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Old 18-09-2021, 11:40   #1
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Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

Aside from some retractable on modern race boats, bowspirit isn't popular on more modern boats aside from the benefit they offered in terms of larger sail area and pointability.
They are only seen on older full keel boats like all the Baba, Tayana 37, Hans Christian 33 and Westsail type.


I read that many lives were lost at sea on the bowspirit back in the age of sail, and it was even called a "widow-maker".
Are they really considered unsafe in a cruising situation?
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Old 18-09-2021, 11:48   #2
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

I dont think so, at least with today's designs, in the 1800's? Probably!
But they can be unsafe overhanging a dock in your slip!
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Old 18-09-2021, 12:18   #3
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

They are dangerous if you have to crawl out on them in a seaway. They are pretty safe if you do not have to crawl out on them in a seaway. So, if you have a perfectly working roller at the front or the outer jib attached to a ring that can be pulled in to the stemhead for sail change - what should happen?


But if you have to crawl out on it in a seaway - that can be dangerous.
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Old 18-09-2021, 12:56   #4
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

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Originally Posted by Hesti View Post
They are dangerous if you have to crawl out on them in a seaway. They are pretty safe if you do not have to crawl out on them in a seaway. So, if you have a perfectly working roller at the front or the outer jib attached to a ring that can be pulled in to the stemhead for sail change - what should happen?


But if you have to crawl out on it in a seaway - that can be dangerous.
NO ................... ......................................YES :>)
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Old 18-09-2021, 15:44   #5
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

I have a Hans Christian 38. My grande bowsprit is nearly 6 ft long (he says with a smirking smile)
The pulpit makes it quite safe in my opinion - as long as I am not punching into waves.
Roller furling also makes a world of safety (and convenience) difference.
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Old 18-09-2021, 16:30   #6
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

Wckoek with most marinas charging by LOA a bowsprit is going to be more dangerous to your wallet than anything else.
Cheers
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Old 18-09-2021, 16:37   #7
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

Quote: "I read that many lives were lost at sea on the bowsprit back in the age of sail..."

The bowsprit on a REAL sailing ship was an extremely dangerous place to work. But the sprits of the grown-up ships of yore were a far different thing from the little things on a modern toy ship!

We have the luxury, with our toy ships, to rig them so that any headsail, such as a Yankee, can be handled from the deck. There is not, in a cruising boat, any need to go on the sprit at all, and therefore no risk of falling or being swept off it.

Here is a clip of the Norwegian training full rigger Sőrlandet which shows you how long and how high off the water the sprits were in real ships even though Sőrlandet is only a little ship. She is less than 200 feet twixt perpendiculars and somewhat less than 900 tons displacement. The video is taken from her companion training ship Statsrĺd Lehmkuhl, a much bigger ship, and on her you can see the safety netting strung below the sprit in order to catch anyone falling off it. Even with this safety provision in place, I'm sure it is no joke going off a sprit, or any other part of a gown-up ships rigging, when "the scattered waters rave and the winds their revels keep".



Working ships did not have such safety netting. Going off the sprit would result in being maimed by the ship running over you, but even if the ship did not run over you, a real ship under a press of sail cannot be stopped, or even turned, in less than several miles. In the open sea you cannot see the head of a man swimming for more than a few score feet, and even if you were able to turn a ship, you would never be able to locate the MOB. Going off any part of the rigging was, in fact, a death sentence. And standard practice for the officer on watch was to say a quiet prayer for the man and press on without any attempt to rescue him. So now you can imagine why sprits were called "widow makers".

The sprits on the toy boats we sail bear no relation to "widow makers", We, sailing our toy ships, do not work under the conditions our seafaring forebears had to, and no sensible skipper of a cruising yacht would ask of a crewmember what an AB in a real ship took in his stride.

If you fancy a boat with a sprit, by all means have one. The sprit is not dangerous in the hands of a competent "Sunday skipper", and if you would like to know how to rig it to handle canvas from the deck or even the cockpit, sing out, and you'll get a plethora of answers from our members.

All the best!

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Old 18-09-2021, 22:06   #8
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
NO ................... ......................................YES :>)
It can look real dangerous if the boat hobbyhorse.
How long is the bowspirit on the Bristol Cutter?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrentePieds View Post
Quote: "I read that many lives were lost at sea on the bowsprit back in the age of sail..."

The bowsprit on a REAL sailing ship was an extremely dangerous place to work. But the sprits of the grown-up ships of yore were a far different thing from the little things on a modern toy ship!

