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Thread: Bolger Black Skimmer

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    That Nexus Marine Skimmer is still for sale, or is this for sale again? While the boat is well outfitted and is likely turnkey $15k seams steep.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  2. #37
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I remember when that boat was for sale many years ago (maybe 10 years). I think they were asking over $30,000.00 back then which I didn't think they'd ever get.

  3. #38
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I've read some mixed reviews of the black skimmer (on this forum) from someone who had owned to of them. I am curious but hesitant to buy a boat that has been described as reluctant to tack and slow. Both things that go against my experience with a Bolger sharpie (scooner). I emailed Nexus and asked if someone would take be sailing if I flew to the SF Bay to check the boat out. We will see what they say.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  4. #39
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I took a look at the pictures of the Skimmer on the Nexus website and it is an immaculate build. Maybe the nicest example in extant

  5. #40
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Agreed, its beautiful. Looks like they do good work.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  6. #41
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Quote Originally Posted by McKee View Post
    I've read some mixed reviews of the black skimmer (on this forum) from someone who had owned to of them. I am curious but hesitant to buy a boat that has been described as reluctant to tack and slow. Both things that go against my experience with a Bolger sharpie (scooner). I emailed Nexus and asked if someone would take be sailing if I flew to the SF Bay to check the boat out. We will see what they say.
    Did you do much racing with the schooner? The one down here in Australia was quite slow for its length and type, and normally only won races because it had a great handicap rating, down with 16 foot cabin boats that were decades older. I see the one that did the MCSF, I think, was also soundly beaten by much older and smaller boats. It would be interesting to get more information.

    On their site Nexus blame rating rules for the fact that there aren't more boats like the Black Skimmer. That's a funny thing to say. For a start, some rating rules penalised boats like the J/24, J/35, Santa Cruz types and the Catalina 22 and that didn't stop them from becoming enormously popular. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of boats that race in the USA do so under PHRF, which isn't a measurement rule. Thirdly one wonders how they know that the BS would rate poorly under all the measurement rules.

    Why would Nexus expect people to believe their very loose claims about the boat's speed? We all know plenty of people who exaggerate such things. If the boat is as fast as they claim (and there's little reason to think it would be particularly quick) one wonders why they didn't do some PHRF racing to help them prove its speed to sell it.
    Last edited by Chris249; 02-14-2018 at 03:16 AM.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I built and owned a Black Skimmer and it was neither reluctant to tack (most of the time) nor was it by any means slow. I have posted about this a few times here. As for that "most of the time," it could get into irons in very stiff breezes into a chop, which can be scary, but it's a light, flat bottom boat with a fair amount of wetted surface, so... Anyway, it could be made to go around with a well-executed swing of the tiller, slowly and deliberately, none of your "throw it over to leeward" the way you can do in a heavily ballasted fin keeler, and sometimes needed an assist from the mizzen (backwinding to get the back around). However, this only happened a few times and overall it was a superb boat. Slow? no. I did some pretty brisk runs at averages of 6-7 knots, it was very close winded (make sure you have good sails built and understand the rig and how a snotter works) and downwind and on a reach is was more than satisfsying. I didn't have a GPS back then but down wind with the board up it seemed to plane. I would guess 8 or 9 knots, very long sustained rides on 3 or 4' wave crests. On a beam or broad reach, sitting out on the (included) hiking board and skimming over the shallows was one of the highnpoints of my sailing life. As I said, I posted this before, but I overtook several 40+ foot classic boats on the downwind and reaching legs of a race, though I got hammered upwind as there was a left-over slop and light winds on that leg, not a sharpie's best conditions. It has a powerful sail plan fairly low down, sails on its feet (unusual for a sharpie) because 7' beam (if I remember right), and didn't pound except at night at anchor in a small chop (solved by lashing flotation cushions under the bow). It has a pretty low and small-ish cabin by the standards of modern 25' boats. Of course you don't get modern fin keel performance in all areas from a sharpie that draws 6" but I did pass a fairly well sailed Soling tack-for-tack, coming up from behind and passing in about 12 knots of breeze over about a half mile in smooth water. I lost no time in tacking, unlike the Soling with its big jib, because everything is self tending. I also rigged two-part leeboard tackles (the boards weigh 80lbs each) and all I had to so was let one down, put the helm over, haul one up, tack done. And, as they did with the Nexus boat, you could always make nice asymmetrical foils for it. Very efficient over all. I also have to add that the boat was self-sailing in most conditions, balanced with the mizzen. You also need to improve the rigging from "as drawn" because in his own words, Bolger "tried to squeeze every expense out of the rigging," which is pointless since you need a two-part downhaul, two-part snotter, and should lead everything back to the cockpit (which I did). The standard mast is huge--36 feet, and depowers the rigs in gusts, which is interesting and effective. The sliding gunter (Solent?) rig on the Nexus looks like an improvement in convenience, maybe not in performance, though the sails look pretty good to me in the photos. (I think it's very possibly that the "slow" Skimmers out there might have badly cut sails; make a huge difference I believe). I watched the Nexus boat being built and thought they were crazy to try to turn a plywood sharpie into a gold plater like that, since (as demonstrated by the fact they can't sell it) there's virtually no market for such a weird boat, and it was never designed to be yachty. If you haven't sailed something with all these elements (sprit boom/snotter, flexy mast, leeboards, flat bottom, mizzen) expect a tall learning curve.
    Bolger also drew a few boats that improved in some ways on the Skimmer. Skillygallee is a few feet longer, has a conventional bow and a centerboard, and is prettier. A guy in Alaska built one. Martha Jane is a Black Skimmer, more or less, with the bow cut off, and uglier.

