Truly Rowable Camping Sailboat

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Admiral Ackbar, May 12, 2012.

  1. Admiral Ackbar
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    Admiral Ackbar Amphibian

    Hi all,
    I am a longtime lurker, first time poster (thanks for many hours of informative entertainment as well as some truly epic squabbles). I'm looking for a sailboat for me and the misses to use without an engine on the Maine Islands Trail, the Great Lakes, etc., but I keep hitting a dead end. No Atlantic crossings with this one, but it will occasionally be used in some semi-unprotected waters by a semi-novice crew as a camp-cruiser. So, the issue for me has been finding the balance between a stable, ballasted, sailboat and a boat that can be rowed rather than motored for exercise/torture or when coming into port. I'm looking for as much of the following as possible:

    1) Ballasted but light enough to row--probably some type of water ballast
    2) 16 to 20 feet give or take a foot or two
    3) Readily available on the used market for under $7K (i.e. a production boat)
    4) Capable of sleeping two onboard with some degree of comfort
    5) Preferably something with a headsail (mostly for practice as we would like to step up to a cutter someday)
    6) Some sort of a cuddy or cabin would be great, but I'm also realistic in knowing the options will be limited if I also intend to row the thing sometimes

    The Sea Pearl 21 comes close, but I hate the rig and it will be tough for two to sleep onboard. Something like the Mud Hen 17 could work (maybe fill sand bags for ballast when needed), but it's pretty pricy on the used market for what it is. Any other ideas? Thanks, Eric
  2. Admiral Ackbar
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    Admiral Ackbar Amphibian

    Oh yeah . . . and an appropriate amount of built-in floatation is pretty much a must-have (yet oddly enough doesn't seem to be too easy to find).
  3. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    I'd contact Graham Byrnes at B&B Yacht Designs - he specialises in your target usage. Since you are looking for a bargain, he might be able to point you to a used boat or a demo boat looking for a home.

  4. bpw
    Joined: May 2012
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    bpw Senior Member

    I have seen people rowing West Wight potters, seemed to go pretty well. Its amazing what you can row once up to speed, I regularly scull my 12,000 sailboat around.
  5. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    for around 7k you might have to either build your own boat or retro fit an older existing boat.

    A 'weekender' type sailboat, about 14 to 18 ft long, with a cuddy cabin and a 'V' berth might meet your needs. Most have a 3/4 fractional rig which, with some ingenuity, can be raised and lowered even after the boat is launched. I used to routinely raise and lower the mast of my Siren 17, while it was in the water.

    With such a boat, your only job would be setting up a passable rowing station.

    I like the idea of a short sweep.

    This is a single oar that goes over one side and is kept quite short, to keep the boat turning moment down.

    The sweep must be used with the rudder and its efficiency is probably somewhere between that of a paddle and a proper set of oars.

    The advantage is the shorter sweep will be much easier to stow than a yulow or a proper set of much longer oars.
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  6. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    oops. wrong button.
  7. Admiral Ackbar
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    Admiral Ackbar Amphibian

    Thank you all. I am looking a little more seriously at the Potter 15. It's not really ballasted other than the CB, but should be stable enough for its intended purpose. Potter owners have come up with some unique rowing stations for them, and I've read that they are actually pretty enjoyable to row. Plus, it doesn't hurt that they're available and inexpensive on the used market.
  8. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Sleeping two onboard with some degree of comfort depends on:
    1) Your personal definition of comfort.
    2) Size of the people involved.
    3) How much room each person needs around themselves.

    Think about how you will actually use the boat. If you will be sleeping aboard then where will you put the gear, etc that normally occupies the space used for sleeping?

    If you want water ballast consider modifying a boat to add it.

    For Maine Island Trail you either want a boat small and light enough to pull ashore or a boat you can sleep aboard.

    In some parts of the country there are a reasonable number of O'Day Daysailors on the used market.

    Consider a yuloh or single oar off the stern for sculling.
  9. Admiral Ackbar
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    Admiral Ackbar Amphibian

    We are kayakers looking to step up. Part of the reason for that is because shoreline camping areas are getting tougher and tougher to find in certain areas, so sleeping on the boat is absolutely necessary. We have a pretty flexible idea of comfort, so sleeping on the bottom of a daysailer will totally work. I actually like the idea of a daysailer because it can double as a good fishing boat.

    That said, I'm starting to lean towards a cabin-type boat such as a Potter 15, Montgomery 15 or 17, Com-Pac 16, etc. as a logical stepping stone towards getting a big cutter someday. I had some major reservations about how tough these would be to row, but reading about Larry Pardey's experiences rowing 9 tons plus at 2 knots put my fears to bed. Surely I can row against a reasonable current in something 1/10th that size.
    Some good reading: larry pardey.htm
  10. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    Cuddy cabins with a v-berth chew up space which is at a premium in micro-cruisers. They force tiny cockpits and reduce the ability to trim hulls properly as all the crew weight is generally far aft when sailing. The longer the hull, the better the chance you'll end up with a larger cockpit, better sailing characteristics and speed under sail. The i550 sportboat has gone through a bunch of cockpit versions, with the end result that the cuddy cabin as been shortened or even eliminated in favor of larger cockpits and better sailing characteristics.

    If you are used to kayak camping, you are already used to much better VMG (velocity made good) upwind than you'll ever achieve with a Potter-type boat. There is a world of difference performance wise between an 19' kayak and a 15' short, wide, fat and heavy sail boat under oars - and it is far in favour of the kayak. You might find a Potter-style microcruiser to be a big step down from your kayak camping in terms of range and how much you could see in a weekend.

