Colvin Gazelle

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  • 08 Nov 2018 03:30
    Reply # 6894147 on 6879165

    Drummer sails really really well, but it took me 9 years to get good at it. I also added a full foot of draught to the keel (from 4’5” to 5’5”) which improved her performance to winward by drastically reducing leeway. She is very difficult to sail alone, although i have corresponded with 3 or more junk gazelle & doxy owners who do single hand. I just don’t really think it is a safe option for me. (being smallish and sort of dopey &) not liking to use the motor.

    as for sailing to weather, Gazelles are much lighter, (9 tons to 15) & more tender than doxies (single chine) and should point even better, provided they have deeper draught than the 3 foot something they were originally designed with. If you are looking for a boat that points really well a junk rigged schooner may not be the right route. But if you are just looking for regular cruising boat pointability, i think with practice and patience you can achieve that. Drummer has beaten both bigger gaff colvins and fin keeled steel marconis to windward with enough wind and the right crew on board. With its finer entry, lighter weight and equivalent sail area, a gazelle should do better. also, the gazelles center cockpit is a much better arrangement than the doxies aft, when considering the colvin double sheets.

     Arne is right, there is a lot of chafe and fouling, learning to work with and around that has been a long labor-intensive process, but with time and patience i have made the tiny changes and learned the ultra precise order of operations required to avoid the worst of the fouling nightmares. the boat only rarely tries to kill me these days. I recommend carrying a much bigger headsail than colvin designed and a fisherman and, several sets of hands. I could go on and on about specifics, and once you have your gazelle you can begin making decisions about weather you want to stick with euphroes or go to wheeled blocks, about how to run your jibsheets and lazyjacks and if/where you want a boom vang and downhauls. But in a general way, the positives are: how well she self-steers and balances- like- it took me so many years to accrue the expensive little components for an autopilot, that in the interim i learned to balance the rig in most conditions and have never needed the autopilot. and how fun and versatile it is to be able to steer the whole boat with the widely spread sail area and never touch the rudder.

    all that is to say, I think a gazelle is a great boat and a good fit for anyone who sees themselves spending the next 15 years tinkering and fiddling. which is why we are all here.

  • 05 Nov 2018 00:36
    Reply # 6888880 on 6887926
    Anonymous wrote:
    Maxime wrote:
    David wrote:

    Anyone thinking of buying a Gazelle should read the little book 'Cruising Designs',

    I've read most of Colvin's work but actually couldn't remember that passage. From what people are saying, it does seem as if she wouldn't fly to windward with the original rig. The Gazelle I'm looking at has almost-new sails, so I'd be using them for a good long while. But there would be an opportunity to modify the rig at some point. Unless I'm mistaken, many Gazelles were engineless (including Colvin's, I think) and were sailed all over. So it can't be that bad, can it?

    I am interested in the hull design, too. She's reputed to be very fast on passages, and the draft is shallow enough to allow poking into all sorts of places. And the interior arrangement seems convenient.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the accounts from people in this thread!


    Now that reputation I can go along with. Tom Colvin says he owned over 40 boats, and Gazelle stood out as his favorite over all of them. "As a sailing vessel she could be matched by few others for handiness, comfort, seakindliness, or ability". But he sailed her engineless for only 6000 miles, then with a small diesel for a further 4000 miles before he sold her and "built a larger vessel that we could live aboard permanently", and I don't think that amounts to a lifelong love affair, does it? 

    How would I modify the rig? Lose the jib and bowsprit, put two unstayed masts in the same positions as the existing stayed masts, and put on two sails with more or less vertical leeches and single sheets, their relative sizes to be determined by helm balance but probably approximately equal in area.

    To be fair, Colvin had a wife and three kids, while I only plan on sailing alone or as a couple, with occasional short-term guests.

    But as a point against the Gazelle, Colvin's original was ultra-light (18 000 lbs), with 10-gauge Corten steel, while most were reportedly built around 24 000 lbs or even heavier, so his glowing endorsement may not apply.

    Back when I bought my first Gazelle (which came de-rigged), I had designed a new rig for it, somewhat as you describe, and started sewing up sails, but I'm not sure it would have been successful. The new rig was to be much taller than the old one, and I'm not sure the boat would have stood up to it well. I've attached a plan photo of that new rig.


