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Old 20-11-2015, 21:14   #31
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Running backstays are a bit more of a hassle on a schooner with a gaff main, or like my little cutter single masted with a gaff.
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Old 20-11-2015, 21:57   #32
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Yeah--a little more choreographed dancing to do if no fixed backstay and you're alone on the boat
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Old 21-11-2015, 06:22   #33
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Greetings gaffers!
A few years back I too was stricken by gaff lust . After years of attending wooden boat festival in Port Townsend and admiring all the traditional vessels we would retreat to our boat and say "aren't " you glad we have an easy maintenence one! (She was a glass sloop 32') Well, out of the blue a broker friend calls up and says you should come and see this cutter I've just listed. It was love at first site, she was an Ingrid looking desing 17 ton 39' on deck & gaff rigged. Now I didn't notice that their wasn't any winches or why halyards had these funny block & tackles attached but dammed she was salty! Its been a real education re-learning the ropes ( pun intended) but as Schooner Chand mentioned my wife or I can raise the main with help of our peak & throat purchases . We've set up both the peak and throat on same pin rail and can haul together. Their is a very passionate community with traditional boats, I hope you find your dream vessel
best regards, Stonefloat
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Old 23-11-2015, 19:27   #34
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

I'd like to make a few points. One is that a gaff rig done with aluminum spars (that includes the gaff) is not hard to raise sail on. A gaff main with a light gaff is much lighter than a comparable sized fully battened Bermudian main.

There is nothing about a gaffer that keeps you from using winches. They work just as well on gaff rig as they do on Bermudian.

A properly done gaffer will sail very well. From a close reach on down the low aspect gaff sail produces more drive per square foot than the higher aspect ratio Bermudian. See Marchaj "Seaworthiness the Forgotten Factor" for aerodynamic test results on various aspect ratio sails.

Colvin designed many boats that could be gaff rigged. The Saugeen Witch and the Gazelle are very popular, with hundreds built.

Michael Kasten also has a number of gaff rig designs. And there are many others.
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Old 23-11-2015, 19:51   #35
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

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Originally Posted by Schooner Chandlery View Post
I'd hesitate to purchase a gaff-rigged boat just because I like the way it looked. OTOH, if you get some sailing time in and you like a gaffer, that's a different story. Our (wooden) boat has the best of all worlds IMO, schooner rigged, gaff foresail and bermuda main. Only other folks who have sailed both gaff and bermuda rigged boats might "get" that thought.

Several Atkins designed boats are gaff rigged though most built in wood. Check out the Atkins Ingrid since you can find them non-wood and they may be gaff rigged. You can also sometimes find a fiberglass Bristol Channel Cutter (um...Lyle Hess designed 30-ish ft) gaff rigged.

There are surely others but I know of at least those. Gaff and wood boats go together so you're not so likely to find it another way. It's traditional with traditional.

Fair winds,
Hi,

Since you mentioned a boat with both the Bermudan AND a gaff rig too, and because I have seen that and wondered why it was so, please explain or tell us your view on why that is done versus two of the same.

I am curious. Thanks in advance.
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Old 23-11-2015, 20:43   #36
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Howdy!

You have already gotten lots of good advice from well experienced gaff sailors and owners. I read them all.

I like gaff rigged boats and traditional designs, which I draw and paint, so I keep my eyes open for them.

I also noted you don't want a wood boat. As I recall there are a couple of Atkins "Ingrids" currently for sale on the pacific coast, and I think both are fiberglass hulls made by Bluewater boats.

What I will post below is a boat I happened across yesterday while doing my own research. It may not interest you, but may appeal to others reading this thread.

It is a wood boat, but according to the sale posting, it was fiberglassed over when built. The boat is made of oak and mahogany, by a reputable wood boat builder who I read did good work. As I recall it has aluminum spars.

The photos of the interior look nice for this type of boat.

It is a design by William Atkins called the "Clione" which is a type of mollusc that floats in the water column, never sinking to the bottom. Clever name for a boat.

