Reality Check and Advice for Young Engineer

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by PacificSails, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. PacificSails
    Joined: Apr 2015
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    PacificSails Junior Member

    Hello everyone,

    New to the forums here, and hoping for some advice regarding an idea of mine. Bluntly, is it somewhat feasible to take the hull from a 18-22' sloop and convert it to a schooner?

    A bit of background/germane information:

    This would be a few years off, but I would need to start planning financially soon, so minute details aren't extremely worrisome yet, but if it's impossible/extremely difficult or I would end up with a crappy boat it would be better for me to know now.

    I am in 2nd year Engineering, so ideas like moment, lift, balancing forces and vectors are familiar, but never having built a boat before, I don't know if hulls designed for single masts are completely incompatible for 2 masts. Experience and a solid gut feeling are what I'm looking for.

    I have been on motor boats my whole life, and have done a bit of sailing on smaller boats, and plan to start doing much more.

    I have access to a shop (table saw, welding equipment, hand tools and the like).

    This is something I envision putting a lot of work into, so labour intensive isn't a huge problem. However, I imagine a lot of people say/think that at the start, so I'm restoring my old Davidson first to see if I enjoy working on boats as much as I think I will.

    Anyway, cheers, and happy to hear any stories/advice/suggestions!

    - Matt
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    It is feasible. Is it something you want to do for the looks of it? The performance is likely to be all-around worse. The structure will have to be modified for the different load points.
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    Yes, it's possible to make a sloop into a schooner, though in the sizes you desire, it's not a very practical rig. The rig isn't as weatherly as a sloop, but few choose this rig for this reason anyway. Her off wind ability will possibly be better than a sloop, if she has a hull form that can take advantage of it.

    It's probable you'll need more lateral area aft and equally likely the rig will have slightly different proportions than the typical schooner, but yep, it's possible, given adjustments for sail and hull balance, weight distribution, etc. Without a particular hull model to work with, in regard to the anticipated changes you'd have to make, these simple generalities are all that's possible now.
     
  4. PacificSails
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    PacificSails Junior Member

    Thanks guys, that was fast!

    gonzo, yes, mostly for the looks. I love the look of schooners, and a bigger one is not financially viable for me, so this is the compromise I came up with. I was also thinking that it would offer more of a challenge to sail, so it might be more interesting after a while. That's pretty much pure speculation though.

    Given that I want a schooner, there aren't any that size for sale nearby. The larger ones are pretty scarce too. Lots of fairly cheap 20'ish sloops though. That was sort of the thought process.

    Thanks PAR, answers like that are what I was hoping for. Specifics will have to wait till I am in possession of a hull, and I'll probably ask around about possible candidates long before I buy one. What makes it less weatherly? I've read about them being worse sailing into the wind, but not heard that they were worse off in poor conditions than sloops.

    Thanks all,

    -Matt
     
  5. PacificSails
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    PacificSails Junior Member

    If anyone else has experiences/thoughts on conversion from 1 mast to 2 masts for small vessels, almost certainly fiberglass, I'd love to hear them.
     
  6. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    It can be converted, there will be lots of changes to the hull to reinforce the new areas that will now be taking the loads of the mast and rigging. There will be more than twice as much rigging to buy, install, maintain and operate when underway, so almost twice as work and cost to maintain (all those parts eventually wear out and need to be replaced). You will have a lot more weight aloft too, so easier to capsize. You will also have twice the chance of failed components, so there will be more things to repair after a big blow, and you run twice of the risk of creating an emergency when something on either rig fails during operation in heavy weather.

    The boat will also get heavier, and a schooner rig is not as efficient (you will not get as much speed out of the same amount of wind), and will take a lot of extra work to keep in trim with twice as many things to adjust, tweak and optimize for best headway. All of the sailing records set in recent years have been done with giant sloop rigs.

    On a boat that size it is not like handling the sail is too difficult, which is the only reason to go to a mufti sail installation (each sail being smaller is easier to single hand, or for the crew to manage on larger boats).

    So lets consider this, you want to take a boat with a working and proven sloop rig, than add a lot of extra work, almost double the cost, add weight, complexity, likely lose some interior space, reduce its performance and make it a lot more work to operate, plus having to likely make several changes to work out the unexpected bugs and problems with your new schooner rig, just because you like the looks?

    You will also likely reduce the resale value as well, I suspect most would view such a drastic change with suspicion about its quality and reliability. There is a reason schooners have almost disappeared on boats under about 45 ft (and even on much larger ones too).

    I am an experienced self employed engineer that has built some 20 or more small boats, many of them sailboats, almost all of my own design. I am not intimidated by making drastic changes to an existing design if I thought I would improve the boat, but this is not something I would attempt. Likely you will get it torn apart, cut up for modifications, and long before you have it seaworthy, give up on it because it become too costly. Than you will not be able to give it away, you would have to pay to haul it to a land fill.

