The world falling apart has put the Ranger 26 into VolksCruiser on the back burner for a bit. But, in the meantime, I'll tease you with a possible variation of how the finished boat might wind up as...
Full disclosure... Anke and my blue water experience is entirely vicarious. I do not recommend a TriloBoat to venture far offshore as I lack blue-water performance data.
I can confidently say a TriloBoat hull wouldn’t be the worst choice. A good design, built robustly and competently handled, they should survive anything a similar vessel can, and do so more comfortably than many.
In a VolksCruiser, I look for:
Tolerably small (small is beautiful! - E.F.Schumacher)
Simple hull shape (easily lofted, easily built)
Simple construction (straightforward build from common materials)
Simple interior (avoid complicated spaces, joinery or detail)
Simple, durable finish (wipe-down, if possible; avoid varnish)
Free standing, junk rig (inexpensive, simple to use, maintainable with DIY materials, fail-safer)
Copper plating (long lasting, non-toxic anti-fouling, mechanical protection... works particularly well with flat bottoms and panel designs)
And last, but not least:
Move aboard (If you don’t, let’s face it; our vessel is an expensive toy)
Our current TriloBoat, WAYWARD at 32 x 8 x 1-1.5 feet, represents our state-of-the-art nearshore VolksCruiser thinking for two. We sail and scull engine-free in Southeast Alaska.
Her layout... large cutouts in interior bulkheads... total cabin space is 20ft x 8ft... ample for two:
Adjacency is arranged for the following reasons...
Bunk - Salon: The bunk is at the same height as salon seats, extending the social space. The dinette may be broken down and gangway planked over to form a large, flat interior platform for projects or flexi-space mode with extra storage under.
Salon - Galley - Cockpit: The galley can service both the salon and cockpit without isolating the cook. Food and beverages can be handed either direction with less risk of spill.
Galley - Cockpit: In addition, the galley serves as a pilot house. Remote steering is simplified by adjacency. We can sit on the counters with a 360deg view, and access the cockpit directly when necessary. The galley has standing headroom, which allows a wet-locker handy to the companionway. Anke can stand; I sit in the salon.
Her rig is a version of our preferred junk rig. It’s DIY, cheap and easy for a couple to handle blow high, blow low and in the dark o’ night.
Factoring in Blue Water
I believe any vessel that ventures offshore should be prepared to be caught in worst-case weather.
In brief, I accept the sea-keeping proof-of-concepts for shoal draft provided by Monroe’s EGRET and Bolger’s ROMP. They rise over and skitter away from seas rather than shoulder through them and absorb impact. They and others have been proven in hurricane conditions. Wise’s LMII and others do the same for flat-bottomed hulls.
My personal order for storm tactics is to evade, heave-to, run off, set Jordan Series Drogue from stern. I’d prefer the bow, but the US Coast Guard doesn’t recommend it (with bow-deployed drag devices, the hull risks being turned sideways and rolled by breaking seas).
A barge / scow’s generally lighter weight (less acceleration down a wave face) and immenseforward reserve buoyancy (anti-plunging) should, I believe, reduce risk of pitch-poling.
In designing a seagoing Volkscruiser, I would likely work from a TriloBoat toward Yann Quenet’s SKROWL concept, preserving construction simplicity where I could. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s look at minimal changes to the full TriloBoat formula.
To take a TriloBoat offshore I’d include the following design features:
Heavy bottom and watertight pilot-house (when closed up).
Roll up the bow to ease plunging contact with green water.
Aft skeg for aft lateral resistance in aid of downwind tracking.
Layden chine runners and forward daggerboard for no-trip/broach lateral resistance.
Full positive buoyancy, with water-tight bulkheads isolating cabin from holds.
Lower pilot house and rake its leading edge.
Shutter large windows with track-sliding and bolt-down aluminum plate.
Hollow, sealed, lightweight masts (that resist roll-over and can be raised and lowered at sea), supported by running shrouds.
Reinforced mast tabernacles with splayed struts.
Reinforced holdfasts, fairleads and winch(es) for Jordan Series Drogues.
Increased ventilation (can’t rely on windows/hatches/doors) with immersion proof designs.
In the following cartoon, I’ve drawn a retractable daggerboard and balanced, kick-up rudder to augment the mid-ships Layden Chine Runners. I’m guessing the daggerboard wouldn’t need to be lowered to max, as shown, in order to be effective.
It needs more thought, over all, but I present this hopeful monster for your consideration...
Thoughts on Construction
Our lower end, ply-foam-ply approach for WAYWARD cost about $10K in 2014 to finish the hull, superstructure and interior (including rent, shipping, tools, etc.). We built remote... savings from scrounging, shopping and transport could reach 25%? Copper plating doubled that to $20K.
