View Full Version : Thistle sailboat re-rigged - good idea?

Captain Pre-Capsize
01-04-2006, 06:38 PM
Need an opinion...

I can get a nice woody Thistle for $2,000 or so but another previous thread a few months back was a resounding NOOOO! Essentially the protest centered around Thistles being very tippy and requiring at least two on board.

Question: If I bought the boat and tossed the mast, sail and rigging would it make a difference? I could picture a lower aspect rig - perhaps gaff with a few hundred pounds of ballast along the C/B trunk.

Wouldn't that make it an altogether different boat? More stable and so on...

[ 01-04-2006, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: Captain Pre-Capsize ]

01-04-2006, 06:47 PM
Until the Thistle cognocenti check in, Wayfarer.


U.S. WAYFARER (http://www.uswayfarer.org/)

9/13/2005 - Wayfarer #8049 Wooden Wayfarer #W-8049 * Built 1986, largely used by first owner, sailed a few times with the Scouts. It comes with a custom painted trailer, Proctor mast and boom, vintage 3hp Johnson outboard with mount, upgraded hardware, anchor, cushions, canvas cover, and main & jib sail (Waagmeester sails). Recent brightwood refinished and trailer painted white to match hull. Excellent condition, minor maintenance required on this epoxy saturated hull, just sail away. Always stored under cover. Complete package - $2500. Connecticut David Fales - 203-981-3549 cell or Robin Johnson * 917 318 871

9/13/2005 - Wayfarer #704 Restored Woodie for sale. Hull # 704. Freshwater Wayfarer sailed only a few times since full restoration. $1,800 for quick sale. New items include: jib, jib halyard, bronze gooseneck, boomvang, mainsheet hardware, and tiller extension. Good main, 2nd jib, whisker pole, and boatcover. Pamco trailer with spare in excellent condition. Connecticut David Fales - 203-981-3549 cell or Robin Johnson * 917 318 871

4/17/2005 - Wayfarer #817 A collector's item. Bought it in 1997, structurally in good shape, but I completely rebuilt the deck using marine mahogany ply and reinforced the structural members on the hull with epoxy. I customized it for cruising -- boom tent, expanded storage space, reinforced and rebuilt the original hollow wooden mast and boom, replaced much hardware and I've taken pride in upkeep. Custom oars, 2, sets of sails, trailer, anchor, whisker pole. Has been happily sailed for years, but have moved up to a larger boat. $2500.00 CDN Jonathan, Toronto, 416 690 0101 Email: jaitken@ryerson.ca Web: http://www3.sympatico.ca/aitken.web/jonathan/nastawgan/
A reefing main and you're good to go.

Who said I sound like a broken record? Remember records? :D

In Texas. :D

[ 01-04-2006, 06:51 PM: Message edited by: Venchka ]

01-04-2006, 08:40 PM
I think you should buy the boat and sail it as it as designed. It's a great boat for 1, 2, or 3 people, with room for more. Yes, it's possible to race them and have even more fun, but it's not necessary.


N. Scheuer
01-04-2006, 09:21 PM
Years ago I used to see a number of Thistles sailed as family daysailers, either between races, or not raced at all.

Moby Nick

John Gearing
01-04-2006, 10:20 PM
I was looking into daysailing a Thistle myself a few years ago. There happened to be a Thistle fleet not far from me, and so I dropped a line to their email. They said that it could be done. Could add some reef points to the sail, enabling reduced sail area to match fewer crew. I was even toying around with setting one up so I could row it if necessary. My advice, contact Thistlers near you for input.

01-04-2006, 10:28 PM
Originally posted by Captain Pre-Capsize:
Need an opinion...

I can get a nice woody Thistle for $2,000 or so but another previous thread a few months back was a resounding NOOOO! Essentially the protest centered around Thistles being very tippy and requiring at least two on board.

Question: If I bought the boat and tossed the mast, sail and rigging would it make a difference? I could picture a lower aspect rig - perhaps gaff with a few hundred pounds of ballast along the C/B trunk.

Wouldn't that make it an altogether different boat? More stable and so on...

