Gannet takes it’s spot in the shed.
The Gannet is too big to fit through the door to the basement, I knew that already, and Terri is using some of that space as her studio now, anyway (she has a show coming up in March, yay!).
So for now, the Melonseeds have given up their place of privilege in the shed, and are parked on the trailer under a tarp arrangement, enough to provide some reasonable protection I hope, and the Gannet has moved inside.
There’s no electricity or heat in the shed, so little will get done on the new boat until spring, or later. Plenty of time to catch up on house repairs, and do some planning.
Iain Oughtred is so well known for his double-ended, Scandinavian style boats that few people are familiar with his other works. He’s been tweaking a half dozen of his Scandinavian models through multiple iterations for most of his career, so has achieved a high level of refinement in those. All beautiful. Those boats have become so popular, iconic really, that his other designs are mostly overlooked. But he has also designed several families of transomed boats, and cruisers, too.
There’s a series of sail-and-oar dinghies with at least a moderate following: three small tenders – the Auklet, Auk, and Puffin – followed by the Guillemot, Tammie Norrie and Penny Fee. Altogether they make up one family. Good all-round sailboats that row well and look great. There’s also a series of longer, leaner skiffs optimized for rowing that also sail, including several sizes of the Acorn, which together make up another family.
The Gannet, however, is in the middle of one of the least known families – high performance planing dinghies. This series includes the Shearwater, the Gannet, and the Fulmar. In terms of relative scale, the three boats can feasibly carry two, four, or six adults respectively. A PDF of the study plans is here:
I’ve done quite a bit of digging, but could only find a few examples of the planing boats that have ever been built. There are a some Shearwaters, a handful of Fulmars (a nice stretched one is underway on the West Coast), but only three or four Gannets. Fortunately, those have been done really well. Variations are half decked, recessed deck, and completely open.
Emma, a Gannet built by John Hall in England
Emma, a Gannet built by John Hall in England
By definition, planing sailboats are overpowered, carrying more sail than is perhaps prudent for folks averse to adrenaline rushes. Add to that the fact Oughtred is typically very generous with his sail plans, even in his more tame designs, and you have the makings of a very exciting ride. I have no doubt the rule will be reef early and reef often when sailing this boat.
It will be a marked contrast with the Melonseeds, which don’t even have a way to reef. They can stand up and behave themselves even in a gale. They just don’t go terribly fast. Fast, just not heart-thumping fast. The Gannet will be a racehorse, I’m sure.
Why do I think so? Well, let’s look at the specs:
The Gannet is only 8 inches longer than the Melonseed, and, though it is a foot and a half wider, the hull weighs exactly same. But, the Gannet carries twice as much sail – 118 sq/ft. For another comparison, the venerable and stable Marsh Cat is but 7 inches longer than the Gannet, carries 152 sq/ft of sail, and weighs over 1300 pounds. The Gannet only weighs 200 pounds. Got that? The Gannet carries more than 77% the sail area of the Marsh Cat, but only 15% of the weight to hold it down. Jeeze Luiz.
Like I said: reef early and reef often. I’m not surprised that all the photos I’ve found of a Gannet under sail were taken on very calm days. This boat will win a race in a dead calm.
I did find one video of a Gannet sailing in a fresh breeze. There is a group of Aussies (of course!) who have both a Gannet and a Fulmar in their midst. Fulmar is the 16’8″ big sister of the Gannet. This video was shot from the Fulmar. Note that both boats are double reefed. Dousing the jib would surely make things more civilized, but remember, they’re Aussies.
Iain Oughtred designed Gannet built by Ian Colledge sailing at Caloundra Queensland Australia winds about 12knts Camera boat another Oughtred design a Fulmar.
I can’t tell if the Fulmar is hanging back to shoot the video, but the Gannet appears to be gaining. In the last frames, you can see she’s way ahead, almost out of sight, which sort of blows the video shooting theory.
And the Fulmar is no slouch, by any means. A real screamer, in fact. Here’s some footage of what I believe is that same boat, the Fulmar, also double reefed, shot from a Navigator and uploaded by the same camera man:
Hmmm. I imagine I’ll typically take one of the Melonseeds when sailing solo.
Certainly the reefing system will need to be planned well. I’ll want to spend some time conferring with Stuart “Dabbler” Hopkins before settling on particulars.
The Gannet will have some advantages, though, besides speed. It will hold more people. Two or three easily, and four reasonably, so it will be more fun when taking along friends. With its high sides and topside flair, it will be much drier than the Melonseeds, too, making it more appealing when the water gets chilly. And, if the transom is built with some forethought, the Gannet can carry a small outboard and make a nice planing skiff for exploring while the wind is away.
Much to think about.
Before we moved it into the shed, Terri and I set the hull out in the yard to get a feel for size and such. These photos will give you an idea. Amazing what a difference that extra width makes.