Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Whipray skiff, Hells Bay Boatworks story, the beginning.

This is to let all those that are interested in skiff history, the Whiprays origins and how Hal Chittum, I and Flip Pallot really came to be together in starting Hells Bay Boatworks.
I want you my readers to know and understand that this is my version of the tale of this skiff, and the company that was built on its success. I also want you to know that in my flats boat career that I have kept pretty good records of most all of the skiffs I have been involved with. During my time at HBBWs I kept all faxes, written letters and correspondence between the Chittums, Flip Pallot and myself. I have a very extensive paper trail, photos and the people that were around during this time to back this history. I do not talk flippantly with the details. It's my history too just as it is The Chittums, and Flip Pallots. I'am not in anyway trying to re write it like Chris Petterson , Flip Pallot and the crew at HBBWs are attempting to do.
I wrote my early flats boat history about five years ago and posted its rough draft on this blog in 
June 2014. It's way in the bottom. 
I added some pictures to this story to give everyone a time frame and an idea of what went on. 
I have added some new material along with my usual commentary, observations etc.

For the life of me I cannot figure out how to repost it here this month so if you are interested just go back to June 2014 where there are 3 posts. The Whipray stuff starts a ways down in St. Agustine.

Thanks to all of you that are reading my blog. I can see that there is a great intrest in the history and information about flats skiffs. I would never have thought this would be years ago or I would have kept better records. Almost half my readers are interested in the flats boat part of my life and the rest are reading about our sailboat and mucking about.

This winter I am planning on a better format to present more clarity to my drawings.

More posts coming soon;

My design and commentary for the cheapest flats boat ever that anyone can build in a week or so and how to use it. I'am reinventing the past here to try and get guys to build something and get out on the water. Then later they can build something more complicated.

Commentary and opinions as to why Chris Petterson, Flip Pallot and the advertising crew at HBBWs are trying to re write its history during the age of instant scrutiny. What? Why are they doing this.
 Why are they trying to write Hal Chittum out of the company ?

I will be publishing the lines of most all the skiffs I have drawn, but they will be redrawn to current thinking.

And my usual sailboat and cruising life stuff.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hogfish Maximus is ashore for hurricane Danny and TS Erica.

Today as I write this post we are sitting on land in the boat yard in Jolly Harbour in Antigua. Tropical storm Erica is making its way past us blowing at least 50 plus knots or more with rain. The Hogfish shakes a bit in the bigger gusts. It could be blowing more but we are hiding behind and a bit below a bunch of bigger deep draft sailboats. The wind is howling through all their rigging. Antigua has been experiencing  its worst drought in recorded history. The rain is very welcome.

We hauled out a few days ago because of the threat of Hurricane Danny that was projected to go over Antigua. 
We are uninsured. Normally we find a good mangrove creek to go up and put out all our 7 anchors and tie as many lines as we can to the shoreline. This we have done for the past five hurricanes we have weathered In Grenada, the Exumas, Abaco,Florida and back home in Spainish Wells in the Bahamas.
In Antigua where I am redoing the deck on Wild Bird there are no soft shorelines. Lots of concrete and expensive boats and docks about. The only good creek to go up is 9 miles away to weather in a very remote place. We would normally go there but we want to be near Wild Bird to look after her. So we have spent a few dollars to come ashore and be 100' away from Wild Bird. She has her masts out and is in a full cradle with boats that are stored the same way. A very secure way of surviving a hurricane.
Being self insured means that since launching Hogfish in 1999 we have put our money in anchor
rodes, chain and anchors. We also have gone to great lengths to stay away from all other boats. It's other people's boats that normally wreck your well placed and secured boat. Having a shoal draft boat enables us to get away to be by our shelves.
If we had been paying for insurance since 1999 we would have shelled out at least $22,000.00 US to date. So far this is the first time we have gone ashore to avoid being next to boats we would have no control over as to how their owners would tie up. The Yard here is very professional. When I picked it to do the Wild Bird deck Project I made sure they would be able to haul us out too in the event of a storm.
So here we sit. The yard crew loves our boat as all they had to do was to lift us out and place us on the ground. We did not spend the money to power wash off the bottom as we will be back in the water on Friday. The growth here is non stop.

No keel !