  • 04 Nov 2018 14:38
    Reply # 6887926 on 6887778
    Maxime wrote:
    David wrote:

    Anyone thinking of buying a Gazelle should read the little book 'Cruising Designs',

    I've read most of Colvin's work but actually couldn't remember that passage. From what people are saying, it does seem as if she wouldn't fly to windward with the original rig. The Gazelle I'm looking at has almost-new sails, so I'd be using them for a good long while. But there would be an opportunity to modify the rig at some point. Unless I'm mistaken, many Gazelles were engineless (including Colvin's, I think) and were sailed all over. So it can't be that bad, can it?

    I am interested in the hull design, too. She's reputed to be very fast on passages, and the draft is shallow enough to allow poking into all sorts of places. And the interior arrangement seems convenient.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the accounts from people in this thread!


    Now that reputation I can go along with. Tom Colvin says he owned over 40 boats, and Gazelle stood out as his favorite over all of them. "As a sailing vessel she could be matched by few others for handiness, comfort, seakindliness, or ability". But he sailed her engineless for only 6000 miles, then with a small diesel for a further 4000 miles before he sold her and "built a larger vessel that we could live aboard permanently", and I don't think that amounts to a lifelong love affair, does it? 

    How would I modify the rig? Lose the jib and bowsprit, put two unstayed masts in the same positions as the existing stayed masts, and put on two sails with more or less vertical leeches and single sheets, their relative sizes to be determined by helm balance but probably approximately equal in area.

  • 04 Nov 2018 12:44
    Reply # 6887778 on 6887653
    Anonymous wrote:

    Anyone thinking of buying a Gazelle should read the little book 'Cruising Designs', by Thomas Colvin. I'll just quote this from the chapter 'Toward a design philosophy':

    'Superb windward ability in cruising vessels is not a requirement. What is required is good performance in close reaching, broad reaching, and running, as it is rare, especially in ocean cruising, that one sails closer than 5 1/2 or 6 points to the wind. With this in mind, low rigs and generous sail area are axiomatic. '

    There are also chapters on the Gazelle and comments on the chinese rig. 

    Tom Colvin was undoubtedly a fine seaman, designer and boat builder, but he was dancing to a different tune from that of almost all other sailors. In the decades after WW2, he was the main driving force in the North American school of thought regarding 'westernised' chinese boats and chinese rigs. He drew on notes, sketches and photos that he'd taken whilst in China, but said that available information was meagre. Basically he tried to copy some traditional chinese types of boat and rig. At the same time in Europe, the main driving force was Blondie Hasler, who took the basic concept of the chinese rig and totally re-imagined it for use on yachts, resulting in Jester in 1960. To a large extent, those schools of thought have now merged. We recognise, I think, that Blondie oversimplified the sailplan, that Tom stuck too rigidly to traditional sailplans, and most of all, that a flat sail, though easier to understand than a cambered sail, is never going to be very good at windward work. We need and expect better than 6 points to the wind (67.5˚) in a coastal cruising yacht, and expect it even in an ocean cruising yacht.

    I've read most of Colvin's work but actually couldn't remember that passage. From what people are saying, it does seem as if she wouldn't fly to windward with the original rig. The Gazelle I'm looking at has almost-new sails, so I'd be using them for a good long while. But there would be an opportunity to modify the rig at some point. Unless I'm mistaken, many Gazelles were engineless (including Colvin's, I think) and were sailed all over. So it can't be that bad, can it?

    I am interested in the hull design, too. She's reputed to be very fast on passages, and the draft is shallow enough to allow poking into all sorts of places. And the interior arrangement seems convenient.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the accounts from people in this thread!


  • 04 Nov 2018 09:20
    Reply # 6887653 on 6879165

    Anyone thinking of buying a Gazelle should read the little book 'Cruising Designs', by Thomas Colvin. I'll just quote this from the chapter 'Toward a design philosophy':

    'Superb windward ability in cruising vessels is not a requirement. What is required is good performance in close reaching, broad reaching, and running, as it is rare, especially in ocean cruising, that one sails closer than 5 1/2 or 6 points to the wind. With this in mind, low rigs and generous sail area are axiomatic. '

    There are also chapters on the Gazelle and comments on the chinese rig. 

    Tom Colvin was undoubtedly a fine seaman, designer and boat builder, but he was dancing to a different tune from that of almost all other sailors. In the decades after WW2, he was the main driving force in the North American school of thought regarding 'westernised' chinese boats and chinese rigs. He drew on notes, sketches and photos that he'd taken whilst in China, but said that available information was meagre. Basically he tried to copy some traditional chinese types of boat and rig. At the same time in Europe, the main driving force was Blondie Hasler, who took the basic concept of the chinese rig and totally re-imagined it for use on yachts, resulting in Jester in 1960. To a large extent, those schools of thought have now merged. We recognise, I think, that Blondie oversimplified the sailplan, that Tom stuck too rigidly to traditional sailplans, and most of all, that a flat sail, though easier to understand than a cambered sail, is never going to be very good at windward work. We need and expect better than 6 points to the wind (67.5˚) in a coastal cruising yacht, and expect it even in an ocean cruising yacht.

