Slocum`s Spray

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

  1. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    BR boat is fabulously huge down below (Oh honey, look at the cute kitchen and the big shower) because of raised sheer and added house structures, just the things to decrease the sailing ability but increase sales among the beginner or the willfully ignorant.
    The 1850'ish oyster sloop SPRAY as originally built had about 12 inches LESS freeboard than Slocum's final build, a huge gaff sloop rig, a centerboard and sailed very well. Not well 'for her type', but performed and did everything a sailing revenue producer has to do to make money, get where she's going and stay off the rocks. Slocum added a foot to the FB and cut down the rig, BR further cut down the rig and added another foot of FB and a huge pilothouse/stern cabin on some of them. There are several BR SPRAYs hauled in the Port Townsend shipyard where BERTIE is spending the winter and somehow he lost everything good in the design when you mentally compare it to the 160 year old original starting point. Before engines, a sail boat that didn't work didn't survive because it didn't make money. Carrying forward the core essence of the earlier successful work is the designer's job if he adapts a historic sailing commercial craft to modern use. In my opinion BR did not do this, but designed a series a sailing apartment houses with multi-level gazebos and gardens, not sailboats worth being called SPRAYs.
    The attached photos from my reference library show two historic approaches to the small coastal cargo carrier, SW England and S China. They both show vessels beating out of port in light conditions. They both sail well, empty or loaded, carry 50 to 150 tons, can be beached to load/unload, last 50 to 75 years of hard use and are made of wood. They're not SPRAYs, but come from the same burdensome industrial background so have similar sailing abilities as SPRAY in her original guise. But not a BR SPRAY. The last 2 photos show BERTIE with her original 850 sq ft mainsail as rigged in 1986 and the new main in 2007. The new main is 150 square feet bigger for 1000 sq ft. and she goes like hell. Yes, that's what I really feel about it. ;)
     

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  2. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    Sadly true...they read the old classics, Slocum, Gerbault, Dumas, Smeeton, Moitessier and others...dream of sailing on a old style boat (because of aesthetics). They do believe that boat engineering stopped at the end of the 19th century. Happily, most of the times, the thing ends at the dream's level.

    Unhappily sometimes the dream becomes true (expensively) and the result is not appealing. Naval architecture had some evolution in the good sense: stronger, lighter, faster, surer and easier boats.

    I remind that Moitessier was in survival in the South Pacific in 1968 (if I remember well) with chains and other anchors. The Smeeton's boat was almost sunk, the survived because Guzzwell, a true "Mac Gyver" was on board. Now, people cross the South Pacific racing! I wouldn't accept a "Josuah" sailing boat even being paid. It was a rogue dog crossed with a lemon, as all who owned one remember too well.

    That are things of the past...Long, long, long time ago, on a sea far, far, far away.
     
  3. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Same ocean, mate, that ain't changed a bit.
    Those "old" boats were designed by the ocean, as are the latest rod-rigging'ed, carbon fiber'ed hot planing sleds. I've been intimately involved as a professional in both.
    The difference is one costs very little and is accessible to the masses, and the other is only open to the highly financially solvent, or "rich".
    BERTIE cost $15,000 to build hull and deck. Engine and rig doubled that. She has been a comfy home to raise three children in and live for 30 years, carried me safely at an average 5 knots for many thousands and thousands of miles through violent gales and lee shores. It's more than I can say of boats that cost twenty times what she did. It's comparing a diesel truck to Ferrari Dino... whoo sure goes fast and flashy but don't bump it in the parking lot or it'll cost a lot and don't bring more than a box of kleenex.
    BERTIE is a cargo boat. You could load her with ten tons of brick in the hold and sail it through any conditions and deliver it dry to a beach, where you dry out on the tide and unload it into horse carts. Yes, totally 18th century but still makes a good boat for some human purposes, like carrying you on the ocean.
    If a prospective owner wants a boat to impress friends with how much money was spent to win a race against a bunch of other over-competitive type A persons go right ahead and spend it. I'm in the business and I love that kind of owner because it's never good/fast/shiny enough so we're paid to do it over and over when it's perfectly good in the first place. A lighter mast, oops, too light and fell over the side, back in the shop and another $10K. Wow, that spade rudder has worn out its high-tech bearing again, darn, back in the shop for another $5K. Do you see a trend here? Performance comes at a cost and BERTIE makes up for lacks with a 30 hp engine and big tanks. I always notice all the darn Marconi high performance racer-cruisers with their sail covers on motoring uptide and wind just like me and at about the same speed.
    Every boat is different and is designed for the job in hand. Light displacement gives high performance and poor load carrying, which do you want? BERTIE works for me and at an investment of $30K for 30 years of use (so far), I must say it seems very sensible, but what do I know? I didn't build her to sail around the world, I built her as a hedge against the collapsing system, which seems to be happening just fine, and the investment has been also the same.
    If I wanted to sail across the Pacific, or go to Antarctica I'd design something different, a long lean Marconi cutter with a fisherman schooner profile, in steel.
     
