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Thread: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

  1. #1
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    Default Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I sold my 18' daysailer 2 years ago with plans on building a Goat Island Skiff. I have all the materials and managed to get the rudder, centerboard and oars done before a business opportunity came along took half my garage and all my time. I now roast coffee in the garage and have a nice little coffee bar in New Hope, PA.

    It's been a year of working 65 hours a week, not including roasting time, and I just got to the point where I have employees that I trust enough to pare my hours down to 36/wk. The extra time has spawned a fresh sailing bug, but I still don't think I can take on a building project.

    A breeze through CL the other day turned up a nice Thistle nearby on Lake Nockimixon. It's a glass boat with the "wrong" mast, but very reasonably priced. It got me researching the class and the more I read, the more I think I would like to have one. I mostly single-hand, and I've read all the warnings saying that might not be a relaxing day in a Thistle, but I sail mostly on inland lakes

    There seems to be several for sale with a 6 hour drive, including a few woodies. Boy, would I love a wooden boat, but I don't have a garage to store it. My head tells me a glass version would be easier to take care of.

    Here's the Cl boat https://philadelphia.craigslist.org/...735127192.html

    What am I getting into with a boat like this?
    4.JPG

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Dude, varnishing those bilges?

    Look, I love the Thistle class and so do lots of other people. They are awesome boats, especially in light air, but that is a high maintenance model you've got there.

    But hey, I have done my share of adventuring in wooden boats. She is lovely, except for that awful growth on her stern. Don't let me keep you from jumping off the cliff.

    Mickey Lake
    Last edited by bamamick; 11-05-2018 at 03:15 PM.
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    O.K., I went through and re-read your post. Don't do it, mate. Thistles have plenty of sail area, which is why they do so well in lighter airs. That glassfibre boat may have some flotation under the seats and in the bow, but you certainly aren't going to right her by yourself when she flips (not 'if', but 'when').

    In your area there is a boat called a Jet 14? A Comet? Maybe a Snipe? Take a look around on their websites and see if there might be something you'd be interested in. The Comet and Snipe are more stable platforms. The Jet is small enough that you can probably right it along if you need to.

    jmo, of course.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I'm a huge fan of Thistles, but not of single-handing them. Maybe an MC Scow? I understand NJ has some fleets.

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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    My last boat was a Lockley Newport Whitecap. 18', 176sqft of sail, 580# displacement...not to dissimilar from the Thistle, although it had a 150# glassed steel centerboard which tamer her a bit. I single-handed it for 3 years on my local lake. Never dumped it. I'm pretty conservative on the water. I was also able to step the 27' mast solo.

    I would not be opposed to mounting the boom higher on the Thistle, like the Whitecap, and getting a new main complete with slab reef points.

    IMG_0301.JPG

    My first boat was an international class Flying Junior. Now that was a tender boat! It was equally happy laying on its side as it was jumping on a 15kt plane.
    Last edited by Alan Cohen; 11-05-2018 at 09:26 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Okay, but you might want a row of reef points.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    A very difficult boat to singlehand.
    the wood boats have lots of varnish. If you can’t store it indoors, forget it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Pickman, a regular at the Small Reach Regattas, has been sailing his old glass Thistle for years, solo to four up. He does have two sets of reef points and has set it up to row or scull.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Cohen View Post
    My last boat was a Lockley Newport Whitecap. 18', 176sqft of sail, 580# displacement...not to dissimilar from the Thistle, although it had a 150# glassed steel centerboard which tamer her a bit. I single-handed it for 3 years on my local lake. Never dumped it. I'm pretty conservative on the water. I was also able to step the 27' mast solo.

    I would not be opposed to mounting the boom higher on the Thistle, like the Whitecap, and getting a new main complete with slab reef points.

    IMG_0301.JPG

    My first boat was an international class Flying Junior. Now that was a tender boat! It was equally happy laying on its side as it was jumping on a 15kt plane.
    I own one of the aforesaid Flying Juniors and that is an apt description. If it's moving, it's planing

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I fell into that trap of lusting after a cold-molded old Thistle, devising a dozen ways to tame it and make it a single-hander but in the end, when I asked myself "why a Thistle?" I just couldn't come up with a legitimate reason other than "they're really cool looking!" I came close to buying a beautiful mahogany Albacore, too, but always ended up with a similar conclusion. Love the pedigree, love the construction, love the designer... but then it pretty much flunked the "is it a good daysailer and will I use it?" test

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    When I was young, I had a Highlander, the big brother to the Thistle, which I sailed single handed a lot of the time. The big sail area was great for the light winds of the San Juan Islands in the summer. With any wind, the boat was a handful. I reefed early and often. It was not a relaxing boat to sail in a breeze
    Elect a clown expect a circus

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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    When I was young, I had a Highlander, the big brother to the Thistle, which I sailed single handed a lot of the time. The big sail area was great for the light winds of the San Juan Islands in the summer. With any wind, the boat was a handful. I reefed early and often. It was not a relaxing boat to sail in a breeze
    Made me laugh. A wooden Highlander was also on my "gotta have!" list. I saw one out with a guy singlehanding under mainsail alone one windy day and thought about how effective my 160lbs would be on the rail of a big 20 foot centerboarder . . .

