Saturday, August 15, 2015

a whole lot of bang for the buck...

I may have mentioned before how much I like Phil Bolger's Jessie Cooper design. If you are looking for a VolksCruising design that gives you maximum bang for minimum bucks that is buildable in a short time frame, you'd have a difficult time finding better...

That said, it's not exactly an easy boat for most people to understand being just that bit further out of the box design-wise, so there is a WTF or two for anyone checking it out.

For instance, both the mainmast and mizzen are off center, there's only one dagger board (off center as well), and the boat only draws a foot. To say those attributes drive some people batshit crazy is something of an understatement.

The fact is, we built our Jessie Cooper for a special short term purpose. We had no thoughts of keeping it long term so we built it as a temporary boat. I'll be the first to admit that I was as surprised as anyone when it turned out to sail incredibly well and, as a result, made me rethink everything I took as gospel where boat design is concerned.

Those off-center masts were non-problematic; never causing us to sail in circles as some opinionated dockwalkers said they would and, more to the point, they were actually advantageous in making a small boat's interior much bigger than it had any right to be. The lug rig (also something that made some people froth at the mouth) was powerful and although the sail on the mast on the bad tack distorted the sail shape, the difference in drive between the good/bad tack was not enough to actually measure a positive or negative difference in drive or tack angle to windward.

Pretty much the same could be said for the off-center daggerboard... While I'm sure there was a tiny difference to windward and, just possibly a kiss more leeward drift on one tack, I  never actually found it problematic enough to be able to measure said difference. I've come to believe that a dozen or so square inches of lateral resistance is well within the mind's subconscious ability to self-correct as you trim sails and steer your course to the point that it really is a no-brainer.

As far as the one foot draft goes, once you've experienced the varied joys of real shoal draft cruising you'll never want to go back to anything else.

Some more on what I'd change if I were to build a Jessie Cooper with the addition of some hindsight soonish...


  1. We chatted up a Jesse Cooper owner in Port Townsend while he was doing a bottom job in the yard there. A lovely boat. PBolger went longer and slimmer with his AS series, culminating over-the-toply in his steel sailing narrowboat at 46X6.6 (with awesome 1/2" steel grind-on-anything bottom). Jesse Cooper is pretty darn cool for folks no taller than 5-7 or so. Take a 6-3 frame like mine, and my shield maiden wife who goes 5-9 and over 200 redheaded devastation pounds, and a scaling up becomes mandatory. Dave Zeiger built in a 6-4 main cabin in 31' Luna (AS31) so goodly-2-shoes on that one for us while we lived aboard contentedly for 5 years in Sitka. Where am I going with this? A one way rip-ride to HELL, bud!!!!!!! Just kidding....... no excusable need to skid into a blind gonzo journalism twilight zone. Yes, once you go shoalie-flat bottomed junior executive boardroom spoiled you're ruined for the rest and it's gonna haunt you-me-us until you-me-the known universe just freaking commits to a build somewhere somehow. I must add (with surreptitious glee) that big boatbuilds, for me anyway, have been periods of dog ass beat physical exertion coupled with neo-nirvanic bliss and, on launch day, odd transcendental flashes I still savor years later. Nothing like crafting a floating home from your own mind and hands.

    1. Well, as it happens I'm 6'5" and managed quite well while living on our Jessie Cooper for nearly five years until we built the much bigger Loose Moose 2. The headroom in the only place you need it on the design is just a kiss shy of 6'5" (and yeah I lowered the floor in the galley an inch to mae thast happen0.

      The problem with scaling up is bigger always equals more money and more time... Our Jessie Cooper took less than three months of mostly part time work to build and cost a third of what it cost us to build LM2 which took six months of full time labor.