    I would have one again. If you put a high value on being able to moor with the birds and the frogs, and sleep like a baby in glass-still ponds, it could work for you. Also--real cheap to build (unless you take the Nexus gilding-the-lily approach)

  8. #43
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    No formal racing of the scooner (Bolger's spellling), but lots of sailing in company. Our experience was that it was fast reaching or running, and not particularly weatherly. Running we are pretty sure that we have hit 10 knots, but it was "exciting" enough that we focusing on keeping the boat upright. We've done 7 knots reaching against a measured nautical mile in an area with very little current/chop. It didn't like chop at all, and neither did we. Similar to what Earling had to say you had to sail the boat through a tack, no throwing the helm down. The only way we would buy the nexus boat is if they came way down in price, and the BS is not our first choice for design, though having something turn key would be pretty nice. I want something that handles chop a little better. Puget Sound and the San Juans are a choppy place.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  9. #44
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I have no direct experience with a Black Skimmer because when I contacted Phil Bolger in the early 1970s expressing a desire to build one he talked me out of it. He said he was not really very fond of that design and that she looked a lot better on paper than she proved to be on the water. I still love the looks, but that was enough of a huge red flag waved by the designer himself.
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  10. #45
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Interesting information and thanks for it.

    It's often said that sailors are too conventional to accept something like a BS and unfairly derogatory about their performance, but IMHO it's still related to the fact that we never seem to get detailed objective evidence of the performance claims. The problem is that unless we can see a few race results we don't know whether the boats that people are comparing to were properly sailed or equipped; for example sometimes my old boat was going very slow because you couldn't anti-foul the bottom of the keel and it sometimes grew huge speed-sapping barnacles even when the rest of the hull was clean. If anyone used my boat as a yardstick at such times, they'd be misled. Similarly, if a Soling had "a big jib" and lost out because it wasn't self tending during tacks, then it must have been a very old or modified Soling - they've always had a small headsail and have had self tacking jib tracks since about 1973.

    It's understandable that a sharpie with that much sail would be quick in some conditions and a great thin-water boat.
    Last edited by Chris249; 02-14-2018 at 08:47 PM.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Quote Originally Posted by McKee View Post
    No formal racing of the scooner (Bolger's spellling), but lots of sailing in company. Our experience was that it was fast reaching or running, and not particularly weatherly. Running we are pretty sure that we have hit 10 knots, but it was "exciting" enough that we focusing on keeping the boat upright. We've done 7 knots reaching against a measured nautical mile in an area with very little current/chop. It didn't like chop at all, and neither did we. Similar to what Earling had to say you had to sail the boat through a tack, no throwing the helm down. The only way we would buy the nexus boat is if they came way down in price, and the BS is not our first choice for design, though having something turn key would be pretty nice. I want something that handles chop a little better. Puget Sound and the San Juans are a choppy place.
    Thanks for the info.

  12. #47
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Been talking to the current owner, the son of the deceased owner, and they've come down to 10k which is a good start. Tempted to fly down and take a look, but instead I will dispatch my brother, who's working in Alameda, to scout for me.



    Edited for content.
    Last edited by McKee; 02-16-2018 at 12:29 AM. Reason: added content
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  13. #48
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    More BS questions...
    Which of Bolgers books is it in, 30 Odd Boats?
    Anyone have any idea how much it weighs unloaded?
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  14. #49
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    The plans say 2,800lbs at the waterline. Cant find any weight given for empty boat.

