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  1. #1
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    Smile I'd sooner schooner...

    I know sloops are top-dogs for windward performance, it's undeniable.

    I'm just not that crazy about the way they look, or the huge loading on the main and headsail sheets.

    And, when I die, I know I'll have the image of a big Edwardian gaff schooner in my mind.

    But for now, does anyone out there have any experience of what is involved in turning a rather bland bermudian sloop or ketch, into a taller, much more interesting, potentially more practical staysail schooner? More sail area, spread across many more sails, so less burden on the winches. Bowsprit, staysails, even ratlines if they're justifiable.

    I suspect there are hundreds of terrific GRP hulls out there, with aesthetically discreet coachroofs and superstructure...all of them are solid and seaworthy. But nobody looks twice at them, because they're just seen as dull triangles of white sailcloth.

    I'm going to have a schooner, if I have to build her myself. If there's any smart advice, I'm all ears...

  2. #2
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    Then you need to read Carrick and Henderson's book on the designs of John Alden - although you will discover that his hull shapes have little in common with most modern shapes.

  3. #3
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    Wink

    Thanks Tranona, I'll look for Carrick and Henderson's work.

    I wasn't thinking that fin keels were well-suited to schooner rig, only that many modern hull designs aren't very specific in the rig required above, and that long fins and cutaway full-keels would adapt quite readily, if the chap changing the rig appreciates the centre-of-effort, and the centre-of-lateral resistance, and the necessity to align the two.

    I really thought the traditionalist readers would leap at this! So far, just your kind contribution. Irritating, because I'm just nuts about schooner rig, but apart from custom-built one-offs, the design's use seems to be as long-gone as the valve-radio set.

    I remember very well, when Steinlager 2 appeared in the 1990 Round the World race, and everyone was amazed, that a ketch rig might even reach the start line. Granted, the course gave the designers reason to be confident about a rig with so much 'working sail' area. But to me it was a blast from the dismissed past, and I've respected what two masts can do, ever since.

    (I'm aware how poorly a home-built schooner is likely to perform, up-wind.) Performance isn't my priority, as you'll often have noted...
    Last edited by dancrane; 19-04-11 at 23:38.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Cambridge, UK
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    I'd have thought that the problem with modern designs would be that the top-sides are built with specific mast positions in mind; putting substantial masts elsewhere would probably run into problems with both the mast step and the chain-plates. Of course, there might well be solutions - but they may well involve intrusive pillars in the saloon.

    I agree that schooners look wonderful, though, and if I was ever in a position to buy one I would! The Chartroom at Kip Marina has a photo of "Creole" (a 3 masted schooner) fully powered up, and she looks wonderful.

  5. #5
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    The usual problem of grafting wildly different rigs onto hulls not designed for them is that the centre of effort changes and you get a horribly unbalanced boat. That said, to my untrained eye there seems to be enough flexibility in the schooner approach that something could be made to work, by moving the masts about, changing the relative sizes of main and foresail, etc. As noted, the masts will then probably end up in an inconvenient place accommodation-wise, but if you wanted convenience above all else you wouldn't be contemplating this in the first place

    You do say "a taller [...] schooner". If the starting point is a bermudan sloop, then to get a similar sail area in a more spread-out schooner rig, you're going to end up with lower masts, not taller. Traditional rigs generally are shorter than modern, as the technology wasn't there to make them reliable.

    You aren't actually going to build this though, are you? It's just a nice thing to dream about. I have a similar fantasy design exercise ongoing, currently looking somewhat like a steel version of the stayed-junk boat I posted a photo of in the "Birmingham Navy" thread.

    Pete

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    I really thought the traditionalist readers would leap at this! So far, just your kind contribution. Irritating, because I'm just nuts about schooner rig, but apart from custom-built one-offs, the design's use seems to be as long-gone as the valve-radio set.
    By the time you have read John Alden's reasons for why he championed the Schooner rig on yachts you will realise why nobody uses them anymore! You have to look at them in the context of what else was used at the time to understand why they were popular and an advance - indeed at the time they were considered unseaworthy and all that just as AWBs are now. Alden was a maverick designing large easily handled CHEAP boats for the (relative) masses. The Schooner rig was his way of getting plenty of versatile sail area that was easy for a small crew to handle. The fact that to some, including me, it looks fantastic is a bonus. Of course now with advances in gear you can handle similar sail areas in just two sails.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2010
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    Smile A stab at justification...

