Ketch for Bruce Roberts 38

Dear Mr. Dashew, Your books are most informative, thank you for writing them. I have recently inherited a steel Bruce Roberts 38 built by an uncle who was a professional fitter/welder. I like the boat, but do not favor its ketch rig. Reading your work, it has occurred to me that I might convert the rig to a mast forward sloop.

At the present time I do not want to replace the entire rig. However, in preparation for a 6 month Bahamas–Chesapeake cruise I need to replace the main and one headsail anyway.

So, here is my question. Am I likely to benefit from removing the mizzen and replacing the main with a much larger big roach full batten sail, keeping the current mast in its present position (13ft from bow, LOD 38)?

Knowledgeable friends tell me that there are many complex balance and stability factors involved. I question this because I can balance the boat without the mizzen on most points of sail over a fairly wide range of wind speed. As for stability, I would not increase mast height. With a P36ft/E14ft I can almost match the sail area if I go with a big roach mainsail.

I contacted Bruce Roberts but was dissatisfied with the response as they only wanted to sell me plans for a traditional cutter rig.

If the conversion has merit can a good rigger/sailmaker help me work out the details or would I need to involve a naval architect? Any recommendations? I’m in Florida. Thanks, Beau

Your friends are right and wrong.

Balance is a complex “art”. However, since you have the real thing you can verify what the balance issues are, as you’ve already done. Sitting here in Tucson it is hard to comment on the right proportions, however, I can make the following observations:

1-I would wait on purchasing the new sails until you’ve spent spent some time cruising. It may turn out you will want to add some height to the rig after living with the boat as a sloop. If you have new sails, cut to the shorter spar, the investment will keep you from adjusting rig proportions if that becomes desirable.

2-As far as the fully roached mainsail goes, this will help a lot. But, you ay still want to add something to the height of the rig.

3-As far as center of gravity, and weight aloft, it is almost always the case when removing a mizzen that the VCG drops substantially. Odds are you could raise the mainmast quite a bit and still have a stiffer boat than before.

Regarding suggestions for a rigger or designer in Florida, sorry but I don’t have any contacts. Good luck–Steve Dashew

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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