Sprays

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by greenwater, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    WindRaf, that's not a fair comparison, a high tech, highly loaded racer, with minimal safety margins, to a 19th century working boat. Really?

    Slocum did add an 8" keel timber to the bottom of the original dredger, both blocking the slot and adding depth to the original deadwood assembly. He added more on his first circumnavigation. The original lines of the boat where not kept, by his own admission. He removed the hog, while jacking her up, to place the new deadwood addition, he whacked a few feet off the stern, to remove serious rot in the plank ends and stern framing, plus several other modifications, including the raising the bulwarks. The extent of these can't be fully known, simply because of the lack of documentation, but when she was hauled mid way 'round, many of these features where photographed and noted. In fact her true origins are actually known, but she's assumed to have been a well tired dredger, dragged up a beach into a field to die.

    Spray's hull shape performs pretty typically for her era. Her full forward sections means she's helpless in light upwind points (compared to finer entry yachts), but in a heavy slosh, this helps a great deal and she can carry on. I too built a Spray (in my 20's) and found it altogether too slow and heavy for light air work to windward. In heavier air, I found she needed to be sailed progressively harder, to get much from her and when she run into the trough of a sea, she would rise a bit, but not fast enough to keep from ramming the back of the next wave train, often bringing her to near a dead stop. These boats are pretty nice rides from a close reach on down, but have a healthy engine for anything else. In moderate and stiff winds, they can be forced to do fairly well, assuming the seas aren't too tall or steep.

    As a live aboard or relatively shoal coastal cruiser, you get a lot of bang for your buck, because of her hull volume, but you do have to pay for all this material in the build, even if using traditional building techniques. Bataan doesn't really speak of his masterful skills as an owner and builder. Most would be hard pressed to match his decision making and building attributes, if attempting a build like his. My point (yeah I know, here we go again) a lighter, similarly voluminous cruiser hull at half the weight, generally will cost half as much to build. A super high D/L yacht will always suffer in the usual wind strengths most like to sail in. Similarly, a moderately high D/L yacht, will still offer the same sea state comfort, yet will do much better in the wind strengths we most enjoy to be out in and in the amount of materials, that are need to build the puppy.

    This is an endless and continuously ongoing debate. Some like the comfort of a very high D/L boat and offer plenty of debate for it, but it's my contention that you can have your cake and eat it too, with a moderately highly D/L. The net is better performance, less materials in the build and the same comfort quotient at sea. Several designers have specialized in these moderate heavier displacement yachts, yet have shown remarkable sailing abilities as well. Nothing "remarkable" can be said about the sailing abilities of these hull forms, like Spray. They do sail, just don't expect much,particularly compared to other design approaches, that offer the same accommodations, yet on more nimble hull forms.
     
  2. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    PAR, I've gone back to research the SPRAY's build, reading Victor Slocum's account (Joshua Slocum, Adventures of America's Best Known Sailor, pp 273-280), and cannot find any reference to adding 8" to the keel or shortening the stern due to rot.
    Victor saw his father's build so would know I think.
    Slocum removed the garboards and cut the floor timbers to replace the keel, not adding a piece, then reframed and placed new floors inside the old planking as ribbands, set up new stem and transom, then replaced all the planking with 1 1/2" yellow pine. The keel, planking, stem, and transom were new and the only original piece of wood left was the fiddlehead on the stem knee. The sheer was raised about a foot and 14" bulwarks on top of that. All plank was copper riveted to frames and butts bolted.
    She was a typical 1850-ish oyster dredger, very shallow and wide with a big centerboard when originally built, reputedly in Maryland. As modified by Slocum she much resembles the small cargo sloops once so common around the world and with which he was intimately familiar due to his long time as a seafarer.
    BERTIE sails a bit better than most of the type due to her very large and easily handled sail area and we average about 100 miles a day usually. Yes, we carry 100 gallons of fuel and power when necessary. I very often notice more modern yachts with fabulous windward ability powering to windward with the sail covers on and wonder "Why bother with a modern type?".
     
  3. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    They do that because if they sailed to windward, they'd be over on their ear and the drinks would spill, plus it'd be a right ***** cooking.

    As for the Roberts version, the lines were drawn up by John Haskins who took them to Bruce Roberts when he had a yard in Brisbane. The story is detailed in a book titled 'The Reluctant Sailor' by his wife, Helen Haskins.

    FWIW I don't recommend buying this book. It really, really badly needed an editor to be ruthless with the verbiage etc. Borrow it from a library. There's not a lot in it about the actual boat building process, but to be fair it's really a stream of consciousness autobiography so that's pretty reasonable. She was a very, very tolerant woman IMO......

