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Thread: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

  1. #1
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    Default Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Hi all
    I have just begun building the Chamberlain Alpha Dory from Gardners "Dory Book" I'm building the boat for Jole Peck of Beverly Ma. with the idea of selling it by next spring and building another, hopefully get a club together here on the north shore.
    I plan on tweaking the lines slightly to reflect what I know of dory construction and I have also been influenced by observations of the Chamberlain dory at Mystic. The boat will be built with ply and epoxy. Should be an exciting build.
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Hey Dan, sorry I missed you at the 17th WoodenBoat Show. I was at your boat but you were off somewhere.

    The Beachcomber-Alpha is one of my all time favorite designs – a very capable handsome design.



    What are your plans for the rig? I believe this one was one of the club racer rigs. I bought plans for Iain Oughtred's John Dory a while back and he had no less than 9 options for the sailing rig. The simple sprit seemed the most elegant.


    Good luck with the build!

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    The Alpha Dory is coming along, bottom and frames glued up and cut to shape, I set up the frames last night and got my first idea of the sive and shape. The Alpha is incredibly long and lean, a very elegant and delicate form. Not as big a boat as 21' sounds.
    In terms of rig, Clint and I have been having a good discussion on his thread about alternate rigs... as I see it, on Massachusetts north shore there is only one Alpha Dory and it has to have that famous leg-o-mutton rig. People simply don't know the boat without that big triangle sail and tiny jib. I have sailed a smaller chamberlain type dory with this rig and it is really ideal. In another part of the world alternate rigs might work on the Alpha but I really have to go with the historic rig.
    More on some hull design modifications I plan as work progresses.
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    What were the 9 alternate rigs Ken? do you rember? was one of them the traditional rig?
    We cut out the rudder and centerboard and installed the frames and stern knee yesterday evening.
    One departure I am considering from Gardners drawings is stepping the mast just ahead of the forwad thwart rather than through it as Chamberlain did. I think this may make stepping the mast afloat a tiny bit less akward for beginner sailors.
    photos to follow.
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Others interested in these dories should read in WB #36 a story about the Swampscotts with great text and pics. I am very intrigued by a dory that post-dates the Alpha-Beach -- designed by Evers Burtner....it is drawn as a round sided hull...flatter and more like the racing dories but prettier lines. 21' 6" x 5'9"...a lot of dory. I plan to try to find the plans, but please let me know if anyone knows of this model. Incidentally, Burtner suggested that the dory rigged as a ketch would be the best rig for the boat...I will post a drawing at some point showing the Alpha-Beach as a lug-yawl rigged beach boat.

    Cheers,
    Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    I really dunno think about youse guys, all out there getting soakin wet while I'm inside dry as toast, drinking hot coffee, and a bit of a boggle swiming back home......y'know all is right with the world.....
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint,

    I just dug out my WB#36 and read that story. WOW! The Burtner dory looks like a real refinement over the Alpha/Beach, which I had always considered the most refined of the sailing dories. If you can't locate the plans, there is enough detail in the lines drawing in the story to get pretty close, by enlarging the pics and scaling off the frame-spacing dimensions. I'd be real curious to know how many planks she carried per side, and to get a look at that ketch rig. Unfortunately, Burtner doesn't mention what kind of ketch rig, but loose-footed spritsails would be a good guess, as many boats of that era carried that rig. Please keep us posted.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Paladin,

    Thanks for your concern, but I've spent way too many days in a warm cabin, snug and dry, watching the slush run down the pilothouse windows. Not my cup of tea.

    To my mind, you're not living unless you've got frozen snot dripping off your chin, squinting into the blowing snow, trying to see the forestay, listening for that bell buoy somewhere off to port. Nothing like an open boat in bad weather to put a little lead in your pencil.
    Last edited by TerryLL; 07-20-2008 at 10:47 PM. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Yo Terry, down here in Florida we eat oysters for that.

