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Discussion Starter #1
Merry Christmas 2014!
As a gift to myself, I purchased the plans for Sam Devlin’s Sooty Tern, which I aspire to build one day,,, in my retirement perhaps.

The boat is intended to be single-handed, utilizing a cost conscious, minimalist approach. The ultimate purpose is to take me across the Pacific in the solo Transpac, some time in the distant future,,, a goal I’ve had my sights on for many years. (and perhaps further afield - if my mojo is still afloat by then).

I thought I’d start this thread to gather ideas and opinions on the build. I have oh so many questions already, and you guys likely have most of the answers. Clever bunch here. Anyone open for discussion?
 

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Having designed, restored, and built a few wooden boats, I would be glad to discuss building this design with you. Little gaffers like these are very charismatic. I have always enjoyed sailing on gaffers. Gaff rigs still have a strong following in traditional boat circles. On the flip side they tend to be more expensive to build and maintain, they tend to require more skill and fussing with to sail well, and they tend to give up a lot in terms of performance.

I really can't comment on the specific suitability of the Sooty Tern for distance cruising. I have mentioned an acquaintance of mine who, back in the 1960's, had sailed a home built, deadrise (vee-bottom, hardchine), 24 foot plywood sloop from Australia to Dinner Key in Florida. He had started out with a gaff rig, which was traded to a fractional rig that similar to a Folkboat.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Having designed, restored, and built a few wooden boats, I would be glad to discuss building this design with you.

Thank you for your participation in this Jeff, I'm honored. :)

These boats are definitely charismatic, and they certainly have me under their spell. I'm aware that I will be giving up exhilaration sailing, but it's a price I'm willing to pay. I'm in less of a hurry these days,,, funny how that happens. Last year I was all set to order a JPK 960, Pogo 30, or RM 890, once our circumnav is completed, but somewhere along the line (recently), the romance of the Gaff Rig is just something I'm longing for. I'm sure you understand. That said, I'm anticipating she'll be no slouch, the numbers look good. If the Rig does prove unsuccessful, (in-the-real-world) then I'll change her up. However, initially, I'm thinking it will serve me perfectly for the short-handed sailing I intend to do.

I have exchanged a few emails with Sam and he has me assured that the design is offshore capable, built to spec.

Maintenance is of course, a huge issue for me, so I'd like to design as much maintenance-free components as possible. The only exterior non-painted wood I'm planning on, will be the varnished tiller - everything else will be painted. And forgive me now, but I'm toying with the idea of anodized, aluminum spars. I'm intoxicated with all the facts, figures, plans, etc,, Much to think about :)
 

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Nemier,

I built a small Gaffer many years ago. It was a FUN project and I LOVE the looks!!! :D

A word of caution, Mine also started as a "low cost" project that grew and grew. I reasoned that if I was to trust it with my life in the open ocean, I needed to use "better" XXX, where XXX is everything from glue to wood. An old mag published a story I wrote about the escalating cost.

Do you have some type of boat now? How much sailing experience do you currently have?

KEEP THE DREAM! BUILD THE BOAT! - - - - BUT, as you are dreaming/building, get some small boat and get to know what you like in a boat. At least for me, I found stuff that I "knew" I wanted and would like aboard the boat, did not turn out to be once I actually headed out.

You can see my project at; Guenevere's Projects, Raphael

Greg

AND, let us know how it goes!!! :)
 

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Thank you for your participation in this Jeff, I'm honored. :)

These boats are definitely charismatic, and they certainly have me under their spell. I'm aware that I will be giving up exhilaration sailing, but it's a price I'm willing to pay. If the Rig does prove unsuccessful, (in-the-real-world) then I'll change her up. However, initially, I'm thinking it will serve me perfectly for the short-handed sailing I intend to do.

Maintenance is of course, a huge issue for me, so I'd like to design as much maintenance-free components as possible. :)
You are very welcome. I have owned my share of traditional wooden boats in my day. They are a very different sailing experience: not necessarily better or worse, just different.

The fellow who had sailed his plywood boat from Australia to Florida, swore that the boat became a lot easier to sail once he switched to the Bermuda rig and got rid of the bowsprit. He said that she sailed better all around and in his case, he had a lot less weather helm in a breeze as well. That said, that may have been in part related to the design of his particular boat, and may not apply in to the Sooty Tern.

