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Thread: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

  1. #1
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    Default Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Hi, gang. As I’m continuing my research on spritsails, ketches, traditional lapstrake construction and other wholly unpractical things, my lovely wife announced today that we’ll be spending a week next summer with her extended family in Westbrook, CT.

    “Extended Family” = 9 adults and 10 kiddos… kiddos that are all under seven years old.
    “With” = everyone in a 6 bedroom house.

    Yeah. Lovely people all, but…

    So… naturally I started thinking of a boat. My totally romantic sprit-rigged lapstrake shallop will come eventually, but I had been thinking of a simpler build to start sooner rather than later. In another thread that ended up discussing the merits of various iterations of lug and sprit sails, Matt posted pics of Chris Ring’s Westport Skiff. See here:

    https://www.woodenboat.com/register-wooden-boats/lyova-marie


    I started looking back through Chapelle and other reference material on various flat-bottom sailing craft… specifically the construction methods… and it became clear that a boat of this type, built mostly with traditional methods and local materials, is completely within my abilities. And most likely able to be build between now and “with my in-laws”.

    However, I’ve never sailed a flat bottom hull before. And that’s what I’d like to know. How do flat-bottom designs like the Westport Skiff, Culler’s Good Little Skiff, Chapelle’s “Flatiron”, Oystering or Maryland Crabbing Skiffs, actually sail? I appreciate your experiences. Commentary on appropriate rigs - sprit, lug, gaff; cat, ketch, yawl - also welcome.

    Cheers,
    Ryan

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    I built a 18' Reuel Parker Crab Skiff. It has a slight V so is not technically flat bottomed. It's got a single 105sq ft leg-O-mutton rig which is dead simple and almost primitive but is easy to rig and the free standing mast allows you to let go of the sheet and weather cock down wind if you get caught in a 55kt squall (I know this). Disadvantage is reefing must be done on the beach. It might be 18' but more than 3 crew is a crowd but it is perfect for 1 person and 600lbs of crabs. The full length keel allows you to sail in the shallows with no concern and makes her want to go in a straight line. Tacking doesn't happen quickly but it always makes it through. The keel also makes for easy trailer launching. Fwd of the thwart, the huge centreboard splits the boat in half creating two narrowing walkways to the mast. This is not a space efficient boat.

    We don't leave the dock in less than 10mph of breeze. We have beat into 20-25kts (reefed) and nearly made 45degrees. With 140kgs sitting on the side deck, we were heeled way over but was stable and not scary but was wet with the occasional slam. All the other small boats that day dropped their sails and motored back to shelter, we had no choice.

    In 15-18kts of breeze she does 4.5 -5.5kts Tempo surfed once at 9.9kts but I don't think it's supposta do that.

    Tempo was build heaver than Mr. Parker designed and weighs 420kgs/926lbs. The crab skiff keel and weight make her handle like a larger boat, ...predictable.

    Crab Skiffs probably don't meet the needs of most small boat sailors.

    Here's more Tempo sailing videos than you could possibility want.
    =~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Have a look at the Goat Island Skiff. Lots of excellent info available, easy build, high performing boat.

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    You need to sail them on their chine, then they're a V bottom. I love them, as is probably obvious. Simply elegant straightforward boats for everywhere but oceans. Beautiful lines.
    Flat bottomed boats, you make the rockin' world go round.............

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by leaotis View Post
    I built a 18' Reuel Parker Crab Skiff…

    …Crab Skiffs probably don't meet the needs of most small boat sailors.

    Here's more Tempo sailing videos than you could possibility want.
    What a lovely Crab Skiff! Tempo seems to be a capable and fun boat, and the videos are great. I really get a sense of what the boat is about… and you’re narrative certainly matches the video evidence!

    A couple things that I’m thinking on if I go this route - 1. I don’t want this to be an ‘athletically’ sailed boat so I can take a couple little ones along. 2. Light air capability. 3. Room for two adults and two smalls for day sailing. 4. Keep pounding to a minimum.

