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Thread: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

  1. #1
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    Default Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    HI there
    I'm interested in sam Rabl's Titmouse and I was wondering if anyone here had built/owned one and had insight into here sailing characteristics, Also approximate weight.
    The only thing I've found is a reference to a fair amount of weather helm which the person who adapted Titmouse into Meadowbird solved with more sail area up front(and sprit) and a bigger rudder

    Any Titmouse sailors out there?
    I've searched quite a bit online.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    I know there's a thread by Bob Linton (I think) about building Karl Stambaugh's updated and slightly longer Titmouse, the Meadowbird 16.

    HERE

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Thanks I saw that in one of my internet searches prior to posting here. It's a cool build thread but the build isn't finished in the thread nor does it discuss the sailing characteristics of the Titmouse.
    Anybody have any insight?

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Here's a stunning example..with bronze winches too!!
    https://southjersey.craigslist.org/b...695835326.html
    Last edited by Toxophilite; 09-22-2018 at 01:00 AM. Reason: I was bitten by a radaiotive pig and gained proportionate pig powers,,which was actually kind of a let down.

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Bill Clemens made a blog post on Bob Linton's build site. He spoke of its sailing characteristics in glowing terms. You should check it out as he was a builder of fine boats. As of 2013, when the post was made, he said he still owned the boat, which he built in 2003.

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Do you know where that site is?
    I can't find it or Bill Clemens comment.
    I can only find the facebook page and despite it being a build from a few years back there are no finished pictures of Bob Linton's Build anywhere.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Bob Linton's build site

    https://boblinton.wordpress.com/

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    This is from the website Mike Dawson posted above. I mistakenly named the gent Bill Clemens, but got the name wrong. Here it is copy and pasted:

    Gary F. Clements built this one. GFC Boats (formally)


    “That’s me and my girlfriend Wendy in the photo with the black trim on the jib of the first “Titmouse/Meadowbird” I built back in the early 1990′s. Notice the 15′ on the mainsail. Karl Stambaugh and I added to the “Titmouse”, a bowsprit, a larger rudder, and more sail area to the prototype I built. Then we added one more foot and called her the “Meadowbird” so I could market the new plans. I still own the boat, and for those of you who wonder how she sails well like a “Banshee.” She points very high, she tacks easily never goes into irons, and I’ve never had the rail in the water. She is also very fast. She is a very beautiful boat to look at and to sail.”

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    I found that quote, and to be honest it seemed so utterly subjective that one wonders why he bothered to post it. What is "very high"? What is "very fast"? What evidence does he have for such conclusions? What's the relevance of the rail staying dry - it may just show that he never went out in strong and gusty winds. I'm surprised that the fact that a small sloop-rigged mono trailerable yacht doesn't get into irons is even thought to be worth mentioning - it's sort of like praising a boat by saying that it floats.

    Is the boat really "very fast"??? Faster than what - a Herreshoff 12 1/2? A Marshall Cat? A West Wight Potter? A 49er? An Optimist? 'Scuse the rant, but one suspects that there would have been very few designs that didn't attract that sort of loose praise from a very biased viewpoint, so their value seems to be pretty much nil. And given the speed of comparable boats, the unqualified claim that it's "very fast" appears to be pretty dubious; a bit as if I'd claimed my 1977 Volkswagen campervan was "very fast uphill" or that an International Canoe is "very stable".

    I note that on the dory-man blogspot, a former Titmouse owner wrote "I built a strip plank Titmouse which was a flat bottom 15' centerboard with curved sides, and also designed by Sam Rabl. She was very pretty, but really didn't sail all that well. "


    Last edited by Chris249; 09-24-2018 at 06:31 PM.

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Well I must admit that I find it strange that you find the post so disagreeable.
    I was asking for insight into the sailing characteristics of the design.
    Happily a fellow found an article written by a fellow who had built one, and then found it had some qualities he didn't like, and then modified it with a reputable boat builder to correct some of the faults .=
    I can't say if this fellow has sailed another boat but he did build and sail the original design, notice some characterictics he didn't like and then worked to rectify them. Sounds like he had some idea of what he was talking about, and something to compare it with.

