Monday, August 27, 2012

Sol cat 15
The Sol cat 15 and 18 were part of the club in 1976 when I joined.  There were only Novice and Skipper ratings at the time, and you had to get a rating in each boat.  You had to have your C-Lark skipper rating before you could even think about getting a rating in the mysterious, scary, fragile catamarans.  Well that was over the top, but not much for some people.  The 15 was cat rigged, (mainsail only) and was designed to be single-handed.  The Sol Cat 15 had centerboards whereas the 18 had daggerboards.

Sol cat 18
The 18 was sloop rigged and designed to be double handed.  Having the tiller crossbar in front of the mainsheet block was normal for me at the time since this is the catamaran that I first sailed, but it seems odd now since this is the only cat that I have seen this way since then.  Most cats the tillers are behind the traveller, so you must throw the hiking stick behind the boat to tack or jibe.  This frustrates many people that I teach.  The 18 allows you to bring the hiking stick forward, but you must have an extendable stick as it would be too short to trapeze with or too long to pass through on the tramp.  The Sol Cat poster in the sail locker at the time claimed that the Sol Cats didn't pitchpole like the Hobie  16s.  I'd never sailed a 16, but either the advertising was wrong or it would have been scary to see me sail a 16 based on the number of times I pitchpoled the Sol Cat.

Sol cat 20
Sol Cat's high performance boat that was 10 feet wide.  It's the only beach cat that I've sailed without a watertight sealed mast, which means not self rescuing.  I was sailing this boat to Mercer Island on a club lake cruise when I noticed the lee bow was a foot or so above the water. This is not normal cat behavior, the bows normally go deeper and deeper as you apply more power.  I started looking around and finally noticed the crease in the deck where it had folded in and let the hull bend up just in front of the crossbeam. I carefully nursed the boat back to the club with very little mainsheet tension.  When I repaired it,  I drilled a 5” hole in the deck, glassed in some stringers and put a port in.  First time it went sailing the port popped up into the air and the hull bent again.  This made me realize that the curved deck needed to be completely glassed back together for strength which the port did not supply.  So back to square one, and no port this time.  When the tramp shredded completely a spider's web of line to recreate a tramp was made.  It was a bit interesting to maneuver across.

This 20 foot long, 10 foot wide wooden boat was designed in 62.  There was no trampoline, there was solid wood where a trampoline would be found.  The center of the tramp area had a piano hinge so the boat would fold up in the center to make it 8 feet wide to trailer.  This boat was considered fragile and wood boats tend to not last a long time in the club, so this donation wasn't sailed except by a few chiefs just to test it to make sure there was nothing wrong with it. 

Supercat 20
The Supercat was 12 feet wide.  Most cats are 8 feet wide so they can be trailered without dis-assembling them or buying an expensive tilt trailer. Each of he Supercat's crossbeams are of two different diameters such that one half slips inside the other to make the boat 8 feet wide to trailer.  The hull and deck is an elliptical shape.  This is to minimize drag when the front of the boat is underwater and reduce the chance of pitchpoling. It was 450 pounds with 275 ft^2 of sail area.  There was a tall rig version made with 300 ft^2.   

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Concise History of WYC Boats - Part 3

This post is the third in a series of five articles by John Courter documenting boats and boat types owned by the WYC.  New the club?  See how times have changed! 

Tanzer 16
A little like an underpowered smaller Flying Scot with a rounder bottom.  I felt that it didn't steer very responsively, and it didn't feel very fast.  It was a 500 lb boat, and since we probably had the genoa, it had 145 ft^2 of sail area.  With the standard jib it had 130 ft^2 of sail area.  In contrast the Flying Scot has 190 ft^2 of sail area.
Left to right:  Excalibur Islander 26, Caravel Bristol 22, Tanzer 16
From 1980 Daysailor

