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Thread: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

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    Default John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Hello all,
    I am new to this forum so forgive me for any hiccups.

    I was wondering about building a boat mainly for fishing on the pacific coast of Southern California particularly in Morro Bay or Long Beach. I was looking for a boat capable enough to get me out to fish for Mackeral, Sand Dabs, and maybe even yellowfin tuna. I initially liked the idea of having a boat small enough to launch easily and take offshore maybe a mile or two out to fish, with the idea of being able to beach the boat if conditions looked like they were getting too dangerous or make it back to the port of long beach or morro bay.

    I initially liked the idea of using the pilgrim for this task as it seemed capable of doing such a thing in the surf and current around this area. However, the weight seemed quite heavy to me and I am not sure if the boat is able to be beached on rollers. I read the posts about John welsfords design ideas and learned that the houdini was based along the same sort of "all terrain sailing" idea that pilgrim was and was much lighter as well.

    So my questions are:
    Can the pilgrim be beached on rollers with one or two people?

    Can the houdini handle the seas along the pacific coast out to about a mile?

    Thank you for any responses and I hope my message was clear.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Pilgrim's plans list the dry weight at 1,056 lbs; Houdini is listed at 185 lbs unrigged.

    I would think Pilgrim is not beachable in any realistic way; too heavy. It's a boat that you can sail up to a beach and hop out in knee-deep water, I'd guess.

    Houdini is a big high-volume, high-freeboard 14-footer. To my eye, it certainly looks capable of handling the kinds of sailing you have in mind if handled intelligently, though really all small boats will be at risk in breaking surf if you have to land after the wind picks up.

    These are guesses based on my experiences in other boats. I've seen a Houdini up close, but never sailed one. I've never even seen a Pilgrim in real life. So, take my comments with a pillar of salt...

    Tom
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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Thank you WI-Tom,

    I agree about the pilgrims weight seeming too big for my purposes. I wonder if that weight for the houdini includes water ballast.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by leakydecks View Post
    Thank you WI-Tom,

    I agree about the pilgrims weight seeming too big for my purposes. I wonder if that weight for the houdini includes water ballast.
    I'm almost certain Houdini does not use water ballast. The description on Duckworks mentions a self-draining floor to keep the sleeping space dry, but I didn't see any mention of ballast.

    Tom
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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    good point. seems pretty stable too.

    How can you tell how capable a certain boat will be?

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Very capable
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...trait-Crossing

    In case your Antipodean geography is a bit challenged, Bass Strait is between southern mainland Australia, and Tasmania - not quite Southern Ocean material, but not something to trifle with either.

    Pete
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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    wow thats pretty amazing. seeing that really gives me confidence in the design.

    It really confuses me some people can cross entire straight in these types of boats. But I show a boat like this to my friend who has more expierience with boats than me and he says he would not take it more than 5 miles from shore on a calm day.

    What leads to this disparity in confidence with boats like this?

    as anyone ever put on fishing rod holder? and how do people fish while dealing with the boom?

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Choose your weather window. Very carefully . Given good enough weather, any boat can cross anything - a Hartley 16 has crossed the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. 1200 miles of open sea that has swallowed up plenty of large, "offshore" yachts over the years. The word foolhardy comes to mind!
    Houdini is probably literally unsinkable, so it is more about how the crew equipped and what they are realistically capable of dealing with safely. That's something only you can answer.

    Pete
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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by leakydecks View Post
    It really confuses me some people can cross entire straight in these types of boats. But I show a boat like this to my friend who has more expierience with boats than me and he says he would not take it more than 5 miles from shore on a calm day.

    What leads to this disparity in confidence with boats like this?
    In a word, experience.

    To someone who has put in a few thousand miles in open, unballasted dinghies, it is much more apparent that such boats, handled intelligently, are extremely capable and comfortable (and, I've found, much more interesting to sail, and able to sneak into many places keelboats can't get to). Part of "handled intelligently" is of course not going out in extreme conditions. And an open calendar with no need to follow a set schedule makes that much more possible. But as you learn, you get a better sense of how to handle a small boat in worse conditions as well. Simple, fast reefing is important. I'd say, also the ability to strike the rig entirely and shift to oars in really extreme conditions. There was a good thread on Open Boat Storm Tactics years ago that would be worth a read. Lots of experienced designers and sailors contributed.