You also mentioned that you are thinking of entering the Solo Transpac. I am not sure that this is a good venue for that boat since most of the boats that do this race are either more modern designs or larger traditional designs.

You might want to reach out to GBurton, who is a member on SailNet. GBurton raced in the 2014 Solo Transpac and finished an impressive 1st in class and 4th overall on corrected time with his Westsail 32, and was able to finish only couple days or so behind the first boats over the line on a boat for boat basis.

The other member that you might want to reach out to is Oregonian. He has won this race several times in his Westsail 32.

When you talk about a goal of low maintenance, I am not sure that a gaff rig is a great choice. There is a lot more line in motion, and a lot more friction as the lines pass though multiple blocks. My experience is that you wear out a lot of running rigging and the mix of chafe from the hoops and the gaff is hard on spars.

Good luck,
Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Greg,
I hear what you’re saying regarding costs,,, and this a large part of the reasoning behind the original post; to gather intel from the sailing guru’s who have been there, done that. This build is several years away, if ever, I should emphasize that right from the start, (,,,however I do have some luck fulfilling my goals). Getting back to costs, I plan to keep them in check by following the Build Plans to the letter & minimizing the equipment onboard, rather than budget procurement of materials. Whatever modest gear/materials there is onboard will be top shelf.

I do have some sailing experience. We have owned a Newport 27 and a Catalina 36, and sailed both through-out the PNW (God’s Country ; ) for 8 years. I envisioned that that would be the extent of my sailing days since we went over to the dark side. On the contrary, I’m getting plenty of opportunity to sail on other cruisers’ sailboats. You know what cruising folk are like, they are only too happy to take me out for a burn, which is very cool. I had a Catalina 47 out for the day in Oahu a few weeks ago, and I’ve got a flight booked on an older Macgregor 36 racing Cat when I get back. I’m learning all the time (aren’t we all?), but I believe I have the fundamentals to start planning the project.

I took your advice and looked at the Guenever’s Project page, when it dawned on me “Oh that GUENEVERE!” I have been lurking on your website for while now because of my interest in the Nor’Sea 27 (basically any Lyle Hess designed boat). Anyway I recognize your wealth of knowledge and I appreciate your contribution - thanks!




Hi Jeff,
It’s exactly that “just different” experience I’m going for next time ‘round.

As far as the Transpac is concerned,,, I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on that,, that’s just a dream of mine, not a raisons d'être. If I ever do go down that road I’ll have plenty of miles under the keel to prove her seaworthiness & comfort beforehand. I watched this years Transpac race with interest (especially the 30’ Wyliecat,,,,how does one balance the boat with only one sail??), still so much to learn.

A priority for me is the simplicity of the boat,,, the ease of use - and that certainly extends to the Gaff Rig. The amount of friction is something I need to quantify. My C36 had an incredible amount of friction, (all lines lead aft) and this is something I want to avoid this time. All halyards will be hoisted from the mast, no winches required, just belayed and sweated in tight. Simple. (if it works ; )

I appreciate you guys chiming in and offering advice,,, exactly what I was looking for. Thanks guys.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Nemier,
I did a :eek: when I saw "Sooty Tern" as this is the one most built over on the WBforum

I'd love to see the photo journal when you get started! I can't seem to find any builds this lovely boat!

Are you down sizing? Love that Nord Haven!

Hi Denise,
Thanks for your post. I'm not sure why Oughtred & Devlin both designed boats termed Arctic & Sooty Terns,,, but as you can see, they bare no resemblance.

I have been a fan of Sam's designs for about 10 years now. I asked him if one of his Sooty's has ever been built and he did not know of one yet. I don't think mine is going to be the first one though. :eek:

No where near down-sizing yet, we're just getting into our stride! INFINITY ∞ is an exceptional vessel and absolutely everything we thought she'd be. We're enjoying the heck out of her. But it seems sailing is in the blood, something I can't shake off. This project is keeping my mind exercised towards the distant future.
 

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Maluka of Kermandie - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014

Take a look at a gaff rigged full keel boat currently racing in the Sydney Hobart race. This boat is 80 years old, built of wood and is also the smallest in the fleet. On handicap she is second right now but was leading the race earlier. She is boat for boat beating 7 other boats that are considered "fast" and "modern." If you are not racing for the barn door, then a boat such as this has shown to be a very good competitor.