    PDW
     
  4. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    BERTIE never sails on her ear, though we do get thrashed about sometimes, and things stay on the stove (close to center of rotation) so we usually cook and eat like rich folks, maybe better. For all her weight, she cost me $15k for hull and deck because I bought prime timber straight from the mill and built her with cheap, quick, strong workboat construction that I learned from wood tug builder D.J. Arques.
    Metal or composite materials properly engineered can give much more modern, evolved, lighter and better performing boats but mine suits me well and I'll stick with her as I have since launching in 1984.
    Quite a few Roberts boats have come through the yard here in Port Townsend and they seem to be uniformly ugly, under-rigged and to have a virtual apartment block built on the deck, a huge RIB in stern davits and other protuberances that make for excess windage, with an owner who endlessly spouts the virtues of the design and plans on going somewhere "soon".
     
  5. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I did likely the same research as you when I built mine and distinctly remember the transom timbers being cut wholesale and an addition to the deadwood, plus the other stuff you've mentioned. One look at her transom and it's obvious, particularly compared to the era dredger she was, it was cut back a few feet. I'll look around and see where I read this, but it wasn't from Slocum's book.

    Most of the popular "modern yachts" you've mentioned are racer/cruiser types, which don't go to windward well at all, but fly once the sheets are eased. These are being used as cruisers, but really aren't. they're too light, poorly shaped for serious off shore cruising and generally make great round the buoy or point to point class scooters, but not especially good cruisers. I own one of these very yachts and yeah man, she's in the upper teens and low 20's off wind, but a wee bit too tender close hauled (39 D/L, 35 SA/D under working sail). She a good bit narrower then the modern versions of this type of yacht, which tend to have way too much drag aft to get to windward very well. They'll still crush a 1850's era hull form, in any wind strength and any point of sail, but comparatively they're not very comfortable and not something I'd prefer to be aboard in a serious blow.

    You perceptions of Roberts owners seem the same as mine, as well as the "feel" of his (or someones) designs. I've found two types of Roberts owners - those that haven't much experience, except aboard one and shouting how wonderful they are and of course the others, which can't wait to find a sucker - 'er buyer for the *****, so they can get a real boat. Roberts is an interesting personality and one I can't understand much, frankly an idiot from a business perspective and having the personal, social skills of a ferret.
     
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  6. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    PAR, I worked at Mystic Seaport in the early '70s as a rigger and researcher, and spent a lot of time dreaming about building BERTIE. I ate and breathed oyster boats and mid-nineteenth century construction for quite a long time in a perfect environment to indulge my madness. There's a NY oyster boat preserved there with a longish counter, but she was unusual. I found many photos, lines plans and half models of Chesapeake vessels similar to the original dredger SPRAY before her rebuild, and her raking transom with 'plug rudder' at the apex was quite common, and it is the same stern used in most of the older model Maine coasters like ALICE S. WENTWORTH (see Leavitt, Last of the Sailing Coasters) or KATIE D. SEAVEY.
    The centerboard Hudson sloop lines attached here, though a larger vessel, show a very similar shape to SPRAY's original oyster boat lines, about the same amount of outside keel, identical transom stern and many other similarities. CLEARWATER is a modern example and is the same in all respects. SPRAY was quite a common type at one time up and down the East coast.
    Shortening the stern would seem to mean cutting off the counter, but very few of this type vessel had one. The rudder position here would prevent any significant shortening of the stern type shown.
    It's possible when young you made the assumption she was shortened and remember it that way, but I don't think so. If you can find your source of information I would be most interested.
    Pete Culler told me he and Victor Slocum decided to add outside keel to the Oxford SPRAY (1929) because of excessive weather helm on the original. Also the lines plan (measured by C. D. Mower, Rudder Magazine) does not show any added keel, just a typical centerboarder's profile. Victor's description of his father's re-build is quite specific and detailed. Here is a photo of SPRAY in 1906 and a drawing of the rebuild. I mentally remove the bulwarks and 12" of topside freeboard to visualize the original hull shape. The drawing, published in 1900, seems to be an accurate rendition of the boat in build and I see a new looking vessel about to get its shutter plank.
    And why would one shorten a boat one is completely rebuilding? That is a tactic used when you're trying to get a few more years from a rotten wreck and need to get back to sound wood, but SPRAY was a new boat when the Captain finished his 13 month long job.
    The schooner photo is a centerboard (16 feet long slot!), cat-rigged San Francisco Bay oyster boat (Gov. M.B.M.) built by W.F. Stone in 1901 which Sam Anderson and I rebuilt and changed into a very low budget schooner without a board in 1974-5. He eventually sailed it to Hawaii and it went to mulch in that climate.
     

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  7. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Personal, social skills of a Ferret. Love it.
     
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    So, you've met/talked with him?
     
