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post #23 of Old 05-04-2006
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I must say that you have laid out a partiularly vacuous pile of vitriol and creative misreading. That said, I would like to see if we can get back to the original question and my answer, without creative misinterpretation, . The original question was “Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?” and my answer wasWhile a lot of pretty poorly suited boats can and have gone around the world, that does not mean that it makes sense to plan to go around the world in a poorly suited boat. To me the Bristol 32 is a pretty poorly suited boat.”

I am very familiar with Mr. Brewer’s work and, in fact, I am a big fan of Mr. Brewer’s designs (although I have never agreed with the reverence that people seem to feel for his Comfort Index, a topic for another discussion) . My enthusiasm for his work led in part to my family buying one of his 12.8’s, a design that I have nothing but praise for.

In almost all ways, Ted Brewer’s response is in line with my explanations of why I proffered the opinion as quoted above. I do not disagree at all that he is right that someone could make an offshore passage in a Bristol 32 that was in decent shape, but the real question was whether the Bristol 32 really a good boat for a circumnavigation, or more to the point, for the money aren’t there much better boats for that purpose?

I think that Mr. Brewer’s cited example helps explain what I have been trying to say about the Bristol 32 Mr. Brewer refers to his own design for the Douglas 31 as a point of comparison. While I agree with Mr. Brewer that in many respects there are similarlities between the Bristol 32 and his Douglas 31/32, I respectfully disagree with the extent to which it can be said the Bristol 32 is all that similar to the Douglas. In fact, there are a number of very significant differences between the Bristol and the Douglas that shine a light on the issues that I have experienced first hand sailing on Bristol 32’s and have tried to explain in the earlier posts above.

One key difference is, for example, that although the Douglas 31 is shorter on deck, it has 2’-6” more waterline length (in fact roughly 2/3 the length of the overhangs on the Bristol) .But it is not just the length of the overhand that affects pitching. Like most of Mr. Brewer’s designs, compared to the pinched transom and steep counter exit angle of the Bristol, the counter on the Douglas is at a comparatively flat angle as it leaves the water and has comparatively full stern sections allowing for a more positive and progressive pitch dampening, greater resistance to squatting, and getting pooped. The shorter bow overhang on the Douglas allows the Douglas to better carry the heavy ground tackle that a circumnavigation would imply.

With regards to stability, although the Douglas is a slightly lighter boat, than the Bristol, it has considerably more ballast (4500 vs. 4100) and the Douglas carries that ballast at a deeper draft (4’10” vs. 4’6”) . The drawings that I have of the Douglas shows a considerably longer lateral plane which should help it track better than the Bristol as well.

In my mind, Mr. Bewer’s Douglas 31/32 is precisely the type of boat that I was referring to when I said that there are much better suited designs out there if someone were looking to go distance cruising in a boat from that era.

Mr. Brewer’s cruising designs really illustrate the point that I have been trying to make over the years about trying to elevate the stature of CCA era race boats to the status of offshore cruisers. While CCA era race boats were truly closer to dual purpose boats (by which I mean coastal cruisers as well as racers) than many of the race rule derived designs that followed them, by any reasonable standard, these boats were distorted to beat a rule in ways that diminished their seaworthiness, motion comfort and carrying capacity as compared to more wholesome designs that were truly intended to be offshore cruisers. Mr. Brewer’s portfolio is full of designs that were uncompromisingly designed to be good offshore boats first, with clearly no attention paid to the fad racing rule du jour. Years later his designs are still well suited to their original purpose. Whereas a boat like the Bristol 32 that has been heavily compromised to beat a racing rule, remains neither a good race boat or as good a cruiser as it could have been once the race rule in question becomes extinct.

Which brings me around to the original question, if I were going to circumnavigate in an 11,800 Lb boat, I would want it to be as good a boat as I could afford. My only point at the start of this discussion was that there are a whole lot of better boats out there in the same general size and price range which would make far better choices for a circumnavigation than the Bristol 32.

I do want point out that you apparently misinterpreted the meaning of my sentence “Spend some time on one of these boats, and other raceboat derived designs of that era like the Vanguard, Luders 33's, C&C Corvette, and compare them to a more moderate 32 footer of that era, or to one that was actually designed for offshore cruising like the Seawind, then lets talk again.”

That list of boats was intended to talk to the problem of CCA era designs as a group. No Kidding the Vanguard was not a great sea boat. My family owned one for many years when I was growing up. I have slugged it in heavy going in these old girls just like I have in Bristol 32's. While I firmly believe that Phillip Rhodes did a better job on the Vanguard than Brown-Thread-Ted Hood did on the Bristol 32 in a modeling a hull that would not pitch as harshly, as compared to boats intended to be cruising boats, of that era or later, these two were miserable boats to take offshore. My point in that sentence therefore was to say, spend some time sailing these old girls in rough going (or light air for that matter) and let me know how suitable you really think they are for a circumnavigation.

Brief points on your spar weight, and vertical center of gravity comments. Designers during the period when the Vanguard, Bristol 32 or C&C 29 were designed generally tried to achieve the stiffness of the wooden spars that they were used to. By and large the calculations for mast sections were backed into using empirical data from wooden spars. This lead to very heavy masts and standing rigging compared to the lighter spar sections and rig designs that were developed and employed starting in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Simple things like tapering were pretty much unheard at the time (even Island Packet tapers their spars today). For the record, as a brief correction, Bristol 32’s like Pearson Vanguards had balsa cored decks. C&C Corvettes (along with the C&C designed Grampian Classic 22) had one of the first foam cored decks.

Brief point on shifting gears on the Bristol 32, these boats were designed to be sailed with 180% genoas in breezes up to about 12 knots, at which point you did a sail change down to a 155% jib until somewhere around 18 knots of wind at which point you changed down to a 130% jib, until things got over 20 something at which point they were sailed with a working jib. For budget reasons many of these boats would go with the 180, and eliminate the 155% and 135% genoa and go with something in between. Because of the sail plan proportions and the relative tenderness of these boats, these big genoas had a very narrow wind range. Reefing was bear. As originally equipped they came with roller reefing booms and reel winches. I don’t know if you have ever tried to reef with these archaic pieces but if ever there were a pair of widow makers, it was that pair. There was nothing fast about that system, and in the end the reefed sail was miserable as a heavy weather sail. Changing gear in building conditions meant crawling out on a bow that was buried under water to change a jib and trying to release the load on the main halyard by holding all of its load without a ratchet and backing it off a turn at a time. While jib furlers and modern slab reefing would go a long way towards improving the ability of these old girls to shift gear, the need for disproportionately large genoas makes sail changes in changeable conditions far more frequent than I would consider ideal. And yes while a lot can be done to improve these boast, wouldn't it perhaps make sense to start of with a more suitable boat to begin with.


Last edited by Jeff_H; 05-05-2006 at 06:56 AM.
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