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Thread: Phil Bolger consensus?

  1. #106
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    If there is a Rutan of boat design, it would be Dick Newick.
    -Dave

  2. #107
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Why do people have to compare apples and oranges and say one is better.....WTF. Might just as well say I prefer Bach over the Beatles....means nothing....other than to me.....
    there are lots of really creative and innovative people out there.
    I admire both these guys.
    I like a lot of Bolger designs and respect a lot of his written sentiments....even when I disagree. Bolger's focus was often about trying to make boating and sailing accessible.
    Rutan expressed himself very differently because there was no part which focussed on accessibility for the masses

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Could be that there is some similarity between Bolger and Rutan, but only in the way they have each offered designs using materials available to home- workshop builder, making possible the fabrication of either a boat or an airplane.
    Had this been an aircraft forum, it might have been worth considering the comparative merits of the two personalities. Perhaps the flying types would be happy to have it acknowledged that their man has one over Bolger.
    This being a boating forum, though, I am not happy with Rutan even being considered an eligible comparison to Bolger.
    How could the idea of a boat designed by Rutan be conjoured, without a plane design by Bolger?

    Having only ever come to know about Rutan in connection with synthetic composites engineering, it might be fair to say that Rutan could be considered as someone who was a pioneer in the use of composite materialsin his field, where the same is not true of Bolger regarding wood.

    Newick does offer us a gauge in terms of boat design achievement, but he brought nothing new in the way of rig design or innovation in materials use.

  4. #109
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by sailnstink View Post
    Bolger has been more prolific and more popular.
    Just as a data point, in almost 40 years of living in one of the world's sailing hotspots (Sydney Australia) I think I saw two Bolger boats, compared to god knows how many hundred Jack Holt boats and many Spencers, Bethwaites, etc.

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    Just as a data point, in almost 40 years of living in one of the world's sailing hotspots (Sydney Australia) I think I saw two Bolger boats, compared to god knows how many hundred Jack Holt boats and many Spencers, Bethwaites, etc.
    Years of trundling around the Solent and although I think I saw 'Alert' once no other Bolger boats have crossed my path. Shame really because I would like to see a MIcro, AS29 and a Birdwatcher at some point.

  6. #111
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Good points. The hilarious irony I missed was that Rutan was a pioneer in the use of frozen snot for aircraft construction. I like my boats wood and my airplanes(even my gliders) metal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lugalong View Post
    Could be that there is some similarity between Bolger and Rutan, but only in the way they have each offered designs using materials available to home- workshop builder, making possible the fabrication of either a boat or an airplane.
    Had this been an aircraft forum, it might have been worth considering the comparative merits of the two personalities. Perhaps the flying types would be happy to have it acknowledged that their man has one over Bolger.
    This being a boating forum, though, I am not happy with Rutan even being considered an eligible comparison to Bolger.
    How could the idea of a boat designed by Rutan be conjoured, without a plane design by Bolger?

    Having only ever come to know about Rutan in connection with synthetic composites engineering, it might be fair to say that Rutan could be considered as someone who was a pioneer in the use of composite materialsin his field, where the same is not true of Bolger regarding wood.

    Newick does offer us a gauge in terms of boat design achievement, but he brought nothing new in the way of rig design or innovation in materials use.

  7. #112
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    I have seen "Alert" and met Jim, when she was in Gweek for repairs, there was a "light dory" also in the same yard built by a friend, i thought it was like riding in a fast kayak, not the most stable of boats,initially. Not surprising that Bolger drew boats to suit locations of the clients, which do not always work everywhere else. One of Lukes pilot cutters went to the East Coast of the US, but after a year of charter, decided that the draft was way too deep for the area. I would guess there may be more Nymphs used as tenders in the UK than some of his bigger boats.......

  8. #113
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Seems we've diverted to something like "what if God and Superman had a fight..." The question was our opinion of Bolger, not a "Top Ten Designers of ALL TIME!" list.