    Daniel, I'll pull out the plans and see if I can name them all. If somehow you could position the mast step aft of the thwart then you would have a better opportunity for one (or two) of Pete Culler's gated mast steps. I'm still very interested in the ability to step masts at sea so that decks are clear for early morning fishing in glassy conditions. If you've ever experienced a big speckled trout wacking a top water plug and then about pulling you in with his run, you'd know how nice it is to have the masts completely out of the way. Keep us tuned in with your build and take lots of pictures. The Alpha is one of my favorites!!!

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Terry....I did the ice thing circumnavigating Iceland, and sailing over to the Faeroes and scotland/latvia with the spray freezing in the rigging, then falling down trying to knock the crap outta me.....too old for that stuff now....like hot showers, warm wimmins and dry cabins.....
    Best of luck to ya....
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint what was the name of the dory? lots bigger than an alpha the alpha is only 5' wide. There was a Clipper Dory at 23'.
    We are hoping to sail the dory to the Isle of Shoals for the weekend and use it sailing to Gloucester and beyond.
    I dont think the mast will fit behind the thwart as the centerboard box is right against it...Ill take a look.
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    It was called dory #3, designed by Burtner. Big boat: 21'5", 5'9" beam, 4'4" beam LWL, he sailed a ketch rig and swears by it as do I. With my bumb hand I cannot do work on the FFaering so I will likely get to doing the sail plans for the lug-yawl in the Alpha-Beach. I emailed MIT Hart museum to find the dory #3 plans. May be too big a boat to do in my shop....


    Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
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    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint,
    I can't stop looking at that Burtner dory (#3). It had to be a lot faster than the Alpha/Beach, with an extra two feet of LWL length and an extra half foot of LWL beam. The weight of the two boats was essentially the same, but the Burtner dory carried 180 feet of sail and the Alpha/Beach only 125. Please keep us updated on your search for the plans.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    HI all
    photos are up at
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com + plus IB 18 sailing session!
    Dan

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    hi folks-does anyone on this thread have any insight as to the banks dory-coast guard model-in the dory book?-there are significant differences between the written comparison and the measuements on the following pages-i want to build one but hate to guesstimate the rocker etc-thanks

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Dan, Looks great....building upright! We'll have to link to each other's pages to show two different ways to do this boat. I'll do all pine, cedar, some larch, and laminated frames if I can't find good stock. Hodgdon built a dory with all laminated oak frames, no bent frames. I'll find the WB article on this one.

    I finished the lug-yawl sail plan for the Alpha-Beach. It is striking!

    Cheers,Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Hank I will take a look...

    Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
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    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint,

    Is there any chance for a gated mast step for the main mast where it could be stepped at sea by one fairly strong person? The mast step would need to be just aft of a thwart and the centerboard case would need to move aft. Just curious. Could you post us a look at the new rig?

    Thanks, kenjamin
    Last edited by kenjamin; 07-25-2008 at 08:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint,

    I'm very eager to see that new lug yawl rig. Any success on your Burtner dory plans quest?

    Hank,

    I believe there is a mistake in the written description of the CG dory and the lines drawing regarding the rocker at the bow. The lines drawing shows 2.5 inches of rocker at the bow, but in the text it is stated that the rocker at the bow is 0.5. I'd go with the lines drawing figures, as rocker in most banks dories is about equal fore and aft.
    Last edited by TerryLL; 07-25-2008 at 09:33 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Hi all
    just pulled the Alpha out of the shop, incredible hull, so long, light and gracefull. We installed the sheer planks this afternoon and knocked down the bracing after supper, boat looks great, incredibly light. I would go with 3/8th ply next time not for ultimate strenght but because it would take les care bending around frames as it is stiffer, I had to brace between frames to avoid flat spots.
    Clint looking forward to those yawl drawings.
    about the CG dory, the lines drawing for Alpha the base line was 2.0 inches lower than the lowest point on the bottom, if CG dory is the same actual bottom height at bow would be 2.5" - 2.0"...check it out on the offsetts and see if this holds true.
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/showthread.php?t=23493

    Above is a link to my posts on another forum showing my drawings of the AB-dory with a lug-yawl rig. Feel free to comment. I will try to get the pics posted here when I get my pic-site to open.