    To someone accustomed to keelboats, dinghies seem frail and unstable, and uncomfortable.

    Quote Originally Posted by leakydecks View Post
    as anyone ever put on fishing rod holder? and how do people fish while dealing with the boom?
    Historically, fishermen dealt with the boom by using boomless rigs. A boomless standing lugsail would work quite well on many boats, probably including Houdini. I've taken to calling a boomless standing lug "the perfect rig for people who want a boat that disallows Type A behavior"--very simple, not much fussing needed, fairly equal in performance to boomed lug rigs in every way that matters to me.

    Tom
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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    WARNING!

    A properly ballasted, unrigged Houdini probably weighs quite a bit more than just 185 pounds!

    Houdini is a wonderful design. I should know - I have the plans for it.

    Those plans call for solid ballast, preferably in the form of lead bricks. These are installed near the centerboard, under the sole. Because of this added solid ballast, Houdini likely weighs quite a bit more than 185 pounds unrigged, if one assumes that the ballast remains semi-permanently installed under the sole.

    Sheet 2 of the Houdini plans states, "Ballast to Taste. Maximum 120 kg." 120 kilograms works out to 264 pounds.

    Now, I get that the phrase, "Ballast to Taste", implies that ballast is sort of, maybe, kind of optional. But when an unrigged hull weighs 185 pounds and the maximum lead ballast is listed as 264 pounds in the plans, my thinking is that some amount of ballast is mandatory. Maybe not the full 264, but some amount, and not a tiny amount either. My guess is that an unrigged and reasonably ballasted Houdini probably weights more like 300 to 350 pounds. This is very different from a 185 pound hull.

    I could be entirely wrong in this speculation - the Houdini hullform is quite stable and ballast might be truly optional. Perhaps John Welsford will comment directly in this thread?

    I too noticed that neither the Duckworks website nor John Welsford's website mentioned this additional ballast weight. Both only mention the 185 pounds for the unrigged hull.

    In theory, it should be possible to instead install water ballast tanks, but that is an issue that one would have to take up with the designer, John Welsford. I do not know if water ballast is viable or not.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Thanks for the info about Houdini ballast--that's an important consideration. Makes it impossible, in my experience, to manhandle on a beach for a solo sailor, and nearly so for two.

    I suppose you could beach it, unload the ballast separately, and deal with a 185-lb hull, but that would hardly be convenient. Or, as you say, maybe John Welsford would consider a water ballast arrangement if asked (and paid) to draw one up?

    Tom
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    www.tompamperin.com

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Just to repeat, I could be wrong and Houdini might sail just fine without extra ballast. I don't know for sure. But I get the impression that some decent amount of ballast would be required for best sailing. That, or a lot of camping gear stored low-center.

    If water ballast tanks are a viable option according to John Welsford, I don't think they would be too hard to install. Hopefully just a simple adaptation of the plans. The two undersole compartments port and starboard of the centerboard case could be sealed off, fiberglassed and epoxy coated, and rigged with drain plugs and watertight inspection ports.

    My guess is that it would be necessary to run two small PVC drain lines along each side of the centerboard case inside the watertanks to drain the forward undersole compartments into the aft drainage area and from thence overboard. But again, one should check with Welsford first before proceeding with such a modification.


    Once upon a time, I just looooooved the idea of tweaking a boat designer's plans willy nilly. But after studying plans for a few years and reading some boat mod horror stories, I finally grew up. Nowadays, I appreciate just how much experience, talent, and deep thought goes into a really good boat design. I am now loath to change any even small detail.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    I sail a Welsford Truant off the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, New Zealand.
    We are at 41 degrees south, so technically in the Roaring Forties.
    The Truant has a family resemblance to the Houdini, but is significantly smaller and lighter.
    Despite its small size, I feel very safe in it, and would head out to Kapiti Island (5km offshore) in 15 knots without a second thought.
    20 knots becomes more serious, and I should probably reef at that point.
    The hull form (without any sort of ballast) is stable and very forgiving, without being in the least bit dull.

