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Old 24-09-2021, 09:45   #16
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

The principal reason for using a bowsprit on a fore'n'aft rig is to enable a boat of given lines to carry more sail than a boat without a bowsprit can.

"Given lines" means that for this discussion displacement is held steady, thus the arguments in prior posts referring to "heavy boats" are not relevant.

Holding displacement steady will mean that more canvas will be reflected in the Sail Area/Displacement ratio. TrentePieds, a five tonner with a 25 foot LWL, has a SA/D of 13. For all intents and purposes she is "permanently reefed". In light airs, which prevail on the vast majority of summer and autumn days in the Salish Sea, she would perform far, far better if her SA/D were 26! I cannot achieve that on her hull without going to a gaff rig with a bowsprit.

Believe me! I've done the calculations, and the sail plan drawings, a number of times :-).

Those of us who hail from locations with long - centuries long - sailing traditions behind us have no fear of sprits, nor indeed of boats that can carry very considerably more canvas than can the modern "cruiser/racers". Part of the reason for that is that we know how to rig a boat so she may be adequately reefed, how to do the reefing BEFORE the stormy winds do blow, and how to predict betimes just WHEN the stormy winds WILL blow :-)

The vast majority of sailormen extant today have gone to sea during the last half century or so, and is therefore conversant only with factory built "cookie cutter" cruiser/racers" intended to sell in to a mass market. That is just fine but explains how threads such as this one come into being :-)!

Here, for your enjoyment, is a video of a boat with a luvverly sprit:



But be not deceived - what boat handling you learn in, say, a Hunter 41 is not sufficient to sail a Bád Mór

Nostalgically,

TrentePieds
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Old 24-09-2021, 09:51   #17
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Fixed bowsprits are way better than broken ones
Indeed!
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Old 24-09-2021, 10:06   #18
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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It feels that this "circular bar room argument" is one of those that happen only after abundant consumption of liquor...
That's kind of the idea... they're held from a bar stool as they can be had without too much indepth thought, and mainly argued based on opinion.... drunken opinion is a longer way of saying the same thing.


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One obvious advantage of the short "stub like" fixed bowsprits that are now popular is that they create separation between the tack of the asymmetric (or Code 0) and the forestay. Running jib and asymmetric from the same tack point is much more awkward, and it certainly would not make any sense to fly the jib from a stay that is not at the very bow of the boat. I think this advantage in itself more than justifies a fixed bowsprit.
I'd argue that a retractable sprit makes more sense for the case of an assym and jib flown together... a 40' boat with a 2.5' sprit is going to be charged as a 43' boat. If it were my money, I'd rather have a 43' boat without the sprit.

https://youtu.be/-1pKVGEfo7o?t=41

I mean... if separation is all you want... you could use hyperbole to compare it to something like these 18' skiff's... yeah... more sail area, larger separation... it's going to push the given hull with more power. That's obvious. But those 18' skiff's will be treated like a 30' vessel at dock if the bowsprits were fixed in place. I think I covered this above, why pay for a 30' vessel if yours is only 18'.

Honestly though, when I was thinking about this, I was thinking more along the lines of Hans Christians or Tayana's that went, "Heyyyy wait a minute, these are too heavy. I need some more sail, better put a sprit on." I love the look of the Hans Christians, don't get me wrong... but a HC33 is a 33 footer on the water but a 41 footer on the invoice. You've got more sail to push the short water line... wouldn't it be better to need less sail to push a longer water line?
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Old 24-09-2021, 10:15   #19
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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I've been thinking about fixed bowsprits and the arguments to support them keep going in circles. So here's my bar room argument for today. Why do fixed bowsprits make sense???
Clearly, you have been spending waaay to much time in the bar and not enough time on the water. lol
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Old 24-09-2021, 10:18   #20
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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It also gives you a place to haul up the anchor without dragging it against the hull of your boat.

Except that's not where the anchors are stored and/or deployed. Have you ever seen an anchor at the front end of a bowsprit?
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Old 24-09-2021, 10:25   #21
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

Fabio has an excellent addendum to this discussion when he suggests we compare and contrast fixed with retractable sprits.

The comments about the cost of slip fees being generally higher with a sprit may be true but not always. If one is on the hook or a mooring, then it is a moot point. Also, if the marina charges by the slip size, then again, it is a moot point. I have paid by the foot, but also I have paid by the size of the slip. Either way, they will likely get you!
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Old 24-09-2021, 10:27   #22
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Originally Posted by TrentePieds View Post
The principal reason for using a bowsprit on a fore'n'aft rig is to enable a boat of given lines to carry more sail than a boat without a bowsprit can.

