April 2014 Archives

More Baba blog Part two

Baba 30 on trailer.jpg

The Baba Story         Part two


Baba 30 leaping.jpg 

Once again: If my memory fails I'll make something up that sounds right and makes me look good.

When we left the story Bob Berg had quit the TV station and was working full time as a broker. I think the brokerage was called Flying Dutchman, started by my old buddy Will Eickholt.  They were selling Tayana 37's with good regularity.


One day Bob came in the office and said he had an idea for a new boat. He wanted a 30' version of the Tayana 37. It should be a heavy little boat with the emphasis on the interior layout. Bob already had the interior laid out in his mind down to the last detail. My work on this layout was simply to draft of Bob's ideas. So while I would love to take credit for the interior of the Baba 30 I can't. It's all Bob Berg. The office joke was, when you open a drawer on the Baba 30 inside it you'll find another little drawer. Bob didn't let a cubic inch go unused. I was skeptical.


But I'm not going to design a hull without doing my very best to make it a good performing boat. That's a challenge with 12,000 lbs. on 30'LOA. I essentially used similar shapes to those in the Tayana 37. The Baba 30 would be a chunky monkey but curvaceous. I'm sitting here now, at my computer, staring up at the Baba 30 half model on my wall. I'm trying to figure out what In did that was "special". Can't see it myself. But we'll get into the performance of the 30 later. On my wall the half model of the Tayana 37 is right above the half model of the Baba 30. There are more similarities than differences. One thing I notice as I stare at the photos and the model is that the leading edge of the "full keel" is farther aft on the Baba 30 than it is on the Tayana 37. This may account for the better helm balance on the Baba.


baba 30 model.jpg 

We tore into the design of the 30 and before long the boat was being built in Taiwan at a new yard, one I had never heard of, Ta Shing , Mandarin for "Big New". I have always translated Ta Shing as "Big Star" "Shing" meaning "star". But I was recently corrected. I hate looking stupid. With the build well underway Bob thought I should make a trip to the yard to check on the progress. I met Bob in Taiwan and he was accompanied by his inspector, Tim Ellis. Tim, an Englishman about my age lived in Taiwan and really knew the ropes.  We met early in the morning at the hotel in Taipei and off we drove almost the length of Taiwan to the new yard in Tainan.


Ta Shing was located down a narrow lane in a series of co-joined brown brick buildings that looked less than impressive. The approaching lane was narrow and I had to move chickens out of my way to get to the front door of the yard. The actual Boatbuilding area of the yard was small and dark. There was the Baba 30 to one side and a quarter tonner being built for a Japanese client on the other side. I just stared at the 30. It looked to be perfect in every way. I was blown away by the quality and level of finish. It was a handsome little hooker all dressed up with teak everywhere. But that was Bob's style. i.e. put teak on everything. Keep in mind that this build was at a time when labor was cheap in Taiwan. I would question a client on a labor intensive detail and get the reply, "Forget labor cost. It's nothing." So, here were the first two Ta Shing boats I ever saw. Two boats that could not be more different, an IOR quarter tonner and a very heavy little double ender. Both built beautifully.

Baba 30 on the hard 2.JPG


Everybody was happy. The yard wanted to take Me, Bob and Tim to dinner. The problem was that we had made other dinner plans back in Taipei. This was a problem. The solution was lunch with the guys from the yard. Off we went for a "modest" lunch. The Taiwanese are not good at doing modest meals. I was the guest of honor and along with about six men from the yard we sat down to an extravagant feast in a private room at a nice restaurant. These plush, private rooms were common in better restaurants in Taiwan. The room layout was simple, a series of big armchairs lining the four walls and a big circular dining table in the middle.


The Taiwanese don't drink during a meal the way we do. If my observations are correct the Taiwanese only take a drink after they have toasted the guest. They employ an unfair tactic here. They gang up on the guest. I was the guest of honor so I was the toasting target. I had six guys toasting me in quick rotation. Each toast was "gumbei" or bottoms up. We were probably drinking Taiwan beer which is most excellent beer. I don't know. I passed out. I woke up in one of the overstuffed chairs with a wet towel over my face. As I came to and removed the towel I looked to my right and there was a Taiwanese guy, Jackson, passed out with a towel over his face in the next chair. Leaving the restaurant I said to Tim, "I must have lost face passing out like that." Tim said, "No, Jackson passed out first." You're fine.


Tim, Bob and I were not in too good a shape for the drive back to Taipei. But off we went in Tim's little car, cruising down the brand new end to end of Taiwan highway. The highway was not finished but this did not deter the Taiwanese drivers. They sped down the divided highway totally oblivious of which side of the highway they should be on. There were abrupt 4" high changes in the highway level at frequent intervals. Small Taiwanese cars that had never been driven over 40-mph were lined up, broken on both sides of the highway. Tim always prided himself on his ability to take advantage of the free form style of Taiwan driving rules so to keep us awake he would do very strange things on the highway. It was exciting.


We pulled up to my hotel THE SANTOS to find our dinner party waiting for us in the lobby. Great. I asked for time to clean up before dinner. One of the dinner party went up to my room with me. I don't remember his name but he was about my age, maybe even younger. He was extremely curious about all the things I traveled with. I travel heavy. He literally went through my bag asking what each item was for and how much I paid for it. I thought it was funny and I truly admired his curiosity and keen effort to learn. I have no recollection of dinner at all. It was a very long day.


I just called Bob Berg. I wanted to know what a Baba 30 cost when they were introduced. Bob is going to get back to me on that. But in conversation about my blog I askd Bob if he remembered the time I passed out at lunch. His reply was, "Well, that happened several times." Some friend he is.