  4. Landlubber
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    ...yep, horses for courses....quite simple really, have a look at Driska's new build for himself, not my cup of tea, but i sure do admire his build and understanding of what HE wants in HIS boat...that is what matters really.........

    ...and lets be real here too....eve built a perfect boat...nup, always half way through it and something new pops up and we say, wow , wish i did that....such is life....
     
  5. DennisRB
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    DennisRB Senior Member

    BATAAN. Your spray is nothing like the BR Spray. I like your version and would own it for sure. The prices you paid to build and maintain it are also impressive.
     
  6. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    Bataan no need of high tech (a lot of times badly engineered, and poorly done by a lot of yacht shipyards. Although high tech well done gives outstanding results like the trimaran IDEC, 30 meters (more than 90 feet) weighting less than 27000 pounds and which made a circumnavigation at 20 knots of mean speed skipped by a lone guy. NOTHING BROKE. Pseudo high tech always breaks.

    But that's not the subject. Cruising modern boat do not mean high tech composites or advanced technics with costly materials, or floating condos. That means modern engineering and design, with optimal use of the materials and good hydrodynamics. Hulls that have a good stability whatever the weather, that remain equilibrated so easy to sail. Simple and efficient sail plan easy to reef if needed. Minimal hardware. Minimal heeling. Nice amenities and good mean speed. We are very far from a racing boat, from a floating hardware catalog and also from a floating barge. That do not mean expensive (but boats are always expensive), we are not talking of consumerism, and owner's egos but of "working" boats.

    Joubert-Nivelt, Van de Stadt, Lerouge, Harle and many other NA design such boats. A lot of materials are available, all able to last at least 40 years. A fully battened mainsail with solent jib plus a reacher for downwind is an excellent sail plan easy to use (you tack upwind without touching any rope...) and to maintain while needing only 2 small winches. No furlers, no big winches, nor gadgets.
     
