Dutch Goat Island Skiff Third in Caledonia RAID 2009 – Story

The Designer knew nothing about a GIS competing in the Caledonia Raid

And then he heard Joost and Viola’s result was 2nd in Division and 3rd overall.

One of the most interesting things was how well it did in the rowing legs even against boat with two or more rowers

All pics here (all rights reserved)

Discussion here

RAID event with Goat Island Skiff in Scotland.

For those who don’t know about the event the Caledonia RAID is a competitive event involving several days or rowing and sailing events. It is a tough race and often attracts specialist boats and teams that have trained hard.

A week ago I would have told you that the GIS would be ok as a boat to have fun at the event in. But Joost and Viola came second in their division and third overall despite being one of the few single oared boats in the race and certainly the lightest, simplest boat entered.

Who said flat bottomed boats can’t handle rough water!

Joost writes …

Raid Caledonia … After a week of Sail Caledonia making our way across the Great Glen under oar and sail I can confirm that the GIS is a suitable craft for raids!!!

Raid Caledonia is a “race” from the salt water in the West to the salt water in the East across Scotland on the Great Glen waterway which consists of 3 lakes (called lochs in Scotland) and some canal stretches between the lochs adding up to a total of some 96 km.

RAID event with Goat Island Skiff in Scotland.

GIS starting a race in SAIL RAID Caledonia

Having sailed GISwerk only five times prior to our departure from the Netherlands for Scotland 2 weeks ago, the Scottish lochs and canals have truly shown us what a capable boat the GIS is. On Loch Ness we were confronted with fairly strong winds (with gusts above 20 knots and a short steep 4 ft swell) which GISwerk handled beautifully and without much problem under full sail downwind. Probably not a very sensible thing but it definitely made for a most exciting and fast surf and gained us a first place in the leg!

RAID event with Goat Island Skiff in Scotland. storerboatplans.com

In the rowing legs we ended a constant third, in the sailing legs we got in 1st – 5th. The winds are very unpredictable on the Scottish lochs: a force 2 can easily become a force 6 but might over a few minutes time dwindle to force naught. Some experience in “reading” the Scottish weather would be very helpful (one day in particular we had difficulties forecasting the winds resulting in tying in an unnecessary reef causing a big delay in finishing) as would be a few more days sailing the boat before entering an event such as Raid Caledonia. We ended a tied second (out of five boats) in class 2 and overall ended a shared third place out of 9 competing boats.

RAID event with Goat Island Skiff in Scotland.

(Joost and Viola working along)
Joost rowing his GIS in the Caledonia RAID

What matters most however is that we had a blast, got to know the boat fairly well sailing and rowing the boat in a lot of different conditions, met some lovely people during the event and enjoyed the fine music, food and drinks the organisation had arranged for.

More from Joost

The hull is stiff and strong enough to take a quite a beating, so no concerns there. The only thing I might do differently if I were to build another one was to use a hard wood for the side frames. The side frames seem to get most beating when using the boat as a sail & oar boat and it therefore seems to be a good idea to strengthen them with a small penalty with regards to weight. (however a few screws to prevent this exact cracking had been omitted)

The tiller extension I currently have on the boat uses a bit of rope to connect it to the tiller. The rope however stretches a lot (knots tightening) and it gives a vague feel when steering. To resolve this issue I am going to replace the piece of rope by either a stainless steel bit are a standard dinghy tiller extension. Recommend polyurethane universal joint as they don’t bind as the mechanical ones sometimes do.

This is Joost’s new RSS sail: our version 3. Much more power/depth right through and a loose foot. Compare with the shots of the sail he used in the event photos.

Most of Joost’s comments on the sail resulted, several years later, in us developing this custom sail for the GIS and making it in my new home of the Philippines for export.