    The Atkins seem to have really liked flat-bottom designs. If I don’t choose a historic type, I’d look closely at some of their beamier designs. They also tend to have a little higher freeboard, giving kids and inexperienced crew a feeling of being “in” rather than “on” the boat.

    But, of course, since they’re a more considered design, they’re also most likely a little more involved to build. And the point here is to build something worthy, something appropriate, and something simple.

    Tempo is great. I’ll have a look at her design and keep watching videos!

    Ryan

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by John hartmann View Post
    Have a look at the Goat Island Skiff. Lots of excellent info available, easy build, high performing boat.
    Hi, John. I’ll have to go back and have a look at the Goat Island Skiff. People that have experience with them seem to really like them…

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by johnno View Post
    You need to sail them on their chine, then they're a V bottom. I love them, as is probably obvious. Simply elegant straightforward boats for everywhere but oceans. Beautiful lines.
    Well, johnno… tell me more! What do you have experience with that might fit what I’m looking at? What’s in your avatar up there with the two masts? Huh?

    R

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Hi Ryan, I asked Ross Lillistone if he'd be interested in designing a shorter version of Munroe's Egret design, which turned out to be an idea he'd been interested in for quite a while. The result was Little Egret. The build and discussion thread is here: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...t=Little+Egret That's the boat that's in the avatar. Great boat and sailed very well. Not a lot of room for the length, because of the canoe stern.

    The boat I have now is a Green Island 15, shorter but actually roomier inside, with a single mast. Both quite similar in cross section and both terrific boats. My thread on the restoration of the GI15 is here: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...15-restoration and there's a video or two here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8P7WibA1k4

    Leg o mutton sprit sail rig on Egret, two masts, three mast positions so could sail with a single mast in more central position or as ketch. Worked well. The GI15 has a gunter rig, which I love - short mast so easy for an old bloke to step. Pretty easy to reef.

    egrety.jpg GI15.jpg
    Flat bottomed boats, you make the rockin' world go round.............

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Lovely, boats! Funny, I had come across ‘Little Egret’ and thought it was a well thought-out design. Maybe not quite enough volume for a family boat though. Great build thread.

    And good on ya’ for restoring the Green Island 15. The video show’s it’s character well.

    So… now… to find a flat-bottom design with enough interior space for 4, has enough depth to let the kids feel secure, and that can be built traditionally with little epoxy or plywood. I have material on hand to start setting up moulds… There’s some 2” white oak sock stacked behind the shed…

    Hmmm….

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft


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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Oh… John. She’s lovely, eh? The Atkins seemed to appreciate flat-bottom designs. I’ve been looking at the James Samuel series. Beamy, cat-rigged skiffs. 7’2” beam and ranging from 17’-20’ LOA. Fairly deep interiors, too. Maybe too much, boat… And the rig would need to be reconsidered, methinks.

    http://www.atkinboatplans.com/Sail/MotherHubbard.html
    MotherHubbard-1.gif
    MotherHubbard-2.gif
    JamesSamuel-02.jpg
    MotherHubbard-03.jpg

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    How many in-laws did I say would be in one house in Westbrook next summer..?

    MotherHubbard-04.jpg

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    For something ultra-traditional, I found an old Boats article by Chapelle posted on Duckworks. A 14 Ft. Chesapeake Sharpie Skiff. 5’ beam. Full plans. This is what I had in mind to build… though something endemic to the Connecticut coast, rather than the Eastern Shore, but whatever. This serves as an example. Not sure the interior volume would be adequate for two adults and two dinghies. I’d also probably think about a different rig… traditional but not authentic to the type… But I could absolutely build this. I’d have to think about a strategy for keeping the bottom tight on a trailer (maybe plywood… but I hope not…), but yeah. I could get a wooden boat together using mostly traditional methods between now and “19 in a 6-bedroom house”…

    C0318E41-DF8E-49F4-8BD7-6FEF6F06D6F5.jpg
    84815BEF-362B-467F-9CE6-1030E8968CA8.jpg
    58D02848-DB4C-4D0C-85F0-22B7B52981ED.jpg
    257EEFB4-0381-43E5-875E-DDBB60ABFE36.jpg

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Do you have access to John Gardner’s Building Classic Small Craft? There is a chapter describing an 18’ sharpie, which could be built to 20’, with a ketch rig, 120 sq ft for the 18 footer, and 165 sq ft for the 20’.

