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Re: [bolger] Fw: Whalewatcher photos & Report

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  • Susanne@comcast.net
    Hello Mason and of course Pat Connor, Good to read that report. Obviously Phil would be pleased to see her used by a familiy exploring together for a week
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 9 12:36 PM
      Hello Mason and of course Pat Connor,
           Good to read that report.  Obviously Phil would be pleased to see her used by a familiy exploring together for a week aboard WW.  Going off to 'get lost' a bit with ample supplies and electricity seems a fine way to build solid family memories of a sailing vacation.  Her speed reaching and running no doubt added some additional spice to the week, just feeling her running this free under the presumably inferior four-sided sails, the unorthodox plain hull, and these leeboards.  From now on, the anticipation if not actual experience of testing her with more 'middle-of-the-road' cruising boat fare under these conditions will be one more draw to get out on her again for a bit of at least week-ending.     

      It is gratifying to see Phil's assumptions about her overall ergonomics largely confirmed, from space to motion under sail. 
           On this design with quite a few 'radical' attributes, he was perhaps a bit too 'conservative' on his concerns with the risks of opening windows; a sensible crew would always close them ahead of a squall on a mooring or before setting sail.  Which reminds me of seeing Phil and Mason on Mason's DC-built BIRDWATCHER preoccupied with catching a bit of wind off Westport NY on Lake Champlain with the oar-ports open... and me hooping up and down out of ear-shot.  Both Mason and us had driven quite a ways to meet and fool around with her and were too involved in trying out the Solent-rig in drizzle and next to no wind, that they plain forgot; ergo, I can happen to the best of them.  Short of a laminated Check-list on a lanyard, perhaps an engraved brass-plate on the mast to remind the crew before hoisting the sail ?!
      On the leeboard shape, Phil was likely also catering a pinch to the 'high-aspect' mantra popular in many parts of the boat-design universe.  To explore 'rounder&wider' boards would not be difficult by building and hanging just one to test the difference. This 50% investment would allow running the boat in a 100%-scale 'test-tank' exercise to yield results without 'scale-effects' etc.  Making conventional-boat 'yachties' wonder about ''da plan' behind these 'secret weapons' is just one minor amusement, with speculations arising about which one will be in use during what friendly engagement on the club's usual race-course...

      Seeing her sail and cruise has been a long time coming.  And so is learning from her various characteristics.  Several improvements seem indicated.  Reflecting on Pat's experiences and earlier observation by Mason and Phil, several issues are on the list of improvements.
      - 1. Increase in rudder-effectiveness.
      - 2. Mizzen-mast location and effectiveness.
      - 3. Tiller-geometry versus companionway.
      - 4. Outboard location.
      - 5. Access to bow-cockpit.
      - 6. Inside steering geometry and visibility ahead (as in #639 "W.D.Jochems").
      - 7. Leeboard shape. Etc.
      Several of these are fairly readily doable on her now, such as item 7., while others could be combined for maximum effect (items 1.,2.,3.,4.) and would thoroughly justify the minor structural alterations necessary; in fact a geometry emerges on paper that would likely leave 4. untouched.  One or two (items 5. ad 6.) would be desirable as well and require some further but reasonably moderate alterations.
      In summary, 7. could be done anytime now before ice shuts down sailing.  1.,2.,3.,(4.) could be one combined winter-project, with 5. and 6. to follow, if time allows before next year's season.

      A sketch is hanging on the wall to mature towards least intrusiveness on prototype and plans.  It will hang there a bit longer.      

      Thanks a lot Mason for posting, and most importantly Pat Connor for sharing this first extensive shake-down of the prototype Whalewatcher.  Thanks to both for cooperating towards realizing this project to see Phil's perspective largely confirmed and the Connor's investment rewarded by this first cruise.  Working with the boat to make her work for you allows all of us to learn and seek improvements here and there.  Not a 'perfect' family trailer-cruiser quite yet, but well on its way, and perhaps appealing to more than just a small handful across 20 years.  In light of the design's age (May, 1990), over time her functions-based styling may well have become more 'acceptable' to more folks than Phil's experience suggested two decades ago.  Perhaps her sober purpose-driven aura 
      will be considered 'stark' by fewer folks and more understood as highly-functional minimalism - not a bad evolution for leaner times. 

