Monday, February 22, 2010


The Pardey's built their Lyle Hess designed Bristol Channel Cutter from wood with no engine. They used (and may still use) kerosene cabin and navigation lights. They carried a minimalist package of electronics for communication, weather forecasting and navigation. It seems to me that they came very close to replicating not only the look and feel of the vessels that plied the Scilly Islands of Southwest England 150 years ago but also the experience of those who sailed them. I wonder why they chose a "modern" bermudean rig instead of the traditional gaff? I guess they weren’t really traditionalists when they first started their adventures; they were probably more like pragmatists on a tight budget.

Those of us who followed, switched to fiber glass hulls and added engines to get in and out of port and then to get home by Sunday night when the wind died. Many added lots of other goodies as higher tech equipment, appliances and construction methods became available. We were sell outs only pretending to be faithful to sailing traditions of the past.....frauds, if you will. No we weren't! We were simply taking advantage of today's technology to improve the safety and comfort of the experience.

Maybe there is a line that separates the practical modification from the affectation.....i.e. hemp colored polyester line. If I buy a carbon fiber mast and boom painted in faux spruce awlgrip I think it is safe to say that I will have crossed that line. But having changed her to gaff from a better performing bermudean rig am I not already the great pretender? It is very tempting. to buy the carbon fiber spars ....I could take 250 lbs out of the rig and still look like I chopped down a big pine tree for my mast. If they will get the price down a wee bit this is a fraud I might just perpetrate on the unsuspecting and uninitiated.  :-)


Anonymous said...

FYI. Per one of the Pardey Books (Cant remember which one but it could be Cruising on Serrafyn), I believe Larry stated that he wanted a Bermudean rig because it would be easier for Lynn to handle (e.g. no running backs to work with when tacking).

BTW, its great to see you making such progress on the boat. Cant wait to see the final results!



David W. Kent said...

Thanks Kevin. Things do get a bit busy with running backstays.