Making a lightning into a good family boat.

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by RyanN, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. RyanN
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Location: North Carolina

    RyanN Junior Member

    A lightning is a fun boat to race, but of the 14k+ built most are no longer competitive. Unlike say a flying scott which has great utility (and resale value) in its later years, An old lightning does not make a good family sailing boat. Looking around, I haven't found anyone who's made an attempt at converting an old racehorse to a new pasture.

    The lightning has a number of pros to consider:
    • Cheap often less than an old laser
    • Easily trailerable.
    • Attractive.
    • Stable with deep metal (often stainless) centerboard.
    • Roomy enough to bring camping gear/air mattresses or a cooler.

    There are some cons:
    • Designed to be raced by 3 so overpowered with a couple
    • No way to reef
    • Rudder easily ripped off of transom
    • Too many strings to pull
    • Low Boom
    • Mast is a pain to put up and down.
    • No mount for small outboard.

    It seems some potential fixes might be:
    • Tripping reef to get end of boom higher.
    • Single reef in main
    • Kick-up rudder design
    • outboard motor mount
    • Simplify the sail controls (traveler, jib downhaul)
    • Alter deck to make mast easier to pivot up
    I've tried a single reef in the main and my experience in hig winds was a frightening amount of lee helm. Perhaps I should sail main only before putting a reef in the main.
    I'm trying to come up with a new rudder design which makes it easier to beach the boat and mount a tiny outboard. When the kids are crying because of the bugs and the wind has died, I want a way to get back to the dock.
    I'm also thinking of putting in a trapeze line. Every boat I've added this to has benefitted in fun and sometimes speed. Kids love being out on trap and it's much easier on an old man's back.

    So does anyone have experience or suggestions on altering a Lightning which will never race one design or be in a museum.
     
  2. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    I converted a Thistle to a beach cruiser at one time. It worked very well. I changed to a much smaller rig, added provisions for an outboard, made a kick up rudder, replaced the huge board with a more practical one. The short luff, full battened, unarig was mannerly, simple, and pulled very well. It could be reefed if need be. It was a happy boat.

    I expect that you could do pretty much the same things with the Lightning and get equally satisfying results.
     
  3. RyanN
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Location: North Carolina

    RyanN Junior Member

    Full battens would be an easy upgrade.

    The Lightning's transom makes an outboard mount problematic unless I buy an articulated version or get out the saws-all.
     
  4. Jamie Kennedy
    Joined: Jun 2015
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    Location: Saint John New Brunswick

    Jamie Kennedy Senior Member

    You can get some ideas by looking at features of similar sized daysailers. This is a Paceship Perigrene. Note the well for an ourboard that the engine can pivot into. It can be self draining. Divide the compartment down the middle and strengthen the transom in the process. Perhaps a well on both sides and use the other well for your fuel tank. They had different seat and coaming arrangements over the years. You might consider a double bottom, also self draining, and possibly water ballast for stability.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  5. RyanN
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Location: North Carolina

    RyanN Junior Member

    I've got floor boards which is a quasi-double bottom. There are seats moulded in. I think a motor well is going to be much more of a project than just some sort of bracket. I do have a cuddy of a sort which needs a cooler tie-down. The seats are the flotation, but I need to do a test with a shop vac and detergent to see if they leak.

    Does anyone have a thought as to using a sheet of aluminum for a kick up rudder (a'la Flying Scott) vs a wood NACA section.
     
  6. Jamie Kennedy
    Joined: Jun 2015
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    Location: Saint John New Brunswick

    Jamie Kennedy Senior Member

    I lightning might move quite nicely with an $200 trolling motor and 2 batteries, and that might be an easier fit.
     
  7. RyanN
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Location: North Carolina

    RyanN Junior Member

    I've already got a nissan 3.5 already, but a trolling motor could work nicely too.
     
  8. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Why not oars for auxiliary power. A simple bench could be installed to clear the top of the Center Board case. The oars would not have to be all that long, as they would be set up for relatively short distance rowing.

    The lee helm can be helped by first striking the jib. This is the way I first reef just about any 3/4 rigged boat I sail, including the one I used to own.

    Once the jib is dropped, you may experience some weather helm. When that starts getting bad, it's time to tuck in the first reef. Once that is done, the CA of the Sail moves forward again. If the weather helm is bad right after the jib is dropped, you can pull the Center Board up some.

    Installing hatches on the fore and aft decks will give you plenty of enclosed space to stow stores and gear.

    Making removable bench extensions would allow handy sleeping space.
     
  9. Jamie Kennedy
    Joined: Jun 2015
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    Location: Saint John New Brunswick

    Jamie Kennedy Senior Member

    A friend of mine has a buccaneer and uses oars for auxiliary, and has convinced me to do the same for the Yngling, at least for now.
     

  10. bpw
    Joined: May 2012
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    Location: Cruising

    bpw Senior Member

    Sculling is a good alternative oar power if it is tricky to get the geometry right for rowing.
     
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