  15. #50
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I found the same # after I made this post.
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  16. #51
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Quote Originally Posted by McKee View Post
    More BS questions...
    Which of Bolgers books is it in, 30 Odd Boats?
    Anyone have any idea how much it weighs unloaded?
    It is in "The Folding Sc(h)ooner

  17. #52
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    2800 lbs for the Black Skimmer??? Yes I think that would have to be with four people and a big dog on board. I remember it took 21 sheets of doug. fir ply at 50lbs each, plus another maybe 8 for the bottom, plus 500 lbs of ballast, plus the masts, etc. I figured it to be about 2200 lbs when done. I should also add--the Soling battle was in 1986, and when I said "big jib" really all I should have said is, "jib," period--I have no recollection whatsoever about what it was flying that day. It could have had a foul bottom; so could my Skimmer. By the time I launched it I was about broke and I hit the bottom with one coat of Red Hand copper. And given the 6" draft, quite a lot of that bottom sat in nice warm surface water. In any case, I believe Mike O'Brien of Woodenboat magazine had one of the, if not the first, of the Black Skimmers built, and it may have been his that was featured in Nautical Quarterly quite a long time ago. Great article, wonderful pictures of it sitting on a mud flat. If you were serious about one of these, I would recommend emailing him directly.

    In the three seasons I sailed, I was always very happy about its performance, and to "prove" that it was anything less than average-to-excellent speed-wise, I would have had to really make an effort. I can honestly say I've never sailed as fun a boat on a reach or a run.

    It doesn't surprise me that Bolger tried to steer somebody about from ANY one of his designs. He was nothing if not self-critical. I showed him the Defender dinghy I made to his design in 2007 and mentioned that I had left out the steamed ribs (it's glued lap) and he chuffed, "As well you should have!!" (since they had been included at the owner's insistence for aesthetic reasons). One of his main characteristics, that I like a lot, was an endless dissatisfaction with the status quo, including that of his own work.

    That Nexus boat is a crazy good deal. They must have spent $40K or more on it.

    One final note--don't be afraid of pounding, in general. The boat was soft in a chop as long as there was a breeze to get a decent heel. It would go "thunk"... "thunk" now and then in a left-over, dying slop. I had a Rhodes 19 (SMYRA actually, cold molded) that was far worse that way, and used to sail a 6 Meter that would bat its face against a wave now and then with a fat shudder and spray the whole crew.

    And one FINAL note--the boat was noisy under way! Not in a bad way, if you like the sound of chuckling water, but the chine logs and leeboards made for a nice symphony. And yeah--turbulence. But for some reason, didn't seem to matter. Definitely not to me.

  18. #53
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I put a deposit on the Nexus boat... the plan is for pickup in about month.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  19. #54
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Congratulations........

  20. #55
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Picked it up today, made it to Redding, Ca. Still have a ways to go to get home. Other than minor paint and the mast needing to be stripped and varnished she's in good shape. No bildge pump which is weird, and the batteries are shot.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  21. #56
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I'll be waiting for sailing reports.........

  22. #57
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Yes, please keep us up on your adventures.

  23. #58
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Lance, I thought she was seriously for sale.

  24. #59
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Quote Originally Posted by Lance F. Gunderson View Post
    I've written extensively about Black Skimmer in Stan Grayson's book "Sailing Small." The current issue of WB's Small Boats mag. contains Mike O'Brien's thoughts on her; he commissioned the design from PCB and built the first one. For what you want to do I think a Skimmer would be ideal. I've owned two of them and sailed aboard a few more. It's important that they be built exactly according to PCB's plans; any deviations will likely cause problems. No boat is perfect in all things, and Skimmer has it's own eccentricities. Leeboards are a nuisance, big and very heavy, but not as bad as most jibs to tend. When motoring, the rudder blade hits the outboard prop when you attempt to turn left; a Skimmer would have been the ideal boat for J. Edgar Hoover, who ordered his drivers to never make left hand turns. Also sharpies all pound badly, especially when at anchor, making sleep difficult for most people; I try to hunt up some small shallow, protected creek to anchor for the night, or put her aground at low tide, which is easy with a Skimmer. She has a surprising amount of room below provided you don't need headroom, and there is plenty of storage space. At less than 3,000 lbs. she is readily trailerable, and with a tabernacle mast could be ready to go in seconds. She will afford plenty of fun if you can tolerate her vices. I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have in the future, and keep us posted on your Skimmer experiences!
    A friend of mine had a Black Skimmer for years, true to plan, it sailed ok, not brilliant but well enough to be enjoyable. Slow to tack. But she was like being inside a guitar body at night, very noisy. He eventually made up a padded sausage shaped thing that he tucked under the bow when anchored, that helped a lot.
    All that said, if you want to go sailing in a shallow draft boat rather than build one, go for it.