It would take me some time to realize that it was socially OK  to say ,"Ee pan" meaning "one half". Avoiding the bottoms up trap. Also in time I got to the point where just couldn't take the "let's drink the big nose under the table tactic any longer. I devised my own plan. When asked to dinner by a hospitable builder I would decline explaining that I had a previous dinner engagement. This worked well. But in time it back fired and dinner invites became few and scarce. I was left to fend for myself at dinner time and Taiwanese food is not best enjoyed alone. But eating alone in a crowded Sichuan restaurant did at times lead to some interesting situations. My favorite place to eat by myself was Y. Y's Steak House on Chung San be loo. They knew me there and I never had to order. They would just bring me the exact same thing I had eaten the previous time at the very same table: Fried salami appetizer, a gin and tonic, corn chowder, salad, a fabulous New York steak and a bottle of Torres Sangre de Toro Spanish wine. I never had the heart to change my order. I thoight it would have dissapointed the, The head waitress was Jessica. I felt at home there in that strange steak house with an ambiance of a mixture of Scottish hunting lodge and African safari bungalow. One night I returned from Kaohsiung late and went straight to Y. Y's. I had called and made a reservation. When I got there the help was sleeping on the bench seats in the deserted dining area but they got up and sprang into action when I walked in. Y.Y. had his four year old son there. I ate my dinner while Y'Y's son stood at my table singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over and over. Y'Y's is probably my most favorite restaurant in the world.


An aside:

You have probably noticed that I don't call the people of Taiwan "Chinese". This is a very thorny issue and I am not smart enough to explain it in accurate detail. But the way I see it is this: If you came to Taiwan before Chang Kai Shek you consider yourself Taiwanese. You probably speak Taiwanese when you get together with your friends. If you came to Taiwan with Shang Kai Shek  or after Mao took power in China, you probably consider yourself Chinese and you would speak Mandarin first and Taiwanese as a second dialect. However, today, my young 30 something Taiwanese friends are fiercely independent and I get a very strong feeling that they want to be Taiwanese and totally separate from China. This is causing some problems.  Attending Wayne Chen's mother's 80th birthday party everyone was speaking Taiwanese. I asked why they were not speaking Mandarin and I got an earful. Dui bu xi ( I'm sorry). Thanks to my Taiwanese friend Wayne Shen for going over these details with me and correcting me.

Xie xie loaoshi. ( Thank you teacher)


When the first Baba 30 came to Seattle I was pleasantly surprised at how well the snug interior worked. Bob was right and I should not have been skeptical. But how did the little "brick" sail? It sailed very well thank you. It is very light on the helm and well balanced. It is surprisingly quick in light air. One weekend of the Perry Rendezvous we had an informal race to the harbor. Due my son's soccer game I got a late start and began motoring the Valiant 40 down the Sound. Up ahead was the Rendezvous fleet with a Baba 30 in last place. It was flying a big, colorful cruising chute in the light Northerly. Well hell, I couldn't just motor over or under the Baba 30. That would be really bad form. So I did the only thing I could do, I put up the sails on the Valiant 40 and started sailing. About what seemed like an hour later I pulled ahead of the Baba 30. Mind you I did not have a big cruising chute but still. I thought the Baba 30 was moving very well and I gained more respect for the boat that day.

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There was a brick layer from Baltimore who did a solo circumnavigation in his Baba. He sent me post cards along the way. I have friends that love their Baba's. There are a handful of my designs that surprised me in that they turned out better boats than I had anticipated. I'd count the Baba 30 in that lot.

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In time Ta Shing would go on to become the biggest and most prestigious yacht builder in Taiwan. Their new yard is amazing.  The Baba 30 would lead to the Baba 35 aka Flying Dutchman 35 and from there to one of my all time favorite designs of mine the Baba 40. I had the honor of racing a Baba 35, pilot house version a year ago and we did amazingly well and surprised a lot of people. The boat can go despite its ultra traditional look. In the next chapter I will go into more detail on the 35, 40 and the change over to the Tashiba brand.


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The Baba story

Part one

Baba 30 leaping.jpgDisclaimer: This is history as I remember it. I could get some facts wrong but I'm damn close.

Also, the blog program likes to correct my spelling. That's fine but it often screws up Ta Chiao. it should be C H I A O!

Ba30 scotland1.jpg


Back in the 70's there was still this idea that double enders make the best offshore boats. I never really went along with that idea although I always liked double enders. My attraction to double enders was an aesthetic one. I just plain liked the way they looked. I had been drawn to the double ended shape since the time I was 15 years old. I was probably 15 when I first saw Bill Garden's OCEANUS and that was it for me. While I have serious reservations about the hull shape of OCEANUS there can be no denying that the stern was spectacular and it has remained one of the most enduring boat shapes  in my mind.


Then there came along the Valiant and at the same time the commission for what would be the Hans Christian 34. Ironically when I was just beginning both of these new design each client, independently, sent me the very same photo  of HOLGER DANSK, the magnificent K. Aage Nielsen double ender. Here was a boat with a stern that had power and grace. I saw the advantages immediately. My two clients, my buddy Nathan Rothman and the evil John Edwards sent me the very same note, "Make the stern like this." No problem.

Valiant wo CARIA.JPG


I gave this stern type the name "tumblehome canoe stern". Tumblehome refers to the fact that the stern profile rolls back towards the sheer with the aft end of LOA aft of the sheer at the stern. It's a strong look and in fact a strong shape. It's very egg-like and structurally still. The idea is that by filling out the stern like this I can flatten the buttocks for a cleaner, flatter run aft to help extend sailing length. I did my best to try to pull as much volume aft as possible. Many of the canoe sterns you see are to my eye "anemic" aft with pointy fannies with very little volume where they need it. The pointy canoe sterns are just along for the ride. You have to have the stern displacing water in order for it to do any work, i.e. extend the sailing length. I'm not going to name names but there have been some very successful canoe sterns boats with what I feel are poorly designed sterns. You hear the term "reserve buoyancy aft". Well, if that's your goal you had better go with a transom because a transom has far more volume aft that a pointy canoe stern.



There are other disadvantages with double enders. With the volume you lose aft you lose the ability to have a nice, squarish back end to the cockpit. This makes fitting seats and lockers problematic in most double enders.


