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Thread: Bolger's St. Valery

  1. #1
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    I haven't seen much discussion about this boat since it was profiled in the December ish of WB.

    Is anyone out there building one? What do you think of the design? It's on my short list of designs for my future project. I like it because it looks very comfortable. The high bulwarks give a measure of security allowing you to move about on the deck with more confidence. As a handicapped person, I worry about going to the foredeck on most boats (including my current one). The St. Valery almost looks like it was designed with disabilities in mind.

    I also like the unstayed masts and the water ballast (I don't want to spend an extra $30,000 for a tow vehicle).

    The one thing I see as a problem is the footwell. It can be removed and inverted for more room belowdecks, but that would make it difficult to have a self bailing cockpit, right? In the diagrams in the magazine, it looked like it wouldn't drain at all. Surprising, considering the owner lives in Seattle. I'm in Louisiana, the second rainiest spot in the country.

    It would be easy enough to build it with a traditional footwell, but is it possible to make it movable and self bailing?

  2. #2
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    A frank discussion with PCB&F would be in order, I'd think. My impression is that modifications to enable you with your specific limitations would be reasonably easy enough. It sounds like the sort of project they might enjoy. Intellectual challenge, egalitarian social virtues, etc.

    [This message has been edited by TomRobb (edited 04-06-2001).]

  3. #3
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    I have a first hand observer's report that the St Valery sails very well in lighter wind. When it pipes up, it is too tender for comfort or safety and will have some hard ballast added. The stability graphs in the WB article suggest that some modification is needed. A person with limited mobility should proceed with care but perhaps tailoring the design to your needs would work.

    There are a lot of interesting features in this boat. Lateral resistance widely divided between the centerboard far forward and the very big balanced rudder aft certainly requires a second look. It would be interesting to know what the dynamics of this system are in varying wind and water conditions. It would appear that the CB was moved forward to get it out of the cabin which then required the big aft rudder to achieve balance. Classic Bolger solution.

  4. #4
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    I have looked at this boat and corresponded with Mr. Bolger about it, and some mods similar to what you suggest. I am presently playing with this on the computer and have an alternate scheme worked up to add ballast and to eliminate the center line centerboards. I will eventuallyretire to a nice spot in north Carolina where the water is sometimes skinny and I wanted something to sail with the new family when the big boat is parked over at Beufort.(although I would rather sail Bounty part time)
    The idea of the mods to the St. Valery is to increase the beam slightly and add a centerboard case just inside the gunwhale on either side, actually running parallel boards. This would open the interior. I have also drawn a 30 foot version of this boat with the stability curves somewhat of an improvement over the original boat. This is just a technical game at this point, sort of a "what if" and "what would happen if". I like her looks.

  5. #5
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    Chuck,

    Are you suggesting having bilge boards in the cabin area instead of up forward and reducing the size of the rudder?

  6. #6
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    Sorta! If you take the basic lines and continue the lines from the chine out another six inches and resraw the lines there is no visible change in the appearance, but now there is room between the hull and an inside piece to create a "centerboard case, perhaps behind a settee....on either side....then you can either redraw the bottom of the boat as a slight "V" with a flat in the middle, say add about 6-9 inches to the draft, then add a lead shoe...or keep the present configuration, add a couple of 2 x 6's as a stb keel or grounding keel/shoe and add the lead to the bottom of that. All in all you will gain slightly in form stability and drop the ballast to 9-12 inches lower at least......I'm still playing with it. If the centerboards, actually bilgeboards were laminated ply they would float in the case. Using a small line much as a fuse attached to heavier line, the boards would be lowered and the line would break and automatically retract if they were to strike an object or ground in shallow water.....just some thoughts.

  7. #7
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    Didn't Bolger use the twin bilgeboard idea on his AS-29? I think so, and there's a fair amount of accumulated experience of how it sails. Worth some research.

    Dave

  8. #8
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    Am not familiar with the AS-29, but aside from the increased construction work I can see no difference than hanging the bilgeboards on a fitting on the side....

  9. #9
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    Where is this boat located? Ed

  10. #10
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    "Rail down" sailing requires more attention with bilgeboards. The trunk will need to be sealed all the way since it can go under water. The floating boards and "fuse" cord may not work too well. If you hit bottom and the boards pop up, how do you get them back down? Also having them pop up may just put you into more shallow water if you are on a lee shore.

    I would prefer sinking boards that will still kick up when they hit and can be adjusted to any depth. The adjustment line will need to be in a waterproof shaft with the board. Probably exiting the line through the deck is the best way.