      Susanne Altenburger, PB&F    
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2010 12:36 PM
      Subject: [bolger] Fw: Whalewatcher photos


      To all who are interested in the Whalewatcher- --here is a report of her in use, from Pat Connor. Please read and comment (Susanne above all). He and I would be glad of any expert advice based on his experience with her, regarding rudder, leeboards, and bow centerboard. We hope to sail her together later this year and then to do some modifications in one or more of these areas, to make her just a bit more pleasurable to windward. Myself, I've always thought the rudder small for the boat, Phil trusting so much to the end-plates, and I suspect more rudder area alone would do most of what's wanted. It would be easy to provide.
      By the way, I have to comment on both Phil's and Susanne's kindnesses in their each, separately, taking the blame for a small contretemps during the trials at Annapolis. Both blame themselves for forgetting the bow board was down when we were trying some quick-turning maneuvers. But guess who was standing in the bow well, and could have pulled the board up at any time, if he'd had his wits about him. L'idiot, c'est moi. --Mason
       ----- Original Message -----
      From: patcboi
      Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2010 9:19 AM
      Subject: Re: Whalewatcher photos

      All, relative to this subject string, I am posting at Mason's suggestion an update to from our latest cruise in Utilis, our family's Whalewatcher. Original recipients of this email were Mason, Tim Anderson, who built the hull and Kris Pensabene, George anger's daughter. Suffice it to say we love this boat and it certainly has fulfilled its promise. We are still sorting the boat out so observations should be considered in this light. Would be happy to answer questions regarding the boat. Here it is:

      Mason, Kris and Tim, just returned from a week of cruising the Les Cheneaux islands/ Straits of Mackinac on Utilis with my wife and two of our kids and saw the email traffic in the Bolger Discussion Group. I was planning to send you an update so this should be timely to the group. Feel free to cut and paste it.

      We trailered the boat to the town of Hessel in the U.P. to launch. Trailering a boat this size is an adventure for sure, but we had no mishaps and covered the 500 miles at a sedate 50-55 mph. Hessel has an excellent municipal dock offering electrical, showers, and a nice ramp, all protected by a seawall fronting on Hessel Bay. Good fishing too! Ben tied into several 4lb smallmouths. Excellent restaurant just 200 feet from the docks as is grocery and gas. We of course did not need electricity due to the solar panel charging, and the charger capacity was more than sufficient to allow us to keep the lights on and charge our various devices as needed for the week, using just one of the two batteries. It rained twice and we figured out cures for a couple of drips thanks to a little caulk. Seems the screws were recessed just enough to act as miniature funnels in the Herreshoff style cleats...

      Commissioning the boat at the ramp should have taken about an hour but it stretched into three with all of the spectators and questions! My wife suggested I simply make up a flyer. Contrary to Phil's predictions, there has yet to be any derision. Lots of curiosity, but reactions are universally favorable. (Still) the number one question: "Is that a homemade boat?" Knowledgeable sailors recognize the logic of the design immediately.

      We were able to sail most days and in various conditions including to windward. As before, on a reach or a run she was very, very fast and in fact on one breezy day we covered 13 miles from offshore of Marquette Bay to Cedarville a little more than an hour and a half. When reaching or running off, raise the boards halfway up or a little more and she tracks as if on rails. Properly balanced, hand on the tiller becomes strictly optional. She once again impressed us with her stiffness and even my wife, who is no sailor, acknowledged that her motion was much more sedate than our old Rob Roy Yawl. No seasickness reported.

      To windward, we found that tacking reliably meant falling off to increase speed, backing the mizzen to induce weather helm, then as she was passing through the eye, releasing the mizzen sheet until the main began to fill and then, gradually drawing in the the mizzen sheet to fill and induce a little weather helm. She will point to about 50 degrees, but is happier if she is allowed to fall off to 55 degrees. With the bow centerboard in, windward capability is slightly enhanced, but you cannot tack, at least not with messing around with too many strings (i.e., raising and lowering the leeboards in concert with the mizzen backing). We attempted to sail the 13.7 miles to Mackinac Island from Hessel one day with the wind directly on our nose and it became too much like work, so we decided to wait a day or two for the wind to bear from a more favorable direction. That was the day we sailed to Cedarville. We could have motor sailed but we wanted to relax more than we wanted to work. Leeboard position to windward is very critical (they must be all of the way down and forward) and she requires a lot of attention at the helm. The boards are perhaps just a little too long and skinny for relaxed windward sailing. I also wonder again if the rudder should be enlarged about 25%. As it is, too much direction must be given to the rudder when tacking, which slows the boat considerably, slowing the boat and putting her in irons if you don't time the hauling/easing of the mizzen sheet correctly. I had hoped that she would be self tending when tacking but such is not the case(yet). I am seriously considering making up a set of leeboards more like those on Jochems/ Martha Jane to give a greater long keel effect. Plainly (when reviewing correspondence between Phil and George Anger, who commissioned the design) this is what Phil intended but for the opening side windows. I would do both (wider leeboards and the opening windows). Fact is, the boards are partly or mostly down most of the time and the boards have to be raised pretty high to interfere with opening the windows. Even if the boards are all the way up, the windows can still be cracked a few inches.