(Oh, while I'm on it I should explain that I consider any boat with a point on the stern a "double ender". But I don't consider all double enders to have "canoe sterns". Look at the classic Westsail 32. To me that is a true double ender.  The stern post  marks the end of the hull. The overhang aft is minimal at best. With a canoe stern the profile of the stern is extended resulting in considerable overhang aft. Not really a lot but compared to the Westsail type, considerable.  All canoe sterned boats are double enders. All double enders do not have canoe sterns. Got it?)

So we have this roundish stern making seat aft awkward and locker lids hard to fit. If you were after a really comfortable cockpit you had better stick with a transom boat. In addition, these day people find aft swim steps, boarding platforms very attractive. I know I do. They make getting to and from the dink far easier than climbing over the rail. You can't do this with a double ender. Not easily. I do have a drawing for a double ender where a section of the stern drops down to form a boarding ladder. I'm sure it will work but I haven't built one yet. With these issues in mind it's kind of hard to come up with pragmatic reasons for a double ender.


I think back in the Colin Archer days his boats were designed as sailing lifeboats and they had to have the ability to heave to in heavy seas. Having a boat with two bows was probably a good thing. I hear all sorts of what I call "Moses theories" how double enders part the following seas but I'm skeptical. They may part the following sea but a transom stern boat with the additional volume aft may rise to that following sea. I think that if you want to justify having a double ender the best way to do it is to say, "Boy, I sure like the looks of double enders."

Valiant profile pic.jpg


The Hans Christian project got underway but something was wrong. Through the grapevine I kept hearing about a "Bob Perry designed 36'er at HC". What the hell, my design was 34' LOA. I checked into it with a phone call to evil Edwards in Taiwan. I don't remember the conversation verbatim but it was something along these lines:

Me, "John, what's this I heard about a 36'er?"

John, "Oh we took your lines and blew them up and we are building the 36'er before we build the 34'er."

Me, "Great. I look forward to receiving royalties on both boats."

John, "Oh, you're not getting any royalties on the 36'er."

Me, "Really,,,,,,,,,,,,,well then I withdraw all design support for the 34'er."


In fact I never finished the design of the HC 34. It is a rare model but reported to sail well. The 36'er went on to become the father of a whole skad of 36' double enders, all carrying my name despite the fact that I had nothing to do with the actual design. These boats include the Mariner Polaris 36, Union 36, Mao Ta 36, Univeral 36 and God knows how many others. My name is still stuck to them. You would be very surprised at how many owners of these boats are convinced they are my design. I met a couple on the dock. They had one.  They went on and on about how much they loved the boat. Then  I said, "But, it's not my design." The woman started to cry. I felt bad.

I was pissed. I was poor. In was trying really hard to get my design business going and I was not making much money. Now I had two fallings out with Edwards. The first being the CT54 fiasco with Ta Chiao. It was clear that I would get no more business from evil Edwards. I wanted revenge. I wanted to fly to Taiwan and punch him in the nose. But Edwards was about 5'5" tall and looked a lot like Wally Cox so a physical confrontation was out.


Then along came my friend Will Eickholt, the "Flying Dutchman". Will was starting to do business in Taiwan and was importing 41' ketches from Ta Chiao. Will said he wanted to do a boat, a double ender, the popular style of the day. The yard would be a new yard, Ta Yang, but they were connected to Ta Chaio so the boat would be called a Ta Chiao something. Will suggested a boat like the HC 36 and I jumped at it. Here was my chance to get my revenge by targeting the HC 36 with a much better design. I produced the lines for the "Ta Chiao 37". Will was not really my client. The yard was but Will was my "go between". My arrangement with the yard, in order to keep design costs low, was to produce basic drawings but no structural drawings. Fine, I needed work of any kind. The Ta Chiao 37 went into production and was selling very well. I was excited at this new river of royalties.

TY 37 anchored.jpg


I began seeing Ta Chiao 37's roll past my office window on their way to the yard for commissioning. I called Will and asked, "When do I start getting my royalties?" "What royalties ?" Will said. "There is nothing about royalties in your contract with the yard." ????????????WTF! I checked the contract and he was right. How the hell did I do that? Stupidity is the only possible answer. Will said he would see what he could do. He came back to me with a proposition. The yard would like full structural drawings for the boat and in exchange they will pay royalties. I agreed. Shortly after that Will showed up at my office with Y. P Chen, the manager of Ta Yang. The boat was now being called the Ta Yang 37 and they had built 40 of them. Y.P. produced a check for 40 royalties. I was amazed. I had assumed the royalties would start with hull number 41. I thanked Y.P for his generosity and said that this was more than I expected. I wrote Y.P a check for half the royalty amount. I's split it with him. He was very happy with that deal. As you probably know they went on to build more than 600 "Tayana 37's", George Day of BLUE WATER CRUISING once wrote that there are more Tayana 37's cruising the world than any other single design. This pleases me.

TY 37 in borneo.jpg


The first Ta Yang 37 to come to Seattle was owned by a TV lighting technical director, named Bob Berg. Bob's TY37 was a ketch version and it sailed fabulously. In fact I always preferred the ketch version of the TY 37 to the cutter version. The ketch just balanced better.


There you have chapter one in the Baba story. Bob Berg would soon leave his work at the TV station and go on to become a dealer fo4 Ta Yang. He made frequent trips to Taiwan where the workers found it difficult to pronounce "Bob Berg". They started calling Bob "Baba" Mandarin for "Dad". Pretty soon almost everyone who knew Bob was calling him Baba. Bob is a kind and soft spoken, patient man. The Taiwanese liked Bob.

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Happy Easter Spike!

Your Dad loves you more than ever and I don't care if the world knows.
Spike and dad on beach.jpg

Thank you ladies and gentlemen

Jan Photo.jpgThe visit count to my blog has shot up the last few days. I guess it helps if actually blog once and a while. I'll try to keep it up. I hope my Taiwanese friends are enjoying the posts.
I think I might blog the Baba's next. I'm thinking about doing it on WORD then pasting it here. There are some odd idiosyncrasies to this blog program  that are annoying. I'll see what I can do.