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    A little blast from the past:

    s-l1600.jpg

    OK, I think I'm getting over my Thistle fixation. The one near me is certainly affordable enough to play around with and still retain its value...

    ...But...

    Does anyone know of a Coquina for sale?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Cohen View Post
    A little blast from the past:

    s-l1600.jpg

    OK, I think I'm getting over my Thistle fixation. The one near me is certainly affordable enough to play around with and still retain its value...

    ...But...

    Does anyone know of a Coquina for sale?
    Well, you could put a gaff yawl rig in the Thistle...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    For single handing, I should think an International 14 wood be easier to tame when sailing alone! And, it is less boat to store. You might even set up a small bow shed for protection. And, A 14 is still a hell of a ride when "Aolis" is snorting on your after quarter!
    Jay

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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    For single handing, I should think an International 14 wood be easier to tame when sailing alone! And, it is less boat to store. You might even set up a small bow shed for protection. And, A 14 is still a hell of a ride when "Aolis" is snorting on your after quarter!
    Jay
    You'd need to find a pre double wire 14 I think. Perhaps not so easy. Annapolis area and Seattle would be the places to look. A Jet 14 is much easier; I used to single hand my woodie (53) all time. That snipe rig lets you do jib and battens in a breeze.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Wow! Hope A C-B sees this.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    Wow! Hope A C-B sees this.

    Mickey Lake
    My friend Marsha Cutting singlehanded a wooden Thistle down the Hudson about fifteen years ago. Then she moved up to a Pearson Triton and across to the west coast. Marsha now uses a wheelchair most of the time and she was headed in that direction when she had the Thistle. She isn't professional athlete - she's a professional minister of religion.

    Oh, yes, the International Fourteen... for singlehanding, may I recommend an Uffa Fox design and a Firefly suit of sails and you are good to go...
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I have a WD Shock Thistle, and I can't imagine single handing it in anything but very light air. It takes a good crew to sail it well, and it needs a lot of (moving) ballast in any significant wind.

    Thistles have quite a bit of flotation, and two people can certainly right one if it is on its side. I think I might be able to do it by myself if I had a "righting line" that allowed me to stand further out on the centerboard. I would be in a world of hurt if I dumped it with the board up. Mine comes up with a lot of water, and it takes serious bailing to get it dry.

    The design boom is very low, and challenging for the crew to get under on a tack or gybe. If I keep mine I'm going to install a sliding gooseneck and have reef points put in the main.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I used to single hand a Star in light air, and it was fun. But a Star has this thing hanging off the bottom of it that will keep it upright.

    I think A C-B's idea of a Firefly would be awesome, but probably hard to find? Maybe an Albacore?

    Always fun to pick out a boat for someone else.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    I used to single hand a Star in light air, and it was fun. But a Star has this thing hanging off the bottom of it that will keep it upright.

    I think A C-B's idea of a Firefly would be awesome, but probably hard to find? Maybe an Albacore?

    Always fun to pick out a boat for someone else.

    Mickey Lake
    The Albacore is a fifteen foot version of Uffa's generic International Fourteen shape with flatter floors and with Uffa's stock Fourteen rig, so pretty much interchangeable with the Fourteen.

    I prefer sailing the Fourteen with the Firefly rig because she's that bit bigger and steadier - a Firefly is rather tippy at my age! With her own rig she is "quite lively" - and takes an awful lot of baling if you cap her!

    IF you can keep the boat afloat, a small keelboat is really better.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 11-09-2018 at 11:58 AM.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    I used to single hand a Star in light air, and it was fun. But a Star has this thing hanging off the bottom of it that will keep it upright.

    I think A C-B's idea of a Firefly would be awesome, but probably hard to find? Maybe an Albacore?

    Always fun to pick out a boat for someone else.

    Mickey Lake
    The Albacore is a fifteen foot version of Uffa's generic International Fourteen shape with flatter floors and with Uffa's stock Fourteen rig, so pretty much interchangeable with the Fourteen.

    I prefer sailing the Fourteen with the Firefly rig because she's that bit bigger and steadier - a Firefly is rather tippy at my age! With her own rig she is "quite lively" - and takes an awful lot of baling if you cap her!
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I found Albacores to be quite tippy - even with Laser-tuned reaction times. That is with the stock rig, and 2 aboard. Fast! I would not recommend it for single handing with stock rig.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    My first sail, circa 1960, was on a Thistle owned by my Dad's boss (#1317 or 1319), they are very popular around here. Not the best for single handing. I have a MC scow which is a great single hander (even for this old man) as long as you have relatively smooth water. I also have a Buccaneer 18 that I single hand successfully without too much drama although it is a bit of a tippy boat.