    I've flown aircraft and messed about in boats, neither professionally. I chose sailplanes and sailboats for the same reason: the connections with weather and moment are beautiful and immediate. I was blessed to share a project, a meal, and a couple of visits with Bolger & Friends, and I was impressed. When I meet sailors, we often break the ice via references to CarTopper's forward centerboard, or WindSprint's stiffened gunwale, or the two-leg-o'-mutton rig. It works, because so many of have read Bolger and understood him. That's a contribution that few of us will make.

    I am also a musician -- and I could bloviate that "Well Bolger's not Mozart..." proving only that I'm a silly person, wasting the time of others.

    Now would I drive to Mojave (from NY) for a similar day w/ Rutan? Oh HELL YES!

    AND, I miss Bolger. It's sad that we've heard all we're going to hear from him.

    PWE

    Chicks really like quiet guys. They think we're listening.

  9. #114
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    There's not going to be a consensus.
    Which should be OK.

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Bolger got me into wooden boat building. I built Teal, the Gloucester Light Dory and Cartopper: I made a great trip with the last boat, left the city, 30 km inland at 8 in the morning, and was rowing into a slight headwind all day. The river was meandering so sailing was out of the question till I reached more open water. I was beating till 7 a.m., just 15 minute late at the lock. I slept onboard a charterboat from a friend and the next morning we both went through the lock and out into open sea. The wind had veered so sailing to the island where my family was having a holiday was great, but the editor from the magazine I was writing for did not want an article because I had used an old windsurf mast and sail, very much like the original sailplan. Another magazine liked it enough to let me do my story in it. Later I built Tortoise and my children had a great time with her.
    I wish his books were being printed again, and that ought to be possible by 'printing on demand'.
    The fact that many of his boats are built by novices who put video's on Youtube without learning how to properly rig and sail the boats does not help either.
    Ofcourse he often designed beautifull boats and I think the catboat Spartina, mentioned in Boats with an open mind, is outstanding. A friend is building her after seeing the video from Keep Turning Left, rigged as a gaff sloop. When comparing Spartina with the Haven 12/5 or the Brooks 12/5 I think her sheer, is actually prettier, and she does not have that big lump of lead that complicates trailer sailing and building. Frank

  11. #116
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Back to the OP, Bolger did not invent the hard chine boat of course, but he made a lot of people aware of them.

    It was the ease of construction that struck me when I first read one of his books. My reaction was, "Hey, that would actually work," followed by, "Hey, I could build that." While at the same time the idea of carvel construction struck me, an ex-farmer with no traditional boat contacts of any kind, as impossible.

    I have designed and built 3 hard-chined boats based on Bolger's philosophy plus my own 2-cents. All of them worked out very well.

    Would I have built them if I hadn't read his books? Probably not.

    Dave

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    I'll say it again, Phil Bolger should be remembered as a national treasure for the breadth of his designs and for helping in a great way to make boat building possible for so many.

  13. #118
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    It should also be remembered that many of his "designs" were cartoons.
    Quickly conceived, un-developed, and often intended to meet a narrowly focused goal.

    The one thing I will readily concede is that he got a lots of people interested when boating was otherwise in a general decline.
    And that was worth a lot.

    I'll try not to "say it again".

  14. #119
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    My first wife, Rosemary, liked SHORPIEON, which says a lot for that book. Certainly not a "sailboat nut", she also liked The Compleat Cruiser a lot.

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Out here in the back of beyond, I've seen a few of his designs at meet-ups and on local waters: Cartopper, Teal, Dovekie. At coastal harbours I've seen several Micros tied up. There was a fellow in Christchurch, NZ, who'd built a Chebacco that was gorgeous. I've enjoyed looking at his designs in books and on the web.

    Strictly by chance, I bought a Gypsy (one of his conventional and easy-to-build designs) that had fetched up in a driveway, gone to seed, and sailed it a few weeks, and liked it enough to do a leisurely rebuild and re-rig. I love the graceful sweep of the sheer and the simplicity of the design.



