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  #1  
Old 11-19-2007
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Thoughts on Schooners

Hi all,
There is a 40' Schooner I was looking at which has been cocooned with glass and USCG inspected. Very traditional, aside from fully enclosed wheelhouse. Also very heavily rigged, looks like it could be pushed into freight service once the worlds oil runs out
My questions are; any one sail these? Do they go to windward at all? What about resale value?
I consider myself a die hard sailor, sailing in snow, gales, calms whenever I can, but this appears a rare and unique challenge. More sails than a ketch, two masts, huge sprit, huge everything.
Thoughts appreciated.
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Old 11-19-2007
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Definitely specialist survey material. You are asking some right questions, but not what I would consider the most important ones:

What kind of sailing do you intend on doing?

How competent a sailor are you personally? Do you have competent crew? How many? A schooner can be a difficult vessel to manage, particularly with a gaff-rigged sailplan.

Does "very traditional" mean manila cordage, gaff-rigged, bronze sheaves, Spanish windlass, etc.? Does "very traditional" mean a tiny engine, one battery, oil lamps? Very traditional to me is a red flag, because while I admire it, I admire it from afar. I want light, strong, modern materials and devices, because I can't pay eight guys two dollars a day to run my boat.

Schooners are downwind machines. They point worse than ketches, and can, if not tacked in an orderly fashion, miss stays. On the other hand, on a reach they are generally very impressive, but again, "traditional rigging" is complex and usually heavier than current equipment.

If you decide to proceed, you want someone who knows how to evaluate all the "trad" bits, plus what I presume is the cold-moulded fibreglass exterior, plus evaluate the state of the wooden frames, stringers, boards, etc.

Not my first choice, but then steel is not the first choice of others, either. If Don Street of Iolaire fame is reachable by e-mail (I don't know if he's still at sea...he must be past 80...), he might be a help.
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Old 11-19-2007
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This boat really has a current Certificate of Inspection from the Coast Guard to carry passengers and freight?

If so, it's a rare bird. Lots of sailboats carry passengers, but I recall none of the recent efforts to carry freight for hire by sail have worked out.

But if built to USCG certification standards, then it was well-built to begin with (collision bulkhead, watertight subdivision, etc) so the question is what kind of condition she's in now, hull, rigging, sails. A good schooner will go to windward okay, it's just that you've got one big mainsail to handle, so you need more crew than with a ketch. And cargo hold space is limited on sailing ships, especially in 40'LOA.

Beyond that, it's a business decision. Can you make money carrying freight? Logically, it should work, since you wouldn't spend much on fuel. And you'd be talking about coastwise dry cargo that isn't time-critical (lumber??) Practically, I just don't know. I think if it were economically feasible, it would be happening already.
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Old 11-19-2007
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To clarify a bit, the USCG inspection was for commercial fishing. I'm not sure what that entails. It certainly doesn't have water tight compartments, life rafts etc you would see on a passenger vessel. I also mentioned "freight service" in a metaphorical way, as she as the appearance of being a work boat, cargo hatch included. As for "traditional" I should have said traditional lines. The boat was first built in the 1920's, so it is narrow beam, plumb bow. Not sure its exact pedigree. It has been modified and modernized, with the addition of a well equipped pilot house, 40hp diesel, winches, jib tracks etc... She is a staysail gaff rigged schooner, but I was told there is also a main to use without the gaff. The owner did say he singlehanded her, however there are no engine controls in the cockpit, so docking wouldn't be easy.
Right price, right time, right size.. but is it the right boat? I was frustrated by my current boats upwind ability this summer, so maybe not a good idea. Also, the wood construction and glass, although professional and appearantly very solid is a huge negative for maintenance and resale. The displacement is upwards of 40,000lbs. It would suit me well for gulf of Alaska and inside passage. Due to its long waterline, over 7 knots under power are achievable, which would open up trips difficult with my current boat at 6 knots max. This would also be a liveaboard boat. It has ample berthing and storage.
There are enough serious questions for me to shelve the idea, but there is always next spring. I waited 6 months to buy my current boat, which knocked $12,000 off the price so no need to jump on it. Thanks for the advice.
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I think the ancient phrase was "coastwise trade and mackerel fishery", which covers both freight, fish, and passengers, I think. I don't think there's a future in carrying freight by sail (though I wish otherwise), but there may be in passengers or fish. I guess this is a decision you'd have to make yourself. Best of luck, whichever way it goes..
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Old 11-19-2007
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I confess a soft-spot for schooners. I know about the disadvantage of the rig upwind -- I just like the way they look, at least the traditional ones. However, your statement that it "has been cocooned with glass" would make me hesitate. Search the threads here on Sailnet -- Robert Gainer has cautioned about the inadvisability of sheathing older wooden boats in 'glass.

Here is a link to some info on the schooner Shariri -- a Chapelle design I've often admired:

http://www.harbouryachtsales.com/Pages/page183.html
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Old 11-19-2007
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I love the look of a Schooner but they suck upwind. If you're gonna play in the trades or beam reach a lot, they'll fly. They sure look sweet though.
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Old 11-19-2007
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As much as I love wooden boats it sounds like a money pit! Just the size of it would be intimidating to the even some of the best equipped wooden boat builders/restorers. Not my biz to ask. but I will! Can you afford such a venture? Buying it would only be the start of a very, very expensive relationship. The spars alone would be a small fortune to maintain! All that aside.. got any pictures of the wrea... errr boat? One thing good about AK.. you have access to lots of timber/lumber!
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Old 11-19-2007
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The question has to be do you want to go sailing or do you want to spend the next few years of your life rebuilding a boat ? Amazingly enough there are people out there in la la land who would choose the latter.

Having partially restored a 40' timber boat some years back you need to figure out two things...

How Long will it take ? Worst case scenario ? Then double it.

How much will it cost ? Worst case scenario ? Then double it.

It will then take you longer and cost you even more. It will probably break your heart into the bargain. If you are married, factor in the cost of the divorce.

There is little in this world to compare with the sight of a bluff bow gaff schooner scooting along under a full press of sail. Glorious. Uplifting. no finer image known to man. Spectacular.

To watch.

Someones elses boat.

ps - 40' is a bit small for a schooner, they need waterline to over come the inefficiency of the rig.
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Last edited by tdw; 11-19-2007 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 11-19-2007
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This rig works for me. I've had my wood schooner for 45 years and intend to keep her going a good deal longer. All gaff, just four lowers. Easy to single-hand, although she's just 33 ft. If you're in a hurry to get to weather, put on the biggest jib you can, sheet everything in and turn on your iron jib with just enough throttle to keep her high. Otherwise keep her full and by, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Check out the website of the American Schooner Association.
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Last edited by FishSticks; 11-21-2007 at 08:19 AM.
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