    Dave

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeSeubert View Post
    Once upon a time, I just looooooved the idea of tweaking a boat designer's plans willy nilly. But after studying plans for a few years and reading some boat mod horror stories, I finally grew up. Nowadays, I appreciate just how much experience, talent, and deep thought goes into a really good boat design. I am now loath to change any even small detail.
    Iím annoyed when people project their own lack of competence on everyone else. Itís the ďI canít do it, so therefore it must be impossibleĒ thing. Itís something that, IME, inevitably leads to mediocrity. If nobody is brave enough to have a go, then how does anyone extend their skillset? How do innovations come about if all we ever do is copy the work of others blindly?

    But, at least youíre honest.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Have you considered Navigator? I’m rather partial to the design, on account of building one.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by suzyj View Post
    I’m annoyed when people project their own lack of competence on everyone else. It’s the “I can’t do it, so therefore it must be impossible” thing. It’s something that, IME, inevitably leads to mediocrity. If nobody is brave enough to have a go, then how does anyone extend their skillset? How do innovations come about if all we ever do is copy the work of others blindly?

    But, at least you’re honest.
    I think there's a scale here, Suzy. I modified any number of things on my Pathfinder build, some of them were aesthetic (as designed, the radius of arc across the top of the transom is too small to my eye), some of them were quite significantly structural (by fully utilising the available centercase length, and relocating the pivot appropriately, considerably more board could be left housed in the case when fully lowered), and some of them were things where I decided my way was better that JW's, for a variety of reasons. However, none of them affected the hull shape, displacement or sail plan in any way, and nowhere were scantlings reduced - quite the opposite, as there were a few areas, especially around the cockpit, that I felt were rather under-done and fragile per the plans.
    However, following plans to the letter is not an unreasonable thing to do, and I dont get the vitriol.
    I'm not a creative/confident cook, but I know that if I follow a recipe as closely as possible, the chances of something edible, damn tasty even, emerging from the oven, are pretty high. I have thrown inedible slop straight into the bin, when I've gone off the reservation . I don't see boat building, or any creative enterprise for that matter, being any different in that regard

    Pete
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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Oh, the vitriol is simply because, as a female engineer, this is a terribly familiar tune.

    Me: I think it would be neat if I tried X.

    Random internet dude: That could never work! I am the authority in such things, and you must respect my authority!

    Me: Well in that case I’ll definitely try X.

    At least this guy didn’t claim to be the authority.

    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but usually the person claiming to be an authority actually isn’t. They’re just someone with average skills who gets all bent out of shape at someone trying something they would never do. What they’re really saying is “I base my self worth on what those around me do. I don’t really understand X, but it will belittle me if you, a mere woman, succeed where I have failed (or more likely not tried).”

    Anyway, I’m a dreadfully successful engineer (not in boats, as it happens). One very big reason I’m successful is because I am brutally stubborn, and being told I can’t do something is the very best way to get me to do it.

    To the OP, add ballast, remove ballast, put ballast in in creative ways. Fill your boots and have a good time doing it. With luck you’ll learn a whole lot, and there’s a bunch of people here that will give you good constructive advice as needed, plus a few who will do their utmost to rain on your parade.

    At the end of all this remember it’s a dinghy, not the space shuttle. There’s a bloody big margin for error in these things.
    Last edited by suzyj; 07-25-2020 at 03:58 AM.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    LOL, you're talking to an embedded software developer, male FWIW. My team to management - we think it would be really cool blah blah. The bloviators don't get it - denied.
    Fast forward five years, one of the bloviators has an ****am-azing, frikken cool**** idea. Yawn, you see where this is going .

    Pete
    Like a miracle, all the trolls disappeared

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by suzyj View Post
    Have you considered Navigator? Iím rather partial to the design, on account of building one.
    I have considered the Navigator I do like the design. However I thought the non-planing hull would suit the purpose of fishing and heavier seas a bit better

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    I am okay with some lead or water ballast. I actually like that there is a bit more weight in the hull to help stabilize it in waves. If I want to beach camp (which is relatively rare in southern California I believe) I have no issue either unloading lead weights or water or setting it up to have less ballast.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeSeubert View Post
    WARNING!