John Bell
01-04-2006, 10:32 PM
Two thousand sounds awfully high for the boat you describe. The only reason it's worth as much as it is is because it's a Thistle. Change it to something else, and you are throwing good money after bad.

01-04-2006, 10:43 PM
Ooops - sorry, my first reply... I see what you're saying about modifyng a Thistle. They are really tender and tricky to sail, so its tempting to make it easier. But it is a classic design - the helm balance,the way it ghosts along in a breath of wind, the way it planes, the speed - don't mess with it. The rig is so finely tuned to the boat and they work together in a way that many other one designs aspire to. Don't kill a Thstle, find a boat that suits your needs.

01-04-2006, 11:17 PM

Legendary dinghy cruiser, great family boat that's much more easily single handed than the Thistle, and no slouch either.

I'd love to have one!

Go to the library or the bookstore and look for any book by Frank and/or Margaret Dye. You'll be hooked.

Ian McColgin
01-05-2006, 07:55 AM
Many things argue for keeping the Thistle a Thistle. Amond the two more important:

She's a hot boat but not so hot that you can't daysail her in safety and pleasure. Me and my first girlfriend took her family's Thistle out when we were but twelve. If kids can sail it . . .

Because there's an active class, used spars and sails are obtainable for short money. G'luck for either if you modify.

If you get a Thistle, sail it as a Thistle. She's a brilliantly thought out versitile boat, maybe a little wet if you push her really hard, but able to sail any weather you've the nerve to look at assuming your skill matches your nerve.

Captain Pre-Capsize
01-05-2006, 05:57 PM
OK, OK... tail between my legs - just trying to be a free thinker here. Thanks guys, just brainstorming and am grateful for your opinions.

Ben Fuller
01-06-2006, 07:06 PM
Of course there is the gent that put a highly raked high aspect ratio Nigel Irens style lug rig on a british planing dinghy I think it was a National 18. He kept the trapeze. There were remarks about a planing lugger.

The Thistle is a blown up Fox Avenger by Sandy Douglas. You probably need 3 aboard in F5 when you want to get the spinnaker up..... and get to windward without reefing. If you wanted to sail the boat consistently in F 3 and under the regular rig w/o mods would be just fine for one or two. The mod that I would make for turning this boat into a day sailer is simply set up some reefing.

The old 14s used to reef. It's how Fox sailed across the channel to go boat racing. It's how they sailed regularily in F5 and better with only two hiking.

John Gearing
01-07-2006, 12:46 AM
Yep, add some reef points and she'll be a much better casual daysailer. And if you don't want to mount oarlocks, then fer Gawd's sake keep a couple of paddles aboard so you at least have a chance of getting back to the dock when the wind dies and leaves you stranded. Assuming there won't be a club launch to putt out and tow you in? :D

John Gearing
01-07-2006, 12:52 AM
A number of inexpensive Thistles now available. See the Thistle Association webpages for details.


Keith Wilson
01-07-2006, 01:35 AM
IMHO you should forget the spinnaker when shorthanded, put in two sets of reef points and good reefing gear, and it'll be fine. It's much cheaper and easier than re-rigging, and if you want to go faster or be more adventurous you can just put on more sail. Also, it'll be much easier to sell with the original rig. Thistles aren't that tender, they just have a lot of sail area.

Pernicious Atavist
01-07-2006, 06:17 AM
i've single-handed mine and scared the beejeezus out of myself doing it. it has a lot of sail area, but i think the round hull slips out from under itself too readily. the first warning i heard was about coming about too quickly and then found out for myself it was no lie. i'm selling mine because i don't like that lateral slipperyness, among other things.
all that being said, i've sailed mine well and have a great time doing it in less than a foot of water. i built a kickup rudder for that and she sails nicely and beaches okay, though i prefer turning her 'round and dragging the stern on the beach since she has a pretty fine entry.
i concur with the others. sail it at a thistle or get something different. i built my something different for that reason; now my thistle's up for sale, too.

01-07-2006, 07:59 AM
The thing about the Thistle is that it's not decked! At all! smile.gif As has been mentioned, the sail can be managed. But dump one good when out by yourself and it will be an adventure getting home again.

