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Thread: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

  1. #1
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    Default Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    So my neighbor (very experienced sailor) has said extra freeboard is a waste. I just finished a Bolger junebug (wish it was a jinni which I saw after I started). As far as I can tell From limited testing it is a remarkable little fishing and row skiff. It has no flair to its sides as well as low free board. Building it was a cinch. It is not a boat for big seas, but I donít go out when itís rough either!



    Now, I am seriously considering another Bolger ugly, the 15í6Ē work skiff. Any of yous have any experience with this boat?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    So when, exactly, does freeboard become "extra" or a waste? That's an awfully overgeneralized statement for someone who is supposed to be a very experienced sailor. Then again, there are a fair number of experienced sailors who really don't know much about boats. Flair can also be very useful if you find yourself in rough water.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Well, technically he's correct... extra freeboard is a waste. It should be exactly as high as it needs to be, and any height past that is just extra windage.

    How high does it need to be? High enough to keep the water out.


    Seriously though, some sailors think this way and it makes sense on a sealed tube with a tiny, rapidly self-bailing cockpit at the back.

    An open boat that will swamp? I'll take the freeboard.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    extra freeboard is a waste
    By definition, if it's 'extra,' it's a waste. How does he determine how much freeboard is extra, and how much is not enough?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    This is a silly notion in isolation. Freeboard, hull form, propulsion, purpose, and so on are all interconnected.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    This is a silly notion in isolation. Freeboard, hull form, propulsion, purpose, and so on are all interconnected.
    As is the presence of a deck on a cruising yacht, compared with no deck on a fishing skiff.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I don't know the work skiff design. Is it in one of his books?
    I saw the Clam Skiff online, it's handsome. Bolger would often comment on the advantages and shortcomings of his designs. You might write Susan Altenburger about the boat. There may be a forum of facebook page devoted to Bolger designs that will answer your questions.
    Keep us posted.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Bolger's 15.5' work skiff is described by Dynamite Payson in his "Instant Boats." It is shorter than the 18' foot clam skiff, and narrower (4' beam) as well.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    My first boat, a Seabird Yawl, was very low. Folks would step down from a zode.
    Great sea boat
    Once a boat is heeled over, the deck becomes the freeboard.
    Space below is another issue though.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I was just trying to get some insight into that boat and will probably build it. It is just hard to get my head around the design as it is quite different from many of the boats I’ve seen here.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Think it was Bolger who said 'You can never have too much freeboard'. But, again, refering to what design?

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I have had a try-out in a June Bug: Rowing was ok, but sailing was surprisingly good. We had plenty of wind and it was great fun. Btw I think it is 'flare', not 'flair' and Bolger said somewhere 'you cant have enough reserve buoyancy'. Frank
    www.oarandsail.nl

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    My Clam Skiff is now 25 years old. Buoyancy and stability have never been an issue and I work it standing up. That may not be possible with a four foot beam so it depends on your intentions. There was a Yahoo group for Bolger Boats but I don’t know what the current status is. I’ve been extremely happy with the Clam Skiff and I recommend it. The main problem with the flat bottom V bow can be mitigated by avoiding really rough conditions. I have come to believe that most of the Bolger/Payton designs perform well for their build simplicity.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    This is the boat?



    Doesn't look to me like freeboard is an issue. On a sailboat, I"d worry more about weight and windage, but for the use this would be put to, the freeboard looks about right.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    That’s the boat. Wakes aren’t an issue?

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I built a slightly sleeker version of Bolger's clam skiff, without the heavy shoe.
    It had practically no wake at 20-25 mph.
    It is a fabulous boat, despite some banging in a chop.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    One layer of plywood? I read somewhere a recommendation to just use a single layer bottom of 3/4” ply.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Not to put you off a Bolger design but take a look at this http://www.oldwharf.com/store/lys-plans Similar boat and local. Bunch of them around. I'm sure either will do the job.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Payson’s plans call for two layers on the bottom with the sheets laid crosswise. The design lends itself to 10’ plywood if you can find it. The thick bottom and the wide keel really stiffen the boat and soften the ride. The bow ahead of the forward bulkhead and the rear halves of the seats can be made air tight for flotation, just add inspection hatches. I added a drip well for the outboard.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by Murky Deep View Post
    One layer of plywood? I read somewhere a recommendation to just use a single layer bottom of 3/4” ply.
    I used 5 x 10-foot sheets of 3/4" okoume marine plywood (single layer) for the bottom of my Clam Skiff.

    For his Lumberyard Skiff, Walter Baron laminates two layers of 1/2" marine plywood (cut from 4 x 8-foot sheets) together with a non-epoxy adhesive and stainless screws.
    Bolger laminated 2 layers of 1/2" okoume (cut from 4 x 8s) with epoxy, fastened with ring nails.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Spirit are you still using the clam skiff? How much hp are you using?

