Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A guest post from Dave Zeiger on a VolksCruising TriloBoat...

A VolksCruising, Blue Water TriloBoat
By Dave Zeiger at ​

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)
  • Simple, basic systems​ (avoid unnecessary, complex, unrepairable)
  • Simple, robust gear​ (good quality, fix-it-yourself)
  • Simple, robust rig​ (low stress, fail-safer)

It is the ​combined ​economies of these points that keep overall costs down, and often make the difference between ​Go Now ​and ​Go Never.

Our personal approaches add:
  • Flat bottom​ (easiest build, greatest volume/displacement on given dimensions)
  • Square sections​ (easiest build, highest form stability / volume / displacement, reduces ballast)
  • Ultra shoal draft​ (offers a hundred harbors to every deep one)
  • Outboard rudder​ (external, inexpensive, easy maintenance)
  • Retractable Lateral Resistance​ (lee-, center-, dagger or off-center boards (our fave)
  • 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).

Consequential parameters include...
  • Self-righting
  • Avoid deep, broach-prone lateral resistance
  • Favor retractable lateral resistance (including rudder)
  • Encourage downwind tracking (fixed aft skeg)
  • Water shedding cockpit
  • Poop resistant aft ​everything​ (including rudder)

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.
  • Water tanks (vs. cannisters) and/or ​advanced solar still​.
  • Lee cloths in bunk, port and s’brd, and settee..
  • Windvane steering.
  • Wafer dinghy​ stowed flat on the deck crown.

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:

Friday, February 14, 2020

a VolksCruiser shortlist of sorts...

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's game 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:
  1. Small with a livable (spelled comfortable) interior.
  2. Shoal draft
  3. Simple rig (spelled inexpensive)
  4. No expensive systems
  5. Quick to build
  6. Affordable
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.
  1. Jessie Cooper
  2. Laura Cove
  3. L' Étroit Mousquetaire
  4. Pop 25
  5. Skrowl 900
None of them are perfect but they all will do the job and are worth taking a closer look to ascertain what comes closest to your idea of what would work for you.

More soon come on the Ranger 26 front...

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Ranger 26: First cockpit projects...

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:
  1. One sheet of 1/4" exterior plywood but you'll only use a half sheet for these projects.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.