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Thread: Clipper Bows

  1. #1
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    Default Clipper Bows

    What's the functional purpose of clipper bows on boats under 50 feet? What about boats under 30 feet?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Pure aesthetics, although on the US work boats the rails of the head may have been to stand on when working out on the bowsprit.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I'd guess with a full deckline foreward & lotsa flare the clipper shape was probably just easier to plank...

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    What's the functional purpose of clipper bows on boats under 50 feet? What about boats under 30 feet?
    The pointy bit helps part the waves, particularly the deeper you dig in - probably just a lesser effect when smaller though

    sayl

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I'd guess that "easier to plank" could be partly the right answer, especially for smaller vessels. The trouble is that on a small vessel, to me a clipper bow just looks pretentious -- it's like the thirty-footer is pretending to be just a scaled-down version of the Cutty Sark, and it doesn't work. (Look at the profile of the fake 'clipper bow' of a Stevenson dinghy for an extreme example.) But on a large vessel the clipper bow can look absolutely beautiful. So aesthetics clearly has something to do with it.

    With a smaller vessel, even a fifty-footer, I think I'd be concerned at the reduced buoyancy in the fore-ends, which I would expect to lead to additional pitching. In extreme conditions but where a boat with the extra buoyancy provided by a spoon bow would still be safe, I could visualise one with a clipper bow digging in deep enough to pitch-pole.

    Mike
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Boat Fittings View Post
    it's like the thirty-footer is pretending to be just a scaled-down version of the Cutty Sark, and it doesn't work.






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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Seems like a tricky thing. Sometimes on smaller vessels they just look like tacked-on affactations. Bolger did some like that. Stevenson is another. OTOH, some people pulled it off consistently well. William Garden had the eye.
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I remember seeing, fifty odd years ago, a motor launch with a clipper bow, and thinking that makes no sense at all. By then I had crawled out on the bowsprit of a spoon bowed schooner to furl the jib, so I knew what real boats looked like. Once upon a time, before wire rigging and indoor plumbing, it all made sense on big ships. Now it has become an artistic affectation. A few artists, such as L. F. Herreshoff got away with it, because they had a good eye. If it were truly functional, there would have been a lot more 20th century racing yachts built with them. I can't think of any N.G. Herreshoff designs that had them, other than status symbols for the status conscious.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Binnacle Bat View Post
    I can't think of any N.G. Herreshoff designs that had them, other than status symbols for the status conscious.
    Notably, Glorianna.



    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I wouldn't call that a clipper bow, no hint of trailboards or fiddleheads, just a concave stem. Get as much boat as possible on a given waterline length, a theme he developed further as time went on. This was in response to the racing rules and materials available of the time.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Paul, of the four photos you posted in Post #6 (without any text but plainly in an attempt to refute my earlier comments,) I'll grant you that the ketch in pic.1 and the old-timers in pic.4 don't look too bad. (The ketch would look better with a spoon bow nevertheless.) But in any case they also look a good deal longer than thirty feet. The sloop in pic.2 is only saved from looking pretentious by the fact that she's a gaffer flying that lovely topsail (although her bow still looks a bit de trop.) And if the boat in pic.3 isn't the Stevenson I was referring to it might as well be....

    Just my opinion, of course.


