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  #21  
Old 05-04-2006
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Oh lookie, lookie. I just got a reply from one Ted Brewer. He was so kind to take the time and answer my email. You see, with all these so-called informed opinions, I decided to ask a really experienced, proven professional. Proven....you know. America's cup boats, literally hundreds of other designs. Stuff like that. I asked him to give me his honest opinion, and that he not be concerned, that I would not be offended. This is his take on things.

"The Bristol 32 appears to be a very typical design of the mid-late 1960s, not unlike my Douglas 31 in many ways. I understand that the Bristols were quite well built and I feel that, given good condition, she should be able to undertake blue water voyages in safety and reasonable comfort. Good luck with her."

Fair Winds
Ted Brewer

Do a search and look up his credentials. I'd say he more than qualifies. Why dredge up a 2 1/2 year old thread? This is the first time I've looked. Why make it active? To set the record straight....with a little help from someone infinitely more qualified than myself. Can ya feel that? Huh? HUH?!?! HUH!??!?!
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  #22  
Old 05-04-2006
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After reading all of the discussion on the Bristol 32, I checked out the lines of the Bristol 32 and also checked the owners site. I have a 1975 Rival 32, and the differences between the boat appears to be minimal. I would say mostly in the build quality. The Rival 32 is an excellent offshore boat and quite a number of them have circumnavigated. It would be reasonable to assume that the Bristol 32 should be capable of doing a circumnavigation, however, any sailboat of that vintage and mine is no exception should be thoroughly checked out and upgraded/repaired to a standard that allows for a safe offshore passage. So I say, why not.
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  #23  
Old 05-04-2006
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Seabreeze,

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.

Respectfully,
Jeff

Last edited by Jeff_H; 05-05-2006 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 05-05-2006
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Jeff, I always enjoy your unemotional, rational opinions. thanks for your continued input. Jim
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Jeff:
Re: "Designers during the period when the Vanguard, Bristol 32 or C&C 29 were designed .."

C&C 29? Is this a misprint or are you actually referring to the Corvette (31 ft.)?
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  #26  
Old 05-05-2006
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That sentence responded to the Seabreeze's comments about the relative weight of a C&C 29 mast vs a Bristol 32 mast. I assume that Seabreeze was talking about the mid-1970's era C&C 29 MkI (rather than the later Mark II), which was designed just before the next generation of lighter weight spar sections were introduced to the marketplace and designers began to move toward lighter bendier rigs. Obviously, a Corvette would have a similar weight spar to the Bristol as well, and the rigs would be subtstantially heavier than most rigs that were designed after that period.

Jeff
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  #27  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcdan
I am considering buying a Bristol 32 sloop to circumnavgate with my fiance. I would appreciate any advice about this boat--specific to cruising, or just general observations/information. Thanks very much!
For any doubts, see this intrepid fellow's page. He's a seasoned blue water sailer, and he's doing it in a Bristol 22!
http://www.laurig.com/articles/bill/frameset.html
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  #28  
Old 05-05-2006
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The C&C 29 I'm referring to is a '78 vintage. I don't know if it is the original mast, but the walls aren't quite as thick as the Bristol's. The C&C mast has a thicker ridge inside, on what would be port and starboard sides. The Bristol's mast, despite being older, retains a brighter appearance, while the C&C's appears more like weathered aluminum (note, I'm not referring to the anodized treatment, rather, the appearance of the metal along the un-treated edge of the mast foot). Not sure if that's due to some different aluminum alloy or what. It's not a scientific test, but I did it again today, and the C&C mast feels heavier...not by a big margin, just enough to notice. Anyway, the C&C setup will be going on the Bristol since the Bristol's mast was damaged in hurricane Katrina. Ironically, the donor C&C's belly was peeled open like a sardine can in the same storm. Both boats were in New Orleans, and weathered the same conditions. I can only speculate as to their individual mooring arrangements, but the Bristol got some minor hull scars, and no water. I know which one I'd rather be on when things turn ugly.