But for now I feel the need to get this photo of FRANCIS LEE published. The photo was taken by Jan of Jan's Marine Photography last Saturday when she was out photographing the regatta. She came on over and snapped a few shots of FRANCIS. This photo is my favorite.

I'll tell you what I really don't like about sailing FRANCIS. That's when I have to let someone else steer. I sat there so patiently on Saturday while Kim, the owner drove the boat. Damn owners. He thinks he owns the boat! I finally couldn't stand it any longer, "Let me drive, let me drive, let me drive!" Kim said, "I was wondering how long you would let me steer." Then of course there was Derek, Kim's son. He had to drive. And Becca, and Allison and John. Man, can;t they just shut up and be content to sit there and enjoy the ride. Noooooooo. They have to steer. I sit with my arms folded, trying to look like I like just riding along. But I'm faking it. " Let me drive, damn it!"

Fact is I love watching people's faces light up when they steer Francis. FRANCIS really conveys the joy of moving along efficiently under sail with minimal effort. Allison had never sailed a boat before Saturday. My pal Dr. John's sailing experience was limited to two cruises on a Catalina 22. How you gonna keep him down on the farm now?
CT 54 sailing.jpgI have been thinking about a post like this for a while. Regular readers will know that I don't always have something to say. I know that the blog is supposed to be about boats but my family is a huge part of my life and the short of it is I like sharing that joy. But today I will pick a selection of boats pics from my large library and post them here. I will add some comments to each photo and maybe give you some insights into thoughts I have about the boat that you would not normally see published. We'll see how it goes.

This first photo shows the C54 ketch built in Taiwan at Ta Chiao Shipyards. I was 28 years old when I did this design. Imagine that. I wanted very badly to make my name as a yacht designer. I was contacted by a Long Beach high school shop teacher, John Edwards. He had seen a design of mine published and he liked it. He wanted me to design a big ketch that could be built in Taiwan. Taiwan? I didn't even know where Taiwan was at the time. But I was broke, uncertain with my present job and I wanted a way out to work on my own so I jumped at the chance. I charged Edwards $750 for the design and a $350 per boat royalty. Boy I was really going for the gold! I had not a clue what I was doing in terms of design fees. But I started in on producing the design for a 47'er.

Edwards made a trip to Taiwan with my drawings and came back and said the price was even better than he had anticipated so we could make the boat bigger, 54'. I said fine not even thinking to add some money to the design fee for the big change. Keep in mind I was 28. I really did not know much about yacht design despite having been immersed in it since I was 15 years old. I had studied and studied but there are so many little things to know that you have to become deeply professionally involved in to reach the place where you can truly learn yacht design. But with the limited experience I had I managed to produce a handsome ketch.
When I look at this old drawing today I see love. I see a rough kid in love with his work and trying very hard to produce a high quality design product. Of course it isn't "high quality" I didn't know enough at the time to reach that level. But I sure as hell tried. I enlisted the help of veteran designer Ted Brewer to help me with the structural elements of the design. I think Ted charged me $150 for his time. Generous. Ted in one letter referred to me as a "yacht designer". Up until that time I had written "boat designer" in my title blocks. I did not think I qualified yet to call myself a "yacht designer". But Ted called me a yacht designer and he should know so just maybe I am a yacht designer. I began to write "yacht designer" after my name.

In no time at all the boat was being built. Then something strange happened. C.T. Chen, the eldest of the Chen brothers who owned the yard, contacted me and said there was a legal dispute with Edwards, the first of many problems Edwards had in Taiwan. He went on to found the Hans Christian line.. C.T. asked me how much I had been paid for the design. I explained that I had received $350 and another $350 was due when the first boat was finished. C.T. asked me who owned the design at this stage. I said I still owned it until the final; $350 had been paid. C.T.asked, if he paid it would he own the design. Being very, very naive legally I said yes. A week later I received a check from C.T. for $750. The design was now his. He used my letter in court to gain control of the project for Ta Chaio.With my huge check I went straight out into the Boston winter and bought a warm coat. I was living in Boston at that time working for Dick Carter.

A few months passed and then I received a series of photos of my design, the CT 54, sitting outside the shed. It was beautiful. It looked just like my drawings. I was amazed and very happy. One of the very first 54's was shipped to San Francisco. The owner flew me down to sail the boat for two days. I was in heaven and pleased with my creation. This began a long term relationship with my friends at Ta Chaio, CT, CS, ST and Wayne Chen. They would all become very important people in my life in Taiwan as my business there exploded. The Ta Chaio yard became my second home in Taiwan. I was even invited to CT's mother's 80th birthday party. I was the only non Taiwanese person there. I was honored.
A few months back, Robert Chen. son of one of the Chen brothers came and stayed with me here at my beach shack. That was also an honor.

My work in Taiwan with Ta Chaio was the start of a long involvement with Taiwan. I consider my days in Taiwan working out in the boat yard, on the floor with a bunch of non English speaking workers around me some of the happiest moments of my life. I love Taiwan. I made a strong effort to learn Mandarin but honestly it is still a struggle. Woa ce ce can", "I do my best".
CT 54 hard on the wind.jpg
Ta Chiao built 100 CT 54's. That's darn good for a kid's first fiberglass design. They are great boats. I chartered on in the BVI's for 2 weeks. When my boys first saw the CT 54 one of them said, "It's just like a pirate ship Dad". Perfect! I enjoyed it very much. The CT 54 was replaced by the CT 56. I think it was a much better design but it did not sell as well as the 54. There probably are a number of reasons for this.