    It seems like you have a negative opinion of the boat (based upon your examples) I saw the same quote from the fellow who thought it didn't sail very well. the same qualifications taht you specified could be attached to that quote. Maybe that guy was clueless, maybe he only sailed high end racing dinghies and had certain expectations..

    i was looking for opinions from people with actual experience.

    For example. i've owned a FLying junior, a Chrysler mutineer, crown 18, a nordica 20 and a Danica 16 (I've also sailed my friend's George holmes eel build 'Pilgrim's Wake' alot)

    i haven't dumped any of them, and I have sailed all of them in some pretty strong conditions, especially the Danica and Pilgrim's wake. That's because, I know how not to dump a boat in the water for the most part. I did dip the mutineers rail in the water once and got a small inflow, That was an oopsy.

    I'm curious as to what you expect people are going to say when you ask them about a design that seems to be relatively rare as far as experienced owner's go??
    Or any design really?
    We are talking about wooden boats aren't we?
    They are going to use subjective terms describing their personal experiences, what will be in variable conditions
    Not many people are testing their boats in special tanks with controlled conditions.

    I for one as the original poster appreciated ANY insight from actual owners and sailors of this design, good and bad.
    Last edited by Toxophilite; 09-25-2018 at 09:33 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Sorry, I just got annoyed because it was another example where someone had raved about their own boat, without giving any useful information. Presenting one's own boat as a paragon seems disrespectful of other boats. Other boats are always better in some way. Surely it's simply more honest to admit that our own boat has weaknesses and compromises? And without some objective information how do we know whether to believe the guy who loved the Titmouse's performance, or the guy who said it didn't sail well?

    In other sports and hobbies (ie cycling, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, camping) it seems more common to give more objective information or more informative comparisons about gear. That can be much more useful whether it's learning about one item or designs in general. The way of a boat in the sea is such a fascinating and complex subject that just saying "my boat is very fast, very beautiful, very stable, very high-pointing, etc etc etc" seems to gloss over the reality while trumpeting the virtues of one's own possession.

    I've got a rare wooden yacht. You can provide detailed information on them - whether they have high initial stability or low (i.e. "she heels quickly until the rail is about six inches from the water then stiffens up so much that she passed the self righting test for offshore racing, but that means she rolls badly at anchor....."), the pluses and minuses of the deck design, their overall speed complete with rating, storage, etc, etc etc. Whether a rail goes under or a boat capsizes doesn't tell us anything about the boat or sailor by itself - look at Lasers. Some people capsize them, some don't. Olympic gold medallists often capsize their Lasers and some beginners never capsize their Laser - but they are the same design. Even the fact that we are talking about small old wooden cabin boats doesn't mean much - some of them are about as fast as an Optimist, some of them could beat J/24s.

    I guess I'm just frustrated about the fact that it seems common in wooden boat world to behave as if one's own boat was nigh on perfect, which seems disrespectful of other craft, and means we miss out on lessons we could all learn.
    Last edited by Chris249; 09-25-2018 at 11:18 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    I didn't see any disrespect for any other boats..I think you may be reading into it big time.
    It's like saying "I really love spaghetti, I enjoy noodles a lot." That in no way implies other foods or different types of pasta are inferior.

    The fellow commented on his own build. In fact he tried it out, noticed characteristics he didn't like (excessive weather helm) and worked with a competent designer to correct those attributes. After the work done he judged it again and commented separately on three attributes ; it's pointing ability, it's speed(perceived or otherwise) and it's tenderness.
    As it's a small wooden day sailor, which are often more about simplicity and joy rather than technical perfection, he might not be carrying an inclinometer, a compass and some sort of speed indicator (wind and or boat speed) and doing clinical tests.
    certainly he wasn't in a laboratory under regulated conditions with a control example....
    I'm not saying his comments are the be all and end all, but clearly in the end he was very happy with his boat and his comments would suggest he had something to compare it with.
    This gives us a lot more information than:
    "It didn't sail well" which tells us nothing except that someone was dissatisfied, but not how, or what about, or what the situation was, or give us any insight whatsoever.

    I was looking for information on the boat's sailing characteristics and people shared these articles (I had seen the comment you previously had in your post about not sailing well already online I took it for what it was worth and wondered if it could be commenting on the weather helm, but I'll never know)
    The one tells me one fellow was satisfied and why and the other tells me another wasn't, but not why.