We have the luxury, with our toy ships, to rig them so that any headsail, such as a Yankee, can be handled from the deck. There is not, in a cruising boat, any need to go on the sprit at all, and therefore no risk of falling or being swept off it.

Here is a clip of the Norwegian training full rigger Sőrlandet which shows you how long and how high off the water the sprits were in real ships even though Sőrlandet is only a little ship. She is less than 200 feet twixt perpendiculars and somewhat less than 900 tons displacement. The video is taken from her companion training ship Statsrĺd Lehmkuhl, a much bigger ship, and on her you can see the safety netting strung below the sprit in order to catch anyone falling off it. Even with this safety provision in place, I'm sure it is no joke going off a sprit, or any other part of a gown-up ships rigging, when "the scattered waters rave and the winds their revels keep".



Working ships did not have such safety netting. Going off the sprit would result in being maimed by the ship running over you, but even if the ship did not run over you, a real ship under a press of sail cannot be stopped, or even turned, in less than several miles. In the open sea you cannot see the head of a man swimming for more than a few score feet, and even if you were able to turn a ship, you would never be able to locate the MOB. Going off any part of the rigging was, in fact, a death sentence. And standard practice for the officer on watch was to say a quiet prayer for the man and press on without any attempt to rescue him. So now you can imagine why sprits were called "widow makers".

The sprits on the toy boats we sail bear no relation to "widow makers", We, sailing our toy ships, do not work under the conditions our seafaring forebears had to, and no sensible skipper of a cruising yacht would ask of a crewmember what an AB in a real ship took in his stride.

If you fancy a boat with a sprit, by all means have one. The sprit is not dangerous in the hands of a competent "Sunday skipper", and if you would like to know how to rig it to handle canvas from the deck or even the cockpit, sing out, and you'll get a plethora of answers from our members.

All the best!

TrentePieds
I don't know, some yachts have bowspirits that are pretty long and one may slip.
I read that one of the things that Glouchester fishing schooners is to shorten or eliminate the bowspirit as in the case of "knockabout schooners"
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Old 18-09-2021, 23:56   #9
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

I had an 8 foot bowsprit on my Ingrid 38 and on one occasion took out 5 pinrails on the stern of a powerboat docked beside me. So yes, it was potentially dangerous to my pocket book.
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Old 19-09-2021, 03:09   #10
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?



Check this TP52 sprit and imagine it coming at you!
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Old 19-09-2021, 03:26   #11
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

Everything is dangerous if used wrong or carelessly. For certain types of boats a bowsprit is an indispensable part of the rig design, and can be used in perfect safety by those competent to do so.
When there might be rough water, I set my jib or drifter flying so I don't have to go out on the sprit. Some folk who also refuse to have furlers have the tack on a traveller that takes it out for them.
For boats where going out is non-negotiable, a net (a "crew strainer") can be rigged so that while potentially a wet situation, it is perfectly safe.
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Old 19-09-2021, 08:13   #12
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

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Originally Posted by danstanford View Post


Check this TP52 sprit and imagine it coming at you!
Geeez!...lucky someone didn't get killed!
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Old 19-09-2021, 10:02   #13
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

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Originally Posted by Fore and Aft View Post
Wckoek with most marinas charging by LOA a bowsprit is going to be more dangerous to your wallet than anything else.
Cheers
and add to the davits.
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Old 19-09-2021, 10:30   #14
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

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Geeez!...lucky someone didn't get killed!
The Bowsprit, not bowspirit.
Would be about as dangerous as the helmsman here.

Only difficulty is docking at some of the public docks or Marina with insanely close together pilings.
Ever try to thread your bowsprit between those in tight quarters? Then again with waves pounding you?

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Old 19-09-2021, 10:38   #15
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Re: Bowspirit - potentially dangerous?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wckoek View Post
Aside from some retractable on modern race boats, bowspirit isn't popular on more modern boats aside from the benefit they offered in terms of larger sail area and pointability.
They are only seen on older full keel boats like all the Baba, Tayana 37, Hans Christian 33 and Westsail type.

I read that many lives were lost at sea on the bowspirit back in the age of sail, and it was even called a "widow-maker".
Are they really considered unsafe in a cruising situation?
You have to think in terms of DESIGN and why bowsprits were added to specific boat designs...to increase forward/total sail area while keeping the mast somewhat shorter and overall boat balance. The danger comes into play with how they are made, maintained, and operated by the crew.

In my boat selection I avoided bowsprit designs primarily to bypass the added maintenance...just one more thing that needs attention. One more tradeoff to consider in boat selection.

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