  7. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Ilan Voyager
    Very good observations. I've been around a good variety of designs and everything you say about sensible cruising vessels is true. "...simple, minimal, efficient, easy to reef..." These factors will always be there in a good boat.
    In cruising, a figure of 4 tons of displacement of vessel per crew member has always been conservative. Now it seems to be 1 or 2 tons and I don't see how this accommodates the water and food needs unless you have a watermaker instead of big tankage, and hi-tech (expensive) food preservation for a large quantity with low weight and size. Cruising means carrying cargo- usually food, water, personal goods like books etc, and comfortable cruising can often mean a little more room and "stuff". I know a modern underbody profile combined with minimal displacement through light hull weight gives the best possible performance under sail, but there are so many other facets to cruising in the real world. If you sail from marina to marina on your credit card, a contemporary efficient design is desirable. If you sail in poorly-charted backwaters where the possibility of grounding is high, then that fin keel and spade rudder are a big liability. I once worked on a $35,000 repair to a 40' modern fin-keeler. He had hit a rock at 2.5 knots. Last time BERTIE crunched up on a rock at 2.5 knots we put the prop in reverse pitch and waited for the tide to come in. I didn't bother to putty up the scrape in the keel shoe, just painted it next haul out.
    I would love for BERTIE to be as efficient to windward as modern vessels are, but her 100 gals of fuel used at .75 gal per hour helps her motorsail upwind quite well. Off the wind, her fantastic stability and balance let us drive her unmercifully hard, secure that the crude industrial rig with its poured sockets, deadeyes, and lashings will not fail in a 2 am gust due to some tiny overlooked crack in a swage.
    Day after day she'll slam into the wave ahead, immersing to the top of the bulwarks and leaping over to the next one... all with the helm lashed. I know well-engineered and built vessels designed in the 21st century will be much faster and just as seaworthy but they will cost 10 to 20 times per ton what BERTIE did and usually require a wind vane or autopilot to keep their course at sea if you don't have your hand on the helm. It's like the difference between my grandmother's old 1940's ringer phone and my iPhone- you can talk on both of them but one costs more and is very flashy and will definitely do more.
    A wooden vessel properly built and maintained has a long life. Neglect either and it is soon a pile of compost. BERTIE is getting a repair after 26 years of hard use. Here's a photo of the first day of work after almost all the rotten wood was removed.
    If I was designing a boat for my needs today (I designed her in 1975) it would be a 29 foot gaff or marconi cutter of about 7 to 8 tons and drawing 5 feet. BERTIE was designed and built as a floating home and I raised 3 children aboard. Now she's used for cruising with a big group to the British Columbia and Alaska. In these waters you motor a lot due to lack of wind and narrow tidal windows for passing the many dangerous places at the right time so most-efficient sailing is not at the top of the list in desired qualities in a design here.
     

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  8. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    BR 'Spray' 36

    Recently I have been looking at drawings of a Bruce Roberts 'Spray 36'. The profile did not seem that excessively high to me. It also was rated at 24,000 lbs. My guess is that is her launch weight without stores or fuel.

    I'm wondering if its alledged poor performance is due, in the main part to two things:

    1.) A large propeller in a keel cutaway, and
    2.) sails cut too flat.

    If this type normally doesn't point better than 100 deg. tacks, shallow or flatish cut sails are of little use.

    Could her overall performance be improved by:

    1.) replacing the large propeller with a smaller one, a folding one, or a feathering one.
    2.) letting the sails have a much fuller cut.
     
  9. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    My guess is that its the hull shape (very fat hull, long flat section keel) that makes it less than an optimum sailboat - rather than just sail cut.
     
  10. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Basically the SPRAY was a shallow oyster boat that Slocum raised the freeboard 14" on. Then Roberts raised that another 14" or more and added pilothouses and stern cabins and antenna farms. You can't keep doing this and cutting down the rig and expect it to go. BERTIE has a 1000 sq ft main which (very roughly) generates 20 hp in a force 4 breeze, and that's just the main, not including the monster lug mizzen hanging far off the stern, plus staysail and jib on a bowsprit that sticks 16 feet in front of the stem. Compare that to the Roberts "chicken beak" bow plus maybe 5 or 6 feet of platform with pulpit, turnbuckles, lifelines, teak grating etc. All this is "brakes", that is, non-power-producing windage, and then put a marconi rig which is a triangle instead of the large rectangle it was designed for so is always smaller unless you have a hugely tall =expensive mast.
    Look at any US east coast sailing fore and aft rigged workboat: low freeboard, minimal windage, very large sail area. There's no magic bullet that makes a marconi sail of half the area of a gaff and topsail go as fast. Aerodynamic lift is all fine and dandy but big sails do it better.
    A Roberts boat has much less sail area and bushels of useless windage so it matters not the cut of the too-small sails. Square footage equals horsepower. A large prop in an aperture is all anti-sail, i.e. drag and turbulence, so of course would help if you lose the aperture and have a small off-center prop. Her bottom is carefully faired and the gap between rudder and stern post in tiny. See photos. These two things take BERTIE from SPRAY-slug to exciting to sail. And I pass all the Roberts boats I meet (and many others), and there are many here in the wonderful Pacific NW.
     