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  25. #60
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    Lance, I thought she was seriously for sale.
    L.G.'s most recent post on this thread is from 2010

  26. #61
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Noyes View Post
    L.G.'s most recent post on this thread is from 2010
    You're right Dan. Somehow I missed a whole section of the thread.

  27. #62
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    pesky page break, how's Lance doing these days?

  28. #63
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Photos please.
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  29. #64
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Copy pasta from a note I sent the builder...

    "We didn't get to take the boat out (at the time of purchase). As generous as Stuart was he wasn't comfortable with me assembling the rig and going sailing, and I can't say that I blame him. No big deal, my family has owned/built a series of boats (including two of Bolger's, the "scooner" and numerous Gloucester gulls) and my brother and I made out living under sail for a number of years. We were impressed with your work based on the pictures of the build and I know Carol Hasse's work from my time in the traditional boat world. Needless to say I am pretty confident in the design, construction and quality of fitting out.

    The boat has held up well thanks to being mostly in Stuart's barn, and the Awlgrip There's some minor touch up necessary of topsides paint, mostly where joints had moved a bit. The hull paint looks great. The "wings" (whatever the braces for the lee boards are called) will need to be taken down to bare wood and re-coated in dynel and epoxy (unless you have another idea). There some sort of tape or maybe chafe guard cloth on the edge of the ply there that I am not familiar with. Do you recall how you finished those? The chine log needs new bottom paint (one side more than the other), likely due to sun exposure, but otherwise looks good.
    The rig is a bit on the rough side. The cetol didn't hold up well. The smaller spars can get by with top coating, but the main and mizzen will need to be stripped to bare wood, sanded, and re-cetoled. The main mast might need to be popped apart this winter and re-glued, but I am going to try and hold off. We will see what it actually looks like once I have it sanded here in the next week or so.
    The sails are really as good as new, and most of the line is on great shape. No work needed there.
    All said and done I feel like I robbed Stuart. Couldn't bring myself to try and talk him down. Hopefully his dad would be happy to see the boat go to a young family so the kids can have nautical adventures.
    Other than the paint and varnish I mentioned above I need to register the boat, and replace the battery and we are ready to sail.
    We are in Chehalis tonight, and will be driving north past your place in Everett on our way to Bellingham tomorrow."

    Since then I have completely unpacked the boat. Its a lot of loot and much of it still in the packing. There's a decent cooking set, though I haven't experimented with the stove yet. I swapped out the batteries for a pair of AGMs, overkill but they were cheap (second hand from the local University IT dept). Electrical is all in good shape - overkill for the size of the boat and degree of complication.

    I pulled the rig all the way apart. Lines went in a giant bucket of freshwater to soak, and the spars are on saw horses for now. I took the main and mizzen down to bare wood, and have gotten 3 coats of cetol on them. I am going to start putting the rig together tomorrow, and we are hoping to go sailing on Sunday.

    Only thing the boat didn't come with is bilge pumps. None of any sort. So I am adding a diaphragm style manual pump, and a low profile pump under the sole.

    IMG_20180514_191245 (1).jpgIMG_20180520_154654 (2).jpgIMG_20180527_091135.jpgMVIMG_20180519_145854.jpg



    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  30. #65
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  31. #66
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    I am really looking forward to sailing reports......

  32. #67
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    You and me both.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  33. #68
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Partially uprigged. First sail tomorrow so long as it's no blowing 20+.MVIMG_20180609_123440.jpg
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

  34. #69
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    Nice! Good luck.

  35. #70
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    Default Re: Bolger Black Skimmer

    MVIMG_20180610_115105.jpgMVIMG_20180610_115927.jpg Sailing day!

    Things went pretty darn well for a first go with a new boat. It was blowing about 15 when we set so we reefed the main and didn't bother with the mizzen, and just accepted the lee helm.. If we hadn't had 3 little kids onboard we would have set the whole rig, and planned on sitting on the weather rail. The main boom ended on the wrong side of the snotter, but no harm done. The reef looked better than we could have hoped, and the sail looked good. The boat moves right along at 3/4 throttle, and easy 5 knots despite the 1-2 foot chop. Even under a shortened rig we were making 4-5 on the way back to the ramp. The lee boards are totally manageable, and make a humming noise at around 5 knots.
    The cure for everything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

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