    When you see the drawings, notice to two CE positions...the alpha rig CE was further aft than the CB itself, there must have been some weather helm. My rig shows the CE falling on the leading edge. I'm not sure if I should keep this or make it the same as the alpha rig CE. What do you think?

    Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint.

    Just looked over your new lug rig for the Alpha/Beach.

    My sense has always been that the Alpha/Beach carried some weather helm, with that CB case so far forward and the CE well aft of the board, but having never sailed one I might have my head up my tuckus. The Swampscott I did own and sail extensively carried a lot of weather helm, but it was significantly overcanvassed, and a joy and a terror to sail.

    My initial thought about your sail plan is that the CE is too far forward, and would be even further forward without the mizzen. I've always thought that it is good to have a sail plan that remains relatively balanced when shortened down. To that end I think I would move the main mast back to the front of the CB case and carry a jib, much like the Caladonia Yawl gaff-rig plan.

    I'd put the CE of the main (without jib or mizzen) just at the aft end of the CB, and adjust the size of the jib and mizzen to keep the CE right about there with all canvas up. Then, reefing the main, or striking the jib and mizzen would still leave you with a balanced plan. Another option is to leave the main stepped in the bow and ketch-rig it with a larger mizzen, with reef bands so you could shorten both main and mizzen and stay balanced.

    Other than that I think I'd go with about 160 feet of sail total.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    Unfortunately, Burtner doesn't mention what kind of ketch rig, but loose-footed spritsails would be a good guess, as many boats of that era carried that rig.
    If you have or can find a copy of "Pete Culler's Boats," there's a swampscott dory design with exactly that rig ... a ketch with loose-footed spritsails. It's on pages 45-47. Lovely boat ... 18'8" overall, with a beam of 4'10". The boat was designed and built for Captain Charles Sayle of Nantucket, who sailed aboard the Gloucester fishing fleet in the 1920s and "pretty much knew what he wanted."

    If I remember correctly, Capt. Pete used a similar rig on his own swampscott, a 17-footer named Dancing Feather ...
    Last edited by Steve Paskey; 07-28-2008 at 10:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Steve,

    Thanks, I've looked over Pete Culler's 18'8" dory many times. Looks like the perfect dory sail plan to me. I had a 23' Cape Ann dory that I put the same sail plan on and it worked well.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    My initial thought about your sail plan is that the CE is too far forward, and would be even further forward without the mizzen. I've always thought that it is good to have a sail plan that remains relatively balanced when shortened down. To that end I think I would move the main mast back to the front of the CB case and carry a jib, much like the Caladonia Yawl gaff-rig plan.

    Other than that I think I'd go with about 160 feet of sail total.
    Terry,

    I'll just be doing this lug with a mizzen. No jib. I may have the partner configured for an aft position, no mizzen. I'd reef the mizzen to keep things balanced.

    So, I may rake the mast to get the CE further aft...just how far aft is what I'd like to find out...perhaps I should get the CLR for the hull and look at the CE relative to that, the lead.

    160 SF is a lot! The big main on the racing rigs were no bigger than 115 SF about. I may bump up the size of the mizzen.

    Also, I want to arrange the rig such that a mizzen staysail can be used. Do people know if the distance between the main mast and mizzen is too far on my plan.

    Sorry, I cannot post my pdf files...see the link I post a few posts above to another good discussion on the design forum.

    Cheers,
    Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint,

    Here are my thoughts about the CE in the Alpha/Beach:

    These boats evolved over many generations; Gardner claims the roots of the round-sided dories can be traced back to the round-sided colonial wherry. They were built by the people who used them daily and raced them often. I have to believe that the CE on the historical Alpha/Beach is in the right spot.

    160 feet of canvas is a lot for this boat, but you are exchanging the difficult-to-reef alpha rig for perhaps the easiest-to-reef lug rig. 160 feet would give you a better light air boat while still maintaining a safe boat for heavier weather.