    A properly ballasted, unrigged Houdini probably weighs quite a bit more than just 185 pounds!

    Houdini is a wonderful design. I should know - I have the plans for it.

    Those plans call for solid ballast, preferably in the form of lead bricks. These are installed near the centerboard, under the sole. Because of this added solid ballast, Houdini likely weighs quite a bit more than 185 pounds unrigged, if one assumes that the ballast remains semi-permanently installed under the sole.

    Sheet 2 of the Houdini plans states, "Ballast to Taste. Maximum 120 kg." 120 kilograms works out to 264 pounds.

    Now, I get that the phrase, "Ballast to Taste", implies that ballast is sort of, maybe, kind of optional. But when an unrigged hull weighs 185 pounds and the maximum lead ballast is listed as 264 pounds in the plans, my thinking is that some amount of ballast is mandatory. Maybe not the full 264, but some amount, and not a tiny amount either. My guess is that an unrigged and reasonably ballasted Houdini probably weights more like 300 to 350 pounds. This is very different from a 185 pound hull.

    I could be entirely wrong in this speculation - the Houdini hullform is quite stable and ballast might be truly optional. Perhaps John Welsford will comment directly in this thread?

    I too noticed that neither the Duckworks website nor John Welsford's website mentioned this additional ballast weight. Both only mention the 185 pounds for the unrigged hull.

    In theory, it should be possible to instead install water ballast tanks, but that is an issue that one would have to take up with the designer, John Welsford. I do not know if water ballast is viable or not.
    that is interesting I have never heard of ballast to taste. the worst case scenario is I practice how fast I can unballast a ship in the crashing waves on a sandy beach. Maybe I can get a radio to play benny hill while I'm doing it . the ballast should be good in larger swells correct? I see wave heights normally between 2-5 feet around here

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeSeubert View Post
    WARNING!

    A properly ballasted, unrigged Houdini probably weighs quite a bit more than just 185 pounds!

    Houdini is a wonderful design. I should know - I have the plans for it.

    Those plans call for solid ballast, preferably in the form of lead bricks. These are installed near the centerboard, under the sole. Because of this added solid ballast, Houdini likely weighs quite a bit more than 185 pounds unrigged, if one assumes that the ballast remains semi-permanently installed under the sole.

    Sheet 2 of the Houdini plans states, "Ballast to Taste. Maximum 120 kg." 120 kilograms works out to 264 pounds.

    Now, I get that the phrase, "Ballast to Taste", implies that ballast is sort of, maybe, kind of optional. But when an unrigged hull weighs 185 pounds and the maximum lead ballast is listed as 264 pounds in the plans, my thinking is that some amount of ballast is mandatory. Maybe not the full 264, but some amount, and not a tiny amount either. My guess is that an unrigged and reasonably ballasted Houdini probably weights more like 300 to 350 pounds. This is very different from a 185 pound hull.

    I could be entirely wrong in this speculation - the Houdini hullform is quite stable and ballast might be truly optional. Perhaps John Welsford will comment directly in this thread?

    I too noticed that neither the Duckworks website nor John Welsford's website mentioned this additional ballast weight. Both only mention the 185 pounds for the unrigged hull.

    In theory, it should be possible to instead install water ballast tanks, but that is an issue that one would have to take up with the designer, John Welsford. I do not know if water ballast is viable or not.
    I sailed my own Houdini unballasted, was more than happy with it that way and covered a lot of miles, often well off the shore in rough sea conditions. But some people prefer the way the boat feels with some ballast in it, hence the note about ballast.
    Pilgrim is a boat of very different character, more akin to a keelboat, and is much larger than Houdini, more so than just the difference in length would suggest. Designed for extended coastal cruising in open waters.
    I'd add that the difference in size and weigh would mean that Houdini might only cost half as much to build as Pilgrim, in both time and money.

    John Welsford

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  23. #23

    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    I feel a bit silly making a comment after John Welsford has has pretty well summed it up himself, but there is an option of minimal fixed ballast and additional water jugs or sand bags around the centerboard well as needed. It would offer the skipper solid footing with plenty of flexibility for varying conditions. Personally, if the boat does not need ballast, then why add it? But then I tend to be a bit lazy.