Anyone who thinks they can sail a shoal draft boat off shore with a shallow horizontal rudder is foolish.
You need a good deep rudder at sea.

The straps are mandatory. We have sat on the bottom with the tide out for several hurricanes of catagory 1-2 with out moving.

The prop strut is made out of fiberglass. I took this time to take the prop off and grease the shaft so it will be easy to remove under water as I will be getting a new feathering prop next week.

Being off set we get very good prop drive but the drag from this fixed bladed prop is about 1/2 a knot in speed loss. The small keel skeg with its flat end plate is made of solid fiberglass.

The Scheel keel idea

Looks like a Chinese take out box hull shape

Detail of bow anchor set up. We have three different headsails we can set. The 110% roller furling jib.
The staysail behind it set on its removable stay or a large Genoa on the forestay.

The 75lb. Fisherman hangs on this simple piece of hardware.

That little bit of Scheel keel really does wonders

Nice and flat. When the boat is heeled over going to windward that chine becomes a vee shape so no pounding. A vee bottom bow when heeled becomes flat so lots of pounding.

 Gayle with our new Bruntons Auto prop that is coming from England. Tim Bought it on EBay for us for $783.00 and will bring it over next week when he visits. Will let you know how it performs against the old three blade fixed prop. This prop self feathers to engine revs so is supposed to be very efficient under power. I also hope to get back that 1/2 knt. Speed loss under sail.

Would post pictures of the wind if it would really show anything. Today's been a good layday for writing blogs. 
The bad thing about hurricanes is you always wish them to go somewhere else. Somebody's going to end up with them. Tropical storm Erica will be gone by tonight but it's heading for the Bahamas and is projected to go over our house in Spanish Wells. Such is life when living and sailing in the bowling alley.
When growing up in California we had to worry about Forrest fires and earth quakes. Not much you can do about them. But you can build a house to go through a hurricane and you can do a lot to save and protect your boat in a hurricane if you are aboard to plan ahead.
Once you have set your anchors and tied your lines then you have to decide to stay aboard or go ashore to a safer place. Once the wind is up over 35 knts there is nothing you can do but sit back and hope for the best. We have stayed aboard for most hurricanes being alone and only in 2-3' of water so we felt the risk was acceptable. Rachel and the kids have stayed ashore when they had a very good place to stay. That hurricane in Grenada was quite exciting for me anchored when the gusts would come across the small bay at over 100 miles an hour. With 7 anchors out Hogfish really did not move around but leaned over at times to 20 degrees in these gusts.
So now we will watch Erica on its path to the Bahamas.
Fortunately we have good people that will close up our house for our old renter. Our place is built to go through storms. We just hope for the best with our plants. 
Will let you know how it all turns out in a week.

