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Old 27-07-2003, 08:53   #1
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Pivers

I am doing a lot of research on boats before I buy. I have found a few Piver Loadstars for sale and they appeatr to be sound designs. Anybody have any experience with them?

PAUL
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Old 27-07-2003, 15:57   #2
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Piver was quite an innovator in his day. He did more to promote the idea of trimarrans than anyone before or since. His tris have made all kinds of long passages and successful voyages. In their day, (the 1950's and 1960's) Pivers designs were a real revelation as compared to the heavy short waterline monohulls that were in vogue at the time. BUT if I remember correctly the Lodestar is a 50 year old design and that in the world of yacht design is an enormous amount of time.

To begin with these boats started out way over weight for their intended purpose. Built with the materials specified they were really quite fragile. Ama/aka connection failures were quite common. Little was know about the sheer amount of stress that occurs on this critical joint. Holes from coming up against a dock too hard were not uncommon as well. (I repaired one of those as a kid working in a small boat yard and the owner told me that he tried to avoid docking as they were quite ungainly and the plywood was quite vulnerable. My repair was right next to another early repair.) Most were built over scantlings and that extra weight not only hurt the performance of the boat but also made them more prone to capsize. (multihulls disburse the force of a gust by accelerating instead of heeling and when they can't accellerate to disburse the energy due to too much weight they are greatly more prone to capsizing. Pivers tris capsized with a fair degree of regularity and in fact if I am not mistaken I think that Piver was lost at sea in a Lodestar.)

Pivers generally do not carry large amounts of gear and supplies very well. They are very weight sensitive and since many started out overweight they can end up with some serious problems as long distance cruisers. They are also really sensitive to weight distributions. Pivers tend to pitch a lot and so weight needs to be kept out of the ends of the boat. That means that you really can't use an all chain anchor rode running thru a power windlass for example.

Piver's tris were exceptionally narrow. In fact a modern catamaran would be approximately the same width as Piver's tris. This made them more prone to capsize than more modern designs and also really hurt performance due to the wave interaction between the ama and main hull when at speed.

From a sailing ability stand point, any well designed 35 foot modern monohull will out perform a 35 foot Piver on all points of sail and actually be easier to handle. Part of the problem is weight. 25 foot Pivers typically weighed in at over 12000 lbs and that is pretty heavy for a modern 35 footer. When you add in the large amount of wetted surface you can quickly see why these boats were not all that fast except as compared to mono-hulls of that era.

Lastly is the 'hippie factor' and the 'Pioneer factor'. These boats were generally built by folks who thought out of the box and who were budget conscious. They would often adlib on materials and methods of construction and/or cut corners. They might up all of the scantlings or use species of wood or types of plywood that were ill suited to marine construction. These boats were never designed to have long lives and many of these changes would have resulted in a more fragile and shorter lived boat.

So while you see these boats quite cheaply, I think that Pivers represent a cultural icon from another era in much the same way as a gaff rigger would today. Given the age of these boats and thier dubious designs they represent a high risk proposition for long distance cruising. They will be a high maintenance proposition and a large part of what a boat costs is what it takes to maintain.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 27-07-2003, 19:41   #3
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I have a picture of a Piver Lodestar that I cycle in and out of my desktop picture gallery; it is a "beautiful" design but what you said bore out some of my suspicions and hilighted others I didn't know about.

I didn't realize that so many homemade versions were built. Were there more of those than made by the company?

I am relatively new to the sailing resources on the net; any good sources on Piver? While I won't buy one I'd like to know more about the history of yacht design.

One thing I am fascinated by is engineering and design; sounds like you know a fair bit on the subject. Ever take any courses in yacht design?

PAUL
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Old 27-07-2003, 22:03   #4
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I am an architect with a masters degree in architectural structures. Growing up I was tutored in yacht design by a designer with Sparkman and Stephens. I worked for the late yacht designer Charlie Whitholtz and for naval architects NN De Jong. I also have designed and built a number of boats on my own. At various times I worked for yacht yards and have designed repairs and alterations to boats for these facilities. My mother was in the boat importation business and I helped her when she was developing new boats. BUT all of that said, I still think of myself as an amateur.