    Good luck - John

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by leakydecks View Post
    ...a boat mainly for fishing...small enough to launch easily and take offshore maybe a mile or two...able to beach the boat in the surf.
    Interesting...you've specified a Yorkshire Coble!

    They're worthy of close study. These boats became highly evolved beach fishing boats...the deep forefoot, shallow aft with removable rudder on long pintles keeps them head to wind when line fishing without a mizzen so its not in the way. When beaching they reverse them in...now the bow is facing the wave and splits it - doesn't get pushed like a transom, deck keeps the water off - rear transom now at the front gives it loads of forward buoyancy and stops it nose diving. The forefoot fins the boat to the shoreline with less risk of it broaching as there is only lateral keel area well aft. If the worst happens the extreme tumble home allows them to be rolled on the beach and the thwarts support the planking mid roll.

    The ones you'll see 'left over' from the days of fishing them now are the bigger ones. Before this (and the railways and over fishing) they were much smaller and lighter - solo sail and oar in scope. I've not seen a small one built for some time which is a shame as they have usefull characteristics for beach cruising and fishing. On the other side of Dogger bank, the Danish faced with the same problem, used a transom forward (pram bow) and a double ended aft shape and didn't turn them round.

    It wasn't all good...sailed downwind the deep forefoot was said to grab, though the (very) deep rudder should have helped control but that angle would be their worst behaviour. In fact the topside flare carried well forward echoes forward in John's Pathfinder and others.

    So that type would actually be your evolved boat type for handlining with the occasional prospect of beaching through surf. Not that I'd ever want to do that...but needs must at Whitby, Yorkshire with a wide shelving sandy beach and the prospect of valuable North sea cod offshore.

    Frank Dye took a different approach, preferring the planing speed capability of the Wayfarer when running accross bars on the East Coast of the UK. He argued that the extra boat speed could keep it between wave trains or if he was picked up the planing bottom could surf the wave face to the beach. It usually worked...but sometimes it didn't. Rolling a boat in surf is a really bad idea you could easily loose a mast.

    If you take inspiration north of you towards Canada the double ended handliners were worked inshore catching Salmon. Not so dissimilar to the Peapods on the east coast.

    You have a choice to make regarding waterplane shape...a wider but shorter waterplane will give you appartent 'stability' and a flat working platform, but it will also give more roll and pitch in waves. Some of this can be negated with displacement, but that conflicts with getting it back off a beach. A longer and narrower waterplane, will have the rollers rolling under the boat with little roll while you sit there rod in hand, but they'l be more tipsy as you clomp around. So you've got to strike a balance with what you want to do. Handling for mackerel etc I'm guessing you OK just sitting there and can afford a narrower boat. The long narrow waterplane will also have a lower entry and exit angle which will reduce pitching but also reduce get pushed by waves coming back into a beach - there more likely to roll under. You'd want alot of rocker if you found yourself on a wave face and a deep rudder too. If you like John's designs..I'd also look at the Walkabout design.

    From others...the Tirrik, Ness Yawl, Sooty Tern's - infact the double ended sail and oar niche fits what you want to do pretty well. The Tirrik/ Ness Boat we had, I have to say was the most comfortable motion dinghy I've sat in when in chop. Waves just rolled under it. Made me realise the compromise a planing waterplane (the type we're all brought up on now) has in this area. If you're motoring, Atkins Valgerda faering with a well would be as safe, dry and comfortable as it could be. There's a bit of ballast and alot of keel trail which helps finning it and not broach. The deep Falmouth pilot cutters and Quay Punts used alot of trail with the same problem in the South West approaches. Iain Oughtred draws smaller 'fishing boat' rig options - easier to handle and boomless standing lug drawn on the Ness Yawl for example if you're sailing...but taking small light low freeboard boats into breaking waves...that's their cryptonite. With such good forecasting avalable these days, there is no reason to get caught out though.