    I added decks, to enclose flotation compartments, and a coaming. Also changed the tiller to a rope steering loop, adopted from Herrshoff's Coquina, that gives me freedom of movement. The hull is quite tender, so I added two ballast bags that settle her on her lines and ease my nerves. I didn't care for the leg-of-mutton rig, which looked odd and couldn't be reefed. So I built a balance lug for her, with mast and spars from local pine and a single-reef sail from Todd Bradshaw, that improved both her looks and her handling.

    She's very fast and responsive to the helm, altogether a treat in light air, and a handful in wind over fifteen knots or so.



    I think Bolger's best designs are not necessarily those that got the most attention and stirred up controversy. The man certainly knew his way around boats.
    We're merely mammals. Let's misbehave! óCole Porter

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    What were those water-ballasted designs featured in a Wooden Boat magazine some years ago? They seemed pretty interesting and at least non-ugly. -- Wade

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    This one was a local family's somewhat goofy somewhat brilliant group project. The rudder was not an unqualified success and the interior is strangely cluttered but she sails quite well. Since this is a hard sailing family, they understand how this design gains huge form stability as she heels, so they are happy keeping her unballasted.


  18. #123
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Ummm ... I'm split. I would fully agree with the comments that his boats were not constrained by the conventional but (and it is a very big but) yachts are not bought or built solely on function. You (or at least, I) have to lust after or fall in love with a design. Atkins Maid of Endor is such a boat - too small for my needs, not enough living space, too heavy and deep but by all that is holy, she's a beauty and I have a collection of pictures of various maids on my computer. Will I build her? No. Will I lust after her? Oh, yes. Most definitely.

    Bolger could and did design some beautiful boats (the Moccasin, Blueberry and the Swedish Cutter - plus others not shown - in this thread demonstrate that) but then his box boats smack you in the face and bring you up cold. I think that if he used his whackier design theories on commercial craft where the owners are more interested in minimising running costs, cheap to build and maintain then his ideas would have gained greater acceptance. But for someone to build a butt ugly boat that only a mother (or a builder - same functional difference) could love sort of paints yourself into a corner. It will be extremely difficult to sell on so you would really, REALLY have to love the design, its performance and appearance to commit to it.

    Still, as Michael Caine (a British actor) said about all the bad films he starred in, Any publicity that gets your name in front of the public is a good thing. His constant throwing of ideas and designs out there meant that some would stick. I can't help feeling that if he had sat back and targeted his audience more selectively then he'd have gained greater acceptance but then we would not be having this discussion, eh? >};o)

  19. #124
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    In some ways I agree with you. There are enough people who have 'bonded' with his box boats, that I think it ends up being subjective at best. There would be a degree of hubris to think you are better, somehow. You build the boat you want let the other fellow chose his. Bolger Box Boats worked well enough, and a lot of folks chose to like the style....
    Not me though... the boxes were interesting as explorations on an idea. The boxes were to me ugly, but like the perverbal fat woman...there may be characteristics that override the visual appeal.

  20. #125
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by TR View Post
    During his best years, Phil's approach to design was pretty much directly opposite that of other designers. Most designers want to be popular and liked, so they stick to producing the mainstream stuff that people expect. Like some great painters or musicians, Phil wanted a reaction from his work, he wanted to force the viewer to think. What is a boat? After exposure to various "box-boats", our ideas about what a boat may be have changed, or not!

    It was, in many cases, completely beside the point that the thing was easy (or difficult) to build or that it did in fact sort-of function. That many concepts were so far out as to not be taken seriously was fine with him. Many Bolger designs are not very good boats, and a few are really superior. But all are of interest to the student of design because they offer alternative solutions.