There was a great book on multihulls published in the mid to late 1970's that has a lot of excellent material on Piver. I often see copies in used book stores.

Best wishes,
Jeff
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Old 28-07-2003, 09:04   #5
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Aren't we all amatuers in the face of the sea

Very good to meet you, Jeff. Most impressive resume. I appreciate quality writing, too.

My father is also an architect. I learned to draft at the age of seven just watching him; my father claimed my first drawing ( an addition to our house) was better than any he ever recieved from a client. He, too, is a sailor. Somewhat, similiar backgrounds for both of us.

Our resumes are quite different though.

I worked in motion pictures as a lighting technician, grip and F/X assistant out of high school. I turned a hobby of book binding into a business ( I repaired and rebound Bibles in North Carolina for five years for my own company). I quit them both. The last three years have been a working education.

I just printed out 37 copies of my resume to get a job on a factory ship, processing fish. The pay is good and Alaska is beautiful; the Great Lakes in winter terrify me, the gulf of Alaska only scares me.

I might have a thread about fishing when I get back.

I will definately be tapping your naval architecture knowledge in the future with a few threads. Cheers. I'll have a beer in your honor after work.

PAUL sail_the_stars

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Old 20-07-2009, 23:33   #6
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I am selling my Piver AA 43, $49.5K josepsaavedra@hotmail.com 561-689-1704 South Florida.
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Old 24-07-2009, 02:11   #7
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Pivers

That analysis by Jeff H is the best, most concise picture of Pivers I've come across. Friends who have owned them say they are slow, won't point, and cost a fortune in marina fees. Another thing hindering their performance is that they were designed to have a lightweight outboard engine mounted in a well (Piver must have known there were weight issues). By now, however, these have been replaced with heavy diesels, slowing them down even more.

There are many of them for sale here in New Zealand, and some still command decent prices, but they seem to be used mostly as motorsailers or floating homes. It's a pity there isn't a cheap, no-frills tri that home builders can easily construct. Something that would cary on the concept that Piver started, but would sail better and be big enough to live aboard. If anyone knows of something that fits this bill, let me know.

CMcC
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Old 28-09-2009, 15:38   #8
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check out www.angelfire.com/or/petermarsh/multihulls.htm Its a history of multi hulls including the story of Arthur Piver and his design
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Old 28-09-2009, 19:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMcC View Post
That analysis by Jeff H is the best, most concise picture of Pivers I've come across. Friends who have owned them say they are slow, won't point, and cost a fortune in marina fees. Another thing hindering their performance is that they were designed to have a lightweight outboard engine mounted in a well (Piver must have known there were weight issues). By now, however, these have been replaced with heavy diesels, slowing them down even more.

There are many of them for sale here in New Zealand, and some still command decent prices, but they seem to be used mostly as motorsailers or floating homes. It's a pity there isn't a cheap, no-frills tri that home builders can easily construct. Something that would cary on the concept that Piver started, but would sail better and be big enough to live aboard. If anyone knows of something that fits this bill, let me know.

CMcC
Easy one. The Searunners by Jim Brown. A huge step up from first generation tri's like Pivers. U-shaped hulls provide better load carrying and less wetted surface. Deep centerboard for windward ability. Center cockpit for safety, visibility and ease of sail-handling. Easily and cheaply built in plywood/epoxy. The list goes on but you get the idea.

Mike
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:02   #10
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Piver Tris

D H Clarke (1919 - 2007) - Trimarans/Trimaran Development, published UK by Adlard Coles, 1969 and 1972, Isbn 0 229 63889 9 (Trimarans) and 0 229 98682 (Trimaran Development). Clarke built, sold and sailed them in the early 1960s, his company Contour Craft predating Cox Marine by several years. The books contain more information about Piver tris than most people would ever want to know.