At the higher end, glass / foam composites with vacuum bag resin infusion are not as scary as they sound. Materials are initially more expensive, but like copper, prorate well over a long period of time. Maintenance effort and costs drop. I’m guessing it might add another $5K?
If venturing offshore, I would consider a rot-proof hull to be a good investment in on-board insurance. Not like you can pull over for a pit stop.
If Anke and I were to go to sea, I think a vessel with a TriloBoat foundation would be a contender. We can build it with our skills and resources. I believe we’d be at least as safe at sea as most boats of a size.
As the Pardeys sing it... Go Small, Go Simple, Go NOW!
For more thoughts along these lines, the following are a start:
So, the other day, a reader of this blog dropped me a line asking...
"What do you think the best VolksCruiser design to build is?"
Which, sorta/kinda, stopped me in my tracks.
First of all, I don't really truck all that well with the concept of "best" where boats are concerned.It's a fool'sgame to try and quantify something that, at best, is a compromise and, in case you haven't been paying attention; All boat are a compromise.
That said, I do like a good conundrum so I decided to make a list of elements that I consider to be needful for inclusion on such a beast:
Small with a livable (spelled comfortable) interior.
Simple rig (spelled inexpensive)
No expensive systems
Quick to build
Pretty simple when you think about it. Oh yeah, I expect I'll get some emails saying why wasn't "seaworthy" on that list and in my defense I'll just say that, as far as I'm concerned, seaworthiness should always be a given in any boat you build or sail so not exactly something for the need/want list.
Considering that I don't think there's a boat that would be "best" given the need/want list a few boats do pop to mind.
So here's a sketch from Michael (you know the Proa guy) to give you an idea what the first few projects entail...
The first order of business is to downsize the companion way and reduce some of the cockpit's floodable volume. As you can see, we're talking super simple as it's just filling up a void and installing a couple of pieces of plywood and then glassing it in.
The dodger, on the other hand, is a little trickier but still a long way from rocket science. I'd build a mock-up in cardboard to see what it will look like and, once happy with the proportions, take the cardboard pieces apart to use as patterns. After that it's just like building a stitch & glue dinghy. I'd use 1/4" exterior ply for the dodger, 1/4" plexi for the windows, and 3" glass tape to do the joins. Afterwards, glass the whole shebang inside and out with biaxial cloth followed by 4oz or 6oz cloth to finish.
Materials needed for the three projects won't break the bank but would include:
One sheet of 1/4" exterior plywood but you'll only use a half sheet for these projects.
Four yards of whatever biaxial cloth is on sale at your local purveyor of epoxy and glass fiber. I use Raka for almost all of my epoxy, glass, carbon, and fillers and you might want to check them out as they always seem to have the most bang for the buck.
A full roll of 3" glass tape which is way more than you need for these projects but buying by the roll saves you lots of money.
One and a half gallons of epoxy/hardener, some micro spheres, and colloidal silica. Though you may want to buy more as you'll use more epoxy on other projects.
Next up is cleats, anchor rollers, and a closer look at rig options.
One of the reasons I like the Ranger 26 is that it's a very sensible design and not a whole lot needs to be fixed or improved. The open transom outboard motor arrangement is simple and works, the layout in the cockpit is comfortable, and the rig is non-problematic.
That said, it could use a couple of tweaks.
The open transom outboard arrangement makes all kinds of sense but, like any open transom arrangement, it does increase the possibility of getting pooped. On the other hand, the open transom also works like like a great big cockpit drain so as long as getting pooped in confined to the cockpit we're more or less OK. So, take a look at the companionway on a Ranger 26...
With the hatch boards out you have a really big frelling hole in the boat. My general rule-of-thumb for companionways is that the bottom of the opening should be at least six-inches above the level of the cockpit seats. The best way to do this is to fiberglass the offending void but you could get by with just gluing or bolting the lower hatch board in place. My vote would be to just fiberglass the section.
Since we're now talking fiberglass we might also consider getting rid of a section of the foot well and raising it to three or four inched below the seat tops. This would cut down on the potential flooded volume of the cockpit while giving us more stowage space in the process which, to me at least, this is a win/win situation.
Before we leave the cockpit subject I'll point out that while most boats of this size may have a 9.9 or 15 HP motor a 5 or 6 HP is more than sufficient and the weight savings makes it something of a no-brainer.
Earlier I mentioned that a hard dodger would make a lot of sense and would go a long way to improve the cockpits comfort level while adding a good place to have headroom in the galley area.
Now we should wend our way forward to the bow and you'll quickly notice that the Ranger 26 lacks anything approaching a bow roller, proper fairleads, and the sort of cleats needed to handle real ground tackle. Need I say more?
