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Old 05-11-2009, 17:45   #1
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Colvin Designs ?

Looking to see if anyone has any firsthand experience with the gaff rig schooner version of the Colvin Saugeen Witch. Would be interested to know both light and heavy weather sailing characteristics and general boat information. Thanks
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Old 06-11-2009, 19:12   #2
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I have no direct experience but I once had a question regarding a Colvin designed boat and I emailed Tom Colvin himself (Tom Colvin <tecolvin@gmail.com>). I got a nice response in less than 24 hours. The guy is very approachable, so I'd suggest going to the source.
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Old 23-11-2009, 14:01   #3
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Colvin Designs ?

Hello, I`m sailing a Colvin Saugeen Witch for twelve years now. The first seven as a junk schooner and five with the gaff schooner rig.
Our cruising ground is the Weser-river estuary(Germany) and the North Sea.
As a junk schooner, she was a very slow and unhandy boat and unwilling to go about without backing the jib. The heavy junk rig also made her a tender boat-I had wooden sailbattens of considerable weight.

When I changed her to the gaff-schooner rig, she was a completely new vessel, fast, higher pointing, easy to tack and quite a bit stiffer. The gaff rig is about 80 pounds lighter then the old junk rig.

It really is a delight to sail her. She likes to move along in very light breezes, even without the topsail and fisherman set and is at her best at 4-5 Bft.. After that, she needs the first reefing.

I have sailed aboard stiffer boats, but the saugeen witch compensates for that with very easy motions at sea. I get seasick on all kinds of boats, but not aboard my Saugeen Witch!

We sometimes were underway with 8 Bft abeam with still the reefed foresail up, but sure no chance to sail her closehauled in any way then.

Given enough room, we always trust the qualities of that boat.

The hairy situations only arise, when the fairway gets narrow, the conditions nasty (headwind) and the big ships traffic does not allow for propper maneuvres. The saugeen witch needs some room for tacking gybing and whatever. The modern seamen donīt seem to know such "yachts" anymore so sometimes the engine has to help making a fast tack between two containerships, five tugs, their swell, five knots current and foaming stacks in that river.

At sea, the best boat I can think of, however.
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Old 23-11-2009, 20:23   #4
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I owned a Saugeen Witch, gaff schooner rig, no engine, no electronics. Sailed her on the West Coast, out to Hawaii and back. I was caught in one hurricane force strom off Cape Flattery. The boat brought us home, it was not my doing. Tom [Colvin] kept telling me the boat would do anything I asked of her. It took me about a year to learn to sail her, and seven more to do it right. then .... I once sailed her in a circle around a 40' marconi ketch, to windward. I sailed her under the East span of the Hood Canal floating bridge, single handed, against wind and tide [screaming like a crazed banshee in joy and jubilation the while]. I came to love the boat deeply. I loved sailing her at sea, with her lee rail awash, all sail set to fisherman. Ohhh, the Red Witch was a lovely craft. Mine was welded aluminum, with a raised after deck. With no engine to clutter up [and stink up] the space, I had a double bed aft under the aft deck. If I had it to do over [and how I wish I could right now] I would rip out Tom's design for the interior and put in a liveaboard designed intgerior of my own. I did live aboard for 6 yrs, sailed her over ten thousand miles. the last few years I was single handing mostly. Coming back from Hawaii, a friend and I worked out the sheet to tiller self seering shown in Lecher's book Self Steering for Sailing Craft. We ran the line from the fore staysl boom to windward thru blocks aft to the tiller, with surgical tubing to the lee rail. Worked fantastically well. I used to beach her to clean her bottom. I put a square sail on the fore for fun, but it turned out to be a wonderful sail for the boat so I kept it for 8 yrs. I cannot say enough good things about her.
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Old 23-11-2009, 20:32   #5
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Ohh. One other thing. Tom shows lapstraked aluminum triangular pieces at the bow. With his designed build, the boat is light, yes, but a tank. A tank. I once hit an unlighted log raft in the wee hours off Port Angeles. We were hauling ass at the time. The Witch went right up until her stem was on the logs when we hit. Scared me peeless. In the morning I went down to take a look. Scraped the paint. But not the epoxy undercoat. I hit a piece of a reef in Hawaii. I hit a dock in Neah Bay [there's a story!] so hard that it broke the bolts holding the chain plate on the after starboard main shroud. Didn't hurt the boat. Though I was digging creosote pieces out of the deadeyes for months. I was such a dummy when I bought the hull [working on it the while] and finished her out. I had never had anything but small sloops. The learning curve was steep, brother, steep. That schooner rig is incredibly powerful. But I would sail her, in the latter years, up channels where other feared to go under power. I came to trust that boat more than I have ever trusted any human in my life. If you can get one, grab her. And never let go.
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Old 29-09-2012, 09:57   #6
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Re: Colvin Designs ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
If you can get one, grab her. And never let go.
Mine has been in the family for 36 years. I would sooner cut off my arm than sell Panope.

Steve
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Old 29-09-2012, 10:30   #7
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Re: Colvin Designs ?

I almost had a Witch, but ended up buying a Colvin Doxy instead. Very happy with the Doxy, (have had her for 25 years), but I have heard many stories about what a wonderful sailing vessel the Saugeen Witch is.
Mine is also a gaff-rigged schooner, and if the Witch has anything like the same sailing characteristics, you won't be disappointed. At 17.3 tons, I wouldn't call mine a light air boat by any means, but she is extremely seakindly, and loves heavy weather. (a whole lot more than I do!)
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Old 29-09-2012, 11:27   #8
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Re: Colvin Designs ?

Never had a witch, but Connie and I bilt and sailed a Colvin 42 fter with junk sails for 32 yrs. Loved her! from the folks ive met and talked to about there Colvins, never heard a bad word about them! ours sailed so well we are now spoiled! as most all Colvin owners sailors are! He has his stuff together! If I was able to bild another I would sure use aluminum insted of steel !! She's a fine looking vessel !!
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Old 29-09-2012, 13:32   #9
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Re: Colvin Designs ?

Nice to read, that other Colvin boat owners like theirs too.

After 21 years with my Saugeen Witch, I`m still delighted with her.

Last year, I experienced the first heavy weather Northsea sailing with her, 8 bft and 3,5 meters of (the radio said) sea. Our course closehauled. We had the three lowers up and all reefs in, leerail awash.

Even I knew, how well she sails, it was the first time, I really understood, what an excellent seaboat Tom Colvin had designed with her. She just kept on sailing, took the headseas, threw the spray aside and kept her course for hours, without touching the tiller.

The only thing, I don`t like about her, is that she isn`t a heavy load carrier.
Beeing very young, when I built her, I wanted everything "indestructable"
and did some overbuilding. Mainly the inerior. With equipment on board, therefore, she sails quite wet(40-30cm of freeboard).

If I would start again, I would conscientiously follow Tom`s drawings or built a Doxy, to have a little more reserve boyancy/displacement.


John
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Old 29-09-2012, 16:58   #10
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Re: Colvin Designs ?

Like Bobconnie, lived and cruised aboard a Gazelle 42' for a couple of years back in the late 70's, there were quite a few being built in Australia at that time, and loved it. The junk rigged schooner with a furling headsail was just about the easiest boat that i have ever sailed. I could reef the whole thing down in about 5 mins without calling any crew on deck to help. Would have another in a heartbeat if the chance arose.

Coops.
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