    Good point, about chain-plates. I'm resigned to the necessity to step the masts in the keel, and to cut holes in the coachroof, massively reinforcing these areas.

    I've been simple enough to suppose that something along the lines of scaffolding poles, bolted athwartship, would spread the huge loads from the shrouds and if necessary, further steelwork could pass stresses down to the mast-base in the keel.

    It's true that I'm not much bothered by the masts' intrusion on the accommodation; actually the saloon wouldn't be much affected, and I do quite a nice line in carpentering, so the masts (or supporting pillars) can be very neatly boxed-in.

    The bowsprit will be vital, I'm expecting; the great shift of the mainsail to a point so far aft, will give the yacht hellish weather-helm unless there's an equally exaggerated extension forward. I'll enjoy finding staysails and jibs, and trying different points at which to attach their foot.

    What worries me, is drilling through (and weakening) the shallow bulwark at the stem for the sprit itself, and worse, putting a bolt in for the bobstay! But, if the commonplace after-market insertion of bow-thrusters doesn't compromise hull strength thereabouts, I daresay a couple of 10mm holes in the stem at the waterline won't sink her either!

    Thanks, PRV; all that you say, I was aware of. My thinking of the schooner rig's greater height, was only relative to the tediously snug little affair she currently has, scarcely in need of reefing in a force 6.

    In respect of the idea's reality...well, if I'm not persuaded by very adverse opinions, I may well have a go. I've always been good at drawing very detailed plans, and I believe I can manage a schooner sailplan that will allow for changes, in practice, so aligning centre of effort and CLR will be possible. Assuming the finished set-up will be as beautiful and useable as in my dreams, (I recognise that's quite an assumption)...well, I'll let you know!

    Tranona, sir, you're familiar with my pestilential adherence to ideas that may not make sound sense in the modern world. Well, this schoonering plan is more of the same. Without question, I'll be left for dead by even the most indifferently-designed sloop...especially if she has a diesel rather than an electric motor!!

    But, few of us sail because we have to get somewhere. The pleasure of the experience is my main motivation...and for myself, I'd like to look up at the foretops'l (or 'fisherman') and flying jib, and decide whether any of them need bringing in before dark. Practical, I'm not.

    Of course, I may possibly relent when I've fully paid for the vessel, and her value risks being quartered by my experiments!
    Last edited by dancrane; 06-05-11 at 14:41. Reason: "main tops'l"!! What a fool I am. Should be foretops'l.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2005
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    Hi Dancrane,
    Don't just dream, do what did and buy one. I tracked down an old(ish) stay'sl schooner and got her for a song. She is going to take a lot of fettling to be 100% ready, but she is not far off now.

    We are on the River Medina at Cowes, you would be welcome to visit?
    The loads on a properly setup Schooner are not great, seek the advise of a friendly Navel Architect before cutting.

    PM Me,

    Simes

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    I've been simple enough to suppose that something along the lines of scaffolding poles, bolted athwartship, would spread the huge loads from the shrouds and if necessary, further steelwork could pass stresses down to the mast-base in the keel.
    Actually, if the hull is reasonably stout, I don't reckon crush loads will be your problem. Simply having something solid enough to attach to, and some glass and epoxy reinforcement would probably take care of that. My chainplates include a steel strap down the side of the hull, with bolts through, and in your position I'd probably go for much the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    The bowsprit will be vital, I'm expecting; the great shift of the mainsail to a point so far aft, will give the yacht hellish weather-helm unless there's an equally exaggerated extension forward. I'll enjoy finding staysails and jibs, and trying different points at which to attach their foot.
    In thinking about your design, I actually thought this one through from the other direction. You have to have a bowsprit for looks, but most modern designs carry the sails quite far forward - there's usually a goodly length of boat aft with no sail above it - so just adding a bowsprit would give major lee helm. The thing about your schooner is that you can have the mainmast (or the length of the boom) far enough aft to balance the sprit.