Rudders, bows, Bolger, Culler, Parker, Chappelle,Martin,Kirby, thoughts

While sitting on land in the boat yard here in Jolly Harbour Antigua I took a few minutes to photograph some of the boats bows and rudders here. I have been disscussing for the past several years optimum rudder shapes and bow depths on the Boat Design net website. Lots of intresting people from around the world have weighed in with their thoughts, suggestions and other internet info on what would,
should work for a shallow draft vessel. The Hogfish Maximus has been one of the boats that has been of intrest to these gentlemen along with late Boat Designer Phillp Bolgers designs and many others.
The thread of this on going discussion has gone from large sailboats to small ones. As I sail mostly in the ocean getting to places that have shallow waters to explore my designs have to be ocean capable first and then be able to handle shallows later. I want to do both well. That's why I have been pushing the subject of why all flat bottom cruising bows must be submerged at least 4-6" to stop them from pounding when at rest. It's just plain logical. But if you have never spent a night at anchor in a 10 knot breeze then you will never know what it will be like in a boat that pounds incessantly. Also I'am amazed at the reluctance of so many amature designers that are looking to past antiquated designs for rudders and bow depth. They will not grasp that past ideas have evolved as have boats. I believe that this is happening from a lack of actual sailing exsperience in many different sailing conditions and sailing time on these old designs.
It's very hard to get sea time in when you are back home dreaming of building your own sailboat in a land locked environment. Thus you look to others for help and inspiration. Beware !! Lots of designers lack boatbuilding exsperience and real sea time. This has led people down paths that may not really work out for them. 
In today's world materials are expensive. Your time is now taken up by so many more distractions ( like ready this blog !) that building the wrong boat could waste time enjoying life. The warning signs to me of inexperienced designers are when they always refer to their "Cad Program". When they go on about all these tank test optimal theory's on pressure waves a such jargon.
Computers don't think up boats humans do. With computers it's garbage in garbage out. I don't trust anyone that can't draw a boat on paper first. I feel that Cad programs have made amature designers lazy in that they will never learn by feel the process of delineating an idea by hand and simple math.
Yes I cheat today by using a calculator to speed up my math. I also have used Cad programs to check my calculations against. It's fun. I also do not use a sextant anymore. GPS has changed my life at sea for the better. But I have put my time in at sea and know how to navigate the tried and true way. 
What I want to attempt to get across here with these photos is to show how rudders have changed in  performance. Lots better performance but at a huge compromise in its liability to damage and use. Yes boats with all the details put together in the proper manner can be a joy to sail. Lots of the boats in this yard today sail ok but have huge sail and steering issues when over canvassed and in heavy weather. But with the right crew aboard they will get you there either way.
Let's look at what I see
We'll start with the HFM rudder. The main rudder itself is supported by three large gudgeons with the bottom one at the heel of the shallow skeg. The folding rudder blade has very good support in the main rudders case. When sailing over a fish pot, weeds, a whale or such the rudder will kick up and all will slide by. You then have to pull a block and tackle line to pull it back down again. The pintal pin that goes through the gudgeons is a 1" SS shaft that be be removed from above or below in about a minute. This enables the intire rudder to be removed for maintence. This can be done in the water. The rudder blade can be removed by taking out the pin. When in its full down postion as shown the steering is finger tip easy until the boat is over pressed with canvas at which time if racing you just keep on steering or if cruising you reduce sail area. 
The fiberglass rudder gudgeon.
The bottom of the rudder with a plastic spacing ring which the shaft goes through to the bottom of the skeg . No line can catch here ever.
The top of the rudder with its Edson Rack and pinion steering system. A seat goes over this. If this were to fail I would remove the two bolts at the rudder head and remove it and then attach the large tiller that I have made that bolts in place with the same bolts. I have a block and tackle system that also goes in place to steady the rudder. This takes a few minutes to do.
This is Wild Birds rudder. This boat is 44' long and is a Van de Stadt design. She weighs 40,000 lbs.
Lots of control here with a nice good heel fitting. The rudder stock is 3" stainless and goes all the way up to the deck. The emergency tiller to steer from the deck would be a nightmare. She did not seem to catch many seaweeds this winter. I believe it's because the rudder is so deep. She draws7'4" ! Sheesh not for me. This ketch was not any stiffer when sailing against the Hogfish in all winds this winter. But she is faster. 
Here's a Bermuda 40 rudder a design by Bill Tripp. Typical Hinkley complicated boat as you have to move the engine to remove the shaft to get the propeller off. This boat draws about 4' with its board up. They are lovely to sail and look at. The Hogfish cannot out sail them. I've tried.