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  11. Rapt88
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    Rapt88 New Member

    Hi Bataan,

    You previously mentioned slight mods to Slocum's Spray design as made by Pete Culler and yourself. Would you expand on those mods please, I note the transom is more upright and stern hung rudder and offset prop. Are the lines as built (by you not the original) available/published? Also, having gone "chinese" for the main, why not have chinese mizzen? Thanks in advance

    Rapt88
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2010
  12. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Hi Rapt88
    Thanks for the well considered questions. I'll try to answer and if I go astray just ask again.
    I used the published lines as the frame line, adding 1 3/4" plank thickness to the displacement. The upper edge of the transom stayed in the same place, also the heel of the rudder, as I stretched the waterline aft to make a straight line between the two. This made a longer waterline and I eased the buttocks an inch or so to compensate. So, longer W/L, flatter buttocks. The outer stern post is straight Marstal Baltic trader style.
    Here's a photo of the stern area in frame, ceiling in, and steam box fired up with sheer clamps cooking. This was about 2 months after start of building, working alone. There is no comparison of the speed of construction between the old Essex-style sawn frame build (see any Gloucester schooner) and almost anything else. Starting in the 1600s they built over 5,000 vessels there, and learned some things about doing it, so I just copied a lot of their ways, down to scaffolding etc, and found it all unbelievably quick and efficient.
    I worked on a big repair of Culler's boat in 74 or so, and found his to be skeg built (garboard ends at transom), and with a great deal more exposed keel than the published lines show. Also the rudder trunk was worm eaten and the wooden rudder stock split and decayed, thus the BERTIE's changes to sensible Danish ideas.
    I asked Pete in a letter about his boat's changed profile and he said that he and Victor Slocum had agreed that adding more outside keel, especially aft, creating more drag would help with the original's weather helm. This from VS who had sailed a great deal with his father on the original.
    I thought they had added a bit too much so kept their profile, but reduced the draft about 5" from what they had. If I remember right (no guarantee) his boat showed 16" below the garboard aft, and mine is 11". Both show less forward, my boat about 8.5".
    There's a Culler-designed SPRAY hauled getting a new deck a few yards from BERTIE right now, and she has planked-down deadwood, a lot of outside keel and a big chunk of outside ballast, but still a reduced rig.
    The type's great W/L beam requires a lot of sail to not be a slug. I sailed a Master Mariners race in SF bay against Culler's original boat in 85 and left it in the dust. The difference was large.
    As Slocum left for his great voyage, a Boston newspaper man interviewed him. At one point in the article JS says, "Later however, her rig may be changed to something like La Libertate with a battened sail in place of the mainsail, and a smaller sail of the same kind of a mizen mast aft." Of course it never happened, but long after I had built BERTIE and I found this article it made me feel good to keep up Capt Josh's development of the type.
    The reasons for standing lug on the mizzen instead of Chinese are several. Mostly as the sail is never reefed, just doused, so no reason for battens or multiple sheets.
    The big reason for batten lug on the main is to make it physically possible to control such a heavy monster. A gaff rig with topsail of equal size to my main would require at least 2 people to handle, a topmast, crosstrees, trestletrees, standing backstays, and more, and would be much scarier to gybe.
    The mizzen is a totally different problem. Being way on the end any extra weight is magnified due to inertia forces, also strains go up so it has to stay light. The clearance between mizzen mast and mainsheet is very tight and battens on the mizzen would foul the sheet sometimes. The mizzen sail I have right now does not set well and was made by a fellow who did not understand lugsails, but it's worked for thousands of miles and I'll make a better one someday. Again, first reef on my boat is douse the mizzen and furl it, then down staysail, then start reefing the main as the wind speed climbs, leaving the smallish jib up all the time mostly.
     

