Unstayed masts on a Hartley ferro boat?

  • 10 Jan 2015 19:30
    Reply # 3187806 on 3179890
    Deleted user
    Thank you to everyone who has shared with me of your experience and wisdom. I really appreciate it and I find it really useful. Back in the days, before Intenet, the challenge when doing research was finding sources of information. Today it is not finding sources that's the problem, but finding out which sources are relevant and fact based and which are just hearsay and opinions. I have to admit that it becomes overwhelming at times. That's when having people like you available is invaluable. 

    So, this means that I should not rule out a ferro boat as our future home, just based on the material itself and that Colvin's principle of not discarding a hull material just because applies to ferro as well. That's good. I have also gotten the point that it is important, if one is considering a used ferro boat, to get documentation on how the build has been executed.

    Another thing I take with me from your posts is that any boat modification can render the boat FUBAR and dangerous if you don't know exactly what you are doing, or get help from someone competent enough to know. This does not only apply to changing stayed masts to unstayed masts. -And of course anyone constructing anything would open them selves up to a lot of liabilities if they ever condoned unauthorized changes to their design. The safest way to avoid liabilities is to be explicit in not approving them by default.

    Thank you all, and thank you for your friendly welcome too. I am sure I'll be back with more questions later.


    Hans Jørgen

    Last modified: 10 Jan 2015 19:31 | Deleted user
  • 06 Jan 2015 21:59
    Reply # 3182453 on 3179890

    I have not read Mr Hartley's comments, but the disaster he may be referring to was the boat that Dr David Lewis lost off Great Barrier Island in the late 90s (Hartley Fijian design).  David originally fitted a timber foremast of poor quality timber that broke.  He also stayed it, possibly because of its poor quality (the mainmast was unstayed), but it still broke.  I wrote to him, advising against staying, as the poor angle of the shrouds would do little more than add compression loads to the mast. He then replaced this mast with a steel pole, once again staying it.  It was this mast that caused the accident the vessel then suffered.  50 miles east of Great Barrier Island, the mast broke out of its step and punched a hole through the hull, sinking the vessel.  Fortunately the crew were rescued from their life-raft several hours later. 

    The cause of this accident appeared to be a combination of using stays and a poorly constructed mast-step.  The unstayed mainmast carried a much larger sail and had no structural difficulties.  If you are going to stay any mast, the angle of the shrouds needs to be at least 10 degrees. 

    Yacht designers don't like builders modifying their plans, especially making structural modifications without ratification from the designer.  This is understandable, given some of the poor results I have observed, but if the changes are done by an experienced builder, based on good engineering practices, there is no doubt a successful junk rig conversion can be made.

  • 06 Jan 2015 10:59
    Reply # 3181837 on 3179890
    Hans Jørgen Varfjell wrote:

    ... a very nice looking Hartley converted to a junk rig schooner, with the statement:

    ... " 'Junk'..not just the rig !! a disaster waiting to happen. An amateur has fitted unstayed masts in a hull originally designed by Hartley's for stayed masts, and has the audacity to still call it a Hartley !!"

    ... or is there an actual danger connected to fitting unstayed masts to a hull designed for stayed masts?

    It seems to me to be quite reasonable that a designer who has designed a boat for stayed masts should caution strongly against modifying a boat of that design by fitting unstayed masts and should disassociate himself from the results, particularly as a boat of his design with just such a modification had foundered in unexplained circumstances which he believes may be due to the modification. 

    (I don't think that that comment should be taken as a comment about the junk rig.  Although Mr Hartley elsewhere give quite trenchant views on junk rig ... but that is a different matter.)

    I do recall that Windboats of Wroxham made at least one ferro cement design specifically for unstayed masts and junk or similar rigs. (I think that one such boat is mentioned and has a photo in Annie Hill's Voyaging on a Small Income and it was for sale in Florida a couple of years ago.)  

    Last modified: 06 Jan 2015 16:21 | Anonymous member
  • 06 Jan 2015 09:53
    Reply # 3181818 on 3179890

    Hi Hans, 

    I have helped build two ferro cement hulls and can confirm the comments made to date. The major factor in quality is the plastering and it must be done by pushing the plaster through from one side until it comes out on the other and then fairing it off. the ones I helped on pushed the plaster from the inside out and then skimmed and faired the outer surface. They also epoxy coated the hulls after the plaster cured. Both boats have lasted well and suffered no hull problems in the time I knew them. 

    As far as using a free standing rig is concerned I would have no qualms about using it on a ferro hull. The stresses are so much less than for a stayed rig but they are in different locations so care must be taken to reinforce the hull appropriately for the stresses produced by the free standing masts.

    All the best in your search for a boat.


  • 04 Jan 2015 09:35
    Reply # 3180438 on 3179890
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Back in the seventies, quite a few boats were built from ferro-cement in Norway. These were mainly large boats, well over 30ft. Old Colin Archer pilot and rescue boat designs were well suited for the material. Its round curves were no problem in FC and their double compound curves (‘egg shape’) made stiff and strong hulls. In addition, designs from Hartley and Samson were used. They were all sealed in epoxy and anodes were also fitted, so they have lasted remarkably well.