My own personal experience is that a boat with a full keel can be very competitive.
I think your choice will suit you fine in whatever you decide to do. Too much is made of the modern designs in my opinion. Having sailed in the SHTP this last year, my boat proved to me that full keel old design does not mean slow. For example, my division started last against a 4k flood tide and 25k wind, but by the second or third day I had overtaken boat for boat the following designs - Capri 30, Dana 24, Express 27, Capri 25, Finn flyer 31, Wauquiez Pretorian 35. In this time I also had to deal with a broken tiller that was hard to replace as it broke at the heel out near the back of the boomkin.

I can also guarantee you that comfort wise I was probably in second overall.
 

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Andy & Julie,

Thanks for recognizing us, and sounds like you have have your head on straight and do have the experience needed to carry it off.

Keep us up to date and post photos!

Hope to see ya out there at anchor some time!

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #11
GBurton,
Thanks for the link to the Sydney-Hobart race, & Maluka of Kermandie. Always interesting for me to see these old timers (the boats :eek:) still racing.

I watched your progress during the race, and congratulations btw, for a great crossing. :thewave:


My project is in it's design stage, a few years away from actual build. What I'm hoping to do here is gather ideas, and collate answers to the inevitable questions I know I'll be having. My initial focus is on the Rig, and I'm considering carbon fibre spars (wood-look finish). I have asked for quote but haven't received an answer yet. Of course wood and aluminum would also work, but I do not mind spending a little more initially, for a one-off purchase. While I have you here, what's your thoughts on carbon spars?
 

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I am not sure that I understand the rationale behind wanting to use carbon fiber spars with a gaff rig. When you think of trying to improve performance on any boat, there are items which might be good for something like a 2% to 4% percent performance increase. Usually these items might include such strategies as fairing and cleaning the bottom, optimized sail cuts and low stretch sail cloth, folding props, weight reduction, more efficient keel and rudder foils and the like.

When you start with a snug rig (low aspect) rig like the the gaff rig on the Sooty Tern, I would have to think that carbon spars would offer very little advantage, way less than simply going to a more more modern fractional rig and carefully selecting lower drag profiles for the keel and rudder shapes.

Hi Jeff,
A priority for me is the simplicity of the boat,,, the ease of use - and that certainly extends to the Gaff Rig. The amount of friction is something I need to quantify. My C36 had an incredible amount of friction, (all lines lead aft) and this is something I want to avoid this time. All halyards will be hoisted from the mast, no winches required, just belayed and sweated in tight. Simple. (if it works )
Which somewhat brings me to your comment (quoted above) from a few days ago. My gaff rigger friends all talk about gaff rigs as simple and easy. But based on my experience building and sailing on gaff riggers, I would say they are a lot of things but they are not simple to build, and if you care about performance, they are not all that easy to use.

In terms of ease of use, I am not talking about the running backstays, because with time, easing and making up the runners becomes second nature and proper timing usually is all that structurally sensitive except on a jibe.

The difficulty of sailing a gaffer is comes from the geometry of the halyards. Because the head of the sail is actually supported by two separate halyards, and because the relative halyard tension changes as the gaff swings to leeward, the halyards want to be played pretty aggressively. Because tensioning the peak halyard eases luff tension, and because tightening the throat halyard eases the leech tension, if you care about performance you are always playing the two halyards to maintain decent sail shape, twist, and angle of attack.

When I say that to my gaff rigger friends, they generally reply to the effect that we set 'em and leave 'em since, we don't really care about the fine points of sail trim. And that is one valid position to take, but if that is the case, then a fractional rig is far simpler and easier to build, and sail with, and if you are a person who is concerned with ease of sailing, then simply don't sweat the finer sail trim issues as you would with a gaff rig.

I would suggest that you spend some time sailing on boats like these to get a feel for what it takes to sail them well, or whether you are comfortable not sailing them well. I suggest that you pay attention to the way that the gaff twists off to leeward, and notice the bias creases that form as as the sail twists. Then experiment with controlling twist with the peak halyard and how that impacts the rest of the sail shape. Getting the adjustments right can make a very big difference when beating and reaching, but getting them right is not as easy as they are on a Bermuda rig, which I suspect is why Bermuda rigs have become more popular than gaffers.