See reallysimplesails.com RSS

lug sails at very competitive prices - reallysimplesails.com

The sail. The balanced lug rig seems perfect for the boat. I would however appreciate feed back on the following:

  • sail might perhaps be a bit smaller for a sail&oar set up (8.5 m2 would be better for single handing and for stronger winds or winds that change in strength rapidly and frequently) Better Reefing Systems and rejigging the reef sizes ended up being the solution.
  • more reef lines would be advantageous as it would enable to adjust the sail area in a better way in relation to the wind (for an 8.5 m2 sail maybe to reduce the sail in 2 steps to approximately 7 and 5.5 m2). Over time we have found that three reefs of specific sizes are best for the Goat
  • the sail I have has a flat cut (Duckworksbbs USA sail). It sets well but I feel that a bit deeper profile would benefit the upwind performance especially in lighter airs. Resolved in the reallysimplesails.com pattern.
  • I might prefer a sail not laced to the boom as this would mean more adjustment possibilities. The required fatter boom would allow cleats to be attached to the boom which would make for easier reefing. Most GISs are going with a loose foot as Joost describes
  • Next to the downhaul, a kicker might be handy to have more control over the sail shape (follow link for Keyhavenpotter’s set up on his scow

The GIS might be the perfect boat for single handing raids (perhaps with the aforementioned slightly smaller sail). She would then definitely go faster under oars (transom clearing the water and less weight) and should also pick up some speed under sail. I think the GIS might be a bit big for singlehanding in rough water when the wind gets strong. Two is the ideal crew. Or Joost now enters RAIDs for fun with Viola and their two children – Michael Storer

From Joost: Initial report. Is light and simple faster?

RAID event with Goat Island Skiff in Scotland.

Rowing Performance

The GIS is not the fastest rowboat around since it can only handle one pair of oars. It does however not loose that much ground in comparison to an Oughtred Ness Yawl (class winner) especially when one considers the fact that a Ness Yawl is rowed by two persons using four oars. Our GIS has a crew of two where the crew was steering with the rudder half raised. With the anchor gear on the port side of the boat, the helm could sit on the cockpit floor on the starboard side just in front of the aft deck and next to the tiller to keep the boat balanced.

Unfortunately we only discovered this ideal set up for a crew of 2 after the first rowing race (a 12 km rowing leg) in which I struggled a bit to keep the boat on course. For this first race I had taken the complete rudder stock of the transom. I am now however convinced that when rowing fast and for some distance it does help to have either the crew steering the boat as described above or to lash the tiller to the traveller with the rudder foil halfway in the water (ideal solution when single handing). It does help track the boat when the centreboard is half way down.

I am quite sure that with only one person on board (the transom would then clear the water) she would row a wee bit faster and might be able to give the Ness Yawl very good competition.

Joost on the Sailing

In the Great Glen most of the time the winds are either fully in the back or are to be confronted head on. This raid we luckily had them in the back for the whole duration of the event which helped during the rowing and made for some very fast and exhilarating sailing (longer downwind sailing with some shorter upwind reaches incorporated in the sailing legs).

With my limited experience sailing the GIS, I am convinced that the fastest course for the GIS is on a reach, but she will plane alright with the wind coming straight from behind when the wind is strong enough. She remains very stable when surfing down waves and there seems to be sufficient volume up front to keep the nose from diving (one person sitting on the thwart, the other person steering the boat from the aft deck in these conditions, otherwise from the gunwale just aft of the thwart).

Up wind she does alright without much water coming over the sides (and I have been told that if a boat doesn’t take on much water up wind on Loch Ness, it is not very likely she will do elsewhere). The Ness Yawl however seems to be faster up wind. Another interesting boat that did especially well in the upwind legs outpacing all other boats was the Pathfinder canoe stern yawl designed (and sailed) by Colin Cumming.

This could however also have to do with:

  1. the very good and experienced crew on the Ness Yawl (they won this year’s edition by a great margin) The Ness Yawl is 19ft long to the Goat’s 15.5 which will show up in average speed. The Goat has a higher peak speed which moves the averages up to be more competitive than length would lead one to expect.
  2. the strong winds which meant we had to “spill” the wind in gusts by easing the sheet a bit (reefing tends to cost more time). We found since that a smaller reef as first reef works effectively to cover most of this disparity, moving the rig down as well as reducing sail slightly but not too much
  3. the entry on the bow of the GIS is fine enough to prevent pounding, but when trying to point really high it does sometimes become an issue. Keep weight centred around the middle seat and crew close together. Also outhaul being eased to get 1 in 10 sail depth in the foot helps with a bit more weather helm and power to push through waves without adding much heeling moment. Joost has since added hiking straps for much more power.
  4. us not having got to know the GIS that well yet only having sailed her a couple of times before the event

Damage, some self inflicted.

(Designers note … there are very few screws and bolts used in the construction of the GIS. Don’t leave any of them out.)