Those of us who hail from locations with long - centuries long - sailing traditions behind us have no fear of sprits, nor indeed of boats that can carry very considerably more canvas than can the modern "cruiser/racers". Part of the reason for that is that we know how to rig a boat so she may be adequately reefed, how to do the reefing BEFORE the stormy winds do blow, and how to predict betimes just WHEN the stormy winds WILL blow :-)
Well said. I have found that more often it is not the object itself that is dangerous, but rather how it is used.
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Old 24-09-2021, 11:09   #23
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

The bowsprit makes a wonderful quiet place to hang out and watch the water rushing past, and gets used a lot in the times where the first mate and I want to get as far away from each other as possible...
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Old 24-09-2021, 11:11   #24
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

Remember the rule of cubes! As length goes up linearly, the available displacement from the hull increases by the cube, length x width x depth. So a bigger boat requires less of it's hull underwater than a shorter boat and is easier to drive. That means short boats have to carry more sail comparative to long boats. If you took a 100ft maxi yacht and shrunk it down to 25ft, it would be an under powered pig. You often see those large racing boats carrying the forstay well back from the stem for this reason, completely opposite of a bowsprit.



That said, The only 2 reasons to build a fixed bowsprit today is 1) that you can't afford to build a longer hull and you want a (under 35ft) ocean going, heavy displacement (read non-cored, fero-cement, or thick steel), large payload hull.. an antiquated design. So you end up building a shorter, more affordable boat that's too heavy and you add the bowsprit vice a taller rig which would be slightly more $$ or b/c ICW height constraints or something. As said before, this will decidedly be a poor upwind boat and given modern materials, there is no reason for this except maybe a little cost savings at a huge reduction in performance.. that doesn't make sense for 99% of us. If you need more power (the boat is too heavy), a taller rig is always a better option than a fixed sprit/low aspect sail for performance reasons.


Second is style. Many modern yachts (Hanse, Bene, etc) have adopted plumb or even reverse bows b/c it is in style due to racing boats maxing out LWL. But then how do you deploy the anchor without scratching the bow? A small bowsprit. This has no performance advantage!! You get a longer LOA and added marina costs without the LWL, which defeats the purpose the bow shape!... I guess you could argue that it is "easier" to use the fixed sprit than a retractable one for a Code 0 too... but that's weak argument IMO. This is purely for aesthetics not performance... style sells so maybe not a bad business choice.



In conclusion, Sprits are good for downwind, but in that case you can easily design a retractable/removable sprit. If you are a lazy, wealthy person that can afford the extra marina costs of length, then you may opt for a fixed one b/c it is easier.. This is also aesthetically in style with modern cruisers that have plumb bows. To me, it is dumb from a design perspective on cruising boats. But then I'm thrifty with money and not too worried about how stylish I am.
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Old 24-09-2021, 11:19   #25
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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I'd argue that a retractable sprit makes more sense for the case of an assym and jib flown together... a 40' boat with a 2.5' sprit is going to be charged as a 43' boat. If it were my money, I'd rather have a 43' boat without the sprit.

https://youtu.be/-1pKVGEfo7o?t=41

I mean... if separation is all you want... you could use hyperbole to compare it to something like these 18' skiff's... yeah... more sail area, larger separation... it's going to push the given hull with more power. That's obvious. But those 18' skiff's will be treated like a 30' vessel at dock if the bowsprits were fixed in place. I think I covered this above, why pay for a 30' vessel if yours is only 18'.
The fixed vs. argument debate is not as simple as that for a keel boat. The retractable one can be longer (good), but also there is one more movable component where things can go wrong (bad), a top/down furling Code 0 does not work as well (bad), and the sheets may be more prone to get stuck on the anchor (bad), among other considerations.
For me, I chose the fixed one because it is less likely you have to send a crew to the bow to handle/free/fiddle with the tack line (we sail shorthanded a lot). My dock neighbor chose the retractable because it is longer and he can save a few bucks in slip fees. For each its own...

In skiffs or high-performance dinghies is very different. In addition to my Jeanneau, I sail a 49'er (the slightly smaller brother than the 18'), which has a retractable bow sprit (very long for its size). In a skiff, a retractable makes a lot of sense (although many 18' have fixed bowsprits), you do not have an anchor, you do not have a top/down furling Code0 or asymmetric (the asymmetric goes in and out of a sock on deck). Also, in a skiff, a fixed pole cannot be made significantly stronger than a retractable (limiting weight is paramount in a skiff, much more than in a keel boat). And not having two extra meters of fixed bowsprit to worry about when going upwind is a very welcomed thing in a skiff . The retractable requires constant "maintenance" to operate smoothly, but that is in the "spirit" of sailing skiffs, as each single part in the boat as to be just "perfect" in order to be able to sail the boat. In other words, skiffs and keelboats are not quite comparable in terms of which bowsprit makes the most sense...
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Old 24-09-2021, 11:28   #26
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

I have no doubt that originally they were used to increase sail area without having to use taller masts - what in the old days with the materials at disposition was not so easy and implies in higher stresses on rigg and hull. Also a larger foot of the sailplan makes lateral balancing - weatherhelm - and manouvering under sail easier. Any sail handling advantage or disadvantage may differ from case to case.