    I'd say there are alot of good boats available now. To narrow down your choice...if your going to pull a boat off a beach you're really going to have to keep it under weight limit and help yourself with teflon skids etc. You're going to have to decide if you can hove to and fish rig up or if it must be down. If you're sailing in through waves, you really have to go fast (plane/ motor) or avoid the wave catching the boat with a long pointy rear end and narrow waterline, rig down, lots of rocker, motor to keep it between waves etc. I'd still plan for the odd calamity and put thought into its construction after design...: strong knees, substantial bilge runners, lots of external Sapeli (strong and hard), glued joints reinforced with copper fasteners and fillets. The planks supported by stringers like on John's boats would be no bad thing either: the laps are the weakest point on glue lap looking at a few involved in collisions. Look at the interior and I'd want short areas of unsupported panel lengths ready for a tumble.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 07-27-2020 at 05:56 AM.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    May I suggest you checkout the JW Pathfinder. Having sailed it on open water with two additional able bodied seamen onboard we fished:



    That vid was taken with sprit boom setup. Changed this to fixed conventional boom setup. There are two fish rod holders in side deck out of range of the swinging boom. No problems. The low freeboard aft is excellent from bringing in the bait. The Yorkshire Coble was an inspiration for the design of the Pathfinder. Some knowledgable European tourists have asked if she was a Coble design.

    No reverse beaching for me. I stay away from breaking waves as those are the only dangers on water I fear, besides drunken jetskie drivers.

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    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    For those inclined to accuse me of further threadjacking an already thredjacked thread, please be aware that I sent a PM to leakydecks earlier today offering a few more bits of hopefully helpful advice unique to his situation, most of which came in another thread from folks in this forum.

    But I digress...


    Quote Originally Posted by suzyj View Post
    Iím annoyed when people project their own lack of competence on everyone else. Itís the ďI canít do it, so therefore it must be impossibleĒ thing. Itís something that, IME, inevitably leads to mediocrity. If nobody is brave enough to have a go, then how does anyone extend their skillset? How do innovations come about if all we ever do is copy the work of others blindly?


    But, at least youíre honest.

    Thank you Suzyj, for acknowledging that I was both honest and not falsely claiming to be an authority (as you mention in your quote below) in my posts. I consider both of these statements of yours to be factual and, as well, compliments.

    May I share the story of how I came to be so conservative about not making significant alterations to boat plans?

    It was Bolger's "Old Shoe". (For those unfamiliar with this design, please Google it. But prepare yourself for... 'teh oogly'.)

    Now, Old Shoe sure does seem like a primitive, simple boat, does it not? So easy to build, so clunky - surely one can freely make alterations with abandon, yes? After all, it's only one of those ugly, cheap, Bolger square boats. (Sadly, that's how I used to think.)

    Yeah... well, not so true. As I researched this design I came across a few reports of poor sailing capability, invariably tied to unauthorized builder modifications. In one case, the builder made significant alternations to the transom, which in turn changed the geometry of the mainsheet angle, and resulted in a poorly performing mainsail.

    That is when I came to really respect the nautical engineering expertise of talented and experienced boat designers. Even boats that 'seem' to be simple and primitive are, in fact, quite sophisticated and designed with great care and thought. Every small design choice is made for good reasons and even something as seemingly minor as changing the mainsheet angle can make a big difference in final performance.

    Far be it for me, a relative boat newbie, to make significant changes to a one-time boat build that I just want to work well from the very beginning. I am but a simple boat builder who wants a good boat. My efforts are best directed in choosing a good design and then building it with care. And so, I humbly choose to stay in my lane.

    P.S. Old Shoe, even when properly built as it was many years ago by John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft fame, does have some sailing flaws. According to Mr. Harris, it doesn't point well in the light airs and motorboat chop of his Annapolis home sailing waters on the Chesapeake Bay and it suffers from a little too much leeway.



    Quote Originally Posted by suzyj View Post
    Oh, the vitriol is simply because, as a female engineer, this is a terribly familiar tune.


    Me: I think it would be neat if I tried X.


    Random internet dude: That could never work! I am the authority in such things, and you must respect my authority!


    Me: Well in that case Iíll definitely try X.


    At least this guy didnít claim to be the authority.