Which leaves us with the rig and that includes the mast, stays, chain plates, associated hardware, and sails. This is an area where a lot of people wind up spending a lot more than the boat is worth (Especially if you don't do all of your own work). So it's an area of the project where you have to get serious. Given the Ranger 26's age and the likely chance that the standing rigging is just as old I'd go into this process that at the bare minimum you'll need to replace the stays, chainplates and associated hardware. Masts, in general, are non-problematic and last forever. You will need to look seriously at the sail inventory and while it is still pretty easy to buy good condition used sails for this size of boat so you'll have to factor all of the costs. Oh yeah, there's running rigging as well...
So, here's my take on the rig issues. If the mast is OK and your sails are good you'll only need to replace the chainplates and stays which does not have to be expensive (more on that in a future post) but if the boat does not have any sails or needs a lot of sail work it starts getting iffy. If the boat you're looking at had its rig replaced in the last ten years, has good sails, and all you need to replace is a bit of running rigging, you're home free.
Another option you might want to consider is to change rigs. I've long thought that, for cruising on a budget, that a Junk or Lug rig makes all kinds of sense. Even better would be a junk or lug that included a small jib and minimal textile rigging. The cost of building and rigging a junk or lug mast and sail is considerably cheaper than replacing the Ranger rig. There are quite a few other advantages as well but we'll get into that later.
Which now leaves us with the project list so far as:
A new galley
A composting head
Adding more stowage
Companion way reduction
Sorting out the rig
Next up we'll be looking at a specific project and costs in detail.
When looking at the Ranger 26 a few things cry out for attention.
Most notably the galley, or should we say the lack of a galley,
situation. Everybody needs to eat and anyone living on a frugal cruising
budget is going to be cooking most all of their meals aboard so it is a
very important system on any VolksCruiser. We're going to have to
shoehorn a reasonable galley workplace where you can actually cook as
opposed to just heating stuff up. Throw in the fact that you'll need
easily accessible stowage for galley utensils and a means of easily
washing up after cooking/dining which entails water storage and and
plumbing. This area might actually be the most difficult project on the
Next on the list is the head. I've lived with a portapotti and you
can get by with one but as a DIY composting toilet takes about the same
amount of room, is actually cheaper than a portapotti or MSD, and works better so the
composting toilet gets on the project list. Having a proper bathroom on a
26 foot boat is really just too problematic so we'll work along the
lines that showers will be in the cockpit and work on that issue when
we're working on the cockpit.
A comfortable dedicated place to sleep is important. The Ranger 26 has a dinette which can be converted
into a double bed, a V berth forward and a settee which opens to a wider
single if you remove the back board. My guess is the V berth makes the
best choice for most folk but it is something you may want to give some
serious thought to.
A place to lounge. Everybody needs a comfortable place to sit and
read, watch videos, or just relax. Comfort is important and it is vital
to keep this in mind while you're making decisions. For most people the
settee will fill this need. Personally, I'd vote for the settee because
you'll also need a workable sea berth and it can do double duty.
Stowage, of course, the boat needs more stowage, fact is all boats
need more stowage. You need a place for food, water, fuel, clothes,
tools, books, toys and the list tends to be endless.There are a lot of
clever (dare I say cunning?) ways to maximize stowage but the real trick
is to realize that a 26-foot boat is a finite space and you're going to
have to do some serious need/want exercise to get that endless list
down to a manageable one that will fit into a 26-foot long envelope. Your ongoing mantra will have to become...
"Less stuff more stowage!"
Which leaves us with the project list for the interior so far as:
A new galley
A composting head
Adding more stowage
Next up we'll look at what we need to think about on the deck, cockpit, and add a wild card to the mix.
I'm pretty sure most everyone reading this realizes we live in a consumerist society. Fewer of those reading think that consumerism is out of control and a big problem for folks on a finite planet's ecosystem.
Everyone still seems to want that new-better-than-the-last-one iPhone. The other day I found myself being served in a Kmart by a minimum wage checker who had that very same brand new iPhone worn like so much bling on her belt and I could not help but wonder how someone working at a minimum wage job could afford one.
The answer, of course, is she couldn't.
The fact is that the pressure to consume is ever present on myriad levels and intense whether it's a phone, car, or boat. Way back when, I remember the phrase "You are what you eat" but today the more apt phrase should be "You are what you buy/spend".
Looking at various boating/cruising blogs and video channels you'd be blind not to notice a certain formula where folks decide to downsize and simplify their lives by buying a boat to go cruising.
So far, so good.
What usually follows this downsized/simplified state of affairs is an intense bout of consumerist mayhem because, when all is said and done, we are what we buy/spend...
A film you really might want to check out.
Face it, to cruise on a boat affordably in a sustainable manner you're going to have to shed the out-of-control consumerist monkey on your back.
More on the subject when we look at how we might turn that Ranger 26 into a workable VolksCruiser,