    On small boats, I use floating centerboards with shock cord tie downs (who needs extra weight). On larger boats that are ballasted anyway, I'd use sinking boards.

    While changing the waterline beam and keel depth, don't forget to consider what is hapening to the sailing lines (waterline).

  11. #11
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    I'm sorry Tom if I am unclear in my statements.
    First imagine the boat with just a change in draft. You either build a small stub keel, similar to Jim Brown's trimarans and then add the balast in lead to the bottom of the keel, or redraw the bottom with a little "V" with a central flat and attach the ballast there...this will improve the stability a bit but will also increase the draft a small amount.
    Second, hang the bilgeboards on either side so that they can pivot or swing up, whatever, and be held down in position by a line...strong line. Run the line through a pad eye with a stopper knot in the large line. Splice a much lighter line to the end of the larger and draw that line so that the board is down and secure it to a cleat. An alternate method....attach the cam cleat to a hinge and use bungee cords to hod it down with some tension, but just enough so that if the board hits something it will kick the board up, jerking on the cam cleat overriding the bungee cord and tripping the line from the cleat....there are other ways to accomplish this. Now....where the board hangs...in effect...just draw a line to re-fair the hull around the board, open at the top, and seal the botton (and top) area where the center board isn't...the appearance of enclosed pivoting bilgeboards...sorta outside the hull...but enclosed for appearances......

  12. #12

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    I also am suprised that this article by PB&F has not generated more response and debate.It seems like PB, in these forums at least,is thought of as either a genius or very definately otherwise.I am not sure what camp I'am in but think this design,although radical,is very appealing.

    PB, in effect, is saying that a correctly designed (with sufficient freeboard) shoal draft, water ballasted 25' boat is as good if not better than any other type for offshore cruising, due to its inherent buoyancy and self righting characteristics.That is, it will not sink! This is bold stuff - what do you all say!

    Tom Lathrop comments on the widely divided centres of lateral resistance. To my untrained eye the profile dosn't look much different to some c/board Catboats with their barn door rudders etc. Maybe thats the point, but not having sailed one,I can't really say other than it looks kinda OK to me.(indeed current Offshore racers with canoe-like hulls and seperated fin keels and skeg/rudders are a bit similar)

    paladinsfo seems to want to re-design St Valery and its true an extra six inchs of beam never hurt a good boat! However I am not so sure about the bilge keels - what would be gained? If you want to go in that direction Iain Outghteds Eun Mara would seem to offer this feature in a very attractive package.(Watercraft - various editions)

    The observations about stability are interesting.If I am reading the diagrams correctly, with the 950lb keel shoe fitted the numbers look pretty good. In fact compared to the article in WB159 about the LEAVITT, they look great!(no real recommendation but you can see the point).Tom also comments that St Valery is too tender for safety or comfort when the wind gets up and ballast should be added,presumably the aforementioned 950lb shoe. So, has it been done, and whats the verdict?

    I like this design a lot and am suprised that not more have been built.To my eye its pretty and seems to offer many practical benefits. My prospective mate/ess says 'its got lots of flat bits to get around on'.Have I missed something? Cost? Difficulty?(PB designs are said to be straight forward for home builders, but this one was built by a very capable professional in Sam Devlin).To get the desired stability is it too heavy and difficult to trailer and launch/recover?

    If I ever did get around to building it I only get one go at it and would like to get the design selection right the first time!

    Comments ladies and gentlemen please !!

  13. #13
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    Just as an excercise...I am working on a set of rough drawings to check the feasibility of my remarks...with some basic notes....this is not by any means a full engineering study and is proceeding rather slowly as my eyes are rather swollen....this is the reason I stay on the boat, the d%#$@*& pollen around the greater Wash. D.C. area and I do not get along...and I've never been allergic to anything.........

  14. #14
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    John, take another look at the board/rudder combination on St Valery and the catboat. Look at the relative position of the center of lateral resistance and the center of sail effort. No need to be real accurate, this is just an estimate. St Valery's CB is well ahead of the CE and thus needs more underwater area aft. The huge balanced rudder is the clue. Without the area forward of the rudder stock, no one would be able to hold the tiller in a breeze. A catboat has the CB pretty much balancing the CE and the big rudder, which is unbalanced. The catboat rudder is big to counteract the mighty weather helm these boats generate when heeled in a blow and because they are mostly shallow and not too efficient. They also pull your arm out of its socket with weather helm due to the big sail and wide beam.

    This is not a scientific analysis, but is probably not too far off the truth.

    And yes, the added shoe keel is the extra ballast discussed.

