Fellow Woody Boater Bob Rosenquist recently enjoyed our little Condenser issue debate and of course that ignited a fun story and possible larger debate for all of us to have more uneducated opinions about. There never is a wrong answer here. Oh for sure your an idiot, just ask your wife! Anywhoooo, here is Bobs submission to the panel of experts. My god have mercy on you Bob…
Over 30 years ago I started sailing and continued until a couple of years ago. Life changed as it always does and my sails wore out at about the same time. I will always love the feel of sails filling with wind and the sensation of a sailboat deck coming to life. The decision was made to sell the sail boat and move on; but this was not a sad end, just a chance for a new beginning. After many months of research and several disappointing trips to look at old fiberglass motor boats we decided to visit a wood lapstrake boat. It was the first boat my wife and I looked at that looked better in person than in the pictures.
This was a bit ironic because my first sailboat many years ago was a wood sailboat. Now I’m reading Woody Boater while waiting for our semi classic 1987, 24 foot hardtop Skiff Craft to receive some attention to make sure it is ready for the next thirty years of cruising the Great Lakes and the mighty Mississippi.
A recent story about points verses electronic ignition prompted me to email Matt and asked him if he would be interested in a story examining the possibility of highly efficient wood boating in the future. I have been impressed with the large and knowledgeable on-line following that Woody Boater established and I hope to start a conversation so that I can learn more.
As you can see we have an IO. Matt kindly pointed out, “Outdrives are a no no in this part of the boating world. A dead end for resale. These boats are all about history and the look, not necessarily speed or efficiency. But it’s an interesting question, and sooner or later we need to embrace stern drives, because they are part of the next wave of classic boats.”
I found this interesting article by Eric Colby in Boating magazine comparing the efficiency of inboards to IO’s on the same hull. This led to more questions considering trim, weight, and horsepower requirements in wood boats. HERE
“We had to settle it right from the start. Everyone wanted to know if stern drives are faster. And, for once, the boatyard rumors were right – stern drives fly. The 260-hp stern drive boat ran 47.1 mph at 4600 rpm, while the 260-hp V-drive hit only 34.5 mph. No one expected that much of a difference. The 300-hp V-drive did a little better at 38.2 mph.”
First question to the Lyman and Sea Skiff owners: Could a Lyman 25 sleeper or similar size boat add over 12.5 miles to the top end using a stern drive? The article attributes most of the speed advantage to drag and the angle of thrust. However the Lyman and Chris Craft have another advantage, natural buoyancy. The specific gravity of Douglas fir plywood is approximately .56 verses fiberglass in a range from 1.3 to 2.0. The majority of the buoyant force would be located from the beam to the stern on plane.
Second question for Woody Boater readers: Is this buoyant force one of the reasons the Lyman, Sea Skiff, Skiff Craft and other wood boats come out of the water flatter with very little trim?
Back to the article, “Of more real-world importance on a boat like the 290 Amberjack is fuel consumption. At wide open throttle it was about the same for all three boats. But when comparing fuel consumption at the same speeds, the stern drives again had a decided advantage. The stern drive ran 34.7 mph at 3500 rpm, pretty much the same as the 260-hp V-drive's 34.5-mph top speed. In terms of fuel consumption, the stern drives burned only 22.8 gph at 3500 rpm versus the V-drive's 40 gph at WOT. At 4000 rpm the stern drive boat hit 39.4 mph and consumed 25.2 gph-about 1 mph faster than the 300-hp V-drive's top end, which ate 40.6 gph at the same rpm. Those numbers equal big advantages in speed and economy.”
Third question: Could the lighter weight wood boat have an even larger performance gain then the fiberglass hull that was tested? It is very hard to beat the wood strength to weight ratio. It was one of the reasons that boat builders like Lyman and Thompson were slow to embrace fiberglass in the late 1950’s. In boating magazines from the time period the discussions were centered on the new lightweight building materials like 5200 sealant and Chris Craft grade marine plywood that could create a strong, light weight, splash and go clinker-built boat.
When we dropped our boat off at the Skiff Craft factory last week my wife and I had an on-line conversation with a Skiff Craft owner on the owners association web site who said that I should be able to cruise at 20 to 25 mph at two to three gph with the little V6 mercruiser in the boat. I won’t be able to test this claim until next year so I would like to hear from other Woody Boaters about their real world fuel consumption experience. It would be great to hear from Boaters Dick and Janet Baner that are working on the Great Loop in a 24 foot Skiff Craft.
It intrigues me that classic wood boats could be a small part of the future of affordable boating. There is an aspect of back to the future using time-tested soft-riding wood hulls and high tech engines. There is also the added benefit of the renewable nature of wood verse fiberglass. I hope to hear from knowledgeable folks with insight on the questions posed in this article.