarily (knotted with straps around the boom and mast) to see if everything works out the way you thought.
  3. SeaSpark
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    SeaSpark -


    Looking at the soling transom i think it is quite high and narrow, not the ideal form to start with for an extension of the type you want. More width would have been better, still it does not seem impossible but you will need someone with a keen eye for things like this.

    Attached Files:

  4. bda6
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    bda6 New Member

    we would be building ourselves and throug unrelated project have enough experience to not be concerned. we also want a wooden deck with some bright stuff..

    so tough to do, some serious issues to get answers to which could mean its not possible and largely a waste of time and effort...perfect, where do we start..

    we wondered if we could start by shrinking the line plan of an old 12m down till the hull was the same size as the soling and then use that to set the size of the rig.
    (here i'm quite lost) there would need to be a centre of effort worked out for the sail plan? the ballast of the soling and how it stays upright would need to be compared to the new sail so maybe a nice lump of lead on the bottom of the keel etc

    where do we start looking for information on designing stuff like this?
  5. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yes, you can install a gaff rig on a Soling. Because of the size of the boat, multiple headsails wouldn't be recommended, nor efficient. A single headsail is the most efficient. Multiple headsails use to be thought of as the way to go (like in the era of your link), but testing and racing has proven this not to be the case.

    A sprit could be added too. It's likely the mast location will have to change.

    The long, delicate counters used on those boats were pretty, but not particularly effective use of LWL. Bow overhang is, but not stern.

    Your boat could have this type of stern applied, but it would likely alter the handling qualities in a negative way. Adding weight to a small boat, particularly in the extreme ends of the yacht isn't wise. You have a pretty dainty stern now, maybe some added rake to the transom will suffice, with little additional weight and construction complication.

    They sure were magnificent vessels, but scaling them down doesn't work out too well. If you'd like to contact me through email (click on my name), I could tell you how much this would take to get accomplished.
  6. waikikin
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    waikikin Senior Member

    bda6, that 12 looks cool- how about that booooom, seeing as your in Sydney you might wanna check out Hugh Treharnes soling- he's gone fully futuristic with canting keel & massive roacheristic main, kinda different to your retro soling plan but its amazing what you can do just for fun with an old soling, go for it!:) Regards from Jeff:)
  7. naval ark
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    naval ark Member

    I will start by saying that it is unlikely you would ever recoup the amount of time/effort/money that you would have to put into such a project - but if that is perfectly acceptable to you and you want something unique and beautiful, I would support you fully and wish you the best of luck.

    Where do you start? Well, without doubt your first step should be finding a decent naval architect that understands traditional boats (preferably gaff rig as well), how to actually build/repair himself, and one that shares your aspirations. You could find any old builder to add some sort of 'stern extension' and possibly even botch a traditional rig, with mumblings and back of an envelope calculations regarding sufficient stability - you'd have to make up your own mind as to whether you would feel good about that.

    This forum might be a place to meet a professional to help you, or maybe your local area would be a good place to look?
  8. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Check out Dark Harbor 17s for an idea of how the gaff rig would/could look on a boat like a Soling.
    I think it's a great idea, but I love gaffers. Twin headsails (cutter) are remarkable reaching rigs. They are not so effective to windward, as would be a single genoa. Poled out, with main doused, they are also good for moving CE forward running in strong winds.
    ... Now all that's needed is to put a cuddy and self-bailing cockpit into the design. The Soling will fill and sink--- I know someone who did just that in Boston Harbor. If a keel boat hasn't flotation to survive a knockdown, especially one of the size of the Soling, as long as it's being modified, might as well build more survivability into it.
    Here's a link to see the Dark Harbor 17, older hull design, but very similar beam, overhangs, general type.

