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Old 13-10-2014, 11:08   #1
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Question Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Hi again!

I am still carefully shopping. I noticed a very intriguing little boat -- appeals to my traditionalist aesthetics, but makes me nervous on several counts.

I've raced and cruised lots of modern boats. This is a 'Friendship 25', a gaff rigged cutter (?), with an immense bowsprit, strip-planked Western red cedar hull, covered with fiberglass cloth set in epoxy.

1) Is the fiberglass almost certain to lift off the wood? Is it going to leak? Will it require interminable amounts of labour every Spring?

2) Is a gaff rig too complicated, fussy, heavy, awkward, very slow, unwilling to point, likely to have devilish weather helm?

I would love to hear of your experience!

Ernest
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Old 13-10-2014, 19:02   #2
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

This might be just my point of view but usually a well designed wooden hull that is covered with cloth and epoxied or polyestered has some issues. Just check it very carefully with a marine surveyor in tow. If that is the way the designer had in mind to build it then ignore this post.

Be mindful that a resin soaked hull is much heavier than originally designed.

Good luck in your search.

I've seen the designs for the Friendship and really like them.
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Old 13-10-2014, 19:15   #3
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Thank you, John! Your comments have added a couple more items I need to look out for.
Ernest
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Old 13-10-2014, 22:02   #4
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Skublics View Post
... 2) Is a gaff rig too complicated, fussy, heavy, awkward, very slow, unwilling to point, likely to have devilish weather helm?
Maybe. But I can say exactly the opposite about some very sweet gaffers. too!
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Old 14-10-2014, 00:14   #5
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Strip planking in western red is a very good way to build a one-off boat. Ours for example is now 24 years old, has done well over 100,000 cruising miles, been in both the Artic and southern Oceanss and has no issues whatsoever with the glass skins, inside or out.

And heavy?? Well, our 46 foot fin keel boat is 9 1/2 tonnes light ship, and 4 tonnes of that is lead. If you call that heavy, then I guess it is... (not).

However, I'm not personally a big fan of gaffers, so couldn't comment realistically on that aspect of your query.

Good luck,

Jim
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Old 14-10-2014, 02:10   #6
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Gaff rigs are photogenic, especially as part of a ketch rig.

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Old 14-10-2014, 03:51   #7
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Check the coating, if it is epoxy it should be Ok if soundly done, if it is polyester RUN, it will fail
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Old 14-10-2014, 04:56   #8
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Strip planking in western red is a very good way to build a one-off boat. Ours for example is now 24 years old, has done well over 100,000 cruising miles, been in both the Artic and southern Oceanss and has no issues whatsoever with the glass skins, inside or out.

And heavy?? Well, our 46 foot fin keel boat is 9 1/2 tonnes light ship, and 4 tonnes of that is lead. If you call that heavy, then I guess it is... (not).

However, I'm not personally a big fan of gaffers, so couldn't comment realistically on that aspect of your query.

Good luck,

Jim
Wowsa!

Only 9-1/2 Ton??? That's crazy!!! She must up and fly like the wind in her element...
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Old 14-10-2014, 11:31   #9
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

If it was glassed during construction it should be fine. If it was glassed years later you may well have problems.

I owned a 26' gaff cutter (fiberglass double ender) and enjoyed it very much. No winches and extra halyards are worth it if you have a truly enjoyable daysailer/weekender. I lived on mine fulltime for years from Georgia to the Florida gulf coast and I was ready for a Marconi sloop by the time I sold her.
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Old 14-10-2014, 12:33   #10
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Strip planking in western red is a very good way to build a one-off boat. Ours for example is now 24 years old, has done well over 100,000 cruising miles, been in both the Artic and southern Oceanss and has no issues whatsoever with the glass skins, inside or out.

And heavy?? Well, our 46 foot fin keel boat is 9 1/2 tonnes light ship, and 4 tonnes of that is lead. If you call that heavy, then I guess it is... (not).

However, I'm not personally a big fan of gaffers, so couldn't comment realistically on that aspect of your query.

Good luck,

Jim
I did not mean to step on any toes or ruffle feathers. Yours obviously was designed to be built that way. The reason I mentioned what I did was to have the OP check that it wasn't designed to be built one way and then glassed later to cover up problems which will definitely make it heavier than designed.
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Old 14-10-2014, 15:37   #11
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Hi Ernest

In response to your second point, When we first laid eyes on "Avalon" dealing with every thing that comes with a traditional gaff rig was furthest from our minds, we were bitten, love at first site. Fast forward many cruising years later and I can tell you sailing this old rig has re-invigorated us. Were there some doubts, you betcha (1st time asking the admiral for a handy billy) to get any serious purchase on any line aboard. Your mention of weather helm issues can take awhile to iron out, but a cutter rig gives you plenty of options to balance. The gaff rig certainly earns its merits tradewind sailing but can be a handfull on a long windward ride. It has been an added bonus to get plugged into the very active trad boat community also. Some of the better reading you will find on the rig, Tom Cunliff and John Leather . Good Luck in your search...
Fairwinds, Stonefloat
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Old 14-10-2014, 15:57   #12
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

I have a gaff-rigged catboat (well, Gunter-rigged actually, as the gaff peaks up really high), and I think it sails just fine... as long as you are not comparing its pointing ability to a Marconi-rigged racing sloop. It climbs to windward quite well for a boat with no headsail.

With 270 sq. ft. of sail on a 19-footer, it screams on a reach or downwind. In light airs on a reach or run (where hull speed isn't the deciding factor), I routinely kick the asses of much larger sloops flying big genoas.

Sure, like any catboat the weather helm can crank up going downwind in heavy air if you don't balance the boat by raising the centerboard and/or reefing. With no headsail, I have only these two options for balancing the boat. With a cutter rig, you have additional ones.

My main reservation would be the hassle of headsail handling with the long bowsprit.
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Old 14-10-2014, 16:00   #13
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Re: Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiprJohn View Post
I did not mean to step on any toes or ruffle feathers. Yours obviously was designed to be built that way. The reason I mentioned what I did was to have the OP check that it wasn't designed to be built one way and then glassed later to cover up problems which will definitely make it heavier than designed.
Well, he did say that she was strip planked in Western Red Cedar set in epoxy with glass over. That is not the description of a boat designed in some other way and then glassed over to mediate some problem.

As with any construction methodology, it can be well done or it can be stuffed up by the builder, so an experienced survey would be in order. But the glass skin and the epoxy "saturation" eliminate the two big bugaboos of traditional timber construction: worm and dry rot. It's a lovely way to build a boat!

Jim
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Old 20-10-2014, 13:11   #14
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Gaff-rigged wooden traditionalist

Gaff Rigg is fun to sail, just requires a 'new' skill set as it is an old way to rig a boat which most sailors now days have no experience with - hence don't really understand.

It is important to figure out a way to deal with the long bowsprit - set up outhauls or rope netting to walk on to get out to the end of the boom when setting sail. It's not possible to walk on a skinny little boom in a seaway, unless you want to practice man overboard drills a lot.


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