The E-scow was 28 feet long with a boom that sticks out over the transom.  It had bilge boards, twin rudders and was designed to be sailed heeled over.  The boat planes offwind. It's a very different feel than a 505 planing.  Sailing upwind you heeled the boat so when the deck was almost touching the water the lee bilge board would be vertical in the water.  The boards had toe in to reduce leeway.  The weather board needed to be raised because it would cause drag being at an angle to its opposite.   This boat had small rudders and sail trim was important.  I had the jib halyard break once.  I couldn't get the boat to bear off, it stayed in irons without the jib.  I tried raising the jib on the spinnaker halyard and promptly pulled the screws for the block out of the wooden mast.  I then ran the foot up as if it were the luff using the spinnaker pole topping lift, tied a knot in the sail near the head to hold onto and sailed home.   When I got my rating on it, the chief who went out with me and also had an E-scow of his own said, “I'm not sure that only two people can right it.” He then proceeded with the capsize part of the test.  It turns out you can right one with only two people.  There were 4 E-Scows at the club at one point.  I believe two or three of them were affiliate boats.  I have  several fond memories of cruising Lake Washington summer evenings on this boat.  It had 323 ft^2 of sail area and the hull weighed 965 lbs.

20 foot cat rigged version of the E-scow.  I pretty much ignored this boat since I considered the E-scow so much cooler.  It wasn't a long term boat in the club. It had 216 ft^2 of sail area and weighs 650 lbs.

Huskies were the first boats that the club owned. In the fifties a design contest was held and a cabinet maker won with a scow design. The boat was constructed of a few sheets of plywood.   The first version was under rigged and consequently more sail area was added.  I believe originally there were 6 Huskies, at the time I joined there were the Brad, Deb, and the Increadaboat left.  Two of the Huskies were stored in the Canoe House and the masts had to be tipped back at an angle to clear the door leading to the ramp that is in the Montlake cut.  There was also another Husky left that had been converted into a race committee boat, the mast had been replaced with a course board and an outboard bracket had been fitted.  I got stuck using this 6 HP powered thing more than once teaching classes.  The original boats had a centrally mounted rudder and centerboard.  The Incredaboat had been modified to something similar to an E-Scow with twin rudders and bilge boards angled out.  Additional sail area had been added including a deck sweeper 180 % genoa.  Dual trapezes were also added.    I believe on my first Snooze and Cruise that the Increadaboat hit a log and tore a rudder off with part of the transom.  That evening there was a group of  people fiberglassing it back together on the island.

Victory 21
I would say that the Ensign was a nice replacement of the Victory 21. Ours is famous for winding up floating stern up after taking on water.  We added more foam in the cabin so that it was self rescuing after that, and we tested it at the dock.   You can read more about its sinking and see pictures at:  Select the floatation button on the left to see a report of its sinking and re-floating written by the club member that was involved.  We sold it when some rudder and rudder post repairs became more work than we wanted to deal with.   This boat had 185 ft^2 of sail area and weighs 1350 lbs.

This was a powered up two man keelboat.  It had no trapezes or spinnaker.  It was also an Olympic class.  The mast had double running backs which were critical to set correctly to keep the mast from coming down. You have to loosen the leeward set and tighten the windward set on every tack or jibe.   The Star class has been around since about 1911 and has had a variety of rigs including a Gunter rig in the past, which is basically a gaff rig where the gaff goes up nearly vertically.  The boat that was donated to us was made of wood.  We kept for 3 years then sold it.  This boat is a little short of 23 feet, weighs 1500 lbs, and has 285 ft^2 of sail area.

Another two man keelboat that is 22 feet long, but this one had a trapeze and spinnaker.  It weighs about 1000 lbs, 500 of that was a bulb keel. This keel could be lifted with a purchase until the bulb was touching the hull making it easier to trailer.  It has 247 ft^2 of sail area.

Minute Man
15 foot catboat styled boat with a gaff rig.  It has a U.S. Flag as its insignia on the sail.  If you don't raise the peak and throat halyards together you break the gaff jaw, so the gaff  was in the shop on a regular basis.  A wide shallow draft boat with a short rudder is perfect for sailing in shallow waters but it  resulted in compromises in sailing ability in my opinion.  This boat draws  8” with the board up.  You couldn't really hike in the boat, but if you let it heel it would round up when the rudder came most of the way out of the water.   This boat was  15 feet long, had 145 ft^2 of sail area, and weighed 800 lbs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Concise History of WYC Boats - Part 2

This post is the second in a series of five articles by John Courter documenting boats and boat types owned by the WYC.  New the club?  See how times have changed! 

Old boats of the club, part two: the double handers.