It is far from the PNW, located just north of Tampa Florida. About 44 feet with bowsprit, 37-39 LOD.

Ketch rig.

Asking price is $29k. There are several photos of it found on the listing.

37' Atkins Ketch Sailboat 1979

Good luck with your boat search!
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Old 23-11-2015, 23:59   #37
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Thank you everyone for all of the responses - just letting you know I've been catching up on the conversation when I have the chance (work has been very busy), and really appreciate everyone's input. Sounds like I've got a few more books to add to the reading list, and lots of designs to keep an eye out.

One minor thing that I'm curious about, as I keep seeing ketches come up. What advantages and disadvantages does a schooner have vs. a ketch? I'm guessing there might be an entire thread devoted to this somewhere, though I've yet to find it. We definitely like the look of schooners better and are looking for a sloop or schooner, but I'm curious about the tradeoffs we'll be making by going the more obscure route.
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Old 24-11-2015, 04:08   #38
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Ahh, now you've started something.. gaff ketch vs gaff schooner, I bet that hasn't been argued here for many years.

my own thoughts are with modern reefing systems there isn't such a difference as there might have been in the past.

Quickly without much thought, and not having sailed any smaller schooners (thus rendering my opinions null and void) though I have sailed brigantines and a 64 foot modern schooner.

Anyway ketch, big powerful headsails for windward work, and a quick first reef by dropping the mizzen. But at some point you've got to deal with that big main, and by the time this point comes it's often blowing.

Schooner, that big main needs reefing early, or first, but it can be set at anchor , and dropped at anchor, and once you snug the main down all the other sails are small and handy in stronger winds.

I'm inclined to think the best schooners have two identical sized masts and main and fore sails, and the best ketches look like yawls with very small mizzens.

I guess now I've just successfully upset both the ketch and the schooner brigade, so I'll stick to sailing my boring sloop.
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Old 24-11-2015, 05:07   #39
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Schooner vs Ketch: Full disclosure, I'm captain of an 80-foot Wittholz designed steel schooner, so I'm biased in one direction. What I would say is that when going upwind, each sail creates airflow for the sail behind (hard to describe, easy to see in action) so with your biggest sail aft, you get all the other sails working for it and it can really generate power. With a ketch, the mizzen's greatest purpose when going upwind is for trim rather than thrust (no doubt it generates SOME thrust, but not a lot). Topologically, a schooner's deck layout is less awkward, since the mainmast is out of the way amidships and there's no mizzen to get in the way aft.
When going dead downwind, you can lessen the chance of an accidental gybe by sheeting the foresail in tight, which will try to generate a little bit of weather-helm whenever you stray too far down. This does not lessen the requirement to watch with uttermost closeness--it just makes it less squirrelly.

As for schooners with marconi mains: The nicest thing I can say is that I have absolutely no idea why anyone would do such a thing to a boat. You lose the advantage of a low center of effort, of sail area, and IMO they look silly. Or worse, the ones with no gaffs at all and a "staysail" between main and foremast. But leave it at that, lest I go on all day and offend yet another vast chunk of the readership here.
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Old 24-11-2015, 05:21   #40
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

to my understanding the Ketches and Yawls were rulebeater while Schooners where a way to get a sailplan on a ship to large for a (reasonably managable and affordable) single mast?
in that, Schooners are by on means the obscure route, just outdated by modern material limitations (or rather lack of, compared to old wooden masts)

they are a beauty and charm of an aera past, but so are most of the boats discussed in this thread.
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Old 24-11-2015, 07:11   #41
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

In schooners below about 40 feet in length, it is typical to have one mast right in the middle of the saloon and another right in the middle of the V-berth. Makes certain social activities problematic.

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Old 24-11-2015, 11:32   #42
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

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Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
Hi,

Since you mentioned a boat with both the Bermudan AND a gaff rig too, and because I have seen that and wondered why it was so, please explain or tell us your view on why that is done versus two of the same.

I am curious. Thanks in advance.
Bermuda sails became more common in the 1920-1930 timeframe. I suppose things do change over time. Our own boat started life in 1931 as a gaff-fore and gunter-main rigged schooner. A sliding gunter like she had is very similar to a high peaked gaff sail but not quite the same as it is so high that it looks like a Bermuda main from a distance. Ours likely rigged as gunter to get a shorter rig when reefed. The rig was changed by the 2nd owner in 1939 to Bermuda main at the same time the rig tensions were tightened up, 1x19 wire used, and single spreaders added.

The typical gaff rigged schooner has a big boom going out the back, a short enough mast to prelude the use of a fixed backstay above the gaff boom and forces the use of running backstays vs a fixed backstay that you can install when the aft-most sail is Bermuda rigged. So--if one wants to not deal with running backstays, one is limited at the outset to using a Bermuda main rather than gaff main.

Gaff rigs are, in general, low tension rigs, don't need spreaders (and really can't use them effectively if hoops rather than track is used) and working with those low-tension running backstays is nothing like a modern high tension rig would see anyway.

With the schooner, how far in you can haul that mainsail (all parts of) and how flat you get it is going to limit your performance of all other sails as well. The aft-most sail is set primary and the other sails set to feed the wind to the sails aft w/o backwinding the sails aft. You can see if you're working to windward how it's the mainsail which will limit your performance by its twist or inability to set tight and flat.

Twist and Sail shape--it's relatively easy to get exactly what you want from the gaff foresail on a schooner (the use of the gaff vang rigged to the mainmast aft and above the peak of the foresail gaff boom lets you control that 4th corner...) in terms of flat or full sail shape and twist. It's also easy to do so with a Bermuda main sail. But when you go putting a gaff sail as the main, it becomes more difficult to get the desired shape and twist (or lack of it) without multiple gaff vangs and more work/complexity. This really means that most cruisers operating a gaff/gaff schooner are just going to ignore the issue and they won't perform as well to windward as they could/should given the requirements of the rig. If one is a sloppy sailor and prefers relaxing to tweaking the runners and vangs, this is fine, if one wants to get full windward performance from their rig, it's not so good.

So Bermuda main means less work all round from less need for multiple vangs and no requirement for running backstays.

The gaff fore vs staysail fore? The crew of the schooner Elizabeth Muir have rigged the boat as staysail schooner and as gaff schooner and compared the boat both ways in multiple regattas. They note that the gaff foresail fills the space between the masts so nicely that there is little need for putting up a fisherman or other topsail--whereas the staysail schooner requires the additional activity/complexity of using the fisherman in order to have the speed that she get naturally with the gaff foresail. The last time I chatted with them they were staying with the gaff foresail.

I do think that a schooner with similarly sized foresail and main sail or a ketch with equal height masts is pretty ideal. Note that the ketches the Dashews sold for many years were really almost schooners with their near to equal mast heights.

A schooner will have the main mast near to the boat's fore-and-aft CG and pretty much it's the widest point on the boat whereas a ketch will often have her main mast much forward (and mizzen much aft) in narrower parts of the boat so that the staying is either higher tension or less effective simply due to the angles. Even a schooner with near to equal height masts will often be designed with the position of the main mast very central.

I think there is little reason to have a split rig on a boat less than the 40-45 ft range or lighter than 15T or so. Our mainsail is about 650 sf and the foresail smaller. I'd not like to work (solo watch) with a sail much over our mainsail size so that drives my thinking on this. A cutter rig rather than ketch or schooner seems pretty ideal (and if gaff cutter, as long as one is willing to work with running backstays and multiple gaff vangs for performance) in simplicity on smaller boats. JMO. Everyone has an opinion and a desire to sail a boat that suits their particular needs. That's what gets my husband and I sailing around in our pre-WWII schooner rather than a modern boat and modern rig.
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Old 24-11-2015, 15:28   #43
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Guess that leaves me to take the side of the ketch, purely on a basis of loyalty, having grown up on a gaff ketch, and being contrarian by nature (if you where all in favour of ketches I'd be arguing for the schooner ). Anyway the ketch is ideal for the lazy sailer, and what sailor likes the odd moment of lazyness after a hard night. So when you are feeling a bout of lethargy you just leave one of the sails nicely stowed.

Either the mizzen or the main can be left under cover depending on the severity of your lethargy, or the strength of the wind. Ideally you have left the mizzen. Set as a riding sail, so this relieves you from any difficult decision making before your morning coffee about which sail to set.

For an extreme case of sloth the boat will often sail (in defiance of all naval architecture textbooks) under just the mizzen, specially if it's blowing hard or the iron topsail is ticking over.

The schooner by way of contrast really needs at least some of that monster mainsail set to balance well unless it's blowing seven bells when the foresail alone makes a great trysail.

But the ketches greatest virtues appear as the wind picks up, instead of bothersome reefs the handy ketch just lowers the mizzen. Too much weather helm, just lower the mizzen. Your schooner crew, on the other hand will be scrambling, trying hard to remember if it's left over right or right over left on all those reef points. Meanwhile the lazy ketch crew are lounging about the cockpit having simply dropped the small mizzen.

Anyway who can argue with the choices of Vito Dumas, Bernard Motessier, Robin Knox Johnson, Tristian Jones and all the coastal trading ketches of the world, many who switched from schooners to ketches once they saw the errors of there ways.

In truth athough I like the technical benefits of a ketch, I find the schooner to be a very appealing rig aestheticly, and that alone is good enough reason to choose it, after all that's how many of us (misguidedly methinks) choose our life partners.

Also how good would it sound to be able to describe your vessel as a Schooner, athough I note that it has 3 more letters in it than ketch, definitely another plus to the ketch for the lazy sailor. On that note Gaff has a substantial 5 letter advantage over the long winded Bermudian sail.
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Old 24-11-2015, 21:12   #44
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Snowpetrel--you've summed up our laziness except for we have our schooner, not a ketch. We didn't put up that big mainsail at all for what ended up being about...4K nm of sailing in 2014 because winds were too big and the main would overpower all else or too little and we were on a run (perhaps a walk?) so we put up a giant balloon footed jib and the gaff foresail instead. We were joking by year's end that we'd become a ketch because we'd not set the mainsail once that year. We did learn one important thing from that experience--why it was that one of the PO of the boat had a small swedish mainsail -- because it was the perfect thing (unless one went to a trisail) for many of those conditions.


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Old 24-11-2015, 22:55   #45
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Re: 30-50 ft LOA non-wooden Gaff-Rigged Sloops and Schooners?

Very nice Schooner, a couple of the pics of madhee on your website look superb, especially the one of her powering along on a reach. With modern sailcloth, and a well placed winch or so reefing isn't the chore it used to be, and the bunt can be left untied with lazyjacks keeping it out of your hair, so the advantages of split rigs are much less than they used to be, but still they do look magnificent, and give so much endless entertainment and opportunities to set fun sails.

BTW schooner, I have a vang setup for your foresail that works a treat for gaff schooners or ketches.

Run the vang from the base of the foremast (mainmast for a ketch) to a block at the throat, then along the gaff to the peak, though a fairlead and up onto the main mast (Mizzen for a ketch). From there it can run down to deck through a series of fairleads lashed to a shroud to stop the bight looping onto the deck.

This vang gives you a self tending vang when raising and lowering. Also two ends to play with, one fwd, and one aft. Almost any foul up can be released from deck so the nightmare that precipitated this design (where my old man refused to fit one for 9 long painfull years of poor sailshape) when the mainsail vang somehow looped itself into a clove hitch over the mizen cap in a rising gale requiring a trip aloft to lower the sail.

It works well, and I've never seen it in any books before, so I'm claiming it as my invention

We just used a bit of plastic hose lashed to the peak instead of a bullseye.

Just watch for chafe on the peak of the sail.

Cheers

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