  9. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    No, never met the man, but SPRAY owners form a small world and his behavior is widely rumored. Ugly is as ugly does and he managed to take what is a pretty good boat in its own way and turn it into a laughingstock.
    Pete Culler's 1929 SPRAY with me adzing a new sternpost when Rick Cogswell and I did some big repairs about 1975. Some of the extra keel added to the design by Culler and V. Slocum can be seen. I recall measuring 16" below the rabbet aft. BERTIE has about 10" showing aft seen in second and third photo which also shows her "Baltic Trader" stern as modified by me from SPRAY after seeing the weaknesses and maintenance problems in the plug rudder when I repaired Culler's boat.
     

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  10. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    An 1885 center board coasting schooner's stern showing old East Coast design that was used for many years. SPRAY has a good bit more deadrise than this boat and her resultant transom is a little more v shaped, but the common type of the times is a very short counter with upright post and rudder at the tuck, same as original SPRAY. PIONEER's original wooden rudder and stern post have long been replaced with steel.
     

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  11. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    One problem with Roberts' designs is the use of readily available aluminum masts and a common marconi rig of moderate and conventional proportions, giving insufficient sail area for the waterplane and displacement. The hull has tremendous stability to over 100 degrees before the curve goes negative and that does not take the displacement of the deck houses into the equation, which means you can over-drive the thing hard and it needs and can hold up a large working rig.
    BERTIE did 120+ and - miles a day for 17 days straight with a strong NE trade a little forward of the beam coming back from Mexico by the offshore route in 96 and I was amazed at how long she could carry sail before reefing when the trades fluctuated and got even brisker.
    The massive spars (10"dia bowsprit at gammon and same for mast at deck) flexed like fishing poles for day after day, the 2" deck on 6" beams flexed and moved up and down as a unit about 3/8" from the leverage of the 22' bowsprit but didn't leak, it was a really long fun sail where we could push the boat hard and get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the design.
    I doubt Roberts ever did this with any "Sprayoid" he designed, since their design qualities reflect comfort and escape from sailing reality of low windage, big rig equals acceptable performance.
    Some Roberts boats pulled from the internet.
     

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  12. waikikin
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    waikikin Senior Member

    BATTAN, that first one is a ripper;), do we call that "Tudor" styling?
    Of course if they get where you want to go & give comfort all is good.

    Jeff.
     
  13. jak3b
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    jak3b Junior Member

    I went on board the Culler spray when she had a birth near the St Francis yacht club back in the early '90's.Rocky told me she wasnt a boat youd go for a quick sail after work but for long trade wind passages and living aboard she was ideal.I remember standing on the rail and she didnt even hardly move.What happend to her?,Is she still around?.
     
  14. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I actually went to the Bruce Roberts web site to check out the fifth boat pictured.

    I found it had the following specs:

    Length-36 ft
    Beam-12 ft
    Displacement-24,000 lbs

    It didn't list the SA, so I estimated, using a ruler against the screen.

    Main-327 sf
    Outer jib-292 sf
    Inner jib-178 sf

    This gives a total of 797 sf, or thereabouts.

    This gives a S/D of around 15, which is not all that fantastic, but doesn't seem too paltry either.

    Add to this the fact that, this being a masthead rig, it is possible to add at least a 150 Genoa.

    Granted, this may be the bare boat displacement, with no stores or gear aboard.

    I guess one reason the narrower and lighter (24,000 lbs, as opposed to 3600 lbs, for the original, and 44,000 lbs, for BERTIE) Roberts version has such a reputation for being slow is that it has the same keel as the beamier older version. This adds a lot of whetted surface without the SA to pull it through the water.

    My guess is that any boat with a long shallow keel is going to be handicapped when sailing against one with a shorter, deeper keel.

    Of all the advantages a long, shallow keel may have (better roll dampening, better course keeping, ability to dry out on the keel, shallower over draft, and greater structural integrity), speed in light to moderate winds, as well as pointing ability, are not two of them.

    Still, I have to wonder if a lot of this reputation may be due to in-expert handling.

    It may be fairer to think of the Roberts SPRAYs as more like ponderous, ocean going, sailing house boats, than proper sailing yachts.

    The same might be said of BERTIE as well. 4 to 5 kt reaching speeds, in good winds, don't seem all that impressive for a boat with a 30 ft plus waterline.

    According to THE BOATS THEY SAILED IN, by John Stephen Doherty, the original SPRAY managed 6 to 8 kts, with a rig of 1,055 sf (an S/D of 15.3). I wonder what his secret was.

    Was it lack of a huge 3 bladed prop?

    Why all the hate on Bruce Roberts?
     

  15. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    A D/L of 39 seems quite light for a Cruiser/racer. That looks a whole lot more like a ULDB, or what used to be called a 'sport boat'.

    I'd think a cruiser/racer would have a D/L of more like 150 to maybe 200, and maybe an S/D of maybe 17 to 22.

    Could you post a picture of your boat?
     
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