    I'm very grateful to Phil for expanding the range of possible solutions. If you want to know how a person's work is regarded, ask his (or hers) peers. Every designer I know holds Phil in very high regard. The boats he designed must be evaluated on their own merits.
    Yes, every one of his designs is a lesson on design, especially when you read what the boat was designed to do. Even the unsuccessful ones like "Eek" are of real interest to me, wanting to improve my own skills in developing and interpreting a brief.
    BTW, I built an "Amesbury skiff Mippet" years back, it was a great little boat.

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  21. #126
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by gilberj View Post
    In some ways I agree with you. There are enough people who have 'bonded' with his box boats, that I think it ends up being subjective at best. There would be a degree of hubris to think you are better, somehow. You build the boat you want let the other fellow chose his. Bolger Box Boats worked well enough, and a lot of folks chose to like the style....
    Not me though... the boxes were interesting as explorations on an idea. The boxes were to me ugly, but like the perverbal fat woman...there may be characteristics that override the visual appeal.
    There was a time not so long ago when I was pretty sure I was going to be out of a home and alone. If I were not a designer in my own right with all the conceits and complications that go with that, I'd have seriously considered renting an empty space with a power outlet and hanging a Jessie Cooper or AS29 together as a liveaboard, I think I could build either in about 4 months, not to concours standard but a box boat like that is never going to look fancy anyway. They're both good solutions to a particular set of problems, boats which are so very different to others but which work for some.
    As it was I came out with enough to purchase a 44 ft motor cruiser, and rent a private dock and a shed big enough to build boats in, and now my ex comes to visit pretty regularly and my dog can take himself ashore when he needs dewatering. We both of us won.

    John Welsford
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  22. #127
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    I agree, John. When I was separating from my wife, I lived for a time in a smallish travel trailer, rather than the 'box boat'. Certainly there were enough used boats around I could easily have gone that route. I actually nearly bought a small float house. Still occasionally regret I did not, it was way......cute....Later I did buy an old power boat to live on, which was great. The first while of separation were financially tense.
    Glad you and your EX are comfortable. My EX and I are not all that comfortable with each other, though we can behave OK in company. She does not visit, nor do I...

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    So if something like a Gypsy is tender and hard to sail in strong winds, may one ask why are they seen as great designs?

    There must be something that makes people love them - what is it? I know there are such craft; the International 12 isn't fast and has issues in a breeze but it's easy to rig, stable, dry, sensitive, and has superb low-speed and medium-speed handling characteristics. What qualities do the smaller Bolgers have?

    And if people think they are fast, in what way? We all know that just going past one or two faster boats means nothing - I've seen 420s going past 18 Foot Skiffs and original Windsurfers beat world-class speed sailors on modern racing gear, but isolated instances or those where there was a great skill difference mean nothing.

    Let me be quite clear - I know there are craft that I love that most people here would hate. I'm not casting aspersions, merely exploring how designs work.

  24. #129
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    So if something like a Gypsy is tender and hard to sail in strong winds, may one ask why are they seen as great designs?
    Heh - Lasers are tender and hard to sail in strong winds . . . .

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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Perhaps, but a Laser has other attributes. And as I said, given the emotions boats like the Gypsy inspire, they too much have other attributes.

    And exactly what "tender" and "hard to sail" mean is very subjective. To plenty of people, a Laser is stable and quite easy to sail in strong winds, unless you're pushing to the max and out of training. It's the same sort of issues that I'm interested in exploring, because without knowing what facets of performance someone is referring to and what they are using as a baseline, it's impossible for some of us to understand much about a design.
    Last edited by Chris249; 12-18-2017 at 04:44 AM.

  26. #131
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    The Gypsey with the narrow flat bottom and shallow sloping garboards that come to a chine above the waterline, have a very narrow waterline beam when weights are centered and your, say, rowing. As the boat is heeled under press of canvass or by shifting your weight, she's initially quite tender. She hardens right up as that chine goes in the water and it's actually very stiff - hard to dip more than half the top strake. At amidships the average adult man can place his weight near the top of the garboard. The boat will be well heeled but probably not to the point of shipping water. Try standing on the bottom and then walking inch by inch uphill on the garboard. You'll find that while the boat's a little tippy as you walk on the bottom, get her well over so the garboard's about level and she's very stabile.