    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnít, but usually the person claiming to be an authority actually isnít. Theyíre just someone with average skills who gets all bent out of shape at someone trying something they would never do. What theyíre really saying is ďI base my self worth on what those around me do. I donít really understand X, but it will belittle me if you, a mere woman, succeed where I have failed (or more likely not tried).Ē


    Anyway, Iím a dreadfully successful engineer (not in boats, as it happens). One very big reason Iím successful is because I am brutally stubborn, and being told I canít do something is the very best way to get me to do it.


    To the OP, add ballast, remove ballast, put ballast in in creative ways. Fill your boots and have a good time doing it. With luck youíll learn a whole lot, and thereís a bunch of people here that will give you good constructive advice as needed, plus a few who will do their utmost to rain on your parade.


    At the end of all this remember itís a dinghy, not the space shuttle. Thereís a bloody big margin for error in these things.

    A few thoughts here:

    suzyj, I sympathize with the frustrations you express as a female engineer and too often men telling you, "No." I also applaud your strong instinct to tinker, modify, test, and improve - such a mindset is essential to being a great engineer.

    In my defense, I certainly never said "No" to you directly. I did not even directly say "No" to leakydecks. I did share my own own attitude towards significant boat design alterations, and just above just now I shared how and why I came to embrace this attitude.

    Now you might argue that I did imply to leakydecks (and/or others) that newbie boat mods are unwise. I would agree with this argument - I did imply. How strongly or weakly I implied I'll leave to others to decide for themselves.

    Was it wrong for me to imply to leakydecks that modding his boat might be unwise? I don't think so. Go back to leakydecks original question. He states that he is a newbie seeking advice (which is also what I am if you check my posting history around here) and he asks about the differences between a Welsford Pilgrim and Houdini boat in what is, essentially, a surf boat role.

    Not to pick on leakydecks at all, but if he is asking a question like that about those two designs, I would submit that he lacks the knowledge to make safe and sensible alterations to his boat builds at this time. And what I just said about him I apply doubly to myself.


    suzyj, you also express frustration with my overly conservative resistance to making big changes to a boat design, as this inhibits refinement and improvement of the art and science of boat design.

    You are right, but it is not my job to advance the art and science, etc. I just want to build a boat as best I can, and I want it to work well when it is done, because I chose a good design suited to my needs and built it with care and skill. I don't apply such a conservative attitude to everything in life, but in this area, yes I do. And I make no apologies for this sensible attitude which is a wise and proper one for me.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Lusby, Maryland
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by john welsford View Post
    I sailed my own Houdini unballasted, was more than happy with it that way and covered a lot of miles, often well off the shore in rough sea conditions. But some people prefer the way the boat feels with some ballast in it, hence the note about ballast.
    Pilgrim is a boat of very different character, more akin to a keelboat, and is much larger than Houdini, more so than just the difference in length would suggest. Designed for extended coastal cruising in open waters.
    I'd add that the difference in size and weigh would mean that Houdini might only cost half as much to build as Pilgrim, in both time and money.

    John Welsford

    Mr. Welsford, thank you so much for clarifying that Houdini does NOT require ballast. I felt that it might, but I was wrong about that. Hopefully these comments will live on and help others building a Houdini in the future.


    Speaking of Houdini ballast, Mr. Welsford, what are your thoughts on sealing off those two undersole port and starboard compartments where you specify placing the lead ballast, and instead setting those up for water ballast?

    In studying the plans, I have a few concerns about this. The first is draining water from foreward of those compartments, aftwards, into the drainage area near the sternsheets. My solution was to build in CVC drain pipes along both sides of the centerboard case through the water ballast compartment, but sealed off from the water ballast with epoxy, to route forward bilgewater aft.

    Another concern is how much weight such ballast tanks would hold? I know the density of water. Do you have a rough approximation of the volume of that area? I can't tell if the likely water weight would be too much or too little.

    Finally, I'm not sure that such water ballast tanks would completely fill. It looks to me that the sole is just above the water line under normal load, which would result in incompletely filled tanks. I'm not keen on water ballast tanks with water sloshing around inside. Of course, it might be possible to put foam into the water ballast tanks, similar to the anti-slosh, fuel tank baffle foam that race car drivers use. Your thoughts please?

    Thank you Mr. Welsford.


    P.S. Friendly note to suzyj: As you can see, I am not entirely averse to significant modifications to a boat's design. But I don't like ill-considered mods wherein I don't really know what I am doing. Which is why I ask the questions that I do.