Maybe that works for you. Depends on where you plan to sail it, too.

Beautiful boats! If you buy one, do what the guys above said, keep it a Thistle.

And give another glance to the boats Wayne posted. From what I can gather about how you plan to use the boat a Wayfarer would work better. Those sound like decent prices, too, depending on what the home mechanic has done to the fabric.

01-07-2006, 10:05 AM
I used to crew for guy who owned a wood Thistle. It was a great boat. He had added one feature that you might think about if it is not there already. He had cemented some flotation blocks under the seats. The suggestion on this thread about adding reef points for blowy weather or single handing is a good one too. I would.

I recall reading an article in WB many years ago writen by someone who raced a wood Thistle against FG Thistles. He did well. He also said that the really competitive FG Thistle sailors replaced their hulls after a year or two. The FG hulls got rubbery after a year or so of hard racing and the rigging could no longer tuned correctly. Wood is out front!

01-07-2006, 01:04 PM
I considered buying a wooden Thistle recently and racing it in some of the fleets here in NJ. A friend of mine and long time sailor has been sailing and racing Thistles since he was a little boy. He tells me it is a boat that can keep you on your toes, but can really fly. The rig (as sailed in class) has been greatly modified since Sandy Douglass created the boat. The sail area has been maximized and the rig is full of go-fast adjustments. In 10+ knots of wind, you are going to have to get your "cheeks to the teak" and stay hiked with your but on the 6 or so inch wide rail. (can get painfull) However in very light air she can sail when everyone else is becalmed. My concern was I wanted to not have a tippy boat when I take my Dad sailing. My Thistle friend suggested the following: You can't add reef points without breaking class rules, so I take the sail it came with , have reef points put in and buy a second boom and mount it higher on the mast. Though it seems that would move to much sail high (usually you "drop the top" when reefing) He reminded me that orignally the boat had much less sail area, so this makes it more in line with the original design. He said then I can buy a new set of sails and use the other boom for class racing.

Supposedly Sandy Douglass was not happy with what happened to the class, saying that the class was taken over by the "lunatic fringe" He then designed the Flying Scott with a strict set of rules from the start.

If you have interest in the boat, by all means by it, but keep it a Thistle, or at least do not modify anything that can't be undone. Most that race these days use the fiberglass model, but I sure wish I could find a wooden Thistle in nice condition for $2grand. Very hard to find usable ones for sale.

If the boat is in good condition and in the NJ area PM me with the details if you don't buy it.


[ 01-08-2006, 09:15 AM: Message edited by: GaffRig ]

Dave Carnell
01-08-2006, 09:05 AM
Back around 1960 I belonged to a sailing club at Newcastle, DE. They owned a half dozen Thistles sailed in the Delaware River. Singlehanded in stiff wind, I just dropped the jib.

One night I capsized about under the Delare River Memorial Bridge with my daughter and new SIL aboard. The buoyancy chambers kept it well afloat. We had to drop the sails to get it upright and then bail it with the bucket carried.

01-08-2006, 09:58 AM
Didn't Uffa Fox define the shape? Interesting discussion of the history, and Sandy Douglas. And also of how the rig got away from him in the class racing.

Think on that shape though. A planing dinghy is a planing dinghy is a planing dinghy. A Thistle is basically the same as an Albacore, or an International Fourteen et al.

01-09-2006, 01:38 PM
I wish that we had some Thistlers on board. From what I understand Sandy Douglas took the shape from an Uffa Fox I-14. It's basically an I-14 blown up to 17-18'.

I was one of the guys who suggested that the Thistle is not a very good daysailor, and I still feel that way. I believe that the criteria was to either be able to be sailed singlehanded (not easily done) or to be sailed with as many as five people (too many). Very few class boats designed to perform well in an either/or situation.

If you think that you're going to have a crowd and that's the kind of boat that you want get a Highlander. A Flying Scot will also take four people pretty easily. A Lightning would be better than a Thistle for daysailing.

The only boat that I know of that you can easily single-hand and that will take up to four people is a Beetle Cat. Other catboats will do it too, but I own a Beetle and can attest to it.