    Last modified: 04 Nov 2018 10:12 | Anonymous member
  • 04 Nov 2018 03:53
    Reply # 6887539 on 6882660
    Anonymous wrote:

    When I see photos of Colvin junks, I cant help thinking that just about everything is wrong with those sails. However, since I have never been on board or sailed alongside a any Colvin boat, I may be perfectly wrong. For what I know, they sail like witches to windward and tack without any kind of snags.

    I am very interested in hearing how these craft work.

    Arne

    Hello! 

    I’m completely and totally brand new to Sailing and junk rigs, but I’ve been reading and learning everything I can.

    Ive just recently been looking at buy a decent condition gazelle in Australia, ive read in a few places they aren’t great to windward, though I won’t be racing it or anything. But Being new at all this I’m not yet familiar with every type of rig and I’m genuinely curious as to why you believe the sails seem to look wrong. Is it just the non cambered plan, or is there something else I should be watching out for?

    Cheers :)

    Nic V


    Last modified: 04 Nov 2018 10:08 | Anonymous member
  • 03 Nov 2018 01:43
    Reply # 6886405 on 6885214
    Anonymous wrote:

    The only time that I've seen a Gazelle under sail was on 7th October 2008, as we beat out of Neah Bay, Juan de Fuca Strait, heading south towards California  and Mexico. It was just after a big storm had passed through, and we were taking a quieter spell before the next one came (all the Washington and Oregon harbours were reporting very dangerous entry conditions, so we went straight to Bodega Bay). The swells were big, and the log says we had 2 reefs in main and mizzen (wingsails). At the same time, a Gazelle which may have been called Freebird left Neah Bay. We were some way ahead of them, but it seemed that they were having a lot of trouble making headway in the prevailing rough conditions, and I think they eventually turned back. Tystie was making adequate headway, but the Gazelle seemed to be going at about half the speed. Only anecdotal, I know, but it did seem as though the Gazelle was not a windward performer.

    Interesting. I think Colvin himself said the Gazelle wasn't great at sailing to windward. It's a light, shallow hull, and the type of sails might have something to do with it. But what do I know...


  • 02 Nov 2018 07:56
    Reply # 6885214 on 6879165

    The only time that I've seen a Gazelle under sail was on 7th October 2008, as we beat out of Neah Bay, Juan de Fuca Strait, heading south towards California  and Mexico. It was just after a big storm had passed through, and we were taking a quieter spell before the next one came (all the Washington and Oregon harbours were reporting very dangerous entry conditions, so we went straight to Bodega Bay). The swells were big, and the log says we had 2 reefs in main and mizzen (wingsails). At the same time, a Gazelle which may have been called Freebird left Neah Bay. We were some way ahead of them, but it seemed that they were having a lot of trouble making headway in the prevailing rough conditions, and I think they eventually turned back. Tystie was making adequate headway, but the Gazelle seemed to be going at about half the speed. Only anecdotal, I know, but it did seem as though the Gazelle was not a windward performer.

  • 02 Nov 2018 05:33
    Reply # 6885175 on 6882600
    Anonymous wrote:

    I had a Colvin Gazelle for 10 years and sailed the boat to Alaska, Mexico and Hawaii from the Puget Sound.  I would be happy to contribute to the proposed thread.  To the OP, if you can find a Gazelle for sale, go for it, they are rare.


    I have found a nice-looking one that has spent its whole life in fresh water. Asking just under 40 000 USD. I've got many more questions to ask the broker, but it looks like it's in very good condition. One issue is that the hull doesn't seem to be insulated inside. I don't know how hard it would be to retrofit some level of insulation to limit noise and condensation.

    Please do share your comments on the Gazelle's sailing characteristics!

  • 02 Nov 2018 05:28
    Reply # 6885171 on 6882177
    Anonymous wrote:

    I live and cruise on a colvin doxy, shorter and heavier but with the same rig. I have lots of thoughts on that, svdrummer at gmail.

    And incedentally, dave and i have been talking about a "colvin junk schooner problems" (and delights) thread, as I havn't found an old one in the archives. is anyone interested?

    margaret drummer


    Yes, please! You can post your comments directly in this thread, if you like.

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