    A nice seakeeping feature of this shape is that it's very hard to do a sudden dump style knockdown to capsize. The Gypsey will mostly, if stupidly overpressed, ship water over the lee side and rather slither sideways into being swamped if the sailor is so frozen as to do nothing. Plenty of warning that trouble is approaching.

    The Gypsey has good load carrying ability but likes to go light. I recommend sailing without ballast.

    G'luck

  27. #132
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Originally Posted by Chris249

    So if something like a Gypsy is tender and hard to sail in strong winds, may one ask why are they seen as great designs?
    Because it fulfills the parameters of its design mission beautifully. The criterion of " being inexpensive to build by an amateur," is as much design criterion as it its ability to point or its SA/D ratio. The Laser was designed to be a profitable consumer commodity, among other things, and I would also call it a great design.

    Kevin
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  28. #133
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    All boats are floating boxes -- it's just that most have curved sides and bottom.

  29. #134
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    All boats are floating boxes -- it's just that most have curved sides and bottom.
    Simplicty is the most difficult thing to achieve in design and comes with the massive drawback that it looks obvious and easy especially to those with little design experience themselves

  30. #135
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Bolger accepted a challenge in designing boats to be simple as well as easy to build and also inexpensive, which meant using sheet-stock as well.
    Now if the above criteria had been universally accepted by many more designers of his day and age, he should by consensus, undoubtedly rate as standout, although, he probably shot himself in the foot by, to a large extent, ignoring the trimaran configuration.
    Instead, he went with the ‘open-minded’ attitude and dabbled with a proa, which appears to be a stumbling block.

  31. #136
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Bolger did do one trimaran cartoon, a little thing for the 9 meter class. I don't know if one was ever built, but being Bolger he ignored the collective knowledge about trimarans and gave it a generously wide main hull, arguing that wide and shallow can be as fast as skinny and deep.

    He did some catamarans, too, including a huge one that was built by a sometimes visitor to these pages.

    His box boats were always cost conscious creations, and building and fastening together multiple hulls is never the quickest and cheapest way to get afloat. I'd really like to know if the Wally boat designer had studied Bolger before coming up with the likes of this craft. Bolger's thinking certainly has percolated through the boating world.

    -Dave

  32. #137
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    A successful Bolger design which other than the spars it would be hard to find a straight line and is certainly not a box. Perhaps the reason people see his design as boxes is that his most successful designs are square but the ones that people like, see some advantages in and spend time a $s building. There are many would be designers using their French curves and splines every which way they can but their design don’t spark a dream in someone who is prepared to think outside the box.


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  33. #138
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    From the first time I studied plans for Gypsy, I wondered if it wouldn't have been a "better", faster, more comfortable boat if the long sloping garboard (post 131) had of had a chine in the middle - picking up buoyancy earlier as it heeled. Not actually caring if it provided the last 0.1 knot of speed when rowing.

  34. #139
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    I don't think so. For one thing, an extra chine would add a good percentage to the weight. It adds considerably to the complexity of the build. And, as upchurchmr notes, it would harm performance - I think much more like a half knot or more or, if you're not going for flat speed, considerably diminished comfortable rowing range. Under sail, the garboard being nearly horizontal makes for a very efficient hull shape, so adding a chine hurts the sailing performance as well.

    The Gypsey is initially a little tender but is in no way dangerous. Try the walking up the garboard exercise I recommended at #131.

  35. #140
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    Default Re: Phil Bolger consensus?

    Ian,

    I think we just disagreed.
    Mostly because I don't care about rowing - which you are talking about, and not about sailing -which I do.

    A chine adds a good percentage? You have to be kidding. A small fillet and the same glass as used over all adds up to almost nothing.
    Adding the chine brings in righting moment earlier, allowing you to sail flatter carrying more sail power or stand up to the wind longer.

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