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The CT 56 was followed by the CT 65. I worked hand in hand with Wayne Chen on this design. Then built about 30 of them as I recall. Many went to Europe where they are called the Scorpio 72. It is a magnificent vessel and as usual I am very proud of my design work on this project. I spent many happy hours crawling around on this deck plug while the yard was building it. It is an amazing deck design. The famous Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy owns a CT 65.
Well, this blog entry kind of developed a mind of it's own. I didn't intend to just blog about the CT boats. But, there you have it. This was an important part of my life. Yacht building in Taiwan was just getting going. Some designers thought I was nuts for working with the Taiwanese. I was starving. I had no choice. But in time I learned to treasure my time and my involvement with Taiwan. Working with several yards in Taiwan I produced some very beautiful and well built yachts that have gone on to become icons of the cruising market. I will cover more of them in upcoming posts. I traveled to Taiwan frequently for many years. I have been called an "egg". That means "white on the outside and yellow on the inside." I take it as a compliment. I was standing in the hotel lobby one morning waiting to be picked up when I heard the PA system chatter away. I ignored it. I hard it chatter some more, then some more and I finally realized that I was being paged to the telephone in Mandarin! "Pang Roa Bor (my Mandarin name) da dinghwa". I glowed with pride.

I hope this entry has been as much fun for you to read as it has been for me to write.

Proud Ye ye

two beautiful boys.jpgMy two beautiful boys.

"Ye ye"is mandarin for grandpa and yes I am obviously a very proud grandpa. I'm "Grampy".
This weekend I got even more proud with the arrival of my first grandson, Drake Shaw Perry, 8lbs. 5 oz, a strapping young fellow. Looks just like me. Basically.

I never knew a grandpa. My maternal grandfather, Angelo Dante Guiseppi Nanelli died  at 42 well before I was born. My father's dad, Howard Elmer Perry, I didn't meet until we moved here from Australia. I was 12 years old and "Grampy" was a handsome old vegetable in a chair. I'm pretty sure he never said two words to me. So I am going to have to make the whole grandpa thing up as I go along. I think I am doing fine with Violet so I should be fine with Drake.

I'll keep you posted whether you like it or not.

My views on split rigs

This article originally appeared in my buddy Kevin's blog.


Split Rigs According to Perry, by Bob Perry

I use the term "split rig" to describe any boat with more than one mast. It's important to keep this discussion in historical context. There was a time when dividing up the big rig of a sloop was a practical matter. It was done to break the sail area down into smaller individual components to make handling easier. But today we have nice big winches, roller furling for jibs and mains, fancy line handling hardware, aluminum and carbon fiber spars and lighter weight, high tech sail fabrics. The modern fractional sloop rig is very easy to handle and the benefits of the split rig have diminished to the point where we are left with split rig disadvantages. If you prefer a split rig I think it's best to realize that it's a subjective decision most of the time. You might just prefer the look of a schooner, ketch or yawl. I can't argue with that. Actually I have, but in the end I have always lost that argument.
What are the disadvantages of the split rig? Weight aloft would be one. Complexity and clutter would be another. Cost certainly is increased when you add another mast with its required chainplates, mast step and additional sail detailing. But I have designed a lot of split rigs and if that's what the client wants I'm happy to oblige.

An Islander Freeport 41 ketch, my very first design job for Islander,
chugging along nicely with modern off-the-wind asym chute and mizzen
staysail drawing well.

Let's start with the yawl. Yawls look great with their itsy bitsy mizzen, usually hovering over a long stern overhang. While there have been yawls and yawl-like rigs for many years, the popularity of the yawl boomed in this country during the late 40's and 50's when the dominant racing handicap rule was the Cruising Club of America rule, the CCA. There was a bit of a glitch in the way the CCA measured sail area. Sails flown off the mizzen mast, i.e. mizzen staysails and mizzen spinnakers, were not counted in the measured sail area. So if you had a 44' yawl and could fly a 300 square foot mizzen staysail off the wind, that was 300 sq. ft. of "free" sail area. This was eventually corrected in the later days of the CCA and when corrected yawls disappeared from the racing fleet. But when the free sail area was allowed, the dominant ocean racers like the famous S&S FIGARO and Alan Gurney's magnificent WINDWARD PASSAGE were all yawls. Any race that was an off-the-wind race gave a distinct advantage to the yawl. While the token mizzen was of little use at all, big mizzen staysails and mizzen shuts were the key to rule efficient off-the-wind boat speed. Most of these boats beat to weather with the mizzen furled and then unleashed an inventory of off-the-wind mizzen flown sails for off-the-wind horsepower. The only practical side to the yawl for a cruising boat was that the little mizzen made a great riding sail to keep the boat head to wind at anchor. You can hang your radar off the mizzen too. Or you can stow your fishing poles alongside the boom. You can also use the mizzen boom as a lifting device for your outboard.
I only drew one yawl and I did it for my friend Jimmy Hiller when we were exploring designs for a CCA style "retro" cruiser. The boat never got built and as I look back at the design it's obvious to me that try as I might, I never really captured the strength and beauty of the boats designed by Bill Tripp and Phil Rhodes. Right near the top of my all time favorite boats is the Rhodes design CARINA, a classic CCA yawl.
Perry's only yawl design - A 48-footer that was never built

I won't fall back on the old definitions for ketch and yawl. The criteria used in the old days just don't hold up today. Where is the mizzen in relationship to the waterline "buttwater", the rudder, the helm? Boats today are very different than the boats of the 50's. Rudders are much farther aft.  A center cockpit boat has to have the mizzen aft of the helm. For me the difference between yawl and ketch is strictly one of proportions. A yawl will have a very small mizzen, well aft. A ketch will have a much bigger mizzen stepped further forward. It doesn't make any sense to me to define the difference with numbers, just use your eye.
When I was a kid it was almost automatic that any "serious" offshore cruising boat would be a ketch. History was full of them and they made sense given the technology of the day. The ketch had some advantages. The three sails were smaller than the two sails of a comparable sloop. The center of pressure was lower for better stability, although, the VCG was often higher due to the weight of the mizzen mast. So I think the stability argument can be questioned. Many sailors like the ability to sail "jib and jigger" in a blow. This meant furling the main and sailing under jib and mizzen. This works and can be very convenient but I wouldn't count on this configuration to give you good performance to weather. One problem that all split rigs share is that the mizzen or aft sail is always sailing in the bad air of the forward sails upwind. The apparent wind for the mizzen will be closer to the wind than the apparent wind angle for the forward sails. So, in sheeting the mizzen in to get clean air over it, weather helm can easily be created. Many ketches go to weather in a blow with the mizzen furled to relieve helm pressure. During a two week cruise in the BVI's where we had plenty of breeze we never flew the mizzen on the 54 ketch I sailed.
This is the CT 54, my very first GRP (glass reinforced plastic) design. I was 26 years old. They built 100 of these classic ketches. They sail very well considering the general nature of the type.

