Thursday, September 14, 2006


Here is a photo of a little sail boat off of the shore of Wildhorse Island. My interest in this photo is because this is a Thistle Class sail boat. (my other interest is just taking photos and it was a nice evening with the sun going down and the fire smoke in the air.) I think the Thistle is a very lovely little boat. It has a plumb bow (the front of the boat goes straight up.) That is a very modern sail boat design feature on an old one design boat. It increases the waterline of a boat and at the same time makes the boat faster by reducing overall length and overhang. Plus these boats jump out onto a plane and that is also what the modern sport sail boats do and they have pretty much the same lines.

The other thing I think is cool about this is that I've been thinking about Scottish connections to the island and the lake. And of course the thistle is a Scottish symbol. (The Lady of the Lake, my Dad, and all of that) And here is a Thistle off the shore of Wildhorse. It hasn't been there very long as I would have noticed.

I also noticed that the mast is raked too far forward. The top of the mast is tipped twards the front of the boat too much. Not good. That will give the boat a stong lee helm. (if you let go of the tiller/rudder then the boat will turn down wind.) This is not good. You want the boat to "point" up wind if you let go. Then it will come to a stop into the wind. If it sails down wind it might broach and tip over or otherwise get out of control. Most likely they bought a mast from another boat and just put it on without adjusting the forestay and shrouds. That might require some work and expense. It could be that when people get in it, the stern goes down into the water and mast goes up. But I don't think so. It is just too far forward for even that. When sailing on a plane it would really put a force on the bow and that isn't what you want. As you build speed you want the mast to rake back and put the force on the flat part of the rear of the hull. So this is just wrong. I would know for sure if I sailed it, and I admit that I don't know this class very well. Who knows, this boat might be set up exactly right, but I doubt it. The new sport boats with a very similar hull all have the masts raked back, and they have main sails with large roaches (curve to the trailing edge of the sail) that moves the center of effort farther back making the boat point up.

This is how you steer a windsurfer. If you want to go down wind you point the top of the mast twards the front of the board. The wind pushes the bow down wind (the force of the wind is on the front of the board). If you want to go up wind you rake the top of the mast to the back/ stern of the board and the will get pushed around and the board will sail up wind. Same thing on a sail boat. It's called tuning the boat.

None the less this is a very cool little boat and affordable. It's faults are that the rail is really narrow and uncomfortable to sit on when hiking the boat over. And I've heard that you tend to get wet on these boats. I've never sailed one. If I remember they are 17 feet long. I think it would be a very fun boat to sail. This one is really exposed to storm weather where it is. Here is a link to the Thistle website. Take a look at some others.

Thistle Class

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