      Other observations:
      1. Currently more strings at the aft end of the boat than I would like. These got tangled up at one point when bringing her in to the dock one evening with wind on the beam and almost got us in trouble with a concours condition Chris Craft. With the very small cockpit it would be better to reduce the number of lines. I am going to go to a fixed mizzen downhaul and try a single mizzen halyard to reduce the number of lines by two. I will also shorten the halyards as we furl by removing the snotter, hoisting the yard up to the mast and rolling up the mizzen. We never actually lower the sail. I may also shorten the leeboard lines a little, so as to have less tail when down. This is minor stuff.
      2. The boat functions exactly as it was designed: the crew spreads out all over the boat and adopts a relaxed attitude. However, after experiencing the boat under multiple conditions, if it were my commission to Phil, I would put the motor in a well a little forward of its current location and just aft of the aft DWL, move the rudder to an aft hung position to clear the tiller from the companionway and place the mizzen all the way aft on the starboard quarter a la Black Skimmer to give one a larger cockpit with more room between tiller and companionway. The tiller make crew movement from the companionway to the cockpit awkward when under way. Sometimes it helps to have the crew with you in the cockpit, like when tacking.
      3. The two stroke 8 horsepower Nissan moves her forward very easily, but I lust for an 8 horse Yamaha with a big prop for backing down with conviction. When steering with the motor at low speeds, lash the tiller and use the motor. She will literally pivot on a dime as long the boards are down partway or more and the bow centerboard is up.
      4. Comfort is exceptional and cannot be improved upon in my view for a boat this size. George Anger was absolutely right to insist on the opening windows. They kept the cabin light, cool and comfortable at all times. We had some friends who summer in Hessel over one night and had a very convivial cocktail party for eight in the aft portion of the cabin and being close friends, did not feel the least bit overcrowded, We also visited with some folks in an aft cabin-configured Nor Sea 27, a nice boat, but I can tell you their cabin felt a perfect dungeon after experiencing Utilis all week...

      --- In bolger@yahoogroups. com, "Adirondack Goodboat" <goodboat@...> wrote:
      > Mason here. I'll reply in the midst of your text, if I can. No, I can't navigate and insert text very well that way. So:
      > 1. the gaff mizzen. Maybe we should ask Susanne. More sail for given mast height? More efficient sail for given area. Why does LFH use short gaffs on Meadowlark and other boats. Same reasons, I suppose. I like it.
      > 2. The leeboards are meant to be adjusted for balance and point of sailing. We had the dagger board in place, I think, during these maneuvers, Also, the attachment of the pendants were unrefined and caught on the ledges, and that may have had something to do with the position of the boards. Finally, we had far too many skippers and nobody really commanding the vessel!
      > 3.I think the dagger board is a good feature. I would not leave it out. It has its official purpose, giving balance when the boards are swept aft for shoal sailing, but if it's anything like Dovekie's bow board in use, many sailors might leave it in place in other conditions too -- working upwind, say. Probably a nuisance running. Whalewatcher is not a boat with bells and whistles, it's pretty spare and functional, and to do anything about the daggerboard involves climbing out of the cabin onto the cabin top and around the mast and tabernacle and dropping down into the bow well.
      > 4. I think a long arm could reach the tiller from the companionway but it would be awkward to steer much from there. Anybody sailing a WW a lot might well cook up a better way to steer from inside if it came to seem important. How I wish we had spent the rest of that day sailing at Annapolis, with Phil and Susanne, instead of hurrying off in various directions. We would surely have explored getting her to sail herself.
      > Whalewatcher would surely be a great family camping vessel. I hope we hear from Pat Connor about his sailing her in the Great Lakes this summer with his family..---Mason
      > ----- Original Message -----
      >   From: creditscorenz
      >   To: bolger@yahoogroups. com
      >   Sent: Thur.
      >   sday, July 22, 2010 6:20 AM
      >   Subject: [bolger] Re: Whalewatcher photost
      >   Missed your posting of these latest photos received from Suzanne, Mason. They're excellent, thank you both. I particularly like the photo with the bow towards the camera. These advanced sharpie bows have a very masculine look about them don't they?
      >   I sail a Michalak Philsboat and have really come to appreciate the virtues of the Birdwatcher concept.
      >   Unfortunately, its too small for a family though, and you have to camp on land. We've tried it with a four day camping trip recently and although we had fun it would have been so much easier to stay on the boat.
      >   A couple of questions about Whalewatcher.
      >   1. Do you know why the mizzen has a small gaff? Usually they are just a sharpie sprit.
      >       Susanne might better answer this question. I suppose that the gaff gives you a little more sail area for the given mast height, an a more efficient sail for its area . Esthetically it goes nicely with
      >   2. Is the position of the leeboards correct or are they supposed to be more towards the vertical? I guess you had them swept back because the bowboard was in place?
      >   3. Wondering whether that bowboard stops pounding in rougher water or whether it's a complication that inhibits tacking, makes for unstable steerage, creates additional drag and isn't really worth the trouble. If I did this build my instinct would be to leave it out.
      >   4. Can you steer from the companionway or must you stay back in the cockpit?
      >   I can imagine a couple of kids having a great time sitting up front in that bow area (providing there is no bowboard trunk spit). As I've mentioned in a previous post as a trailerable sailing boat to holiday camp on in sheltered waters I reckon this one's hard to beat with it's four descent sized berths and nice airy interior.
      >   Cheers,
      >   Rob.

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