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I gave mine to a charity because I designed a radically different flat-bottomed skiff, and have had it built for me.
    My Bolger-clone had a 25 HP Honda 4-stroke, and topped out at 29 mph with 2 people.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    How much freeboard is right? It's not simple, although a flat-sided skiff for oars or power makes it more straightforward. You don't have reckon the amount of heel under sail.

    I've got a Bolger Gypsy, a 15 ft. sailing skiff, with a lot of sheer and not much freeboard.



    But the hull has hard chines and resists heeling farther. To add some security, I put in side decks and a coaming. Even so, I've shipped some water on gusty days but never actually swamped.

    I sail on inland waters with not much swell and few or no steep wakes. If you use the boat where there's a short, steep chop (e.g. a tidal ebb against the wind) or where there are ferries or other power craft that trail steep wakes, you'll need more freeboard. If your frequent courses put you across the prevailing wind (and swells) you'll also want more freeboard. Same goes for carrying heavy loads, whether people or camp supplies.

    That local knowledge is often what separates the experienced boaters from the accident-prone novices.

    Good luck!
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I built the 18 foot utility skiff, flat bottom with rocker....She has a 25 hp four stroke and really flew. On windy days the bow really got knocked around. And she pounded in any kind of a sea. In flat water she was a wonder.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Different rig but . . .



    Like "sport dories" (E.G. Swampscott) the narrow bottom plank leads to almost no initial stability but she hardens right up when sailing on the low dead rise garboard.

    And below is the unprepossessing little Dunbar design that rows like magic.



    Edited to add: These two boats show real devotion to purity of purpose. Both are moderately light, easily built, and inexpensive. And that's all they have in common.

    One is a sailboat that sails quite well and can be rowed OK. Under oar, she can be heavily loaded though not an ideal rowboat. This version has no foredeck or wash decks. She was a family project and every member of that family is a good sailor. No problems even on very boisterous days.

    Cub has magical rocker and rows in varied conditions of weather, sea, and lading quite well. Not really suited to a motor, all I've seen around the Lower Cape have no outboard. As many as 100 may have been made both professionally and in homes. They are mostly used as tenders to get to and from a boat on a mooring. Some are used for clamming. One day a few years ago I took Cub on a three hour winter row in a Force 5 Fresh Breeze (17–21 knots). Up, down, and across the wind all good. Note two pairs of oarlocks so that you can keep the fore an aft trim proper through various ladings.

    A proper tender.
    Last edited by Ian McColgin; 12-03-2020 at 10:51 AM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    And now for something a bit huskier:


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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I couldn't resist adding a photo of the "200 dollar" version of the Bolger Featherwind that I built to this thread -
    Doesn't add anything to the discussion, but it's fun to look at ....

    SAM_7241S.jpg

    image081.jpg



    It's just a simple flat bottomed plywood skiff, but it has plenty of rocker (to much so, according to most boat designers) and some flare and surprising rake to the transom.

    The best case for flared sides and raked transoms comes from the work of R.D. Culler.
    You don't get prettier flat bottomed skiffs than his!



    But does that make it a better boat? It can be argued that a skiff would be better off with plumb stem and transom, to give it the longest possible waterline for a given overall length. Eliminating the flare makes for a significantly lighter boat, and a wider flat bottom makes for better initial stability.

    June Bug was designed as a tender to replace the bigger and much heavier Crystal pulling life boat Bolger had on deck of his Resolution. It is supposed to take up as little space on deck of a cruiser as possible, and be as light as possible to make it easier to haul up onto deck. The ends were decked in "To use up some leftover plywood" and so the boat can be launched either end first off a high dock or deck of a cruiser and come unto its feet dry, eliminating the need for davits. She was intended purely as a row boat. Her midsection is identical to the little Bolger Tortoise, with the ends drawn out for good rowing lines for carrying 400 pounds, but she will handle 1,000 pounds in still water. Harold Payson (who built the first one) had one of the Bolger 59 sq.ft. sail rigs handy so Bolger suggested June Bug be adapted to it. Her lines are not ideal for sailing, but close enough!

    The argument of plumb vs flared sides has been going on since the very first boats were built, I'm sure.
    As Harold "Dynamite" Payson once wrote on the subject " I can get just as drowned and dead in one type as in the other" Something like that, anyway!

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    That pic is of my friend Robin Loggaman. He did a number of things with Capt Pete and in 1971 introduced me to hom. Robin also commissioned the designed for the "No Bull$#!T" ketch. Robin was lost in a mid-winter row some years back.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    That's a heck of a classic photo, isn't it Ian?

    I've head a little about the loss of Robin Loggaman, a real tragedy.