We had a maximum of 16 C-Larks at some point. We used to also have the area on the far side of the boat ramp to the first pedestrian ramp to store boats.  The C-Larks were the double hand training fleet.  They were a fat version of an I-14,  much more stable with less sail area.  It was a self rescuing boat, but the tanks were small and low in the boat, so when you righted the boat it came up half full of water.  There were two small holes in the transom to drain the water.  For a long time after righting it you had to be very careful with weight placement.  If you moved too far forward, the water would rush to the bow, the bow would go underwater, and water would fill up the cockpit again.  Any direction you let the water in the boat roll to would result filling the boat again.  The boat would eventually drain completely dry without having suction bailers because  the cockpit sole was above the water due to the tanks, except for a small well at the back where the drain holes were in the transom.  If you sat too far aft the back of the cockpit would always have water in it.  The solution for most people was to keep plugs in the drain holes unless the boat capsized.   The boat would plane, but the bow goes up in the air due to the amount of rocker.  I'm sure that my views on how the boat planes had a lot to do with my level of experience at the time, but I thought the boat was very difficult to handle while on a plane.  I remember sawing the tiller back and forth trying to keep the boat from capsizing and quite often not succeeding.  These boats were advertised as being able to take 4 people.  At times there were 4 people on C-Larks with all their camping gear stowed in the bow to go on Snooze and Crooze.   The C-Lark had a fairly large sail area of 130 sq. ft. for a 14 foot boat.  It weighed 275 lbs.  I've been told that they originally came without mast partners.  Apparently we bent enough masts that we built mast partners.  It is believed that Clark eventually added a partner to the boat.  Another modification that we apparently caused to be added was a small triangular shaped tank under the side decks to try to slow turtling of the boat.  Photos from 1980 Daysailor.

C-Lark on a dolly in the snow.  Notice any difference in geography?

We acquired the 420s as the double hand teaching fleet when the Laser 2s died.  We had both a Flying Junior and a 420 as demo boats.  One reason I remember hearing for selecting the 420 was that it was slightly bigger.  420s were the popular inter-collegiate fleet at the time.  Some east coast schools still use 420s, but most of the west coast now uses Flying Juniors.   I find the 420s and Flying Juniors to be very similar.  A sailing article from years ago comparing the FJ and 420 had the opinion from some college sailors that the Flying Junior was a better boat than the 420 because you could hardly get it to plane, thus keeping the racing tighter and better.  The 420 is 420 centimeters long,  had 110 sq. ft. of sail area and weighed 260 lbs.

Pictures at:

Alpha One
The designer of the Alpha had us sail his prototypes, presumably with an eye to selling us a fleet eventually.  Turns out we discovered the mast needed spreaders when we bent the mast, and the daggerboard well needed a LOT more reinforcement.  We found a couple of other issues, all of which he fixed, but we were never happy enough with its sailing qualities to buy a fleet.  Laurelhurst Beach club and Western Washington had fleets. One day I was going out to try the club's new Alpha and noticed a girl that was about to go out on a Kite, I asked her if she would like to try out the club's new boat with me. She said yes to going out sailing and yes to marrying me 2 years later.    


This was a donation.  It was a high performance, no spinnaker, no trapeze boat.  It had a rotating mast like the Hobies and a fully battened main.  It was 14' 10” long, weighed 150 lbs, and had 123 sq. ft of sail.  It wasn't in the club for very long.  I don't remember much about it, I'm not sure I even got to sail it.  I believe that it was considered to fragile to keep.
Pictures and more info:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Concise History of WYC Boats - Part 1

This post is the first of a series of five articles by John Courter documenting boats and boat types owned by the WYC.  New the club?  See how times have changed!

Part 1, single handers.

They were 11.5 foot wooden or fiberglass  non-self rescuing (at least back when the club had them) cat rigged single or double hander. 72 squre foot sail, 180 lbs.   The club acquired a fleet sometime in the late 1950's. They were long gone when I joined the club in the fall of 1976.

I asked Norm and Ralph (2 members of the club) what they remember of the boats.

As I recall we had 8 cyan/aqua glass Penguins when I joined in 1966.
They and one (maybe two) wood hull(s) were on a rack in the canoe house.
We used a dolly to launch them down the ramp into the cut.

yes.    A fc named Evan Engstrom and several of us built these racks.  I don't remember the dollies, but how else would they be launched.   We could probably find plans on the internet-- or certainly thru WoodenBoat magazine.   Ah yes, coffin corner.  rj>

Cat rig, removable stayed masts, sailtrack/slides, loose-footed main.
Hard chines, vertical transom, little rocker. Plywood sheet floorboards
1-2 inches off the hull. The club (I think) put styrofoam sheets under
the floorboards to help them in a capsize but they floated about as
high as an old Lightning when swamped.