    Although it is technically possible, there is no compelling reason to do it, and the complications and costs would be very large. It would be far cheaper to find a smaller schooner rigged boat and restore it and not change the design or make such drastic changes to the structure of the hull.

    I would highly advise against it.

    The reality is it will likely never get completed. Get a small seaworthy sloop and enjoy it the way it is. Hang around the yacht club and volunteer to crew on someone else's schooner during club racing and get to know what it is like to be on a schooner in the first place. than also voleneer to crew on someones sloop, and compare the experiance. Your fondness for the "looks" will likely wain after comparing the amount of effort it takes to operate the boat.

    If the boat is not fun and easy to rig and operate, you will not want to use it.
     
  7. PacificSails
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    PacificSails Junior Member

    Thanks for the advice Petros -

    You raise some good points about having 2 of everything and thus twice the chance of things breaking, twice the cost, weight, etc.

    I also appreciate that with your experience you would not consider this a promising venture, this was the kind of knowledge I was looking for.

    My line of thought was that (much like many people drive standard cars just for enjoyment & feel, even though they take more work to drive than an automatic) the added challenge might make long stretches of slow sailing more enjoyable and engaging. I'm have sailed small sloops a bit, but not schooners, so this was a thought and not a point really. I'll take your advice of volunteering at a club and see if I like sailing schooners as much as I like their looks now.
     
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The modifications don't have to be overly heavy and weight savings in other areas may all be even out the playing field. I have a 23' sloop, converted to a ketch and have owned several yawls converted from sloops and they worked well. My ketch conversion turned out lighter than the original sloop. There's no reason you couldn't do it, but justification for such a change will have to be reckoned with. You might want to simply consider building one of Bolger's little schooners, saving all the fuss and bother of trying to self design one right out of the box.

    [​IMG]

    This is Bolger's "Single Handed" schooner and one of the smallest of this type.
     
  9. PacificSails
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    PacificSails Junior Member

    That's a beautiful little boat. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into it. Justification will have to wait for now aside from the looks, but I'm hoping I enjoy sailing them.
     
  10. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    Reuel Parker's The Sharpie Book would also be worth a read. It shows a number of small traditional types with updated plywood build ideas. Not many current small sloops would make much sense as a schooner conversion, but if you spent the couple years looking for just that, I'm sure you could find a few. Personally, I think they are better suited to bigger boats. With a small boat, the crew can provide a lot of the righting moment and the rig can be done more economically as a taller, smaller suite of sails. If you want a small, heavy, slow boat that the crew can sit anywhere, you need an older type of hull, very heavy and low to the water. Typically, the topsides volume between the wl and the lowpoint of the sheer is not more the the actual boat displacement. Very built-down design. Hard to find those today.
     
  11. cmckesson
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    cmckesson Naval Architect

    PacificSails, where are you located? I am a Professor of Naval Architecture (ship design) in the Mechanical Engineering department at UBC. I'd be happy to chat with you about your idea.

    All the comments you have received thus far are right too - no disagreement with anything they've said, just offering you a local resource.

    Chris McKesson
     
  12. PacificSails
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    PacificSails Junior Member

    Hello cmckesson,

    That would be great, I really appreciate the offer. I'm starting my summer session for Engineering Physics at UBC in May.

    I'll send an email to the address given on your website.

    Cheers,

    Matt
     
  13. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    You could also buy a set of plans for George Buehler's POGO and build that. It's a bit of a toy but it is a schooner, it's easy to build and George once told me I could stretch it to 18' or even 20' if I wanted to.

    I also like the look of the Tancook whalers.

    FWIW I'm building a schooner ATM but it's a Colvin junk schooner somewhat bigger than you have in mind. Yeah there are lots more bits of string to run and maintain but I don't care (yet). I work on the principle that if I can build it, I can fix it and if I get tired of the way it is, I can change it too.....

    PDW
     
  14. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The Pogo is a heavy beast, over a ton on a ~13' LWL, wow.

    If you're going to play with schooners, you should consider a real one, like this:

    [​IMG]

    or a smaller version, like this:

    [​IMG]

    A shoal version of this 18' LOD schooner has been worked up:

    [​IMG]

    Several building methods and options for this one, including the glued lapstrake shown.
     

  15. WindRaf
    Joined: Oct 2014
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    WindRaf Senior Member

    If you put in a gull wings of a chicken, is not that the gull ago cluck.
    What I mean is that a sloop is not just a hull with a single mast and the schooner with two.
    The sailboats are organic machines. The hull of a sloop is very different from the schooner.
     
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