    I am jealous you got to meet Capt. Pete! He sure did design the prettiest skiffs there ever was, and that right there is reason enough to build one, not to mention they are fine boats and work just great too. I love the simple and traditional design philosophy found in his books.

    Sadly, for my (very low) level of skill and (near-non-existent) budget, and the fact that I have to trailer sail everything I own, I stick to simple plywood boats by Bolger and Jim Michalak.

    But I do have a copy of "Pete Cullers Boats" on my bedside, and a I can dream...

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    I have built a junebug, it’s not pretty but very, very handy. I can car top it single handed, stand up and cast a rod, and it is roomier than expected. I still like my uncle Gabes skiff better due to its simple beauty. It is also a great small fishing boat.

    I am intrigued by the work skiff design for the quick build time (I have kids and a full time job) stability for crabbing, clamming and fishing. This has turned into a longer thread.

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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by Murky Deep View Post
    I have built a junebug, itís not pretty but very, very handy. I can car top it single handed, stand up and cast a rod, and it is roomier than expected. I still like my uncle Gabes skiff better due to its simple beauty. It is also a great small fishing boat.

    I am intrigued by the work skiff design for the quick build time (I have kids and a full time job) stability for crabbing, clamming and fishing. This has turned into a longer thread.
    F1D3C38D-A62C-429A-AE22-C1E7989914CC.jpg

    We had a flat bottom, vertical sided punt for many moons. True, not a whitewater boat, but she handled boat wake chop on a lake with aplomb, actually. Taken on a corner, sheíd ride wakes nicely. The kids dived off the ends, dived over the sides, climbed over the sides. The mastiff loved it, and she was fine in it, no matter how puppy she got.
    It moved through the water way better than it had any right to.
    A59DA89F-438E-49F6-9576-31F0D82E308E.jpg
    I canít help with the excessive freeboard question, but the plumb sided, flat bottomed boats are fine. For certain missions, they even excel!

    Like any boat, you need to know whatís what, and act accordingly.

    Hurry up. Kids grow too fast.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    A small thread detour: Culler v Dunbar

    I met Capt Pete through Robin when we were theology students together. When I moved to Hyannis I missed meeting him before he died, but my partner at the time had her studio across the street from the Cullers and became great friends with Toni, a most remarkable person. And I spent considerable time being mentored by Capt. Pete's great friend, George Kelly.

    When I was a 14 year old dock rat I helped an old guy and his my age daughter tie up. I was ogling the ketch when the man asked if I knew what sort of boat she was. That was in the years when Spaulding Dunbar had one or two designs featured in Yachting each year and I was learning fast. So I could reply, "I think she's a Dunbar, sir."

    "That's right."

    And as he moved off the daughter whispered to me, "That's my father. Spaulding Dunbar."

    In the early '80s a number of us were winter liveaboards and one was dating Dee Dunbar, so we got a state visit from Spaulding. I retold the story and Spaulding was polite enough to pretend he remembered. Dee, on the other hand, did remember.

    So the story, as told to me by George Kelly.

    Capt Pete was an artist with a highly aesthetic approach to design and was thought by some to be a bit light in the engineering aspects of his trade. Dunbar, on the other hand, was very scientific with lots of engineering, wave formation, and so on to his designs. They had many famous arguments on engineering versus "if it looks right, it is right."

    So comes the time when Capt Pete was running the build of his design Integrity for Waldo Howland. In preparation for a visit from the august Dunbar, Capt. Pete had all paper plans, scantlngs and all hidden away and was walking about with a half model in his arms. As he pointed things out to Spaulding, members of the crew would come up with detailed questions, which Capt Pete answered only after stroking the relevant part of the model and squinting at the build.

    Drove Spaulding nuts and he burst out that he could not really understand a boat just from a half-model.

    To return to the thread topic, both of these brilliant designers turned out sail, oar, and power boats with various flares, freeboards, beam/length, and so on depending on the design brief.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Ian, cudos for that post, enviable times.
    I am building a Bolger Micro, but being me, was a bit tricky with the square bits. So, gave it some flare up to the lower strake, then turned it back to the deck. Saw ithe one built in OZ, so raised the cabin a bit as headroom is a bit tight. The flare led to the bow being a bit sharper and further forward by a foot or so.
    But, it does have a lot of freeboard for the length, so windage will be a thought.
    Basicly a replacement for my Oughtred boat, which is getting a bit lively for me and space to snooze on the longer trips I plan now.
    I promise I will post a few pix soon. Keel to be cast next week.
    A2

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Freeboard and flair? Bolger work skiff

    Looks like its going to have to be the 15'6" clam skiff, due to mooring size limit. I am picking up some materials tomorrow and then will start a thread in the building/repair area. Nothing fancy, just needs to be able to make the trip out to the beach area, and some fishing/clamming under 15 hp.

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