Monday, December 15, 2014

Fleet Building: Mutineer Fleet in Grapevine, Texas

It's no secret that the most sure-fire way to build a sailboat fleet is to have that one spark-plug; an enthusiastic go-getter who passionately believes this sailboat he/she sails is the best sailboat ever to grace the bounding main.

Here is a video of one such spark-plug, Greg Reed of Grapevine, Texas. His love and passion for the 15' Mutineer sailboat, a sailboat abandoned when Chrysler divested their marine business's in 1980, is building an orphan fleet in Grapevine Texas. Of note in the video is how the fleet is attuned to bringing up the new racer.


As a follow-on to Greg's pitch in the video for Grapevine, Texas running the 2014 Nationals...there were 19 Mutineers racing in the 2014 Nationals: Gib Charles, 1st; Ty McAden, 2nd; Uwe Hale, 3rd; and Mr. Mutineer, Greg Reed, 4th.


Grapevine Sailing Club - Mutineer Fleet 2 from russ ansley on Vimeo.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Header Photo: "Balmain Bug" Aussie Historical 6-Foot Skiff




The previous header photo was of the "Balmain Bug" a 1994 reproduction of the Aussie 6-Footer Historical Skiff Class. Aussie Ian Smith built her and she is shown on the dock sporting her light-air rig with a boom at least over 2 times the length of the boat and a bowsprit approximately 10 feet long (3.19 meter). Talk about being over-canvassed. The 6-footer class takes the cake for being the craziest of the crazies!

Quoting from the seminal book on the history of the Aussie skiffs, Bluewater Bushman by Bruce Stannard [1981];
"It is believed they were first built at Balmain in the 1890's and although they were first conceived as children's boats, there is no doubt that they demanded the strength of three men who were courageous, good swimmers and had the strength and agility of circus acrobats...They carried a staggering 1000 square feet of sail including a main, jib, topsail, spinnaker, ringtail, and even a watersail. [Mike Scott, over in comments, defines watersail as..."hung below the main boom to catch that extra drop of wind.....almost drooping in the water....hence the name....!] With so much sail up and so little to support it, it is hardly surprising that the 6-footers spent a lot of time "in the gutter"....
The class peaked during the early 1900's, attracting numbers because it was the cheapest way to go racing. Here are some photos of the early 6-footers sailing around 100 years ago. [Found on the Net]


The original crews sailed the 6-footers upwind with the bowsprit plowing a furrow in the water; probably the only way they could balance the whole package upwind.


Now for photos of the modern 1994 Smith reproduction 6-footer. A picture of the "Bug" off-the-wind in a fresh breeze, shortly after being launched. Looks like the crew is trying to get to the back of the bus when reaching but, alas, there is no back of the bus.


After ten years out of the water, the "Bug" was relaunched in October for this year's Balmain Regatta.

A quote from crew Campbell Reid:
"Even though she is based on a design close to a century old you can see how for their time these boats were pretty high tech...She will bury her bow in the blink of an eye but we were impressed at how seaworthy she was and were really happy that we could get upwind pretty well. In the six foot division of the historic skiff fleet at the regatta we think we are a serious threat.

 The precarious crew position Campbell Reid finds himself on the foredeck/bow may be the most comfortable one in drifting conditions. [The next two photos pulled from the Balmain Sailing Club website.]


Stick two grown men into a 6-footer and the scale becomes obvious. A 6-footer becomes a true "micro" dinghy.


The obligatory GoPro video shoot from this years relaunch. The bowsprit is so long it gives a perspective of a much larger dinghy. The 6-footers, like her bigger historical cousins, sported canvas lee cloths in a vain attempt to keep the water on the outside


Click here for other posts on Australian Historical skiffs.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Part 2 of the Travelogue of the French Canals in a Mirror Dinghy

Some of you, after viewing Part 1 of the Mirror Cruise on the French Canals, may have already jumped over to view Part 2. But to dot the i's and cross the t's, (and to get an easy second post out of this subject) here is another beautifully done video on the second month of the Cruise.

Again, from the video description by our intrepid adventurer, Digby Ayton.
"This month was filled with sunny days, wonderful people and beautiful scenery. I travelled through the Canal du Nivernais and the Canal du Lateral du Loire where I had to finished my journey and sold my boat at the beginning of the Canal du Centre, which was closed due to water problems. I finished my adventure having rowed 700km and passed 240 locks and had an absolutely amazing time.


A Dinghy On The French Canals. Part 2 from D.A on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Six Years!

This November marks the 6th anniversary of this blog. Within the last two years, the frequency of my posts have stopped, stuttered, and skipped and I've debated the end-game to this whole blogging thing. But, I have material in hand to keep going for a while and it helps that I treat this blog as a personal diary of sorts. At times, I admit, I get my enjoyment on the Net by re-reading some old posts of mine. (Narcissism anyone?)