An oyster 46' with its contemporary rudder. Nice heel fitting. Remove this and lift the boat up about 3' more and the rudder will slide out. Or dig a hole.
Here is a Niad 46' with to me a terrible rudder design. Just think of diving down up in Maine waters when you get a lobster pot line in between the rudder and that skeg. At night !
It's not worth that little bit of balance you will get. Any boat that has a rudder setup like this I feel the designer, and the builders salesmen should have to show you how easy it is to clear away stuff from this trap at night at sea. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Here's another one on a french design. Forget owning a boat with this set up. Did I forget to say STUPID!
Here's one where the owners have temporarily installed a plate in front to stop the madness.
This is the same thing but not down so deep. This is a Westerly bilge keel sloop. I see lots of rudders like this with a 3/8" bolt coming down from the hull right in front of the gap between the rudder and the hull. This stops a pot line from jamming in here so not so bad.
This is the worst rudder design in the yard. See the balanced part at the bottom about 4-1/2' down underwater. The entire bottom of this rudder is unsupported with this hockey puck for a rudder bottom waiting to snag water ever you sail over. This is a South African design that try's to look traditional on deck but is modern under water. A huge step back here.
 Now onto the standard charter boat rudder. This is a Bavarias rudder. These boats sail along alright but are tender and have to be reefed early. This is a wonderfull rudder design for the right boat. Unfortunately though when you run aground this type of rudder is very vulnerable to damage as its only a few inches shallower than the keel. It also has a very short rudder stock inside the boat so that set up has to be built very well  built with its long lever arm and strains imposed upon it.
These boats keels are always coming loose. I will be doing a blog post showing all the fin keels coming off of boats soon.
A deep one on a french 42'er. I race a lot on this design as main sheet man. When hard on the wind and pressed this boat will spin out of control if the mainsail sheet is not eased in and out to maintain control. A pain in the ass. I get yelled at a lot." Let her the F&%#K out Chris!!!! More!!! In INNNNN come on ! OOOUUUTTTT!!!  Racing is lots of fun. That's why I drink so much beer afterwards.
A C&C rudder from days of old.
A long one on an old aluminum racer from Europe. With this type of rudder you have to have the right cord shape or the rudder will stall out and you will loose control when pressed.
You have to have steering control at all times. When I sail through an anchorage I cannot spin out or loose control at any time with the millions of dollars of boats anchored about. I have sailed many boats by well known designers and builders that where a hand full to control and scary to be sailing in tight harbours.
A big wide sled sloop with twin rudders. Well if you're going to sail about with a bulb keel shaped like a torpedo that draws 10' why not have this set up. What could go wrong ?
Now onto more sane rudders. This is a 65' Swans rudder. Look at how nice that fairs in. A proper setup. The prop of course is folding so everything slips by.
A full skeg rudder on a Nicolson  34' sloop. The prop will do all the catching.
Classic rudder on an old fiberglass Ketch. I do not like the hole in the rudder. I agree with Herrshoff in that all props should be offset with the props blade trust facing the hull side. 
An Amel ketch. Faired in very nicely but the rudder stock has to go up out through the cabin top.
I believe he thought of everything but some of his stuff is very complicated and costly to maintain.
This rudder has a wire running from the bottom of the skeg to the aft trailing edge of the keel to stop lines and such from getting to the prop.
This is a Nicolson  ketches rudder. So nice and simple. The rake angle in front of the skeg will not hold any weeds or lines. Classic smarts. Except the prop will catch the fish pot line. You will need a folding prop to save yourself.
Here is a Charlie Morgan design. An Out Island 51' ketch. This rudder will be a bitch to steer.
I don't know what design this boat is but it has a very nice skeg setup with its angle being enough to shed weeds. Lots of rudder there. It was the biggest in area with all its contemporay designs next to it.
 Brewer 45' cutter. A brute of a big boat. Solid rudder set up but lots of drag by today's standards.
A Stevens 44' cutter. 
 Home made concrete sloop with a complicated rudder. Lots to hook onto here. The rudder un bolts in many places to remove.
Nothing like a classic rudder on a beautiful steel ketch. Would have to remove the prop shaft to get this rudder out.
Home built steel sloop that the builder made sure would not snag anything. The rudder unbolts at the top to remove. Lots of steel boats do it this way.
Kick up rudder on a light weight trimaran. 
Simple skeg rudders on a Prout Catamaran. I don't understand owning a multihull that is deep draft. Why have keels and deep rudders when you can have boards and kick up rudders.
The last rudder is the best for a deep boat. An Island Packet 38' cutter. With a long keel this set up is quite simple. Remove the bottom plate and the rudder shaft is about 20" up in the hull going to a rack and pinion steering system. The thing I have noticed on all these Island Packets is no one ever buys a folding prop. These boats do sail along so why not buy a good prop on EBay and go a bit faster?