A Thistle is like a Star boat: you need to have both hands for the boat all of the time. It's like the difference in a Windmill and a Snipe. They share the same sail plan, though a Windmill is about half the weight. I have a friend who has cruised a Snipe through the Florida Keys with no problems. Windmills are fun to sail and race.

Mickey Lake

01-09-2006, 02:43 PM
Some manufacturers of Thistles offer a non-racing version. Actually they call it a 'cruising' version, but I can't quite wrap my brain around that. It seems to me that if you add a few reef points and don't mind dropping the jib, you could daysail one of these just fine. One nice thing about a centerboard, as opposed to a daggerboard, is that if you raise it part way, the center of lateral resistance moves aft. Means you don't have to have the jib up for the boat to balance.

I like the Wayfarer, but seldom see one for sale used. There just aren't as many around.

bob goeckel
01-09-2006, 03:29 PM
get a wayfarer you'll never look back! been sailing one since i was -this tall. very fun boat. either plastic or wood. by the way there are a number of them always available on the us or canadian fleet websites. usually at a great price.

[ 01-09-2006, 03:31 PM: Message edited by: bob goeckel ]

01-09-2006, 03:30 PM
A good book about cruisifying a racing dinghy is Ian Nicholson's, Roving in Open Boats. Short, concise, and out of print, but they come up occasionally on one of the book sites.

I agree with Micky. Thistles are wonderful boats, but they are racers. Using one as a daysailor/family cruiser is doable, but not the best choice.

On the other hand, old woodies are desirable, and will remain so because they are stiff in the bottom where the glass boats break down. So if one was available locally, good stuff at a decent price, I might jump at it. Knowing it wasn't a Wayfarer.

John Gearing
01-09-2006, 11:17 PM
When I had a shot at a used Thistle I emailed back and forth with a Thistler affiliated with a fleet in my area. He said that it could be set up for daysailing w/o a problem and that he had known some who had done it. You can add reef points, as others have pointed out. You can add some sand bags for extra ballast if you want, too. I don't buy the argument that because they are race boats by pedigree there is something inherently wrong in using one for a non-race purpose. Uffa Fox used to cruise in his square-meter. And there can hardly have been a design more suitable to racing than the sandbagger, yet they make fine daysailers when sailed with a reasonably sized rig. My advice above still stands....go to the Thistle Class Association homepage, find a fleet near you, then either call, email, or go visit the buggers and get some first-hand info instead of all this hearsay (including mine ;) )!

01-10-2006, 09:35 AM
I had the priviledge of knowing Sandy Douglass when I was a young man. He told me a bit about the Thistle history and design intent.

Sandy was a good friend of Uffa Fox and Uffa defintitely influenced him. This started in International Canoes and later in International 14's. Sandy designed, built and raced them. The Thistle is not a scaled-up 14. Although it shares some design features with Alarm, et al, it was designed from scratch for the sail area, length and volume it has. It was designed in 1947 and had terrific performance (still does!!) for its day. Sandy originally envisioned it as a family day-sailer and it did NOT have hiking straps. Sandy did not want physical fitness or size to be major factor in racing performance. The class evolved into a very serious performance racing boat, but as a result, lost some of its broader appeal. Contrast with the Flying Scot class which is not quite so refined technically, but has nearly 2000 more hulls built and has been around since 1958.

Personally, I plan to get a wood Thistle and race it (I have a Scot) in the next year or so. I would second the advice given by other posters to leave the rig alone. If the wind pipes up, sail conservatively. The Thistle is a wonderful boat and you'll enjoy it immensely. BTW---in the Thistle's first regatta in 1947, Sandy sailed it on Lake Erie in winds approaching 30kts and some nastly, short waves. It's very seaworthy. If you are concerned about the "tippi-ness", sail a Laser for a while. The Thistle will feel like an aircraft carrier in comparison.