    This summer/fall there was beautiful Peter Milne designed MARAUDER for sale on CL, northern Ohio IIRC. Apparently it was built from a kit (mahogany ply) back in the early 1970's then stored in a garage basically unused since then. The photos, and there were many, showed it to be in pristine condition. It was still on CL a few weeks ago, someone probably got a very nice boat. Deals are out there.

    https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/marauder-milne

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I'll echo those who say a Thistle can be a handful.

    I had a friend who bought one. He had some, not a ton, of dinghy sailing experience. His sweetie had essentially none. They kept it a year, then sold it. I'm building them a Welsford 'Navigator' now.
    David G
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I think I'm going to take a ride up to see this Albacore. All the pieces are there. There is no rot. And it seems they are just looking for a good home for it and a reasonable donation to the school.

    I'm thinking it's a fairly early one. I don't see many with the aft decking.
    Last edited by Alan Cohen; 11-14-2018 at 07:19 PM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Back the the original Thistle from the OP: According to and article on daysailer in SailMagazine: "Six Categories of Daysailers" https://www.sailmagazine.com/boats/t...y-we-love-them

    Their definition: "For the sake of argument, let’s say a daysailer should be easy to rig and sail, preferably single or doublehanded, in fairly close quarters—say, a small lake or a tight anchorage. It must also be easy to launch, whether at the start of the season or the start of the day. Beyond that, pretty much anything goes."

    And from the "one-design" section: "Other standouts include the 23-foot full-keel Ensign, Sandy Douglass’s Thistle and
    Flying Scot, W.D. Schock’s Lido 14, and the S&S-designed Lightning
    , originally created for racing on Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York."

    So someone appears to believe a Thistle can make a reasonable nice daysailer. Maybe a steel centerboard, raised boom and smaller mainsail, balanced lug sans-jib etc.

    This is a nicely outfitted boat for the $$$:

    3.jpg


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Cohen View Post
    [SIZE=2]Back the the original Thistle from the OP: According to and article on daysailer in SailMagazine: "Six Categories of Daysailers" https://www.sailmagazine.com/boats/t...y-we-love-them

    Their definition: "For the sake of argument, let’s say a daysailer should be easy to rig and sail, preferably single or doublehanded, in fairly close quarters—say, a small lake or a tight anchorage. It must also be easy to launch, whether at the start of the season or the start of the day. Beyond that, pretty much anything goes."

    And from the "one-design" section: "Other standouts include the 23-foot full-keel Ensign, Sandy Douglass’s Thistle and
    Flying Scot, W.D. Schock’s Lido 14, and the S&S-designed Lightning
    [COLOR=#333333], originally created for racing on Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York."

    So someone appears to believe a Thistle can make a reasonable nice daysailer. Maybe a steel centerboard, raised boom and smaller mainsail, balanced lug sans-jib etc.

    This is a nicely outfitted boat for the $$$:
    Allan Pickman has been bringing his old glass thistle to the small reach regatta for years. sailed with one to four, two sets of reef points, a sculling oar.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Fuller View Post
    Allan Pickman has been bringing his old glass thistle to the small reach regatta for years. sailed with one to four, two sets of reef points, a sculling oar.
    You just might see 2 Alan's and their Thistles there next year...

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I don't think you can go far wrong with one. I raced them for many years and found them to be as comfortable or as challenging as you felt you wanted. 'Course I was 50 years younger then, too, so my notion of "comfort" has changed somewhat One of the beauties is that with a large fleet boat like that if you find is doesn't fit your needs, there's usually a fairly ready market to sell it back into.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh MacD View Post
    I don't think you can go far wrong with one. I raced them for many years and found them to be as comfortable or as challenging as you felt you wanted. 'Course I was 50 years younger then, too, so my notion of "comfort" has changed somewhat One of the beauties is that with a large fleet boat like that if you find is doesn't fit your needs, there's usually a fairly ready market to sell it back into.
    I can't believe that is not the case. And that rail doesn't look too uncomfortable.

    I have a pretty powerful motorcycle. It's 675# with 108hp and 119ftlbs of torque. It can go very fast, very fast, if you know what I mean. But I don't ride it like that. I just cruise and lean and enjoy the sound and not having to downshift a lot. Sometimes I'll feel inspired to take a corner a bit faster than usual, but not enough to scrape a footboard.

    My sailing is the same. I like a boat that doesn't feel like I'm sailing through molasses and heels a bit, but I don't need to turn on a dime and I've never flown a spinnaker. If winds are 20kts+ I'm not likely to go out alone. If I get caught out in a serious blow it would be nice to reef down and either stay for a while longer, or drop the jib and my ego and crawl home. This boat is set up for roller reefing as is.
    Last edited by Alan Cohen; 11-15-2018 at 12:26 PM.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    That Thistle look great to me. I was actually thinking it would be fun to build one, but have to accept it wouldn't be a good boat for me. But I would be sorely tempted to go for that one if the circumstances were different.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    It's appears to be a really clean boat. Pics are from 2016 and it's been garaged since.

    1.jpg

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