I added 3 more photos to the Rick's Nymph page, taken by my son while I was experimenting with capsize recovery. I was able to right her and successfully re-board in deep water, and then float with the gunnels a few inches above the water while messing with lines and such. That was my acid test for stability. I weigh about 165 lbs. I tried bailing, but that's impractical in any chop and not a reasonable self-rescue technique. Capsize would be unlikely in flat water. What she needs now is flotation below the waterline when swamped so she will float with the gunnels far enough above water that sailing her swamped and bailing are practical. She would do that now with a lighter sailor. The daggerboard is a real help in righting her from alongside in deep water after a full knockdown.
These capsize tests were done within 50 feet of shore, in comfortable swimming water with depths from 3 to 6 feet. The boat was fully rigged, with the sails lashed. With that many lines, it is important to not get tangled when re-boarding, so lashing is done from alongside, down in the water. She could be sailed from alongside--a maneuver called a body drag in windsurfing. I didn't wear a PFD for these experiments, but always do when sailing. That personal flotation is up high so it doesn't help float the boat, but it critical for all the fussing around in the water preparing to re-board. Warmth is as important as floatation in cold water.
All of these experiments required an intentional capsize. We haven't gone over in any conditions. She gets stiff as she heels, and even in a blow likes to sail with the gunnels a few inches out of the water. That's not enough for comfort--particularly for a parent watching from the shore--but it is exhilarating.
Classes like the Open Bic and FJ have a different philosophy. Those are intended to be sailed by agile youngsters who enjoy capsizing. Indeed, races in high wind are generally won by sailors who sail on the ragged edge and lead the fleet by so many boat lengths that they can capsize and recover without anyone overtaking them. The Columbia Gorge (where I usually sail) is a destination for high wind sailing, and the national championships for many boat classes from windsurfers to keelboats are often held here. Those sailors get a lot of practice sailing away from a knockdown, and the boats are designed with that in mind. Kids love to go fast and get wet..and when I go fast and get wet I feel like a kid again.
Capsize recovery in the nymph is a lot of work, and you have to keep a clear head, evaluate the conditions, make a plan. and perform a number of potentially exhausting tasks. It isn't easy, but I want it to be possible before setting out to cross the Salish Sea. That's cold water so I'd have on a heavy wetsuit under my sailing gear.
The transition for an 11 year old from Open Bic to sailing a Nymph on open water would be a bit much. If I were building a boat for that purpose and starting with a Bolger hull design, I'd look closely at the Auray Punt (BWOM p 16). I'd enclose all the volume below the frame tops, take advantage of that additional stiffness to use lighter materials, open the stern so she'd shed water, and put in a tiny footwell for comfort that could be easily bailed after a knockdown....but then I'd think closely about what conditions I'd see, and if there wasn't much chop, maybe flatten out the rocker a bit so she would plane sooner. It doesn't take much design evolution in that direction to get right back to your starting point--the Open Bic. What a wonderful little boat. My kids learned to windsurf years ago on a Mini Bic.
The remaining big problem with my nymph isn't stability, it is the volume of water shipped during a complete knockdown or an open water event involving green water coming aboard. That problem is solved by enclosing volume below the swamped waterline, not adding initial stability by making her wider. The philosophy for a Rubens Nymph is that she is so stable she will never go over--but that limits her to protected water.
One of my favorite derivative designs is the Eastport Pram from Chesapeake Light Craft--her dimensions are closer to the Rubens Nymph than the original, and she is reportedly delightful under sail.
Very interesting discussion--thanks for all the responses.
--- In email@example.com, "David" <dir_cobb@...> wrote:
> A couple of years ago I built Nymph to plan and then, after the first sailing tests cut her lengthwise down the center line and expanded 12" to Reubens Nymph dimensions keeping the original Nymph rig. I built Nymph for my then 11 year old son to sail himself and he was too scared by the tippiness and the inability to recover in the water after a capsize (despite having added flotation chambers fore and aft) to sail her so I had failed the number one objective of building him a boat.
> He was not at all afraid of capsizing (he learnt to sail on an Open BIC), but he enjoyed righting that and getting going again. Nymph will not cooperate that way.
> Since the widening he has only got into trouble once which was due to enjoying sailing hard in a breeze with the gunwale a little too close to the surface of the water (gradually filling the boat until he realised he couldn't bail it, though he did not capsize her... The water was warm and he rowed himself to safety, but you can get a lot of water inside Reubens Nymph if you insist on filling it, as he found out).
> Nymph is prettier, lighter and probably a better rowing boat. As a sail boat she is fun but requires your attention and reasonably protected waters.
> Reubens Nymph is MUCH more stable and enjoyable to sail (at least for me). Two kids have space to sail together in comfort and safety. I have the full 59 sqft sail ready in case the Nymph sail becomes dull, but it has not yet...
> I'm only sorry I widened her because Nymph was really pretty and the widened boat shows the mods. But she has seen use she would never have had otherwise.
> Santiago, Chile
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Connor, Patrick" <pconnor@> wrote:
> > I have a Ruebens Nymph and she is quite stable, not at all tiddly, as I
> > have heard reported re: the original design. On the Ruebens design, I
> > might suggest consideration of locating the oarlocks rearward a couple
> > of inches as she trims head down just a bit for my "Ruebenesque" 200
> > lbs. Probably ok for a lighter rower. Despite this and her width, she
> > rows very well (wih 8' oars) and speedily, I might add and as below,
> > works well in a chop. I have a hull to the original plans, put together
> > 20 years ago, in my barn that someday will get put on the 'horses and
> > finished. Will be interested to compare...
> > Patrick A. Connor
> > ________________________________
> > From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf
> > Of KK7B
> > Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 5:44 PM
> > To: email@example.com
> > Subject: [bolger] Nymph Stability
> > The original nymph had a reputation for being tender under sail, as
> > discussed in Payson's description of the Rubens Nymph in his later
> > books. I have not found her to be so. This past week my son and I put
> > the original hull with my rig through her paces on glassy and choppy
> > water in wind from a breath to 16 knots, and found her to be a
> > delightful sailor. Regarding stability, I uploaded two photos to the
> > Rick's Nymph album, one of them showing my son fussing with the rigging
> > while standing up. In capsize tests, she remains stiff all the way to
> > shipping water over the gunnels.
> > With her 5 chine bottom, she doesn't have the initial stability of a
> > wide, flat-bottomed hull, but with an experienced skipper she does just
> > fine. All that roundness and rocker is an absolute delight in heavy
> > chop.
> > So many small boats are designed to be safe and friendly to absolute
> > beginners, or as yacht tenders that need to respond appropriately when a
> > non-boating guest steps aboard off center. They tend to be unsatisfying
> > with simple rigs under sail. The gaff-rigged nymph project has been
> > great fun, and that hull shape continues to boggle our minds.
> > Best Regards,
> > Rick