    Just one last thought: The bow and stern of these boats is a squirreley place to stand, and tying in a reef while the boat is skittering about under you will likely be an adventure.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Terry, Damn good point about the boat being esp. tender in the ends. I plan to mess around more with things and may have to do some more redesign of the interior, thwart layout, centerboard, and doing a kick-up rudder...I've been trying to keep the C/B and thwarts in the same place. Will post again with latest thoughts. I did re-check the CE of the old rig and it is indeed aways abaft the centerboard. I agree they knew what they were doing, but I also have to believe that there was a lot of weather helm nonetheless. I may look at having a slightly longer centerboard and one that swings further down in the vertical to better control the balance. I will also toy with bringing the mizzen forward more and making it perhaps closer to 30 SF.

    I've even contemplated shortening the boat to 20' loa and keeping the lwl the same...more room in shop and making the boat a little less burdensome for single handing.

    Cheers,
    Clint
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Pretty sure that Gardner in the Dory Book said that sailors of the Alphas would often have three different rigs so that they could tailor their sailing for whatever the day dictated. The large rig was for racing, a smaller rig for normal sailing, and even smaller for especially windy conditions. This practice helped offset the difficulty of reefing the Alpha rig. Gardner also said that the main reason for the Alpha rig was so that the whole thing could be rolled up together and brought home on one's shoulder. While the Alpha may never be an outstanding sailor (ya know just doesn't have the hips for it), I've often wondered how good it could be if modern sail and mast materials, building techniques, and efficient foils were applied to that gorgeous hull.

    Clint, several of us would very much like to see you succeed in your effort to update the rig. There's probably no great need to keep the thwart and CB locations exactly the same because I suspect that it's mainly the hull shape that makes so many of us admire the boat so much. I know I sound like a broken record by saying this but if Pete Culler's gated mast steps could somehow be incorporated in the new rig, it would probably increase the versatility and appeal of the boat.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Hi all
    Alpha Beach is coming along, I just made up the steering yoke and attached it to tiller yesterday, looks very cool, unusual, cant wait to see how it works. Clint I read your post on design forum, I think you have something about the waeather helm giving a positive feel to the steering.
    The hull has a great shape you can really see the cods head and mackerel tail, rember this design is derived straight from the working dories of the 1880's, boats that had changed little in 100+ years , and theories of what made for a fast small sail boat were nonexistant.
    about the mast position, I can see exactly why it is where it is on the original boat, through the seat braced side to side with knees to the gunals, where the stays attach and sitting directly on the forward frame, that frame is intern nailed to every plank in the side of the boat, back to the stays... it is much stronger than just setting the mast on the bottom where only the nails through the edge of the garboard are keeping the bottom from being pushed out of the boat. Clint your position on the foot of the stem is also relatively strong but mabey not quite as good as the first frame...on the boat Im building with west system and a layer of glass over the bottom the position is far less critical, I set a step on the bottom tied into the #1 frame and extending forward almost to the stem with a 10" slot for adjustability of the mast foot.
    Ken I do plan to have a gate but it would require a major redisign of board box and forward seat to get the mast between the two, I plan to have the gate on the forward face of the seat and use it like a tabernackel to pivot the mast into position, should be pretty slick.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    I've heard several people mention the Beachcomber Alpha Dory is perhaps not the most practical design for recreation and that it is tippy. Why is this? 5ft beam seems plenty wide to me when compared to smaller Swampscott dories. In addition it should row more easily than say a Caledonia Yawl making it perhaps even more practical. Could someone shed some light on this? What other sail rigs would work well for this boat?

    Neil

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Clint,

    I admire your courage to Jump right in and make major changes to the Alpha/Beach. Dan is right that the historical position of the mast and CB had a lot to do with the position of the first frame, but with epoxy-ply glued-lap construction there is no structural reason to maintain those positions. I think some fairly radical experimentation in rig, CB position, and interior layout is justified considering the inherent strength and rigidity of glued-lap construction.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Quote Originally Posted by neilm View Post
    I've heard several people mention the Beachcomber Alpha Dory is perhaps not the most practical design for recreation and that it is tippy. Why is this? 5ft beam seems plenty wide to me when compared to smaller Swampscott dories. In addition it should row more easily than say a Caledonia Yawl making it perhaps even more practical. Could someone shed some light on this? What other sail rigs would work well for this boat?

