Robert Harris Schooner, Radical Design?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by jmwoodring, Nov 12, 2023.

  1. jmwoodring
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    Location: Texas

    jmwoodring Junior Member

    I'm hoping for some good discussion of this design, in hopes of understanding it better. Unfortunately Robert Harris has passed away and according to the current owner, there isn't much information available. I am interested in using it as an un-inspected passenger vessel for daily sightseeing trips in the Pacific NW.


    My experience is with more traditional boats. 20' hydraulic lifting keels and aft-mast stay-sail rigs are a bit out of my wheelhouse. I have scoured old threads here about aft mast rigs, lifting keel designs, and Maclear-Harris. Bolger's 103 Sailing Rigs "Straight Talk" is an amazing resource and had some excellent insight. I still have many questions.

    Here is some of the information I know. More pictures attached below:

    80' x 16' x 22'
    101 GT, Net 91
    Built Oxnard, CA 1996

    hard chine, minimal deadrise
    1/4" bottom plate, 3/16" side shell
    3/8 X 3" transverse bottom frames
    1/4 X 2" flat side frames
    24" on center, and bulkheads
    1/4 X 2" flats, 12" on center
    1/8" plate steel on transverse framing above

    Two full bulkheads, three partial within tankage

    1/4 X 3" flats in bottom, 1/4 X 2" flats in sides,
    16" on center; four 3 X 5" I-beam engine

    Foil-shaped 4 X 21' hollow steel dagger board
    with 4' X 4' X 10" ballasted bulb, in deck-to keel
    trunk, with lifting bracket aft side of foremast,
    hoisted by hydraulically-driven gear reduction
    cable winch in engine room.

    Approx. 32" cockpit coaming, with drop board
    for transom cutout, typical 1" freeing gap beneath drop

    Twin 80hp John Deere engines and twin rudders, and 1200 Gal capacity in 4- 300 gal tanks. Electric bow thruster and sheet winches.

    Standing rigging is steel galvanized cable, 1/2" and 3/8"
    Masts are 10" x 75' tapered aluminum, deck stepped with double spreaders.


    My primary interest in this vessel is its ability, at 101 GT, to carry 12 passengers as an un-inspected vessel in US waters. It seems capable of operating in semi-protected waters in decent weather and despite it's size, seems to be "fairly simple" and rugged. With twin engines and a bow thruster, it should be easy to operate under power. My hope is to start a small business offering seasonal day trips and generate enough income to keep the boat maintained and make a modest profit to support myself.

    Concerns/questions that I have:

    - How is stability managed with such an extreme variation in the metacentric height? Could this vessel be sailed with keel up, reefed or otherwise?

    - How does one inspect/maintain the inside of a steel centerboard/keel trunk?

    - How could I simplify sail handling/tacking two giant headsails with one set of winches?
    Could club booms or other rigging make these self tacking? Booms would be a danger to passengers on deck, though if the sails were cut high enough maybe this could still work. I would like to be able to single hand this boat, and short tack with at least one sail up, if not both.

    - How much kelp can a 20' keel pick up?

    Please share your thoughts and opinions!

    Attached Files:

  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I see that she is currently a charter boat in the Gulf of Alaska -

    I presume that she is currently for sale - how much is the asking price?
    Have you been on board for an initial look around?
    If not yet, have a look at the bilges, and see what they look like - if immaculate and dry, then that is a good sign.
    You would still need to have a proper ultrasound survey of the hull carried out though, unless they can show you evidence of a recent survey.

    You mention that you want to singlehand this vessel - will you be expecting the guests to help to sail her?
    If not, then this is an awful lot of boat for one person to sail - especially as she has hank on staysails, rather than roller furling. I think that you would have to retrofit them with furlers.
    And even so, she would be hard work to sail for one person.
    Are you sure that the regulations will even allow you to singlehandedly sail her with passengers?
    If it is drizzly (which I understand is quite common in the PNW), is there room for your 12 guests in the wheelhouse? Or will they be expected to bring foul weather gear, and be outside in the weather?

    I presume that she must have a Stability Booklet as she is a commercial vessel - you would have to consult this.
    But I very much doubt that you could sail her with the keel up.
    The draft with the keel up appears to be pretty shallow (re the photo of her in the slings) - but the rudders appear to be deeper than the raised keel.
    I think that there is generally a lot of floating debris (logs etc) in the PNW (?) - these might pose a hazard for the rudders and propellers?

    Remember that old adage - if you want to make a small fortune in the yachting world, it is best to start off with a large fortune - boats have a habit of being very demanding mistresses. :)
    jmwoodring likes this.
  3. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    - Only the designer can answer this, or you have someone do a full stability analysis. You should have a table with permissible sail area in relation to draft and wind speed.

    - Depends how it was buildt. It's either remove the daggerboard and enter the hole, or the trunk has access plates on its sides.

    - It's possible, with and without booms, look up self tacking jib systems. Powered furlers are mandatory.

    - A lot.

    This is a motorsailor, the current sailplan doesn't offer enough area to propel it by wind alone under all circumstances. This isn't a big deal, daytrips are on schedule, you would use the engines a lot anyway, even with a different sailplan. Soundproof the engines really well and keep them always running, fit medium weight boomless sails on furlers and use them as fuel economizing devices when possible.
    jmwoodring likes this.
  4. jmwoodring
    Joined: Apr 2012
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    Location: Texas

    jmwoodring Junior Member

    Thank you, Bajan. I have not seen the boat in person yet.

    No matter how enthusiastic, I don't think allowing passengers to handle large genoa sheets on electric winches is a good idea. Maybe they will get to steer. Regulations aside, I would plan to have one crewmember to assist on trips with paying passengers. That said, I would like to be able to simplify the running rigging setup to be as easily handled as possible. I am thinking of two roller furling units with a single sheet led to each dedicated winch in the cockpit. Both sails could be set for longer runs and one sail could be used when short tacking or when being conservative for other reasons. Sailing when possible, but no aversion to motor-sailing. With a high cut yankee, maybe a club boom would be workable. A block on the clew and one end of the sheet made fast to the deck would work, though the sail shape would surely suffer:


    I agree, the wheelhouse looks like it will best accommodate 6 passengers, perhaps 8. Ideally, all passengers could have a dedicated seat there, next to a window, but I think this will just have to be less than ideal to start. Realistically, as a new business, I doubt the trips will average more than 6 passengers anyway. In time, I should be able to come up with some solutions , maybe even extending the coachroof aft into the cockpit. Fortunately, the weather here in summer is often good.

    As an uninspected vessel, under Subchapter C, I don't think a stability booklet is required. That said, in the absence of information, hiring a N.A. to develop one would probably be wise.

    Yes, there are often whole forests worth of floating trees, lurking along the current lines. Another reason I prefer more traditional designs. That said, with a sharp lookout, they can be avoided, especially at slower speeds of 8 kts or so. Keeping to daytime operations in good visibility keeps this risk manageable.

    A bit of wisdom that can't be denied. Yet here we are...:)
    bajansailor likes this.

  5. jmwoodring
    Joined: Apr 2012
    Posts: 31
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    Location: Texas

    jmwoodring Junior Member

    Thank you, Rumars.

    Yes, I think this will be important to have. If it's not available, I will seek out professional assistance here.

    I have seen some furling units for sale with built in motors. Possibly the electric sheet winches in the cockpit could be used on furling lines, if there are appropriate clutches available to keep it all organized. Perhaps another powered winch could be installed to handle furling lines in the cockpit.

    Yes, I think this is a practical plan. I would like to be able to shut down engines and sail quietly when possible, such as when viewing wildlife, but that is not the primary consideration.
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