Slocum`s Spray

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Elmo, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    BERTIE was drawn with most imaginable rigs, cutter, schooner, ketch, and my favorite the Polacca Brigantine, but it all came down to making the boat sail as well as possible and also single handle easily and she seems to work wonderfully well, and this is after 28 years of sailing her.
    A schooner does not like to go downwind well at all and the rig is not intended for much of such use, yet sailing at sea is as much downwind as you can arrange for and plan, as that is how you get to where you are going on a sailing ship. Schooners are great for windward work and setting a fisherman staysail, but are cranky to steer off the wind, and I've steered ones with sixty foot booms at night and did not feel safe at all.
    Captain Slocum knew well what he was about and I have an article from 1895 where he told a reporter he would change the SPRAY's rig to batten lug, like LIBERDADE, which was a 3 masted Chinese rig big dory. Obviously he never did, but just kept modifying the sloop rig he started out with until he had a yawl, but I took his work another step further and I think the boat works best with this rig.
    The 1000 square foot main demands respect and thought, but works wonderfully when I do my part, and with it so far forward the boat sails like a catboat under main alone and is fully controllable. This is a big factor in single handing, being able to sail under a very simple rig at times. I've always considered the jib and staysail more of a problem at sea than the main, even with downhauls.
    Our 2 ton Beebe Bros. hand winch cranks the main up eventually, but is very simple with only a single part of high tech line. One thing about a Chinese sail is it never flogs, so if you want to take a break with it half raised, go right ahead and get the coffee on with the main half up, as you're sailing now anyway and under control too. Plenty of time to get the main all the way up and the parrals adjusted after coffee time. When lowering in a panic, no coil to foul or jam, just flip out the pawl and slack the brake and down it comes helped by the Vaseline finish on the mast, which also repels water better than anything.
    With a schooner the main mast is in the middle of the boat taking up too much of a too small cabin, same with a ketch, mast in an inconvenient place. BERTIE's standing lug mizzen balances on the caprail held up only by the shrouds and as far aft as possible. Looks precarious but hasn't come tumbling down yet and I've done things that should have caused that.
    SPRAY needs a lot of 'lead' in the rig which means a long bowsprit to get her to steer well, and this is best done fisherman style and avoid the usual yacht clutter of platforms, pulpits, roller furlers and all the other windage that spoils the sailing qualities of a good boat. We have kept windage to a minimum by following traditional work boat practices where possible and it pays off in 125 mile days and being able to keep going when others get blown back, as happened off Fraser River one Spring. BERTIE was motorsailing and smashing her way through a vicious ebb chop, a little wet but without drama, and a 40 foot ketch close to us was uncontrollable under power and a staysail. We watched as he struggled with the wheel and the boat leapt up high enough to see the ballast keel, then buried her deck, only to leap out again, while the poor skipper in his covered cockpit threw the wheel hard over again and again, only to give up and run for a lee behind the breakwater, while we continued on into Vancouver, Heidi steering casually while I filmed from the bowsprit and hung on at the same time. Both boats similar size, but one a tall high freeboard modern design with bow pulpit, hard dodger, wind vane and everything, the other ancient, low and clean, with little to catch the wind but sails.
    I'm not too smart, certainly not smart enough to invent something new, so I tend to copy that which has worked for hundreds or even thousands of years, because it's been 'beta tested' by the ocean, and so it is with the rig of SPRAY.
     

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  2. oithona
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    oithona New Member

    Junk Schooner

    Thanks for your intelligent replies guys.
    Mast placement is not a problem - the two masts match pretty much the (unusual) accommodation plan I have. Done quite a bit of small boat sailing, but always in marconi sloop/cutter rigged boat. Never heard that schooners are poor downwind, but never sailed in one so can't argue. Bill King managed to circumnavigate in a junk schooner, so I guess it may not be too bad - could always get really salty with a crossed yard on the foremast I guess :rolleyes:

    Edit: I just ordered Annie Hill's book about live-aboard cruising on her 34' Junk Schooner 'Badger' - should be a good source of advice on likely performance, although the Benford hull is a very different animal to 'Spray'.
     