I don't think they planed much if at all. Usually something broke if you

A common way to capsize in summer was to sit in "coffin corner", flat
on the floor with your back against the transom and your arm over the
tiller, and then jibe. You blocked the tiller so you couldn't round up
and you were stuck there while it rolled on you. Resting your arm
on the tiller in this position could also jack the rudder off the
transom, another fun ride.

Another fun prank was to sail by someone with their boom out and unhook
their clew. The "Phantom UnClewer" had many a victim.

 I thought this was in the Kite era, since they used the "two 
pronged bracket" and swaged wire rope for their outhaul.  --rj

The wood centerboard often broke off the bit around the hinge pin when
people (ahem..) sailed up the ramp without raising them (easy to do with
a southerly). After my contribution to this research I became the Penguin
fleet captain and fixed this alot. The bronze pin was captured in two
3/8 inch pipe nipples and caps threaded into the sides of the trunk.
For a while I replaced the pin with a wood dowel which acted as a fuse,
but I had to replace them regularly due to wear/sogginess. I should have
varnished them ;)

Ralph might remember more about the wood ones and how many we had in 1961.
I recall rumors of as many as 12.

Sorry I don't.  --rj

Pictures of the Penguin at:


The Pico was our first attempt at a polyethylene boat sometime in the 90s.  We had both an Escape and a Pico brought out as demo boats.  I wanted to demo the Escape and the dealer tried to talk me out of the Escape so he talked me into also demo-ing the Pico.  The Pico was a much better built boat and the Escape went back with a hole in it.  After much debate some months later a Pico was purchased to evaluate if it was strong enough and to find out if the instructors liked teaching and students liked learning in it.  The instructors weren't interested in even trying the boat out in their classes and the boat was sold off as an orphan boat after a few years.  The Pico is 11.5 feet long, has 55 sq. ft. sail area, and the hull weight is 154 lbs.   The mainsail reefs/furls around the mast like the Bravo, but you have to disconnect the vang and there is no furler line, you just grab the mast and rotate it. 
Pictures of the Pico at:  

Tech Dinghy

This was a donation that we had for a time.  Few people sailed it.  A story from the old timers says that the P.E. department had a sailing program using Tech dinghies and their students were told to sit in the middle of the boat for safety.  Apparently our club members took great delight in sailing circles around them while hiked out annoying their instructors.
The Tech dinghy is 12 1/2 feet long, cat rigged, and weigh about 200 pounds.

Regarding Tech Dinghies, there were four made by the Beetle Boat Works
that belonged to the P.E. department in the canoe house then. I don't
know if the club ever owned them or acquired others. The instructor
was very paranoid about wind and they would be coming in while we
were launching Penguins or Huskies.  

After the PE dept stopped giving classes we had access to them.  I don't recall how they were disposed of.   If memory serves(?), Larry Jasman (chief and binary barge throttle jockey) had taken the PE class.   --rj

Pictures of the Tech dinghy at:


11 foot self rescuing fiberglass cat rigged single hander.  They were acquired approximately 1970, and I don't remember exactly when, but it was probably the early 80's that they were sold. The one named Ralph Jackson was given to Ralph for all the work he put into the club and because the Kite was his favorite boat.  The club had at least 8 of them, and they were the single hand teaching fleet.  The Kite was designed as a junior trainer for the Finn.  It had a solid round tapered wood mast that was stepped right at the bow of the boat.  I was told that I had to hike off of the transom when running to keep the bow from going underwater due to the weight of the mast up forward.  I remember the 1/2" thick sheets of wax hanging from strings in the sail locker that you would rub on the bolt rope of the sail to make it slide easier up the luff slot in the mast. These were the first boats I went out on.  I liked taking them out for our Friday night races when the wind was fairly light.  The Lasers were the hot new boat that everyone knew couldn't be beaten by anything, and I had a good time beating them on the Kite.  I think the Kite had less wetted surface and so was a little faster in light airs.  The Kite was 11' 7" long,  sail area, 78 sq. feet,  hull 160 lbs, 205 lbs all up.  Note the ski belt that was common for a buoyancy aid at the time on the person sailing the boat.  

Pic From 1980 Daysailor: