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Do you think this boat is up to the tasks i set for it

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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You have the absolute wrong boat if you would "like to be able to take a 120 foot breaking wave broadside and survive". My family owned a Contest of the same era as your boat. While Contests were beautifully finished inside, from a build quality standpoint and mopre specifically from a structural viewpoint, they were very poorly engineered and constructed. While some of the built in defects may have been corrected by prior owners, and some of the could be corrected with a massive rebuilding effort, there is no work around for the poor handling characteristics of these boats.

And while this is true of many boats of this era, structurally, the internal framing of the Contests consisted of softwood framing poorly glassed into the hull. These elements included ncluded the tranverse frames which transfered the keel loads out to the hull.

Another questionable structural element was the mast support. On our boat, the mast would compress the deck to the point that if you chose to close the door to the forward cabin, the deck would compress making it impossible re-open the door again until sheets were eased and the point of sail altered sufficiently to take the strain off of the mast support.

Other build quality issues which may have been corrected by now, included a dubious electrical system which would cut out, and short out at random, black iron fuel tanks and iron engine exhaust systems.

During the time that we owned our boat, my father remedied as many of these built-in defects. The rest we lived with.

But the sailing characteristics was the worst thing about these boats. These were early fin keel-spade rudder boats. The hull forms were such that as these boats heeled over, they would jack up out of the water, and suddenly and unpredictably reach a point where they would aerate their rudders and round up without any warning. I have been on other boats with this same issue, but these were the worst that I have ever experienced. In many boats with this problem, there was some kind of clue that this was about to occur, and you would learn to watch for that clue such as limiting the heel to a maximum heel angle that was safe to prevent the round-up. In the case of the Contest in gusty conditions, this happened so suddenly, and without a 'tell', that you could not play the sails quickly enough to prevent the round up, and the round up could be so quick that it can throw you onto the other tack.

In constant wind and wave conditions this was not much of a problem, you could tweak and feather, but in the larger waves encountered offshore, and with the difference in wind strength between the trough and the crest, these boats would quickly wear down a crew.

For that reason, while these boats might make reasonable coastal cruisers, they would be somewhere near the bottom of a list of boats that I would ever think of making an offshore passage in.

Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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With all due respect, there is no resemblance between the below the waterline lines of a Contest 30 and an Alberg 30. While I am not all that great a fan of the Alberg 30's, the Albergs were more of wine glass shaped hull while the Contest had a much harder turn of the bilge, and shallow vee'd bottom, which caused them to jack upward out of the water, and round up. The Alberg has a longer keel than the Contest (although that is somewhat offset by the Contest's more efficient detached rudder).

As for the issue of the capsize screen formula, as I have explained many times in the past on this forum, (and I am about to explain yet again) the capsize screen formula and the Motion Comfort Index tell almost nothing about the reality of a boat's likelihood of capsize or its actual motion comfort. In fact they provide so little indication of a boat's behavior that to rely on them in any way borders on the dangerous.

Both of these formulas were developed at a time when boats were a lot more similar to each other than they are today. These formulas have limited utility in comparing boats other than those which are very similar in weight and buoyancy distribution to each other. Neither formula contains almost any of the real factors that control motion comfort, the likelihood of capsize, or seaworthiness. Neither formula contains such factors as the vertical center of gravity or buoyancy, neither contains weight or buoyancy distribution (of the hull both below and above the waterline), the extent to which the beam of the boat is carried fore and aft, and neither contains any data on dampening, all of which really are the major factors that control motion comfort or the likelihood of capsize.

I typically give this example to explain just how useless and dangerously misleading these formulas can be. If we had two boats that were virtually identical except that one had a 1000 pound weight at the top of the mast. (Yes, I know that no one would install a 1000 lb weight at the top of the mast.) The boat with the weight up its mast would appear to be less prone to capsize under the capsize screen formula, and would appear to be more comfortable under the Motion Comfort ratio. Nothing would be further than the truth.

And while this example would clearly appear to be so extreme as to be worthy of dismissal, in reality, if you had two boats, one with a very heavy interior, shoal draft, its beam carried towards the ends of the boat near the deck line, a heavy deck and cabin, perhaps with traditional teak decks and bulwarks, a very heavy rig, heavy deck hardware, a hard bottomed dingy stored on its cabin top, and the resultant comparatively small ballast ratio made up of low density ballast. And if we compare that to a boat that is lighter overall, but it has a deep draft keel, with a higher ballast ratio, the bulk of the ballast carried in a bulb, its maximum beam carried to a single point in the deck so that there was less deck area near the maximum beam, a lighter weight hull, deck and interior as well as a lighter, but taller rig, it would be easy to see that the second boat would potentially have less of a likelihood of being capsized, and it is likely that the second boat would roll and pitch through a smaller angle, and would probably have better dampening and so roll and pitch at a similar rate to the heavier boat, in other words offer a better motion comfort....And yet, under the Capsize Screen Formula and the Motion Comfort Index it would appear that the first boat would be less prone to capsize and have a better motion when obviously this would not be the case.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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10,531 Posts
Jeff is very knowledgeable about boat designs and has worked as a designer. Since he has personal experience with Contests of the era of yours you should listen to what he has to say. One caveat, he has a much higher appreciation of modern designs than the traditional, but the reality is that for many people the cost of a modern, quality cruising boat is just not in the ball park so the question becomes, which of the older boats is best.
I prefer to describe my preferences a little differently. It is true that I am a big fan of many of the newer design trends, but I am also genuinely a fan of traditional working watercraft and the designs which faithfully derive from them.

What I am not a fan of, is the CCA and IOR race rule distorted designs which came in the period (1950's, 1960's, 1970's into the 1980's) between the era of traditional sailing craft and the present. I am also not a fan of some of the so-called 'character boats' which pretend to be traditional designs above the waterline but offer none of the virtues of either modern designs or the traditional, while retaining the liabilities of both. I know that some people would refer to these CCA design (and to a lesser extent IOR designs) as traditional, but I do not. I see these distorted designs as an aberation from the millennia long, trial and error evolution of wholesome design principles which resulted in the better working water craft, as well as, earlier purpose built cruising designs.

My criticisms of older boats are often misunderstood. I completely understand that not everyone can afford to buy a modern design to go distance cruising. The real point of my comments is not to suggest that only new designs are suitable for cruising. My real point is to suggest that if one wants to voyage under sail cheaply, one should search for one of the more suitable designs of an era.

The cost difference between buying a well-designed and well-constructed boat of any specific era, vs something less suitable is negligible. But the inherent seaworthiness, sailing ability and robustness of the better boat will reduce the inherent risk, as well as the costs to upgrade and operate the boat. This is especially true as these boats are now 40-50 years old and so the impact of poor build practices are more likely to become apparent when these boats are subjected to the stresses of being fully stocked during an offshore passage.

I would also note that I am highly skeptical of the 44% ballast to displacement mentioned. Based on the Contest 25 and Contest 29's of that era, I would expect the ballast ratio to be down around 35-36% or so. That is not especially good for a narrow, shoal draft 30 footer.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I"m just wondering Jeff, What boat do you own?
I am curious as to why you are asking this question, but I currently own a Farr 11.6, (Farr design 72 rather than the later 11.6), which is a moderately high performance, offshore capable, cruiser. I have owned 16 boats over my sailing life from a wooden 1939 Stadel Cutter and a lapstrake 1949 Folkboat, some CCA era and IOR era racer/cruisers and a broad range of dinghies, race boats, racer-cruisers, and simple cruisers.

In reading my comments on the Contests above, I am a little concerned that they do not clearly tell the whole story. My comments should be seen as applying to the early models. At some point in the 1980's, Contest seemed to come up dramatically in their overall design and build quality and those boats have an excellent reputation. I have little or no experience with these later boats.

Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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Personally, I am not a big fan of the rigs and hull forms that are generally associated with IOR era boats. The rigs had tiny mainsails, and relied on very large headsails in light to moderate breezes which were had to tack and hard to depower. Given that IOR boats tend to be quite tender, that also means these sail plans were quickly overpowered and so required that the boats be reefed earlier than I would consider ideal for a cruising boat, and ultimately require more sail changes and a larger sail inventory than I would consider ideal.

My specific concerns with IOR hull forms changes with each design period of the IOR but derive from the same problem. The IOR tried to predict the performance of a boat based on a limited number of measurements taken in very prescribed ways at very narrowly defined points on the boat. That caused designers to wildly distort the shape of the hull to beat the rule, in ways that made these boats much harder to handle, way less seaworthy, less stable and more significantly, have less predictable stability, uncomfortable in a seaway, and slower than they should be. As a cruiser, these boats also tend to have less carrying capacity relative to their displacement and are less tolerant of the kinds of weight distribution associated with cruising gear. They tend to track poorly and generally make a far less than ideal cruising platform, and are pretty much obsolete for racing. Structurally this was not particularly a great period in yacht construction, as the boats were getting lighter, but designers did not have the tools to properly engineer these boats to produce durable boats, and building techniques were still evolving in not all that great ways.

Before someone objects, I know that people have done amazing things with old IOR boats, but to me that is more about the skill of those people who did those things and perhaps their luck as sailors, rather than any inherent virtues that old IOR boats may have.