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Old 24-09-2021, 11:29   #27
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Originally Posted by TrentePieds View Post
The principal reason for using a bowsprit on a fore'n'aft rig is to enable a boat of given lines to carry more sail than a boat without a bowsprit can.

"Given lines" means that for this discussion displacement is held steady, thus the arguments in prior posts referring to "heavy boats" are not relevant.

Holding displacement steady will mean that more canvas will be reflected in the Sail Area/Displacement ratio. TrentePieds, a five tonner with a 25 foot LWL, has a SA/D of 13. For all intents and purposes she is "permanently reefed". In light airs, which prevail on the vast majority of summer and autumn days in the Salish Sea, she would perform far, far better if her SA/D were 26! I cannot achieve that on her hull without going to a gaff rig with a bowsprit.

......

Nostalgically,

TrentePieds
If holding her lines only means "holding displacement", not holding a draft or beam. Then you are not correct. You can gain stability by moving CG lower and form stability by adding beam. You can get your 26:1 sail/disp by putting a taller mast on, maybe a carbon fiber one if you need to reduce weight aloft. Then for downwind you can fly a large spinnaker on a removable sprit.


The above is not 'keeping the lines', which to me means both the shape and displacement are fixed. In that case you are correct that an antiquated hull shape may be best served by adding a fixed sprit. Though there's more to power than sail/disp. High aspect sails are much more efficient than your gaff rig. So significantly less sail can provide equal power, upwind anyway. Downwind you have spinnakers. However, I'm not convinced that removing that sprit and adding a much taller rig wouldn't be faster. It would certainly be tender, but then you reef.
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Old 24-09-2021, 11:50   #28
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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A bar room argument is one that has no right answer but can be argued for hours on a barstool with no one caring too much about the outcome.

I've been thinking about fixed bowsprits and the arguments to support them keep going in circles. So here's my bar room argument for today. Why do fixed bowsprits make sense???

Why have a bowsprit at all?
Well, it extends the foot of a sail beyond the deck so you have more sail area of course!
Why do you need more sail area?
Because the boat is very heavy and it needs more canvas to get moving...
Ok, but if you have a heavy boat, wouldn't increasing the length of the hull provide more displacement to carry that weight AND give you more sail area?
But when you build a longer hull, you increase weight and need more sail area... so then you have to build a bowsprit...

And we go in a circle.

Another argument goes like this...

Why do you have a bowsprit?
Well, I can have a smaller boat, but have way more sail area of a much larger boat!
Yah... but don't you pay for slips, winter storage and canvas based on the overall length?
Hmmm... yeah, that is more expensive.
But you get the performance limitations/drag of a short water line, right?
Hmmm... yeah... that too.
But it looks pretty!

So from my bar stool, I can't think of a good case for a fixed bowsprit other than, "They look pretty." I keep coming to the conclusion that the boat is designed too heavy and I'll end up paying more for less performance. Feel free to support or oppose that opinion, I'm not attached to it.

(Please note, retractable bowsprits for downwind sails are not in scope.)


FWIW, I have no horse in this race, I was just pondering this last night while looking at pictures of a couple pretty boats.
So, there are other designs that have better tracking ability.
A Ketch for instance, with a mizzen mast.
The main mast is located in a different position upon the deck say than a sloop.
Further forward. Because COG needs a balance point.
In order to distribute the sail area effectively, a longer fore point was created.

A heavy displacement vessel does not require the "performance" aspect you mention.

Speed over the water is an effect of wind, waves, current.
Heavy Displacement does mean a smoother, straighter, transit.
These are not the racers values, they are cruisers values.

Everybody, wants better performance.
Not every vessel has been made to perform top notch.
I mean is a ferrocement hull would not be laid for a racing boat right?
However the merits of having a larger sail plan is obvious, as well a heavy displacement.
And That my friend is Fact.

Speed is not considered as important to a cruiser, as is a safe comfortable ride.
IMHO

And, YES they are pretty to see out there with those Beautiful Majestic Sails gleaming in the Sun.
That's my barstool stance.
No Arguement, just the Facts
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Old 24-09-2021, 13:37   #29
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

I have cruised several years on a boat with a bowsprit. Dangerous sail handling and a weak part of the rigging.. I was a necessity on my 32 foot cutter that had slack bilges and could not support a more efficient taller rig. A few of these boats lost their mast offshore and were abandoned.
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Old 24-09-2021, 14:12   #30
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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I have cruised several years on a boat with a bowsprit. Dangerous sail handling and a weak part of the rigging.. I was a necessity on my 32 foot cutter that had slack bilges and could not support a more efficient taller rig. A few of these boats lost their mast offshore and were abandoned.
Was this a part of the original vessel or an after market modification? If it was an original component, then I suspect it was a design issue or a maintenance issue, or a combination itself.

When properly designed and maintained, a sprit itself is perfectly good.
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