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  13. Rapt88
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    Rapt88 New Member

  14. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Rapt88
    Thanks for the link. Great article.
     

  15. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Thanks for your well-thought out reply. I think the high loss rate for traditional vessels had a great deal to do with decisions made for economic reasons. Hove to off a fog-bound rocky harbor entrance for days makes you anxious to get a deteriorating cargo ashore and paid for, so you might make a bad call and wind up on the rocks. Same for going to sea with predicted gales, you go broke staying in port and in those days "broke" meant "starve".
    Your phrase "leisure sailor" says it all I think. Joseph Conrad commented on the difference from commercial and yachting and said "One is the pleasure of life, the other is life itself".
    Trad boats were economic engines and run that way with many more risks taken than a modern yachtsman would, because one is play and the other is business. When one has the "leisure" to not go to sea under bad conditions you don't have to. The commercial seaman has a different world from the sailing yachtsman, today or yesterday. Same ocean, different existence and priorities totally.
    The biggest practical difference in a traditional boat from a modern efficient yacht is price per ton due to the differences in technology involved. The modern boat is made of highly engineered materials generated by an industrial society and the builder cannot make these himself. The trad boat is wood chopped out of the forest with an axe by an illiterate craftsman. The modern boat requires a boatyard and travel lifts with trained technicians to deal with all the systems and equipment. The trad boat can be dried out and repaired on a tidal beach with simple tools. These are two different things, modern and traditional boats, all they really have in common is sails and water.
    I could buy a Swan, cutter-rigged, of about the same size as BERTIE, but I'd pay at least $600k. It would be a rocket upwind, steer well with a spinnaker, have a knockout finish everywhere and really impress people. It would probably do 200 miles a day easily compared to BERTIE's usual 100-120.
    It would be difficult to single-hand at sea for any length of time. There's a reason the boat yard guys call roller furling "roller snarling", as when one of these fails at sea it's really a pain in the ***, though some brands (Harken for one) seem to be much better than others and work and last well. Marconi rigs depend hugely on their headsails and the roller furler is the usual short-handed way of dealing with a large genoa. The lovely, shapely modern sails are not cheap or long-lasting either if you care about efficient shape. BERTIE's first suit I made myself in an old dairy barn and they lasted 20 years. Not pretty but the boat went just fine.
    There is no way the Swan would be more seaworthy than my boat which cost $15k hull and deck, $30k equipped. And if we were in collision, BERTIE's paint would get damaged and the light, efficient Swan would be crushed like the eggshell it really is by BERTIE's 23 tons of tugboat-strong hull as you can see in the photo. Over the many years of use I've bumped some things with her, hard sometimes. That hasn't happened for a long time but was good lessons in what strong means.
    After 50 years experience in different types from CG roll-over surf boats to captaining the Columbus replica NINA, in all weathers and conditions, I am very happy with BERTIE at sea, and worry much less than when I'm aboard a modern sailboat with its highly-stressed and engineered structure and rig. I repaired modern boats for some years in a California boatyard for the ocean racing fleet and know there's a constant stream of work needed to keep these things going and competitive. Blocks explode, spade rudders wear out their plastic bearings, fin keels hit things and crush the hull grid, swage fittings get tiny cracks that cause rigs to fail. Everything is highly stressed due to lightness and performance requirements so there are more failures. Performance has a steep price, especially in bigger boats.
    Of course this is the high-tech end of the modern boat spectrum and there are many lower-tech modern boats that are more reliable and have less rig-loading and heavier build if you stay away from racing and marketing.
    Again, you get what you're willing to pay for. I chose very cheap simplicity over impressing others with how fast or expensive I was and it has worked fine for 26 years so far.
     

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