Last edited by seabreeze_97; 05-06-2006 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 05-06-2006
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To those with an open mind, meaning open to the possibility that they might be wrong, check out the following words from Ted Brewer in the article at:
http://www.boatus.com/goodoldboat/ratingrules.htm

"Small Yachts, by C. P. Kunhardt, published in 1891 and republished by WoodenBoat Publications, Brooklin, Maine, in 1985, shows a number of these narrow beamed, plank-on-edge cutters. One of my favorites is the Spankadillo (what a grand name!), which was 36 feet overall, 30 feet on the waterline, 5 feet in beam, and 6 feet 2 inches in draft. You may be wondering how these skinny cutters could stand up to their tremendous press of sail in a breeze, but the answer is simple: heavy displacement and lots of lead down deep. "Spanky" displaced 19,000 pounds and 12,300 pounds of that was lead - a 65-percent ballast ratio!"
A high ballast, and 5ft beam. Tender? Gotta love it.

"Another example, shown in great detail, is the Watson-designed Madge, 46 feet overall x 39 feet 9 inches LWL x 7 feet 9 inches beam x 7 feet 7 inches draft, displacing 39,000 pounds and carrying a lead mine of 23,500 pounds (63.5 percent ratio) on her keel! Unlike many modern yachts, Madge was much more stable right side up than upside down, although her accommodations left a bit to be desired!"

And finally, the comments of a B32 racer, well known in the B32 community.

"I race my Bristol 32 on years when not crewing on other boats. Last
season we raced with two new crew in NFS (genoa) division.
I won all three series and in some races finished ahead of boats with
PHRF numbers 100 points lower than the Bristol.

When our regional PHRF results were tabulated (I'm a local
handicapper) I found that statistically my Bristol sailed a 169 while
the boat is rated as a 243(PHRF=243, Calc ASP=169). We beat C&C 29-2
real-time in several races(PHRF=170, Calc ASP=171).
The boat will point if you have good sails and set them correctly.
This means don't pinch, power up in rough water, stay in clean air,
and use your mass to the fullest. I find I need to keep my 150%
about 9 inches off the spreaders, trimming as the boat accelerates,
adjusting the main to the genoa. (genny sets first main sets the
draft)

If I find myself being headed up I will usually power up the sails,
head down a touch and then ease the main (which opens the leach)to
dump that huge gob of air into their jib.

We won all three series (1st, 1st, 1st)and I have lots of silver on
the mantle from distances races too.

Never blame the boat... It is typically the skipper that is slow."

Doug Axtell
"Glad Tidings"


I love that last statement. Sounds a lot like what I was saying a few entries ago.
And Jeff, you're missing the point. Any boat....ANY BOAT....small enough to be called a boat, in seas rough enough, will pitch. Obviously, shorter waterlines lead to more pitching (within reason, everything is relative), but while this would seem to be an endorsement for a 50-ft or larger boat, $$$ dictates something else. Larger boats also, often require more than 2-person crews.
Now, as for starting with a better boat. Look, you can peel that banana so many ways. Often times, the path is determined by how much $$$ one has to start with. Older un-modified boats tend to cost less. Gaining experience in the boat, and upgrading equipment go hand-in-hand. Not everyone can go out and buy the perfectly equipped, ready-to-go circumnavigator. You even indicated that $$$ is a factor in the sail choice, leading to inadequate sails for the situation, " 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." So, again, seaworthiness, in this case, isn't so much of an issue for the boat as it is the skipper's pocketbook. And, if we can infer, it would appear the B32's you were on were trying to do something they were ill-equipped to deal with, meaning inadequate sails, no roller reefing, etc, and as I said before, perhaps a skipper not well versed in running the B32, and say, perhaps, trying to run it like a newer type, i.e. where you mention
.."and in the end the reefed sail was miserable as a heavy weather sail." Probably should've powered up, not down, as stated by Mr. Axtell. Heavy boat, maintain power. That would tend to oppose the effect of being slammed to a stop.
Regarding the balsa core question. Since I have yet to actually drill a B32 deck, and I wasn't there when they were made, I can only refer to what is in print at this point. I have never actually seen it for myself. At some point, I'm sure I will. I could be wrong, but til then:
"Hull & Deck: Molded high-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin ... largely woven roving ...hand laid up,strongest material available and the best construction available. Hull and deck thicknesses vary to suit structural demands. No fillers are used."
http://www.bristolowners.org/32/bristol32.html