I have designed two ketches that really surprised me with their performance. The very first Tayana 37 that was delivered to Seattle was a ketch version. The boat was beautifully balanced and went to weather very well. The other ketch that surprised me was CAPAZ, a 48' motorsailer with an all inboard rig. CAPAZ was very close winded.
The 48' motorsailer ketch CAPAZ

But my favorite ketch of my own design has to be the CT 65. They built about 30 of these and they sail very well. Vladimir Ashkenazy, the famous maestro, owns one and that makes me happy. I find this a very good looking ketch with classic ketch rig proportions.
CT 65 ketch

But today I have a new ketch being built at the Pacific Seacraft yard in North Carolina. This is the 63' CATARI. This ketch has a bigger mizzen, well forward. We were working with a rig height restriction on this design so I needed to spread the area out to get the sail area I needed and come up with a mizzen that would be  a true driving sail, effective upwind and down. It's a complex rig made even more complex by the fact that this boat has both an aft cockpit and a center cockpit. The deck layout has been a real challenge.

CATARI, a 63' ketch

I can't forget schooners. Of all the split rigs the schooner is the most photogenic. But with the big sail aft the schooner can be a challenge to balance and often the foresail is blanketed by the large main when off the wind. Schooners made sense in the days of working sail when small crews would have to handle large schooners. But today the schooner rig is expensive and getting four sails (jib, staysail, foresail, mainsail) to line up and work efficiently upwind can be a challenge. The schooner rig is not close winded. My friend just bought a beautiful old Alden schooner. It's a lovely boat but it is not fast. I have only designed one schooner. I tried to talk the client out of the schooner rig but he just wanted a schooner. JAKATAN is a modern schooner with an all carbon fiber rig and single point halyards on the foresail and main. We eliminated the throat and peak halyard arrangement typical of gaff rigs in favor of a simpler single halyard system. It works well. JAKATAN is very fast with a modern underbody and a powerhouse off the wind.

JAKATAN, a modern schooner

We didn't look at cat ketches. They can work well but there are not many of them. I didn't mention staysail schooners either. They are just a variation on the schooner rig and I don't think they have any real advantage. But you have my basic thoughts on the pros and cons of split rigs. They can all work well given a good design but none match the performance of the standard sloop for efficiency. -BP

Today is Violet's birthday!

Happy birthday to my darling granddaughter Violet. Grampy loves you even with a dirty face. I love this photo.
Violet w dirty face.jpgOf course the joy of having Violet is complicated because of the loss of Spike. Some people say I am "lucky". I have given this a lot of thought and I agree. I am lucky. How can I look at Violet and not consider myself lucky? But not far behind the joy of Violet is the grief of Spike.

Spike smile.jpgI often think how much I am amazed at my ability to deal with what life has thrown at me. But I have become resigned to the situation and I intend to make the most out of the rest of my life as Spike would insist.
But the important thing today is Violet's birthday so I am going to keep that in the front of my thoughts today and look forward to seeing her tonight for her party.
abc.jpgI love this photo. It's Valentine's Day and to me it looks like Violet is looking in the heart shaped box and thinking " What the fuck! I thought there was supposed to be candy in here."

Happy birthday Violet !!!!!!!

I had a very weird dream last night that all my photos of Frankie were dissapearing from my computer and only visible on my iphone. So I thought I had better post this view of Frankie before it sails away into my iphone forever.

Kim motyored Frankie over to Shilshole Marina this morning. It was choppy and blowing 15 to 20. He hit a big tugboat wake and a freighter wake. He was very impressed at the boats's lack of reaction to the waves. He said it was "rock steady". I questioned him about slamming going into the steep head sea chop we get so often around here. He said there was no pounding or slamming at all. Interesting. Maybe it has to do with such a small frontal area to the boat. I would have thought that with our extremely flat rocker the boat would have slammed a time or two into a head chop. Glad I was wrong. I love it when my client is happy.

sails great stern shot.jpg


A few words on rigs

I wrote this for my buddies blog.
I have done several entries for him and he lets me use them here.
Rigs are always fun to discuss. Everyone is an expert. I think I am an expert too. Like any discussion of yacht design elements I engage in, my first piece of advice is not to generalize. There are good sloops and bad sloops. There are good cutters and bad cutters. You get the picture. We can discuss efficiency and we can discuss personal preferences. The two can be at odds and often are. We can talk about evolution of rigs and why they became popular in the first place, i.e. handicap rule influences. I'll also try to talk about the advantages to each rig when I think there is an advantage. And, like many other aspects of yacht design, simply saying, "I like this rig because I just like the way it looks" is a good attitude. So long as you don't endow your favorite rig with a bunch of bogus positive attributes. I did a schooner for a client and I tried very hard to convince him that a cutter would be the better rig for what he had in mind. In the end he said, "I like schooners because I like the way they look." End of discussion.

Yoni is a custom 50' cutter with all headsails carried
on roller furling. That's a lot of windage forward when
you need to dock the boat in a blow.

It's pretty obvious today that the most efficient rig is a single, wing sail with variable segments that allow camber and twist control. We saw this type of rig at work in the last America's Cup. So that is one extreme end of the rig efficiency spectrum. I'm not sure what goes at the other, far end. Maybe it's a loose-footed sprit sail catboat?  Sliding gunter? Not sure. There are so many inefficient rigs that I shouldn't generalize. It's probably safe to say that none of us own boats with wing sails. However, I know that Beneteau is playing around with some wing sail models, so who knows? Maybe in a year or two wing sails will be seen on Mom and Pop boats. But not yet.