Jeff
 

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My initial focus is on the Rig, and I'm considering carbon fibre spars (wood-look finish). I have asked for quote but haven't received an answer yet. Of course wood and aluminum would also work, but I do not mind spending a little more initially, for a one-off purchase. While I have you here, what's your thoughts on carbon spars?
I got to call you on this one also! :D

A few notes back you said;
SNIP....
I hear what you’re saying regarding costs,,, and this a large part of the reasoning behind the original post; to gather intel from the sailing guru’s who have been there, done that. This build is several years away, if ever, I should emphasize that right from the start, (,,,however I do have some luck fulfilling my goals). Getting back to costs, I plan to keep them in check by following the Build Plans to the letter & minimizing the equipment onboard..... SNIP
Greg
 

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If I was set on a boat with those lines (above water) and I had some resources, I think the neatest thing would be a boat that looked 100% traditional (with possible exception of the rig - I'm with Jeff on that) but had a thoroughly efficient underbody and state of the art appendages (but not to the extent of the twin ruddered 'wedge' boats of today) below the water.

It would be the ultimate 'sleeper'... ;)
 
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Discussion Starter #16
Jeff, your input is as stalwart as always, thank you. I have no experience with a Gaff Rig and I believe you are correct, that is the starting point. (so I’ll get on that) As it stands now, I just think they look cool.

I was considering carbon spars to reduce weight aloft and be maintenance free, that is all. That was until I read (who am I kidding, I could not make head-nor-tail of it) the report Denise attached. The last line in the conclusion stated "and could even result in catastrophic structural failure” May be rethinking that one too, especially since Delezynski provided a Terms-of-Reference check,,,- Ya got me! Thank you!! :eek:

To sum up; I’ll grab some Gaff Rig experience, and then decide if that’s the way I’ll proceed or not. And if it turns out the Gaff Rig is way to go, I’ll build as designed. I knew I came to the right place. ;)
 

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SNIP.... May be rethinking that one too, especially since Delezynski provided a Terms-of-Reference check,,,- Ya got me! Thank you!! :eek:
That was the way it started with me. A SLOW creep, this glue is better than that one...... and as long as I am going to use that, why not just a little bit more over here? :D :D

By the way, I LOVED the gaff rig. Off the wind my small boat would fly. Going to weather, well, it was only a day sailor ya know! :eek:

Have you gotten a couple of books on gaff rigs? Might be a good thing. I bought a few that I do not see listed any more. LOVED to read them.

Greg

Not mine, but a nice photo of one under way ........
 

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Spruce.. Sitka Spruce being the be$t choice Is NOT heavy, and why it's also used in DIY airplane building. A wooden boat without wood spars is not appealing to me. But that's just my opinion.
Wooden or Aluminum Mast?

If one finally settles on wood; then one needs to decide hollow vs solid wood. Then there's the other questions; tapered? round? square? Hex or Oct? Then the joints, birds-mouth, locked miter....

birds-mouth joints here.

Building spars is another set of skills I've been wanting to try someday but it's doubtful I ever will. Back in the day, ships carpenters always sought out the tall and straight trees close to the coasts.




Sitka Spruce | The Wood Database - Lumber Identification (Softwoods)


Also in all this DIY building, the rigs are usually built because the builder "wants" to build everthing. Some even cast the bronze parts, and scavenge lead to build keels.

Gaff rigs DO have MORE weight aloft if you stop and think what's up there
 

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I like where Ron (Faster) is suggesting that you take this. While I have only seen an sail plan and interior layout for the Sooty Tern, the hull looks like it should be moderately easily driven. It would be pretty easy to design a low drag fin keel with a bulb to increase stability and a more modern rudder to reduce drag and add precision.

You might be able to buy something like a used J-24 rig pretty cheaply and adapt it by eliminating the bowsprit and adding a longer boom mounted lower on the mast, essentially ending up with a Folkboat rig. You also might be able to adapt the fin keel from a more modern one design class as well which beats having to produce a plug and have a custom keel made from scratch.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Update; looks as though we'll be winding this thread down. :|
In a not-unprecedented change-of-mojo, I've tacked 180 and chosen another design to build,,, some would say a radical flip. The heart wants what the heart wants, and there's plenty of life left in this middle-aged soul yet. My chosen boat (Just paid for full plans),,, the Didi 26, designed by Dudley Dix. :wink

I may start another thread over on the Sailboat Design & Construction thread. If I do, I'll post the link here. :2 boat:
 
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