Last edited by seabreeze_97; 05-06-2006 at 02:34 AM.
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  #30  
Old 05-08-2006
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Seabreeze,

I am not sure what your point is with the Brewer quote regarding the plank-on-edge cutters. I have actually sailed on a replica plank-on-edge cutter at a wooden boat regatta. These 'lead-mines' were amazing boats to sail. They were extremely challanging in shifty or gusty winds. It was the mainsail trimmers full time job to keep from her from sinking as each gust would roll her decks into the water and the cockpits were not self bailing. The long deep keels and small rudders meant that they tracked well through a gust but the helmsman had no chance to feather up quickly enough in a gust. They were absolutely thrilling to sail though, offering the absolute best windward performance of any gaff rigger that I have ever sailed. They were not very fast reaching or dead downwind.

The plank-on-edge cutter were very successful as race boats under the rating rule of that era. They represent another example of racing rule beaters producing boats with compromized sailing ability and seaworthiness. They were replaced by the "compromize cutters" which were much more moderate designs that offered good performance on all points of sail and which were reasonable offshore boats as well.

Touching on the other points: to some extent I agree with Mr. Axtell's quote," Never blame the boat... It is typically the skipper that is slow". On the other hand I am not sure that his string of victories in the non-spinacker class really tells us much about the relative performance of the boat. Older designs like the Bristol 32 trend to get rated for the average performance of one in unenhansed condition. If you go through and upgrade the hardware and sails, and put a racing bottom on one, those ratings can be a real gift especially in a non-competative class like a non-spin class is like to be.

While I have sailed on Bristol 32's with inexperienced skippers, the skipper and most of the crew that I referred to above had sailed that particular Bristol 32 since it was a new boat in the 1960's and had successfully raced the boat during the CCA era, and less so throughout the 1970's and early 1980's as the boat was no longer competitive against well sailed and prepped modern boats under PHRF.

Mr. Axtell's strategy works very well in a short steep chop and steady winds, albeit taking a lot or water aboard. He had already peeled down to his 150 suggesting that he was descibing winds in the 12 to 18 knot range. At the upper end of that range a reef is necessary to maintain reasonable speed and control, as the weather helm becomes extreme. Without a reef the mainsail either needs to be flagged, which does not give enough drive to power through waves, or else there is a tendancy to pinch. I absolutely agree with Mr. Axtell that these boats do not want to be pinched into a short chop. In gusty conditions past the upper end of this wind range or in big seas where there is a lot less wind in the trough, these boats are a bear to sail as they really need a further reduction in headsail size in the higher wind speeds but then lack the drive to deal with the seaway in the lulls (or troughs).

With regards to the discussion on pitching, all I can say is that you obviously have very little experience sailing on boats of equal displacements and lengths, but with differing waterline lengths, and differing weight and bouyancy distributions. Yes, all boats pitch but the differences in motion comfort and seaworthiness can be dramatic between a wholesome design and something with an extremely short waterline and poor dampening qualities like the Bristol 32's in question.

Which brings me to my last point. You keep talking about 50 footers and I don't know where that is coming from. At the heart of it, over the years, I have consistently advocated the traditional 2 1/2 to 5 (long) tons of displacement per person for a distance cruiser. This means a boat of roughly 5,500 to 11,000 lbs per person or 11,000 to 22,000 lbs for a couple. I have also suggest that 30 feet is a very practical minimum waterline length of for a couple (with 32 to 35 feet offering a more comfortable motion, and a bit more preformance.) This translates to boats minimally in the roughly 35 foot range and more realistically in the 38 to 40 foot range. Since ease of handling, and purchase and maintenance costs are predominantly controlled by displacement and not length, these slighlty longer boats (or even equal length boats to the Bristol 32 but with more moderate overhang lengths) should be comparable to own and purchase and certainly be much more suitable for a circumnavation.

Respectfully,
Jeff

Last edited by Jeff_H; 05-09-2006 at 10:14 AM.
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