As far as the specific boats that you mention, the Contessa 32 design was begun as a very late RORC boat just at the very beginning of the transition to the IOR. The two rules were very similar but the Contessa 32 has some of the residual virtues of the late RORC boats (vs. IOR) but also some of the liabilities as well. The Contessa 32's earned a reputation as being better boats than I would suggest that they are due to their glowing comparison as a yardstick held up to the later of IOR boats of the Fastnet Disaster era IOR boats. In that comparison, there is no doubt that the Contessa 32's really did shine and represented a much more seaworthy choice than the boats they were compared to. But the reality is that they were being compared to one of the low points in yacht design history, and not to more traditional designs, or to more modern designs which have greatly benefited from knowledge available from the post- Fastnet research, and the better design tools, and materials that are available after that period.

As compared to more modern post Fastnet performance cruisers, the Contessa 32's tend to be tender,pitch badly in a chop, are not very good light air boats, are harder to sail in a stiff breeze, and do not offer a lot of accommodations or performance for their length. That said, they do sail well on most points of sail meaning that they have no extreme flaws.

The She 31 was a pure RORC boat rather than being an IOR boat at all. In that regard, it exhibits the worst excesses of the late RORC, short waterline length, pinched ends, fullness in the bow above the waterline, excessively narrow beam and tiny mainsails. To me, boats like these make attractive daysailors, but are way less than ideal for almost any other use I can think of.

I really do not know anything about the Sea Cracker/Tufglass 33.

Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I know the Chesapeake 32 very well. Phil Rhodes and George Walton (from here in Annapolis) at their best, built very nicely in Denmark or Sweden. I worked for Charlie Wittholz and he worked on the drawings for that boat when he was at Rhodes. The Chesapeake was also very close relative to the Pearson Vanguard that I grew up with, but the Chesapeake was more cramped but much better built and finished.

Both were these Rhodes were CCA era boats, and at least by the terminology of their day, neither were full keels, frankly having less keel area (relative to their length) than many fin keel boats of their day, but that is another story.

I would also disagree that these boats had pinched sterns. These boats had pretty powerful sections for their day, and did not have pinched sterns. They had long overhangs, but compared to the RORC derived designs they had a straighter run, more level counter, and fuller buttock sections.

As to other options, I would suggest something like a Tartan 30, or perhaps that golden oldie, the Tripp Galaxy 32. Inthe general design type that appeals to you, might look at some of the McCurdy and Rhodes designs like the Seafarer 34. Although I am not a big fan of the IOR era boats, Holman and Pye did some very nice designs during that era such as their Pretorien and Gadiatuer. There are some rare designs like the Mull Chico that would work well for you. In some ways, Raymond Richard's mid-70's designs, such as the Cheoy Lee Offshore 32 would be almost ideal for you if you could find one with a conventional interior layout, which has had its teak decks removed and finished in fiberglass, and the iron tanks replaced. Some other options might include boats like the Ericson Independence 31, Pearson 323, or perhaps at Tartan 34, or one of the late production Morgan 34's with the skeg hung rudder.

Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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The Nicholson 31 is a serious "and I am not joking" offshore cruising boat. They are reportedly great boats for that purpose. But that comes with a lot of compromises. They have absurdly heavy displacement for their length, and a absurdly small sail area for their displacement. this means that they will not be great light air boats. While larger headsails can help with light air, using large headsails means making more sail changes, and are not as easy handling as a boat that starts with a larger sail plan, more stability relative to drag, and a more easily driven hull. While they should be much better sea boats than the Chesapeake, in practice they would not be all that much faster.

If your primary use is distance cruising, then the Nicholson 31 is a slow but a very good option. But if your goal is coastal cruising with eventual offshore passages mixed in, then you might want a boat with better performance across a broader range of conditions. Bill Tripp Jr. (vs his son, Bill Tripp III) was a very talented designer and designed some of the best and most progressive designs of the CCA era. His Galaxy 32 was decades ahead of its time, and remains one of the best designs that came out of that era. But Tripp was an experimenter and did a broad range of projects, so while he produced some really wonderful designs, he also produced some pretty crumby designs, that were not all that well engineered or constructed, like the series he did for Columbia.

Phil Rhodes was one of the greats of the old school. He certainly was one the preeminent designers in the years before fiberglass and did some nice early glass boats as well. I have always been disappointed that some of his better cruising designs (rather than the CCA era racer cruisers like the Vanguard and Chesapeake never made it into production.) Phillip Rhodes son was responsible for some of the later glass boat designs of the firm, and ultimately became a partner in McCurdy and Rhodes. McCurdy and Rhodes was a bit like Tripp. They produced some very high quality designs, and some not so great designs, and/or designs which perhaps were compromised in design or build quality at the request of the company building their boats.

That was not all that atypical for that era. Another example of that was Ray Hunt, who was a very creative and skilled designer, but the execution of his designs produced boats were often compromised to meet a certain market portion.

Jeff
 
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