    Comparing the two boats:


    LOA - 25' 10" 26' 11"
    LWL - 17' 6" 20' 0"
    Beam - 6' 3" 6' 3"
    Draft - 4' 3"
    Displ. - 3,420 lbs. 2277
    Sail Area - 311 sq. ft. 233

  9. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Thinking about this project, the boat is light enough to do without a sprit, and might have about 10%-20% more SA than the standard rig. The CE is lower, so stability is the same, and the sails power should be equal by adding area.
    Cutter or sloop, I think a sloop is better to keep the windward advantages. The better looking gaffer has a somewhat smaller foretriangle than marconi, I think. Lower stresses on forestay due to having no backstay, so this makes sense. The sprit could just be used to fly the spinnaker and be retractable.

  10. Paul Scott
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    Paul Scott Senior Member

    BD, I'd go with a gunter rig. LOTS of high performance boats have 'em. Look at some of the gunters that Uffa Fox did, Bieker has a 15' planing dinghy with a rotatiing mast elliptical gaff? gunter? It was in a WoodenBoat kind of recently. Called the Port Townsend 15 I think. Sonderboats (Sonderboats are among the prettiest boats ever built) have them, 10, 20 sq m monotypes had them- you can get a lot more roach, and they will go upwind almost as well as a sloop, just as pretty to me as a gaff (well, they ARE a gaff). I think the Port Townsend 15 is showing better twist control than the usual bendy skiff rig, which might make it as good or better than a sloop. If you went with an aero rotating mast, carbon aero gunter (use a windsurfer mast even), full battened rig you might get Paul Bieker interested. And if you think about it, your mast could be pretty short, so stayed with the existing soling shroud points and the gunter really long, especially if you lengthen the stern, so you'd have LOTS of light air speed, and when reefed down, a really low rig CE and CG. In the past, Bieker has liked this sort of project, and you might get a breakthrough boat that would be a real beauty. You could modify the cockpit like the modified Etchells 22 "Trinity" in the latest Sailing Magazine. Now THAT would be a head turner. You could paint spars with that woody paint that even fooled the judges at the Med traditional sailboat races. Dark blue hull. Dark Mahogany trim. Cream coloured deck. Cream coloured sails. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, mahogany.

    Not that I've ever thought about this before. mmmmmmm, chocolate......

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2007
  11. ukebert
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    ukebert blank

    "The Gaff Rig Handbook" has lots of information on running rigging.
  12. Steve B
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    Steve B Junior Member

    Design info

    Can I recommend a book, How to design a boat, by John Teale. It will explain simply how to find the centre of effort of any rig, and how to find the centre of lateral resistance of the submerged part of the hull. It will also tell you how to estimate the ballast required and many other important considerations.
    I would agree with your earlier correspondents that scaling down a classic 12m would not be a good way to start, and that a Soling is not long enough for three jibs. I would also avoid lengthening the stern, the transom of a Soling is rather too narrow and it would add weight to the end which is best avoided.
    I have a 26 ft cutter which carries a jib on a ten foot bowsprit, a staysail hanked to the forestay, and a large gaff main, and it is quite a sufficient amount of sail. The mast of your Soling may well have to be moved aft quite a way if you want a bowsprit. A high peaked gaff or gunter not only looks well but is much easier to set and sail with than a topsail, which believe me can be a handful if your crew is not used to it!
    Whatever you decide to do, all the best with it.
  13. Paul Scott
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    Paul Scott Senior Member

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, gunter.

  14. William C. Wins
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    William C. Wins Junior Member

    I don't know if I'm allowed to mention naval architect's names, but many listed in the back of WoodenBoat who are in Maine frequently design gaff-rigged boats.

    Bill Wins(low)

  15. keith66
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    keith66 Senior Member

    I like the idea of converting the old Soling into a gaffer, this was done over here a few years ago by a guy who did the same thing to a broken down Etchells, her stern was extended, i am not sure if they tweaked the bow as well, the resulting boat went like a train and won the old gaffers race on the river Blackwater. I would think the UK Old Gaffers association would be able to help you. A project like this neednt cost the earth and is good fun, Go for it!
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