Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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I would say that it would be very difficult to make an Ariel ideally suited or even reasonable suited to prolonged blue water use. The basic design was meant for inshore racing and over-nighting so you are starting with a design that was tender, tended to hobby horse in any kind of head or quartering seas, has limited carrying capacity, and was never structurally intended to be robust enough for the kinds of conditions that you would expose the boat to by distant voyaging offshore. I would suggest that you at least start with a design that was intended for offshore use such as an Allied Seawind, Folkboat derivative, H-28 derivative, or one of the smaller Southern Crosses, which all should have adequate strength and carrying capacities.
We have owned a Pearson and I have done repairs on a number more from this era. The build quality was pretty mediocre. These boats are notorious for deck core problems and laminate issues especially in the keel encapsulation envelope. I would start by repairing any deck core problems and drying out and injecting the keel encapsulation cavity voids with epoxy.
My sense of what it would take to beef one up for prolonged offshore would be enormous. I would start with the membrane at the top of the ballast, which is simply a sealer layer and would add multiple layups of roving and mat. Then I would add longitudinal and transverse framing. The transverse frames should be at roughly 30" on center and 15" on center in the area of the ballast, and the longitudinal frames should be roughly 12" (below the waterline) and 18" (above). Framing can consist of a mix of stringers, hat sections, bulkheads and shelf and bunk flats. The transverse frames should be laid out so that they reach as high as the second longitudinal on either side or above the waterline. They should reach to the deck at shroud attachment points.
Which brings up shroud attachement. At each chainplate there should be a knee or a bulkhead that attaches the hull to the deck and which also ties into the transverse framing system. External chain plates make less than no sense on these boats. External chain plates would be bolted through the not so great original laminate and preclude bolting through a hanging knee or bulkhead, either of which if properly constructed is much better at distributing the loads into the hull and deck. Besides you will kill whatever modicum of pointing ability this design has. Windward ability becomes a safety factor on an offshore boat this size.
I would consider glassing the hull to the deck and then rebolting the joint.
The rudder posts on these boats were not very robust. I would suggest building a new rudder with a beefer rudder, rudder post which requires replacing the rudder tube where it passes through the hull and deck, and new beefer gudgeons. I would suggest adding transverse and longitudinal knees at the rudder tube.
I would probably remove the Atomic 4 and install a small single cylinder diesel. I would install heavier duty, modern deck hardware, run all halyard, vang, preventer, and reef lines back to the cockpit, strengthen the stanchion connections, add backing plates to all key hardware connections, add jackline strong points, auto acting latches on each of the companionway slides, a storm hood on the companionway hatch, a modern heavy duty forward hatch, add a dedicated storm trysail track to the mast, get a new sail inventory designed for offshore use consisting of mainsail, A.P. blade jib, A.P. #2 genoa, spinnaker and storm sails, and add a jib down haul and netting on the forward lifelines. You will need to provide storm shutters for the doghouse portlights and a way to seal the dorade vents. You will need to add a vane steering system and might consider a tiller pilot for use when motoring. A boat like this can be rowed and steered with a very long oar, and I would consider working out a way to carry the parts to assemble such an oar.
This boat is too small to benefit from being converted to a multiple headstay sloop. I would probably use a hanked on jib for offshore work with a downhaul lead back to the cockpit. I would look at a way of safely storing a storm jib hanked to the foresat when underway.
I'm not sure what to suggest for storing a liferaft or dinghy on a boat this size.
Which brings us full circle from my first paragraph about the suitability of the Ariel as an offshore voyager. By the time you do all of that to an Ariel, you will have added a lot of weight to the boat and spent several times its value (or more than the purshase and outfit price of a more suitable design) only to have a boat whose design is really poorly suited to your purpose. Its important to understand that an Ariel has minimal reserve carrying capacity and much of that will be used up in the structural upgrades needed to make it sufficiently robust for weeks and months at sea. When you think about voyaging in a small boat, consumables become a proportionately large portion of the boat's overall weight since the weight of the boat is comparatively small, and passages times are long. You need every bit of carrying capacity that you can get, and frankly with so much of the Ariel's comparatively small carrying capacity used up with structural modifications, you will hard pressed to carry the kinds of spares, gear and consumables that you should have aboard for extended passage making.