01-12-2006, 06:09 PM
As a onetime Thistle owner, who raced against Sandy Douglas and lots of other top sailors years ago, I can assure you this is not the boat for cruising. I know a couple of people who have done so -- one pair of newlymarrieds on the Chesapeake Bay, another pair of teenagers I met at Cuttyhunk. Both rigged a tarp over the boom to keep out some of the rain overnight.
Handling a Thistle is work all the time. It's great fun, but.... Yes, you could make life easier by chopping down the main, and maybe the jib too, but the boat was designed to be an out-and-out performance hull, not a laid-back day boat. Never tried to row mine. Never had too.
It always brought us home -- we were in the Finger Lakes--no matter how little wind there seemed to be.
But if you are still stuck on Thistling,
there may still be a glass Thistle for sale at
the Block Island Club in RI, which you probably
could get for very little money -- maybe a few hundred.

John Gearing
01-12-2006, 10:48 PM
Well, we seem to have a difference of opinion between Gallus and Carlsboats overn the original intentions of Sandy Douglass re the Thistle. FWIW, I recall an interview with Sandy in the late, lamented "Small Boat Journal" in which he said what Gallus wrote: that Thistles were originally meant to be good family boats that could also be raced. But the racing crowd got the upper hand and the boats evolved into pure racers. He did not like this development and designed the Flying Scot to try and get back to fast, friendly, family boats.

To the original poster: hey, if you get a wooden Thistle, feel free to modify it as you see fit. IT'S YOUR BOAT!!! So what if it had been raced! Big dingle deal! Why should that stop you from turning one into a boat you can use? IF a Thistle can be turned into a good dayboat, there is no rational reason why you shouldn't do so, if that is your desire.

[ 01-12-2006, 10:52 PM: Message edited by: John Gearing ]

John Bell
01-12-2006, 11:14 PM
This thread needs some Thistle photos...



Leon m
01-12-2006, 11:31 PM
I would put a Lazer sail on my Thistle to calm her down when I was single handing on blowy days.
That said a thistle will keep you on your toes, and with all the rigging it can be like sailing in a bowl of noodles ...not a good family daysailor.

01-13-2006, 07:49 AM

How did you rig a Laser sail, with its sleeve, on a Thistle?

John Gearing
01-13-2006, 08:37 AM
One; you don't have to use all the go-fast rigging! Duh! Don't rig a chute, forget the hiking straps, the cunningham, even the boom vang if you want. Put some reef points in the main. Get a smaller jib. I'll bet you can rig the jib to be self-tending if you want. I've having a hard time with the idea that the idea of using a Thistle as a daysailer is being treated like a radical notion on this thread. Here is what the Thistle Class Association has to say about the boat:

The sail plan consists of a main, jib, and spinnaker. The boat can be easily rigged by one person. We race them with a crew of two or three, although they can be sailed by one person in lighter air, and comfortably daysail with up to six. Notice the last bit: COMFORTABLY DAYSAIL!!!

Here are some more photos, located at http://www.thistleclass.com/



And for all you Wayfarer fans out there, I agree that the Wayfarer is a fine boat. She is, however, not without her own quirks, perhaps because she is also a racing class boat. Here some of the comments on Wayfarer from the Dinghy Cruising Association (UK):

Points against:
Too big a sail area for most to sail single-handed. Crews must be fit and agile. Costly. Capsize practice would be prudent!

[ 01-13-2006, 08:49 AM: Message edited by: John Gearing ]

Dan McCosh
01-13-2006, 08:48 AM
The Thistle has a narrow waterline, and very round bilges. This is the main reason it is both fast and tippy. Adding additional crew doesn't change this. The sail area also is a function of how much wind there is blowing--it's good for light-medium. Anyway, it is what it is, and if you are aiming at more stability, go for a Lightning or Flying Scott.

John Gearing
01-13-2006, 09:17 AM
If it has a narrow waterline compared to beam, and round bilges, then the boat will get more stable after a bit of heeling. This is what many boats are designed to do, including racing boats. They feel "tippy" at dockside, but once you get on the water sailing they settle down. On boats with overhanging stems and sterns the idea is that the boat has a longer effective waterline length when heeled and so will achieve higher speeds. This was what Herreshoff did with the revolutionary "Gloriana". Thistles are plumb stemmed and sterned, so the increase in waterline will not be very much compared to other designs. I would be surprised to find that a Thistle has a narrow waterline aft, since they are designed to plane. They need a planing surface.