  3. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    SPRAY's long keel and excellent balance mean she will sail with almost any reasonable rig, but the big displacement means she needs lots of sail area to make her go in light air. Her immense stability and very quick recovery mean she is hard on gear and really needs the shrouds. This is not a boat for an unstayed rig and Chinese rig with shrouds can cause real chafe problems if not thought through well. BERTIE follows the practice of a very high peaked yard and the shrouds coming as high as possible on the mast. This keeps the yard from jamming between shrouds and mast when running off. I have seen some junk rigged boats with very poor lead and unable to let the sheets more than half way out due to the yard getting pinched aloft. Read the Hasler/McLeod book Practical Junk Rig for a lot of info. Also Tom Colvin's Cruising as a Way of Life which has excellent details on the rig. I don't like Colvin's sail shape or his odd spreaders to solve the above problem but his sailmaking page really helped me making my first mainsail in 1985.
    Chinese mast does not take easily to a square sail yard but I've been fiddling with a Claud Worth idea for awhile of setting a light running 450 square foot squaresail from a jackstay hoisted with the staysail halyard to supplement area in light airs downwind without interfering with the main at all. If I get it together I'll post photos.
    At sea square rig is the best in the end, but difficult to arrange in the usual yacht.
     
  4. goodwilltoall
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    goodwilltoall Senior Member

    Where did you get that green winch from?
     
  5. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    It's a 2-speed 2-ton galvanized steel "Beebe Bros." made I believe for operating the landing ramp on an LCVP. When outfitting the boat in Sausalito in the middle 80s this kind of stuff was all over the place left over from WW2 shipbuilding. I think I paid $20 for this one from Don Arques. We recently overhauled it and replaced a couple of the bronze bushings. I found another, but not galvanized, on Craig's List in Indiana for $100 and bought it so I'd have some spare parts. This winch is still in production in a Chinese version and costs about $1000 new. It works wonderfully as our halyard winch for the very heavy Chinese sail. The block aloft that carries the halyard is subject to tremendous strain and we've destroyed many, including 'hi-test' yacht blocks costing several hundred dollars. Present halyard block is intended for logging, is all steel and has a working load of 5 tons. Cost $40. It hangs from a 5/8" steel rod 'staple' that bolts through the mast cap fitting and also lower down.
     

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  6. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Here's another take on the vaseline.
     
  7. viking north
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    viking north VINLAND

    Thanks again Battan, Re read this thread again for the third time and still find it interesting and a learning experience. Especially so since I have passed many hours exploring Slocum"s haunts,old farms on the backroads of North Mountain, Annapolis Valley area Nova Scotia. I might have even walked his old boyhood farm. This area being a short drive from my RCAF base Greenwood. Along with Captains Bob Bartlett, Angus Walters, Ben Pine, Jimmy Pike, and a few more thats possibly slipped my memory, these are men that eastern Canadians as well as our southern neighbours can be highly proud of. In keeping with the theme I have been researching another Spray builder and sailer that I first read about as a young lad in a 1950's era Popular Mechanics magazine. I have come to a dead end and often wondered if he did actually sail around the world in the wake of Slocum as planned. I will gather up the build article and other related bits of info on the launch and the last port sailed to I can find and present it in a post within the next few days. Maybe someone on the thread can add to it and finally set my curious mind to rest on this old boyhood hero.
     