    A crucial factor was how the plastering was done. I participated in the plastering of two boats, one Colin Archer and one Hartley. In both cases, the practice was that two and two people worked together. One pushed all the cement in through the mesh. The one on the other side (inside) was monitoring, calling out when there was enough and then faired that side. This method (as opposed to pushing cement from both sides) ensured that there was no ‘empty’ layer in the middle, which later would collect water and develop frost and rust problems. Later, when we drilled holes in one of the hulls, the surface was like porcelain  -  no cavities at all. (I once came across a second-hand FC boat which appeared to have not been plastered properly, and advised a potential buyer to shy away from it.)

    If I were to buy a second-hand FC boat, I would need to be sure that the steel and mesh structure was good, but above all, I would need to know that the plastering had been properly executed. If I could tick ‘ok’ in both those boxes, and if I fancied big cruisers, then FC would be my preferred material  -  no leaks, no rot, no rust no osmosis, and very little maintenance.

    Unfortunately, those who built their FC-boats (cheap and easy, right?) soon learned the hard way that only a third of the job had been completed when the hull was finished, so many ran out of steam before the projects were finished. Big boats always means lots of work and costs. Svein Magnus Ueland took 20 years to finish Samson (getting married and raising children in between), but at least he ended up with a great ship which really sails.

    Cheers, Arne

    (PS: Svein Magnus spells his name Svein, not Svenin.)


  • 03 Jan 2015 23:46
    Reply # 3180232 on 3179890

    There is no reason why junk rig cannot be successfully fitted to a ferro-cement hull.  I worked for several years in a yard that built ferro boats and know the medium well.  While I would not build a ferro hull now (it would be just as cheap, and quicker these days to build a multi-chined steel hull), a well-built ferro boat is strong and seaworthy and second-hand ones are often quite cheap and require minimal maintenance.  Ideally, you want to know something about its construction, both what sort of armature (reinforcing) was used and how the hull was cured etc.  A good boat should have some documentation about this.  On the other hand, if the boat is 30 years old, has done some sailing and is still looking good, it is probably ok!   The biggest challenge, though not insurmountable, would be to secure the mast step/s firmly to the hull, as you cannot weld, glue or bolt them through the hull.  However, a good ferro boat will have substantial floors and you can bolt in a welded steel structure between two floors that will be perfectly adequate.  The partners offer no particular challenge - proceed as you would with any other design.  Good luck!

    Last modified: 03 Jan 2015 23:47 | Anonymous member
  • 03 Jan 2015 18:41
    Reply # 3180104 on 3179890


    It would be a good idea to contact Svenin Ueland in Stavanger,  who owns Samson, a large, heavy, JR schooner. He should be able to set your mind at rest about putting an unstayed rig in such a vessel.

    Last modified: 03 Jan 2015 18:41 | Anonymous member
  • 03 Jan 2015 08:39
    Reply # 3180012 on 3179890
    Deleted user

    I have just been on the Hartley and Brooks website looking at the pictures in the Hartley owners gallery in the section ferrocement boats, power and sail boats. Picture No. 122 on page 11 appears to be the same as the one containing the adverse comments. How strange.

    Last modified: 03 Jan 2015 08:52 | Deleted user
  • 03 Jan 2015 08:15
    Reply # 3180011 on 3179890
    Deleted user

    I think it could be a sign of the prejudice against the junk rig by the designers. Also some people think a heavy hull will throw unstayed masts out of their partners, but there are plenty of examples where this has not happened.

    Welcome to the forum by the way.

  • 03 Jan 2015 00:37
    Message # 3179890
    Deleted user

    Hi, and Happy New Year from a pretty fresh member from Norway.

    My wife and I are pretty new to sailing, but we share a dream of getting a boat to retire on and become full time liveaboard cruisers in some years. I am currently trying to research to the best of my abilities how we can make it happen, given our ramifications. That includes reading the classics like Colvin's Cruising as a way of life, and Hasler, McLeod's Practical Junk Rig, as well as other litterature, and searching the web for any useful information that can help us make our dream come through. That's how I ended up becoming a member of the JRA.

    I think we have more or less settled for the chambered junk sails as our favourite option for rigging. From the info on this site the advantages seem obvious and the disadvantages, at least for our intended use, seem negligible. I have kind of fallen in love with the split junk rig, which based on this forum seems to have lessened the few disadvantages even further. And I think it looks good too. What's not to like? ;)

    During my meanderings on the Internet trying to find out more about other things like hulls and hull materials I came across this site: http://www.ferrocement.org/. It is run by Hartley & Brooks and seems to give pretty good info on ferrocement as a hull material. If the info holds true a ferro boat may not be as bad an idea as a lot of people claim it is.

    However there was one piece of information there that made me puzzled. On the bottom of the page, http://www.ferrocement.org/pig.html, showing some examples of pitfalls to avoid there was a picture of a very nice looking Hartley converted to a junk rig schooner, with the statement:

    " 'Junk'..not just the rig !! a disaster waiting to happen. An amateur has fitted unstayed masts in a hull originally designed by Hartley's for stayed masts, and has the audacity to still call it a Hartley !!"

    Is he really just biased or mad because someone "messed with the artwork of Hartley & Brooks" or is there an actual danger connected to fitting unstayed masts to a hull designed for stayed masts? Are there any factors that can make a hull like that not suited for unstayed masts? If so, what are they? I have so far been under the impression that you could fit unstayed masts to virtually any hull, given you used your brain and made the right reinforcements.

    I hope I'm not reiterating something that has already been answered. If so, would someone please point me to the right thread?


    Hans Jørgen

    Last modified: 03 Jan 2015 19:58 | Deleted user
       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
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