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    There are so many boats in this vein and I think around 18' would be perfect. A friend built a bewtie out of Reuel Parker's Sharpie book for example. I watched a good youtube video of a guy building such a boat in the traditional way, but if my memory serves me, if the bottom is planked it's going to have to take up water for quite a while to be tight and not super leaky. But perhaps instead of going the ply route for the bottom, you could still plank it with good thick boards, tongue and groove, and glue them together. If I was to build another, I think I'd do it that way.
    Flat bottomed boats, you make the rockin' world go round.............

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Hi, John. It’s in my cart. About to order Gardner and Culler. Interesting timing of the suggestion!

    It’s tough to judge how much interior space is needed with the relatively shallow floors and perfectly flat bottom of these boats. I also wonder just how the really beamy Atkins designs would sail…

    18’-20’ and ketch rigged? I was actually considering a yawl for this. Maybe even a lug!

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Here are a couple of images of Andrew Kitchen’s sharpie skiff—very similar to the boat in post #13–a most capable little craft:
    BDDF8B75-B310-4DB4-BE07-55EC815020A5.jpg

    8E670749-D977-47A5-895E-52FDA4D8E64E.jpg
    Andrew is a highly skilled builder who does beautiful work, and he sailed this at a number of the Small Reach Regattas. It’s a cracker.

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    You'd probably enjoy these videos too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STGwyif5K5M and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76CEx-Mgqi4

    And this is a video of my friend's Reuel Parker sharpie built from plans in his book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBT9jObqmp4
    Flat bottomed boats, you make the rockin' world go round.............

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by johnno View Post
    There are so many boats in this vein and I think around 18' would be perfect. A friend built a bewtie out of Reuel Parker's Sharpie book for example. I watched a good youtube video of a guy building such a boat in the traditional way, but if my memory serves me, if the bottom is planked it's going to have to take up water for quite a while to be tight and not super leaky. But perhaps instead of going the ply route for the bottom, you could still plank it with good thick boards, tongue and groove, and glue them together. If I was to build another, I think I'd do it that way.
    The traditional cross-planked bottom is an interesting thought problem from a design and construction perspective. The boat I’m building will probably only ever be in the water for - at most - 5 days at a time. With long stretches of living on a trailer in humid and damp Pennsylvania. From what I’m reading, that’s probably not much to worry about, if the boat is built tight to start. It’s the cycles of a few weeks in the water, then drying out that seem to cause issue. Still, it’s something to consider, and here’s what I’m learning….

    1. Chapelle states in the article in Boats that the original builders had issues with the very stem and stern bottom ends opening up because they’re above waterline when tied up. So builders would either tongue-and-groove or spline those bottom plank to deal with the swell/shrink issue. Payed well with schmootz of choice and caulked as all the other bottom plank.

    1.5. Surprisingly, he doesn’t go into tremendous detail on the basic cross planked flat bottom in Boatbuilding. Talks about herringbone and fan-planked bows and sterns, but basically says get ‘em tight and well calked.

    2. Another method was the ‘skip’ plank way. Every few feet a maker would skip a bottom plank and continue on. This accomplished a few things. First, it allowed a space to put bar clamps to squeeze the bottom planks together. If the clamps only have 3’ bars, they’d leave a plank out ever three feet to give a place to place the clamp. Then, they’d fall back to the space and close it with a slightly oversized plank, sort of wedging everything tight. Multiple whiskey planks.

    3. The bottom, properly planked, used fairly narrow stock to reduce the movement of any individual plank.

    4. Modern sealers do a world of good in certain applications. Not glue, but the Polysulphide marine seam sealers.

    5. The bottom planks in a sharpie are only inches below waterline and aren’t exposed to the same sorts of direct hydraulic pressure as a carvel plank 18” down.

    6. Wood selection is important. Species that move less are obviously preferred. I’d even think about planking with plywood, rather than using sheets… and sealing each plank edge with epoxy.