The simplest rig is the catboat with one mast, one sail, one halyard (two if it's gaff rigged, peak and throat) and one sheet. This simple rig was made famous by the Cape Cod catboats in the US. Some Cape Cod cats flew very small jibs from short bowsprits but I still think of them as catboats. I like catboats and I have sailed a few. I have spent a lot of time sailing a 12' Beetle Cat. The downside to a cat rig is that as the boat gets larger the single sail on a long boom can become difficult to handle. Jibing a big catboat in a breeze can also be a challenge. Sometime you just have to bite the bullet and tack the boat rather than risk a flying jibe. The other quirky attribute of many catboats is that they can build up massive weather helm when pressed on a reach. We'll talk a lot about helm balance in this entry. I always prefer a boat to have a delicate helm feel and have the ability to be driven hard without having to fight too much rudder angle. Weather helm on a traditional catboat is just part of the picture. Kind of like a bumpy ride in a Morgan sports car.

Mark Ellis designed the Nonsuch series as modern catboats marrying the convenience of a one-sail rig with a modern hull form. The Ellis catboat hulls have moderate beam as opposed to the exaggerated beam of the Cape Cod type catboat.  Extreme beam can be one cause of weather helm. I have sailed the big Nonsuch, a 36'er as I recall, and I thought it balanced beautifully and had a good turn of speed. Another feature of the Nonsuch rig is that the mast is free standing, i.e. no standing rigging. This allows the mast to bend off to leeward in a breeze "depowering" the sail to help keep the boat on its feet. But the real negative side of the cat rig is its lack of versatility. When you just have one sail, the only options you have are reefing the sail.  Downwind you will not be flying a spinnaker from a Nonsuch. Although I suppose with some fussing with hardware and a bowsprit it's possible.  If you want a rig that is truly versatile, you need to look at the sloop rig.

The term "sloop rig"  includes a wide variety of types with a mainsail and a jib. The two basic sloop types would be gaff rigged and Marconi rigged. But today gaff rigs are pretty rare so let's confine our study to the Marconi rigged sloop. I like gaff rigs but it's hard to find a Mom and Pop production GRP boat that came with a gaff rig. I can't think of any. So, confining our discussion to the Marconi rig the two basic sloop rigs would be masthead with the headstay going to the masthead, and fractional with the headstay going up some portion of the mast but stopping short of the masthead. The spot where the headstay hits the mast is called the "hounds".

Amati is a modern fractional sloop with a large mainsail
and small fore triangle. This is a very easy boat to sail.

The masthead sloop rig can be very simple and strong. On older boats you will probably have single spreaders, fore and aft lowers, inline cap shrouds and a standing backstay. If your boat is newer and more performance oriented, you may have two sets of spreaders with inline single lower shrouds. You may even have a forward "baby stay" to help stabilize the middle section of the mast fore and aft. The more spreaders you have the lighter the mast extrusion or "section" can be. But as you reduce the mast section and add spreaders you increase the complexity of tuning the rig and at the same time you increase the scrutiny required to keep the bendier, light section in column. The mast can see a compressive load equal to the displacement of the boat so the mast must be kept "in column".

The benefits of the masthead sloop are its simplicity and strength. The drawback is that the fore triangle will most probably be large. If your boat came out of the IOR era you will have a large fore triangle and a small, perhaps even IOR minimum, main. We called these IOR mains "blades". Not to be confused with "blade" jibs. Blade just means a tall and skinny, high aspect ratio sail. With a big fore triangle your options for reducing sail are reefing the main or changing to a smaller jib.

The masthead sloops of the last 30+ years generally carried genoa jibs with overlap as high as 160% of the "J" dimension, front side of mast to headstay tack location. Overlap is measured as LP or luff perpendicular and is expressed as a percentage of the "J" dimension. So, a 153% genoa on a boat with a 16' "J" will have an LP of 24.48'. Overlapping sails can add a lot of useful sail area but they can be a nuisance to handle and tack. There is also quite a bit of controversy over just how effective overlap is once you get beyond about 124% LP. For a full and versatile headsail inventory, your typical production masthead sloop would need to carry at least three headsails to be ready for a range of conditions. That does not include a spinnaker or a storm jib. I would guess a 150% genny, a 120% genny and a 95% jib would be a reasonable headsail inventory. But today with almost everyone using roller furling I see a lot of sailors trying to get by on one all-purpose jib. It works, sort of. But in many conditions you are going to be compromised if you try and make one headsail fit all conditions. I grew up changing headsails to fit the conditions. Modern, matrix type sail fabric can help a lot if you are after a multi-purpose genoa.

As part of the trickledown effect from racing classes, cruisers soon realized that the fractional sloop rig with its small fore triangle and large mainsail was a far easier rig to use than the old masthead rig. For one thing, the big sail, the mainsail, is on the boom so that alone makes it easier to handle. With a small fore triangle, jib size is no longer so critical. Now you can get by very comfortably with two jibs. With the mast moved forward for the fractional rig and the headstay hounds dropped, the fore triangle is reduced in size so jib overlap is no longer so  important. Your main is now the important sail. Now jib LP's can be reduced to 120% of "J" or even less. The less overlap the easier it is to tack the jib. On my own boat with a fractional rig, I used a 100% jib for heavy air and a 120% jib the rest of the time. If you fly an asymmetrical spinnaker (i.e. cruising chute) from the masthead, the gap between the hounds and the masthead makes it easier to fly the chute as it gets it away from the headstay.

Another benefit of the fractional rig is that now the mast has been moved forward. The "frac" rigged boat will sail much better under mainsail alone than will most masthead rigged sloops with their masts further aft. The frac rigged boat will also have a better helm feel under main alone. You still need your jib up to get the most out of the boat but sometimes we feel lazy and we may not feel like reefing or changing jibs.

Free Range Chicken is a modern frac rigged sloop for long distance cruising

Regarding this "fraction"; you will hear a "7/8th's rig" or an "80% rig" This is the percentage of "I", mast height, up the mast to where the hounds are located. But it's not important. I never calculate it. I just use target sail areas and distribution of sail area to determine the height of the headstay.

I don't think I'll talk about styles of standing rigging this time. Needless to say almost every new Mom and Pop production boat has swept spreaders. This means one set of chainplates so it's a cheaper boat to build than the old fore, cap and aft shroud, inline rig. It's a better rig as it is cleaner and easier to tack the jib around.

The Baba 30 is a typical bowsprit cutter. She was always well balanced.

I think I have designed more cutter rigs than any other living designer. I won't count them for you but trust me. I know the cutter rig. I have sailed many different cutters. The cutter has been around forever. I think the current popularity of the cutter rig comes from the early 70's when the Westsail was introduced.  Prior to that, the knee jerk rig choice for an offshore cruising boat was the ketch rig. I followed the Westsail 32 with the Valiant 40 and the Tayana 37 and in no time the cutter rig was the automatic choice for the cruiser. Why? Having three working sails gave you more options than having two. Instead of reefing the main you could drop the outer jib, sometimes a Yankee jib, and fly a staysail and mainsail. Often this loaded up the boat with weather helm as the center of pressure moved aft. A better way to reduce sail would be to reef the main first. Then drop the Yankee. Obviously this sail reduction sequence will vary with the boat's handling characteristics and your personal sailing style. But in general, getting the main reefed moves the center of pressure of the rig forward and in so doing, reefing the main first will reduce weather helm. A bad way to reduce sail on a cutter is to drop the staysail first. This leaves you under full main and Yankee with a big hole between those two sails. It is not efficient. Your headsail and your main want to function basically like one big foil. Most Yankees have high clews so their center of pressure is high and this adds to heeling moment. I'm not a huge fan of high clewed Yankees.  My rule of thumb is that the clew of the Yankee should be no higher than I can reach when the boat is heeled over.

If I were going to rig a cutter for myself to use in the PNW I would have the outer jib cut more like a 135% genoa with the clew maybe just a bit above the top lifeline. It would be more of a genoa than a Yankee. I would not use the staysail for beating. I'd only use the staysail for reaching in conjunction with the genny or alone in heavy air. In most cutters your best performance to weather, i.e. your best VMG (velocity made good) will be achieved without the staysail. Trying to get three sails lined up and drawing well hard on the wind is only possible on a fat, non weatherly hull where your AWA (apparent wind angle) would be 40 degrees or more. The staysail can work. But if you are looking for an AWA closer to 34 to 32 degrees, as I would on a Valiant 40, then the staysail is not going to help. It will just suffocate the mainsail.

A trick I do with the staysail when running downwind is to pole out the genoa or Yankee to weather. Then drop the staysail and unhank it from the inner forestay. Next I move the tack of the staysail forward to where the tack of the genoa or Yankee is. I hoist the staysail "flying" - not attached to any headstay or inner forestay. I trim to leeward. Doing this gets the staysail out from the bad air of the mainsail. I'm not sure this would be good for your staysail if you were running downwind for three days, but cruising around the Sound I can't imagine it does any harm. Downwind the loads on the luff are relatively light.

I've mucked around racing cutters for years and this is what my own experiments in sail choice and trim have taught me. In last year's Race Your House race, for liveaboards, I raced my pal Donn's Baba 35, pilot house model. This is hardly a race boat and is about as cruisy as it can get. We had good sails and I had Donn, his wife, Kerry and an Australian buddy of mine for crew.  We were racing against a diverse class of boats and many were newer fin keel types. We placed second in class and beat a lot of boats boat-for-boat that should have beaten us. We had a good breeze for most of the race and we drove the boat very hard. We made that traditional cutter go. We did not use the staysail except off the wind.

White Eagle (now Wild Horses) is another modern version of the cutter rig

I'll tell you what annoys me a wee bit. I hate those cute names like "slutter" and "cutter rigged sloop" or the worst one, "cutter rigged ketch". We already have all the terms we need to describe rigs that have been around for 200 years.  A sloop is a sloop. If someone chooses to add a staysail it's still a sloop. If someone has a staysail on their ketch the boat is still just a ketch. I'm not in favor of adding a staysail to a sloop. Generally the mast of a sloop is further forward than that of a cutter so there is little room in the fore triangle to jam another jib. But I understand the appeal of the staysail for heavy air. It's very convenient. I also like to see the sail area forward for a blow. When the boat is on its ear it will build up weather helm. Keeping sail area forward will help. If I owned a sloop and I wanted to carry a staysail for heavy air I would locate the tack of the staysail as far forward as possible, right on the stem fitting if there was room for it (There usually isn't). I'd locate the hounds for the staysail at the upper spreader if I had two spreaders. This would be what I call a "Solent rig". It's pretty much changing the rig from masthead geometry to fractional geometry and it keeps the center of pressure forward.

I said "don't generalize" then I spent 2,300 words generalizing. But I think there are some nuggets of rig wisdom here. I'll take a look at "split rigs", i.e. ketches, yawls and schooners in another follow-up blog entry. -BP

Want more of Bob Perry's perspective on sailing and sailboat design? Get it here:

I'm trying something new today

sails 12m.JPGThese wonderful; photos of FRANKIE were taken by our pal Boomer Dep. He and his lovely daughter spent the day on a chase boat covering every angle of FRANKIE. Thanks Boomer. Thanks Boomer's daughter.

sail me.jpg

sails at dock.jpgHere are some photos of FRANCIS LEE on her first sail. It was a wonderful day, with no rain and just a light breeze. Maybe we saw 8 knots of wind at one time. There was a race starting so we sort of tagged along without getting on anyone's air. Frankie is very fast, well balanced and very close winded. As far as I can tell in less than 8 knots of wind anyway.

sails 9.JPG 

 sails 21.jpg

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