Jeff is right - if you want a weekend yacht for pottering/cheap liveaboard then an old Piver is a possibility (if you have an inexpensive mooring available). For serious cruising offshore, don't try it. They were basically ply monococque constructions bonded with phenol/resorcinol resin, and even professionally-built examples could have their structural strength badly and permanently impaired by any collision.

You would almost have to inspect every butt-strap with x-rays in order to be sure it was still sound, and that means stripping it right down to bare ply and getting ito every nook and corner of main hull and both amas. If you're on a budget, why not get an old Wharram cat? Much more fool-proof design/construction-principles, cheaper to fix, probably no slower (on average), and the Poynesian Cat Association is a great mutual support network.

If you really want a tri with wing-decks, then Norman Cross went on designing them right into the 1990s. Epoxied double-diagonal planking and so on, so obviously much stronger, but much more expensive. Probably the best British tri design of those early years was the ugly but very seaworthy Ocean Bird designed by John Westell. Good examples go for 15-20 000, so $24 - 32,000 today. Not fast by today's standards, but robustly built in GRP and with folding amas (1st production tri to offer this, I believe), therefore cheaper to berth in a marina.

Best of luck

John Kimber.
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Old 09-11-2009, 07:18   #11
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thanks

thanks for suggesting the Wharram cat. Looks interesting. I appreciate your response to my questions. Kinda new at the sailboat thing.

Marc
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Old 09-11-2009, 11:52   #12
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John Marples designed a series of Trimarans that were very simple plywood boats. Very seaworthy and rugged. Went by the Sea Clipper series. Good ones to watch for. Maybe not as elegant as the Constant Camber series, but just as capable.

These are shots of a 28' Sea Clipper I had on file. I do not know anything about this boat.
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Old 09-11-2009, 14:31   #13
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Way cool!

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Old 09-11-2009, 22:23   #14
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There was a book about a piver victress that i read many years ago. a family
who escaped from Rhodesia The couldn't get masts and made them of welded conduit hundreds of little triangles.
I remember that the weight loading were critical as all three hulls in water together when loaded. to much weight it the middle and amas supported the weight of the hull.
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:05   #15
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Dear Marc, we're all always new at the sailboat thing. As a Sufi once said: to be old is to have less time before you and more mistakes behind. I leave it to you to decide whether that is better than the reverse!

What yacht to buy depends on what cash you have and what you want to do with the boat. Eg Searunner Trimaran, yes, fantastic if you happen to have US $100,000,
which is what a tidy secondhand Searunner 40 will cost you.

Wharram cats have always prioritised maximum seaworthiness at minimum cost. They sail well as compared with many motor-sailing 'luxury' multihull cruisers, but as cruisers not racers. A few have been successfully raced, but only certain classes, eg Raka, Ariki, after extensive mods - daggerboards, higher aspect rig, less flexible hull connections than the famous low-stress articulated beams of standard Wharrams, which don't go with a highly tuned rig. To read all about them and the design-philosophy order a Wharram Design Book from the designers. Their website is easy to find.

All that a Wharram is is two big decked-over canoes joined with articulated deckbeams so that you have in effect two boats sailing parallel to one another. No worries about pounding under wing-decks, or long unsupported ama bows subjected to high stress at the forward box-spar because of the mill-race of water forced in between the float and the hull - the two big design-weaknesses with a Piver.
You should be able to get a Wharram 40 footer for US $35 000 in good condition.

But if you just want a cheap floating home which you can sail locally at weekends, restoring a Piver might be a good step. I've seen an AA36 (Lodestar mk 2) advertised in Maryland (I think) at US $13500. Assume $20000 once restored/refitted. That's not a lot for a nice biggish yacht, but you just need to respect an old ply tri's structural limitations and not try to cross oceans in her.

I think my ideal Lodestar type yacht would be a Wharram Tiki 38 with a covered wheelhouse. Secondhand, about US $50 000.

Good luck! J
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