    Still learning. Thankfully, bottom comes after lofting, backbone, molds, sheer, chine, and side planking. Plenty of time to worry through this.

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by John hartmann View Post
    Here are a couple of images of Andrew Kitchen’s sharpie skiff—very similar to the boat in post #13–a most capable little craft:
    BDDF8B75-B310-4DB4-BE07-55EC815020A5.jpg

    8E670749-D977-47A5-895E-52FDA4D8E64E.jpg
    Andrew is a highly skilled builder who does beautiful work, and he sailed this at a number of the Small Reach Regattas. It’s a cracker.
    Golly… that’s a good lookin’ little boat, isn’t it? It’s got all the 130-year-old tech too! Topsail! That vertical brail-reef situation! Gosh it’s neat. What were your impressions of it’s capabilities at SRR?

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    How about a Cedar Keys sharpie? Beamier and heavier than most. Seems perfect for a family 22'


    another one:

    If he ever drinks the brew of 10 tanna leaves, he will become a monster the likes of which the world has never seen



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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by RyanGillnet View Post
    For something ultra-traditional, I found an old Boats article by Chapelle posted on Duckworks. A 14 Ft. Chesapeake Sharpie Skiff. 5’ beam. Full plans. This is what I had in mind to build… though something endemic to the Connecticut coast, rather than the Eastern Shore, but whatever. This serves as an example. Not sure the interior volume would be adequate for two adults and two dinghies. I’d also probably think about a different rig… traditional but not authentic to the type… But I could absolutely build this. I’d have to think about a strategy for keeping the bottom tight on a trailer (maybe plywood… but I hope not…), but yeah. I could get a wooden boat together using mostly traditional methods between now and “19 in a 6-bedroom house”…

    C0318E41-DF8E-49F4-8BD7-6FEF6F06D6F5.jpg
    I really considered that boat when I was looking through plans and came across this blog which really showed what would go into building it: https://skiffbuilding.blogspot.com/

    His last post was in 2011 and I remember he wasn't finished... where does the time go?!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by johnno View Post
    You'd probably enjoy these videos too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STGwyif5K5M and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76CEx-Mgqi4

    And this is a video of my friend's Reuel Parker sharpie built from plans in his book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBT9jObqmp4
    Tempo looks like a fun crab skiff! Your friend linked to his videos up in post #2 and I’ve really enjoyed watching them.

    This stuff is fun.

    Kids are asleep and Samantha is reading. I’m going for a cocktail then heading to my chair to watch Billy Moore build a Chesapeake Deadrise… thanks for the link! I’m more of a reader of books than a watcher of videos and checking YouTube for info never even really crossed my mind. (“Man… I really am stuck in the past…” he says aloud as types his missives to people all over the world on his iPad…)

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by The Jeff View Post
    I really considered that boat when I was looking through plans and came across this blog which really showed what would go into building it: https://skiffbuilding.blogspot.com/

    His last post was in 2011 and I remember he wasn't finished... where does the time go?!
    Hey, man. Wow. He built that exact boat from Chapelle’s plans! The blog does stop in 2011, right after he sea-trialed her and he’s got a fantastic write-up about his experience. It’s neat to see a boat in 3D… though there’s only a single photo of the boat on the water. I’ll definitely go through and grab as much useful info as I can. I always get nervous with 10 year old interwebs info… could disappear at any moment! Thanks for the heads up! (And how in the world did you remember this was the same boat? Sheesh!)

    R

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by Rigadog View Post
    How about a Cedar Keys sharpie? Beamier and heavier than most. Seems perfect for a family 22'

    another one:
    You bet. That’s a new one for me… I’ll have to add it to my research list.

    It seems a lot of these could easily be stretched a bit in length, maybe widened a bit, without changing the scantlings… just adding frames as appropriate and keeping CE etc where needed. Pretty versatile.