    I did find this one, This fellow doesn't seem to like single-handing which I personally, quite like and do all the time when I sail, but it does depend some on how the boat is rigged.
    interestingly he commented that he thought the centerboard and rudder were inadequate (and that he paid Phil Bolger to increase his rudder size) which fits with what Gary Clements was saying about his boat and the modifications he did to his Titmouse which then inspired a 'new' design the Meadowbird.

    http://www45.pair.com/michaele/boat.htm


    These three comments would suggest there are some comparatively simple design modifications that can be made to Titmouse to greatly improve her sailing charcteristics. (sprit, (to spread out/increasing the sail plan), bigger rudder, possibly bigger centerboard or the addition of a small shoal keel.)
    So if you have comments specifically on the Titmouse, I'd appreciate it, if not, further derailing into the subject of how people comment on boats isn't really necessary. Thanks

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    I would like to say Karl Stambaugh really impressed me
    i sae the Titmouse that had been modified resulting in the Meadowbird plans had come up for sale on craigslist. I emailed asking about the boat and heard back from the builders son and from the builder who suggested I get in touch with Karl Stambaugh
    I did and Karl Stambaugh promptly sent me the Meadowbird plans as I plan to do some of the modifications suggested. very cool!

    Also to Chris249 I forgot to add this to the comments he originally had a problem with. this is from the same builder but in an email sent to me 2 days ago:
    "Yes this is the modified "Titmouse" that inspired the Meadowbird. Karl Stambaugh N. A. Did the modified design work on the keel, sail plan, bowsprit, rudder and tiller, and centerboard. All were modified to make a better sailing and more commodious boat. She is well balanced with slight weather helm. Can't get the rail down , get stuck in irons, and no centerboard trunk down below. She is sweet.


    The original boat had extreme weather helm. The bowsprit and new sail plan balances it out. The larger rudder and stronger tiller help manage the extra sail.


    He could leave the original centerboard setup. I made those changes so I could sleep two below without the trunk in the middle."

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    Thanks for the update on the history. It is true most boats could be made to sail better, but often at the cost of something else. Some might actually put comfort at anchor above sailing performance, even on a boat suited for a circumnavigation. Glad you got some helpful information.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    One of my favorite naval architects, William Garden, believed in the value of working a boat type, improving with each new version. John Alden schooners show the same way one benefits from versions of the same thing. And sometimes, as in this Rabl to Stambaugh evolution, sometimes it's more a community event. I've been privileged to see three quite different designs evolve, one by Nat Benjamine and two at Pease Boatworks. It's normal to have issues in a first iteration. It's really fun to see how they are met.

    Sometimes by an owner. L Francis Herreshoff's Marco Polo had more weatherhelm than many like. The owner of Granuaile before me had solved that by giving her a bow sprit and some sail area out front. He also reshaped the keel and rudder trading away a little nimbleness for steadier tracking.

    I do agree that without objective details, a remark like ". . . I’ve never had the rail in the water." [#8] could mean anything from "She can really carry her sail in a blow" (still a bit vague but whatever) to "We only sail in a Gentle Breeze".

    I had a friend who built a canvass over aluminum tubes canoe and made a sail (this was before Tyvek) of shower curtain material. He sailed it on a remote Maine lake that saw no other boats of any sort. He thought it sailed great. I saw no reason to disillusion him.

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    The recesses of my mind are reminding me that Weston Farmer wrote a chapter of his book on the topic of Sam Rabl's designs.I vaguely recall that they were described as mostly variations on a theme and that one in particular worked quite well.Its a while since I read the book.

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    Default Re: Sam Rabl's Titmouse sailing characteristics

    I was under the impression that the Picaroon was one of Sam Rabl's most loved designs. However I could be totally wrong.

    I understand that remarks without a frame of reference don't impart technical details well. i still think though that anyone that sails a design and decides it could be improved , and gets someone to do the improvement, must have some sort of context for his critical decisions, otherwise he'd probably be just caught up in the joy of sailing the product of his labours and not bother to modify the original design.
    i think the remarks should be taken in context of the entire context. Out of context they have less value.

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