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    What worries me, is drilling through (and weakening) the shallow bulwark at the stem for the sprit itself, and worse, putting a bolt in for the bobstay!
    The bobstay fitting isn't going to compromise the hull. It does take a lot of load though, so a simple U-bolt might be at risk of pulling through especially if the shape of the stem prevents you fitting large enough washers. Talk to Classic Marine about their bobstay fittings, which extend up and down to spread the load.

    Talking about the bulwark, it sounds like you already have the hull, which I didn't realise. I thought you were considering buying some old wreck to rebuild. Obviously only you can gauge how structural that bulwark is - is it part of the hull moulding or the deck moulding? Or both? Got a picture?

    Are you planning to have a fixed bowsprit, or one that can be steeved up or pulled inboard? I have the latter, and would recommend it. The only reason to have a fixed one is if your foremast is so far forward that a forestay taken to the stemhead would leave too little room for a decent staysail, then you make your innermost headstay go onto the bowsprit which means the bowsprit has to be a permanent part of the rig. Otherwise, you have a forestay to the stemhead that holds the mast up, and everything forward of that is movable, reefable, and (handy in your case) subject to experimentation.

    Take the forestay to the centre of the bow, and run the bowsprit out to one side of it (starboard seems to be traditional) at a slight angle so that the tip of the sprit comes back onto the centreline. Various traditional boat experts agree that trying to make forestay and sprit coincide on the centreline usually results in an unsatisfactory arrangement, and that's also been my experience on KS. Not a big deal, but if you're designing from scratch, why not avoid it.

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    In respect of the idea's reality...well, if I'm not persuaded by very adverse opinions, I may well have a go.
    In that case, I salute you as the kind of eccentric we need more of, and will be very interested to observe the process . Where will you be doing it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    But, few of us sail because we have to get somewhere. The pleasure of the experience is my main motivation...and for myself, I'd like to look up at the main tops'l (or 'fisherman') and flying jib, and decide whether any of them need bringing in before dark. Practical, I'm not.
    An admirable sentiment. Every now and then I get the urge to fit a topsail, or an old-style triangular spinnaker, to Kindred Spirit, both of which would be more like toys than practical additions to the rig.

    Also, note that while schooners of any kind are rare over here, and small ones have never really existed, in the US the rig has always been more popular. There are plenty (relatively speaking) of schooners of 38ish feet (which most here would consider inappropriately small for the rig) and even ones down to 22 feet or so which even Americans acknowledge are impractical but fun.

    Which reminds me - it might be worth posting on the forums at boatdesign.net about your ideas. You might get some useful advice on designing a rig and adapting the hull to take it. Only point to beware of is that they do get a constant stream of numpties wanting to do wholly impractical newbuilds and conversions without having the slightest awareness of the issues involved. So it's worth crafting your post to give the impression that you have heard of things like CLR, know that the hull might need to be beefed up for new chainplates, etc, or you might get lumped into the "idiot" bin and told not to bother

    Good luck!

    Pete

  10. #10
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    Nov 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancrane View Post
    Tranona, sir, you're familiar with my pestilential adherence to ideas that may not make sound sense in the modern world. Well, this schoonering plan is more of the same. Without question, I'll be left for dead by even the most indifferently-designed sloop...especially if she has a diesel rather than an electric motor!!
    Don't get me wrong - I love schooners and would love to own one. Much better idea than electric motors as the knowledge for making them work already exists. What is not a good idea is trying to graft the rig onto an unsuitable hull. Have a look at successful schooners and you will see lots of hull under the water, long, low rigs with relatively unstressed spars and low stability. One of the secrets of Alden's designs was in the relatively firm bilges which allowed the boats to sail more upright than was common at the time - and made them fast as soon as they were off the wind and you could fill all the available space aloft with sail. There are some wonderful photos in the book which illustrate the power of his designs.

    Although he was the leader in that field there were many other good designers who worked for him and also designed under their own name. Sam Crocker in particular produced some very effective smaller schooners.

    Stop your dreaming, bite the bullet, buy a set of plans from Woodenboat and get building! If you are lucky you might be able to buy a 1920s Kermath engine to power it. Well known for being almost silent when running at 1200rpm.

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