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Good ideas here. But you really want a ply bottom on a trailered boat. Cross planking will either open when it dries or cup and lift when it gets saturated.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    There's some good information and nice pix in this thread: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...il-to-windward

    I'd say it depends on the rig and the appendages you use on the rig. I already had a Snipe rig, so I designed Black Swan around it, and gave her a modern daggerboard.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by John hartmann View Post
    Do you have access to John Gardner’s Building Classic Small Craft? There is a chapter describing an 18’ sharpie, which could be built to 20’, with a ketch rig, 120 sq ft for the 18 footer, and 165 sq ft for the 20’.
    This wolesome boat was my first thought on the design brief.
    Its got family written all over it.
    I have a Goat Island Skiff and I love it.
    It is however a very lively boat.
    Of the OP's wish list it ticks only "light air sailer".
    It is best sailed actively by a crew of two and requires their full attention.
    And if you should turtle it...holds a lot of water.
    Wayne
    Fremantle
    West Australia

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by RyanGillnet View Post
    Hey, man. Wow. He built that exact boat from Chapelle’s plans! The blog does stop in 2011, right after he sea-trialed her and he’s got a fantastic write-up about his experience. It’s neat to see a boat in 3D… though there’s only a single photo of the boat on the water. I’ll definitely go through and grab as much useful info as I can. I always get nervous with 10 year old interwebs info… could disappear at any moment! Thanks for the heads up! (And how in the world did you remember this was the same boat? Sheesh!)

    R
    A handy website for disappearing info is the Wayback Machine: http://wayback.archive.org/ Although it does appear to be down at the moment... you can put any website in the search box and there's a decent chance it'll have copies from various times.

    Some people would call it addiction, but I swear I can quit at any time!

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    I built a traditional 15 ft x 5 ft Chesapeake style sailing skiff when I was in college. The plans came out of Harry Sucher's Simplified Boatbuilding: The Flat Bottom Boat.

    Get a copy here for a good price: https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/simpli...dition=2578432

    It had a cross planked bottom, a single mast with the sprit and a short vertical club at the clew end of the sail. It also had a small balanced jib with a club on the foot and tacked to the stem head.

    It sailed well and was pretty fast on a reach when the wind was up. It would even get up and plane. I sold it when I went to graduate school in 1987. It may still be on the Eastern Shore of Maryland somewhere near Kent Island.

    If you want to know how these sort of flat bottomed boats sail, come to the Small Craft Festival or go to the CBMM any other time during the sailing season and rent one from their boat livery.

    Brian

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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft


    The International 110 has an almost flat bottom and vertical sides. Sails pretty well.



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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    My first independent command at age seven was a 16' cat rigged leg o'mutton heavy flatty, cross planked bottom and weighed a ton.

    In light air it was best to sail her on her bottom as the stem was just out of the water.

    In stronger winds with a bit of chop, she sailed best on her chine five or so points off the wind, maybe sixty degrees.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    Good ideas here. But you really want a ply bottom on a trailered boat. Cross planking will either open when it dries or cup and lift when it gets saturated.
    Thanks, Dave. I’ll likely use ply for the bottom. It seems the reasonable thing to do.

    But I don’t wanna…

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    There's some good information and nice pix in this thread: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...il-to-windward

    I'd say it depends on the rig and the appendages you use on the rig. I already had a Snipe rig, so I designed Black Swan around it, and gave her a modern daggerboard.
    That is a good thread. Much to consider with the foils. Thanks! Black Swan looks great. How many molds did you set up when building? I think you have a thread or a pdf of the design and build somewhere… off to the search box…

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Sailing Characteristics - Flatiron Skiffs and Other Flat Bottom Sailing Craft

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Poulsen View Post
    This wolesome boat was my first thought on the design brief.
    Its got family written all over it.
    I have a Goat Island Skiff and I love it.
    It is however a very lively boat.
    Of the OP's wish list it ticks only "light air sailer".
    It is best sailed actively by a crew of two and requires their full attention.
    And if you should turtle it...holds a lot of water.
    Wayne
    Fremantle
    West Australia
    Thanks, Wayne. I like the Goat Island Skiff for a fun, lively boat. Just not for me this time around. Really impressive the following that the design has captured.

    I have Gardner’s book on order. In the meantime, can anyone give particulars? Beam, interior depth, rig, etc? Or a pic?

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