Thursday, November 03, 2011

About those new clothes the Emperor has, and Bob gets his rant on...

Arab spring hijinks, a really bad deal, and there's a new forum over at ProaFile (the new hip place for folks of a bilaterally asymmetrical sailing bent to hang out)...

"As far as we can discern, the universe is a very silly place,"
                                                                                     Albert Einstein

You know, there is a whole lot of established knowledge floating around in sailboat design that simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

I've lost track of the number of times I've heard that the gaff rig won't sail to weather, catamarans don't do windward, shoal draft is unseaworthy, or that a Marconi is by far the most efficient rig. The fact is, all of these are simply not correct but they are a part of the great group think and make me want to use a silly word...


Ooh, I get all steampunky when I say that...

It would be funny, if it were not so tragic, that so many folk aboard boats with sails have bugger all knowledge of how things of a sailing nature actually work... I'm reminded of this as several folks who apparently browse Boat Bits felt the need to tell me yesterday that scows...
  • Are unseaworthy
  • Slow
  • Don't or can't sail to windward
  • Don't sail well down wind
  • Are prone to capsize
  • Don't sail well on a reach
  • That the boat that just won the Mini was actually not a scow (because if it had been it would not have won as the the Mini has rules and they would never allow such a thing to happen)
  • Would be horribly uncomfortable at anchor
I could actually go on but do I need to? The fact is that none of the above comments are correct but that "mythical established knowledge" says it is so, so it must be right.

For those with a high pain threshold, take a look at a recent forum thread on that Mini winning scow... Off hand, I'm guessing of course, the naysayers and snark slingers in question don't have a lot of sea miles on scows, deep experience in naval architecture and more than likely use their motors a lot more than their sails.

The scary thing is, we as a group tend to care more about what folks think of our boats than thinking (and in this I mean real thinking) about boats and how they work. As I've mentioned before, back when we were building our Wharram Tiki 31 most of the sailing journals and magazines were running editorials and articles about how cats and tris were unsafe, could not sail to weather, and other spurious information that well-meaning folks kept quoting to us to show us the error of our ways... Hindsight, being 20/20, tells us that the "mythical established knowledge" of those days was just that... M-Y-T-H-I-C-A-L, so it was then and so it continues to be.

Listening to BTO

So it goes...