The boat feels very stiff, strong and safe and seems to be capable of handling a lot of wind and waves without any problems at all.

Doing Sail Caledonia means having to go through multiple locks with a lot of boats (10 boats in competition and 3 safety boats in this case) and mooring up to 4 boats next to each other on pontoons as well which left a couple of inevitable (minor) scratches on the hull and mostly the rubbing strips. Some varnish and she will however be as good as new again!

Two more serious things however require attention:

1. Crack in the top of the front side frame on port side. Being a bit in bit of a haste when mooring the boat in a good force 5, I bumped into the top of the front side frame with an oar handle thus causing a nasty crack (diagonal one) splitting the top 5 inches of this frame (wood still attached however with no splinters having come off). Immediately after the damage was done I packed the “injury” with duck tape to prevent it from further splitting. Omitted screw.

I am uncertain what would be the best method to repair this damage. I will probably try to very gently ease the crack open a bit and pour some liquid epoxy into the crack and consequently clamp the cracked part and then perhaps reinforce the frame by putting 2 wooden “pens” through the side frame. (a pen/peg will work similarly to the specified screw)

2. I stupidly decided not to entirely follow MIK’s plans for the rudder stock by leaving the bolts out that go through tiller and stock (yes, I know, I should have followed the plans where I elsewhere have diligently done so and not have gone for the looks of a boltless tiller). Omitted bolts

In the smaller waves hardly any touch to the rudder was required; planing down the bigger waves in the middle of Loch Ness in force 5 is a different story however and at one time some corrective tiller action was needed to prevent the boat from breaching and to keep her the right way up. The stresses were however too much for the rudder stock causing a crack from the top of the rudder stock down to the rudder fittings some 2 inches from the top. Immediately after the crack happened we reefed, lifted the rudder a bit to ease the pressure on the rudder stock and raced down to the finish line to take first place in the leg.

Easiest way to repair this damage that I can think of is to pour liquid epoxy in the crack and to clamp it until cured. Then 1 bolt will have to go trough the tiller and lower reinforcements and the rudder stock to reinforce it sufficiently (as per MIK’s plans).

I must stress however that the conditions on Loch Ness were quite severe and I am fairly confident that under more normal conditions (or if we would have put in a reef) this damage would not have happened at all (it is very unlikely that a reasonable thinking person would normally take his/her boat out in the conditions we had anyway).

Advice and feed back appreciated as I want to do a good repair job without damaging the looks of the boat / rudder stock. I will try to take pictures tomorrow of these damages to show you exactly what needs to be fixed.

Final thoughts on the Suitability of the Goat Island Skiff for Distance Events and RAIDs. Mods?

Most other boats that sail to windward a bit faster were longer: Ness Yawl and the School boats have a longer waterline length. I will try the sail without the battens to see whether it makes a difference. They are very flexible however, so I do not expect that much of a difference.

With regards to the sail I think loose footed sail would do the job. 9 m2 full sail area and than perhaps reefs for 7.5 m2, 6.5 m2 and 5.5 m2. The sturdier boom required for a loose footed sail would also allow easier/faster reefing as cleats can be mounted.

Since then the sail design has stabilised around three reefs and a loose foot. The first reef smaller than the following two and the final one is the maximum possible with the geometry of the sail. Visit reallysimplesails.com for excellent prices.

Our mast is the square hollow one and it does not seem to contribute to pitching at all. I got a lot of compliments on the mast for being wooden. The only way to make it lighter would be a carbon one (not sure what the weight difference would be). I have to go to the shop and buy scales to obtain the weights of all components.

I wouldn’t want the boat to be much bigger. But maybe .5 meter of length extra would enable an easy and good set up for rowing with 2 persons in tandem. It would off course be great if it could be integrated in the current GIS! But this might lose the exact advantages of small light simple that resulted in an excellent performance against bigger boats. Plus the GIS was designed to be just under the capability of two adults being able to pick the hull up. A little extra weight will Break the Camel’s Back. The GIS is attractive because of its DIFFERENCES. By not being similar to “long, heavy, complicated”.

I think the boat can handle quite rough weather but I would not use the boat on very extreme trips. Than I agree that self-bailing would be required. For raids and such and day sailing I feel however that it is not really necessary and that a false floor would compromise both weight and ease of construction.


Related Post

Leave a Reply