American canoes have flat bottoms and round bilges. People commonly think of them as "tippy", yet canoes can be easily paddled without capsizing, and there are sailing rigs available.

Aside from meaning extra hands, crew = weight i.e. ballast. Better still, crew = easily moveable ballast. Putting the crew on the rail counteracts the heeling tendency. Or, you could hang a big heavy deep bulb keel off the bottom of the boat and get the same result on heeling. The sandbaggers of the 19th century used both crew and moveable sand bags to the same end. Putting six adults in a Thistle will change its handling characteristics.

[ 01-13-2006, 09:20 AM: Message edited by: John Gearing ]

01-13-2006, 09:57 AM
My answer the original question (Would it be a good idea to buy the boat and install a different rig?) is no! Cheap as she is, the price of your woodie is based on her being a Thistle, and the value of a vandalized Thistle will be very low. If you want a different boat, get a different boat.

Thistle sailors will have to advise, but racers have commented that the lack of side decks makes hiking painful. Creases in the thighs have been mentioned. For daysailing, this puts a premium on staying in the boat rather than hiking out, which is an advantage or disadvantage depending on your habits and inclinations.

I think an old Lightning would be better for your uses.

Keith Wilson
01-13-2006, 10:04 AM
The only trouble with using a Thistle for relaxed daysailing is that it has a LOT of sail area. Reefing (and leaving the spinnaker at home) takes care of that, without modifying the rig significantly. No problem.

[ 01-13-2006, 10:05 AM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

01-13-2006, 10:08 AM
The only trouble with using a Thistle for relaxed daysailing is that it has a LOT of sail area.

That, and the fact that it has no deck. smile.gif

01-13-2006, 10:09 AM
If you want to consider something else, not much different, there is the ODay DaySailor. They are reasonably fast, and will plane, but have a Lot more stability.

They wre originally designed by Uffa Fox for cold molded construction. They are all FG now.

Keith Wilson
01-13-2006, 10:25 AM
Jack, people daysail in open boats all the time. For relaxed daysailing in any boat, it's a lot more pleasant to sit on the seats than the rail. You can do this if sail area is adjusted to match the wind strength.

01-13-2006, 10:49 AM
I like a deck.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
01-13-2006, 10:57 AM
We have a friend, an American lady of a certain age, of great intelligence and charm but of limited physical prowess, who sailed a Thistle down the Hudson, singlehanded, four years ago, sleeping on board.

I think that should answer the question. ;)

Edited to add: she did not make use of the spinnaker.

[ 01-13-2006, 11:46 AM: Message edited by: Andrew Craig-Bennett ]

bob goeckel
01-13-2006, 10:57 AM
been singlehanding a wayfarer for years. i'm 57. i agree a capsize would be a problem in my woodie. but you need to be prudent in any small boat as you get older.

01-13-2006, 02:02 PM
Before we turn this thread into a Thistle discussion board, lets get back to Captain Pre-Capsize's original question of whether the Thistle is the right boat for him.

Capt--Could you weigh back in on what you feel comfortable with, what kind of sailing you plan to do, and what appeals to you in the Thistle (or any other boat)? There are lots of really good designs out there and they tweek the compromises into their own niches.

Captain Pre-Capsize
01-13-2006, 02:07 PM
The longer this thread gets the more confuseder I gets... :confused:

01-13-2006, 03:17 PM
That's kind of what I was afraid of......

01-13-2006, 09:03 PM
Sandbags are a good idea. You might even think about a container for water balast, which you can pick up anywhere and dump if you don't need it. Reef points are a good idea. A small jib from a Snipe or some such wouldn't hurt. I cruised an 18 foot sharpie with no deck, and the lack of deck was no problem. It does mean you can walk anywhere in the boat without as much danger of capsizing it, because your weight is lower than if you have to stand on deck. I used a sheet of black plastic for a boom tent, and an air matress to sleep on, because the boat leaked so much I was just about afloat on my air mattress by morning. Beach cruising is fun,and I'm sure a Thistle rows better than my old cross-planked sharpie did. Perils of the deep not withstanding, I think with good sense and judicious reefing, the Thistle can be made to work for your purposes. Yes, you can push it hard, and it sails faster if you sail it flat, but you don't have to. You can take it easy if you want to. You can use it the way that, by some accounts, Sandy Douglas intended it to be used.