Your average bowl hull shape of today.
That's my load waterline on HFM. When we hauled out last week the travelift said we weighed 29,500lbs. We are a bit light with not much water, tools and food supplies aboard.
Bow of an Oyster 46' cutter.
Niad 46' sloop.
The Oyster and Niads bows look almost the same. The red boat is a Hinkely 46'
Amel 46' ketch. Don't forget to pull up the bow thruster !
Nice racing sloop.
Bow, bow , bow all about the same in depth.
Looks like cookie cutter boats but all from different builders and designers.
Ah a nice Swan 65' bow. This sloop has sailed several hundred thousand miles. 
I think this is a Robert Perry design. It has a lifting bulb keel. See the bow is not out of the water.

Ok now you've seen a typical selection of rudders and bows that are out and about to day.

What I want all you shallow draft design people to look at and think about is this. If you are going to only sail in very protected waters at all times then you can get away with a simple horizontal Bolger type rudder. It will not be fun to steer, it will be cranky as the wind changes. It will limit you to this small world. But it will set you apart as being old school and stubborn. 

I delete my blog photos as I go along to make room for more. If you look back on my other shoal draft sailboat posts you will see these boats rudders. Some got it others not yet. It shows as you never see the bad designs out sailing.

Most all the rudders shown here are of big moderate to heavy displacement boats. A few were light displacement. Most all have very shallow bodied hulls with fin keels or separated keels. None of these hulls will sail with a small little rudder up under its hull. 
Ask Rodger Martin or Bruce Kirby to put a Bolger rudder on one of their designs and see what they say.
Ruel Parker redesigns old designs from the past. These are very lovely looking boats with most being coast wise capable but not offshore able. The last boat that Ruel Parker built was his redesign of the Howard Chappelle San Jaun Island halibut sharpie schooner. These boats look so cool on paper. They fished mostly with a bit of ice in the hold. Had low freeboard to be able to fish. Did not stay offshore for long periods. Could only carry so much load. With his new remake he added two huge cabins to get headroom and worst of all built in a swing keel which weighed several tons instead of a simple centerboard. Now this boat cannot slip along In Shallow water unless the keel is totally raised. He worrys about the keel hitting bottom and then dropping and breaking the lift cable.
Ruel asked us when we last sailed by for a visit if our boat pounded at anchor a lot because his sure did. "No ours doesn't because we did not copy an outdated design."Our bow is underwater. But Ruel made it across the 50 miles of the Gulf Stream to Andros so it's got to be seaworthy.

If you want to sail across an ocean you will have to find a boat that is designed for that first and then will work well in shallow water when you get there. I feel I have found that combination that works for me.

All of the bows shown are under water. All of the French aluminum Ovini sailboats bow are under water.

Pete Culler designed and built some of the most beautiful salty looking craft ever. But several had terrible sea fates of sinking and abandonment. This gets back to my "people sail boats not boats sail people" saying. Some of what he says in his books has been proven wrong and outdated. It's time to move on.

Phil Bolger drew some incredible boats. Really got me off the traditional track to start thinking outside the box. He did lots of his designs in an era of home builders and cheap wood. So much has been learned since he drew up the Black Skimmer, Manatee, and all his other shallow boats. Lots of his designs turned out just like he called them when drawing up an idea. His cartoon.
I have sailed on many of his boats and have built two. I learned much from all of them. To me most need lots of redesign thinking. They are all old school. I would not build a Piver trimaran just because so many were built at one time. Time to move on.

Howard Chappelle got me going with his American Small Craft designs book. So much history. But nobody fishes under sail anymore in the Real world. His Sharpie cruising designs in today's world would be deemed unsafe to sail if you go over the numbers. I have read of many stories in old yachting magazines of people building these old Sharpie designs and having disasters in them when sailing.
Chappelle and Ruel Parker have designed along the same path of trying to reinvent the past when it's so much easier to start from scratch. That is unless you want to live and sail in a boat with no headroom, low freeboard that cannot take a sea or a short chop, with a rudder that is a torment to hold underway.

Commodore Monroe got it right during his era. Look at his designs and boats. Lots of sail area with very minimal spar size. All his boats were sailed with no deck clutter. They all looked to be great fun for the bay's and coastal waters that he plied. The Egret is a wonderful small boat. The Presto has a hull shape section much like a Dorys vee. But it is a deep running hull shape compared to an unloaded dory with a bunch of ballest in her. Rodger Martins Presto is similar in name only. In today's money you could have probably bought all of the Florida keys for what it costs for one of these beauties today.
I'am quite sure Monroe and Herrshoff would go nuts sailing Rodger Martins Presto across Biscayne bay if we had a time machine. Just think of how transoms, rudders, bows, centerboards and daggerboards would have changed then. The stinky snot could be shown to them last.

To finish up my thoughts here.
 Look to the past for inspiration, and knowledge.
Look at the present and separate what is working now and what's not.
Just because I said it, it does not mean it's true, go find out for yourself.