    Neil
    Narrow waterlines, narrow ends, make it tippy.. That's also why it rows better than most designs of similar length. For stability, you want waterplane area. This design keeps it to a minimum to make the boat more easily driven for the load it can carry.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Quote Originally Posted by neilm View Post
    I've heard several people mention the Beachcomber Alpha Dory is perhaps not the most practical design for recreation and that it is tippy. Why is this? 5ft beam seems plenty wide to me when compared to smaller Swampscott dories. In addition it should row more easily than say a Caledonia Yawl making it perhaps even more practical. Could someone shed some light on this? What other sail rigs would work well for this boat?
    Dories like the Alpha/Beach have low initial stability because they are very narrow on the bottom. The 5' beam is at the sheer, but the beam at the waterline is only about half that. The narrow bottom, pointed at both ends, is the main reason these boats row so well. But the narrow bottom also makes the boat tender. The boat will heel easily with small changes in weight distribution, but only to a point. As more of the beam makes contact with the water as the boat heels, say when sailing, the stability increases dramatically. The Alpha/Beach, is not the best sailing boat, and it is not the best rowing boat, but it is one of the very best row/sail combination boats you will find.

    I've seen pictures of dories with just about every conceivable rig you can imagine. Iain Oughtred provides about six different sail plans for his 18'3" John Dory.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    I've seen pictures of dories with just about every conceivable rig you can imagine. Iain Oughtred provides about six different sail plans for his 18'3" John Dory.
    Actually the number of rigs included with the Iain Oughtred plans is nine. None of them, however, include Pete Culler's ketch rig with gated mast steps that I believe Pete was able to step while at sea (but I'm not sure about that). He may have had to beach the boat somewhere to step the masts like I do with my Caledonia Yawl.

    It's funny that everyone is so interested in sail and oar boats now. Seems like folks want the Alpha to sail better and still row well. I took a different route and figured out a way to make the Caledonia Yawl row a little better. My rig for the CY allows for two rowing stations. With two rowers at two stations (one facing forward) and each with one oar, rowing a Caledonia Yawl is a surprisingly pleasant undertaking although hardly ever necessary because the CY sails so darn well. Of course good is never good enough for people who enjoy building boats so that is why I still have a very strong interest in dories with an especially deep admiration of the Alpha's hull.

    I confess that I bought the John Dory plans because I was dying to get a look at those nine different rigs and also because a John Dory will fit in one space in my garage and an Alpha won't. Someday, however, if I live long enough, I still want to build an Alpha and I sure hope you guys figure out a way to update the rig by then.

    Seems like, with modern materials and computers to do the math, that there ought to be a way of configuring the rig to be light and compact enough to step the rig at sea – then you would have a great, seaworthy, and extremely good-looking fishing boat with no stinking motor required.
    Last edited by kenjamin; 08-01-2008 at 08:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Beachcomber - Alpha Dory, Swampscott Dory

    Quote Originally Posted by kenjamin View Post
    Actually the number of rigs included with the Iain Oughtred plans is nine. None of them, however, include Pete Culler's ketch rig with gated mast steps that I believe Pete was able to step while at sea (but I'm not sure about that). He may have had to beach the boat somewhere to step the masts like I do with my Caledonia Yawl.

    .....there ought to be a way of configuring the rig to be light and compact enough to step the rig at sea then you would have a great, seaworthy, and extremely good-looking fishing boat with no stinking motor required.

    Ken,

    I'm pretty sure the spritsail ketch rig Pete Culler used on his own dory could easily be stepped at sea. I had a 23' Cape Ann dory that carried the same rig and stepping at sea was no problem at all. The masts were CVG DF and 3.5 inches at the partners. Of course, a mast slot and a gated partner would make it all that much easier. If you used spruce you could get the weight down to about half that of DF. I'll scan in some pics and post them later today.

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