Hey, I wonder if anybody has taken a Thistle on a Raid?

01-14-2006, 07:04 AM
Sandbags are a good idea.

Unless you are flooded. smile.gif

01-14-2006, 11:04 AM

John Gearing
01-14-2006, 11:39 AM
I have always found it easy to toss sandbags out if the going gets rough. I got sick of all the whining from crew members as I dumped them over the side. :D

Leon m
01-14-2006, 01:15 PM
Originally posted by John Gearing:
as I dumped them over the side. :D The crew, or the sandbags ? :D

01-14-2006, 02:00 PM
Okay, I know I'm being pedantic. But really, what is the first rule of seamanship? Keep the water out. If the boat ain't got decks, big count against it. Simple.

And why did Douglas design the Thistle without decks? Well, we can ponder that, shipmates, but the simple answer is weight.

Now, if you want a racing dinghy, get rid of the weight. But if you want a cruising dingy, damn the weight, we want watertight.

01-14-2006, 02:35 PM
Yup, you're being pedantic. The vikings crossed oceans in undecked boats. I wouldn't, but I don't think that's what we're talking about here. Operating in protected waters is a different deal.

Also, my Snipe isn't as seaworthy as my sharpie was. Decks aren't everything.

01-14-2006, 02:55 PM
It's f'glass, but I've always liked this design: the GP-14. Similar to the Wayfarer in hull shape, but two feet shorter at fourteen feet. I used to sail the 13' 6" Enterprise, also a Proctor design as are the other two, and felt she needed just a bit more size.


01-14-2006, 07:21 PM
SOME Vikings crossed the Atlantic in undecked vessels, and some were never heard from again.

01-14-2006, 08:07 PM
R.B.Garr - The G.P.14 was a Jack Holt design, I think - or have I mis-remembered that? My second boat many years ago, and I agree with you, a good one.


01-14-2006, 09:35 PM
Decks aren't everything.

Absolutely! Add in a randy hull designed to go fast and a lot of sail.

And the Viking's boats, from what I've seen, weren't actually undecked, had large enclosed areas both north and south.

A different idea, altogether.

I'm not saying Cap shouldn't go for this Thistle, or that it wouldn't work for what he wants. Just that there are issues, among which is how open the boat is.

As has been said, you can cruise about in almost anything if you have your head screwed on straight. More power to Cap if he goes for this Thistle.

John Gearing
01-14-2006, 10:19 PM
You will see very few dinghy or skiff designs that have much of a deck. Peapods, whitehalls, etc none of them have decks. And peapods are very good in a seaway. Sure, if you want to go fast, put the lee scuppers into the foam and spend your day hiked out by the backs of your knees, sure, get a deck. For that matter, if you really wanted to, I'm sure you could deck over a Thistle. But if you are looking for a boat you can row and sail some and just enjoy messing about in, then open boats have a lot to recommend them.

01-16-2006, 09:51 PM
You don/t want a deck on a Thistle, ort any other boat design in this family. Keep her on her feet. Once the rail is down --and at speed it will go well below the surface before any water is shipped -- the boat slows down and becomes hard to handle. Sandy Douglass intended the boat to be sailed flat, and our rule of thumb (I think he told me this, but maybe it was someone else) wass this: Watch the diamonds on the mast. This is a three spreader rig, with solid wire going out from the mast, to each spreader, then back to the spar. When the angle of a diamond goes past vertical (about 14 degrees of heel as I recall it), hike, ease the main, or do something to flatten her down.
And no, you don't need oars. The boat is so light and slippery that it can easily be paddled. I never turned one over -- but in one race in a squall, we did scoop up so much water we were awash. Managed to stuff towels in the C.B. case (it has an open top) and bail her out so we could sail home.