    The St Valery is a very interesting boat and certainly pretty (hear that, Phil), but anyone should go slowly and be especially critical of any radical idea. Most "new" ideas have been tried many times in the past and discarded for good reason. That is no judgement on this boat, which may be a very viable design. It just is a caution to look more closely. I'm sure Bolger is just as interested in how this pans out as anyone and will also be looking with a critical eye.

    It would be great to hear his take on these arguments.

  15. #15
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    I have also recently seen a photo which to me would indicate that St Valery is an all plywood boat. The photo is inside Devlin's shop and appears to be the St Valery byt made from sheet plywood. Then the strakes are either fake/emulated or added later for appearances. This would make for easier construction. I have purchased some modelling ply at the local hobby shop and am building a large model to play with, and enough ply to build "my" version just for play.

  16. #16
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    St. Valery is glued-lapstrake plywood. The strakes are real; that's just about the only way to build a hull that shape out of plywood.

    Bolger has tried the forward centerboard / large rudder idea several times before, first in a pretty radical small boat called Dart, which has a very large rudder and an almost vestigial CB way forward, and later in the Cartopper, which is a much more conventional-appearing 12' taped-seam boat similar to a dory skiff. A large number of Cartoppers have been built. The idea was that the rudder could carry a significant amount of the lateral plane, and allow the CB to be placed where it isn't so much in the way. I think St. Valery is the first application to a larger boat. Tom's exactly right; the balanced rudder is to reduce the large forces on the tiller. That isn't a problem on a small boat, but the crew stays the same size as the boat gets larger. The idea certainly seems plausible, and from all reports the St. Valery design works well, but I think one would have to be careful of the rudder details, and build it stronger than on a more conventional design.

  17. #17

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    Thanks Tom (and others) re advice on lateral resistance.That, together with the cautionary note about new ideas, I have taken on board.If it ever came to it I would certainly build the rudder real strong!

    However what I would really like, at the risk of repeating myself,is to see some input from you and others on a couple of specifics:-
    1)What does St Valery sail like in heavier conditions with the 950lb shoe fitted? Anyone know?
    2)Is she safe and "unsinkable" in a knockdown as Phil Bolger seems to be saying?(with the shoe?)
    3)Would St Valery be difficult or expensive to build for a home builder compared to similar ply lapstrake designs?
    4)It's pretty - Why havn't more been built - what have I missed?

    The more general issue as to why this very provocative design and seaworthiness assertions of Phil Bolger have not generated a lot more informed comment also intriges me.WB and BDQ get pretty wide circulation.

  18. #18
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    1)What does St Valery sail like in heavier conditions with the 950lb shoe fitted? Anyone know?
    2)Is she safe and "unsinkable" in a knockdown as Phil Bolger seems to be saying?(with the shoe?)
    3)Would St Valery be difficult or expensive to build for a home builder compared to similar ply lapstrake designs?
    4)It's pretty - Why havn't more been built - what have I missed?

    The more general issue as to why this very provocative design and seaworthiness assertions of Phil Bolger have not generated a lot more informed comment also intriges me.WB and BDQ get pretty wide circulation.[/B][/QUOTE]

    1. The boat may not have been modified yet. Ask Bolger, Devlin or the owner.

    2. No boat is "unsinkable". Many are made nearly unsinkable in most conditions. If the boat is made like a bottle with few openings and those are sealable, it is nearly unsinkable. Another way is to include sufficient positive buoyancy in the form of foam or multiple air tanks. Bolger likes to get a lot of reserve buoyancy from high topsides and cabins.

    3. You would have to look more closely at the plans to answer the difficulty question. St Valery is probably MUCH harder to build than most of Bolger's simpler designs. Best way is to ask Devlin. He is probably the only one who really knows right now.

    4. It's new. Maybe you can be the second to build one.

    Your last point is a very good question.
    Only a few people on the forum seem to be much interested in looking into the design characteristics of boats.

    If I'm wrong, let us hear from you.

    Tom

  19. #19
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    paladinsfo....have you done any more work with the "St. Valery" and the bilgeboard design or the model/computer simulation? It is an interesting and pretty boat that I would like to try in a slightly larger size.

  20. #20
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    Jeff,
    I posted a topic on the St. Valery last October on Misc. It was quite a lenghy discussion, too.

  21. #21
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    More discussion?

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    Steve,
    I researched the archives for your past entries on the St. Valery, but came with a listing that implied the topic was posted 30 October 2000, but the actual entries were not to be found......

  23. #23
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    Well, that "other thread" must of been the one with the URL in it. Wish I could find it now (I think it was just a .jpg of the boat under sail.)

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