    I'm just trying to be honest about what you should expect, and if I were making the same transition from kayak to camp cruising, I'd look at better sailing, more modern designs that would not be a disappointment in terms of range on your weekend cruises. This is why I pointed you towards designs like the Core Sound 17 and 20 as opposed to a older micro cruisers like the West Wight Potter, Com-Pac etc. Speed under sail, speed under oars and general comfort while under way are critically important to weekend cruisers as the short time span makes range and speed very important. Currents and tide in the Canadian Maritimes are so brutal in some locations that anchoring is much preferred to rowing. Two to five knots under oars is lot of work to go backwards even though you will feel like you are making progress.

  11. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Interesting comments Cut Once.

    But both of those designs are raid boats. They are intended to be sailed along shore in sometimes challenging conditions.

    The Potter, and others of its ilk (such as the Siren 17 I used to own) have greater blue water pretensions.

    Using them as a day sailor is bound to disappoint.

    But using them as a training boat for a larger real blue water boat, makes a certain amount of sense, even after you factor in the faults you mentioned.

    The Siren 17, I used to own, for example, could sail at a consistent 5.5 kts, once I learned her ways and got her a drifter.

    The trimming problem you mentioned, I did experience.

    Once I got her to steer herself, I often went below to pee.

    I found she seemed to sail faster then.

    As a training boat for future blue water cruises, she may not have been too bad.

    If I had a significant other, at the time, who was into this, I would have set up a watch system, where one tends the boat while the other rests below. This way, the boat can sail 24 hours for an indefinite period of time.

    Perfect for training for future blue water voyages in more capable boats.

    Certainly, you can do the same with a larger raid style boat, and go faster too.

    But its not the same as having to work around a house, traversing narrow side decks, and having to sail your way out of trouble (the auxiliary is all but useless in anything but a dead calm).

    All are skills one must master, if one is to make a blue water voyage one a typical blue water capable monohull.

    It's interesting to note that Thom Firth Jones and his wife started cruising in raid style boats (a Hobie Cat and a sailing canoe), then went on to cruising multihulls, making a good number of nearly routine blue water voyages in them.

    But I think they would be first to admit that, for much longer voyages (further than Bermuda, say), they would need either a larger multihull (theirs were usually in the under 30 ft range) or a much pokier monohull.
  12. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    I wouldn't worry too much about trying to prepare for a future keel boat and do motorless cruising now. That's kind of a non-sequitur. If you want a starter keelboat cruiser, then get a small one with all the features/hassles and learn to deal with them on a small, inexpensive scale. You can choose from thousands of 26-28 auxiliary keelboats for under $5000 at the moment. 26-28 foot is a bit awkward because it's too small to carry a dink and too big to beach, but it will carry a small kayak okay.

    If you want to set one up just as you stated, I think a modified Core 17 would be very good. A bit of water ballast, more flare (smaller beam at WL), and mods to accommodate rowing. Generally depower the rig and lower hull resistance and make the power disparity between sail and oar somewhat smaller. The foils on all B&B's boats look to be a bit small to my eye. I wouldn't make them any smaller when I lessened the rig. And for crying out loud, use a half-wishbone for the sprits, not a closet pole.

    There seems to be a good bit of interest in this spurred on by the Everglades Challenge. I'm fiddling around with something similar at the moment as well.
  13. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Consider something like a Lightning or Thistle that is depowered. There are plenty of them around that can be bought cheaply enough.

    A few years back I bought a dereliict Thistle for $75. I depowered it with a free standing rig from a Finn, removed the characteristic Thistle gratings and some of the un needed gadgetry. It made a superior beach cruiser with enough interior space, rough water ability, a good turn of speed, easily trailerable, and it was a great gunk holer that could float in eight inches of water. I never rowed it but it would scoot along nicely with a sculling oar.
  14. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

  15. scoob
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    scoob Junior Member

    Admiral Ackbar:

    have you looked at the SCAMP (small craft advisor magazine project)?

    she is a John Welsford design with some additions by Kees Prins.

    her sailing ability is amazing. she is stable and faster than you would think. i've sailed the boat and am very impressed.

    intentional, under sail, capsize test -
    (notice how hard it is to get the boat to go over)

    this is an at the dock capsize test without the water ballast tank filled -

    the person doing the testing is Howard Rice. he is a life-long sailor, mostly in sailing ocean kayaks. Howard has rounded Cape Horn, twice, on a kayak.

    besides the 'build it yourself' kit, or from plans, available from Small Craft Advisor, Gig Harbor Boatworks is making a fiberglass SCAMP.


    you can find a good quality M15 or M17 on the used market for about $5000. price goes down depending on condition, outboard, trailer, etc. the M17 is a better boat, cabin wise, than the M15 for two people ... mainly because there is just enough sitting headroom on the quarter berths (need the two quarter berth version for two to sit below, not the galley version). the M17's weight is 1600# (if built by Jerry Montgomery) before you load people and stuff.

    the M15 is much lighter, about 800# if built by Jerry Montgomery, has a more comfortable v-berth and porta-potti setup than the M17 (no compression post), but no sitting headroom. the M15 also has positive flotation.

    i know some people that have tried to set up a rowing station or sculling oar on the M17 and M15 ... most never use the option after trying it once. most use a 2HP outboard on the M15 and a 4 or 5 HP outboard on the M17.


    there is also a new Jerry Montgomery design available ... no used boats on the market yet ... the Sage 17. Sage 17 is 1300#, has positive flotation (option), and has sitting headroom cabin for two on two seats and a compression post free v-berth.

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