    THIS is a clipper bow --
    Last edited by Wooden Boat Fittings; 06-09-2012 at 12:01 AM.
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Well, Rona certainly wears her clipper bow well.
    Gerard>
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    In a lot of cases, the clipper bow is tacked on, in the sense that the rabbet line for the planks on the stem is straight or rounded, with no reverse curve, and the fiddlehead is attached to the stem as a decorative touch. That's the case with most Friendship sloops and all Chesapeake skipjacks. Working men like a little decoration too.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    John is spot on there.
    Plumb bows are the result of 'box' rules, maximum result within an LOA. Excessive overhangs are are a result of LWL centric rules. Somewhere in between you get a seaworthy shape which lessens water on deck and a true clipper bow shape is one way of acheiving that. Look at the water most RTW sleds carry on deck and shed over their crews. Silly really , even superman is going to perform better without being pre hypothermic most of the day/ watch.
    Historically though, clipper bows on yachts .. ending say circa 1892 or so, are a pointer to an 'old' hull form. Slack, deep and often skinny. The spoon bow 'revolution' telegraphed a firmer bilge/ form stability and a generally faster and more wholesome yacht. They were called ugly when they came out in that 1893>5 and on period.
    Last edited by John B; 06-09-2012 at 01:40 AM.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Gloriana was the precursor, and either Wasp or Dilemma was the first true spoon bowed boat, so the date is 1891. Captain Nat looked at the rule and saw that he could build a bigger boat on a given waterline.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    In a lot of cases, the clipper bow is tacked on, in the sense that the rabbet line for the planks on the stem is straight or rounded, with no reverse curve, and the fiddlehead is attached to the stem as a decorative touch. That's the case with most Friendship sloops and all Chesapeake skipjacks. Working men like a little decoration too.
    Spot on. The clipper bow was based on a straight raking stem, to which was added the gammon knee and knee of the head, trail boards and rails, plus the figure head. All of your US work-boats were built this way.
    Then with iron shipbuilding the Aberdeen bow was developed, with a concave raking rebate like this

    This is what was copied in wood by the yacht architects probably for purely aesthetic reasons.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.....but clipper bows for me are ok on a full blown ship, less so on a friends 55ft ketch, and those hollow sections do allow for a boat of that size to pitch far more than a spoon bow. Not my cup of tea,and i think look daft on ANY small boat...but each to their own. Someone already mentioned the "tack-on" bow on some Bolger designs, and that really put me off some of his work,there was just no point,apart from asthetics,but as i started... beauty is in .....

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I think the clipper bow should be avoided unless the designer really knows what he is about. There is a risk of producing a weak bow with inadequate reserve buoyancy, which makes the boat into a diver.

    I exclude from this statement LF Herreshoff, Wm Fife, Wm Garden and the Friendship Sloops.
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Boat Fittings View Post
    Paul, of the four photos you posted in Post #6 (without any text but plainly in an attempt to refute my earlier comments,) I'll grant you that the ketch in pic.1(The ketch would look better with a spoon bow nevertheless.) But in any case they also look a good deal longer than thirty feet.
    So the ketch in pic 1 offers a good opportunity for comparison with its sister. It is L.F.Herreshoff's Araminta. She's 33' and is by his own words an enlarged version of the 29' spoon bowed ketch Quiet Tune. Neither has standing headroom.




    Last edited by Paul Pless; 06-09-2012 at 06:08 AM.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I guess that I'd need your definition of clipper bow before I'd step in too deep. For the most part anything on a yacht or a small modern sailboat is an affectation. On a traditional working sailboat a billethead or some form of bow rigging looks correct, but I don't know as I'd call them a clipper bow.






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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    I believe that Tom Painter is the one who has produced the correct answer.

    The shape of the inner stem, or the shape of the rebate, in profile, is simply determined by the natural termination of a fair run of planking around the forward sections. If you want fairness in a hull which has flare in the upper parts of the forward sections, you need a similar profile in the stem or rebate. Have a look at these two hulls - they are both almost identical except for the deckline forward, the forward sections, and the profile of the stem. When I drew these lines neither of the stem profiles were drawn for aesthetic reasons (although I tweaked them as much as I could for aesthetic reasons). The profile of the stems reflects the sectional shape of the boat. If anybody finds this hard to visualise, think of carving a half-model from a solid material - if the model has concavity in the forward sections it is very difficult to carve a half-model which has a spoon bow.

    The second lines drawing is not a finished article, and you will see that the transom is not represented in the plan view. These drawings are simply to illustrate the difference in the stem profiles in relation to the sectional shapes.





    Ross Lillistone

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    [QUOTE=Wooden Boat Fittings;3438170]Paul, of the four photos you posted in Post #6 (without any text but plainly in an attempt to refute my earlier comments,) I'll grant you that the ketch in pic.1 and the old-timers in pic.4 don't look too bad. (The ketch would look better with a spoon bow nevertheless.) But in any case they also look a good deal longer than thirty feet. The sloop in pic.2 is only saved from looking pretentious by the fact that she's a gaffer flying that lovely topsail (although her bow still looks a bit de trop.) And if the boat in pic.3 isn't the Stevenson I was referring to it might as well be....