    P.S.S. Hey Kids! Speaking of boat mods, here is one of my favorite "cool" Houdini mods. So many strings to pull!:
    http://boatplans.cc/media/design/joh...f-yawl-rig.jpg

    Ya gotta love a gaff-sloop yawl with a top sail sail rig on a 13 foot dinghy.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,792

    Default Re: John Welsford Houdini vs Pilgrim

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeSeubert View Post
    For those inclined to accuse me of further threadjacking an already thredjacked thread, please be aware that I sent a PM to leakydecks earlier today offering a few more bits of hopefully helpful advice unique to his situation, most of which came in another thread from folks in this forum.

    But I digress...





    Thank you Suzyj, for acknowledging that I was both honest and not falsely claiming to be an authority (as you mention in your quote below) in my posts. I consider both of these statements of yours to be factual and, as well, compliments.

    May I share the story of how I came to be so conservative about not making significant alterations to boat plans?

    It was Bolger's "Old Shoe". (For those unfamiliar with this design, please Google it. But prepare yourself for... 'teh oogly'.)

    Now, Old Shoe sure does seem like a primitive, simple boat, does it not? So easy to build, so clunky - surely one can freely make alterations with abandon, yes? After all, it's only one of those ugly, cheap, Bolger square boats. (Sadly, that's how I used to think.)

    Yeah... well, not so true. As I researched this design I came across a few reports of poor sailing capability, invariably tied to unauthorized builder modifications. In one case, the builder made significant alternations to the transom, which in turn changed the geometry of the mainsheet angle, and resulted in a poorly performing mainsail.

    That is when I came to really respect the nautical engineering expertise of talented and experienced boat designers. Even boats that 'seem' to be simple and primitive are, in fact, quite sophisticated and designed with great care and thought. Every small design choice is made for good reasons and even something as seemingly minor as changing the mainsheet angle can make a big difference in final performance.

    Far be it for me, a relative boat newbie, to make significant changes to a one-time boat build that I just want to work well from the very beginning. I am but a simple boat builder who wants a good boat. My efforts are best directed in choosing a good design and then building it with care. And so, I humbly choose to stay in my lane.

    P.S. Old Shoe, even when properly built as it was many years ago by John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft fame, does have some sailing flaws. According to Mr. Harris, it doesn't point well in the light airs and motorboat chop of his Annapolis home sailing waters on the Chesapeake Bay and it suffers from a little too much leeway.






    A few thoughts here:

    suzyj, I sympathize with the frustrations you express as a female engineer and too often men telling you, "No." I also applaud your strong instinct to tinker, modify, test, and improve - such a mindset is essential to being a great engineer.

    In my defense, I certainly never said "No" to you directly. I did not even directly say "No" to leakydecks. I did share my own own attitude towards significant boat design alterations, and just above just now I shared how and why I came to embrace this attitude.

    Now you might argue that I did imply to leakydecks (and/or others) that newbie boat mods are unwise. I would agree with this argument - I did imply. How strongly or weakly I implied I'll leave to others to decide for themselves.

    Was it wrong for me to imply to leakydecks that modding his boat might be unwise? I don't think so. Go back to leakydecks original question. He states that he is a newbie seeking advice (which is also what I am if you check my posting history around here) and he asks about the differences between a Welsford Pilgrim and Houdini boat in what is, essentially, a surf boat role.

    Not to pick on leakydecks at all, but if he is asking a question like that about those two designs, I would submit that he lacks the knowledge to make safe and sensible alterations to his boat builds at this time. And what I just said about him I apply doubly to myself.


    suzyj, you also express frustration with my overly conservative resistance to making big changes to a boat design, as this inhibits refinement and improvement of the art and science of boat design.

    You are right, but it is not my job to advance the art and science, etc. I just want to build a boat as best I can, and I want it to work well when it is done, because I chose a good design suited to my needs and built it with care and skill. I don't apply such a conservative attitude to everything in life, but in this area, yes I do. And I make no apologies for this sensible attitude which is a wise and proper one for me.
    That's a darn good post--very thoughtful.

    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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