Call it kismet but Tillerman over at Proper Course just posted "Is Blogging Dead". It may be but I'm not changing anything on Earwigoagin and I hope those bloggers on my blog list don't either.

So, after six years, let me acknowledge those bloggers I follow. They are an incredibly talented group. And let me give a tip-of-the-hat to the small cadre of "Earwigoagin" readers out there. Thanks for tuning in.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Travelogue of the French Canals: Camp cruising a 3.3 meter Mirror Dinghy

Part 1 of a well-shot video of one man's cruise in France, in, of all things, a small Mirror Dinghy. From the blurb attached to the video by the dinghy cruiser and videographer, Digby Ayton:
"A short film from my first month sailing and rowing through the French canals in a 3m sailing dinghy. I was given the boat in the town of Rouen, 150km west of Paris. After some repairs I began my adventure, sailing and rowing up the River Siene. After about 100 km I hitched a lift on a barge and three days, two nights in the cargo hold and 200km later I was past Paris and beyond. I began to row again in the town of St Mammes and soon after turned down the River Yonne. I have travelled 100km since then and have arrived at the beginning of the Canal du Nivernais in the Burgundy region of France.


A Dinghy On The French Canals. Part 1 from D.A on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Crosby Classic Moth "Skimmer" Plans

I lifted these from George A.'s blog. and put them into a PDF format. No reason these plans couldn't be modified to substitute the sit-on-deck with a small cockpit. Also, to jack the sail-plan up higher, the rule of thumb for our current Classic Moths is a 17' (5182 mm) mast length with the 15' (4572 mm) luff length of the sail, leaving approx 2' (610 mm) from deck level to gooseneck.

To download:

  1. Hover the mouse over the top, black menu bar.
  2. Select the downward facing arrow icon.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crosby "Skimmer" Moth

I got an email from Chris Museler mentioning that his friend had picked up an old Classic Moth on Cape Cod. It turned out that his friend, Yarrow Thorne, of Rhode Island, had acquired a very unique find, a Skimmer type Moth designed by William Crosby in 1933. Crosby, the editor at The Rudder magazine, had designed the deep-V Snipe in 1931, which was published and heavily promoted in The Rudder. Now in the heart of the Great Depression, Crosby designed an even cheaper and easy to build sailboat in 1933, this being a catboat to fit the open 11 foot rules of the Mothboat class, a class only a couple of years old but proving to be very popular. Captain Joel Van Sant out of Elizabeth City, North Carolina had built the first Mothboat, Jumping Juniper, in 1929.

As with the Snipe, Crosby published the plans for Skimmer in The Rudder. Unlike the Snipe, the Skimmer was a very shallow-V scow design with no cockpit - a true sit-on-top dinghy. As the publication of the plans for the Lark scow in The Rudder in 1898 would have enormous international impact on small boat sailing, the publishing of the plans for the Mothboat Skimmer would also have a similar international impact. Len Morris, of Australia, had designed an 11-foot scow in 1928, a class he called the Inverloch 11-footer until he saw The Rudder article on the Skimmer and decided to change his class name to the Moth - after all his design was also an 11-foot catboat, a similar scow-type and what was the chance the Australians and American 11-footers would ever get together to race?

The Europeans, particularly the French, started to build Skimmers which formed the beginning of European Moth class.

Considering the historical importance, a Skimmer should definitely be in a museum collection such as Mystic or The Mariners Museum.

Yarrow says his Skimmer Moth was built in plywood which puts the build date as possibly late 1930's or, even more likely, WWII or just after WWII.


Double shrouds, high spreaders, a jumper-strut on a wood mast is very typical of the state of American Mothboat rigging before WWII.


This Skimmer came without a sail, centerboard, or rudder. Yarrow was able to fit a Penquin sail on the spars.


Yarrow was able to cobble together the whole package and race this November in the 2014 Archipelago Rally free-for-all race. In 2014 terms, the lack of cockpit and the low boom position on the Skimmer do not make for comfortable sailing (as we see below with Yarrow painfully kneeling on the deck - wondered what the tacking procedure consisted of - a belly crawl under the boom?). Considering that many builders of The Rudder sailboat plans had no compunction about modifying  the designs, I'm sure many Skimmers were built or modified to have cockpits. (But low freeboard scows like Skimmer were very wet and American Mothboats started evolving with cockpits but also higher, roundish torpedo decks to shed the water before it got to the cockpit.)

Yarrow sent along his impressions on his first sail in the Skimmer.
"The boat was very balanced, the sail was wrong and the tiller was too long, not allowing me to sit far back, I still need to learn how to sail but was very surprised to launch and sail within minutes for 1st time in over 30 yrs. The boat pointed OK in 20 knt's with chop, it liked the center board up a bit and I did not load the orig[inal] rig very much ;). but down wind WOW, it's a surf board and loves to have the nose even with the water, but if you get it wrong it buries the nose to the trunk in a heart beat.
This photo, lifted from the Internet, courtesy of Rufus Van Gruissen.