    Just my opinion, of course.


    We'll excuse your ignorance about the boat in photo #3 because you are from the other side of the planet, but that is a Friendship Sloop, a very well respected historical type from the coast of Maine, where they were used for, among other things, lobstering and fishing.

    One advantage of the clipper bow in many of the sloops, is that the mast can be placed well forward in the boat, and there is still some structure to support the bow sprit and jib boom. If you look closely at the workboats, the mast is really stepped pretty close to the forward end of the deck and the stem, but it doen't look like it because of the structure forward of the stem.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Thanks for your elucidation, Brian.

    Wiki tells me that,"In the 1880's these sloops ranged from 16-20 feet long but over time they became significantly larger. Friendship sloops are not identical in size or shape, but they share a common design and appear similar. All are gaff-rigged, with a mainsail, a staysail and normally a jib. They may additionally have a topmast with a main topsail and jib topsail (flying jib). They all have a full keel, an elliptical stern and a bowsprit. They can range from 21' to 50' but most are between 25' and 31' in length (on deck)." The entry doesn't mention a clipper bow anywhere. But in any case they're clearly not big boats.

    The article also shows this generic drawing --


    The clipper bow is clearly shown, but I regret does nothing to sway my opinion about it. And the mast would be just as far forward, and there would be just as much support for the forward spars, were she to have a spoon bow --


    (I haven't bothered straightening out the knuckle in the sheer -- which I confess I also find odd -- or readjusting the bobstay lead.)

    I can why, as a tradionalist, you might want to stick with this vessel-style the way it is. I just think it would be nicer (as well as safer) without the clipper bow.

    Mike
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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Here's a better set of lines for a Friendship.



    The rabbet line is straight, but there is some flare, just as there can be with a plumb-stemmed boat or one with a sloping bow that doesn't have the billet head and trailboards. The odd sheerline in the Wiki article does not represent the type, just bad drafting.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    And here's a version of the famous Pemaquid design:


    from this rather interesting thread: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...isting-designs

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Boat Fittings View Post
    I'd guess that "easier to plank" could be partly the right answer, especially for smaller vessels. The trouble is that on a small vessel, to me a clipper bow just looks pretentious -- it's like the thirty-footer is pretending to be just a scaled-down version of the Cutty Sark, and it doesn't work. (Look at the profile of the fake 'clipper bow' of a Stevenson dinghy for an extreme example.) But on a large vessel the clipper bow can look absolutely beautiful. So aesthetics clearly has something to do with it.

    With a smaller vessel, even a fifty-footer, I think I'd be concerned at the reduced buoyancy in the fore-ends, which I would expect to lead to additional pitching. In extreme conditions but where a boat with the extra buoyancy provided by a spoon bow would still be safe, I could visualise one with a clipper bow digging in deep enough to pitch-pole.

    Mike
    This boat is 45.2' lod, and while designed as a compilation of earlier coastal schooners, I think it looks like it fits (well, I'm still thinking it did, enough to get the plans and start some work). The flare in the deck that you can see here I am hoping provides a certain amount of space and dryness, and an ultimate buoyancy that allows penetration of the sea by the lower stem but ultimately more floatation the deeper it goes - kinda like most, if not all, modern engine driven yachts and ships. I think in general it will make it much nicer to be at the bow underway.




    The design of this boat is a little fuller in the bow than the earlier Coasters which, though reported to be fast, may at times dig into a head sea. Nevertheless, in light air this craft needs more sail up than the earlier ones.
    sayla
    Last edited by Sayla; 06-10-2012 at 07:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    IMHO, only looks right when the freeboard is low enough compared to the length.




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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Presuming Ed View Post
    IMHO, only looks right when the freeboard is low enough compared to the length.

    Low freeboard is often a plus aesthetically. So is a big honking gaff rig!
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    Low freeboard is often a plus aesthetically. So is a big honking gaff rig!
    Without question!

    Wayne

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    Default Re: Clipper Bows

    It's a very stylish way to pull off a short overhang (max. waterline). The bow can be fine down low and full up at the deck (surprisingly full in the case of LFH), which might be what you want .........any yacht is an "affection", some are well designed and others not.
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