  8. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Are you thinking of Robert Carr of Vermont? He built an authentic, engineless, SPRAY replica in the 50s and set off to find his adventures.
    He did not circumnavigate, but did sail extensively.
    The story going around was he'd collided with a ship off Central America, destroying his mast, but had gotten to land and was seeking a new one. That was the last I heard and many years ago, so have no idea what his final story was or where the boat is now.
    http://www.kastenmarine.com/spray.htm
    http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Sailing_Alone_Around_the_World
     
  9. viking north
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    viking north VINLAND

    Man you've got one hell of a memory channel --is there an updated Cray computer planted behind that shull--:) Yes thats the very gentleman. I'm gonna post the origional article just for general info. I did track the 1957popular science article where he transported her to water and his brother helped him step a replacement mast (orig.being too small). Also the article where in the fall of 1958 he was in Charlston S.C. preparing for a trip to Nova Scotia. And the artice where Michael Kasten of Kasten marine fame helped him paint her bottom in Hawaii in 1979. But thats as far as I got, from there the trail went cold. I didn't find the info on the collision so thats a new bit of info added to the ongoing story. For those interested here is the article i've had since 1956. If you have problems with the quality of the post you can search for the article under Popular Mechanics Jan. 1956.
     

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  10. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Viking North, thanks for the post.
    Though dripping in journalistic 1957 hyperbole, it shows what any reasonably strong, healthy and patient person can do, given the motivation.
    Building a small commercial type sailing ship of wood is a simple straightforward process with little mystery involved, though much labor and common sense.
    So very many many many sloops, schooners, yawls and ketches were launched from farmyard creek-side building sites around the world and went on to carry the peoples' needs, from oats to cattle to railroad steel to road grit to manure and coal... until we discovered both the economies of scale and the use of internal combustion engines, putting us at the mercy of the builders of same.
    It all traveled in these little vessels, forgotten by modern time.
    Too bad we seem to need corporate sponsorship, or at least corporate executive employment, to afford the carbon-fiber/resin-rich modern equivalent to these old and simple types.
    What was once straightforward and easy has become an out-of-reach dream for moderns, beaten down by the incessant marketing of newer/faster/better, making them unable to accept old types as being a valid alternative to getting out on the water in comfort and safety.
     
  11. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    The trouble is, in most parts of the 1st world, neither the timber nor the creek side building site is available at anything like a reasonable price. Those old designs were very timber intensive. A person I know is building one a few miles from my place, so it still can be done and it still is done here in Tasmania, but the timbers are getting harder to come by and more expensive.

    Even the engine you chose is no longer in production. I wanted one myself but it wasn't possible so I bought a Bukh, one of the last of the purpose-designed marine diesels as opposed to a converted industrial engine. Still no controllable pitch propellor, though.

    My personal compromise was to build a reasonably traditional hull form in steel. Yes, it relies on modern paints to a large degree to keep rust at bay, but then timber hulls didn't last long at all once taken into warm waters unless they also had copper cladding or modern antifouling - and even then woe betide you if you damage the barrier coating and not repair it promptly.

    At least my decks won't leak and my topsides won't develop gaping cracks in the tropical sun.

    PDW
     
  12. viking north
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    viking north VINLAND

    As I've posted before I grew up on and next to a U.S. Army Airforce later a U.S.A.F. SAC base on the south west coast of Newfoundland. The U.S. Military Guys (friends of the family) kept me well supplied in Popular Mechanics and similar magazines. I cut out the articles of interest this being one of many that i've kept filed away all these years. While my ancestors were all boat builders and sea captains my grandfather and father were not, so there was a break in the tradition. Thus at 13yrs. old the fascination spurred by family stories of boats and sailing with the article. I'm still awed at his endurance to fufill his dream so much so it still inspires me by way of shame that I sometimes ***** and complain about how hard I think I work with all my modern tools in a large warm shop. --While he never fully fufilled his around the world sail, I hope he found rewarding pleasure where ever he sailed in that hard labour of love.
    .
     
  13. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Steel makes excellent boats.
    Take a trip to Holland and become a believer someone said.
    Even the dinghies are steel.
    I'm a wood guy and live where wood is available and wood boats last a pretty long time if cared for.
    This month I'm a shipwright on the PELICAN, launched 1930 in Virginia for Fisheries Patrol.
    Sawn oak 6x8 frames and 2 3/4" pitch pine plank, spiked.
    Generally in very good condition according to the surveyor, but we have a dozen planks out of the starboard bow and are rebuilding the framing around the hawse pipe.
    83 years old and still going strong with a little attention.
     

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  14. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer


  15. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

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